20 Best Rowing Machines Compared & Reviewed
Rowing is an effective cardiovascular workout for all athletes—not just runners. It forces you to use several muscle groups and challenges your endurance with each and every pull and, just like treadmills, you can choose your level of intensity.
If you’ve never used a rower before, check one out at your local gym before you buy one. On the other hand, if you are an experienced rower you will want to get one of the top 10 best rowers featured on our list below.
Take a look!
- Concept2 Model D
- Incline Fit WaterRower
- Stamina ATS
- Lifecore R100
- First Degree Fitness Newport AR
- Stamina Avari
- Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515
- Stamina 1215
- Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205
- Velocity Exercise CHR 2001
- MaxKare Water
- XTERRA Folding Magnetic
- Fitness Reality 1000
- Circuit Fitness Deluxe
- Mr. Rudolf
- MaxKare Magnetic
- Fitness Reality 3000WR
- Schwinn Crewmaster
In a Hurry? The test winner after 9 hrs of research
Built to last
Sophisticated PM5 monitor for data tracking
Compatible with RowPro Software
Easily separates for storage
Consistent and challenging full body workout
Top 20 Best Rowing Machines for Home Use
1. Concept2 Model D
Built to last
Sophisticated PM5 monitor for data tracking
Compatible with RowPro Software
Easily separates for storage
Consistent and challenging full body workout
Takes up a lot of space
The Concept2 rower consistently tops the list of best home rowing machines and is the rower most commonly used by elite athletes. The sophisticated computer is compatible with RowPro Software that will keep you motivated through this killer full body workout. It may seem pricey, but all users agree it is built to last a lifetime.Read more
A backlit display and adjustable arm make this monitor easy to read throughout your workout. This rower machine features the sophisticated Performance Monitor 5 (PM5) that accurately tracks comparable data for each row. It is compatible with USB flash drives to help you easily track data over time and to set and meet long-term fitness goals.
For an additional cost, you can also download RowPro Software to keep you motivated during these challenging workouts.
The seat is firm but is not uncomfortable. Adjustable footrests and ergonomic handles make this at home rowing machine comfortable and easy to use. The air resistance and flywheel design allow for smooth movement that becomes more challenging as you push yourself. Users love the consistent challenge and full range of motion provided by this machine.
This rower machine does take up a bit of space at 96in x 24in x 14in but it is solidly built and can support users up to 500lbs. A quick-release frame lock mechanism allows the machine to easily separate into two pieces with wheels on the front for easy storage.
The air resistance on this machine is comparable to the noise of a loud fan. Users note it is quiet enough to still watch television and not disturb neighbors or kids. This rower utilizes air resistance that you can set up prior to your workout by adjusting the spiral damper to control airflow.
It is on the more expensive side but owners of this machine have no buyer’s remorse. They say the price is easy to justify for this solid piece of machinery that they expect to last their lifetime.
2. Incline Fit WaterRower
Attractive ash wood frame
Pleasant water sound
Natural water resistance
Flips up for easy upright storage
6 Window monitor
This water rower has been gaining popularity after its appearance on House of Cards. It's regarded as the best rated rowing machine in the workout industry. The luxury ash wood design and water tank are beautiful and functional as they replicate the movement of rowing through water. The monitor is not as sophisticated but many users prefer the smooth water resistance to the more mechanical motion of fan and magnetic rowers.Read more
The signature “water flywheel” consists of 2 paddles that rotate in an enclosed tank of water. As you row, the paddles are met with resistance from the water. Just as in a regular boat, the faster you stroke the more difficult it will be to pull your paddle through the water. This allows you to control the level of resistance at your own speed.
The Series 4 Performance Monitor includes 6 windows with 6 QuickSelection and 3 navigation buttons to display motivational programming and workout data including intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration and distance.
The sturdy design and 4 corner wheels make you feel secure and comfortable as you move through your workout. If you keep your proper form, you will also stay nice and comfortable throughout your entire ride, so make sure you focus on your form when you row on this rower machine.
The WaterRower measures 84in x 21in x 22in and weighs 117 lbs. The frame is designed to flip up easily for upright storage that will require just 2 square feet of floor space. The very sturdy design can support users up to 1000 lbs.
Unlike most home rowers, this Natural Rower has 2 tracks and 4 corner wheels for the seat for added stability. The water resistance creates a smooth and fluid resistance that mimics the natural rowing movement. With complete extension and contraction, the company estimates you engage 84% of your muscle mass.
