Best Rowing Machines
A great rowing session out on the water is unbeatable. However, weather and water conditions don’t always give us that luxury. Not only is rowing enjoyable, but it’s also a great form of exercise. Typically, you can find these machines in your local gym but why pay a membership fee when you can have your own personal machine at home? 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. Rowing machines are special in that they offer a full-body workout, but you are able to adjust the tension, speed, and of course, and length of your workout. Check out our top picks below and get started.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 17 hrs of research
Easy to set up
Top 10 Picks
1. Stamina Avari
Easy to set up
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.Read more
This is a magnetic rower that offers a fairly simple aerobic exercise that consists of three-phase strokes. It works the whole body and offers great results.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Nice handle design
Some find that the screen is hard to use
The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 is a sure win when it comes to choosing a rower that is quality and has tried and true results with many users.Read more
This magnetic rower 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.
There is a large LCD screen that allows you to keep track of calories burned, time rowed, and time display.
This machine offers eight levels of resistance through a magnetic tension system. The seat provides you with optimal comfort as it is padded for long row sessions. To ensure your feet stay in place, the foot pedals are large and have anti-slip features. The pedals also feature adjustable straps to make sure your feet stay in place.
The seat of this machine provides impressive cushioning and makes your exercising more enjoyable. Additionally, the handlebars are made from foam and will help you avoid callouses.
3. First Degree Fitness Newport Challenge AR Fluid
Slow response time
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.Read more
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 mimics the exercise of rowing out on the water and provides a great workout.
Ease of Use
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. 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.
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. You also get a USB port designed into this machine to help you use other work out apps when you exercise.
It also comes with adjustable footpads and a very comfortable seat, so that you never feel uncomfortable when you use the machine.
4. Sole SR500 Rower
Easy to adjust the resistance
Uses a lot of space
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.Read more
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. It uses magnetic-air resistance. 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.
The monitor on this rower comes with a 5.5 inch LCD screen feature 12 programs to help you with your workouts. You’ll also see your exercise data on the screen while you exercise.
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.
The high seat of this machine makes getting on and off of the router much easier. There honestly isn’t an abundance of cushioning in the seat nor handles, but the machine is comfortable enough.
5. Goplus Magnetic
No heart monitor
Only supports up to 220-pounds
The Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine is a simple and effective machine. While this machine may not live up to the $1,000 machines you have used at the gym, this machine is a great value for the price.Read more
The design of this rower is quite simple. It uses a magnetic tension system and provides you with eight different resistance levels.
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.
The LCD Monitor on this rowing machine is made to be simple and easy to use. It displays counts, calories, scan and time. The display has no extra features and will help to keep you focused on your workout.
The aluminum beams ensure a quiet workout and the magnetic tension system offers 10 levels of resistance. The LCD monitor on this rower is easy to use, however it does not measure distance, only repetitions.
The aluminum and alloy beams ensure a quiet exercise with a padded seat and non-slip handles. The pedals are textured and feature velcro straps. This unit only weighs about 50-pounds, which is great for mobility but can only hold a maximum of 220-pounds.
6. Concept2 Model D
Air resistance provides a great workout
Easy to set up and store
Can require maintenance
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.Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
7. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Fairly quiet machine
Not ideal for a super intense workout
The seat could be improved
The Body Trac Glider 1050 is a simple machine that works well. The screen gives you just enough information without being a distraction. It mimics the feeling of being out on the water and fits easily in almost any room. A more comfortable seat would be nice, but this machine is so affordable that it leaves you with some pocket change to purchase a seat cushion.Read more
The Stamina Body Trac 1050 uses hydraulic resistance. It is easily adjustable and gives you the feeling of being out on the water. This specific model has a weight limit of 250-pounds.
Ease of Use
Starting out with the assembly of the machine, there’s no need to worry. Following the well-written step by step instructions make it an easy task. A reviewer without much experience said it took him about 45-minutes. When you are not using the machine, the arms fold in to make it easier to store. One thing that would make storing the machine much easier if it had wheels.
