Rowing machines are a fantastic addition to any workout or home gym. You get full-body training as the motion of each stroke hits nearly every major muscle group from your legs and glutes to your core, back, and arms. There are a few things to consider when looking at rowing machines, including resistance type, storage, and size. While they can take up a bit of floor space, most models can either be stored vertical or folded, making them great for small places, including apartments. Plus, despite being a low-impact style of workout, a rowing session can be high intensity with different resistance levels allowing you to tailor your workout to be as challenging as you like. The rhythmic movement can also have a wonderful calming effect as you sink into the zone and get the endorphins flowing.
Best Rowing Machines
1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing
If you’re looking for more than just a rowing machine, then the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing is a perfect choice. Not only can you use it as a traditional rower, but you can also use it as a cable machine. There are footrests at the front of the unit so you can stand and safely perform extra exercises such as front raises, tricep extensions, and shoulder presses. The 14-level dual transmission magnetic tension lets you make your workout as easy or as hard as you desire. Plus, it also has Bluetooth connectivity to the MyCloudFitness app for better tracking and personalized workout programs. Of course, the large LCD display still shows you the basics without needing the app. That includes distance, time, calories, and strokes per minute. Finally, enjoy a padded seat, extra wide foam handles, and the ability to fold the unit for storage.
2. Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine
The Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine will have you trimmed and toned in no time. Adjust your pedals for the perfect fit, choose your resistance, and track your progress on the digital display screen. It shows your speed, time, distance, strokes per minute, and calories burned, so you can easily set yourself challenges and goals. An 11-pound flywheel, combined with magnetic resistance, lets you really push your cardiovascular boundaries and work most of the major muscle groups. Lastly, the frame is made with heavy-duty steel and aluminum, it has an injection-molded seat, and folds up easily for compact storage.
3. Bluefin Fitness Rower Machine
If you enjoy a workout with more interactivity, then the Bluefin Fitness Rower is a perfect choice. It integrates with the Kinomap app, which boasts thousands of videos, structured workouts, races, challenges, and live videos and coaching. It’s a brilliant way to give yourself accountability and make your sweat sessions more exciting and engaging. Stay connected through a phone or tablet that sits in the specially designed dock. When it comes to the unit, you’ll enjoy magnetic resistance with eight tension levels and a 10-degree incline on the rail for a little extra challenge. The ergonomic grip handle bars reduce fatigue, while the non-slip pedals keep your feet secure. Then, you can also store it vertically when the machine is not in use.
4. ProForm 750R Smart Rowing Machine with Digital Resistance
Why head to the crowded gym when you can exercise in the comfort of your own place? The Proform 750R Smart Rowing Machine gives you a gym-quality workout at home. There are 24 levels of resistance, so you can work your way up as you get fitter. Keep track of your progress on the five-inch multi-color backlit display. It monitors your time elapsed, distance traveled, and calories burned. Plus, it even has an adjustable phone holder so that you can follow along with interactive training through an iFit app subscription (not included). Other features include a solid steel seat rail, pivoting pedals with adjustable straps, a soft-touch handle, and an oversized cushioned seat. Finally, the space-saver design also lets your fold the unit up for easier storage after your workout.
5. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Target all your major muscle groups with a workout on the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. It’s ideal for at-home workouts and disassembles into two segments for easy and compact storage when not in use. Adjust the footrests for the perfect fit, and enjoy the ergonomic handle that won’t fatigue your hands. The unit comes with the Performance Monitor 5, which takes reliable data, including time, distance, and intervals. Plus, it can connect wirelessly to heart rate monitors or other apps and has a phone cradle. This model also uses a flywheel to generate resistance and can be adjusted from levels one to ten. It also has a smooth feel and minimal noise so that you won’t disturb housemates or neighbors.
6. Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine
The Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine is excellent for home-based workouts. It has a compact design that folds up easily for better storage once you’re done with your session. Features include slip-resistant pedals with adjustable straps, a straightforward resistance knob that lets you select eight different options, and ergonomic, foam-covered handles. Additionally, there’s an adjustable computer panel that allows you to track your progress through time, row count, distance, and calories burned. You’ll be able to enjoy an easy, casual row if you choose or increase the intensity for a heavy-hitting yet low-impact sweat session.
7. SNODE Water Rowing Machine
You’ll feel like you’re rowing on a peaceful, calm lake in the mountains thanks to the water resistance on this SNODE rower. Water-based rowing machines give you a realistic feel with smooth and steady strokes. Other features include a sturdy and durable frame, molded and padded seat, and adjustable pedals. Plus, it comes with an adjustable LCD monitor to display your time, speed, distance, and calories. Above that sits a tablet or phone holder so you can more easily use the included FITSHOW App or distract yourself from the burn with your favorite show on Netflix. Select from 16 levels of resistance using the hydro blades, and once your workout is done, the slide rail folds up, so you can tuck it away in a corner.
8. XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Magnetic Resistance Rower
Get stuck into a low-impact yet highly effective full-body workout with the XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Magnetic Resistance Rower. Enjoy the benefit of smooth sliding on the dual aluminum rails, with a comfortable, contoured seat, adjustable pedals, and padded non-slip handles. Meanwhile, the eight levels of magnetic resistance are easily adjustable with the quick turn knob and are exceptionally quiet, so you won’t bother neighbors or loved ones. Keep track of your performance on the monitor that measures time, stroke count, total stroke, and calories. Finally, you can also fold it up and roll it away for simple storage when not in use.
9. Circuit Fitness Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine
Improve your fitness and performance on the Circuit Fitness Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine. Its enhanced functions include an ergonomic, injection-molded seat, adjustable, slip-proof pedals, and eight levels of magnetic resistance. The lever lets you move through the different difficulties easily for a fully customized sweat session. You can also keep track of your progress on the display panel that features an attached dock for a phone or tablet. Monitor your time, distance, strokes per minute, calories, and overall strokes. Once your workout is over, you can fold the unit up and tuck it away in a corner until next time.
10. Marcy Pro Water Resistance Rowing Machine
Enjoy the intensity of lake rowing from the comfort of your home. This innovative rowing machine from Marcy Pro uses adjustable water resistance to mirror the smooth, natural feeling of rowing on a river or lake. It comes with a convenient computer display with an LCD monitor that lets you check total count, distance, calories burned, and time. Meanwhile, the oversized textured pedals are adjustable for a safe session and perfect fit. There are also firm handles with excellent grip and a high-density foam seat for extra comfort during long workouts. Lastly, the unit is equipped with wheels for transport and can be stored vertically to save space.
11. ZHCCCJBOY Hydraulic Rowing Machine
Enjoy an epic home workout with this hydraulic rowing machine. Choose from 12 levels of resistance by simply adjusting the oil rod. This means you can easily tailor your sweat session from endurance rowing to high-intensity sprints. Keep track easily thanks to the LCD digital monitor. It records your total strokes, strokes per minute, workout time, distance, and calories burned. The sturdy steel frame is simple to assemble, while the steel bearing ensures the ergonomic seat glides smoothly and quietly. Best of all, the detachable design makes storage and transportation a breeze.
12. Decathlon Domyos 120 Fitness Rowing Machine
Every stroke you take on the Decathlon Domyos 120 Fitness Rowing Machine is exceptionally smooth, thanks to an 8.8-pound flywheel. It’s the ideal inclusion to any home gym, as the compact design folds easily for storage when not in use. However, when it is in use, take advantage of inbuilt monitoring with six functions in the onboard console, plus a caddy to hold a phone or tablet. The rolling seat and antiperspirant handles add to the comfort of every workout. It’s the perfect addition to your fitness regime to challenge every muscle group in your body, from legs and glutes to your core, arms, and back.
