Rowing machines have become a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts who want to be able to work out at home mostly because day sheet all major muscle groups, allowing you to get fit in no time. However, finding the best rowing machine is not a very easy task, because there are a lot of factors to look at before deciding which model would be a good fit for your needs.
To help you choose, we reviewed 27 of the best rowing machines currently available on the market and came to the conclusion that the Concept2 Model D is the best one, and for this reason we decided to feature it as our editor's choice. This machine has received glowing reviews from professionals and home users alike and is designed to fit most users. It also allows you to track your progress with real-time data, and it has all the features that you might expect in a high range and rowing machine, including wireless connectivity, while also being solidly built. We also included four other models in our top, so you can select one that fits both your needs and budget.
Top 5 Rowing Machines Review 2020
When reviewing products to find the best rowing machine out there, we looked at multiple features, including the type of machine, resistance levels, slide rail length, inseam rail length, weight capacity, dimensions and weight. We included all the results of our research in the comparison table that is followed by in-depth reviews of each of the machines that made it to the top. Finally, the buying guide at the end gives you all the information you need to make your choice.
This model features a large number of features such as PC compatible software, memory cards to store your performance and workouts, and wireless connectivity so you can export your workouts to your preferred applications.
This hydraulic rowing machine is a full-motion model with 12 resistance levels that are very easy to adjust and adjustable foot straps that provide you with extra security, so, it offers great value for money.
This budget friendly magnetic model has 16 resistance levels and is suitable for the entire family because it is highly adjustable while also having a large seat and being suitable for tall people.
Thanks to the he resistance mechanism of this machine, which consists of a fan that you pull through the water in the tank during your workout, you will get the most authentic experience.
Concept2 Model D – Editor’s Choice
- Type: air-resistant flywheel
- Resistance levels: 10
- Stride rail length: not specified
- Inseam rail length: 38 inches
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs.
- Dimensions: 96 x 24 inches/ 25 x 33 x 54 inches (folded)
- Weight: 57 lbs.
More features: connects with a wide range of popular fitness apps, wireless Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, online rankings, separates into 2 pieces for storage, frame parts 5-year warranty, all parts 2-year warranty
It’s not just the fact that it is an incredibly well-built piece of equipment that made us pick the Concept2 Model D as our editor’s choice, but also the sheer number of features you get with it. While this is a model that is priced highly than others we reviewed, the Concept2 Model D is bound to put up with years of use without any major issues.
Manufactured by Concept2, a company that has been dominating the rowing machine market for quite some time, this machine is built like a rock and comes with a comfortable seat, quality finish and build, as well as a PM5 console display that displays more information about your workout than any of the other machines we tested.
Besides the build quality, other reasons for which the Concept2 Model D is the best home rowing machine include the sheer number of features such as PC compatible software, memory cards to store your performance and workouts, and wireless connectivity so you can export your workouts to your preferred applications.
The console display allows you to track your distance, speed, watts, pace and calories, and it also comes with a selection of workouts and games to keep you engaged and motivated. You can also choose from five display options and connect the machine tool a heart monitoring system via Bluetooth. Most of the users who tested this machine were impressed by the build quality and features, and mentioned that this is a machine suitable for professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
- Exceptional build quality
- Smooth rowing experience
- Advanced workout monitoring
- Seat might not be comfortable for larger people
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 – Best Value
- Type: hydraulic
- Resistance levels: 12
- Stride rail length: 40 inches
- Inseam rail length: 38 inches
- Weight capacity: 350 lbs.
- Dimensions: 57 x 29 x 12 inches
- Weight: 37.7 lbs.
More features: full motion arms, LCD display, adjustable foot straps
If you looking for a rowing machine that offers great value for money as well as a high-quality workout experience, look no further than the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639. This is a full-motion rowing machine with 12 resistance levels that are very easy to adjust and adjustable foot straps that provide you with extra security.
The LCD monitor of the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 displays all the essential information you need to keep motivated during your workout, and the nonslip handlebars come in handy for intense sessions. We particularly liked the large and cushioned seat that provides relief of pressure on your tailbone for maximum comfort throughout your workout.