Most users find the quiet, watery sound of the paddles spinning in the tank satisfying and pleasant. The solid ash frame was designed to absorb sound and vibration for very quiet operation.
The WaterRower is certainly an investment but the sturdy build and oak-stained ash make the added cost well worth the money. So, even though this rower for home use is pricey, you will find it is well worth the cost if it fits your budget.
3. Stamina ATS
Foldable and portable
Basic data monitoring
Inclined seat rail for easy return
Not as durable
Less natural movement
Loud fan noise
This wind resistance rower is the best bargain option at a fraction of the price of the top of the line models. It is a simple but sturdy at home rowing machine that provides a constant and progressive challenge along with basic data monitoring.Read more
Simplistic monitor displays speed, distance (in miles), time and calories burned. Air resistance fan provides a constant challenge as you row. This rower also needs a battery for its display screen, but it lasts a long time so you don't have to worry about switching it out too often.
Wide, padded seat and large footplates make this rower comfortable for users of any size. The seat rail is angled slightly to provide an easier return as your contract. Many users like the added leg workout as you push up the incline on extension but some seasoned rowers feel that the movement is less natural and prefer the standard flat rail.
The machine is 77 in x 18in x 22in and is fairly lightweight at just 54 lbs. It folds easily and has wheels on the front for easy storage. If you want a rowing machine for home use you can easily store and that works for most heights, you will love this one.
The noise level is comparable to that of a large fan. Some users also note a clicking noise with the chain but this seems to be resolved with a little oil.
This functional machine provides an excellent full-body workout at a fraction of the cost of the higher-end models. Most users note a solid build and surprisingly good quality for the price but a handful of others do have some premature breakage of the return spring.
4. Lifecore R100
Sophisticated monitor with 15 preset programs
Included heart rate monitor for heart rate-dependent programming
Data storage for up to 4 users
16 levels of magnetic resistance
This unique rowing machine utilizes a combination of air and magnetic resistance to offer a smooth rowing motion and 16 levels of resistance. It has a sophisticated computer display and data tracking that allows for up to 4 users. So, if you want a rower machine the whole family can use, you will love this one since it will let four of you track your progress as well.Read more
This home rower combines air resistance with 16 levels of magnetic resistance to offer unique preset programs with varied resistance. The air resistance will make some fan noise but the drive belt that replaces the standard chain in this machine operates silently.
Adjustable footrests accommodate a wide variety of shoe sizes to provide you with a solid platform to press off. The ergonomic handle features a 10-degree bend for a natural arm and hand positioning. Additionally, this machine aims some of the fan air at you to keep you cool through your workout.
This machine is a bit larger at 92 x 19 x 36 inches and 96 lbs but it folds to the size of 52 x 19 x 67 inches and can support users up to 600 lbs. The large blue backlit LCD display is easy to use during your row. It includes 15 preset pacer and watt dependent motivational programs and will store data for up to 4 users. It also comes with a heart rate monitor that is compatible with 4 polar heart rate control programs.
This solid rower for home gyms has a sturdy build and smooth operation that is easy to use for both beginners and experienced rowers. Many users report it provides a smooth and comfortable ride that doesn't leave them with ay discomfort--even after longer rowing sessions.
This sophisticated machine is more expensive but offers customizable resistance and a wide variety of preset programs. So, if this machine fits your budget you will find that it is worth every penny given the amazing features it has to offer.
5. First Degree Fitness Newport AR
Natural water resistance
Interval training programs
Rower moves a bit with intense workouts
This water resistance rower offers a smooth stroke that replicates the natural rowing motion. It is less expensive than the top of the line WaterRower and offers a nice computer display and solid build.Read more
Water-resistance becomes more difficult with speed and can be adjusted through the volume of water added to the tank. The tri-blade propeller spins through the water tank for a smooth and natural-feeling resistance. The seat glides smoothly on the track but some users note the machine sliding backward or lifting up slightly in the front when completing sprint workouts on this machine.
Computer displays time, distance, 500m split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts and has programming for interval training and heart rate reception. This rower is fairly quiet with a pleasant water sound from the propeller in the tank.
This rower machine is 78in x 21in x 20in and weight 68 lbs. It is designed with front wheels for easy upright storage and can support users up to 300 lbs.
This water rower provides you with a smooth ride that athletes love. It offers a great workout and really delivers the smooth feel of being on the water so you can really feel like you are on the water.
This machine is much less expensive than the high-end WaterRower but is still not considered a budget option. Users are pleased with the sturdy build and feel the natural water resistance is worth the investment.
