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Wondering what is the rowing machine good for and what muscles does rowing work? You will be surprised to know that rowing machine provides a full body workout. It is a highly effective aerobic exercise that helps in reducing weight, increasing stamina, improving posture, reduction in back pain, toning of leg muscles, increasing endurance and much more. Due to its low-impact activity, rowing is a great exercise for people of all ages and all fitness levels.
If you are looking for the best rowing machine for your home, you will come across many different varieties such as hydraulic water rowing machine, magnetic rowing machine, and many more. To make things easier for you, we have created a list of top rated rowing machines that you may consider for your home. Towards the end of the article, we have also listed a few factors that you must consider while buying a home rowing machine.
So, let’s start rowing!
Rowing exercise machines under $500 are the basic ones. You cannot expect them to be too durable and sturdy but there are a lot of good options available. Many of them come with long warranties too. They are good for beginners as well as for intermediates. Here are our top picks for best home rowing machine under $500.
Please note: Modern indoor rowers are often known as ergometers, i.e. erg machine or ergo.
This is an excellent rower, especially at this price point. It is second only to the Concept2, which is much more expensive and has a far larger footprint.
It is a high-quality yet affordable rowing machine. It uses wind-resistance via a fan to provide you with a smooth workout experience. Not many indoor rowing machines in this price range offer wind resistance, which is why it is counted among the best rowing machines under $500. Air-based flywheels provide variable resistance levels. The harder you work, the more resistance is built. Further, most air rowing machines under $500 come with nylon pulls. However, this one has a metal drive chain, which definitely lasts longer than the nylon ones.
The steel frame with a sliding seat and big footpads with adjustable straps make it suitable for beginners, intermediates, as well as for advanced users. This indoor rowing machine is foldable and lightweight; however, the manufacturer claims that it is highly durable. It has floor protectors to keep the floor safe as well as prevent skidding. It has a weight bearing capacity of 250 lbs and the manufacturer claims that it can be safely used by people up to 6’5. To accommodate people with limited mobility, Stamina ATS air rower is has a raised profile. It is more like a chair, so you can comfortably ride it on and off. The company is offering 3-year warranty on the frame and 90 days warranty on parts.
This rowing machine is the bees knees of home exercise equipment. The quality of the machine for the price is pretty amazing.
With more than 850 reviews and 4.3 star rating on Amazon, Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is definitely one of the best rowing machines for cardiovascular workouts at home. It is a magnetic rowing machine form and it provides eight levels of resistance through a tension knob. By simply twisting the knob, you will be able to increase or decrease the resistance to suit your workout needs. The magnetic resistance is very quiet, which is another great USP of this erg rowing machine.
Sunny Health and Fitness is a renowned brand and therefore, you can expect this magnetic rowing machine to be durable and stable, even during high-intensity workouts. The footprint is approximately 7 feet, which means it can easily accommodate users of all heights. The footpads are large, textured, and come with safety straps to prevent slippages. The cushioned seat with an LCD monitor will keep you comfortable as well as entertained. The monitor is a very basic one displaying time, strokes, and calories burnt. This compact rowing machine has a weight bearing capacity of 250 lbs and the company is offering 90-days warranty on frame and parts too.
I bought this after lots of on-line comparison shopping because I liked the size and it generally got favorable reviews.
With hydraulic cylinder system and a plethora of features such as digital LCD console and durable rails, Kettler Favorit rowing machine can safely be counted among the best rowing machines 2018. It features an innovative pivoting motion where the ‘arms’ pivot around a central point and uses hydraulic cylinder to control its resistance and movement. The pivoting motion helps recreate the natural rowing motion. The resistance is controlled by pistons located at each arm and can be adjusted between 1-50 knurl marks. For heart rate monitoring, this rowing machine comes with a pulse rate reader that you need to clip to the earlobe. This is a unique feature that you won’t find in any other rowing machine for sale under $500.
This Kettler rowing machine uses German engineering to ensure you a durable and stable product. It is made of a powder coated carbon steel frame and comes with a lifetime warranty. Being a folding rowing machine, it is perfect even for small homes where it can be safely kept under the bed. The machine has anti-slip floor protectors so you can use it on multiple surfaces without any issue of slippages. For your comfort, it comes with a thick padded seat that is ergonomically designed and positioned a little higher so you can comfortably use it.
Opening the box and looking inside it appeared to be delivered in a thousand parts but assembly was not as daunting as first appeared.
