How Loud Is A Rowing Machine? How Can You Quieten Them?

Published by Kieran
Last Updated on March 28, 2021

Is There a Way to Make Rowing Less Noisy?

Whether you’re a seasoned rower or you’re just dipping your toes recently, you might be aware that rowing machines aren’t necessarily the quietest of fitness equipment. This will depend on the type of rowing machine and the model, however, and there can be a lot of variation across the board.

This article will look at the different types of rowing machines out there, and compare how noisy each one is so that you’ll be in a better position to make an informed choice about which type might be the most suitable for you.

Many people find the noise of a rowing machine distracting when they’re trying to concentrate, so knowing how to keep noise levels to a minimum can be very useful. Depending on the type and model you use, there might be a few tips and tricks to help you dampen its noise a bit, helping you to make your rowing workout a more peaceful and focused experience.

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to purchase a new rowing machine for your home gym, or you just want to ensure you’re doing right by the rowing machine in your local gym, the information in this article should answer your questions and give you more confidence to row unimpeded.

Different Rowing Machine Noise Levels

As mentioned briefly above, there are several types of rowing machine that exist, and each one of them will have a different noise level. We’ll take a look at a few of the most popular types which are the ones you’re most likely to find in your gym.

It’s also important to note that even across one type of rowing machine, there will be some variation in noise level depending on the size, age, and model.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Just as a magnetic exercise bike is quieter (virtually noiseless) than a friction exercise bike, magnetic rowing machines are also much quieter than other types of rowing machines that rely on other resistance methods.

Because the magnets used in a magnetic rowing machine never actually touch the flywheel, there’s no metal-on-metal noise or scraping, and magnets themselves operate silently so any noise that does come from a magnetic rowing machine will be minimal.

You might get a slight bit of noise just from the action of pulling the rowing cords and the turning of the flywheel itself, but this should be negligible and won’t disturb your workout or concentration.

Hydraulic-Piston Rowing Machines

These rowing machines are also generally very quiet and can be close to completely silent. Hydraulic rowing machines utilise pistons filled with water or air to create resistance when you carry out the rowing motion.

Again, because friction is not a factor in creating resistance, there is virtually no sound (apart from your panting as you pull for a new personal best!). Resistance levels are manually changed on a hydraulic-piston rowing machine, rather than depending on how hard you’re rowing, and even changing the resistance level won’t increase the sound.

Air Rowing Machines

Air rowing machines work by allowing air into the flywheel chamber whenever you pull the row cords. This air exerts a force on the flywheel which causes drag or air resistance, making it harder for the user to row.

This air resistance creates some noise, and the process of the air actually getting into and out of the flywheel chamber also makes its own noise. The combination of these two sounds won’t be unbearably loud, but it is something to consider as it’ll be much louder than a magnetic or hydraulic rowing machine.

Air rowing machines change resistance level based on how hard and fast you’re rowing, so the harder and faster you pull the cords, the more air is let into the chamber and the more resistance is felt. It stands to reason therefore that the faster you’re rowing, the louder the machine will be.

Water Rowing Machines

These rowing machines create noise in a similar capacity to air rowing machines, in that they use water to create resistance just as air rowing machines use air. As you pull the row cords, the flywheel (which is attached to paddles that stir through the water) spins which creates a flow in the water tank.

Then every time you go back in for another row, the paddles disrupt that flow and begin again, and this can cause some splashing sounds, depending on the model of rowing machine. The general swirling of the water will also cause some noise.

Again, the noise created by a water rowing machine won’t be unbearably loud and will actually be quite pleasant for a lot of people as it mimics the sound of rowing on actual water. However, for some, it might be distracting so it’s worth taking note of.

Ways to Minimise Rowing Machine Noise

Some kinds of noise created by your rowing machine will be inevitable, however there are a couple of ways you can minimise noise and decrease the risks of things going wrong. A couple of suggestions are outlined below.

Use Smooth, Continuous Strokes

If you’re rowing and find that your machine is making sounds that are different than the consistent hum or pulse it usually makes, it might be down to your own technique. If you’re pulling the row cords erratically or unevenly, you might be placing more effort on one side than the other, which can lead to different sounds being created.

If you hear clunky sounds, banging, or snappy noises, this could also be down to the way in which you’re carrying out the rowing motion. If this is the case, try slowing down your movement, focusing on your form, and continue to see if the noises subside.

Once you’ve mastered the movement and can do it without causing any undue sounds, you can begin to pick up the pace and get back on track!

Adjust the Seat and Other Components to Suit You

Most kinds of rowing machine consist of a seat that slides along a track as you pull the row cords and push against the footrests. Majority of these will be adjustable so that you can work out with optimal comfort, as well as ensuring all of your muscle groups are able to activate properly.

If your seat is at an inappropriate height, or if it doesn’t leave enough space on the track for you to fully extend your legs as you pull the row cords, you might experience some additional noise as the seat hits the limit it has been set to.

Adjusting the seat to be further away from the footrests and flywheel will mean your body is able to extend fully at the top of the movement without slamming the seat into anything. This will eliminate any noise caused by parts of the machine striking one another unnecessarily.

Keep Your Machine Clean and Well-Lubricated

Just like a rusty hinge will creak and a grimey tap might squeak, dirty and poorly maintained fitness equipment will also start to make unnecessary noise, or the normal noise they make might seem to get louder than usual.

A top tip for minimising rowing machine noise is to keep your machine well lubricated and cleaned regularly. Ideally, you should wipe down your rowing machine with a damp cloth after each use (especially if it’s in a public gym), however every now and then, more in-depth cleaning will be required.

If you go to a gym, then luckily you won’t need to worry about this as the gym staff will be tasked with maintaining the fitness machines, but if you’ve got a rowing machine at home, then be prepared to put in some elbow grease (and actual grease) to keep it in optimal shape.

At the End of the Day

A rowing machine is going to be as loud as it’s going to be, and this will depend on a few factors including the type of rowing machine, what model it is within that type, how old the machine is, and how well maintained it is.

User error and subpar technique can also contribute to noise so it’s important to understand how to care for your rowing machine in order to both minimise noise, and keep it in good condition.

No matter what kind of rowing machine you use, the benefits of getting a full-body strength and cardio workout in will far outweigh any inconvenient noises it might make, so don’t let a few sounds stop you!

About the author
Published by Kieran
A star athlete during his school days, Kieran quickly excelled at sports and in particular; football. Kieran's true passion lies in home exercise equipment, and so was was built as a source for all of Kieran's thoughts to be put down on a medium. Here he guides you through various nuances of working out at home, tips, guides, reviews and more.The only other thing Kieran enjoys more than working out, is writing about it.
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