The 5 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines

At Fitness Dear, it’s no secret that we are huge fans of a home rowing machine. The rower can provide as close to a perfect workout as you can imagine, combining both full-body muscle activation and cardiovascular conditioning.

In fact, you will need help finding another piece of cardio equipment that is as effective and efficient as a good rowing machine.

However, there are limitations – in particular, space and cost. Traditional air, water, and magnetic rowers may not be feasible for people living in smaller homes. In addition, rowing machines can also be expensive, so they may not be cost-effective for everybody, especially casual users.

Thankfully, one choice can solve both problems – the hydraulic rowing machine. Hydraulic rowers are compact enough to fit into most apartments, condos, and dorm rooms while remaining very affordable.

In Addition – My Top Rowers Under 200 Dollars ReviewsOpens in a new tab. may be helpful to you.

Our Top 3 Picks


Lanos Hydraulic

– Full body workout
– Adjustable resistance
– Durable steel frame
– Progress tracking monitor
– Ergonomic design
– Pivoting footplates

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🥈1st Runner-up

Stamina 1205

– Stable and durable
– Lightweight at 47 lbs
– Folds for easy storage
– Comfortable seat
– Foam-padded handles
– Affordable option

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🥉2nd Runner-up

BodyTrac Glider 1050

– Sturdy steel frame
– Supports up to 250 lbs
– 12 levels of resistance
– Resistance adjustment
– Non-slip pedals
– Easy transport & storage

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Reviews of The Top 5 Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines

In today’s article, we are going to highlight five of the best hydraulic rowing machines before guiding you through what to consider before buying one.

1. Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine

Lanos Hydraulic Rower
Lanos Hydraulic Rower

Quick Specs:

Resistance Mechanism‎Hydraulic
Maximum Weight Recommendation‎250 Pounds
Frame Material‎Alloy Steel
Item Weight‎34 Pounds
Tension Level‎12 Level Adjustable Hydraulic Resistance
Power Source‎Hydraulic piston
Number of Batteries‎1 AA batteries required.

Check Price From AmazonOpens in a new tab.

Product Details:

The Lanos rower is another simple but functional hydraulic rowing machine that does what is asked at a price that will take little into consideration.

Lanos Hydraulic Rower features
Source – Amazon

A durable steel frame at the core takes up to 250 lbs of user weight and keeps the machine sturdy throughout. There’s a single hydraulic piston positioned under the slide rail, and you can adjust the resistance by turning the dial.

Lanos Hydraulic Rower assembly
Source – Amazon

A tiny LCD screen offers a little workout feedback, although – like others in this category – it’s nothing to get excited about. Finally, at 34 lbs – along with folding arms and the ability to stand it upright – the Lanos hydraulic rower is very simple to store away in a closet when you are finished.

– Functional hydraulic rower at an affordable price
– Lightweight and very easy to store away after use
– Offers adjustable resistance
– Pretty easy to assemble
– Hydraulic cylinder heats up quite quickly
– Foot straps don’t lock feet in as well as expected

2. Stamina 1205 Precision

Stamina 1205 Precision
Stamina 1205 Precision

Quick Specs:

Special Feature‎Stroke Rate;Distance;Calories
Resistance Mechanism‎Hydraulic
Maximum Weight Recommendation‎250 Pounds
Frame Material‎Carbon Steel
Item Weight‎45 Pounds
Tension Level‎Adjustable Tension
Power Source‎Manual
Number of Batteries‎1 AA batteries required.
Item Dimensions LxWxH‎48 x 32.5 x 27.75 inches
Warranty Description‎90 days parts; 3 years frame
Manufacturer‎Stamina Products, Inc

Product Details:

The Stamina 1205 Precision rowing machine is one of the more stable and durable hydraulic rowers in its price range. At 47 lbs in total weight, it’s a lightweight machine, yet it is sturdy, stable, and can support users up to 250 lbs!

Source – Amazon

With its small 48″ footprint, this rower is compact enough to be used in just about any size of the room and can be folded for easy storage. Using a comfortable seat, foam-padded handles, and non-slip pivoting pedals, the Stamina 1205 provides users with a stable and worry-free workout with a nice sliding action thanks to the ball-bearing rail system.

Source – Amazon

The included LCD monitor is basic but handy, showing feedback, including your speed, distance, and time. A solid, affordable option.

– Strong and sturdy frame
– Large and comfortable seat
– Compact dimensions and foldable frame
– Provides a smooth rowing workout
– It only offers five levels of resistance
– Not well-suited for taller users (over 6ft)
In Addition – I wrote a details review about “Stamina 1205 Precision RowerOpens in a new tab.“; you may find this helpful.

3. Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050
Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050

Quick Specs:

Special Feature‎Stroke Rate;Time/duration;Calories
Resistance Mechanism‎Hydraulic
Maximum Weight Recommendation‎250 Pounds
Frame Material‎Carbon Steel
Item Weight‎38 Pounds
Power Source‎Manual
Number of Batteries‎1 AA batteries required.
Item Dimensions LxWxH‎42.5 x 58.25 x 18.13 inches
Warranty Description‎1 year frame; 90 days parts
Manufacturer‎Stamina Products, Inc.

Product Details:

The BodyTrack Glider 1050 from Stamina is one of the more affordable hydraulic rowing machines on the market. With its sturdy steel frame construction and long, aluminum sliding beam, the 1050 can support up to 250 lbs and taller users (up to 6ft 2″).

Source – Amazon

Featuring 12 levels of resistance, the BodyTrac Glider 1050 will have you working up a sweat in no time! With an easy-to-read LCD monitor and a simple push-button mechanism, this rower displays all the necessary data for a great workout, including speed, distance, duration, strokes, and burned calories.

Source – Amazon

This lightweight rowing machine weighs in just 39 lbs and folds to 46″, making it ideal for all kinds of small homes and apartments.

– Long slide rail is great for taller users
– Compact folded dimensions (46″ x 23″)
– Features 12 levels of resistance
– Super-easy to assemble
– The Velcro foot strap can come loose at times
– Resistance can drop during long rowing sessions
In Addition – If you’re interested in Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050Opens in a new tab., I wrote a details review about it.

4. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639

Quick Specs:

Resistance Mechanism‎Hydraulic
Maximum Weight Recommendation‎350 Pounds
Frame Material‎Alloy Steel
Item Weight‎35.8 Pounds
Tension Level‎12
Number of Batteries‎2 AAA batteries required. (included)
Item Dimensions LxWxH‎52.2 x 28.7 x 11.8 inches
Warranty Description‎26-year structural frame, 180 days other parts and components
Manufacturer‎Sunny Health & Fitness

Check Price From AmazonOpens in a new tab.

Product Details:

The SF-RW5639 is one of the market’s more affordable hydraulic rowing machines. However, keep the low price and basic design from fooling you into thinking it can’t offer a good workout.

Source – Amazon

For starters, this well-made rowing machine is incredibly sturdy and can support users up to 350lbs – ideal if you are starting out and need to lose some weight. In addition, it has 12 levels of resistance to offer good workout variation.

Source – Amazon

The performance is smooth and quiet, allowing you to find a natural rowing action. The SF-RW5639 features a simple LCD monitor, offering enough feedback, including your time, stroke count, and calories burned, and a scan feature.

– The strong frame supports weights up to 350lbs
– Compact minimalist design
– Features 12 levels of resistance
– Comfortable handles and seat
– The seat is very low to the ground
– Resistance levels are geared toward beginners

5. Kettler Kadett Rower

Kettler Kadett
Kettler Kadett

Quick Specs:

Special Feature‎Heart rate monitor
Resistance Mechanism‎Water
Maximum Weight Recommendation‎250 Pounds
Frame Material‎Metal
Item Weight‎66 Pounds
Number of Batteries‎2 AA batteries required. (included)
Item Dimensions LxWxH‎59.06 x 66.93 x 18.11 inches

Product Details:

The Kettler Kadett is undoubtedly one of the market’s most expensive hydraulic rowing machines. However, it still shows good value when you take into account the build quality and performance.

Source – Amazon

Crafted in Germany, this compact machine is made with a powder-coated high-carbon steel frame to survive weights up to 287lb. It features independent arms that accurately replicate rowing with oars on a sculling boat, giving a natural feel.

Source – Amazon

This is complemented by smooth and quiet hydraulic resistance. The Kadett makes use of a pair of industrial-strength hydraulic pistons, with resistance adjustable up to 12 different levels. Throw in a small but high-resolution LCD monitor and infrared earlobe clip sensor, and the Kadett certainly justifies its higher price tag.

– High-performance hydraulic rowing machine built for serious rowers
– Made in Germany with a quality that shows
– Fitted with two industrial-strength pistons with adjustable resistance
– Compact design and foldable for easier storage
– German computer display and instructions are inconvenient!
– Some users may not like using the earlobe sensor clip.

Buying Guide for a Hydraulic Rowing Machine

A hydraulic rowing machine may be the answer if you’re looking for the full-body workout benefits of a conventional rower minus the higher cost and size.

Conventional air, water, and magnetic rowers can be pricey, not to mention a little cumbersome. This is not the case with the hydraulic rower. As well as being much lower in cost – with many under $300 – hydraulic rowers tend to be much more compact.