It is an entry-level home rowing machine which is a mixed version of a traditional rowing machine and a low-pulley station. You can use it for conventional rowing machine workout as well as a stand-up strength trainer exclusively for the upper body. To perform strength training, all you need to do is to stand and pull the handlebar up for working out your biceps, shoulders, triceps, and quads. Being a crossfit rowing machine, it provides a full body workout.
It is a magnetic rower, so it operates very quietly and provides a realistic rowing experience. It offers 8 different levels of resistance that can be easily adjusted using a large red knob located on the console. It has a large LCD monitor at the center of the console that displays basic workout stats such as strokes per minute, total strokes, distance, calories burnt, and time. The handle, the seat and the foot straps are all ergonomically designed. The non-slip handlebar prevents fatigue and provides a comfortable workout, whereas the padded seat can be adjusted to suit your needs.
Meant for home use, this magnetic rowing machine has a foldable design and comes with front wheels for mobility. The company is offering 5-years warranty on the frame and 90-days on labor and parts.
I used my machine religiously for just over 2 years. Loved it. The clockspring device that pulls the strap back into the unit after a stroke broke.
Priced just around $500, LifeSpan RW 1000 indoor rowing machine is a high-quality rower with 16.5-pound flywheel and eddy current drive magnetic resistance system to provide you a smooth and jerk-free workout. This rowing machine offers 5 levels of resistance that can be easily adjusted through a knob under the display. LifeSpan is renowned for manufacturing sturdy machines and, therefore, you can expect this rowing exercise machine to last for years without requiring much maintenance. Due to its sturdy construction, it can bear up to 300 lb weight. This is the reason why LifeSpan’s RW 1000 model is frequently used in gyms across the globe and rated as one of the best rowing machines for home use too.
The padded seat and rowing handles ensure comfort even during long rowing machine workouts. Unlike many other rowing machines for sale under $500, this one doesn’t produce any jerky movements while changing the resistance and during intensive workouts. Rather, it provides smooth and easy motion. It has a low seat height, so you will feel like a real crew. The height is, however, adjustable between 11” and 14.5”. The foot pedals are large and have adjustable Velcro straps for a proper fit. The company is offering 5-years warranty on frame, two-years on parts, and one-year on labor.
Great machine for the price. I too had the problem with my shoes slipping out of the foot straps. The back rim isn't tall enough.
This is another amazing product from Stamina, a popular brand in the fitness equipment industry. It features a steel frame and aluminum center beam. It is very compact in size, weighs less than 40 pounds and can be folded for convenient storage. This back row machine uses single-hydraulic piston resistance system and offers 12 different levels of resistance. You can adjust the resistance using the dial located just below the seat. Hydraulic resistance is good for beginners, as it lets you row slowly at higher resistance settings, unlike air and water where you need to row fast. Further hydraulic resistance is generally very quiet and therefore, it is suitable for homes.
Since it is a very low-cost rowing ergometer, the seat is made of molded plastic. So, it may not be very comfortable for long rowing sessions. The handles are covered with padded grips and that’s why they feel lot more comfortable than the cheap rowing machines that have foam grips. Having a long gliding track and big foot pedals, this equipment is perfect for rowing machine cardio workouts for tall users. The company claims that users between 5.0’ and 6.6’ can comfortably use it. The foot plates are adjustable too, so comfort won’t be an issue with this equipment.
Rowing machines between $500 and $1000 are obviously better in quality than the cheap rowing machines under $500 but they are still far away from the quality of the gym-grade equipment. These machines have heavier flywheels and therefore, they provide smoother rowing machine workouts. They are good for beginners as well as for intermediate level trainers. Here are 6 top rated rowing machines between $500 and $1000:
After much research I bought the Concept2 Model D rower. Now I am very glad I did.
Popular for its durable body, unlimited resistance, and engaging full-body workouts, Concept 2 Model D is one of the top-selling rowing machines on Amazon. It has more than 1700 reviews and an unbeatable 4.9 star rating. No wonder why it is the best rowing machine that you could ever consider for your home. It uses air resistance and therefore, the noise produced is very low as compared to hydraulic and magnetic resistance. The best part about air resistance is that it gets automatically adjusted according to your speed. The faster you row, the more resistance is generated.
