Indoor rowing mimics the actual rowing on a boat, and applies the same principles in an indoor setting, albeit in the absence of water in most of the set ups. As such, the best rowing machines fully works out your body. You get to sculpt your glutes, hamstrings, and back, maintain aerobic fitness, and burn tons of calories.
Outdoor running and treadmills do not offer that much whole body cardiovascular workout. Apart from this reason, there are plenty more reasons why you should invest in a rowing machine.
- 1 10 Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2020
- 1.1 1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Best Overall
- 1.2 2. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine – Best for Full-Body Workout
- 1.3 3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Rower
- 1.4 4. Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer – Best for Glutes and Squat
- 1.5 5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Adjustable Resistance
- 1.6 6. Stamina ATS Air Rower – Best Air Rower
- 1.7 7. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best for Connectivity
- 1.8 8. Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower – Best for Quiet Environments
- 1.9 9. MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower – Best Water Rower
- 1.10 10. Merax Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine – Best Foldable Rower
- 2 How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine
- 3 Tips on Using Rowing Machines
- 4 Rowing Machines FAQs
- 5 Conclusion
10 Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2020
|Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Best Overall||
|Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine – Best for Full-Body Workout||
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Rower||
|Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer – Best for Glutes and Squat||
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Adjustable Resistance||
|Stamina ATS Air Rower – Best Air Rower||
|Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best for Connectivity||
|Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower – Best for Quiet Environments||
|MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower – Best Water Rower||
|Merax Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine – Best Foldable Rower||
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Best Overall
It is for good reason that the Concept2 Model D is one of the bestselling indoor rowing machines. The rides on this machine are smooth, with no noise (manageable at times). It comes fitted with a PM5 performance monitor, for reliable real time monitoring and calibration of your workout data. Every purchase of the machine has preset workouts for added convenience.
With the PM5 monitor, users can transfer data from the machine to a computer via a USB port. In this way, you can easily track your fitness goals. Better yet, the monitor connects through Bluetooth to apps and heart rate monitoring belts. Fitted with a rubber seat, this rower is comfortable for users of all fitness levels.
For an even smoother ride, you can adjust the footrest position to suit your need. The handle is ergonomic too, meaning less strain on your palms during an intense workout. If you have an inseam of more than 38”, then you might want to acquire a longer monorail for additional comfort when working out. The Concept2 is designed to most users since it has a 14” high seat. Plus, the machine can withstand a maximum weight of 500 pounds. That range should accommodate almost users weight ranges. After a workout, the machine separates into two pieces, making it easier to store. At the same time, putting it up requires screwing only 8 screws.
- Easy to store
- Excellent PM5 Monitor
- Easy to use
- Comfortable firm seat and footrests
- Accommodates most users
- Small footprint
- Ergonomic handle
- Controllable air resistance
- Easy to manage workout data
- You may find the firm seat uncomfortable
2. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine – Best for Full-Body Workout
The Stamina Body Trac Glider literally simulates rowing in an actual boat rowing on water. It features a unique design which works out the whole body since the motion targets major muscle groups. Some of the major muscles the full motion of the arms targets includes glutes, abs, arms, legs, and back. Rowing improves cardio vascular health and aids in calorie loss.
During workouts, an easy to read LCD monitor outputs all your workout data. These includes stroke count, the duration of the workout, strokes accumulated thus far, and the number of calories burned. Since the resistance is offered by hydraulic cylinders, you can adjust workout intensity to your specific preference.
Keeping yourself comfortable during strenuous exercises such as this one is of utmost importance. To this regard, the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 features a molded seat. This seat is ergonomically designed to take off pressure from your lower back, for comfort. As such users of all lengths can use the rower without experiencing back aches. Additionally, foot rests are textures in such a manner that ensures no slippage as workouts get sweaty. For added stability, nylon straps are included on the foot rests. Nearly all feet sizes fit right into the allocated spaces. For those who are limited in storage space, the rower’s arms can be folded, to reduce on the storage foot print after exercising.