13. Stamina Magnetic Rowing Machine 1110 Rower
Increase your overall fitness from home with the Stamina Magnetic Rowing Machin 1110. It’s brilliant for working your legs, arms, core, and back. This model features an aluminum beam for smooth, soundless rolling of the padded seat. Strap your feet into the adjustable pedals and enjoy the comfort of foam-coated handles for superior pull. There’s also space for a water bottle, a phone holder, and it has a built-in monitor that tracks various statistics. The magnetic resistance also has eight levels to choose from to suit your fitness level or create a dynamic workout. Lastly, upgraded floor protectors prevent scratching or damage to your tiles, and the unit can be stored vertically to save space when you’re training is over.
14. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
There’s no doubt you’ll be feeling bright and sunny after an epic rowing workout on this rowing machine from Sunny Health and Fitness. Enjoy the improved magnetic tension system for a smoother, quieter session that won’t disturb your family or neighbors. You can select from eight levels of resistance to create the perfect dynamic workout. Additional features include a digital monitor that shows time, count, calories, and total strokes. Plus, you’ll stay comfortable no matter the length of your session with a wide cushioned seat, adjustable non-slip pedals, and foam grip handles to prevent fatigue and calluses. Finally, when you’re done sweating, the unit folds up and rolls away for simple, convenient storage.
15. Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
While rowing machines can take up a lot of room, this hydraulic design from Stamina is exceptionally compact, portable, and folds up for simple storage. Unlike other models, it has a free range of motion for your arms, creating a rowing experience similar to being on the water. The tension on the hydraulic resistance can be adjusted easily with the controls, and you can also increase the beam incline for a more intense workout. The seat slides smoothly and efficiently with each stroke, thanks to deluxe ball bearings, while your feet remain secure in the adjustable pedals. Plus, you can check your progress on the multi-functional monitor that shows speed, distance, time, stroke count, and calories burned.
16. Anysun Magnetic Rowing Machine
The solid construction of the Anysun Magnetic Rowing Machine will have you working out in the comfort of your own home for years. Select between multiple intensities on the magnetic resistance, depending on if you want a marathon row, high-intensity intervals, or just a casual, easy session to get sore muscles moving. No matter how long your workout is, you’ll stay comfortable thanks to the padded seat, non-slip foam handles, and adjustable pedals to get your feet in the perfect position. Plus, you can track your efforts on the digital display. Lastly, the design is also foldable, so you can tuck it away in the corner when you’re not working out.
17. URHOMEPRO Home Rowing Machine
URHOMEPRO Home Rowing Machine’s ergonomic design makes both using it and storing it a breeze. The unit stands vertically when not in use, so it’s ideal for tucking it away in a corner. Next, the durable seat, foam handles, and adjustable pedals ensure your comfort, even during the most intense workouts. Monitor that intensity on the LCD display, which is adjustable, so no matter who’s using the rower, you can easily see your data. Check the time, stroke, distance, and calories. There’s also a phone or tablet holder so you can watch your favorite shows or movies to make exercising more appealing. Choose from eight levels of resistance using the easy-access knob for quick transitions.
18. SCHWINN Crewmaster Rower
Stay motivated to exercise by tailoring your workout with ten levels of magnetic resistance on the SCHWINN Crewmaster Rower. You can take it easy with a low setting on recovery days or push your limits with an intense interval session. Comfort is also key in this design. The oversized seat lets you achieve the correct posture, while the adjustable pedals get your feet in the perfect position. The monitor is also adjustable, so you’re not straining to see stats like your time, count, distance, stroke, and calories. Plus, it integrates into a telemetric heart rate monitor so you can get a read on your pulse. Each stroke is smooth and quiet, thanks to the nylon transmission and steel seat rail for fluid motion.
