intro rowing machines
LAST UPDATED: 24 Mar 2022

Best Rowing Machine

Staying Alive - Buying Guide

With high-impact workouts such as HIIT being all the rage, people looking for a way to get low-impact cardio at home might get lost in the noise. 

Rowing workouts are an excellent way to not only get low-impact cardio in but they provide a total body workout, working more muscle groups in a singular motion than any other workout machine. 

A rowing machine workout challenges your legs, arms, shoulders and at the same time focuses on your abs which are essential in every row. 

Rowing workouts are great as they combine strength training with cardiovascular fitness and enhance muscle mass, so it’s not difficult to understand the explosion of at-home rowers.   

Outlined below is our list of best rowing machines to add to your gym and home workouts. So be a real athlete and row, everyone else just plays games!

OnlyTree Black
This article was written by Staying Alive Crew Published at 04:10 pm

The Best Rowing Machines

  • It's no surprise that the NordicTrack RW900 Rower has made it into our top list as a top-of-the-line indoor rower. 

    It brings iFit trainers as personal rowing coaches into your home via the NordicTrack iFit experience. The 1-year iFit family membership is included in the price.

    Sporting an impressive rotating Smart HD Touchscreen means you've never been part of a more immersive experience, bringing studio workouts home to you.

    The ace up the RW900 Rower sleeve is the 2 forms of resistance it has. Every iFit workout features Automatic Trainer Control where world-class trainers adjust your rower's digital resistance, offering a constantly challenging workout. 

    Alternatively, if you like to be in the driver's seat, you can adjust your workout intensity level with manual air resistance with 26 digital resistance levels.

    Rowing with confidence has never been easier, with the oversized, pivoting pedals with quick release, adjustable foot straps that keep you secure whilst you row around the world. 

    The ergonomic molded seat keeps your tush comfortable, so the only thing that should be testing your patience is your workout resistance level.

    The RW900 Rower comes fully equipped with Bluetooth Headphone Connectivity, allowing you to drown out all the noise and focus on your iFit trainers or your music and enjoy the hum of the silent magnetic resistance.

    Designed with innovative SpaceSaver technology, allows the RW900 Rower to vertically fold for easy storage. 

    That's not all, you get access to in-depth workout stats telling you how effective your workouts are, allowing you to constantly improve.

    The icing on the cake is the RW900 Rower supports up to 4 adult profiles, allowing you to share the sweat and elation with the whole family. The family race starts here with this impressive smart rower!

    Key Features
    • 2 forms of resistance: Automatic Trainer Controls or Manual air resistance
    • 22-inch rotating smart HD touchscreen
    • 1-year iFit membership included
    • Bluetooth headphone connectivity
    • Adjustable console
    • Auxiliary music port
    • Two 2-inch digitally amplified speakers
    • Oversized steel seat rail
    • Ergonomic molded seat
    • Oversized, pivoting foot pedals
    • Adjustable nylon foot straps
    • SoftTouch ergonomic handle
    • Inertia-enhanced flywheel
    • Silent Magnetic Resistance
    • 26 digital resistance levels
    • 250-pound maximum user capacity
    • Front-mounted transport wheels
    • SpaceSaver design
    • 30 on-board workouts
    • Brand: NordicTrack
    • Model: NordicTrack RW900 Rower
    • Size: 86.5 L x 22.0 W x 50.4 H - inches
    • 10-year frame warranty
    • 2-year parts & 1-year labor warranty
    • Via iFit you have access to a huge library of beginner, intermediate & advanced level workouts for serious athletes
    • Automatically adjusts resistance level to match wind & water conditions for outdoor workouts
    • Great for people looking for a foldable rowing machine to save space
    • Ideal for people seeking a quiet machine
    • Supports 4 user profiles
    • Has dual resistance
    • An outstanding smart rower
    • Expensive
    • iFit membership cost extra after the first year
    • Maximum user weight capacity is on the lower side, only 250 pounds
    Show Product Details
  • Row yourself into shape with the top-of-the-line Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine. Offering you all the necessities for a good workout in the comfort of your own home.