- Folding arms for minimalistic storage
- Full range of arm movements
- Adjustable hydraulic pressure resistance
- Ergonomic molded seat
- Adjustable nylon foot straps for all feet sizes
- LCD monitor displays workout data in real-time
- Foam padded grips
- Smooth rowing strokes
- Sturdy and stylish steel frame
- Plastic bushing on the pivoting mechanism wears out fast
- Foot rests only works with specific types of shoes
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Rower
Sunny Health and Fitness has been in the forefront of helping people achieve their fitness goals, no matter how unique their requirements are. One of these premier high quality fitness products is the SF-RW5515 rowing machine. It uses a magnetic principle to generate the resistance, which you have to overcome by pulling on a handle.
First, the SF-RW5515 rowing machine comes with a digital monitor. This monitor displays the time and count, enabling you to focus solely on your workout routine. An integrated scan mode displays the progress you make in order to assist you keep track of your fitness goals. Moreover, this LCD console is large enough, to minimize viewing strain as you exercise.
In order to accommodate a wide range of rower sizes, the SF-RW5515 has a long slide rail. The rail measures about 48 inches in total, with an inseam length of 44”. Hence, short and tall rowers can be comfortably accommodated on the machine. For those intending on moving their rowers, there are transportation wheels in place for portability. As stated, this rower uses the principle of magnetic resistance. Depending on your level of fitness, you have a way of adjusting the magnetic resistance. With the twist of a knob, hardness levels can be varied through 8 levels. This is a great way of challenging yourself as you grow your fitness journey.
- 8 resistance levels
- Inbuilt transportation wheels
- Large digital LCD console
- Long slide rail
- Nonslip foot pedals
- Foam grip handles
- Easy to store
- Cushioned seat
- Incredibly quiet
- No way of tracking distance rowed
- Tiny monitor
4. Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer – Best for Glutes and Squat
The best way of working out is combining a number of routines at a go. If you can get a machine that works out your entire body in a single equipment, then the better for you. The Squat Assist Row and Ride trainer is a versatile rowing machine for gettingyour glutes worked out and performing squats.
Fitted with three resistance levels, the resistance bands can be adjusted through three steps. You can start your exercising warm and challenge your body by upping the resistance levels. Though these variations, you are able to keep your workout both fun and productive. The three bands has each adding 22 pounds of resistance when engaged.
It is easy to track your progress on this rowing machine, thanks to a digital monitor screen. The screen showcases both distance and time spent exercising, so that you can concentrate on your body. Besides tracking time and distance, the monitor also tracks calories expended during a particular workout outing. Unlike traditional squats that leave you feeling instead and unbalanced, the Row and Ride atones for that. This squat assist rower improves body support since it comes with a comfortable seat. In the end, you end up with well-toned muscles. Advanced ergonomic handlebars delivers multiple hand positions, for a comfy prolonged ride.
- Proper squat positioning
- Adjustable handlebars
- Convenient monitor
- Adjustable bands resistance
- Training videos available for reference
- Adjustable squat depth
- Lightweight, sturdy aluminum
- Very stable
- Easy to assemble
- Painful to use for some people
- Does not feel supportive because of the lightweight construction
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Adjustable Resistance
Tailoring the rigidity of the rowing action is a key element of a successful workout routine. By starting light and increasing the workload as you progress, you achieve better workout results while challenging yourself more. The SF-RW1205 rowing machine is one of the best rowing machines with a variable resistance.
For starters, the hydraulic cylinder has 12 levels which you can step through. If you are a starter, we suggest you start your workout light, making sure not to overload your body. As your fitness level increases, increase the hardness level, giving your body a new set of hurdle to overcome. While at it, a digital monitor helps tracks all your performance essentials.
The monitor outputs data such as time, scan function, calories, and total count. Since the rowing machine is adjustable in most aspects, including the pedal straps, users of most sizes can use it. The pedal straps adjusts to foot sizes. Also, you can tailor your workout by leveling the rower to within your space with the use of stabilizers. As you row your way to full body sculpture, it is important to stay comfortable at all times. That’s why this rower has foam padded pivoting handlebars. These stay soft to touch, while remaining non-slippery as you begin to sweat. With a compact design, the rower takes up a small space when fully assembled and folded up for storage. Skid free design keeps rower in place.