19. Alpulon Water Rowing Machine
Boost your fitness with a workout that achieves 85% muscle engagement. That’s exactly what you’ll get with this Alpulon Water Rowing Machine. Every stroke has a smooth, realistic feel and tones you up quickly. Its ergonomic design features a padded molded seat, 19-inch grip handles, and adjustable pedals. You can also keep track of your exercise data on the large LCD monitor, which shows duration, strokes, distance, and heart rate. If you’ve finished your sweat session and want your floor space back, simply fold the rail up, and use the front wheels in the base to move it out of the way.
20. WaterRower Vintage Oak Rowing Machine with S4
Just because you’re into an old-school decor aesthetic doesn’t mean you have to compromise with modern-looking exercise equipment. The WaterRower Vintage Oak Rowing Machine is the best of both worlds. It’s hand-crafted using solid oak hardwood with a brushed walnut stain, which not only looks lovely but helps reduce vibrations and absorb sound for quiet performance. However, it still has high-tech data tracking, thanks to the S4 monitor. You can monitor speed, watts, and calories burnt, all at the touch of a button. The flywheel that provides the resistance sits in a water tank, giving you a smooth experience similar to rowing on a lake or river. Plus, the unit can sit vertically when not in use, so it doesn’t take up much room.
Types of Rowing Machines
Air Rowing Machines
Air rowing machines are one of the most common and popular choices. They’re also known as ergometers and produce resistance with an internal flywheel, where the faster you row, the greater the resistance. Benefits of this type include little wear and tear, a wide range of resistances, and smooth, fluid action that closely resembles actual rowing. However, they can be noisier than other models, which might be problematic if you’re in a small or shared space.
Hydraulic Rowing Machines
Hydraulic rowers tend to be smaller and quieter, as well as cheaper than the alternatives. The resistance comes from pistons attached to the handles, and you work against the air or fluid inside the cylinder. While you’ll get a good workout from rowing machines like this, they don’t necessarily feel as comfortable or as natural as other options. Another thing to keep in mind is that they also require more regular maintenance.
Magnetic Rowing Machines
If you’re just looking for a great at-home rower, magnetic rowing machines are a popular choice. They’re quiet, smooth, and more compact; however, they don’t necessarily replicate an “in water” feel. The unit contains both a flywheel attached by a chain to the handle and powerful magnets. As the distance between the magnets varies, so too does the resistance. The digital console or mechanical sliders can control this, depending on your model.
Water Rowing Machines
Water rowing machines are a newer style. They use a tank of water and paddles to create resistance, which results in smooth and consistent strokes that many people report feels very similar to rowing on a lake or river. They’re quiet and need little maintenance other than a change of water occasionally. You can also get wooden frames or other stylish designs, giving you greater style flexibility. However, on the downside, they tend to be larger and have higher price points than other options.
How to Choose a Rowing Machine
Your budget will play a role in what kind of rower you choose. Rowing machines can cost anywhere between $200 to over $2000 in some cases. Most of the time, the more you spend, the higher quality the components and construction will be, and the more likely you’ll get techy extras. However, you don’t necessarily need to spend loads on a machine, as there are excellent low and mid-range options. The most important thing is to get a unit that is easy to use, works well, does what you want, and, most importantly, you want to use.
When it comes to rowing machines, size does matter. They can take up quite a bit of floor space, so you’ll need to make sure you choose one that fits the area available. Unless you have a dedicated gym room, you’ll also likely want one that will fold up and store in a more compact fashion.
Rowing machines can take up quite a bit of floor space. Unless you have an entire home gym setup, you’ll probably want the ability to store it away. This is especially true if you live in an apartment with limited space or have kids and pets who look for mischief and mayhem. Many options are designed to fold for compact storage and come with wheels so you can easily maneuver it around. Alternatively, some styles can also just flip upright to free up floor space.