    Enabling challenging workouts perfect for any fitness level. With a simple twist, you can increase or decrease eight levels of magnetic resistance, ensuring you are constantly challenged during your workout with a smooth and quiet row. 

    Tracking your progress is made easy with the easy-to-read large LCD console, displaying the time, count, calories, total count, and scan. 

    Designed for convenience, the Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine comes with a cushioned seat, non-slip handlebars, and large non-slip foot pedals with safety straps to ensure your feet remain in place throughout your rowing journey. 

    Sporting a fold-up design makes it ideal for portability and it’s further complemented with built-in transportation wheels that allow you to simply tilt and roll the rowing machine away for storage after your workout. 

    The heavy-duty steel mainframe is built to withstand the test of time and go the distance with users of various sizes and fitness levels. Slow and steady wins the race!

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
    • Material: alloy steel
    • Maximum user weight: 250 pounds
    • Grey color
    • LCD displays time, count, calories, total count & scan
    • Long slide rail length at 48 inches
    • Adjustable eight levels of magnetic resistance
    • Built-in wheels
    • Non-slip foot pedals & handlebars
    • Cushioned seat
    • Floor stabilizers
    • Brand: Sunny & Health Fitness
    • Model: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
    • Size: 78 x 19.1 x 23.2 inches
    • Has 8 resistance levels
    • For those seeking easily portable rowers, built-in transport wheels are great for moving
    • Budget-friendly
    • Ideal for people of various sizes, with a maximum weight of 250 pounds
    • Free shipping
    • Easy to assemble
    • Good quality
    • Short warranty period - 3 months frame & parts
    • Some may find the slide mechanism on the beam noisy
    • Doesn't track distance
    Show Product Details
  • The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine is a superb, affordable, and yet high-quality Bluetooth magnetic rower with on-demand classes and Bluetooth app tracking. 

    Tracking your workouts has never been easier than with Bluetooth Smart Technology with a free Cloud Fitness app. After you've completed your workout all your data will be available in the reports section of the app. 

    Through activity reports you can track your steps, distance, estimated calorie burn, and speed. Your entire workout history is available at your fingertips.

    The 1000 Plus Rower comes complete with 14 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, allowing you the flexibility to find the right level of resistance for you. That's not all, it has all the high-quality parts to enjoy a smooth, quiet rowing stroke during an intense rowing session. 

    It sports a contoured and cushioned seat, that glides on industrial ball-bearing rollers, combined with foot pedals and handles that are of good quality. 

    The 1000 Plus Rower will ensure you cover vast distances from the comfort of your own home. 

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
    • 14 levels of dual transmission magnetic tension
    • Material: steel
    • Maximum user weight: 250 pounds
    • LCD display
    • Free basic workout tracking on MyCloudFitness App
    • Bluetooth magnetic rower
    • On-demand studio classes & Bluetooth app tracking
    • Phone/tablet device holder
    • Footrests: pivoting, with straps
    • Brand: Fitness Reality
    • Model: Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine
    • Size: 88.5 x 21.5 x 21.5 inches
    • 1-year frame warranty
    • Competitive price
    • Very quiet to use, you won't annoy your neighbors
    • Very easy to assemble
    • Durable build
    • Short warranty - 90-days parts & wearable warranty
    • No preset programs
    Show Product Details
  • If you are looking for a budget water rower, then look no further than the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Rower. Featuring a frame made of steel tubing and a monorail designed to supper users with a max weight of 264 pounds, the MaxKare Water Rower can hold its own.

    Whilst the one drawback is that the MaxKare Water Rower is not foldable, it can be stored vertically resting on its front base and on the extra stabilizer on the front upright section of the frame. 

    The resistance mechanism comprises a fan being pulled through the tank of water. To set a resistance level, you can add or remove water until you reach the desired resistance level. 

    For a budget rower, the display unit is excellent. Workout data displayed includes workout time, strokes per minute, distance, calories burned, and man-boat competition mode. 