6. Stamina Avari
Sophisticated data monitoring
12 workout programs
Movement feels a bit mechanical
Despite the slightly mechanical feel, this rowing machine has a smooth rowing motion and sophisticated programming and data monitoring for about half the price of the higher-end Concept2 and LifeCORE R100. So, if you like the pricier options but don't have the budget for it then you will want to check this one out.Read more
Magnetic resistance can be adjusted during your workout with simple buttons on the InTouch Fitness Monitor. The magnetic resistance feels a bit more mechanical but is easier to fine-tune than rowers that utilize air or water resistance.
The machine feels sturdy during workouts but some users feel the seat is very uncomfortable and stiff after 15-20 minutes of rowing. The LCD backlit fitness monitor tracks time, count, distance, calories, strokes per minute, pulse and watts. It also offers 12 workout programs including 4 custom user programs and 1 heart rate program.
This at home rowing machine is 81in x 20in x 24.5in and can support a maximum user weight of 275 lbs. It folds easily and is easy to store when not in use. The magnetic resistance and nylon chain makes for the silent operation of this rower.
As far as the ride goes, this home rower can be compared to that of the higher-end models as well. It delivers a smooth ride that isn't too bumpy and that keeps you nice and comfortable even when you want to row for long periods of time.
At around half the cost of the higher-end machines, this machine is a great option for those looking to save a bit of money. It offers similar data monitoring and personalized programming of the more expensive machines but utilizes a less expensive and more mechanical magnetic resistance.`
7. Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515
Smooth and silent operation
Foldable and portable
8 levels of resistance
No distance monitoring
Not ideal for sprint workouts
This basic rowing machine for home use is a great bargain for beginners and casual rowers. The magnetic resistance provides smooth and silent operation with 8 levels of resistance. If you are on a budget and looking for a simple machine to workout with--but not to train extensively on for professional competitions--this may be the right model or you.Read more
This machine utilizes a magnetic tension system with 8 levels of adjustable resistance. The movement of this magnetic resistance rower is very smooth but some users note the machine catching when they move too quickly through their stroke. Those planning for intense sprint workouts may consider a water or air rower instead.
Padded seat and non-slip handlebars are reasonably comfortable for long workouts. The foot pedals do pivot which is positive for some but tends to be uncomfortable for more experienced rowers. The magnetic resistance operates in near silence.
This machine is 82in x 19in x 23 in and supports users up to 250 lbs. With a little effort, it can be folded into a more compact size. Additionally, front wheels make for easy portability and storage. Large and simple LCD display monitors time, count, total count, calories and scan.
When it comes to the ride, this machine is designed to provide you with a smooth ride that you will enjoy, even when you are on the rower for extensive periods of time.
At a fraction of the price of the more complicated rowers, this machine is certainly a budget option. It is ideal for beginners and casual rowers that cannot justify the additional cost of all the bells and whistles associated with the higher end machines. Users note it is well made for the price but may require some maintenance over.
8. Stamina 1215
Compact and portable
Free motion arms provide a great upper body workout
Single button display
Resistance may be inconsistent
Difficult for shorter people to use
This compact and affordable rowing machine is ideal for those with little space in their home. It has free motion arms that provide an additional challenge for the upper body. The resistance is somewhat inconsistent so this machine may be best used for occasional cross training rather than regular rowing.Read more
Hydraulic resistance can be adjusted with a knob at the front of the machine. The ball-bearing system does take some time to warm up and will feel more difficult at the start of your workout. Single-button monitor allows you to view speed, distance, time, row count, calories burned and miles rowed.
Like many home rowers, the seat is quite hard and may be a bit uncomfortable after long workouts. This rower operates very quietly and is ideal for using while watching television or listening to music.
This ultra-compact rower has a footprint of just 32.5 x 48 inches and is portable at just 47 lbs. Users as tall as 6’3’’ report using this machine effectively. The manufacturer recommends a maximum weight of 250 lbs.
This machine features free moving orbital arms rather than the standard handle attached to a cable. This provides more range of motion for the shoulders but some users have difficulty getting a challenging ab and leg workout on this machine. Some users also note some issues with the knob that controls the resistance loosening as they row.
This machine is on the less expensive end of the price range for rowers. Those of you on a budget will love this one and if you have less space in your home for the rower then this may be a great options as well.
9. Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205
Light and compact
12 resistance settings
Comfortable foam handles
Best suited for beginners
Resistance tube becomes hot
Here we have another Sunny Health lower brand that comes at a great price and is an awesome option for anyone on a budget. It features a hydraulic resistant and is a perfect option for those of you just starting out. It is portable, small, and compact so you can easily store it in your home and get it out of the way when you need to.Read more
Hydraulic resistance that comes with 12 resistance settings. Without a fan or chain, this home rowing machine operates fairly quietly. The LCD monitor displays time, count, total count, calories and scan.
The seat is cushioned but many users note it wears down quickly and does not provide that much-added comfort. So, you won't have to worry about your bottom getting sore if you stay on it for more than five minutes.
As far as size goes, this rower is designed to be small and compact. It is easy to store out of the way if you need to and is easy to move around whenever you need to.
This machine works really well for those learning to row and those who are completing shorter workouts. More experienced rowers feel that the range of motion is a bit constricted, especially if you are outside of the average height range. Additionally, a few users note the resistance chamber has a tendency to heat up after some time so this may not be the best machine for longer workouts.
This is certainly a budget option and is one of the least expensive rowers on the market. Most users are pleasantly surprised by the sturdy build and smooth operation but if you are looking for a machine that can take some punishment you would be advised to look elsewhere.
This rower is really ideal for the casual or beginner rower but those with more experience would recommend investing quite a bit more in a more sophisticated machine.
10. Velocity Exercise CHR 2001
Built-in heart rate monitor
Not the most durable machine
Not a favorite among experienced rowers
The last one our list of best rowing machines for home is Velocity Exercise CHR 2001. This magnetic rower offers smooth resistance and sophisticated display for less than half the price of the top of the line. The silent operation and foldable, portable design make this a good option for small living spaces.Read more
Magnetic Resistance, This rower for home use offers smooth magnetic resistance with a seat that glides smoothly. It seems to work well for beginning rowers but some experienced rowers complain that the front of the stroke does not allow them to move far enough forward and even the highest resistance setting leaves something to be desired.
This machine comes with a built-in heart rate sensor and has an LCD monitor that displays time, count, strokes per minute, distance, calories, watt, and pulse as well as 12 programs to help you motivate yourself through your rowing workout. Users note the seat is a bit uncomfortable after 20-30 minutes of use.
This machine is foldable and has a relatively small frame at 80"L x 20"W x 29"H. It is suited for users up to 6’2’’ and has a maximum user weight of 275 lbs.
As far as the ride goes for this foldable rowing machine, you find this one is smooth at first but the longer you are on it the bumpier it will get. So, if you like long periods on the rower you may want to rethink this one.
This machine is not the least expensive option but it is less than half the price of the luxury models. Magnetic resistance offers almost silent operation.
11. MaxKare Water
Bulky and heavy
If you close your eyes as you row it may actually sound like you are out there on the water instead of in your musty garage!Read more
The use of water with this design uses an all-natural method of resistance that holds up well over time. As long as you have water to fill the chamber, you have a functional resistance method.
As with any MaxKare product, this design is made from quality materials that are comfortable to use on those long rides. Users love the padded and contour seat that cradles your rear end. The grips are coated in a thin layer of foam that promotes a comfortable non-slip grip even as your hands start to sweat.
This design boasts a clear water chamber so you can actually see the water splash around inside the unit as you start to pick up speed. It has a large footprint that most, so be sure that you measure your room before you take it home. When filled with water, it is also pretty heavy to move as well.
If you are in the market for something that is easy to use and comfortable, this design from MaxKare is a great option. Users love that it comes in at an affordable price point, and it creates a soothing sound of splashing water as you start to get into the rhythm.
Very narrow handlebars
This option from JOROTO is a little more slender and sleek than many of the other models out there on the market.Read more
It uses magnetic resistance to create tension on the line, and it has a detailed dashboard that allows you to keep tabs on the progress as you work out. Users along like it because it runs very quietly which is great for early morning workouts.
Users also like that the seat of this design is incredibly comfortable. While it doesn’t offer any padding (which often breaks down over time) the plastic seat contours to the shape of your body for a comfortable ride from beginning to end.
What users love most about this design is that it has super wide pedals for a non-slip grip that accommodates a wide variety of users. The central dashboard provides important information such as time traveled, calories burned, and distance in large numbers that are easy to read.
With a more compact frame and a quiet magnetic resistance ride, this design from JOROTO is worth checking out. We love that it is composed of quality materials that offer a great ride, and users love that it comes in at an affordable price point that won’t break the bank.