- Easy to assemble
- Impressive built in timer and calories counter
- Moderate effort, maximum returns
- Takes up minimal space
- Innovative foot straps
- Padded seat relieves pressure points
- Hydraulic piston prone to leakage
- Heats up too much
6. Stamina ATS Air Rower – Best Air Rower
When looking for the best air based rower, look no further than the Stamina ATS Air Rower. It is widely regarded among the fitness community as one of the most effective gadgets for toning major muscle groups, bettering cardiovascular health, and initiating fat loss metabolism processes. Plus, it is an affordable, yet versatile option to your rowing needs.
You may ask, why wind/air resistance? Well, this type of rowing machines is a hit among fitness enthusiasts owing to its ease of operation and the ability to vary the resistance through different levels. By simply increasing your rowing strokes, the resistance intensity increases, while slowing down on the strokes reduces the difficulty levels.
Also fitted onto the rowing machine is a multi-function monitor that monitors your rowing speed, calories burned, and time spent thus far on the rowing machine. A well-padded, upholstered seat gives riders a smooth, bother-free ride. Large foot plates are fitted with adjustable straps to accommodate virtually all foot sizes. The Stamina ATS is designed to make you comfortable in the long run. An oversized rail allows the seat to smoothly slide, accommodating your body in the process. This feature is great as it allows you to achieve your fitness goals soon enough. Textured grips compliment the oversized foot plates to make you stable throughout the rowing strokes.
- Looks great
- Excellent functionality
- User friendly
- Can be used by any age group
- Can be stored in a closet
- Minimal maintenance
- Loud fan
- Basic digital interface
7. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best for Connectivity
The Fitness Reality 1000 is one of the best rowing machines you can get your hands on currently. It possess some functions not found in a vast majority of the rowing machines in the market. There are additional exercises it can perform through the integration of whole body low impact workouts. The exercises targets the triceps, thighs, shoulders, biceps, and forearm.
When it comes to connectivity, this rowing machine is well ahead of its peers. With a cloud based connectivity, the machine connects to MyCloudFitness App that is available on iOS as well as Android systems. By using these applications, you are able to track the outcome of your workouts. Moreover, the Bluetooth Connectivity allows you to remotely monitor calories burned, distances covered, and the duration of exercise.
With an extra wide handlebar, you get a comfortable way of rowing your virtual boat. The handlebar comes with 14 level tension setting, giving you a customized workout routine. Dual tension magnetic resistance is easy to control. Comfy padding on the handle grips keeps you enthused to your fitness time. There is an impending patent for the addition if a stabilizer foot pad on this rower machine. This feature would essentially avail more exercises such as triceps extensions, curls, shrugs, bent over rows, and shoulder presses. There is a 250 pounds limit on this rowing machine. A 5” LCD display shoes scan, strokes per min, calories consumed, time, and total strokes.
- Adjustable rear floor stabilizers
- No rocking motion
- Comfortable contoured seat
- Additional exercises apart from rowing
- Easy to manipulate 14 level magnetic resistance
- Extra wide handlebar
- Smart Cloud Fitness
- Gives a full body workout
- Space saving
- Low weight limit
- Seat is uncomfortable for extended exercising
8. Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower – Best for Quiet Environments
The thing about rowing machines is that they can tend to be pretty loud, especially the air blower types. However, newer innovative systems uses magnetic drums and nylon belts to create a noise free exercises environment. Even if some noise is produced, it should be manageable levels not to disrupt others, especially if the machine is used at home.
The Velocity Exercise is one such rowing machine. It features a magnetic drum control system that electronically controls the tensions of the rower. As a result, friction levels are optimized, thus building your strength and endurance capabilities. This magnetic drum is fitted with nylon belts which creates a whisper quiet environment.
