5 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines – Make Your Body Work

Last updatedLast updated: July 28, 2021
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Many users of hydraulic rowers share some common myths. Among the most held ones are that: hydraulic rowers need high maintenance, has less ergonomic features, and that their installation is complex. Well, if you hold the same belief, that’s because you’ve never been led to the right workout equipment. Without mincing more words, let’s show you the best hydraulic rowing machine models right now. Then we’d like to see you bust these myths yourself!

So, what makes a hydraulic rowing machine stand out from the run-of-the-mill models? Some important points to note are the resistance levels, length of inseam rail, length of the slide rail, dimensions, weight capacity, and weight. And these are features we considered while selecting the top models for our best hydraulic rowing machine review.

Top 5 Hydraulic Rowing Machines Review 2021


Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205Editor’s Choice

  • Resistance levels: 12
  • Length of slide rail: 29 inches
  • Length of inseam rail: 37 inches
  • Weight capacity: 220 pounds
  • Dimensions: 54 x 20 x 23 inches
  • Weight: 20.5 pounds.

More features: adjustable pedal straps

The SF-RW1205 rower from Sunny Health and Fitness is our overall best hydraulic rowing machine. This is because the single-piston hydraulic rowing machine meets our criteria and all the requirements for gainful exercise and comfort. Thanks to the smooth gliding seat, ergonomics is never in doubt.

Further increasing the level of comfort are its large non-slip footplates, adjustable foot straps, and non-slip pedals. It also features a non-slip and cushioned grip handlebars for ease of use.

With its 12-level resistance levels, the machine gives all the fitness intensity and variations for all user levels. Sturdy, durable, and simply designed, the machine meets all the checklist for a commercial-grade model. This is thanks to its heavy-duty steel frame design.

It has an LCD screen that displays the time count, calories burned, and scans. This helps you set your targets, know whether you are progressing, and meet your goals. The SF-RW1205 is a rower to consider if you want to have an intense and regular sport physical activity. Its value for money is good, but with its small LCD screen, visualizing the readings may be stressful. However, the model has a fairly high weight capacity. It can be used by users who weigh up to 220 pounds. It has dimensions of 54 x 20 x 23 inches.

Overall, because it’s an almost perfect workout machine, it’s a piece of equipment you’ll really love to have!

Why are we impressed?

  • Very affordable
  • Low noise level
  • Ergonomic design
  • Sleek, solid and sturdy
  • For beginners and experts

What negatives must you be aware of?

  • Small LCD monitor
RELATED: 5 Best Rowing Machines Under $300 – Realistic Experience for an Affordable Price

ProGear 750 RowerBest Value

  • Resistance levels: 3
  • Length of slide rail: 37-43 inches
  • Length of inseam rail: 37-43 inches
  • Weight capacity: 220 pounds
  • Dimensions: 53 x 26.5 x 36.3 inches/ 45.5 x 26.5 x 7.8 inches (folded)
  • Weight: 54 pounds.

More features: 2 independent hydraulic cylinders, 3 adjustable rowing positions, 3 adjustable incline rowing angles. LCD display, over 10 additional workout exercises, foldable, user height range of 4’9″ to 6’1″, one-year warranty

The ProGear 750 machine is one of the most popular for fully training at home. It has 3 adjustable resistance levels. With two independent hydraulic cylinders and three adjustable incline rowing angles, changing the intensity of your exercise is a breeze. You can practice up to 20 different exercises on this machine. With the LCD monitor, you can have the records of time and calories spent. The model comes with an AA battery for the LCD monitor.

It is made of strong steel to make it last longer. It was designed with comfort in mind. It has padded seat and quite a large cushioned, and multi-exercise 1.8-inch backseat. Also, both the handlebars and the pedals are non-slip and are of a good size. It has a weight capacity of 220 pounds. People with small and tall stature can use it, as it has a height range of 4.9 to 6.1 feet. Despite how bulky the design is, it is easy to fold for transportation or storage.

What are its best features?

  • Fully assembled
  • Quiet
  • Great value for money
  • Up to 10 exercises
  • One-year warranty

What could be improved?

  • Low to the ground
  • The comfort level of the seat can be better
RELATED: 8 Incredible Rowing Machines Under 500 Dollars – Afford Yourself A Healthy Lifestile

Stamina RowerBudget Pick

  • Resistance levels: 5
  • Length of slide rail: 56.5 inches
  • Length of inseam rail: not specified
  • Weight capacity: 250 pounds
  • Dimensions: 56.5 x 23.5 x 19.5 inches
  • Weight: 28.9 pounds.

More features: best suited for home gym

Are you looking for a complete workout that includes resistance, strength, and cardio, but from the comfort of your home? Then, the Stamina Rower is your best option. The seat is padded and non-slip so you can train comfortably. It has a mechanism of several resistance tubes that allow you to change the intensity on 3 different levels.

