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Best Rowing Machines

Best Overall
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Best for Durability
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer

Best for Full-Body Workouts
SereneLife Air and Magnetic Rowing Machine

Written by James Cooper
Last Updated
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The best rowing machines is the Concept 2 Model D judging by its popularity. With a range of workout options and durable materials, it’s a leader in its class. Notable choices can also include The Fitness Reality 1000 and Sunny Health & Fitness’ SF-RW1205. Made for home and gym training, these rowing machines offer full-body workouts for anyone looking to get in shape.

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Cross Trainers
Sit Up Benches
Adjustable Dumbbells
Kettlebells

  • 1

    Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

The Model D rowing machine from Concept 2 is the most popular in its class. While it’s not necessarily the most feature-packed, the rower offers a reliable experience and it can be used at home even if it’s more suitable for heavy gym use due to its robust materials.

Supporting a wide range of workouts, the rowing machine comes with target objectives or simple rowing training. Made with the PM5 monitor which is angle-adjustable, it’s one of the fastest rowing machines for user input. Concept 2’s PM5 wins in all categories in its class such as screen size, ease of use, durability, and adjustability.

With a few clicks, users are ready to row. But PM 5 also has solid compatibility. It connects to heart rate monitors via Bluetooth. It also comes with ANT technology. Both of these connecting technologies can be used to save workout data to various fitness apps.

Concept 2 also has its own WOD (workout of the day) which is compatible with Model D and prompts users to reach and surpass their fitness capacity. Furthermore, the rowing machine also comes with solid practicality. As it folds in w, the rowing machine is easy to store away. In gyms, it can simply be stored vertically which also saves floor space.

Taking care of the Model D is not complicated either. Every 40 hours, users need to oil the strong chain for it to support the smoothest rowing movements. It works strictly on air resistance which makes it so much more difficult to row the harder users pull the chain.

At a weight of 57lbs, the rowing machine is easy to move around the house. Its size doesn’t favor its easy storage in corners or behind furniture. But its weight comes with versatility in terms of where the fitness machine can be used inside the house.

Without making too much noise, it can be used by those with kids. Training early in the morning while kids are still sleeping is possible here. Based on a solid chain with good lubrication, the rowing machine is not known for any noise issues.

PROS

Made with aluminum front legs

1-10 damper levels

Made with a backlit LCD screen

CONS

Doesn’t slide under the bed even when folded

  • 2

    Life Fitness Row HX Trainer

Discover a new and refreshing way to get fit! The Life Fitness machine offers a workout experience like no other; this machine is made with natural wood and tempered steel frame that is both elegant and durable and is not only an effective way to stay fit but also a piece of exercise equipment that you can proudly display around your house.

Life Fitness rowing machine has four resistance levels that are available with just a turn of a dial without the hassle of adding or siphoning water. These easy adjustments allow every user to challenge themselves with a variety of intensity without extra effort. This machine also has a unique fluid technology resistance system that delivers a smooth and natural feel. Users of Life Fitness appreciate and love the beautiful whooshing sound the water makes adding a relaxed feeling while still providing consistent resistance throughout each rowing stroke.

The Row HX Trainer is perfect for low-impact but total-body workout even in the comfort of your own home. It also has an LCD display where you can read the numbers; just make sure to put this machine in a nicely-lit area so you can easily see what’s on the screen.

PROS

Made with natural wood and tempered steel frame

Has an LCD display

The water sound it makes adds relaxation

Could be displayed anywhere around the house

CONS

LCD display is a bit dim

  • 3

    Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

The rowing machine is mainly a best-seller due to its reduced size. Not every user has over 90 inches of clearance for a long rowing machine and this is where Sunny Health & Fitness stands out the most with its practical design.

With 12 resistance levels, the rowing machine still offers a good workout to anyone looking to get in shape or stay in good physical shape. There’s even a workout calculator that tracks all strokes so that users always quantify the effort they put in in this demanding fitness machine.

Adjustable pedal straps make this indoor rower a bit easier to row on. These straps have to be properly secured for anyone looking to get in shape fast. Furthermore, they offer one of the best profiles for those who want to grow with intensity with proper footplates supporting proper lockdown.

