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Best Rowing Machine Reviews

Settling for the best rowing machine can be an overwhelming experience for any budding athlete. With the staggering varieties of rowers that are now available in the fitness industry, it’s no wonder than many users tend to get confused and consequently make the wrong choice.

Best By Price RangeComparison Chart

Before investing your money in a rower as well as any exercise equipment, it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each model and acquaint yourself with every feature of the product. Users should also consider whether they plan on using the machine for a quick fix to zap away the holiday pounds or simply to maintain their health. Indeed, while some cheaper models do provide a good workout while encouraging fat loss, they aren’t exactly designed to last for years and usually require quite a lot of maintenance. On the other hand, there are some highly professional models which are conceived to last for decades, but they do tend to run at a higher price.

So aiming to help you choose the machine that best adapts to your needs, we compiled the next list of our top ten rowers.

Top 10 Rowing Machines


Concept2 Model D
Model D
Read ReviewAir96 x 24 x 2857 lbs500 lbs- 5 years frame
- 2 years parts
Stamina InMotion
stamina inmotion
Read ReviewHydraulic56 x 24 x 1929 lbs250 lbs-1 year frame
-90 days parts
Stamina 1215 Orbital
stamina orbital
Read ReviewHydraulic48 x 32 x 2852 lbs250 lbs- 5 years frame
- 90 days parts
ProForm Dual Trainer
proform dual trainer
Read ReviewMagnetic79 x 20 x 38150 lbs350 lbs-Lifetime frame
-1 year parts
-1 year labor
Sunny Rowing Machine
sunny rowing machine
Read ReviewHydraulic53 x 20 x 2223 lbs220 lbs- 1 year frame
- 90 days parts
Concept2 Model E
concept2 model e
Read ReviewAir96 x 24 x 3065 lbs500 lbs- 5 years frame
- 2 years parts
WaterRower Natural
waterrower natural
Read ReviewWater82 x 22 x 20104lbs
1000 lbs- 5 years frame
- 3 years parts
WaterRower Club
Read ReviewWater82 x 22 x 20104lbs1000 lbs- 5 years frame
- 3 years parts
Avari Programmable Rower
stamina avari
Read ReviewMagnetic81 x 20 x 2480 lbs275 lbs- 3 years frame
- 90 days parts
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000
lifespan rw1000
Read ReviewHydraulic87 x 19 x 2356 lbs300 lbs- 5 years frame
- 2 year parts

Types of Rowing Machines

Indoor rowers normally differ according to the type of resistance they require to engage your muscles into the workout. Resistance does not merely intensify your workouts but it also allows you to experience a realistic sensation of moving across water.air rower 1399

Here are the most common resistance types:

  • Air Resistant: An air resistant machine normally draws its force from a spinning flywheel which is activated into motion every time the handle is pulled. The harder you yank on the handle, the more wind is activated, hence creating a greater resistance level. This machine therefore gives you a greater control over your training session since you’re the one who chooses how fast you want to row. The price range for air resistant machines normally runs between$300 to $1300 and tend to be noisier than other models, although they’re still great machines as proven by the best-seller Stamina Air Rower. Air resistant models are perfect for both advanced and intermediate rowers.
  • Piston Resistant: Piston resistant machines are usually on the smaller side. Extremely easy to store, these rowers have two hydraulic pistons attached to each oar and the resistance setting can be independently adjusted to your liking. This resistance type is designed to properly balance the user’s upper body strength during training. With certain rowers, the pistons tend to get hot after a few hours, but this should not be a problem if the arms are textured and padded. Piston Resistant rowers can cost anywhere between $200 to $600 and are ideal for budding users.
  • Water Resistant: Water resistant rowers are equipped with a water tank in which the paddles are suspended. This very unique feature usually provides users with the realistic sensation of rowing across actual water. With this machine, the harder you pull on the handle, the harder the resistance. The intensity of your workout also depends on the level of water in your tank. Best of all, water resistant machines provide an extremely soothing, wave-like noise which many users seem to appreciate. These rowers often fall into $700 to $4200 price range and would perfectly suit more experienced athletes.
  • Magnetic Resistance: The most affordable and popular resistance type on the market, Magnetic rowers are extremely silent and boast of a long seat rail. These sorts of machines are also equipped with a brake system which doesn’t allow any room for friction. While magnetic resistances do offer a sleek glide, the intensity of your workout tends to be less effective than with other models because of the lack of friction. These machines can cost anywhere between $225 to $1400 and are perfect for beginners.