    This competition mode allows you to set a goal and race against the computer. Nothing like some healthy competition! 

    A minor drawback of the MaxKare Water Rower is that it doesn't come with heart rate programs, which are more synonymous with higher-priced rowing machines. 

    Designed for rowers who pursue real-life rowing experiences, you'll be rowing like a real competitor in no time. 

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: water
    • Material: alloy steel
    • Maximum user weight: 264 pounds
    • Ergonomic design
    • Adjustable large LCD monitor
    • Easy transportation & storage
    • Adjustable footplates
    • Cushioned seat
    • Padded handles
    • Bottle holder
    • Brand: MaxKare
    • Model: MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Rower
    • Size: 42.5 x 22.5 x 17 inches
    • 30-day full refund, if unsatisfied
    • 2-year frame & parts warranty
    • Good value for money
    • Good display monitor for a budget rower
    • Has a bottle holder
    • Can be stored vertically without emptying the water tank
    • Not the easiest machine to assemble
    • Not the best warranty
    Show Product Details
  • If you're looking for a real-world rowing feeling look no further than the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine. You get full-motion arms on the Stamina Body Trac Glider which simulates the feel of outdoor rowing on the actual water resistance. 

    The unique design enables a full-body workout, working for every major muscle group from the back, arms, legs, glutes, and abs. You get cardiovascular benefits and get to burn calories all at a very very affordable price in your home!

    Keep focused during your workout with a multi-functional, easy-to-read large LCD console. It allows you to track your workout time, stroke count, calories burned and total strokes accumulated. 

    If you want to kick up the intensity of your stroke, simply adjust the hydraulic resistance, which emits minimal noise. 

    Rowing for longer has never been easier with a comfortable molded seat, textured footplates with straps, and padded hand grips, making sure that you maintain a solid grip at all times. 

    The sturdy steel construction of the frame offers a sturdy rower and after your workout, you can fold the arms to fold the rowing machine for easy storage. 

    If there's one wrinkle in the armor of Stamina Body Trac Glider, it's the short warranty, but then again at this price point, anything you are getting is a steal. Go ahead and row with confidence!

    Key Features
    • Water-resistance mechanism
    • Full-range of motion rowing mimics being on the water
    • Molded seat
    • Foldable arms for compact storage
    • Textured footplates with straps to keep your feet secure
    • Foam padded hand grips
    • Sturdy, steel frame construction
    • Color: silver/black
    • Maximum user weight: 250 pounds
    • Display LCD: workout time, stroke count, calories burned, total strokes accumulated
    • Brand: Stamina
    • Model: Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
    • Size: 58.25 x 42.5 x 18.13 inches
    • 1-year frame & 90-days parts warranty
    • Easy assembly
    • Very affordable
    • It's reasonably quiet
    • Pretty solid steel frame
    • Compact & easy to store
    • Ideal rower for occasional use
    • The resistance drops after heavy use
    • The seat is not very comfortable for longer duration workouts
    • Tall users may find the machine a bit short for them
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  • The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine holds its own as a solid, reliable rower that will last you for years with regular use. The Model D will fit your fitness goals and your budget, offering a low-impact exercise accessible to all fitness levels and ages.

    No workout is complete until you can measure your progress. The Model D measures your progress and provides comparable data on every stroke. 

    Workout options include time, distance, and intervals and the backlit LCD display makes it easy on your eyes.

    Controlling your workout intensity has never been easier with the Model D air-resistance spinning flywheel responding to every stroke. To control the airflow, simply change the damper from a choice of 10 levels.

    With minimal noise and a smooth rowing experience, you won't be disturbing family members or sensitive neighbors with the Model D.  Adjustable footrests and ergonomic handles mean you can row in comfort and for longer. 

    One of its many impressive features is the ease of assembly, movability, and a compact machine for storage. 

    Caster wheels make it mobile whilst assembled. When you want to store it, the Model D separates it into 2 pieces and when you want to use it again it releases quickly without tools using a frame lock mechanism. 

