Best Rowing Machines

Modern technology has given a huge boost in performance for indoor rowing machines, which now operate as well as gym rowing machines and providing a bevy of features to give you an effective full body work out. Some of the best rowing machines nowadays are designed for in-home use, and give you a great exercise plan to meet all of your training needs.

Since there are so many options in rowing machines available for purchase today, we’ve created a list of the best rowing machines to help save you some time when you make your selection. We’ve also provided you with a list of criteria you’ll want to consider so that you are able to buy the rowing machine that’s right for you.

XEBEX AIR ROWER
  • XEBEX AIR ROWER
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy setup
  • Price: See Here
WATERROWER NATURAL
  • WATERROWER NATURAL
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Includes S4 monitor
  • Price: See Here
BODYCRAFT VR 500
  • BODYCRAFT VR 500
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easily adjustable resistance
  • Price: See Here

10 Best Rowing Machines

 

Xebex Air Rower

Xebex Air Rower
Xebex has a long-standing, renowned background as a manufacturer of excellent work out equipment, and the Xebex Air Rower fits right along with Xebex’s other products as an excellent performing piece of equipment. Since it’s affordably priced, durable, and provides a bevy of great features, you’ll be able to get a great full body work out without burning a hold in your pocket book.
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Features: Built to be as strong as gym rowers, you’ll get a strong, durable quality machine you can use anytime you want comfortably in your home. You get ten resistance levels and an effective air rower that mimics strokes with smoothness.
Monitor: The LCD monitor build into this rower is large and easy to see, and also features large buttons so that you can easily adjust things and monitor your work out progress as you exercise. Plus, the machine features several work out programs to help you vary up your exercise plan.
Design: Xebex’s Air Rower comes with a strong, long lasting base that offers a lot of stability and support. The seat on this rower is also very comfortable, and you get handles that have plenty of padding on them.
Ease of Use: Xebex’s Air Rower comes with few parts and is very simple to put together utilizing their easy step-by-step directions. You can complete the set up in under an hour, and also easily fold the rower up for compact storage.
Pros
  • 5 Year Warranty

  • Durable

  • Smooth

  • Easy to use and setup

Cons
  • Can monitor heart rate but heart rate monitor doesn’t come with machine.

  • Not overly loud, but could be quieter when in use.

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

WaterRower’s Natural Rowing Machine provides you with an excellent full body work out machine that’s easy to use and developed with a lot of variety in programs. Manufactured to handle all skill levels, this machine works great for people just starting out, or those wanting a more intense work out.
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Features: Since this rower has a wooden design, it offers a very smooth stroke performance, and also operates quietly. Plus, the water fly wheel on this rower brings you plenty of options for resistance to help you meet your work out goals.
Monitor: Manufactured with an S4 Performance Monitor, you’ll be easily to see your work out data and also utilize the various programs on this rower. The monitor is simple and efficient, and you’ll always know where you stand each time you exercise.
Design: The design of this rower is very attractive, since it comes with hand-crafted wood, making it stylish in appearance when compared to other rowing machines. It also features a comfortable seat and easy-to-use handles, so that you’ll always feel content whenever you exercise.
Ease of Use: WaterRower’s Natural Rowing Machine comes without many parts to piece together, and includes a full set of directions. It’s very easy to put this machine together, and it also folds up easily for compact storage.
Pros
  • Provides a great work out

