Working out from home can be a great way to save your time and increase work out hours. Since you probably don’t want to end up looking like the cartoon character Johnny Bravo (who clearly skipped leg day), you are going to have to invest in all kinds of extra equipment to maintain body balance. This can be quite expensive in the long run. Luckily the good people from the gymnastic laboratories came up with a one-stop-shop kind of solution. One machine to rule them all; one that is able to engage your whole body at once and complete a full set in one work out – The rowing machine.
Rowing machines are a great way to start working out. These beautiful pieces of machinery have, in time, grown in complexity, quality, and compactness, making them ideal for most home living arrangements. They work by employing resistance in different forms. Some use water, air, hydraulic or magnetic means. With you working against resistance, you get to work your body with the push and pull force that develops. They are also made to be as comfortable as possible such that you can get to burn those extra calories while building your muscles in the most low-impact way. For this reason, rowing machines are excellent alternatives to other cardio, toning, and strengthening workouts.
Whether you have tried this piece of equipment before or haven’t seen one yet, finding a good rowing machine can be less overwhelming when you know the qualities you are looking for. Below is a list of our top selection of the best rowing machines to get you started.
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Top 8 Rowing Machines For Home Use Of 2020 Reviewed
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower with PM5Rowing Machine For Hardcore Training
One of the leading high-end rowing machines in the market today is the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. It features a flywheel design that allows smooth and quiet motions. It has an ergonomic seating design for comfort, which makes it ideal for long periods of rowing or exercising. Coming from a trusted brand of fitness equipment, the Cocept2 indoor rowing machine is definitely built to last.
The machine can be separated into two parts for easy storage. You also get to choose from a variety of workout programs from the easy-to-navigate monitor. Furthermore, the monitor displays your distance covered, calories burned, pulse and heart rate. It’s a little pricey but it is one of the best indoor rowing machines you will find.
- Promotes natural arm and hand position while rowing
- Durable and solid construction
- Quick-release frame lock
- Very expensive
- Long and bulky (not suitable for small home gyms)
- Handle a bit hard on the hands
2. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 MonitorRowing Machine For Varying Heights
The first thing you’ll notice in this elegant machine is it’s handcrafted from solid ash wood, making it a beautiful addition to your home. The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine Ash Wood uses a dynamic resistance water flywheel to imitate the movements of an actual boat rowing. And because it’s made from solid wood, there is less sound and vibration, giving you a smooth and quiet rowing workout. This machine is equipped with an LCD S4 performance monitor that displays your workout duration, distance covered, heart rate, etc.
The dual-rail design is intended to provide more safety, stability and smooth movement. This model lets you choose the level of intensity that suits your training needs. It can accommodate users of varying weights, at a max weight of 350 kg. Moreover, its frame flips upright for handy storage. If you have the budget, this beautiful high-performing rower is definitely a good investment.
- Dual rail design
- 15” ergonomic handle
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Big and bulky
- Performance monitor lacks advanced features
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Rower w/ LCD MonitorRowing Machine For Beginners
Here’s another good-quality rower at an affordable price. This Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine uses magnetic resistance that creates a virtually silent motion.
The rower’s resistance can be adjusted by simply turning the knob right or left. Level one is ideal for beginners while level eight gives you a highly challenging workout. Regardless of the level, this rower provides you a smooth and quiet rowing workout. This machine is great for people who want adjustable resistance, allowing you to increase the resistance even at a slower pace.
The performance monitor of this rower is just the basic type so you shouldn’t really expect too much from it. Some people complain that it’s inaccurate sometimes and the data is hard to read because the monitor is quite small and there is no backlit. Nonetheless, this rower is built from a heavy-duty steel mainframe which makes it really sturdy for its price. It comes with a non-slip grip and a comfortable padded seat to allow for longer rowing workouts.