    The Model D is designed to deliver effective cardiovascular workouts at an affordable price. Get ready to elevate your heart rate!

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: air
    • Material: Aluminum, stainless steel
    • LCD display
    • Maximum user weight of 500 pounds
    • 14-inch seat height
    • Adjustable footrests & ergonomic handle
    • Separates into 2 pieces for storage
    • Caster wheels for easy mobility
    • Easy assembly with 8 screws
    • Measures your progress with comparable data
    • Workout options include time, distance & intervals
    • Wireless Bluetooth & ANT+ compatibility for heart rate monitoring or apps
    • Brand: Concept2
    • Model: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
    • Size: 96 x 24 x 14 inches
    • 30-day money-back guarantee
    • 5-year limited warranty
    • Easy assembly & storage
    • Has a great maximum user weight capacity of 500 pounds
    • The price is a steal for the features & quality you get
    • It has memory cards to store your workouts & performance
    • Some maintenance is required to oil the nickel-plated chain to ensure the rowing experience is smooth
    • Not the most durable plastic monitor arm
    • The air resistance mechanism can be a little noisy for some
    Show Product Details
  • The Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 is a welcome addition to any home gym, enabling you to have engaging and challenging workouts. The Obsidian Surge brings the water rowing experience to your home.

    The Obsidian Surge gives you a smooth and steady rowing experience. Resistance is provided with the spinning flywheel and 16 fan blades. Simulating a real boat, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance. 

    As if that wasn't impressive enough, the Obsidian Surge's true achievement is, it provides unlimited resistance, unlike most other rowers. Making it ideal for rowers of all levels from beginners to pro-grade rowers. 

    The water tank has 6 different fill levels. Level 1 provides the least resistance and level 6 provides the most resistance. Irrespective of how much water is in the water tank, the harder you pull the handlebars the more resistance you'll generate. 

    You get into a rhythm of rowing with flowing strokes and the normal volume of swishing in the water tank has a soothing effect, transporting you outdoors from the four walls of your home. 

    The LCD screen is quite advanced for this price range, tracking all the data from the total time, 500m split time, strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, calories, room temperature, and heart rate. 

    The Obsidian Surge ups the ante with a race feature, allowing you to race the meter based on the pace you set it at. The race is on!

    Another snazzy feature is it has a recovery mode, that measures how long it takes your heart rate to recover after a workout, allowing you to gauge your fitness and monitor your progress over time. 

    A standout water rower that will yield dividends in your fitness journey and allow you to maximize your workout space. 

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: water (flywheel & 16 fan blades)
    • Material: Stell
    • Maximum user weight: 300 pounds
    • LCD display
    • Non-slip handles
    • Non-slip pedals with adjustable strap
    • Pivoting pedals
    • Wide cushioned ergonomic seat
    • Transportation wheels
    • Floor stabilizers
    • Progressive unlimited resistance
    • Brand: Sunny Health & Fitness
    • Model: Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500
    • Size: 80 x 22 x 34 inches
    • 3-year frame warranty
    • It can store vertically
    • Easy assembly
    • Great price for a water rowing machine
    • Smooth & quiet
    • Adjustable water resistance is great for all fitness levels
    • Short warranty on parts - 180-day parts warranty
    • No heart rate monitor
    Show Product Details
  • The Velocity Magnetic Rower is a slightly lesser-known brand in the rowing machine arena, but rest assured its sales and rave reviews speak for themselves. It may be an underdog, but don't write it off before you've given this rower a fair chance. 

    With its Drum Magnetic Control System and electronic tension control, you can adjust the resistance to the intensity you desire. Whether you are a newbie or seasoned rower, you will have a challenging yet smooth workout. 

    To minimize effort, the Velocity Magnetic Rower comes complete with preset workout programs and monitors your heart rate wirelessly, allowing you to work out in your optimal zone. 

    The LCD display features rowing time, strokes per minute, distance covered, estimated calories burn, pulse meter, and heart rate. 

    Sporting a solid construction, with a beam of anodized aluminum profile with rectangular tubing support, it's strong enough to support a maximum user weight of 275 pounds. 

