There are few reliable and tested best rowing machines for the house that offer full-body workouts. If you are not a runner and don’t like cycling either, you might just fall in love with the rowing machine and to help you make a better choice we have covered several rowing machine reviews here. Like the treadmill and the various recumbent/upright indoor cycles, rowing machines are built for exercise in the house. It is designed to mimic the movement of outdoor rowing. Most machines accomplish the motion of rowing with the help of a movable seat and hand-pulls.
If you’re looking for a top of the line pro model best rowing machine, our recommendation for 2016 is the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5. This Concept 2 Rowing machine has become an integral part of several gyms and military training facilities as well as the standard rower for indoor rowing competitions worldwide.
However, if you’re on a budget, and you’re looking for a simpler machine, the Sunny Rowing Machine is your best bet. At any rate, before you purchase a rowing machine, you should be familiar with the various types of erg machines, the best features, your goals and most importantly the best products on the market. Read our rowing machine reviews for the latest information on the best indoor rowers on the market.
Bestseller No.1Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor
- Magnetic tension System with (8) levels of adjustable resistance
- Large LCD console displays time, count, calories, total count, ScanBestseller No.2Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Light Gray) with PM5
- Indoor rowing is an effective full-body, low-impact workout; Flywheel design minimizes noise while maximizing a smooth feel
- Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving you accurate, comparable data for every row; Adjustable monitor arm
Why Buy a Rowing Machine
The Indoor Rower, also commonly referred to as the ergometer, was first introduced as a military training device for beginners to learn technique and train on-shore before they went on board ships. Since the mid 18 and 1900’s, row machines have come a long way, and success with design (the Concept 2 rowing machine) has even spawned the new sport of competitive indoor rowing, which has in turn revolutionized training and selection procedures for watercraft rowing. A lot of the machines available for sale on the market today, are of an extremely high caliber. They offer incredible training platforms for the lay person to get in shape and look amazing along with several other rowing machine benefits.
Let’s take a closer look at the following rowing machine benefits:
Convenience: Modern rowing machines are light, easily transportable and take up little space compared to treadmills, indoor cycles, and other indoor equipment. Let’s face it, hauling yourself to the gym after a long’s day work can be painful and frustrating, especially if you have to drive long distances to get in a workout. With a row machine sitting in the house in front of your eyes, it’s hard to make excuses to skip your workout. You know that when you come home, you can just get on the machine for 15 -30 mins, and you’ve achieved your exercise goal for the day. Yes, it can be that simple!
Full Body Workout: Most people into fitness and health are worried that they’re not working their full body with their exercise. With runners, it’s mostly the legs, the same goes for cycling and even the elliptical to a significant degree. People who lift weights, on the other hand, need to worry about performing a whole variety of exercises to target all the muscles in the body which can take up a lot of time. However, rowing machine workouts provide the ideal movement pattern that targets your whole body, including your legs, core, back, and arms. Moreover, depending on the tempo you set for the workout you can even train those muscles for endurance or strength or both!
Force and Endurance: As an exercise, rowing workouts are both inherently aerobic as well as anaerobic. Along with working the cardiovascular system, rowing also works for many muscle groups anaerobically throughout the body. Hence, it is considered a strength-endurance sport. Basic rowing machine technique comprises of four basic phases: the catch, the drive, the finish, and recovery. The catch is the initial phase, where the body is relaxed and ready. The drive begins with the large quadricep muscles of the thigh pushing the body back; next the core is engaged to add to the work of the legs and lever the body backward. The arms are straight and parallel to the floor, ready to pull the handle toward the chest. In this motion, the muscles of the arm (primarily the biceps), shoulder and back are engaged. After the finish, the individual slides through the recovery to the catch and engages the full body for action again. Check out these awesome rowing workouts to kick start your rowing program.
Soft on the joints: Unlike running, cycling and other high-impact exercises that can be detrimental to the joints, rowing machine workouts are comparatively smooth and easy on the joints. However, rowing can affect the lower back and cause injury without the use of proper technique. If you plan on using your rowing machine on a daily basis, it is well worth the investment to read and learn about implementing the proper rowing machine technique. Once you are confident with your technique, which includes a focus on both body mechanics and breathing (exhaling on the drive and inhaling on the recovery), you will find that using the rowing machine can be a surprisingly pleasurable activity. An awareness of the breadth during an intense session can also paradoxically be quite relaxing and calming for the mind.