Designed ergonomically for providing you absolute comfort, this seated cable row machine comes with 14-inch seat and nickel-plated chain. This model of rowing machine from Concept 2 focuses on distributing the workout force throughout all major muscle groups in order to provide you a full body workout. The PM5 performance monitor has a pulse meter that shows you vital workout stats such as strokes per minute, heart rate, calorie burnt, etc. Plus it includes games, workouts, and feedback. With online connectivity, you can transfer your workout data for future reference. The company is offering 5 years warranty on this home as well as gym rowing machine.
My wife and I got this a few months ago and love it. We did a lot of research and are more than happy that we settled on this.
With more than 120 reviews and 4.3 star rating, this is one of the best rowing machines by Stamina. It is a magnetic rowing machine with adjustable resistance and 12 pre-programmed workouts. The resistance can be adjusted through the buttons on the console. The pre-programmed workouts simulate various outdoor rowing situations such as rolling hills, valleys, ramps, mountains, etc. There are 4 customizable workouts too for your convenience. Heart rate monitoring, heart rate workouts, backlit LCD monitor, padded handles, oversized footrests with Velcro straps, and 275 lbs user weight capacity are some more Stamina Avari rowing machine benefits. It is highly recommended for total body workout and the smooth and quiet operation will make you feel as if you are actually rowing a boat.
Stamina is renowned for manufacturing sturdy equipment and this Avari magnetic rower is no exception. Its aluminum rail has a low center of gravity, which means the machine will remain stable even during intense rowing machine workouts. The pulley system is made of durable nylon strap. Many buyers believe metal straps are better than nylon, which is true to some extent as metal is obviously more durable than nylon but metal straps make a lot of noise. It is a fully foldable rowing machine.
Robert M. Laine
Did a lot of research, choose this one, very happy with my decision....I was 244 when I got it, now 3 and 1/2 months later...I am 204
It is a medium-range compact magnetic rowing machine, perfect for small homes or small workout areas. It operates on magnetic resistance and comes with pre-programmed workouts and performance tracking monitor for making your rowing machine workouts more interesting and engaging. It offers 8 levels of adjustable resistance and therefore, it is suitable for families with varying fitness levels. The resistance can be adjusted using the buttons on the monitor. There are 12 different workout programs including 1 target heart-rate program, 4 customizable programs and 1 manual program that lets you do your workout at your own pace. The pre-programmed workouts are automatic and, when selected, the machine will automatically adjust the resistance to mimic the workout type you have selected.
Most people wonder how to use a rowing machine with so many features and buttons. Thankfully, this machine is very simple to operate and can be used by people with minimum technical knowledge. The heart rate receiver will track your heart rate, whereas the pulse recovery button will help you track your recovery time after rowing machine workouts. Further, the machine has an auto shut-off feature which turns the machine off after a few minutes of inactivity. Being a magnetic rowing machine form, it has a very quiet operation.
Domenic in KC
If your looking for a great Rowing Machine to give you that total body workout at home you can't go wrong with ProRower H2O RX-750
If you want to experience the exact feel of rowing in water, this equipment is perfect for you. It uses water resistance mechanism in which the paddles are suspended in a tank of water to provide resistance to the users. The hydro-power drive system makes this operate exactly the way a rowing boat operates in water. Water resistance system is great because the resistance level depends on your rowing intensity. The faster you row, the more will be the resistance and vice versa.
The manufacturer claims that this is a commercial-grade water rowing machine and it is offering a lifetime warranty on the frame, which is very rare in this price range. The machine has a weight bearing capacity of 350 lb. Its water tanker is made of polycarbonate, a material renowned for being strong, tough, and almost indestructible. No wonder why the company is able to claim its high durability. The best part of the ProRower RX-750 erg rowing machine is that it is 20” tall, so users with limited mobility will also be able to conveniently use it. The console isn’t great and comes with a very basic LCD screen that displays vital workout stats. Unlike other rowing machines in this price range, it doesn’t let you track your workout stats and upload them for future reference.
Fantastic product. Brilliantly designed, great workout, takes up minimal floor space when not being used. Perfect for in-home use.
This is not a conventional rowing machine. With a water flywheel and a smooth concave aluminum monorail, it is designed to offer you a more realistic rowing experience. The frame is made of ash hardwood and has a rustic look. Wood helps absorb the sound and provide you a quiet environment for workout. Being a water rowing machine, it has paddles spinning in a tank. These paddles create resistance. Since water provides a smooth resistance, you won’t experience any jerks. The resistance is variable and depends on the intensity of your workout. The faster you row, the more will be the resistance and vice versa.