The machine comes with 12 different levels of resistance, but some users mentioned that they might not be enough for experience rowers. However, it’s an excellent rowing machine for beginners, and the majority of reviewers who were quite happy with the level of comfort you get when using this machine. The free motion mechanism of the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 allows you to pull back the handles at various angles, which means that you can train most of the muscles in your back. It’s also an excellent way to keep your work out interesting, because you can easily switch up the rowing motion.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 has an overall design that makes it easy to transport and store, and you can store it upright against the wall when not in use, which makes it perfect for apartment dwellers.
- 12 levels of resistance
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Not ideal for experienced rowers
- Monitor is rather basic
MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine – Budget Pick
- Type: magnetic
- Resistance levels: 16
- Stride rail length: 49 inches
- Inseam rail length: 45 inches
- Weight capacity: 264 lbs
- Dimensions: 76.4 x 19.7 inches/ 42.3 x 19.7 x 37.4 inches (folded)
- Weight: 57.3 lbs.
More features: suitable for whole family use, large seat, 1-year warranty
This full-motion home rowing machine targets various areas of your body, including your arms, triceps, biceps, upper legs, abdominal muscles and more, which means that it’s an excellent machine for both cardio workouts and toning your muscle tissue.
We liked that it’s very easy to assemble the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine, and that the machine is very comfortable and supporting. Many users found that this home rowing machine is stable and well-balanced, and that it’s made from hardwearing materials.
The MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine has 16 resistance levels and is suitable for the entire family because it is highly adjustable while also having a large seat and being suitable for tall people. Adjusting the tension is very easy, even though there is definitely a learning curve associated with it. This home rowing machine has an LCD monitor to display your calories, time, and reps per minute. Because it has transportation’s wheels included, it is very easy to move the machine to exercise in whichever room you want.
This is a magnetic rowing machine that comes with a convenient storage box where you can place your water bottle or phone, and foot plates with straps for increased stability. Because the straps are adjustable, it is easy to make the foot plates suitable for everyone in the family. The large cushion seat prevents you from feeling any discomfort throughout your workout and the handles are fully foam-padded for extra comfort.
- Easy assembly
- Stable and well balanced
- Suitable for the entire family
- Changing the resistance levels may be tricky in the beginning
MaxKare Water Rowing Machine – Best Water Powered Model
- Type: water
- Resistance levels: depends on the water level
- Stride rail length: 46.4 inches
- Inseam rail length: 3 inches
- Weight capacity: 264 lbs
- Dimensions: 78 x 17.3 x 35.4 inches
- Weight: 86 lbs
More features: pulleys, support point for upright storage, 3.5-4 gallons water tank capacity
There’s nothing quite like the sound of swishing water to mimic the boat rowing experience, and the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine is a machine that ticks most of the boxes for people who are looking for a water rowing machine. Unlike in the case of magnetic or hydraulic rowing machines, the resistance mechanism of this machine consists of a fan that you pull through the water in the tank during your workout. In order to set the resistance level, you need to add or remove water, and the resistance will change the harder you pull.
The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine comes with a monitor that displays work out data including burnt calories, strokes per minute, and 500 m split times. We found the LCD screen easy to read, and many users appreciated the human versus boat program that means that you can race against the computer after setting your workout goals.
This is an affordable water rowing machine, but still, it has a quality build and design that is bound to last for years. Some people are put off by water rowing machines because they believe they require more maintenance than other models. In reality, only to do is replace the water every 4 to 6 months and add a water purifier every 2 months. The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine comes with a handy bottled water and we liked that you can store it vertically without having to empty the tank first.
- Solid construction
- Good value for money
- Resistance levels are highly customizable
- Difficult to assemble
- The seat could be better
NordicTrack RW900 Rower – Best Magnetic Model
- Type: magnetic
- Resistance levels: 26 manual
- Stride rail length: not specified
- Inseam rail length: not specified
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Dimensions: 86.5 x 22 x 50.4 inches/ foldable – not specified
- Weight: 130.6 lbs.