  • Easy to use and put together

  • Smooth

  • Good monitor

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Handles can wear out easily

BodyCraft VR 500 Commercial Rower

BodyCraft’s VR 500 Commercial Rower is designed to offer you an effective workout machine that can produce excellent results. With this rower, you’ll get a smooth performance and an easy-to-use system.
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Features: BodyCraft’s VR 500 Commercial Rower is made with a fan you can control electronically, 32 resistance levels, and a smooth performance. Plus, it also comes with a heel rest and foot straps you can adjust easily each time you work out.
Monitor: Designed with an LCD screen that also features an LED backlit display, the text on the screen is easy to see, and allows you to keep track of your workout progress. Plus, the monitor is simple and easy to use, making your exercise time much easier.
Design: BodyCraft’s VR 500 Commercial Rower has a comfortable grip system with an aluminum handlebar, and also gives you an easy way to adjust resistance with the push of a button. Plus, the system is made to store easily, and designed to last.
Ease of Use: BodyCraft’s VR 500 Commercial Rower comes with step-by-step directions that make the setup process easy, although the manufacturer does offer to help set-up this rower at an additional cost. Also, this rower comes with an easy fold and roll system so that you can fold it up when you aren’t using it in less than a few seconds, and then use the child safety locks for added protection.
Pros
  • Easy to fold up

  • Child locks

  • Smooth workout

  • Easy to adjust resistance

Cons
  • Battery in monitor can wear out quickly.

  • Foot straps sometimes feel awkward.

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
Velocity’s Exercise CHR-2001 Magnetic Rower offers you an affordable option for a durable, quality magnetic rowing system that provides an effective full body workout. You’ll get a smooth work out with an easy-to-use machine that you can adjust as you see fit.
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Features: This rower comes with a Drum Magnetic Control System that allows you to adjust resistance whenever you need to. It also has an electronic tension control design, and can hold up to 275 pounds.
Monitor: The monitor on the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower features an LCD screen that is both simple and efficient. Also, you’ll be able to select from several different work out programs built into this rower each time you exercise.
Design: Made with a polyurethane seat area and an aluminum beam structure for support, this affordable rower is built to last and keep you comfortable as you exercise. Plus, the machine uses a tubing support system that helps add both stability and smoothness to each work out.
Ease of Use: Velocity’s Exercise Magnetic Rower can be easily folded for simple storage, and also moved easily. Plus, the machine is very easy to set up, and comes with a full directional guide to assist you as you get the machine ready.
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Easy to use

  • Easy setup

  • Good monitor and programs

Cons
  • Can be loud

  • Only has a 90-day warranty

Concept2 Model D Rower

Concept2 Model D Rower
Concept2’s Model D Rower combines a lot of resistance and fantastic programming in one durable machine to help give you the best full body work out possible. Plus, it’s relatively affordable and simple to use.
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Features: Made to use air resistance each time you make a stroke on the machine, this rower can provide you with a lot of resistance while still being easy to adjust. It also gives you several workout programs to help boost your exercise time while you train.
Monitor: The monitor on the Concept2 Model D Rower, known as the PM5, gives you a list of work out programs as well as some games you can use to get back in shape. You can also easily move data with the USB port on the device, and track your vital signs as you exercise.
Design: Concept2’s Model D Rower has a durable steel frame and a comfortable set of handles to help keep you going strong. You also get adjustable foot pads and wheels that make it easy to transport the rower when you need to move it.
Ease of Use: Concept2’s Model D Rower is very easy to put together, and takes only about 30 minutes to set up. It’s also very easy to store, since all you need to do is fold it up when you aren’t using it.
Pros
  • Air resistance provides a great workout

  • Smooth

  • Durable

  • Easy to setup and store

Cons
  • Can require maintenance

  • Plastic arms could be more durable

WaterRower GX Home Rowing Machine

WaterRower GX Home Rowing Machine
WaterRower’s GX Home Rowing Machine provides you with several work out options, from a traditional rowing work out to preset programs included with the rower that help give you a great full body work out. The water fly wheel design on this rowing machine will help give you an effective work out and plenty of resistance as you train.
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Features: The water flywheel on this rower gives you an excellent selection of resistance choices while still feeling smooth. Also, the monitor on this rower is easy to use, and the machine is durable enough to hold up to 325 pounds.
Monitor: The GX Monitor on this rowing machine is made to be simple and easy to use, and gives you a choice in workout programs. Plus, this rower comes with bonus DVDs that include the Indo-Row work out and ShockWave work out.
Design: Designed with a water flywheel, this rower also comes with a smooth monorail and a sturdy, attractive frame. Although the rowing machine has a bevy of modern technology build into the design, it’s appearance is classic with its wood design.
Ease of Use: Designed with simplicity in mind, both the monitor and resistance levels on this rower are easy to adjust. Plus, the rower easily folds up to save space when not in use.
Pros
  • Good monitor

