Best Rowing Machines That Are Worth Buying

Best Type Of Rowing Machine

Why are home rowing machines so popular right now? Because they provide a full-body workout while occupying limited space. Along with your treadmill and weight set, consider adding a rowing machine to your home gym—it gives a low-impact, total-body exercise in about 20 minutes.

You can adjust your workout on a rowing machine to exactly what you want to get out of it, from severe sessions to relaxed cross-training days. Rowing workouts are low-impact and, when done properly, stimulate more muscle mass than other kinds of exercise routines such as cycling or jogging. Your back, arms, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core will all benefit from a rowing machine workout.

What Is The Best Type Of Rowing Machine Resistance?

Electromagnetic Resistance​

Electromagnetic resistance rowers are quite smooth and quiet to use, but they do require an external power supply and often involve intricate electrical components. Resistance can be changed quickly and simply, however, the peak resistance level is usually not very high, in my experience.

An electromagnetic resistance rower can go wrong in a variety of ways, but if properly maintained, it should be dependable and long-lasting.

Water Resistance​

Water-resistance rowers, which are made up of a sealed water drum and a propeller connected to the handle by a string or chain, are becoming increasingly popular. The water drum is extremely cool, and the swishing sound it makes, while it’s in use, makes it feel like you’re rowing.

Because water is so heavy, water rowers tend to be heavy as well, making them less portable. The rowing action is heavier at the beginning of the pull than at the finish, similar to rowing on “actual” water but unlike other types of brake systems where resistance is constant.

Hydraulic Resistance

Hydraulic resistance was almost always utilized by old-school rowers. Hydraulic rowers are often less expensive and less fun to operate than the previous three resistance types. Hydraulic rowers have an unnatural rowing action that might be painful since the handles must travel in an arc rather than in a straight line.

Resistance is normally adjustable, but only to a limited extent. Hydraulic resistance rowers are lightweight, portable, and readily folded for storage, but they are not appropriate for “serious” rowing training, despite the fact that Kettler, a high-quality German fitness manufacturer, continues to employ hydraulics in their rowing machines.

Different Types of Rowing Machine

To challenge your muscles and cardiovascular system, an exercise routine should include resistance against movement. When you pull the handle and slide back on the rail on a rowing machine, you get this.

Low resistance, on the other hand, works your cardiovascular system because you can row quickly. High resistance, on the other hand, provides an anaerobic workout since your muscles have to work harder to pull against the larger resistance at a slower stroke rate.

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5F​

This rowing machine is at the top of the market, with aluminum and steel alloy construction for long-term use. The PM5F performance monitor is a key selling point because it captures a variety of measurements that can be downloaded to a computer for analysis. Stroke rate, pace, time, distance rowed, and calories burned are among them.

The Concept2 Model D rowing machine is appropriate for rowers of all abilities and has been praised by a competitive rower for its performance. The flywheel mechanism gives resistance to the stroke, and a dampener allows the machine to be adjusted to the skill level of each individual.

The adjustable foot-straps make it easy to adapt for all foot sizes, and the ergonomic handle has a 10-degree bend to assist you row in a natural fashion. With a maximum weight capacity of 500lbs, it is smooth and reliable equipment. When not in use, the rowing machine can be swiftly folded and packed away thanks to the frame-quick-release lock’s mechanism.

PROS

  • High quality, long-lasting build 
  • Quick and easy assembly
  • The pricing is a little expensive, but it’s a good deal

CONS

  • High price (but worth it)
  • Is quite loud 
  • Seat hard for some users

2. Hydrow Rower​

The Hydrow linked rower is the epitome of luxury rowing. With their interactive immersive budget rowing machine, designed to bring the flow of the river to you, the Hydrow team has taken home exercise to a whole new level!

With a sleek and stylish design, the Hydrow machine is sure to wow. The ergonomic body is made of a sleek metal frame that is strong and long-lasting. This is to be expected for a product with such a high price tag.

An electromagnetic drag mechanism is used to adjust the resistance settings, resulting in an ultra-smooth and quiet rowing motion. This is ideal for high-intensity, low-impact training.

A state-of-the-art 22″ HD touchscreen with built-in front-facing speakers and live outdoor reality technology is also included with the Hydrow Rower. With a Hydrow membership, you’ll get access to over 1000 pre-recorded and live-broadcast workouts that you can do with a trainer, your friends, and the rest of the Hydrow community.

PROS

  • The smooth gliding rowing motion
  • Comfortable seat
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Sleek and stylish design
  • Easy assembly
  • Quality build
  • Heart rate monitoring 

CONS

  • Price tag
  • Membership not included
  • It is not possible to fold it for storage (storage kit can be purchased separately)

 3. Ergatta Rower

The Ergatta Connected Rower is a stunningly designed WaterRower with a display console that is nothing short of a powerhouse.