Benefits of Using a Home Rowing Machine

concept2 model d male

Arguably one of the most efficient and recommended piece of fitness equipment in the health industry, rowing will not only help you lose weight- and keep it off- but it will also maintain your cardiovascular health in top-notch condition. Depending on your weight, age and overall fitness levels, a mild, low-resistance workout can help you burn up between 300 to 500 calories per hour while a more intense workout can even yield a deficit of 800 calories.

It’s no wonder that rowing is recommended by most doctors and trainers to anyone who wishes to tone up or simply take care of his/her health. Most importantly, rowing has been shown to be one of the rare exercises that do engage most major muscles groups. The back and forth rowing motion, for example, works the lower back and core. Pushing off with the thighs provides quite a great deal of resistance on the calves, shoulders and quads, while pulling the handle towards your chest engages the biceps and back.

When we consider all this, it’s no wonder that rowing has been gaining so much popularity, being now possible to find advanced models such as the Concept2 Model D on most gyms.

Things to Consider Before Buying

Other than your personal needs, here are some other important things to consider before making your buying decision:

Available Space: Because it’s so obvious, most people usually skip this step and end up with a machine that can barely fit into the room. Bear in mind that rowers normally require the same amount of footprint space as a loveseat. It’s also important to know that air resistance rowers claim more floor space than hydraulic piston ones.

Workout Effectiveness: Your machine’s workout effectiveness is another crucial factor to take into consideration. Commercial grade rowers, for example are usually equipped with adjustable air resistance which tends to be more intense than hydraulic pistons. Having said that, a commercial-grade machine might hinder your workout effectiveness if you’ve never rowed before. Beginners might feel discouraged and abandon their training sessions if the resistance is too strong for them to handle. Dual and singe handles also have a direct impact on your workout effectiveness, so be sure to choose accordingly.

Pricing: Of course, it goes without saying that your budget plays a major role in selecting the best rower for you. Luckily enough, the Fitness industry does cater to users with a limited budget so you can be sure to find something of your liking. The one thing that you should do, however, is to establish a spending budget and stick to it. Higher-end rowers normally cost more than 800$, but you can also find some good and reliable models for much less.

Best Rowing Machines by Price

The best thing about rowers is that, unlike most other fitness equipment, they do come in several prices, which means that you’re certainly bound to find a machine which falls within your spending budget. Here are some of the best rowing machines, listed by their price range:

Price Range: $50-200

Our Choice: Sunny Rowing Machine

Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing MachineWith 12 resistance levels and a special silent rowing feature, the Sunny Health and Fitness is among the most affordable rowing machines on the market, but still manages to offer a quality built, as shown by its impressive 4.5/5 rating.

It features a wide range of options including, pivoting foot plates for extra comfort, smooth gliding base, wholly adjustable foot straps and a thickly padded seat. This item also comes with an electronic monitor which displays the number of calories burned, time as well as the number of rowing strokes. Thanks to the magnetic resistance, this machine is guaranteed to engage your entire body in the workout while protecting your joints from unnecessary strains. Best of all, this apparatus is extremely light and mobile, but dense enough to assure a sturdy grip during your workouts.