  • Smooth

  • Durable

  • Compact

Cons
  • No heart monitor

  • Could have better work out guidance programs

Sole SR500 Rower

Sole SR500 Rower
The Sole SR500 Rower is built to give you an adjustable resistance level that’s easy to use even while you exercise. This rower offers a lot of durability plus several features that make it a smooth and effective workout machine.
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Features: Sole’s SR500 Rower provides you with a smooth full-body exercise program because of the easy to reach resistance adjustments on the rower. It also comes with a high seat and can handle up to 315 pounds.
Monitor: The monitor on this rower comes with a 5.5 inch LCD screen feature 12 programs to help you with your work outs. You’ll also see your exercise data on the screen while you exercise.
Design: Sole’s SR500 Rower comes with a strong aluminum glide rail that can accommodate a bevy of body types, and pedals that are easy to adjust. You also get the ability to adjust your resistance level easily because the dial is located on the rower’s handlebar, so it’s easy to reach even when you are exercising.
Ease of Use: Sole’s SR500 Rower is easy to setup up, and very compact. You can fold it down to store it, and it has wheels on the bottom of it, making it very simple to move.
Pros
  • Smooth

  • Nice monitor

  • Easy to adjust resistance

Cons
  • Uses a lot of space

  • Loud

First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Fluid Rower

First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Fluid Rower
First Degree Fitness’s Newport Challenge AR Fluid Rower provides you with a rower meant to mimic rowing while out on the water, and is designed to be both attractive and durable. Plus, this rower comes with a nice warranty and also operates with an ample amount of smoothness.
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Features: One great feature of this rower is how easy it is to adjust the resistance levels, and the smoothness of the stroke the machine gives you. You also get a USB port designed into this machine to help you use other work out apps when you exercise.
Monitor: This rower comes with preset workouts designed into the computer, and an efficient monitor that provides you with your work out data on an easy-to-see screen. You’ll be able to pick a work out program and keep track of your vital signs each time you exercise.
Design: First Degree Fitness designed their Newport Challenge AR Fluid Rower with a sturdy metal frame that’s meant to be compact when it’s stored away. It also comes with adjustable foot pads and a very comfortable seat, so that you never feel uncomfortable when you use the machine.
Ease of Use: This rower is designed to be simple but still pack a punch with exercise. It’s very easy to fold up and put away, and simple to set up.
Pros
  • Very smooth

  • USB port

  • Good monitor

Cons
  • Slow response time

  • Handlebars can feel awkward

Life Fitness Row GX Trainer

Life Fitness Row GX Trainer
Life Fitness’s Row GX Trainer brings you a bevy of modern technologies in this product combined with a natural word appearance in a durable steel exercise machine. This rower is a great piece of equipment for people just getting started with work outs using a rowing machine.
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Features: Life Fitness’s Row GX Trainer provides you an affordable option in water-resistance rowers, with four resistance levels that provide you with a smooth workout. It’s also easy to adjust the straps on this machine, adding to the simplicity of the design.
Monitor: The monitor display on this rower isn’t designed to be overly fancy, and it doesn’t have any workout programs designed into it. However, it’s still very effective and simple to use, and gives you just what you need when you exercise.
Design: Manufactured with a durable steel frame, Life Fitness’s Row GX Trainer his a nice, wooden traditional appearance and uses Fluid Technology Resistance to give you the level of resistance you want. It also comes with handles that are angled and feature a wide grip, so you’ll always feel comfortable when using the machine.
Ease of Use: One nice benefit to this rower is its turn-dial resistance feature, which allows you to change resistant levels easily on the machine with just one turn, meaning you don’t have to mess with the rower’s water levels. It also has an easy-to-use folding frame option, meaning you can put it away and fold it down for space efficiency when you’re not using it.
Pros
  • Affordable for a water resistance rowing machine