With its interactive gaming experience, the Ergatta linked rower takes your exercises to a whole new level. This may sound a little pushy, but this equipment is very unique. The machine calibrates itself based on your rowing performance to create fun and engaging data-driven workouts.

The race/game workouts are divided into four categories to make you feel like you’re participating in a sport or game.

  • Push Programs: Workouts that are organized in a certain order to help you achieve specified objectives
  • Interval Workouts: Interactive games give personalized HIIT, Endurance, and Technique rows.
  • Race Workouts: Competitions with other members of the community
  • Open Row: Row to views from across the world, get real-time feedback, and build bespoke interval workouts.

The Ergatta Connected Rower is extremely light, and it can be stored upright. With its superior rowing performance, comfort, and durability, you receive all the benefits of a WaterRower. The gadget works with both Bluetooth headphones and heart rate monitors, and it has a 9-foot wire, so you should be able to set it wherever you want while still being able to access an outlet.

PROS

  • Beautifully designed
  • Workouts personalized to your fitness level
  • Monthly challenges, data-driven workouts, interactive training plans, games
  • It’s quite light and stores easily because it stands upright.

CONS

  • Expensive
  • No workouts led by instructors 
  • No workouts for off the rower 

4. Sunny RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine​

This is a machine aimed towards the lower end of the market, with a focus on comfort and durability. It includes a magnetic tension mechanism that makes it a silent machine, which is useful if noise is a problem where you live. You can choose from eight different magnetic tension resistance levels by turning a knob.

A large sliding rail of 48 inches is one of the machine’s features, making it accessible to most persons of any height. For comfortable rowing, the seat is fully padded, and the handlebars have foam grips. The foot pedals include an anti-slip design that keeps the feet in place.

The monitor is rather rudimentary, and it doesn’t provide some of the information that other devices do, such as distance traveled. In such comparisons, however, the affordability of this rower must be considered. The monitor is also not illuminated, which might make seeing difficult at times. The maximum weight capacity for the machine is 250lbs and it can be folded down for easy storage once training is done for the day.

PROS

  • Lightweight & mobile
  • Relatively quiet
  • Reasonably priced
  • Eight levels of resistance, with an easy to use resistance knob
  • Large padded seat

CONS

  • The digital monitor is quite basic & provides limited data
  • There are no built-in exercise programs like some other devices.
  • Pedals appear to be a little on the cheap side

5. LIT Strength Machine

On our list, the LIT Strength Machine is the most unusual rowing machine. It’s more than a rowing machine, according to the founders, who describe it as the world’s most versatile strength machine! That’s a bold claim.

Part water rower, part strength trainer, and part reformer, this machine has it all. Built-in anchor points on the rower allow you to attach numerous accessories such as resistance bands, a strength bar, and ankle cuffs.

Over 500 workouts are included to help you improve your strength, cardio, and general fitness. It’s also the first adjustable resistance water rower, with a dial that lets you choose from four degrees of resistance, ranging from 10 to 40 pounds.

During studio-style live and on-demand lessons, the LIT Method teachers will have you utilize all sides of the equipment, making this, unlike any other rowing experience.

PROS

  • A one-of-a-kind strength and cardio machine ​
  • Low impact, high-intensity workouts
  • Incorporates over 500 exercises
  • Upbeat, instructor-led studio-style live and on-demand classes 

CONS

  • No monitor
  • There is no traditional rowing experience or rowing stats tracking.

6. Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 ​

This Stamina machine provides a smooth and functional row without the more complicated features, making it a more cost-effective option. Steel is used to construct the sturdy frame, and two stabilizers ensure that the equipment does not move during workouts.

The air resistance mechanism of the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 changes resistance in response to your rowing intensity. The more you row, the greater opposition you’ll encounter. This is beneficial for high-intensity workouts because you don’t have to stop to modify the settings.

This magnetic rower is appropriate for all skill levels and features a padded, upholstered seat for enhanced comfort, even during lengthy workouts. Large footplates accommodate most users, and the foam-padded handles limit the risk of blisters.

PROS

  • Durable build
  • Lower price option
  • Cushioned seat
  • Large footrest for big feet
  • Good for high-intensity work-outs
  • Easy to store
  • Floor protectors

CONS

  • Can be noisy when rowed with intensity
  • No resistance change mode
  • No heart rate monitor

7. JTX Fitness Freedom

A rowing machine should be viewed as a long-term investment, and buying a new one only to have it break down after a few months is not a situation you want to find yourself in. As a result, JTX Fitness put a premium on longevity with the JTX Freedom Air Rowing Machine, creating a machine that will last you for years rather than just a few months.

It works to make your rows smooth and seamless with dual magnetic and air resistance, and eight degrees of magnetic resistance to progress with. A computer console is also included, which displays crucial parameters and allows you to establish goals.

