James Dixon (our resident PT) takes a look at one of the most impressive rowing machines on the market in our ProForm 750R review – find out how he got on with it below…
Rowing is one of the most energy consuming exercises going, making it perfect for weight loss or maintaining body composition. This is because it works the full body, with near enough every muscle getting involved.
The full body nature of rowing against resistance also means that it is great for full body strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth). It will work your legs, mid back, upper back, shoulders (specifically posterior deltoids and traps), and arms (specifically biceps and forearms), growing them when performed as part of a decent hypertrophy programme, and strengthening your full posterior chain.
For the best effects, try sprint training on a rower – this intense level of resistance will elicit the greatest hypertrophy.
Of course, we cannot all row outdoors, on a proper boat. Few of us can, in fact. Nor do many of us want to – it’s awkward, cold, and can be more than a little dangerous. Luckily, we can all use rowing machines, either in the gym or at home. In fact, home-based rowing machines are amongst the best investment going – they are amongst the best pieces of cardio equipment you can find, offering all the benefits of multiple styles of rowing training.
If you want to get the best, ProForm are always a good bet. Their equipment is well-designed, well-made, and tailored to give you the best workout possible. Though they have an extensive line (more on this below), I particularly favour the 750R, one of their midrange models.
First Impressions Of The ProForm 750R
The ProForm 750R makes a very good first impression. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, at around eight hundred quid. However, there are far more expensive machines out there (three grand and over, easily) that don’t give you much more utility.
The design is nice. This becomes even more evident when you see how easily folded and stored it is (more below). The only thing I like more than a machine that is either intelligently or beautifully designed is one that is both.
This is both, absolutely.
The ride is smooth and near silent, though I’ll get into this in more detail shortly. It takes up a bit of room when unfolded, so make sure you have the space. This can be anywhere, though, as the 750R is so well designed to be an impermanent feature.
It’s sleek, looks high functioning, has a laundry list of added features, and seems like it will be very easy to live with. These are all complete wins, in my book.
ProForm 750R Specs And Features
The ProForm 750R has everything you would want of a decent rower, and everything you would expect of a good ProForm product.
Firstly, it is fully iFit compatible and comes with a month’s membership included. After this you’ll need to subscribe to a monthly contract.
It’s not much for what you get, but do bear it in mind when working out, which cardio machine might best fit your finances.
This is all accessible through a really good quality 5” high contrast display. It’s intuitive, looks great, is very clear, and gives you all the stats you need, including speed, time, distance, rpm, and calories burned, and so on. You will be able to follow iFit classes easily and intuitively using it.
It’s also one of the less intrusive cardio machines I’ve used recently. The 750R makes use of ProForm’s SpaceSaver® Design. This means you can simply fold it up and wheel it effortlessly to wherever you want to store it – behind a wardrobe or in any spare bit of storage space will do. It has front mounted transport wheels to make life that much easier. In place, it will take up 218cm x 55cm x 116cm (Length x Width x Height), which is none too drastic.
The 750R is comfortable, too. It can take a maximum user weight of 115kg, which is respectable if not Earth shattering – most larger athletes will be fine on it. The footrests have fully adjustable seats to keep you in place and make sure you’re not wasting any energy. You will find yourself stable and comfortable.
Again, not Earth shattering, but very well done, nonetheless.
The 750R has an oversized, incredible stable seat rail, supporting a well cushioned, fully padded, ergonomic seat. Every motion should feel good and you should be able to train for hours without getting bum ache (a common issue with rowing machines!).
I always like to find silence in my home gym equipment, or at least close to it. There is no point investing all that money – and all your best intentions! – in a machine that will wake up the whole neighbourhood. The guilt and aggravation coming your way from your family and neighbours will simply halt you in your tracks – you’ll never do home cardio again! Luckily, the 750R fits the bill nicely, here. It makes use of SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance to keep things very quiet and smooth.
This resistance is digitally controlled, so that the 750R will keep pace easily with all those iFit sessions you’ll be putting in.
Using The ProForm 750R
A lot of the 750R’s functionality comes from iFit, as do many of ProForm’s machines’. With access to hundreds of different classes ranging across multiple styles – steady state, fat burning, cardio enhancing, power building, HIIT, and so on – you will always be able to stretch yourself and will always have something new to do. It’s pricey, at around thirty quid a month, but this is what you would likely otherwise be spending on an average gym membership – it’s also less than an average personal trainer’s hourly rate, which is ridiculous considering the standard of instruction you get.
This functionality is easy and comfortable to access, too.
The seat and rail offer much of this great comfort, giving you decently padded, sculpted cushioning along a sturdy, well-supported glide. The SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance furthers this. A lot of rowing machines can be kind of janky, tugging on your joints and processing power in very jagged, unnatural motions. The resistance on the 750R is smooth and even, allowing you to flow through it rather than knock yourself about.
Its silence is also welcome. As above, you’ll not last long in a domestic setting on a loud, obtrusive piece of kit!
And, talking of being unobtrusive, ProForm have come through with their space saving design. Again, this is a big deal in a piece of home gym equipment – it needs to exist well in any home space. I found it incredibly easy to fold down (after reading the instructions a couple of times – more a problem with me than the machine!) and it wheeled away as easily as a supermarket trolley.
It was a real pleasure to use. If your budget fits it, I would suggest investing in the 750R. If your budget exceeds it by five hundred or so, go with it anyway – you’ll struggle to find something that can really go toe-to-toe with the 750R for much less than fifteen hundred.
Alternative To The ProForm 750R Rowing Machine
The ProForm R600 Rowing Machine occupies a similar place in the market to the 750R. However, it’s a little cheaper, making things a little easier if you find your budget getting a little too tightly stretched.
The R600 is ProForm’s entry level rowing machine. It’s still great, though – it is, after all, still a ProForm machine, which means it will be a good machine, no matter the cost.
The R600 gives air resistance, which is one of my favourite kinds. It feels a lot different to either mechanical, hydro, or magnetic resistance. I personally find it very comfortable and user friendly. It is highly customisable – it will in essence increase with the power of your row, making it perfect for those looking to train sprints or intervals.
You can further adjust resistance by using a leaver over the fan, positioned within reach for ease of access. Because you adjust the air resistance manually, the levels of resistance are pretty much infinite between top and bottom – you can make the increments as large or small as you want.
As with the 750R, the R600 is completely foldable using ProForm’s clever machinery design. It’s pretty well suited to larger athletes, too, as it is pretty long and has the same top weight of 115kg as the 750R.
Coupled with a seat cushion as ergonomically designed as the 750R’s, this all results in an incredibly comfortable ride. The handles are well padded and comfortable, and the LCD monitor is large and clear, allowing you to easily read your stats as you go, and contains all the usual suspects of speed, time, calories, distance travelled and so forth.
It’s cheaper than the 750R, a bit less gadgety, and offers a bit of a smoother ride.
I really like the 750R. It’s incredibly well-priced for what you get – an intelligently designed, very well made rowing machine that is a genuine delight to use. The inclusion of iFit connectivity make it highly functional – you will be able to access thousands of hours of training across plenty of different styles, meaning you’ll never lose steam or be without targets and ways of meeting them.
Snap it up and enjoy it. You’ll rarely find such good quality for under a grand.