  • Smooth

  • Easy to use

  • Good handle design

Cons
  • Seat is low

  • Fits narrow

  • Small display screen

Stamina Avari Rower

Stamina Avari Rower
Stamina’s Avari Rower is an easy-to-use rowing machine that’s also very easy to put away, and built with components that are highly durable. This rower provides a nice full-body workout, and can handle up to 275 pounds.
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Features: This rower comes with seven workout programs, and one of them is customizable so that you can use it as you progress. Plus, it is extremely quiet and provides the right amount of resistance to help you build your strength.
Monitor: The monitor on Stamina’s Avari gives you an InTouch Fitness application and an LCD screen that’s easy to see and provides you with several options when you work out. You’ll be able to see your exercise data and easily adjust the rower’s settings.
Design: While the seat on this rower can feel a bit awkward when you exercise, you can always use extra cushioning or a towel to fix that issue. The handles are cushioned and comfortable, and the machine is very easy to fold up and put away.
Ease of Use: Stamina’s Avari Rower comes with detailed step-by-step directions that help make this machine easy to assemble. This rower comes with three main components you need to put together, and the time it usually takes to set up the rower is around 30 minutes.
Pros
  • Quiet

  • Easy to set up

  • Easy to store

  • Good monitor

Cons
  • Uncomfortable seat

  • Handles can feel too far apart

The Criteria We Used To Find The Best Rowing Machines

When you’re considering your options so you buy one of the best rowing machines to help you boost your exercise plan, there are a few important concepts you’ll need to evaluate including the rowing machine’s features, monitor, design, and ease of use. We’ll discuss each one of these criteria points in a bit more detail below.

Features

Rowing machines typically offer a wide variety of features depending on the manufacturer and the style of the product. We’ll cover some of the most popular features you’ll want to consider below.

Comfort

If you want to be content while you are exercising on your new rowing machine, then you’ll want to make sure the rowing machine has a great seat, solid foot pads, and adjustable features that will help you work out more easily. Seat design is an important feature because some rowing machine seats don’t feel all that great to sit on, so you want something you’ll feel fits you well. Also, make sure you check out the handles on the rowing machine and test out how they feel, since you also want those to feel comfortable as well. Also, remember that you want to make sure the rowing machine also fits well into your home, since their size can vary, and you want something you feel comfortable putting in your house as well.

Noise

Some rowing machines can be very loud, and that can be an annoying factor if you want to watch television or listen to music while you are exercising. Some people are okay, however, with louder machines and prefer to hear the machine as they work out. Others prefer quieter machines so they can focus on other things when they work out.

Price

Price can vary with rowing machines, and if you’re shopping on a budget, then you’ll certainly want to focus on getting a more affordable piece of equipment that doesn’t force you to sacrifice your cash. There are many high-quality, affordable rowing machines on the market, but you do need to remember a few things if you opt for a cheaper rowing machine. Rowing machines that are higher priced usually last much longer, possibly saving you money in the long run. However, if you can’t afford a higher end model, then getting something that works for you in the immediate future should be more of your focus when you’re shopping on a budget.

Rowing Chain

You can tell a lot about a rowing machine’s durability based on its rowing chain. If it’s got a solid metal chain, then you’ve got a rowing machine that is built to last. Other, cheaper rowing machines use nylon cords, which are easy to maintain but can snap with increased usage.

Warranty

Some rowing machines come with long-term warranties, while others do not. Some manufacturers cover their various parts differently under warranties, but the most important thing to have is a warranty that covers your parts in case anything on the machine malfunctions. Since rowing machine frames are usually durable, that’s not something you’ll need to worry about. But other items on the rowing machine are easy to break, like monitors and pistons, and replacing those parts can cost. So, when you are purchasing your rowing machine, try to look for a decent warranty that covers the parts on the machine for up to two years. Some manufacturers offer five year and lifetime warranties as well, which is always a bonus.