- 8 different resistance levels
- Monitor lacks advanced features
- The footrest is too large
- Short warranty period
4. LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing MachineRowing Machine For Weight Loss
This mid-range rower features quality construction and durability, making it a reasonable choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly machine. It’s a quiet machine even if you up or lower your stroke. The seat is comfortable and the machine folds up into a compact size for easy storage and transportation. The LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine is a good choice if you simply want to get a good amount of total body workout every day. For light to medium usage, this rower gives good value for your money.
However, some consumers complain about the inaccuracy of the performance monitor. Also, the footrests are shallow and if you have big feet, you might find they don’t hold well as they’re supposed to. This makes rowing a little inconvenient especially when you’re geared at a higher intensity. Moreover, the pull chain is made from fabric. While it contributes to a quieter motion, it will eventually wear out and will have to be replaced.
- Sturdy machine
- Smooth and quiet rowing motions
- Console monitor
- Not so accurate performance monitor
- Shallow footrests
- Pull chain made from fabric
5. Stamina ATS Air RowerRowing Machine For Small Spaces
Another quality machine at a mid-range price – the Stamina ATS Air Rower features a simple functionality but performs much better than other low-priced rowers. It’s easy to set up, has larger footplates, and comes with a comfortable padded seat. This rower weighs 63 pounds which is manageable for transporting and moving. The seat and beam can be folded upward for easy storage. The Stamina Air Rower is raised higher from the ground and therefore, offers easy access. This unique design makes it suitable for people with mobility issues.
There are few downsides, however. One is that the monitor does not track your heart rate, compared with most rowing machines out there. Another thing, it doesn’t have pre-existing workout programs. Lastly, the footrests don’t pivot. Pivoting footplates help your body create a natural rowing motion.
- Performance Monitor with adjustable height for easy reading
- Steel frame and metal chain
- The monitor does not track heart rate
- Footrests don’t pivot
- No pre-existing workout programs
6. Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing MachineRowing Machine For Toning
If you’re after a very realistic rowing motion but couldn’t afford the high-priced water rower, this one might be the best option for you.
The Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine uses German engineering and is equipped with high-end features for better, more comfortable and challenging workouts. A stand-out feature is the high-resolution LCD display that measures time, distance, strokes, pulse rate, and frequency. It has a unique recovery feature of cardio wellness grading that helps you keep track of your progress. This rower also comes with an earlobe pulse rate reader that transmits data to the computer for easy reading. It’s also lightweight and comfortable. Moreover, it has a reclined seat which helps create better leg workouts.
A downside is that it’s relatively hard to set up. And because it uses hydraulic resistance like other similar types of rowers, you might find it somehow difficult to achieve consistent resistance during workouts, especially if the machine has been set up incorrectly.
- Hydraulic pistons with 12 adjustment settings
- High-resolution LCD digital display
- Biomechanically correct footplates
- Difficult to set up
- Takes time to achieve consistent resistance
- A little noisier
7. Stamina Deluxe Conversion RowerRowing Machine For Hybrid Training
This machine gives you the functionality of a recumbent bike and a rowing machine – targeting most of your muscle groups. This is ideal for a full-body workout.
The best thing about the Stamina Deluxe Conversion Rower is that you get two kinds of fitness equipment at one price. But actually, you’re having three. In addition to a rower and a recumbent bike, it also serves as a fully functional pulley. Made with an extruded aluminum rowing beam, it offers sturdiness and stability.
Since it’s a hybrid trainer, you only get a little bit of everything. If you’re a serious rower and want to focus more on this type of exercise, opt for the other machines. Otherwise – if you want a diverse workout routine each time, this is a great buy.
- Steel and aluminum construction
- 8-level magnetic resistance
- Foldable design
- Small overall capacity
- Basic monitor
- Does not provide full rowing benefits
8. Velocity Exercise Magnetic RowerRowing Machine For Home Gyms
Featuring a drum magnetic control system and electronic tension control, the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower allows you to adjust the resistance to any level you desire, with no fuss. It’s built with an anodized aluminum beam, polyurethane molded saddle, and rectangular tubing support that provides comfortable and stable performance. Because it’s operated by a magnet, this rowing machine produces virtually no sound at all, making it ideal for home use. it’s adjustable and comfortable, ideal for users of varying heights. If you’re looking for a robust workout machine that has easy controls and provides plenty of useful data, this is a great pick.