    The Velocity Magnetic Rower can be easily folded and the attached wheels make it convenient to move into the desired place of storage. All this comes at a very attractive and affordable price. 

    The Velocity Magnetic Rower may just trump as a champion of at-home workout machines!

    Key Features
    • DMC (Drum Magnetic Control) System for adjustable magnetic resistance
    • Electronic tension control
    • Heart rate monitor chest strap
    • Polyurethane molded saddle
    • Foldable for storage
    • Material: Aluminum
    • Maximum user weight: 275 pounds
    • LCD display
    • 12 programs
    • Brand: Velocity
    • Model: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001
    • Size: 81 x 21 x 25 inches
    • 5-year frame warranty
    • Good rowing machine if you want something quiet
    • Suitable if you are looking for programs for varied workouts
    • Foldable & compact storage
    • Handles regular to hard workouts
    • Very affordable price
    • Very short warranty for a rower at this price point - 90-day monitor & 30-day on all other parts
    Show Product Details
  • If you want a full-body workout without ever having to leave your home, then the Women's Health Men's Health Bluetooth Magnetic Rower is a must for you. 

    It’s a magnetic rower with an open flywheel system, offering 14 levels of dual transmission magnetic tension resistance for an easy and more challenging workout based on your selected tension level.

    Featuring a durable steel frame with a long rail, contoured, and cushioned seat assembly that supports a maximum user weight of 250 pounds, enabling a rowing experience that’s comfortable and accessible for people on the taller side.

    The Bluetooth Magnetic Rower is foldable. The rail with the seat can be folded vertically and locked with a pin to secure it in place, saving space. 

    It comes equipped with transport wheels for easy transportation and the rear base features adjustable stabilizers, offering a smoother rowing experience.

    The pulling handle of the rower has a short straight bar attached to a heavy-duty abrasion-resistant nylon strap, requiring no lubrication or maintenance. 

    With an LCD display showcasing track time, spit/time, strokes, strokes per minute, distance, calories, and watts. It also has target settings for time, distance, and calories, allowing you to constantly challenge yourself. It does not have a pulse reading function or any workout programs. 

    Equipped with a built-in Bluetooth function, you can sync your smart device via the MyCloudFitness app. 

    Take your full-body cardio workout, muscle toning, and weight loss to the next level with the Women's Health Men's Health Bluetooth Magnetic Rower by setting your fitness target.

    Key Features
    • 14 level dual transmission magnetic tension resistance
    • Smart knob technology measures resistance level, intensity & pull length
    • Pairs with the MyCloudFitness chest belt (not included)
    • Extra-wide grip foam handlebars
    • Maximum user weight: 250 pounds
    • Adjustable rear floor stabilizers
    • 3.5-inch LCD display
    • Large anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable straps
    • Large contoured cushion seat
    • Smartphone holder
    • Transportation wheels
    • Brand: Women's Health Men's Health
    • Model: Women's Health Men's Health Bluetooth Magnetic Rower
    • Size: 80 x 23 x 28.5 inches
    • 1-year limited warranty
    • Sturdy & can support users up to 250 pounds
    • Pivoting footrests for a perfect foot position with each stroke
    • Long rail, can accommodate taller people
    • Easy to assemble
    • Folding design enables saving space
    • Economical
    • Short warranty - 180-days electronics warranty
    • No backlight on the exercise meter
    Show Product Details
  • An outstanding live outdoor reality rower, the Hydrow Connected Rower makes it into our top list as a state-of-the-art rowing machine designed to transform the way you work out with interactive workouts. 

    Boasting Live Outdoor Reality technology, the Hydrow Connected Rower is engineered by the best rowing experts to bring the river home to you through world-class workouts and immersive experiences right in your humble abode.

    With hundreds of live and on-demand classes, you’re spoilt for choice to pick a workout that suits your mood and needs. 

    Motivating yourself to work out can be challenging on the best of days, but having guidance and motivation through team dynamics means you cut out the excuses to not work out. 

