Indoor Rowing Ergometers for Fitness Testing

When conducting fitness testing, is it important to be specific to the actions and energy systems used in the sport. For rowers, that means the best tests are conducted using a rowing machine that replicates the on-water action.

There are a few rowing fitness tests which utilize a rowing ergometer or rowing machine. There are several types of cycling ergometers available, though the Concept2 brand is the one most commonly used for research and testing.

note: we do not sell rowing ergometers, the information here is to describe the different rowing ergometers available, the different features and functions, to help you chose the best rowing ergometer for your situation. (here's a link to buy Rowing Ergometers)

Rowing ergometer features to look for

Rowing Ergometer MachineRowERG

Resistance Method

On the rowing boats, the water provides resistance to movement. On land, another method of providing resistance to the rowing stroke is required. There is a few different methods of creating resistance. The air-braked concept rowers are commonly used in testing, training and competition, others such as magnetic-braked machines are suited for gyms and home use. Hydraulic and water/fluid resistance methods have also been used.

The Concept2

The concept2 is the original rowing ergometer. It was first put on the market in 1981 as a training tool for competitive rowers. It was quickly adopted by other athletes as a convenient and effective workout. Over the year updated models have been released.

Dynamic indoor rower was a new design released in 2010, which has a moving foot rest instead of a moving seat. This results in less body mass movement compared to earlier models and simulates on water rowing more closely.

The latest model, since 2021, is the RowErg, which supersedes the type D and E.

Using a Rowing Ergometer for Fitness Testing

Calibration of Rowing Ergometers

The regular calibration of ergometers is recommended, so you can make accurate comparisons between athletes tested on different machines and over time.

Stroke rate can easily be assessed by manually counting the number of stroke every minute and compare it to the stroke rate displayed on the monitor.

The speed and distance measures of the ergometers are not so easily checked. Calibrating rowing ergometers may require a dynamic calibration with a special rig.

Fitness Tests Using Rowing Ergometers

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