This Velocity magnetic rowing machine is fitted with a chest strap to monitor your heart rates. During such intense cardiovascular sessions, monitoring your heart rates is essential to knowing when to stop for a break. The frame is constructed from anodized aluminum rectangular tubing. Aluminum guarantees both sturdiness and lightweightness. With a maximum weight limit of 275 pounds, this rower should accommodate pretty much everyone. A molded and padded seat keeps your lower back stress free for maximum concentration on your workout. Thanks to an innovative folding design, the rower conveniently slides into tight storage spaces.
- Whisper quiet operation
- Sturdy, lightweight frame
- Full body workout
- Convenient folding design
- Versatile LCD display monitor
- Easy assemble
- High quality construction
- Can get damaged with ease
- Difficult to row at the highest tension setting
9. MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower – Best Water Rower
If rowing machines adopt outdoor rowing, then it would be great to include an element of water in the working principles of some of some of the machines, right? Well, the MaxKare does exactly that. The equipment is designed to give you a real life rowing experience. Also, they make rowing enjoyable, thus contributing to your improved health.
For an extra challenge, the MaxKare features a race mode. This mode increases the rowing intensity to maximize on the overall health benefits. Consequently, rowers realize relieved spinal pressure, protected knees as well as alleviation of both back and shoulder pains. Moreover, a whole body workout prevents you from developing lumbar muscle strain.
The maximum permissible weight on this rower is about 264 pounds. In case you weigh more than this, then you have to start working out on another machine before proceeding to the MaxKare water rowing machine. You have the option of adjusting the LCD monitor mounted on the rower to your preferred position for optimum visibility as you toil on the machine. An additional stabilizer at the back of the rower acts as means of ensuring the machine is at a level position before you set out on it. For easy movement of the rower from room to room, you have built in wheels, so that you simply roll the machine over. A water holder at your fingertips keeps you hydrated during your workouts. Filling the water to your training target acts as the resistance adjustment mechanism.
- Inbuilt wheels for easy transport
- Stabilizer for leveling
- Adjustable footplates
- Well cushioned seat
- Adjustable LCD monitor position
- Innovative competition mode
- Durable steel frame
- Some units leak when stored in a certain position
- Can be difficult to maintain operational
10. Merax Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine – Best Foldable Rower
The Merax Magnetic rowing machine boasts of a seat sail angles at 15 degrees to ensure smooth gliding during a rowing workout. Also, the machine frame is foldable, making it easy to transport and store after a training session. Moreover, the machine has 8 levels of resistance, allowing you to switch up workout intensity with the simple twist of a knob.
Because of a rotary design and fully padded seat, your workout sessions become supportive, so that you don’t develop back and bottom pains. Also, blood flow to your glutes improve as you don’t have too much pressure. Vigorous workouts like rowing requires blood to flow through the body unabated.
Large strapping on the footplates seamlessly fits a wide range of feet sizes. At the same time, user relaxation is optimized while rowing. As you work out, you can track your exercising data through the convenient LCD display monitor. In addition, you can modify your current routine, based on the numbers that you output on the monitor. A built in magnetic flywheel minimizes noise production, suitable for indoor exercising. At the same time the low noise allows you to concentrate solely on the work at hand.
- Silent and smooth rows
- Convenient storage
- Smooth running magnetic flywheel
- Low impact exercising
- Whole body workout
- Foot plate fits most feet sizes
- Flexible resistance variations
- Monitor battery falls off
- Can be challenging to assemble
How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine
When looking to buy a rowing machine, you are most likely to be met by an overwhelming amount of information. Some of these are crucial, while others are not. All in all, there are a number of critical features to consider when looking to buy the best rowing machines.
1. Resistance Principle
A rowing machine works on the principle of resistance to an applied force. The resistance applied varies from product to another. These are the most common resistance you will come across :
Just like the name, these types of rowing machines are powered by a stream of air being pushed through the flywheel located at the front. Because of the working principles, these rowers can be noisy.
As a result, do not buy this type of you will use the rower in a quiet place. Moreover, if you have people watching TV at the same time you work out, then this is not the rower for you. However, this type is common in gyms since they are regarded as the best for commercial purposes.
The flywheel is connected to the rowing handle through a chain. Pulling on the chain spins the wheel. In order to increase the resistance, you have to increase the rowing stroke on the flywheel and vice versa.