The included workout monitor is not going to win any design awards but it does its job. With one-button operation, it takes users through workout data such as count or burned calories. These two workout statistics can be all that’s needed to keep an eye on the fitness effort during each rowing session.

Based on a cushioned seat and a cushioned handlebar, it’s safe to say users cannot have any comfort issue on this damped rower. Even heavy users feel relaxed on the comfortable seat which is made for the most comfortable and best home rowing experience.

With a length of just 54 inches, the rowing machine is not complicated to use. Its short length is a considerable storage advantage. But even for simple home use, the small rowing machine doesn’t need to much space in any room. Maybe this is why so many users prefer to place it directly in front of the TV during each workout.

Durability is not an issue with this rower. Based on steel construction, the rowing machine has a weight capacity of 220lbs. While it’s not the highest weight capacity, it certainly doesn’t need more weight capacity for its quick workout profile.

PROS

Includes a durable hydraulic cylinder

Made with 12 levels of hydraulic resistance

Designed with a small footprint

CONS

The LCD monitor could show more workout statistics

  • 4

    NordicTrack RW Rower

Stay safe at the comfort of your own home while being trained professionally with the NordicTrack RW Rower. This rowing machine is expertly-made with a 22-inch HD touchscreen where you can browse from a huge library of Studio Classes and Global workouts led by professional iFit Trainers who automatically adjust your resistance to optimize and customize your exercise. It has an adjustable console angle for a variety of training be it on or off the equipment. This machine also has 26 digital resistance levels so your iFit trainer can easily adjust your workouts according to your goal.

This rower could also be folded after every use with its innovative space saver design. Rowers fold in half for compact storage and have front-mounted wheels for easy transport. It also comes with a Silent Magnetic resistance that delivers a smooth and quiet workout experience wherever you may want to use it. The NordicTrack also has oversized pivoting pedals that has quick-release adjustable foot straps that provide comfort even when you’re going fast.

The iFit trainers for NordicTrack will let you in high-powered cross-training workouts that will surely get you moving and feel good during and after. You can follow your trainer on their favorite waterways around the world while receiving instruction on your form. Talk about relaxation and effective training and workout. Professional trainers could be streamed in high-energy rowing classes that will surely motivate and empower you to do more at any time.

PROS

Has 22” HD Interactive Touchscreen Display streams on-demand iFit workouts

Protected with a 10-year frame warranty

Could be folded to half and had wheels for easy storage and transport

CONS

iFit experience requires internet connection

  • 5

    SereneLife Air and Magnetic Rowing Machine

What better way to get a full-body workout than the SereneLife Air and Magnetic Rowing Machine! This equipment provides low impact workouts that target the forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, thighs, and more with the easy-to-use air and magnetic technology and is also suitable to be used at home or gym. This home rowing machine really helps with full-body workouts as it is ideal for sports training, cardio fitness, burning off fats, and ultimately, weight loss. You may track your activities because of its technology that can measure time, distance, strides, and calories burned.

The SereneLife machine is made of high-quality materials, so you are sure of its durability. It is made from durable and premium quality steel metal alloy and engineered ABS that is built to last. It can hold weights up to 250lbs which makes it practically suitable for all sizes. You may also increase or decrease the 8 levels of resistance with a simple twist of a button, so you are sure that the machine is in tune with your needs for a more effective fitness journey that is made just for you.

Storing and transporting your rowing machine is also a breeze as it is foldable, so you can take your workout anywhere around the house. It also assures a quiet workout because of its smooth-gliding contour row seat that is also comfortable to use along with the pedal style footrests that support the back while working out. It also features a digital LCD display that helps you monitor elapsed time, strides, distance, revolutions per minute, calories burned, and many more. SereneLife also features a smooth-gliding slide rail that won’t let you disturb anyone at home while you work hard, as well as a strong and durable handlebar and padded seat for comfort at every pull.

PROS

Has a digital LCD display to easily monitor activities

Perfect for weight loss, cardio fitness, and endurance

Easy storage and transport

Supports weight up to 250lbs.