Like many workout machines, rowers can create noise while you exercise. Consequently, the noise level is something to consider, especially if you live in an apartment or are working in an open, shared space. In general, water or magnetic resistance tends to be quieter than air. Another contributor to noise can be squeaky joints (the machine’s, not yours), so a quality build and regular maintenance are also necessary.
A comfortable butt is a big factor in a good rowing machine. The way you sit will impact your form, and poor form can lead to injury. Plus, if you’re uncomfortable or in pain, you’re less likely to work out. As such, choose a comfortable seat for your body because you’ll be using it for an extended time. The other thing to consider is seat height. The lower the seat, the harder it can be to get up and out (especially after a killer session). If you have mobility issues or are carrying a little extra weight, a slightly higher seat will make it easier for you.
Adjustable Foot Straps
A brilliant function to have on rowing machines is adjustable foot straps. That way, no matter what size feet you have, you’ll be secured in the pedals. Foot security is essential, as the motion of pulling back on the handles will pull your whole body back if you’re not locked in place. Ensure the straps sit across the broadest part of your foot, so it doesn’t inhibit the movement of your ankle.
Different resistance options are a must for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives you somewhere to go and something to strive towards. When you first start, you might only be able to handle low resistance until you build strength and stamina, slowly working your way up. Secondly, adjustable resistance means you can more easily customize your workout. You might want to try high-intensity intervals, so you set the resistance high for short bursts. Alternatively, if you feel like an endurance session, low resistance for a longer time is perfect.
Most rowers will come with some kind of a display screen that lets you track various stats. This could include time, energy spent, average speed, distance, strokes per minute, sprint distances, etc. What dashboard stats you need will depend on your goals. New rowers might prefer to keep it simple, with a user-friendly option with just basic information. However, if you’re looking to improve on a specific goal, more detailed information will help you measure your achievements much more effectively.
Adjustable screen positioning is a great feature to have on rowing machines because it lets you have the perfect view of your progress. Everybody is made differently, so to be able to customize the screen position ensures that a machine will fit most people. It’s also perfect for households where you might have more than one user on the rower, so you can both easily adjust it when it’s your time for a workout. Ideally, the screen should sit at eye height, so your posture or form isn’t compromised when checking up on your stats and progress.
Technology is advancing in the fitness industry, and you can get some really smart features built into rowing machines. Examples include Bluetooth or wi-fi connection, pre-made workouts, the ability to sync apps or wearables, and streaming capabilities. Like other aspects of a rower, whether you need these or not will depend on your fitness goals and whether or not they will help you work out more effectively. Of course, more advanced models with extra tech features will likely cost more than base models, so keep that in mind for your budget.
What are the best rowing machines for home use?
Some of the best rowing machines for home use include the ProForm 750R Smart Rowing Machine with Digital Resistance, Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, Bluefin Fitness Rower Machine, WaterRower Vintage Oak Rowing Machine with S4, and SCHWINN Crewmaster Rower.
What is the best kind of rowing machine?
The best kind of rowing machine will be one that you want to use. You want a model that fits the space you have, can store easily if needed, is simple and pleasant to use, and helps you reach your fitness goals. Look at designs like the Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine, WaterRower Vintage Oak Rowing Machine with S4, or Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine.
Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?
Fat loss on the belly (or any part of the body) comes down to a calorie deficit. That means you need to be burning more energy than you consume. Rowing machines are a great way to work out, burn calories, target most major muscle groups and increase your cardio fitness. As such, adequate workouts on a rowing machine will help with fat loss if it puts you in a deficit. Remember, you can't target specific areas for fat loss; it will be an overall improvement.
Is 20 minutes of rowing enough?
There is no "one-time fits" all for workouts; however, any movement is better than no movement. As such, 20 minutes can be sufficient, depending on your fitness goals. In that 20 minutes, try to maintain a mid to high intensity to get your heart rate pumping. To do this, you can try interval training or a specific rowing workout program. Of course, you can work out for longer, and again, this will give you different results depending on your methods and goals.
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