These types of rowers are new entrants into the rowing machines market. They use paddles and water as the mechanism for creating the required resistance. Because of this feature, the machines run quiet and smooth.
Usually, the water tank is located at the front part. Then the handle is connected to the paddles through a chain from the water tank. As water moves, it opposes the motion of the paddles, thus producing resistance that makes for a workout routine.
Those who have used this type of rowers agree that they are close to the smooth and even strokes typical of natural rowing conditions. However, owing to their relative unpopularity, water resistance rowers are quite expensive.
These strikes a balance between affordability absent in water-based rowers and noise levels of air-based rowers. In addition, these models are compact, making them ideal choices for those limited in space.
Magnets attach the rower handle to the flywheel through a chain connection. By using either mechanical knobs or digital controls, the degree of resistance can be controlled. Quite and smooth operations characterize a magnetic resistance rowing machine.
Of the four types, these are the most affordable and simplest in design. They use pistons which you resist the pulling action on the handle. That being said, they are not the smoothest to operate. Still, they provide a good way of working out.
2. Compact Design
Before proceeding to buying a rowing machine, consider your available space either when using the machine or storage space once you are done. You may not have a dedicated are on which to work out, so you need to make do with what you have.
Consider a rower with a foot print that fits into your available space at full stretch and when folded for storage. Generally, the magnetic types are the most compact and space saving.
3. LCD Monitor
All rowing machines come fitted with a computer to at least highlight the most vital data about a workout. It is the information displayed and the manner of display that differs from product to product.
The best rowing machines have monitors with programmed workouts, calories counts, as well as the ability to monitor heart rates. These are compatible with heart rate monitoring belts and chest straps. The ability to record a workout, challenge yourself more, and keep track of all your essential data is a bonus feature of rowing machines.
Tips on Using Rowing Machines
Starting a rowing workout indoors becomes easier if you have the basic tips to get you started. These helps to lessen the burden on you and minimize chances of making costly mistakes either on the machine or on your body.
- Always start rowing on the lowest resistance level. This makes you comfy as you increase the difficulty gradually.
- Sit on the padded seat, then securely fit your feet to the provided pads.
- Maintaining correct posture alleviates chances of injuries
- Keep your back straight during the catch stroke. Arms should be extended as you hold the rower handles
- Next, for the drive stroke, perform a controlled push as you push hard on the foot plates with straightened legs. Do this while pulling the rower cord towards your chest
- Have your wrists straight and not curled during the finish phase
- Straighten your arms and bend your knees for the recovery phase. It is during this stroke that your core muscles and abs get a thorough workout.
- Have your workout shoes on at all times. Exercising barefoot can be dangerous
Rowing Machines FAQs
Q: How much time should you spend on a rowing Machine?
A: In general, you should spend about 20 minutes on a rowing machine. However, the time should be shorter for beginners with a recommended 500 meters in about 6 minutes. You can divide your workout into sessions to avoid muscle burnout.
Q: How many calories does a rowing machine burn?
A: It is estimated that about 1,000 calories are burned in an hour on a rowing machine. However, this figure varies depending on the intensity of the workout. A rower expends almost a similar amount of calories as going uphill on a treadmill.
Q: Are there specific models for tall and short people?
A: If you are either tall or short, you may want to check on the inseam length and rail length of the rower. Most of the products have this dimension specified. Choose a length that makes you as comfortable as possible.
Fitness and health experts alike agree that rowing machines are some of the best workout equipment. It targets major muscle groups, giving them an intense workout in the process. Better yet, you are able to monitor the progress of your splits as you continue to exercise. These equipment do more than just cardio exercises.
As you look for the best machine out there, consider your fitness levels and budget. It is great having the best buy at your budget range. Our top pick for the best rowing machine is the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine as it is fitted with some of the latest workout monitoring technologies. The included monitor has Bluetooth capabilities for effective heart rate monitoring. Handles are ergonomic, footrests adjust to a specific comfort level, and it has a 300 pound weight limit. Moreover, the equipment quickly separates into two pieces, making for easy storage.