CONS

Instruction manual is a bit confusing

  • 6

    XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Magnetic Resistance Rower

One of the most versatile rowing machines today is the ERG200 from XTERRA Fitness. Made with a dual aluminum track rail system, this rowing machine features a simple dial tension where you can easily select from 8 levels. It provides smooth and stable motion with the dual extruded aluminum seat rails mounted to a steel frame to ensure that users can focus more on their fitness journey comfortably. It also has a contoured seat that’s large enough for comfort, together with a padded pull handle, and pivoting food pedals with wide Velco straps for a whole comfortable workout experience at all levels. Storing and transporting this piece of equipment is also a breeze, as it could be folded easily.

The ERG200 folding magnetic resistance rower provides advanced training programs to create a workout customized only for you and based on your needs while keeping you challenged. It also comes with a large performance monitor that shows the elapsed time, stroke count, calories, total count, and scan. You can also adjust its angle for optimum viewing.

This machine uses two AA batteries, so you do not need to plug it to be used. Batteries are included upon purchase so you can get into your workouts right away. It can also handle weights up to 250lbs.

PROS

Battery-operated, so no need to plug when in use

Batteries included upon purchase

Compact frame design for easy storage

CONS

Resistance is a bit low even at the highest setting

  • 7

    Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine

Train your upper and lower body simultaneously with the ME-1018RE – Marcy Foldable rowing machine. It is an all-in-one workout station that is great for strengthening different muscle groups while increasing cardiovascular endurance and sculpting the torso and limbs. That really is an ultimate workout machine experience!

This rowing machine has 8 resistance settings that could be adjusted through the tension knob so you can customize your training from easy to intense according to your needs. It also simulates the effect of being on actual rowing. The workout equipment also features a multi-angle monitor that’s also a multi-functional computer LCD that lets you track time elapsed, total count, ad calories burned. This monitor could be folded backward or forward for you to store the rower easily.

It also features adjustable foot straps that create an exact fit and accommodated wide, sturdy pedals for all sizes of feet. The Marcy rowing machine is foldable, so it is easy to store and transport anywhere anytime. It has a compact structure that measures 53 inches by 24 inches by 64 inches when unfolded. The handy transport wheels let you move the machine from one room to another if you want a change of scenery and venue.

PROS

All-in-one workout station

Has a multi-angle monitor that could be folded backward and forward

Foldable and easy to transport

CONS

None of the pieces are labeled

  • 8

    SNODE Water Rowing Machine

SNODE water rowing machine is a piece of easy-to-use equipment but still lets you enjoy a full-body, low-impact workout that works well on your forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, thighs, and many more. It could be used in the comfort of your own home or at the gym. This machine is water-resistant that’s equipped with a sealed large water tank with stable operation and even distribution. Its water resistance capability is based on the water capacity, size of the paddle, and the rowing speed. No matter how fast or slow you want to row, you can do exercises by just adjusting the rowing frequency to achieve the effect that you desire.

The machine has anti-slip foot pedals that could also be adjusted based on the sizes of your feet. It also has a superior grip to stabilize your lower body for a more focused workout. The seat of SNODE is molded that offers maximum support and comfort even for an extended period of rowing.

Like most rowing machines, SNODE has an LCD monitor that is equipped with Bluetooth where you can track your progress, exercise time, calories burned, stroke count, total rowed distance, and the process. It also has a phone holder on the monitor so you can also watch workout classes or movies while rowing. This machine is built for small spaces and allows easy rolling in or out of a room so you can bring and use it anywhere you like.

PROS

Equipped with Bluetooth LCD monitor

Water-resistant

Fit for small spaces

CONS

A bit difficult to assemble

  • 9

    Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Based on 8 levels of magnetic resistance, the rower offers plenty of adjustability to those who want to increase cardio workout resistance. Based on magnetic resistance, the machine is known for its precise resistance adjustability.
With an included tracking monitor, the rowing machine offers one of the leading solutions for quick workout data. It shows calories and the time spent in a workout. A quick reset button is also added on the monitor for fans of interval training or multi-user workouts.