13. XTERRA Folding Magnetic
Affordable price point
What we love about XTERRa products is that they are often small and compact, and are also equipped with a small price tag. This design from XTERRA is no exception to that rule. Users love that it folds compactly when not in use, and has a super affordable price point that makes it worth checking out.Read more
This compact machine uses magnetic resistance inside of the frame which means it provides a smooth ride without taking up that much room in your home gym. The best feature of this option is that the seat folds up compactly against the base to clear up some room when you need it most.
The dashboard boasts a small LCD screen with large, easy to read numbers that detail your time traveled, calories burned, as well as your distance. What makes this display a little different is that it is able to be adjusted to sit higher or lower to make it easier to read.
With 8 levels of magnetic resistance, there is always a new challenge when it comes time to burn calories and build muscles in your legs and back.
Plus, it comes in at an affordable price point that gives you little reason not to give this option a look.
14. Fitness Reality 1000
Very weak resistance
This design boasts a small and compact footprint with powerful magnetic insides that really help you shed pounds. It is composed of strong and sturdy materials that stay in place while in use, and provide users with some helpful additional features to stay on top of their progress.Read more
We also like the smart design of the pedals. The wide pedals help to keep your feet securely in place with the aid of velcro straps the cinch around your shoes. This will prevent your feet from slipping off as you start to pick up the speed. The handlebars provide a comfortable grip with the aid of a layer of EVA foam.
The most notable feature of this design is its Bluetooth connectivity. It is able to sync with an app on your phone that measures your progress, time traveled, and calories burned. Users can set fitness goals right on the app, and it keeps tabs on how hard you are working towards your goal. It also has a small LCD screen that details your progress in real-time.
If you are on the market for something that comes with some of the extra bells and whistles of the commercial-grade options without the commercial-grade price tag, this is an excellent option.
15. Circuit Fitness Deluxe
Makes clicking noise
If you seem to be running out of space in your home gym for more equipment, this option from Circuit Fitness is a great alternative. It is composed of quality materials that help you shed pounds, and then it folds up compactly when you are finished with your workout.Read more
The most notable feature of this design is its super compact frame. It is powered by magnetic resistance inside of the super narrow casing.
When you need to clear up some floor space, this design folds in on itself and hosts a pair of wheels on the base that makes it easy to move to another area in your home.
The LCD dashboard provides a large screen in an easy-to-read location that shows you all of your important stats in real-time. Information provided includes your distance traveled calories burned, speed, and time in use. At an additional cost, you can also purchase a heart rate chest strap that also monitors your heart rate.
What we liked best about this design from Circuit Fitness is that it is super thin and compact. With a set of wheels on the base, it is also easy to move from room to room without straining your back. It also boasts 8 levels of magnetic resistance that is super easy to adjust without even getting off of the seat.
16. Mr. Rudolf
Solid oak construction
Backlit LCD display
Difficult to move
If you want something that has a style that will look great in any indoor space, Mr. Rudolf is an excellent choice. It is constructed of sturdy materials that are unlike anything else out there on the market.Read more
This design uses a central water tank to craft an all-natural water resistance. This super thick tank may be a little heavy, but it is more resistant to leaking when compared to other water tank designs.
It has wide ergonomic handlebars and a wide padded seat that contours to the shape of your body as you use it.
What really makes this design stand out from the crowd is the frame. Instead of being composed of ABS plastic or powder-coated metal, it is made from solid oak wood. The wood construction makes this design incredibly durable, as well as provide a sleek design to your indoor space.
Users find riding on this option to be incredibly smooth and comfortable if you are willing to pay a much higher price point.
It also comes equipped with a backlit LCD screen display that details all of the important information about your stationery travels. Mr. Rudolf is sleek and stylish and brings a lot of character to any indoor space. It is important to note, however, that the price of this design almost doubles the price of many of the options found on our list.
This design from ECHANFIT is slim and compact, and easy on your wallet. If you don’t have that much room in your home for big and bulky equipment, this option is a great choice.Read more
The very first thing that we noticed about this design is that it uses a magnetic belt system to create resistance on the line. Unlike many of the other models out there on the market that only offer 8-10 levels of resistance, ECHANFIT provides 16 levels of resistance. According to previous users, this design is also super silent for those early morning workouts.
Users love that it provides a smooth and comfortable ride, and it is super simple to set up and get moving!
Another great thing about this design is that it is able to be folded in half for quick and easy storage. The seat folds up against the base and locks in place, which saves you a lot of room in your home. The entire unit weighs in at just 61 pounds, which makes it easy to cart from room to room.
It provides a super quiet ride, and it also clocks in at a very affordable price point.
If you are in the market for something that is made from quality materials that won’t take up that much room in your home, this design is worth checking out.