More features: 1 year iFit membership, 22 inches HD SMART Touchscreen Display, adjustable console angle
Featuring 26 manually adjustable resistance levels, the NordicTrack RW900 Rower is to rowing machines what Peloton is for exercise bikes. It comes with a 22-inch monitor and loads of interactive on-screen workouts that you can follow so you are bound never to become bored with your workout again. This magnetic rowing machine is a bit like having your own personal trainer in your house, which can do wonders for your motivation.
The magnetic resistance of this machine is automatically controlled by the programs you decide to use. this means that when you are following a workout, the resistance will change automatically to match the instructions of your personal trainer. Overall, this helps to get engaged while also creating a challenging rowing experience.
One of the main selling points of the NordicTrack RW900 Rower is its 22-inch HD Smart touch screen display that can rotate to 90° so you can follow a workout on the side of your machine. The monitor connects to the NordicTrack iFIT workout programs and also displays important data such as distance, time, strokes per minute, calories burned and more. You can also connect the rowing machine to various apps on your phone.
It comes with a one-year iFIT membership that includes countless workouts while also offering you a chance to row down different rivers across the world, including in countries such as Kenya, Slovenia, the UK, and Croatia. The reviews for the NordicTrack RW900 Rower are indeed glorious, with users mentioning not only the advantages of the technology that comes with this machine, but also its build quality, which is excellent, as you would come to expect from this brand that has been selling bikes, ellipticals, treadmills, and rowing machines for decades.
- 22-inch touchscreen monitor
- Excellent build and comfort
- Hundreds of interactive workouts
- 1-year iFit membership included
- Heart rate monitor not included
Buying a rowing machine is one of the best things you could do to improve your level of fitness from the comfort of your own home. If you are looking for the best rowing machine online, you have probably used one in a gym and like the action as well as the way this fitness machine can provide the complete workout for your entire body.
This buying guide will help you choose the best rowing machine for your needs and budget, assisting you with information about the different types of rowing machines as well as the features you should look for in this type of fitness equipment.
Rowing machine health benefits
Unlike in the case of other fitness machines designed for cardio workouts such as treadmills and stationary bikes, a rowing machine is a cardio dream for many fitness enthusiasts and beginners alike. A workout on a rowing machine targets no less than 85% of the muscles in your body, which means that you will be able to activate all the major muscles in your arms, legs, back and core in order to perform the full movement properly.
Besides being able to work at any intensity you like, a rowing machine also has a low impact on your body, which means that it is a good choice for those who have injured their knees or ankles by running. Moreover, a rowing machine allows you to increase your cardio fitness as a runner without putting extra pressure on your knees.
Exercising on the rowing machine is a great way to achieve sustainable fat loss because you can raise your heart rate easily. It's also an excellent way to improve posture because you need to be upright as you pull, so you can easily avoid slouching, which is particularly important if you have a job that requires you to sit in front of a computer all day long.
Features to consider while choosing a rowing machine
Rowing machines, with different features depending on the manufacturer and the price range are looking into. Some of the most important ones to consider when doing your research include type, resistance levels, weight capacity, dimensions and weight, as well as land of warranty and price.
There are three main types of rowing machines available on the market, and even though they basically require you to perform the same motions during your workout, they are different when it comes to resistance levels and maintenance.
- Flywheel rowing machines are some of the popular ones around because they offer a feel that is similar to that of outdoor rowing. This type of machine that receives its resistance from the user's pulling motion, which spins the flywheel. All you need to do if you want to increase the resistance of this type of machine is pull harder. This is probably the most natural rowing stroke you can achieve with the rowing machine, which sets flywheel models apart from magnetic ones.
- Magnetic resistance rower machines are some of the most silent models you can find and they used a magnetic brake system to receive resistance. Many people prefer these because they don't produce much sound at all, which makes them ideal for those who don't want to disturb their entire family with their morning workout.