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Price Range: $200-400

Our Choice: Stamina 1215 Orbital

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing MachineThe Stamina 1215 is a relatively budget-friendly rower which will allow you to burn between 300 to 600 calories per hour. This item is equipped with an adjustable hydraulic resistance which has been shown to provide a full body workout, hence guaranteeing better results in a shorter amount of time. This rower features 5 resistance levels and fully adjustable arms which yields greater control over your training session.

Most importantly, this rower provides a very unique rowing motion whereby the user’s legs and arms remain extended while the elbows flex with each row to engage the abdominal muscles in the workout. One of the most space-friendly models on the market, this machine also comes with a thickly padded seat and can very easily support users who weight up to 250lbs. The single-button console allows you to track your speed, time, distance, calories burned, miles burned as well as the number of rows.

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Price Range: $400-600

Our Choice: LifeSpan Fitness RW1000

LifeSpan Fitness RW1000The LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 is a mid-range budget machine designed to tone your back, shoulders, legs and arms while providing an efficient cardiovascular workout. The perfect weight loss companion, this rower boasts of an extremely solid construction which prevents the machine from moving while you’re working out. Designed to provide a plethora of different workouts, this product delivers ease of use and comfort, without all the incessant humming and squeaking that normally accompany low quality machines.

The LifeSpan rower features five levels of magnetic brake resistance, a quiet, smooth drive system, no slack retrieval system and a 16.5lbs flywheel. With a user capacity of 300lbs, this product was even awarded the 2008 Gear Awards Seal of Excellence for its comfortable and virtually silent features. Best of all, the handles are padded and textured to provide an extremely easy grip, even if your hands get sweaty.

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Price Range: $600-800

Our Choice: Avari Programmable Rower

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise RowerWith a weight capacity of 250 pounds, the Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower is among the most professional machines on the market. Indeed, this apparatus yields no less than 12 workout programs, including a heart rate, a custom user as well as a manual program. The rower is even equipped with 6 cardio profiles, hence allowing users to closely monitor their overall progress.

A professional-grade equipment, this machine- while just a tad more expensive than other rowers- is designed to last for life. With an extra-comfortable padded seat and ribbed, thickly textured handles, the rower is practically oozing with comfort. Foldable to facilitate storage, this machine is also extremely easy to assemble: in fact, users only require around half an hour to forty-five minutes to put this rower together since all the required parts and tools are included.

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Price Range: $800-1000

Our Choice: Concept2 Model D

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing MachineDesigned for heavy-duty use in gyms and army training bases, but also perfect for lengthy home training sessions, the Concept2 Model D Indoor is bursting with a series of features that have all been conceived to improve your health. This high-end rower is one of the most popular on the market thanks to its quality and effectiveness, which make it worth every cent of its price.

With an ergonomic handle and completely adjustable footrests, this product is also equipped with a nickel-plated chain that promises longer training sessions with minimal oiling. In comparison to other models, this product requires very little maintenance which makes it perfect for busy individuals. The Model D machine is made from stainless-steel and aluminum, hence ensuring a perfectly smooth and practically silent glide. Additionally, this is actually one of the rare- if not the only- fitness equipment on the market which allows a perfectly full rowing stroke range, even for users who are on the taller side.

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Price Range: $1000+

Our Choice: Concept2 Model E

Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing MachineThe Concept2 Model E Indoor is considered as the most luxurious and most efficient rowing machine in the industry. At a price above $1000, this rower is certainly worth the investment because it has been built to last a lifetime, with minimal maintenance.

Guaranteed to provide an unparalleled workout while engaging every single muscle in the body, this machine certainly stands out from other models: it features an extended variety of features such as a 6” frame, longer monitor arm to help you easily reach the PM4 console without interrupting your workout, enclosed chain housing, powder coated frame, flexfoot footrest and an ergonomic handle. With this particular product, users will also be able to benefit from caster wheels and a Garmin chest belt which will allow you to keep a close eye on your heart rate. The Concept2 Model E has a maximum user weight of 500lbs.

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