- Heart rate monitor strap
- Foldability design
- Very quiet
- The relatively short warranty period
- Electrical components prone to malfunctioning
Choosing The Best Rowing Machine – The Ultimate Buying Guide
Workouts are good for your health. If you’re really sure and motivated to buy a rowing machine for your personal use, now is the time to have a deeper knowledge about the different types and their features, plus other factors to consider. The following steps should make it easier for you to find the best brand and model that suits your lifestyle.
What are some of the Common Types of Rowing Machines?
There are four major types of indoor rowing machines. Determine the type of rowing machine you want.
This is the most common type of rowing machine used in households and even in fitness gyms. The machine is operated by fan blades that create resistance. With airpower, the higher the intensity, the more resistance there is. This machine produces a fair amount of noise but lets you create smooth rowing strokes.
Hydraulic Rowing Machine
This may be the best option if space is your concern or if you have a tight budget but would like to experience the whole-body workout benefits of a rowing machine. This type of machine makes use of a cylinder that compresses air or fluid to produce resistance, like a hydraulic system. The downside, however, is that most hydraulic rowing machine models do not allow you to perform a natural rowing motion, which means you are unable to synchronize the movements of your arms and legs.
Magnetic Resistance Indoor Rower
Utilizing a magnetic brake system, this type of rower provides virtually silent and smooth rowing movements. If you mind the noise rowing machines tend to produce, this might be the perfect model for you. Most machines under this type also feature programmed workouts in their performance monitors. Compared to the air rower, the magnetic rower stays in the resistance level you set no matter how fast or slow you row.
If rowing is your hobby or you’re training for a competition or marathon that involves water rowing, this is the ideal model for you. The water rower emulates the dynamics of a boat moving through water. This indoor rower produces no sound but swishing of the water. This rower is typically made with a wooden frame, which makes it one of the most attractive models available. Nonetheless, water rowers are the most expensive type of rowing machine. If your goal is simply to lose weight and stay lean, the water rower might be an over-the-top option for you.
What’s Your Budget?
Rowing machines range in prices. You will find rowers for as low as $100 or as high as $3,000. Determining how much you are willing to spend on this piece of fitness equipment helps narrow down your choices, thus, making your search easier. But here’s one thing you should keep in mind: cheap machines don’t always mean they are less effective and sophisticated rowing machines don’t always mean they are the best. While costly rowers might include more features than the standard rowing machines, it is important to decide whether or not you will be able to use or maximize those features. Otherwise, there is no point in spending thousands of dollars on that machine.
You might ask – what’s cheap and what’s expensive when it comes to rowing machines for home use? Rowers priced at $400 or less are usually the low-end models. They might be cheap but often, the quality is compromised. If you intend to use the rower for just a short period of time, or just to test whether it’s the best workout type for you, you can go with the low-end models. Rowers priced between $400 and $700 are considered mid-range models. This is a good budget range if you’re looking for a good quality rower that lasts for a long time. However, if you want a commercial-type rower with high-tech features, be prepared to shell out a couple of hundreds more, up to a few thousand for a high-end machine.
Consider how You will Use the Machine
If you have the budget for a high-end machine but is also considering a mid-range one to save money, this step is crucial for you to get the best deal. Basically, you have to figure out how often you will be using the machine. If you intend to use it strictly for home use, average models would be absolutely fine. But if you plan to use it commercially in the near future, it could be worth investing in a high-end model.
Also, consider the number of people who will be using the machine. Is it just you or would there be a few more? Do you intend to have a rowing machine that can be used by the whole family? If yes, consider the models which allow for multiple users. Keep in mind that each rowing machine has a different height and weight capacity. Make sure that you choose the model which is suitable for everyone who will use it in your home.
Compare the Features!
Now that you have streamlined your search based on your budget and the type of rowing machine that best suits you, it’s time to dig deeper into the features. You will be surprised to know about certain brands of the same price and quality but in varying features. So, you really have to take time comparing each one with the others. But then, remember that you may not be needing excessive features that only make the machine expensive. Pay attention to the features that you really need. More doesn’t always mean better.