Mind you, and the hydraulic rower won’t offer the same stability or feel as a rower with air, water, or magnetic resistance. Yet, it does a pretty decent job of mimicking natural rowing for an effective, full-body workout.

With the advantages out the way, what should you look out for when shopping for the Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines? The following sections offer everything you need to consider!


The Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines are designed to maximize space efficiency. This allows users who have limited space to reap the benefits of the rower without sacrificing too much of their living area.

Firstly, due to the inherently simple design, most hydraulic rowing machines are very compact, to begin with. Adding to this, many have folding frames and foldable arms that can be stored vertically for optimal space efficiency. A folding hydraulic rower can be ideal if you live in a very small home or apartment.

However, despite being more compact, you should still be aware of the exact measurements of your exercise space before buying one. Remember that you will need to factor in enough space to allow you to comfortably get on and off your rower – about 2 to 4 feet – in addition to the space the rower takes up.

Hydraulic rowers are also very durable and stable. Don’t let the compact size fool you – most hydraulic rowing machines can support between 220lb and 300lb of user weight, with some models going as high as 350 lbs!

This is important – you should be aware of how heavy you are and how much weight the rower can handle before you make your purchase.

Another plus is that the hydraulic rower is super light since there is no heavy flywheel (as is the case with conventional air, water, and magnetic rowers). This allows it to be easily transported from room to room or in and out of storage.

You will also want to ensure your model offers a comfortable seat and padded hand grips. Contoured foam handles are preferable if you plan on using the rowing machine for any longer than 15 minutes.

Finally, some more good news – because hydraulic rowers are so simple in their design, they are very easy to assemble!


Hydraulic rowers rely on two types of resistance: liquid hydraulics and pistons (air hydraulics). In each case, liquid or air is compressed in varying levels to provide resistance depending on the user’s preference. A dial is attached to the piston on many hydraulic rowers, which controls the resistance levels.

Compared to magnetic, air, and water rowers, hydraulic rowers have some distinct advantages.

Firstly, hydraulic rowers are deadly silent. Air and water rowers, on the other hand, are much noisier. The hydraulic rower is, therefore, a great option for those who want to work out in peace – or while watching TV!

Another plus is that most hydraulic rowing machines feature two separate arms as opposed to one long handle attached to a cord. This allows the user to work each arm independently, making it ideal for rehab work or to correct any muscle imbalances between the left and right arm.

However, there are a few issues with hydraulic resistance. Firstly, when the liquid inside the pistons gets too hot (from longer workouts), they can become too fluid and lose resistance. This is not great for consistency, as the end of a workout may feel easier than the start. This issue can lead to resistance imbalances between each rowing arm.

Secondly, the resistance doesn’t feel as natural as air, water, or magnetic. Hydraulic rowers do a pretty good job at mimicking a rowing movement but fail to capture the smooth and fluid action of something like a machine with water resistance.


As we’ve said, hydraulic rowers are basic and affordable machines; therefore, you cannot expect big and detailed screens. However, most consoles on hydraulic rowers do provide basic readouts.

Most are equipped with small LCD screens that display metrics including strokes, total strokes, calories burned, time, and distance. The scan is another useful feature, as the machine automatically scrolls through this data, allowing you to keep your hands on the handles.

Due to their low cost, most hydraulic rowers don’t come with built-in workout programs or heart rate monitors either. However, there are certain models that have media shelves or smartphone holders, allowing users to follow rowing workouts (via apps), watch videos, or listen to music.

As for controls, resistance will not be controlled at the console level but by a manual dial located on each piston.

Secondary Features

Now that we’ve covered the core features let’s take a look at some of the secondary features that a hydraulic rower should offer.

Of course, due to the simple design and low cost of hydraulic rowers, there are not a lot of scopes to have super large screens, cooling fans, or built-in speakers.

Still, you can expect things like a comfortable seat. Ultimately, rowing requires a lot of sitting, so make sure the seat isn’t going to cause you problems! Ideally, you will want to choose a seat that is padded or, depending on how heavy you are, perhaps a double-padded seat.

However, this depends on how much you are willing to spend. In general, higher-end hydraulic rowers tend to have more comfortable seats.

Footplates are another consideration. You will want to ensure your feet are firmly in place while rowing, so you may choose a rower that features an anti-slip design and pivots (for a more natural feel).

Finally, handles are important. When choosing a hydraulic rowing machine, look for one with comfortable handles. Since you’re going to be doing a lot of pulling, you will want a rower that offers padded foam handles for comfort and anti-slip, so you don’t lose control when your grip gets sweaty.

Frequently Asked Questions

Best Hydraulic Rower Machines
Source – Stamina

How Do You Use a Hydraulic Rower?

To use a hydraulic rower:

  1. Start by sitting on the edge of the seat with the seat in the bottom position.
  2. Put one foot on the footrest and securely attach the Velcro strap over the ball of your foot.
  3. Do the same for the other foot.