This model, according to users, is very easy to assemble and above all to use. So, exercising from home will be a piece of cake. Its structure is made of very strong solid and durable steel, even if you use it very frequently. It has 5 resistance levels to intensify your training and an LCD screen to monitor your progress. It is compact in size, lightweight, and requires very little space at home. It can also be placed upright for storage in the nearest closet. The seat is fully padded, and the pedals are large and rotatable. They have velcro straps to hold your foot firmly.

It includes a bar or straight handlebar for rowing, but they also include two individual hand straps. In this way, you can work other muscles of the arms and back. That’s not all. It can be easily folded for better storage. The maximum weight it resists is 250 pounds per user. This is significantly more than the first models we initially reviewed.

What stands out?

  • Easy to store
  • Cost-saving model
  • No significant noise/vibration
  • Easy to set up
  • Takes little space

What cons did we manage to find?

  • Low quality
RELATED: 5 Best Rowing Machines Under $300 – Realistic Experience for an Affordable Price

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410Best for Home Use

  • Resistance levels: 12
  • Length of slide rail: 59 inches
  • Length of inseam rail: 36 inches
  • Weight capacity: 220 pounds
  • Dimensions: 59 x 29 x 21.25 inches
  • Weight: 34 pounds.

More features: slim design

If you like workout challenges, this hydraulic rower will challenge you with its 12 levels of resistance. This helps you to raise or lower the intensity of your workouts. It has 2 arms, which allow you a complete and very varied movement to work both the arm and shoulder. Both the handlebar and the seat are non-slip and very comfortable. The seat is thick and completely padded. Offering a mix of functionalities that come at a low budget price, it is a rather simple device. It combines basic elements of strength and cardio exercises in one piece.

Its digital LCD screen will count and display the speed, distance, time, and calories expended. Its pedals are quite wide and non-slip. They also have straps that fit very well to your foot to give you greater security. The dimensions of the machine are 59 x 29 x 21.3 inches, and the maximum weight it supports is 220 pounds. With this model, you can target your major muscle groups in the legs, back, glutes, abs, and more.

What makes it special?

  • Sleek, solid and sturdy
  • Rather affordable price
  • Functional LCD screen
  • Ergonomic design
  • Lightweight

What cons did we find?

  • Screen difficult to see
  • Average comfort
  • Lack of versatility
RELATED: 5 Best Rowing Machines Under $300 – Realistic Experience for an Affordable Price
  • Resistance levels: 12
  • Length of slide rail: 40 inches
  • Length of inseam rail: 38-inch
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds
  • Dimensions: 57 x 29 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 37.7 pounds.

More features: full-motion arms, LCD display, adjustable foot straps

The SF-RW5639 model from Sunny Health & Fitness is a rower with a hydraulic cylinder tension system. Just like the first two hydraulic rowers from the same brand, the machine also has 12 levels of resistance. With this, you can work up to 85% of the muscles in your body without generating an impact on your joints. The pedals are non-slip and also have straps that adjust to your foot. This provides greater stability while you exercise.

It has its LCD screen that counts calories and time in each session. Looking at the majority of models, you may be astonished at the multitude of models with low weight capacity. One begins to wonder whether the brands didn’t think that their machine may be used by people who have heavyweights. This is where the model stands out! Made of strong frames, the Sunny Health and Fitness machine has the largest capacity in the review. It can support a maximum weight of 350 pounds!

What are its best features?

  • Easy to assemble
  • High weight capacity
  • Solid construction
  • Comfortable seat
  • Low cost

What could be improved?

  • Resistance weak for experienced users
  • Reports of missing parts
RELATED: 5 Best Rowing Machines under $200 – Get in Shape without Gym!

Things to Consider

The rower is a sports device which exists in several categories. They are distinguished from each other by certain peculiarities. One of these categories of rowers is the hydraulic rower. Although not the most popular rowing machine, it is highly regarded for the fact that it guarantees complete training sessions. If you are looking for a powerful workout device, you will certainly need to know more about the hydraulic rower. In this buying guide analysis, you’ll discover in the first section, some important criteria for choosing a good hydraulic rower. In the second part of our analysis, we will answer a few frequently asked questions.

Hydraulic rowing machine: What is so special about them, and how do they function?

5 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines - Make Your Body Work

Let us answer these questions one after another:

How it works

This type of rower has one piston like the SF-RW1205 model or two pistons like the ProGear 750 Rower. These pistons are usually filled with fluids. Its hydraulic resistance system reproduces the same realistic and harmonious feeling as training in a natural environment. This device reacts to your movements. In fact, the more energetic and vigorous your traction movements, the stronger the resistance. There is usually a digital console to measure your efforts; the distance traveled, the calories expended, etc. Depending on your initial objectives (weight loss, sports training, gaining muscle mass, etc.), certain models of rowers offer playful training programs.