    The electromagnetic drag mechanism is computer-controlled, resulting in a smooth rowing experience. Bringing you the closest thing to being on the water any time of the day without enduring those awful super early real morning outdoor rowing training sessions. 

    Equipped with a 22 inch HD sweat and dust resistant touchscreen gives you the perfect viewing experience with a 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction along with the clear sound. 

    With its ergonomic design, each stroke is frictionless and virtually silent due to the industrial-grade webbed strap.

    Say goodbye to a sore booty, with the 10-roller system seat cushioned for support and comfort.  Designed for optimal performance, its aluminum frame ooze's sleek and sophistication, showing it's built to stand the test of time and the hardiest of workouts.

    With the Hydrow Connected Rower in your home gym, you'll never have to row it alone. One of the best rowing machines on the market.

    Key Features
    • Quiet electromagnetic resistance that adjusts 240 times per second
    • Aluminum & steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body
    • Soft rubberized feet to protect floors
    • Maximum user weight: 375 pounds
    • Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design
    • 1920 by 1080 full HD screen resolution
    • Over 500 pre-recorded river & studio rowing sessions
    • 4 types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing & Whole Body Fitness
    • Heart rate monitoring
    • 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction
    • Brand: Hydrow
    • Model: Hydrow Connected Rower
    • Size: 91 x 33 x 18 inches
    • 30-day trial, full refund if unsatisfied
    • 6-year structural frame warranty
    • 2-year wear items, screen & other electronics warranty
    • 18-months labor warranty
    • Ideal for seekers of live classes, competitive leaderboards & racing challenges
    • Smooth & quiet operation
    • Sleek design with a large, bright screen
    • Supports Bluetooth headphones & a heart rate monitor
    • A great swivel display allows you to see the screen from various angles
    • Ideal for fans of on-demand workouts
    • Expensive
    • Class membership involves extra subscription costs in addition to the purchase price of the rowing machine
    • Unable to play your music from your own device
    Show Product Details
  • If you're looking for good value for money and a solid brand for a rowing machine, look no further than the Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine. Possess a steel frame and nylon strap for a smooth, even, and pretty quiet rowing experience. 

    The Crewmaster has adjustable resistance, allowing you to select the resistance level, and then every time you row, you'll be getting the same consistent resistance level set. If you want to increase the intensity, simply turn the dial located in front. There are 10 levels of resistance to select. 

    If working out on a constant intensity level gets boring, spice your workout up with different workout styles such as HIIT or lower endurance workouts. 

    Sporting a well-sized LCD display, keeping abreast of all your standard workout metrics has never been easier from time, count, distance, strokes, calories, recovery, and pulse. The metrics are pretty basic.

    It does not offer Bluetooth connectivity or access to fitness apps or immersive workout options, but then again for this price point that's completely understandable. 

    The Crewmaster is an elegant, durable, smooth rower offering the standard features inherent in a rower, brought to you by a high-quality brand and at a very affordable price. 

    Key Features
    • Resistance mechanism: Magnetic
    • Material: Metal
    • Maximum user weight: 300 pounds
    • Tilting/adjustable backlit LCD display
    • Display readouts: time, count, distance, strokes, calories, recovery & pulse
    • Easy-fold design
    • 10 levels of magnetic resistance
    • Adjustable row pedals with foot straps
    • Transport wheels
    • Brand: Schwinn
    • Model: Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine
    • Size: 57.5 x 10.5 x 38 inches
    • 10-year frame, 3-year parts & 1-year labor warranty
    • Virtually silent during use
    • Durable
    • Generous weight capacity of 300 pounds
    • Foldable, space saver
    • Economical
    • Free shipping
    • Heart rate monitor not included
    Show Product Details

Rowing Machines Buying Guide

Whether you’re gym owners or fitness junkies looking to add an indoor rower to your home exercise routine. 

We’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide to assist you with the key things you should screen for before making your purchase.  

Leaving you to simply set up your cool rower and start rowing asap!