The tank is made of polycarbonate, so you can expect this rowing machine to be durable and quiet. The monitor comes with a patented QuickStart GX monitor. This technology allows you to begin your workout with just a single touch of the button. Ergonomically designed seat, handles, and footrests are some more features that can make your rowing machine cardio workouts comfortable. It is a full-size rowing machine but you can flip it vertically to save floor space. Counted among the best rowing machine 2018, it can conveniently accommodate 300 lbs weight.
First off, let me say that I am very impressed with this rower overall. I've had it for a month, and it's a superb machine.
First Degree Fitness is a renowned brand with many models of fluid-based rowing machines under its name. This Newport AR rower is one of their top selling rowing exercise machines that provide ‘on-the-water’ kind of experience. It not only provides a smooth stroke cycle but also lets you adjust the resistance using a dial located on the flywheel which is why it is considered to be the best rowing machine 2018. Other rowing machines in this range offer variable resistance, which means you will have row faster to experience more resistance. However, this AR back row machine lets you adjust your resistance setting instead of being dependent on the machine. You can select from light resistance to very powerful resistance depending on your strength and experience.
First Degree Fitness rowers make audible water splashing sound, which adds to the overall ambiance of the workout place. The splashing sound is pleasant and yet not too much. The advanced level console helps you set your distance goals using the buttons located on it. It is powered by your rowing energy. As soon as you start rowing, the console starts tracking data and it automatically shuts down after 5 minutes of inactivity. The seat rail is made of anodized aluminum. The pull cord, the foamed handlebars, the padded seat, etc. make this cable row machine comfortable as well as durable.
Rowing machines above $1000 are usually not recommended for beginners or for casual exercisers unless you really want to buy a high-end rowing machine. These expensive exercise machines for sale are for advanced trainers and professional rowers who want to keep their skills updated right at the comfort of their home. Most of these are water rowing machine, as water provides fluidity and smoothness unlike air and magnetic resistance. Here are top 3 picks for this category:
This is the best investment that I've ever made in a piece of exercise equipment. It will literally last a lifetime.
Concept2 Model E is the advanced version of Model D (we have discussed it in under $1000 category). It is an air rowing machine with a well-designed flywheel that ensures a smooth and silent operation. You can adjust the inflow of the air using a damper and change its resistance according to your needs. The faster you row, the more resistance it will create. Like all models of Concept2, this machine can also be separated into two parts for easy mobility and storage. There is a quick-release frame-lock mechanism that lets you separate it into two sections easily.
The seat is 20 inches above the ground, which is equivalent to a chair and makes this machine accessible to people with limited mobility as well. The handle has a 10-degree bend to replicate natural arm position. The performance Monitor 5 (PM5) is Concept2’s unique feature that includes games and preloaded workouts. It tracks your workouts and provides you detailed session feedback. Further, it also lets you transfer your workout data to other apps and to your PC for future reference. Counted among the best rowing machines for professional use, the machine has a 500 pound weight bearing capacity and can be used by users as tall as 6.9’.
I purchased the WaterRower Natural (ash) about four months ago, and so far I am very, very happy with the decision.
It is one of the best performing and aesthetically pleasing water rowing machine made of solid ash wood and stained honey oak. The wood not only adds to its overall beauty but also absorbs the sound and vibration thereby, ensuring you a smooth and quiet workout. As its name suggests, it uses water resistance and therefore, it is recommended for advanced trainers and professional rowers. Like most other fluid-based rowing machines for sale, it also offers variable resistance, i.e. you need to row faster to experience more resistance.
The series 4 (S4) monitor lets you track your performance such as time, distance, intensity, strokes per minute, and heart rate. You can connect the monitor to your PC or television and transfer your rowing machine workout data to other fitness apps such as We-Row, NetAthon, and Rowyo. You can also participate in online rowing challenges. This handcrafted rowing machine has a weight bearing capacity of 1000 lbs. The seat is ergonomically designed, well-padded, and fairly long. It has a movement length of 43 cm, so it can easily accommodate users with height as tall as 6.6’. The company is offering 5 years warranty on the frame and 3 years on the parts.
Very happy that I purchased this rower. Easy to assemble. I look forward to using all the time. It's awesome.