The main advantages of the hydraulic rower

The hydraulic rower is much quieter than traditional rower models. This is because your movements are smoother and easier to make than with rowers equipped with mechanical motors. This device also offers unprecedented realism, if you want to rediscover the feeling, the dynamism, and the amplitude of a real paddle stroke in the water. But if you want to get the feeling of the real water resistance, you’d better opt for the best water rowing machine.

How to choose a rowing machine

The rower is one of the most complete fitness equipment. It is often compared to the exercise bike, the elliptical trainer, or the treadmill, especially with a high weight capacity. It not only burns a large number of calories, but it also works for several muscle groups without affecting your joints. The part of the buying guide below aims to clarify the essential criteria for choosing the right rower.

Features to consider when selecting a hydraulic rowing machine

Do not underestimate the following features when buying a new hydraulic rowing machine, because all types of rowing machines have something unique about them, no matter whether a magnetic rower or a water rower:

Resistance levels

These generally silent devices create resistance by compressing the air in the piston at the front of the device. The level of resistance offered will determine how easy to use it can be. The more the levels of resistance, the more it can be suitable for both expert and novice rowers. Therefore, the more the resistance level, the easier the adjustability, and the more suitable it will be for beginners. So, would you like to grow from a greenhorn to an experienced professional quickly? Then, choose a model with at least 12 resistance levels like the Sunny health and fitness (SF-RW5639, SF-RW1205, and SF-RW1410) models.

Rail length

To find a model suitable for your body type and size, take into account the length of the device’s rail. In fact, the longer the rail, the more comfortable you will be if you are tall! Conversely, if you’re short, you’ll need a model with a shorter rail.

Comfort level (seat, pedals, and handlebars)

In choosing a rower, priority must be given to comfort. Remember you will have to work for hours sitting on your machine to exert significant forces. In order not to be uncomfortable from your sitting position, have blisters in your hands, improper position of the feet or even noise, pay particular attention to the following:

  • The seat: it is important that the seat is a sliding one to allow the lower body to exercise out. In principle, this is the case for most rowers. It should be comfortable, if possible padded, ergonomic and wide. It should not make any noise when sliding on the chassis. Its movement must be fluid. The ideal is a seat with ball bearings. It is preferable that it is also adjustable, especially if several people of different sizes will use it.
  • The lifting beam (handles or pull bar): it must be comfortable to limit the risk of having blisters. Choose a model whose handles are ergonomic. It should have a shape designed for the hands and if possible non-slippery.
  • The pedals: The pedals must be solid, wide, stable, and comfortable. To prevent your feet from slipping during exercise, they must be non-slip or have a tightening system (straps for example). Some devices offer height-adjustable pedals.

The electronic console

5 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines - Make Your Body Work

It is the on-board computer of your rower. It is more or less sophisticated depending on the device. It controls your session and displays the data relating to your training. Depending on the machines, it can show the training time, speed, number of strokes, distance covered, heart rate, calories expended, cadence, speed, etc. It can include training programs and exercises to optimize your session or motivate you. It can optionally adjust the resistance of your device according to your objectives.

There are consoles that display instructions to follow (like a sports coach). This helps you optimize your session, work on certain muscles, or advise you.

Preferably, choose a console that is sufficiently legible and bright. If the data displayed is important to you or if you are a professional user, choose a console with several display windows. This will allow you to see the different training data at a glance without having to stop exercising. But for most single display consoles, there is a SCAN function that alternately displays the different screens.

Construction materials

Steel, aluminum, and some plastic components are mainly used in the construction of rowers. However, there are exceptions. Other commonly seen types are handmade wooden models. You have to be attentive to the robustness of the product. If you opt for an entry-level model, the lifespan is usually 1 to 2 years in the best cases. This is why it’s rarer finding entry-level models with a minimum of a one-year warranty. Intermediate and luxurious models can usually last for many years.

Weight capacity

The rower must be chosen according to your weight and/or the other users’. For example, ask yourself if you weigh below or just a bit above the 200-pound mark. In this case, most of the hydraulic rowers will suit you. However, if you’re really weighty (close to or above 300 pounds), then you need the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5639. This model can hold users who weigh up to 350 pounds and is considered to be one of the top among best rowing machines in general.

Dimensions & weight

First, the dimensions will determine how much space these calorie burners will take up in your home or gym. If you’re trying to skimp on room space, choose the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5639. You can also choose any model within the 50-55-inch length, 18-22-inch width, and 20-25-inch height. The weight of the model will determine the ease of movability and the cost of shipping. Although, there are commercial-grade models with higher weights.