Monitor

The rowing machines we’ve provided on our list all feature computers equipped with monitors that give you information as you exercise. Some rowers also allow you to connect to other apps and use various exercise programs with their models, and provide you with data that can help you watch your work out progress as you train.

Design

When factoring in the design of your rowing machine, you’ll need to look at how large the rowing machine is, and the space you plan to put it in. The typical size of a rowing machine is at least six feet in length, and about two feet in width. Many rowing machines are also made to fold up and be easy to put away and store. Others also feature wheels that help make the rowing machines very easy to move around. Some of the larger rowing machines still offer great design features that help make them more compact once you’ve finished your workout. Smaller rowing machines are more space-saving but typically use hydraulic resistance, which can impact the quality of your work out. Still, many of these are very affordable and easy to store as well.

Also, make sure you take a look at how much leg room your rowing machine provides you before you settle on your selection. Some smaller rowing machines don’t work well for taller people, so checking the leg room on the machine is very important. Knowing how much leg room you have will help you figure out the size and style of rowing machine you need.

Also, some rowing machines are designed to be both easy to set up and simple to use. If you need simplicity with your rowing machine, then make sure you look at how easy the rowing machine is to set up, and what features the rowing machine might include to make storing it easier and using it a simple process. If you know you want a monitor that’s easy to see and a rowing machine that’s easy to use, then look for a rowing machine with a bigger monitor and larger buttons.

Also, if you’re going to be storing your rowing machine after use, then you’ll want to check out how simple it is to fold up the machine or put it away once you are done exercising. Even some large rowing machines fold down easily and make themselves compact, so it’s important to consider this factor when you attempt to make your selection.

 

More Things To Consider

Types of Resistance

While rowing machines are pretty standard as a design concept, one of the areas where they will vary most is the type of resistance that they use. Each type of resistance has its own unique benefits and feel, and you’ll need to decide what kind would suit you best. There are four different types of resistance, including water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance, and hydraulic resistance.

  • Water Resistance. One benefit of opting for a water rowing machine is that it offers a real feel benefit, and resembles traditional rowing actions remarkably. Rowing machines that utilize water resistance have paddles that circulate around a water tank, found inside of the machine. As you use the handles and paddles on the rower, resistance forms from the water moving inside the tank. Also, rowing machines that use water resistance can built their resistance as you use them, so you don’t need to worry about adjusting for resistance with these types of machines. However, this is not true of all water rowing machines, since some of them do feature resistance knobs and dials if you still want to manually adjust your resistance levels. Also, another way to adjust resistance with water rowing machines is to add or subtract from the water level present in the tank.
  • Air Resistance. Rowing machines that use air resistance are designed with flywheels resembling fans, and the flywheel itself uses the air around it to create the resistance as you exercise. One of the top-selling rowing machines on our list above, the Concept2 Model D Air Rower, uses air resistance and is durable enough to last for many years and still costs much less than a traditional water rower. Air rowers resemble water rowers in their ability to build up resistance and respond to the person exercising on the machine. Basically, the quicker you make the flywheel spin, the more resistance you will experience. With air resistant rowers, you typically also get a control knob to help you adjust your resistance levels. Also, air resistant rowers vary with where the flywheel is located—some are enclosed and others aren’t, so if you don’t mind feeling a fan breeze when you exercise, you won’t have to worry about enclosing the flywheel. However, there are some issues with air rowers, the primary one being how noisy they can be because of their use of a flywheel. Some people use lower resistance levels on their machines simply for this reason, but there are hybrid rowers that also use magnetic resistance features as well as air resistance that help balance out this problem.
  • Magnetic Resistance. If you like quiet when you’re exercising, then you might prefer the more silent magnetic resistance rowing machine. Rowing machines that use magnetic resistance have electromagnets and a brake system that help prevent noise while boosting resistance through your work outs. Magnetic rowers also come with adjustable features so you can adjust the resistant as you work out. While most magnetic rowers allow you to make manual adjustments, a few magnetic rowers do automate their resistance controls. One thing some people don’t like about magnetic resistance, however, is that the resistance on these rowing machines is usually constant and not always responsive to you as you exercise. Also, water and air resistance both resemble actual rowing motions when compared to magnetic rowers.
  • Hydraulic Rowing Machines. These rowing machines are usually very affordable and simple, and use hydraulic pistons on their handles that can be adjusted with dials. These rowers tend to be more compact, don’t make much noise, and are easy to use. So, you get a space-saving machine that also costs significantly less. However, the way these rowing machines are designed can affect the quality of your work out, since most of them don’t resemble actual rowing motions. Also, many of these rowing machines aren’t as durable or long-lasting, and can break or malfunction much more easily than other models.