The VR500 rowing machine from BodyCraft is a top rated rowing machine built with great features such as powerful air and magnetic resistance, safety child lock, 12 program profiles, heart rate control programs, and much more. If you want to start a commercial rowing gym or have one at your home, this could be a great choice for you. As mentioned above, this is both air and magnetic rowing machine form. This combination creates a powerful and wider resistance system and therefore, this rowing exercise machine is capable of offering you 32 levels of resistance. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced rower, you will definitely take time to outgrow this machine. The resistance settings are inbuilt in the handlebars, so you won’t have to wonder how to use a rowing machine with such advanced features.
For your convenience, BodyCraft has added 12 pre-programmed workouts in it, which includes four target heart zone workouts, two interval training, and four racing programs. Being a commercial grade high row machine, it has a well-designed structure with 3” aluminum monorail frame. The company is offering lifetime warranty on the frame and 5 years on the parts. It can accommodate 350 lbs weight.
There are 4 different types of rowing machines and each one has its own advantages and disadvantages that we have listed below. Before you buy rowing machine, consider all their features so you don’t end up feeling disappointed.
These machines use water to provide resistance. They have a paddle suspended in a tank of water and when you pull the handle the paddle runs and provides you a realistic experience. Water provides a smooth resistance, which is why water rowing machines are very popular among beginners as well as advanced rowers. These machines, however, are heavier than normal rowers and require regular maintenance. You need to change the water of the tank regularly to maintain its hygiene.
These machines derive their resistance from flywheels that rotate when you pull the handle. When the flywheel rotates, it generates wing, which creates resistance. So, the faster you row, the more resistance you will be able to create. Some air rowing machines have a damper that lets you control the air flow and in turn control the resistance, however, most machines provide variable resistance depending on your rowing speed. Air rowing machines do not require as much maintenance as the water rowing machines, but they are a bit noisy and the noise level increases as you start rowing faster.
Magnetic rowing machines work with a flywheel and a magnet. You can adjust the distance between the magnet and the flywheel to increase or decrease the resistance. These machines are smaller in size and therefore, they are compact and can be slipped under the bed. Further, they do not require any maintenance and do not produce any noise. Magnetic rowing machines provide fixed resistance, so if you are a novice and want to row slowly and still experience high resistance, you can expect this from this rowing machine form. The only problem with them is that they do not provide you a realistic rowing experience just like the water-based ones do.
Hydraulic machines use fluid instead of water. So, they are easy to maintain, as you don’t have to change the liquid. The resistance can be adjusted through clamps. Hydraulic rowing machines are very simple and compact in size, which is why they are quite affordable too. Unfortunately, they do not provide smooth and natural rowing motion.
Before you buy rowing machine, make sure you check its weight bearing capacity and length of the rail. Do this especially if you or any other member of your family who is going to use it is overweight or have a tall, well-built body. Low budget home rowing machines usually have less weight bearing capacity such as 250-275 pounds, whereas the top-end machines can easily accommodate 1000 pounds. High weight bearing capacity indicates that the machine is sturdy and strong enough to last for years. If your weight is too close to the weight bearing capacity of the machine, do not buy it. Rather, prefer a model whose weight bearing capacity is significantly higher than your weight.
Similarly, before ordering your erg rowing machine, check the length of its rail to see if it can conveniently accommodate you. If you are a tall person and the rail is not long enough to accommodate your legs, you won’t be able to extend your feet completely. Always prefer rowing machines with extendable rails. Low-priced models do not have this feature but they are good if you have an average height.
Unlike treadmills and recumbent bikes, rowers are not equipped with any inbuilt audio systems, iPod docks, or video screens. Further, rowing machines do make some noise. The water rowing machines make splashing water sound (which is quite pleasant), whereas the air rowing machines make noise just like an exhaust fan. You will have to set a slighter higher volume level for your stereo or TV so you can hear them properly. Further, your family members may also get disturbed by the sound of the machine. If you need quiet working machine, prefer the magnetic ones, which are very less noisy as compared to other rowing machine forms. However, if you want to enjoy a realistic rowing experience, buy water rowing machines.
We hope now you have a clear idea about purchasing rowing machines. While rowing is a highly effective indoor exercise, it is often not enough to keep your body in a good shape. We, therefore, strongly recommend that you must combine it with some other forms of exercises such as jogging, walking, or maybe cycling. You can either go for outdoor workouts or buy home equipment to add some variety to your routine. Here is our blog on the top treadmills to consider. We also have listed down some top selling elliptical and recumbent bikes for your convenience. Good luck and stay in shape!