Meanwhile, you can find extremely lightweight models that weigh around 20-25 pounds. However, models with useful functionalities are usually not always light. So, just try to find a balance.


We’ve seen how users have had to regret wasting their money on workout equipment which failed to work as advertised. In the event of issues like this, a model with a considerable warranty offer can protect the user and the machine. Cheap hydraulic rowers rarely come with a warranty. However, with the ProGear 750 Rower, you can have a model with one-year warranty coverage.

Ensure that the frame is guaranteed longer than the parts:

  • 1 year on inexpensive models.
  • 2 to 5 years on intermediate and luxury models.


There are many different price ranges as far as rowers are concerned. Budget a few hundred bucks for the right entry-level rower, intended for low-intensity efforts and with a limited lifespan. In prices ranging above the latter are the intermediate models. They are generally quite solid and equipped with a complete dashboard. They are also suitable for all types of users. If you can cough out thousands of dollars, you will find uncompromising professional devices, which are very durable and comes with many options. Promotions and discounts are not frequently available. However, we often see prices dropping when brands release a new model. So, wait for it!


Rowing is a generally resistant physical activity. This is mainly because both the lower and upper body areas are working at the same time. Also, by using the rowing machine correctly, your joints will not be damaged. Its benefits are multiple, such as those listed below:

  • It is ideal for muscle reconstruction: If you suffered an injury, rowing would help you regenerate your muscles and increase strength. It is usually used for rehabilitation.
  • It generates cardiovascular exercise: When you put your muscles to work, one of the most benefited is your heart. The best thing about this is that it takes a lot of intensity.
  • It can be a complementary training: If you are one of those who regularly participate in competitions, but you are out of season, you can train without leaving home. In this way, it becomes a great complementary workout.
  • There is no joint impact: Providing no joint impact, they protect your hip or knee joints from future damage. Besides, it helps you strengthen your bones, making it perfect.

Yes, hydraulic rowing machines are really easy to store and use. The ease of the foldability of hydraulic rowers is a real advantage. Rowers with hydraulic and magnetic resistance fold up easily for storage purposes. This is because of their smaller dimensions, lighter build, and lesser overall weight. These also impact their ease of use. In comparison, machines with water resistance do not fold easily.

Hydraulic rowers usually have single or double pistons, and each system works differently. Both arms of the machine are jointly attached to a piston in the single-piston model. The two arms function together, pushing against the resistance the single-piston is creating. Meanwhile, machines with dual pistons are much more preferable. With these, each arm has its own piston. This way, you can have more resistance as the arms work against their separate pistons. Also, each of the pistons will work less hard to meet up with the workout intensity. This then lets them last longer.

The rowing machine and the elliptical trainer are two sports devices that require coordinated efforts on the part of their users. However, each of these devices has a specific function. The elliptical trainer is generally practiced upright. This is a posture that those who are tired of sitting all the time will appreciate. The elliptical mainly works the muscles of the arms and those of the lower limbs. The physical work involved in exercising with the elliptical trainer is and gentle and has no dangerous impact. However, the main disadvantage of the elliptical trainer is that it is space-consuming. The rower is a device that is used while seated. This difference from the elliptical makes some users find it more comfortable. The practice of the rower induces muscular work of more than 80 percent of the muscles of the body. This complete muscular work is the biggest advantage of using a rower. However, the use of this device can be dangerous if the user adopts a bad posture. Hence, it is not advised for those who have low back pain. It thus appears that the choice between the rower and the elliptical depends on the preferences and the situation of each.

The configuration and operation of the hydraulic rower make it an effective device for certain muscular exercises. You can practice exercises such as shoulder presses, curls, pull downs, bent over rows, Ab workouts, rows, and more. The exercises facilitated by the hydraulic rower are those involving the muscles of the upper and lower body. It is, therefore, possible to develop muscles such as the deltoids and to strengthen those forming the abdominal belt. You can also do exercises using a rowing machine to strengthen the gluteal muscles and calf muscles. Professional athletes, on the other hand, can work out the quadriceps and hamstrings effectively.

Our Verdict

The hydraulic domestic rowing machines are ideal for a complete workout without leaving home. Thanks to technological advances, we currently have high-quality devices at a fairly affordable price. Generally, they include modern LCD screens so you can monitor the exercise and keep to your workout goals.

Among the reviewed models, we consider the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205 the overall best and Editor’s Choice. This is due to its stand-out features such as the adjustable pedal straps, 12 resistance levels, and light build. The ProGear 750 Rower comes next with its high value for money. It comes with a warranty, has 10 additional workout exercises, and is easily foldable. We like the Stamina Rower because of the mix of value, functionality, and affordability. Hence, we consider it the best rowing machine for low-budget purses.

And now, after you have read our review, we are more than sure that you’ll be able to pick the best rowing machine ever!

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