18. MaxKare Magnetic
What we like about this design is that it is slim and sleek, and uses amagnetic resistance for a smooth and comfortable ride. It comes from a trusted brand that is known for quality components at a price point that won’t break the bank.Read more
User like that has a comfortable seat that is slightly padded, and padded handlebars that are easy on the hands.
The downside of this design is that it is not foldable like some of the other designs out there on the market, but it has a pair of wheels on the base for quick and easy transport.
What users love about this design is that it has a small and sleek frame that doesn't take up a lot of room in your home.
This design boasts a simple LCD screen display in the center of the unit with large and easy to read numbers. The screen displays time in use, calories burned, and distance traveled. Users can also adjust the tension on the line by simply turning a knob right below the display.
If you are in the market for something that clocks in at an affordable price point and is built to last, this is a great option from MaxKare.
19. Fitness Reality 3000WR
Angled water tank
Detailed LCD screen
The thing that makes this water resistance unit unique is that the water tank is angled to help keep the resistance on the line consistent and even. It has a slightly higher weight capacity than some of the other designs, and it boasts a sleek design that looks great in any indoor space.Read more
This unit boasts a center dashboard with large numbers that are easy to read, even when you are in motion. The dashboard details time in use, distance traveled, and calories burned. It will also be compatible with the MyCloudFitness App as of June of 2020.
The angled tank means that it doesn’t take up as much floor space as flat units.
What users really like about this design is that the water tank is angled. Often, when the water tank is flat it makes the tension on the line a little uneven as you transition your way through the movement.
If you are in the market for something that comes from a trusted brand and boasts a smart frame and water tank for excellent resistance, this option from Fitness Reality is worth checking out. It is important to note that the price tag is slightly higher than most, but it is far from the most expensive option out there.
20. Schwinn Crewmaster
10 resistance levels
Very low to the floor
What we liked about this design from Schwinn is that it is made from quality materials that you have come to expect from this brand. Users also love the comfort of the seat as well as the handles.Read more
Users place their feet on the oversize pedals and strap them into place to prevent them from slipping off as you start to fatigue. The contoured plastic seat is incredibly comfortable for long rides, and the handle is coated in a thin layer of foam to prevent slipping and blisters.
The compact LCD display shows users how many calories they have burned, time traveled, and distance traveled. To make adjustments to the tension on the line, simply turned the knob to set the line to your desired resistance. Resistance starts out at a level 1 and runs up to a level 10.
It has a smaller and compact design that won’t take up that much floor space in your home.
If you are in the market for something reliable that comes from a trusted brand, this is a great choice. It is important to note that the price tag is slightly higher than many of the other options out there on the market, but we feel that the added cost is well worth it.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Because these are in home rowers, they are not powered like your typical boat or canoe--so check out our reviews to see what you need to get your rower up and running (or should I say rowing?!)
In an actual boat, resistance is created when dragging the paddle through the water. Home rowing machines need to replicate this resistance in a small (and dry) space. They use a variety of mechanisms to do this and create the power needed to create resistance for your workout. -Air resistance is most common for professional rowing machines.
Similar to an exercise bike, these machines utilize a flywheel that is driven by pulling the chain during the rowing motion. As air flows through the fan it creates progressive resistance on the flywheel, so the faster you row the more resistance you are met with. This progressive resistance is smooth and replicates the sensation of rowing through water fairly well.
Many professional rowers prefer air rowers for training as there is a “flat spot” where the resistance drops during the recovery. This simulates the change in resistance as you lift your paddle from the water before your next stroke.
Water Resistance Rowers
Water resistance rowers have been growing in popularity. They use a propeller-like flywheel that spins in a small tank of water at the front of the rower. As the propeller speeds up it is met with more resistance from the water in the tank and also becomes progressively more difficult to pull.
Water rowers do not have the same “flat spot” as an air rower and instead present a consistent resistance during both contraction and extension.
Magnetic Resistance Rowers
Magnetic resistance is very popular for at home rowing machines as it operates silently, requires very little maintenance and does not take up much space. This type of resistance employs strong magnets to create resistance on a metal flywheel. Magnetic resistance is easy to adjust during your workout and you will often see rowers with multiple levels of resistance.
These rowers offer a great full-body workout but do not simulate the resistance of rowing on the water as accurately.
Hydraulic Resistance Rowers
Hydraulic resistance rowers have been decreasing in popularity over the years. They do not require a flywheel and therefore can be much smaller, lighter, and quieter than other options. These machines have pistons in the handles that create resistance. This still provides a challenging workout but the movement is a bit more awkward and much less fluid.