The type of resistance you decide upon will depend on several factors, including budget and the size of the equipment you want to purchase. If you want a decently priced rowing machine that still provides a great work out, then you might want to consider purchasing an air rowing machine. On the other hand, if you have the money to spend and want a lot of durability, then a water rowing machine might be right for you.

 

FAQ

Q: What do I need to know about rowing machine monitors?

Most rowing machine monitors provide you information about your exercise progress as you work out. More affordable rowing machines typically don’t feature as much information, while more expensive rowing machines can come with a bevy of features. Some rowing machines even give you options for choosing different types of monitors when you buy your rowing machine. If you want a monitor that’s easy to see, look for one that is backlit so it is always visible. Also, some monitors need to be plugged in while others are battery powered, so think about what you’ll be comfortable with when you consider the monitor.

Q: Do all rowing machines have heart rate monitors?

No, not all rowing machines come with heart rate monitors. Some rowing machines do, and some others allow you to purchase one as at an additional cost. If it’s important for you to have a heart rate monitor, then make sure you look for a rowing machine that includes that, since it can really help you when you exercise. High end rowing machines usually feature excellent heart rate monitors that are placed over you using chest straps. Also, if you want accurate readings, then get a wireless heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors that aren’t wireless don’t usually give you the right reads, and that can be both annoying and frustrating.

Q: What do I need to know about rowing machine workout programs?

Most rowing machines come with programs that you can use whenever you exercise to vary up your work outs or help you get the guidance you need to meet your work out plan goals. Depending on the type of rowing machine you purchase, you’ll see a wide variety of programs in them, and some rowing machines even feature games. The cheaper the rowing machine you buy, the less program options you’ll have. So, if you need guidance, you might want to consider making sure your rowing machine has the program features you need.

Q: Why do I need to know the weight capacity of my rowing machine?

Most rowing machines are durable, even if they don’t cost much, and typically offer at least 250 pounds of weight capacity, if not more. Weight capacity tells you how much weight the rowing machine can handle when you exercise, so you need to make sure you purchase one that can hold you accurately. If you want a rowing machine with more weight capacity, then you’ll probably need to purchase a water-resistant rowing machine.

Q: Should I check the machine height of my rowing machine?

Depending on the space you plan to place your rowing machine, you’ll need to make sure the height of the rowing machine will fit your needs. Some rowing machines are not very tall, while others can be quite tall if they are on raised legs. These different designs typically don’t mean one design is better than the other, since most people feel this is a matter of personal preference. Depending on how you feel, you’ll need to consider if you can handle a raised rowing machine, or if you need something that’s lower to the ground.

Q: What rowing machines are the most durable?

Most rowing machines that use water resistance are built with a lot of durability, and very hard to break. They feature excellent design construction and don’t require a lot of extra effort to maintain. However, most of them are very expensive because of their long-lasting design. If you can’t afford one of the higher-priced water rowing machines, consider an air rowing machine instead. These rowing machines still tend to be very durable and strong, and can save you quite a bit of money.

 

Sources

  1. Top Fitness Magazine, Rowing Machine Reviews, Informational Fitness Website, Sep 16, 2015
  2. Home Rower, Best Rowing Machines 2017, Informational Fitness Website, May 15, 2017
  3. Rowing Reviews, Shopper's Guide to Rowing Machines, Informational Fitness Website, Jun 14, 2017