- Finally, water rowing machines, such as MaxKare Water Rowing Machine, are the perfect choice for users who like to participate in outdoor rowing, because they can emulate the dynamics of a moving boat. In a similar way to rowing outdoors, the flywheel of a water rowing machine receives resistance from water. This is also very silent type of rowing machine but it comes with the added benefit of hearing the swishing of the water, which makes it feel just like the real thing.
While the type of resistance you choose for your home rowing machine depends on your budget and individual fitness needs, the resistance levels are generally built inside a machine. Thus, you need to be careful about the number you want to have because you can't change it later, except in the case of water resistance machines that don't come with preset resistance levels because you can set them yourself by adding or removing water from the tank.
Some models, such as the NordicTrack RW900 Rower come with 26 manually adjustable resistance levels, and the machine has the ability to change them according to the present work and that you decide to go for. Others, such as the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine come with 16 resistance levels that you can easily change manually.
When looking at resistance levels, you should keep in mind the fact that while beginners should be perfectly happy with a low number of resistance levels, advanced users may want to look for a rowing machine that allows them to choose from as many resistance levels as possible.
The rail length of a rowing machine is very important especially for tall users, because having ample seat rail length is essential in order to be able to fully extend your legs.
Different types of rowing machines can support people of different weights, so it's important to make sure that the machine you are choosing is a good fit for everyone in your family who will use it. For example, the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine has a weight capacity of the 264 lbs., whereas the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 is more accommodating, providing a weight capacity of up to 350 lbs.
Dimensions and weight
The dimensions and weight of a rowing machine are important not just when it comes to un-boxing and assembling the fitness equipment, but also for those moments when you want to transport it from one room to one another.
Look closely at the dimensions of your preferred rowing machine to make sure it will fit well in the space you intend to use it, be it a basement or your bedroom.
Many of the rowing machines we tested and included in our top come with at least one year of warranty, with our editor's choice, the Concept2 Model D providing users with two years of limited warranty and a total of five-year warranty. Make sure you read the instructions provided by the manufacturer regarding warranty when you purchase the machine, as some models may require you to register the product on the website of the producer.
The price of a quality rowing machine differs according to the brand you decide to go for, as well as the number of features it includes. Some models such as the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine are more budget friendly, whereas high end products with countless features and connectivity options such as the NordicTrack RW900 Rower, may cost upwards of $2,000.
Most of the rowing machines we included in our review are easy to move and store as they come with wheels. Some models, such as our editor's choice, the Concept2 Model D can be separated into two pieces so you can store them into a closet. Many users prefer to fit their rowing machine in a corner of a room to free up space when the machine is not in use. You should always make sure the rowing machine up on end because it might tip over and cause accidents. If you have small children or pets, it is not a good idea to store the rowing machine up the wall in a corner of the room. A closet or the basement would be a better solution in that situation.
Beginner may want to have a look at one of the budget models so that they can decide whether rowing is a good fitness routine for them. If you're just looking to complete a couple of sessions a week, a no-frills magnetic model such as the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine would be a good choice. However, keep in mind that you might evolve quickly and get in shape in a couple of weeks, so it might be a good idea to bypass models for beginners and go for a high-end machine instead if you're serious about getting in shape.
After reviewing a large selection of rowing machines in all price ranges, we concluded that the Concept2 Model D is the best rowing machine out there for the majority of users, be it beginners or seasoned athletes. Solidly built and featuring loads of high-end specs that include Bluetooth connectivity and compatibility with all popular fitness apps, the Concept2 Model D also comes with extended warranty.
In second place is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639, a rowing machine that offers incredible value for money and is also very easy to assemble and transport. This hydraulic rowing machine has 12 resistance levels and a weight capacity of 350 lbs., the highest among the models we reviewed.
Finally, if you're interested in the best rowing machine on a budget, the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine will fit the bill. This is a full-motion home rowing machine that comes with an LCD monitor and 16 resistance levels, so it's suitable for beginners and intermediate athletes alike.
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