The rower you get should be comfortable and easy to use, so make sure to take a look at how the rower you consider stands up to your specific needs.
An effective at home rowing machine is a rowing machine you actually use. And a rowing machine you actually use is likely to be a comfortable one. There are four large factors when it comes to comfort for this type of equipment. The seat, the handles, the size, and the design. The seat and handles seem like obvious factors.
The seat needs to be well-designed, ergonomic, and possibly cushioned to ensure your comfort during use. It can be unpadded, so long as it's designed in a way that compliments the user's body. We recommend reading through some reviews before buying. You can often find some that are written by people with a similar body type to yours.
By seeing what their experience has been to help determine if the seat with be comfortable for you. The next thing to think about is the handles. All of the machines on our list have comfortable handles, but some more than others. We recommend looking for handles that are padded with materials that are soft and non-abrasive.
Again, reading through some reviews can help you get a handle, pun fully intended, on whether or not the product is right for you. We've considered over a thousand reviews in making this list and rated the comfort level of each machine, but don't take our word for it. An informed buyer is a happy buyer.
The size is important when it comes to comfort because depending on how tall or short you are a smaller or larger machine may not offer you the full range of motion you desire. In our research, we looked at all of these factors and assigned each product a score depending on how much comfort it offers the user.
If you're especially short or tall, however, we again recommend you read some reviews for the products you're considering and look for someone with a similar body type to yours to see what their experience has been like.
If you plan on putting this rower in your home gym, make sure to take accurate measurements of your space and the rower before you make your purchase.
Size and portability are important for any home exercise machine. If your home is small or just full, every square foot counts so we looked for options that are streamlined and have features that make them easy to fold and store. What are your plans for this rowing machine in your home? Rowing machines vary widely in weight and portability.
Do not invest in a heavy-duty machine if you will need to move it regularly. Also, consider your available storage space. Do you have space to flip the rower upright and place it against the wall? Or will you need a foldable model that can fit in the closet? If you have a dedicated space and/or a home gym we recommend buying the best and biggest machine you can afford.
Home rowing machines really are one of the best ways to exercise at home, offering you a full-body, non-impact workout that's highly versatile and effective. Even if you've never used one before we feel confident that you'll fall in love with it, so don't skimp and buy a cheap machine that won't last long.
Oftentimes the smaller rowing machines for home gyms are the cheap ones, so take this into consideration before buying. Another tip we wanted to offer you is to carefully measure the space where you intend to put the machine before you even start shopping. We recommend a minimum of 18" of open space on all sides of the machine.
This will allow you room for the exercise itself, as well as space, to easily perform routine maintenance and troubleshooting should something go wrong.
Much like a treadmill, your ride on the rower should be nice and smooth with minimal bumpiness--so you stay comfortable and can focus on your performance and endurance.
How the seat and your body rides on the machine as you move through your rowing movement makes a big difference in how effective and enjoyable your workout is. The fluidity of the movement is largely dependent on the machine's resistance type. However, it is also important that the seat glides easily over the tracks.
A solidly built machine that will not wobble or slide on the floor is the ideal of what you're looking for here. Likewise, a well-built and solid machine won't shake and wobble during use which can cause a lot of noise. The sound a rower makes is also dependent on the resistance type and quality of the machine, but a solid build goes a long way towards the quiet operation.
Many users love the pleasant whirring sound of the water-resistance while others are not bothered by the louder fan noise of the air resistance models and some are. Still, other people with thin walls may prefer the silent operation of hydraulic resistance. Another good tip is to buy a mat to put underneath your rowing machine.
This can further help to insulate it from the ground and any shaking and subsequent noise that may occur. Finally, regular simple maintenance of the machine will help it continue to ride smooth and quiet. This can be as easy and simple as keeping the track free and clear of debris, and well oiled. We recommend using the simple 3-in-1 oil that's available at any hardware store and that you may already have at home.
WD-40 is an excellent product, but it contains elements that actually stick to things permanently which leads you to have to use more and more of it over time. Bike lube is another product that works well and that many fitness enthusiasts may already have at home.
Whether you are on a budget or have all of the money in the world, you need to make sure the rower you decide to get brings value to your life and doesn't just fit your budget.
Like anything else, when it comes to home rowing machines, you often get what you pay for. There are plenty of inexpensive options out there but they will have very basic monitors, a simple design, and may require maintenance or even replacement down the road--so make sure to take a look at all of the features the rower has to offer before you make your purchase!