As for using the machine, the arms of the machine are strategically placed to truly give you the feeling of being on the water. There are textured footplates and straps to keep your feet in place while rowing. Reviewers wish that there were a designated heel stopper, but a quick DIY hack can fix that.
There is a simple LCD monitor that shows general statistics. It shows you the duration of your workout, stroke count, calories burned, and total strokes accumulated. To check out your progress while rowing, you can simply touch the “scan” button to see the statistics on the screen, each for six seconds.
As for a warranty, the frame comes with a one-year warranty and the parts come with a 90-day warranty.
The overall positioning of your body on this machine is comfortable. The padded and molded seat seems to be just okay. While we would like to see more comfort added to the seat, for this price, we can’t complain much.
8. BodyCraft VR 500 Commercial
Easy to fold up
Easy to adjust the resistance
Foot straps sometimes feel awkward
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 smooth performance and an easy-to-use system.Read more
BodyCraft’s VR 500 Commercial Rower is made with a fan you can control electronically, 32 resistance levels, and smooth performance. Plus, it also comes with a heel rest and foot straps you can adjust easily each time you work out.
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.
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.
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.
9. WaterRower Natural with S4 Monitor
Provides a great work out
Easy to use and put together
Handles can wear out easily
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 workout.Read more
Since this rower has a wooden design, it offers a very smooth stroke performance, and also operates quietly. Plus, the water flywheel on this rower brings you plenty of options for resistance to help you meet your work out goals.
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.
Manufactured with an S4 Performance Monitor, you’ll be able to easily 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.
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.
10. Kettler Favorit
Accurate heart rate monitor
Can be difficult to adjust the resistance
Sometimes the hydraulic cylinders can be noisy
Hailing from Germany, Kettler has been manufacturing furniture, exercise equipment, and children's toys since 1949. The Favorit rower is a great example of the strong and durable craftsmanship that you can expect from Kettler. It boasts 50 different levels of resistance and has a comfortable and smooth-gliding seat.Read more
This hydraulic rower is most notably known for its durability. Almost everyone can agree that it is a strong, durable, and well-made machine. The Favorit is equipped with 50 different levels of resistance. Overall, the machine has a weight capacity of 285-pounds.
Ease of Use
While setting up the rower is fairly straight forward, you can also pay an additional fee to have someone come to your house and assemble it for you. As for changing the resistance, you untighten a marker and re-tighten it to your desired knurl mark on the oars. There aren’t exactly notches and it can be difficult to get each resistance level in the same exact spot on each oar.
The highly contrasted LCD screen shows six functions all on one screen. You’ll be able to see time distance, strokes, pulse rate, frequency, and energy consumed. Included with the machine, is an ear lobe clip sensor. This sensor provides a shockingly accurate reading of your heart rate.
As for the warranty, the frame has a lifetime warranty and a three-year warranty for parts and electronics.
Similarly to the impressive durability, this machine is impressively comfortable. The seat is large, well-padded, and glides easily. Additionally, the footplates offer a natural pivoting motion, as if you really were out on the water.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
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.
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.
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.
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 workouts. 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.
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 durabilities, then a water rowing machine might be right for you.
Ease of Use
Also, some rowing machines are designed to be 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.
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 footpads, 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.
One of the most useful and popular features of a rowing machine is the display. Many have an LCD display that shows you the time, miles rowed, calories burned, and speed. Of course, every model varies, but these are generally what you can expect to find. Some are touch screen and others have button controls. Additionally, on some devices, you can use the screen to change the resistance, settings, or specific workout.
Sometimes built into the computer of the machine are workouts. These are especially great for beginners who haven’t quite mastered home workouts and are looking for guidance. Additionally, some models have a USB port that allows you to upload your own routines or videos that you have found.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
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.
Other Factors to Consider
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.
When factoring in the design of your rowing machine, you’ll need to look at how large the rowing machine is, and 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 legroom on the machine is very important. Knowing how much legroom you have will help you figure out the size and style of rowing machine you need.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Which rowing machines are the most durable?
Most rowing machines that use water resistance are built with a lot of durabilities, 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.
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: 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: 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: 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.