Rowing Machines

A rowing machine also referred to as an indoor rower, is a machine designed to simulate the motion of rowing in the water enabling low-impact cardio exercise. 

If you plan to use an indoor rowing machine at least three times a week, it will most likely cost much less than a monthly gym membership, plus you get to work out in the privacy of your own home.

Benefits of a Rowing Machine

A rowing machine has multiple benefits. First and foremost rowing is a low-impact cardio exercise involving smooth flowing action, which involves very little stress on the joints. 

Rowing comes with a real meditative and harmonious quality, often triggered by the rhythm of motion which allows your mind to be focused on the task at hand and helps to reduce stress levels. 

Whatever your fitness goals are, whether it's weight loss, or to improve your cardio or endurance, or to promote muscle growth, or simply to improve your rowing technique, rowing offers a total body workout. 

One full rowing stroke uses your legs, arms, your abs, and your back all at the same time. A rower can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour, as rowing consumes more calories over a wide range of muscles.

Features of Best Rowing Machines

Resistance Type

One of the most important facts that you should focus on when buying a rowing machine is the type of resistance the machine has. Most rowers have 4 main resistance types:

Air Resistance

Air is the most common resistance type. It uses a fan to create resistance. The resistance level is regulated by a user’s rowing intensity. 

The faster you row, the more the resistance increases. The slower you row, the less resistance there will be. 

Air resistance is ideal if you want to be in control of your workout as you are determining the level of intensity through your rowing. 

On the other hand, air resistance, rowing machines can be quite noisy and they can be bulkier and more difficult to store.

Piston / Hydraulic Resistance

Hydraulic cylinders are connected to the arms of the rowing machine creating resistance. It’s possible to adjust resistance and the hydraulic pistons that are used to create the resistance are super quiet. 

As a model, these rowing machines are more compact and less expensive. So if you are on a budget and want something quiet for your home a piston/hydraulic type would be a good option. 

If however, you’re seeking accurate rowing motion and a smooth rowing experience, then the piston/hydraulic rowing machine may not be your top choice.

Water Resistance

These rowers are probably the closest thing to a true-to-life rowing experience outdoors. 

Resistance comes from a water tank and the resistance increases as your pace of rowing increases. You can adjust resistance and pressure by adding or removing water from the tank. 

Water-resistance models are the second noisiest rowing machines after air resistance models. However, some find the noise of water quite soothing and tranquil.

From a price point perspective, they are the highest-priced rowing machines on the market.

Rowers with water resistance are a good option if you are seeking to have greater control over your workout, want the flexibility to modify resistance and pressure, and the rowing experience is smooth without any jerkiness. 

If however, you are looking for a rower that is portable and compact and the gushing sound of water is a nuisance to you, then a water resistance model is probably not for you. 

Magnetic Resistance

The magnetic braking system used to provide resistance creates little to no noise. Resulting in a quiet and smooth rowing experience. 

Rowing machines that are magnetic are very durable, with very little maintenance required. Ideal if you are living in small apartments like in New York City.

Preset Workouts

If you’re a beginner-level rower or lead a busy lifestyle you may not have the time to create your own workouts. 

If you prefer preset workouts, which allow you to plug and play, then look for higher-end models that have a good range of preset workouts to choose from. 


Are you training with a specific goal in mind or just trying to get low-impact cardio under your belt? 

What metrics do you want to see displayed? Time, distance, speed/intensity, heart rate, and finally the rate of your stroke. 

Cheaper rowing machines may show only the bare basics. If you want more detailed metrics, you’ll have to opt for an upper-end rowing machine. 

Phone/Tablet Holder

If you want to stream something on a smart device during your workout, you want it to be in a safe and secure position, preferably at eye level, so that you are not straining your neck and head.


Will you have a fixed location for the rowing machine, or are you looking for something to fold and store after usage? 

A foldable rowing machine enables you to fold up the lengthy side rail of the rower, saving you storage space.


If you do opt for a foldable rowing machine, you want a model that you can move with ease to fold and store and unfold and use. 