Made with a non-slip handlebar, the rower can be used by both beginner and advanced users. It supports high-intensity workouts. Furthermore, the handlebar is very easy to clean to keep it free from sweat and bacteria.

Supporting weights of up to 250lbs, the machine is suitable for home use. It’s Sunny’s approach to classic rowing machine designs. Unfortunately, the rowing machine is not the best for gym use as commercial-grade rowers need to handle larger weights.
A bit shorter than commercial-grade rowing machines, it comes with a length of 82 inches. While not compact, it’s still shorter than the rowing machines seen at the gym. As a result, it offers a very versatile option for anyone into a few workouts each week.

PROS

Made with a small LCD screen

Extra long side rail

Non-slip foot pedal

Has transportation wheels

CONS

Warranty is not valid in all countries

How to choose the best rowing machine

Buying a new rowing machine is an exciting time. Often seen as the best fitness machine, a rower supports full-body training and it can be used at home on its own or as part of a home gym. In summary, here are the main characteristics too look for.

  • Resistance

Rowing machines are based on air resistance, magnetic resistance, hydraulic resistance, and water resistance seen on premium water rowers. Most rowers made for home users rely on air resistance and hydraulic resistance. Air resistance is the most durable option.

The principles of air resistance are simple. As the user pulls harder, there’s more air resistance and the rowing becomes more difficult. Hundreds of rowing speeds and techniques can be developed here unlike with very specific magnetic resistance alternatives.

In terms of pricing, air resistance rowing machines are not expensive for the product. As a result, they also come at a very a best budget price for the home user. Furthermore, these rowing machines might also be backed by long warranty policies.

  • Size

The size of the rowing machine is essential for those training at home. While there are a few users who don’t care about the size of the rower, some might only have limited options. The rowers above have a length between 50 inches and 92 inches. Those with small rooms or those who simply want to train in a small living room might be better off with a smaller rower.

But the best part is even the largest rowing machines are now made with smarter designs. They can fold or they can be stored vertically. This is why users can still choose the most robust machines if they come with such design versatility.

  • Connectivity

Connectivity options are essential for the modern user. Bluetooth pairing is going to become standard shortly. The technology pairs chest straps to monitor heart rate during workouts. But the wireless connectivity technology can also be used to send out workout data to a smartphone fitness app.

An older method of transferring data from the rower to an app is through USB ports. But these ports are becoming rare on fitness machines as wireless Bluetooth connectivity is increasing in popularity.

The data which is transmitted to the app includes workout duration, the number of burned calories and even the average stroke statistics for those who like to keep an eye on personal progress.

  • Workout monitor

Most rowing machines come with a workout monitor. PM5 is the most popular workout monitor as it’s very easy to use. Even if it requires 2 batteries, it comes with a backlit screen and intuitive menus. As with most fitness equipment menus, a monitor should come with a layout that is quick to navigate to allow users to focus on the workout instead of focusing on the machine’s settings.

FAQ


What muscles do rowing machines work?

Rowing is considered a full-body exercise. Legs push the body away while arms pull the handle activating the biceps and the back muscles. Both upper and lower body muscles are worked with a rowing machine. Certain rowers such as those with adjustable rowing angles can also place a higher emphasis on core muscle as seen with the rowers above.

What is the best rowing machine for home use?

The best rowing machine for home use is the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5. With its complete set of features, it represents the type of rower that can be used for decades as it doesn’t need to be upgraded anytime soon.

How good is a rowing machine workout?

Studies show rowing at a moderate pace for 30 minutes burns around 310 calories. An average rower can burn even more calories by increasing rowing machine resistance or by rowing faster. In comparison, the rowing machine is considered the ultimate resource for burning fat both at home and at the gym.

Is rowing better than running?

Rowing is superior to running due to its low impact profile. Runners often suffer from issues such as joint and knee pain. There is no high impact in running as in running. even when done on a treadmill. From a caloric perspective, rowing also burns more calories than running as it involves upper body movement. But the two exercises are not mutually exclusive. Exercise variation with both running and rowing can be one of the top pick methods to get in shape fast.