Next, adjust the resistance of your rower according to your desired intensity and activate your console monitor. Your monitor will track your performance, such as calories burned, strokes per minute, time, and distance.

Grab the handles using a loose grip. Use your legs to initiate the row – push them up, then, when they are fully extended, lean back and pull your arms towards your body. To return to the start position, let your arms extend towards your feet, allow your body to come forward, and bend at the knees to allow the seat to come forward.

This is the correct way to row; you should repeat this sequence until you finish exercising.

Remember to keep your core activated during the entire movement and to drive with your legs. The correct stoke sequence is as follows: legs, core, and arms (to row towards your body), then arms, core, and legs on the return sequence.

Is Rowing Better Than Running?

The answer to this very debatable question will depend on your current physical condition and goals. Both forms of exercise have pros and cons, which must be considered before making a decision. Let’s look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of running and rowing.

Muscles Activation

 In terms of muscle activation, rowing will activate more muscle tissue for better overall strength gains and muscle tone. Due to the nature of rowing, users can expect to activate their primary movers, such as their back, legs, abs, biceps, shoulders, and forearms.

On the other hand, runners can expect to activate their legs as the primary movers. Although some upper body movement is necessary to run, the muscle activation there will be minimal.

Certain rowing machines, such as magnetic and hydraulic rowers, have variable resistance levels, which allow users to increase the muscular intensity for each stroke. The end result is progressively better muscle activation and tone.

Running does not allow for progressive muscular contractions without the addition of added weight. Therefore, we declare rowing the winner of this round!

Source – in a new tab.

Calorie Burn

 According to the American Council on Exercise, a 150lb person jogging at a moderate pace for 30 minutes will burn 181 calories. That same person rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes will burn 158 calories.

Therefore, running burns slightly more calories than rowing, although it depends on the intensity of each exercise. Still, for this section, running is the winner.


 Due to the nature of the rowing movement, there is very little impact on your joints and connective tissues. In addition, rowing is considered a non-weight-bearing exercise that greatly reduces the wear and tear to your ligaments and tendons.

Unlike rowing, running is considered a high-impact exercise that can place your joints and connective tissue at risk for overuse injuries. This is especially important if you are overweight or have connective tissue damage such as tendonitis, knee or hip arthritis, and other joint issues.

With all these considerations made, we conclude that rowing is an all-around better exercise for muscular and cardio activation. In addition, since it is a low-impact, non-weight-bearing exercise, it is a lot easier on the joints and connective tissues.

How Fast Should You Row on a Rowing Machine?

Your rowing speed is determined by how many rowing strokes can be completed per minute. The ideal rowing speed for you will depend on your fitness goals. Are you looking to burn fat? Gain strength? Build endurance?

You will have to remember that your rowing intensity isn’t dependent on how fast you row but on how hard you are pulling. This is the key to an effective rowing workout. Slow, measured strokes require more strength, while faster stroke ratesOpens in a new tab. will require more stamina and endurance to maintain the stroke rate.

Finding the right combination of strength vs. endurance will depend heavily on your goals.

Most rowing machines will display strokes per minute on their LCD screen. Here are some rough guidelines that will help you decide how fast you should row to help achieve your fitness goals.

17 to 20 strokes per minute

Lower stroke rates will require more strength. If your goal is to build more strength, this stroke rate is an ideal range.

24 to 28 strokes per minute

These stroke rates are an ideal balance between muscle and endurance, allowing you to use a combination of strength and cardio.

30 to 36 strokes per minute

While easier to maintain, this stroke rate requires more stamina and endurance. It’s, therefore, a good range for sprint and interval training.

38 plus strokes per minute

This fast-paced stroke rate is ideal for HIIT and training for races. The most important aspect of rowing is the correct form, regardless of the speed you choose to use. We cover this in another FAQ above, so make sure to digest that thoroughly!

Final Verdict!

As we have hopefully drilled home in our guide, hydraulic rowing machines provide all of the benefits of rowing minus the cost and size associated with traditional air, water, and magnetic rowers.

Hydraulic rowers may not have the bells and whistles of higher-end and traditional rowers, but it’s safe to say that these machines still have their place in the fitness industry.

If you’re looking for the full-body workout power of a rower but don’t have the space or the money to spend on a traditional rower, the hydraulic rower may be the answer you’re looking for.

There are plenty of options to choose from, including the five in our chart. However, with a bit of research and help using the information in this guide, you will easily find the Best Hydraulic Rowing Machines suited to your needs!

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Michael Collins

Michael Collins is a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has a diverse background that includes training professional and amateur athletes as well as working with people with little to no fitness experience. More about me.....

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