If your goal is just to burn some calories, sweat and increase your heart rate on a daily basis, you will do just fine with a basic rowing machine. But if you’re really a fitness-savvy and conscious about your progress, you may benefit from a machine with some innovative features like a performance monitor that displays your data, such as your heart rate, distance rowed, and strokes per minute. Some machines even have the capability of storing your data and exporting/storing them into a USB flash drive.
Furthermore, there are some features that are non-negotiable, such as having a comfortable padded seat and lesser noise. If you want to be able to row for a longer period of time and burn as many calories as you can, you should be able to sit on your rower comfortably. Look for machines that have a soft yet firm padded seat that will support your lower back and upper body. Some of the best rowing machines for home use feature an ergonomic design to allow a comfortable seating position.
Space: Know where to Keep the Rowing Machine!
It may sound like it doesn’t matter but it can truly get frustrating when after spending plenty of time researching for the best machine and purchasing it, you find out you actually have no space for it at home! Your space is indeed a big factor to consider. If you live in a small apartment, you may not be happy about purchasing a high-end commercial rower that’s huge and bulky.
You may want to limit your search instead of foldable/compact rowing machines. Yes, these models are available too. Take note that a typical rowing machine has the size of a loveseat sofa. Generally, water rowers have the largest built and hydraulic machines are the smallest. If you have the space at home, it’s always a great idea to choose the best-performing rowing machines even though they tend to be bulkier and aren’t foldable.
Is it Easy to Use and Appropriate for Your Size?
If possible, try a demo model of the rower you’re looking to buy. Check if the seat and handles will be comfortable during your workout. And if somebody else will be using the machine other than you, do check if it has adjustable footrests and handles, and if the weight capacity suits all would-be users.
Is it Easy to Maintain?
While it’s not something you have to do regularly, maintenance is essential for the longevity of your rowing machine. Certain brands provide specific instructions for maintaining their products. But generally, maintaining rowers should include the following:
- Examining and tightening any loose screws
- Tightening the seat to ensure it is secure
- Wiping down the entire machine
- Lubricating the chain (in some models)
- Changing the water weekly (if you’re using a water rower) to avoid bacteria and fungi build-up
At this point, you most likely have a few brand names in mind. You also have an idea of the resistant type you prefer and your price range. Another important step to really ensure that you’ve got the best product is learning what other consumers have to say. These people who have used the product can provide you accurate, unbiased feedback. Whether you’re buying from Amazon or any other website, make sure to go over the customer reviews. It’s very helpful especially if you have a few or several choices in mind.
When reading product reviews, you should be able to find specific details about the machine you would like to buy. These include the rower’s construction, performance monitor (what data it records and displays), seating comfort level, amount of noise it produces, and other features.
Rowing machines are among the best types of fitness equipment available in the market today. That is because they provide a complete body workout. This means you don’t need to buy some other equipment to target specific areas of your body. You can strengthen and tone all your muscles using just one machine!
But even though rowing machines are designed to create just one type of motion/movement, they come in varying types too. The four major types are air rower, hydraulics rower, magnetic rower, and water rower. These machines vary in the way they produce resistance. For home use, the most commonly purchased type is the hydraulics rower because it’s compact and less expensive.
It does produce a little sound, however. High-end machines are typically the water rower types. These machines imitate the actual rowing of a boat in the water and produce a swishing sound which makes your workout more exciting. But they tend to be more bulky and expensive. The type of rowing machine you will buy should depend greatly on your budget, preference, fitness goal, and lifestyle.
Aside from the type, you should also consider the features you wish to purchase. Technology has made it possible to evolve rowing machines into a more comprehensive fitness tool that doesn’t just let you work out but also help you keep track of your progress.
The process of buying the best rowing machine isn’t easy. Hopefully, this guide has given you all the information you need to find a good-quality, highly efficient rower that suits your lifestyle and physical activity needs.