Models that have wheels make it much easier to move around and store.

Comfortable Seat

You want to make sure that you have a comfortable seat that you are not fidgeting in, allowing you to work out for extended periods of time. 

A comfortable seat will also help you maintain proper form and technique and allow you to focus solely on executing your workout.

Adjustable Foot Straps

You want to ensure that the rowing machine you select offers the flexibility to adjust the snugness or looseness of the feet pads so that your feet are strapped in with the right comfort. 

Especially if more than one user is using the machine and will constantly be adjusting straps.

Smart Features

For some people, working out is a chore and they welcome the distraction via smart features. 

Do you want to have streaming capabilities? Bluetooth connectivity? WiFi? The capability to connect with third-party apps allowing your workout to fly by?

Drive Mechanism

Every rowing machine comprises the handlebars you pull and the thing that creates resistance. The two most common mechanisms that connect these two different components are:

  • Belt - A belt is quiet and cheap, and overtime experiences wear and tear. Well-engineered belts offer a smoother experience.
  • Chain - A chain is more expensive than a belt and durable, however, it is noisy. 


If you live in an apartment building or house with other people, you want to be mindful of how noisy the rowing machine you’re using is.

If you live in a building where noise carries easily, you may be disturbing your neighbors. 

On the other hand, if you live on a sprawling estate with no one to annoy, go forth and buy any rower.


The average rower comes in the same size, and they take up quite a bit of space when being used. 

Unless you have a dedicated gym in your home or a fixed spot for the rowing machine, you may want to opt for a rower that gives you the option to fold up the slide rail and offers compact storage.


You want to get something that is sturdy in build and will last and offers a smooth rowing experience. 

The type of resistance the rower has as well as the features it has will all contribute to the overall quality. 

Strive for the highest quality rower you can buy for the budget you have.


How much you are able to spend willingly spend is key to the final rower you’ll end up with.

An average rowing machine can cost as little as $200 and go as high as $2,600. If you are on a mid-range budget opt to pick up a rower around the $1,000 - $1,200 mark.

If money is no object, then opt for a water rower. Alternatively, if you are on a shoestring budget, then go for a magnetic resistance rower which is cheaper.

Trials & Returns & Warranties

Is there a trial period? Does the model come with money-back guarantees? 

Many brands will offer a 28-day money-back guarantee providing you return the treadmill in its original packing and you pick up the tab for return costs.

Read the fine print and be clear who the warranty is with. Typically the warranty is with the original manufacturer. What duration is the warranty for? 

Does the warranty cover in-home repairs during your warranty period? Does this include both labor and parts for the repair?

Is there an opportunity to extend the warranty? Do your homework. 

Rowing Machines FAQ

How long should I work out on a rowing machine?

This depends on your weekly schedule, your fitness goals, and what other workouts you plan to do in conjunction with your rowing. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to work out at a moderate intensity for a duration of 30-minutes at least 5 days a week, or for a duration of 15 minutes at high intensity 5 days a week. 

Many rowing machines have numerous preset workouts built-in which makes it easier for you to work out for the appropriate duration at the right intensity level, without you having to figure this out.

What is the proper rowing machine form?

It is key that you work out safely and with the correct technique to yield all the physical benefits a rowing machine has to offer, to avoid injuries. 

There is a multitude of good videos on YouTube, which demonstrate step-by-step the correct rowing technique. 

What is the best rowing machine for your home?

If you live in a building where noise carries easily or you need to be mindful of neighbors adjacent to you or living below, then you should avoid getting rowing machines that make a loud noise and vibrate a lot, such as air rowing machines.

Should I wear rowing gloves with a rowing machine?

This depends on your personal preference. Many rowers dislike wearing full mittens when using a rowing machine and over time they get used to the blisters and calluses. 

On the other hand, for some users having half mittens that protect your hands from blisters, allowing your grip to remain firm is a huge help in staying comfortable and being able to row for longer durations.

Workout gloves are not a must. If you prefer them, opt for the half-mitten workout glove style.   

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