PROS

  • Fabulous advanced display monitor and computer console
  • Robust body, stable, and easily portable
  • 16 resistance levels and 8 pre-programmed routines
  • Foldable machine with transportation wheels

CONS

  • Machine body seems heavy at the beginning
  • Although worthy quite expensive
  • A complex mechanism for beginners

8. Kettler Kadett Rowing Machine

The hydraulic rowing machine takes its name from the resistance mechanism it employs. A hydraulic cylinder is employed in this scenario, hence the name. The names of the other varieties of rowing machines are likewise determined by the type of resistance they employ. Air, magnetic, and water rowers (which I’ll refer to as “full-size rowers” from now on) are included in this category.

The name may appear to be high-tech, but it isn’t. These are the most basic rowing machines in the collection. A cylinder with oil/air in it and a piston that slides through it make up the hydraulic system. The piston is attached to the rower’s arms so that it can move in and out of the cylinder as you grow. 

Pros:

  • Solid build quality
  • 12-levels of adjustable resistance
  • Quiet operation
  • Lifetime warranty on frame
  • Comfortable seat

Cons:

  • No wheels for transporting
  • Can be difficult to assemble
  • Footrest design has some issues
  • The performance monitor can come loose

9. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

If the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine looks familiar, it’s because it’s the foundation for Ergatta’s Connected Rower system (our pick above for the best interactive row machine).

The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine, which utilizes a flywheel that pushes through water in a heavy-duty tank, comes the closest to mimicking the sensation of true outdoor rowing for an indoor rowing machine. 

You can increase resistance by adding water to the tank, in addition to controlling resistance with your strokes (the harder and quicker you row, the more drag the flywheel experiences). In other words, the more water there is, the more drag there is on the flywheel, and the more intense workout will be.

PROS

  • High maximum user weight 
  • Suitable for any level of fitness
  • Smooth and effective rowing
  • Sound of the water
  • Easy to store & easy to use

CONS

  • Small and minimal monitor
  • Not adjustable footrests
  • Maintenance is required

FAQs

Is rowing better than running? 

Rowing utilizes more muscle areas than jogging, according to a study conducted by Dr. Cameron Nichol, a former Olympic rower. Rowing strengthens your back, tones your arms, and benefits both your upper and lower body in addition to stimulating about 85 percent of your body’s muscles and upwards of nine separate major muscle groups.

Can you row every day?

Yes, in a word. However, as with any training plan, it’s critical not to overdo it or continuously push yourself past your limits. Irving “Zeus” Hyppolite, a personal trainer, said that individuals often attempt to do too much and that there is a limit to how much your body can endure.

According to Hyppolite, a fair standard is to exercise for 45 minutes to an hour three to five days a week. You’ll be investing the same amount of energy for more modest returns as you start doing more than that, he noted.

Can you lose weight by using a rowing machine?

Consistent exercise is only one part of being able to manage your weight, therefore it would be irresponsible to claim that a rower can help you lose weight on its own. 

Crawford also mentioned that full-body strengthening can help with fat loss. However, keep in mind that it isn’t the only issue you should be concerned about. Weight exercise, enough rest, and a well-balanced diet are also essential.

How To Shop For A Rowing Machine

Because there are so many different types of a budget rower, it’s crucial to look at each one to see which one best suits your needs and keeps you engaged and injury-free. You should think about things like:

Resistance:

Magnetic (electromagnets slow the erg’s metal flywheel), air (drag from the spinning flywheel), hydraulic (resistance is created by hydraulic fluid in a piston or two connected to the erg’s handles), and water are all examples of resistance (the flywheel pushes against water in a tank).

Size:

The machine should be large enough for you to straighten your legs and maintain proper rowing form while still fitting into your training space.

Maximum user weight capacity:

The maximum weight capacity of models varies, but several can support 220 to 265 pounds or more.

Foldability:

Some machines (often magnetic and hydraulic resistance) fold up for storage, whereas others (mostly air and water resistance) do not.

Monitor:

While rowing, an LCD monitor or computer records data such as distance, duration, speed, and/or calories burned.

Seat:

It should be contoured and large enough to keep your backside comfortable while maintaining proper form.

Preset Workouts:

Sure, you can just go on a rower and start pulling, but if you want to see actual results, you should start completing some rowing workouts. Look for a machine that has pre-programmed choices, like interval training and benchmark distances (like a 500-meter test or marathon row).

Noise Level

If you’re rowing in an open environment with other people, or if you live in an apartment, the degree of noise can be critical. “The WaterRower, in general,” Langhans notes, “is known for being quieter and sleeker than the fan-based Concept2.”

Conclusion

Rowing machine workouts are a great way to burn calories. To strengthen and condition your upper body, do them twice a week. Get in shape while having a good time!

In other words, rowing by itself will not transform you into the Hulk. Rowing helps you develop and tone muscle mass across your body so you don’t appear out of proportion.

Indoor rowers also provide numerous health benefits of rowing, including burning calories and lipids, strengthening the cardiovascular system, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing flexibility, and so on. All of this comes with a modest impact on your joints.