Best Rowing Machines
Nothing quite beats waking up in the morning, especially if it’s a cold winter morning, and knowing that you have your gym at home. No need to get into the car, drive through morning traffic, find parking, and scan in at the gym. Instead, if you invest some money, you can have your gym in the warmth of your own home with the purchase of a quality rowing machine. For those who have never rowed for exercise before, you may not be familiar with how great and relaxing a good row session can be. While it’s not relaxing like having a good nap, once you get into your stride, it’s easy to forget that you are working out. Rowing machines are special in that they offer a full body workout, but you are able to adjust the tension, speed, and of course, time in which you exercise using a rower.
Because you have full control of the tension, use your full body, but remain seated, it really offers you a fantastic way to get into shape and clear your mind, it’s worth giving rowing a fair go. Now, we know that there is an absolutely overwhelming amount of rowers to choose from on the market today, so to save you some time and bring you peace of mind, we did the heavy work of research for you. Check out our list to get you started on choosing your next best friend in the workout world, a fantastic rower that you can use all year round.
- XEBEX AIR ROWER
- Easy setup
- WATERROWER NATURAL
- Includes S4 monitor
- BODYCRAFT VR 500
- Easily adjustable resistance
10 Best Rowing Machines
Xebex Air Rower
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.
5 Year Warranty
Easy to use and set up
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
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.
Provides a great work out
Easy to use and put together
Handles can wear out easily
BodyCraft VR 500 Commercial Rower
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.
Easy to fold up
Easy to adjust resistance
Battery in monitor can wear out quickly.
Foot straps sometimes feel awkward.
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
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.
Easy to use
Good monitor and programs
Can be loud
Only has a 90-day warranty
Concept2 Model D Rower
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.
Air resistance provides a great workout
Easy to setup and store
Can require maintenance
Plastic arms could be more durable
WaterRower GX Home Rowing Machine
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.
No heart monitor
Could have better work out guidance programs
Sole SR500 Rower
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.
Easy to adjust resistance
Uses a lot of space
First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Fluid Rower
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.
Slow response time
Handlebars can feel awkward
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Monitor: There is a large LCD screen that allows you to keep track of calories burned, time rowed, and displays the time.
Design: This machine is designed with a durable frame, and it comes with wheels to allow for easy portability. Along with this, it can comfortably hold a user up to 250 pounds.
Ease of Use: With eight different speed selections, a smooth rowing track, and the firm grip that the pedals offer, you are sure to feel secure and row with complete ease.
- Nice handle design
- Quality product with a lot of positive feedback
Some find that the screen is hard to use
Stamina Avari Rower
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.
Easy to set up
Easy to store
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 build 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.
Q: What do I need to know about rowing machine monitors?
Most rowing machine monitors provide you with 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 workouts 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 fewer 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.