This may not matter for those dabbling in rowing but people committed to making this part of their long-term fitness routine may consider investing more upfront for a high-quality machine that will last a long, long time. We always recommend that our readers buy the highest quality gear that they can afford.
As mentioned above, you get what you pay for, and saving a few bucks on the front end for low-quality things can actually cost you more in the long run because not only do cheap things typically break down and need to be replaced which costs you extra money, it also takes a lot of time and hassle to replace them, and we like to have as little hassle in our lives as possible and want the same thing for you, our valued readers.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The computers on these machines often make the difference between a $1000 price tag and a $500 one. The most basic rowers display simple data such as time, distance and calories while you are rowing.
More sophisticated computers allow for more specific and accurate data tracking that can even be stored and monitored over time. The best computers will allow users to create profiles to track their long-term progress.
The fluidity of the movement is largely dependent on resistance type. However, it is also important to find a seat that glides easily over the tracks and a solidly built machine that will not wobble or slide on the floor.
Rowing is a very simple movement to learn. Nonetheless it will pay off in the long run if you invest a little bit of time in learning to do the movement correctly from the beginning.
This will lead to a more effective workout as well as minimize the risk of injury. Here is a link to a short video with athletes from the US Olympic rowing team showing you how to properly use a rowing machine.
Other Factors to Consider
The computers on these machines often make the difference between a $1,000 price tag and a $500 one. The most basic rowers display simple data such as time, distance, and calories while you are rowing. More sophisticated computers allow for more specific and accurate data tracking that can even be stored and monitored over time.
The best computers will allow users to create profiles to track their long-term progress and they often feature or are compatible with preset programming to keep you working hard through your entire workout. This is a great and easy way if you want to be able to track your progress and continue pushing your endurance to the next level.
If you get really serious about your rowing game you may also want to invest in other accessories that will help you be as comfortable as possible. Those of you who use a rower to train for actual rowing competitions will really want to keep track of your times and hold your form, so make sure to use any accessories you need to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Besides an at home rowing machine, what else do I need to row in my home gym?
Not much is required for rowing at home. Many people choose to buy a mat to place under the rower to reduce noise and protect the floor. It is recommended to row with shoes on but any rubber-soled, closed-toed shoe should work just fine. Additionally, some rowers like to wear gloves to protect from blisters and calluses during long workouts.
q: What is proper rowing form?
Proper rowing form consists of 4 stages:
- 1. Begin in the “catch” position with the seat pushed forward. The back should be straight and the knees should be bent with arms extended to hold the bar or handles of the rower.
- 2. The “drive” is the motion of pushing off the feet pads. Begin by powering through the heels to straighten the legs then pull the cable to the chest.
- 3. The “finish” position ends with legs extended, shoulders back and arms pulled to your chest with the wrists straight.
- 4. The “recovery” movement reverses the “drive” by first extending the arms and then bending the knees to return to the “catch” position.
Proper form is very important, so make sure to take time to watch some videos or work with a trainer when you are first starting out.
q: Why should I get my own rowing machine for home use?
There are many great benefits to rowing. To list a few:
- It strengthens the whole body
- Burns a lot of calories
- A machine doesn’t take up a lot of space and is easy to move around
- Improves overall fitness
- Targets all the major muscle groups
- Increases cardiovascular capacity
With a rowing machine, you will have the opportunity to strengthen your whole body with just one machine! This is a lot cheaper than going out and investing in different cardio machines for different purposes. The machine does not take up a lot of space, which is another factor in why it is so good for training at home.
You will get in a lot better shape and rowing also great if you want to drop some quick pounds or strengthen all or your muscle groups.
q: Are rowing machines noisy?
Whether you have kids at home or just like peace and quiet while you're working out, noise is a good thing to think about while you're shopping for a rowing machine. Yes, some machines are noisy. But not all of them. Magnetic rowers tend to be the quietest, with water rowers coming in a close second.
Unfortunately, some of the budget options on our list were reviewed as being somewhat noisy, but that's the nature of this kind of equipment.
q: What are the benefits of a rowing machine vs. another cardio machine?
The biggest benefit of a rowing machine is the total body workout it can give you. Treadmills only work your legs, and even elliptical machines and stair climbers don't give your upper body nearly as much of a workout as your lower body. Rowing, however, is a near-perfectly balanced exercise.
This will help you build and maintain strength throughout your entire body as well as fluidity and power throughout your kinetic movement. Check out the best rowing machines above to start getting a great cardio workout from the comfort of your own home.