Calorie-Burning: Rowing is inherently an intense calorie-burning exercise. With many installed workouts, the modern ergometer is an excellent weight-loss tool. As with the Treadmill, one can perform various rowing workouts on the Row machine by varying speed (“split”= the amount of time in minutes and seconds required to travel 500 meters), distance, and time.
One such effective rowing workout that is commonly used in indoor rowing is Interval training. Interval training involves varying periods of intense training with moderate to slow training that is great for intense calorie-burning sessions. Most erg machines have computers with pre-installed programs, including the option to program your workout where you row at an average speed for a few hundred meters and then row at a slower pace for the next distance and so on.
Affordable: Unlike, expensive gym memberships that weigh heavy on your wallet and your conscience for missing days, the row machine requires a single upfront payment. It also continues to pay you dividends as you get leaner and fitter. There are a wide variety of products on the market with good features at affordable prices, so you are bound to find one that makes good financial sense. Read our top Rowing Machine Reviews to for a detailed analysis of the best ergometers in the market.
Types of Rowing Machines
Air Resistance: These are perhaps the most popular type of rowing machines on the market today. The air resistance design has been around since the 1980’s and has become the standard model for the sport of indoor rowing. It’s popularity is due to its simple yet effective mechanics that uses a large flywheel (with fan blades) to create air resistance. To increase the resistance of the flywheel, all you have to do is pull harder.
This simple design offers a smoother and more natural rowing stroke than most of the other kinds of indoor rowers. The concept 2 rowing machine is an example of one of the most popular air resistance rowing machines on the market that have been adopted by many health clubs as well as rehabilitation centers and is the first pick for indoor rowing competition around the globe.
Hydraulic Piston resistance: The hydraulic piston rower features among the most affordable rowers on the market. Apart from being cheaper, they are also foldable and can be stored conveniently. However, unfortunately, they are not the most effective or comfortable rowers. Most of these rowers have handles that are connected to hydraulic pistons that create resistance. Moving the handles on these erg machines can be awkward, and the movement does not allow you to synchronize your legs and arms in a natural rowing action. Another downside to this type is regular maintenance.
Water Resistance: The water resistant rower offers the most natural and realistic rowing feel. These rowers have a water tank with paddles suspended inside it. When you pull the rowing handles the paddles are engaged and turn into the water to create drag that produces the resistance. This gives you the feeling of actually rowing in the water. Also, all you can hear with every stroke is the swishing of the water inside the tank which creates the feeling of being on the water. These are among the most silent rowers in the market. A minor setback with these row machine is that they tend to be heavier and not bigger and, therefore, harder to store.
Magnetic Resistance: These erg machines provide a frictionless rowing stroke and such are easier than the other types. Rowing machines utilize magnetic brake systems that use a combination of magnetic resistance and air resistance. Their hallmark is that they are virtually silent since there is no friction, and they have a longer seat rail that allows for a smoother stroke. The magnetic resistance rower is perfect for beginners. However, one should have ample space for this rower they tend to be heavier and occupy more space.
Pre-Purchase Considerations : Rowing Machine Buying Guide
Purchasing a rowing machine is a great investment for the entire family. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you buy. Also, don’t forget to read our rowing machine reviews for the latest information on the most popular indoor rowers.
Type of Resistance: As mentioned above, there are four types of indoor rower designs: air resistance, water resistance, hydraulic resistance and magnetic resistance. Each type has its pros and cons. While the water type feels most natural, it is also bulky and difficult to store. The Hydraulic type, on the other hand, is the easiest to store, but not the most effective regarding the rowing stroke. The magnetic resistance type is the perhaps the easiest since it offers a frictionless stroke, but it doesn’t give you the best workout. The air resistance is the overall best as far as feel and rowing workouts are concerned, but it is a more expensive than the others.
Space: Just as with purchasing any indoor equipment, space is an important factor. The Hydraulic resistance type indoor rowers are perhaps the easiest to store since they are foldable. The air and water resistance types will take up more space, so you need to look at the dimensions carefully before you order. It is a good idea to factor in the extra elbow for your workout so that you’re not colliding with any furniture. Read our rowing machine reviews for details on dimensions, foldable features and more.
Workout Effectiveness: What are your exercise goals? Are you simply looking to for some moderate exercise each session or do you plan to train with increasing intensity. The air resistance type rower is not the top choice for competitions for nothing. It offers the best training and preparation for out-door rowing, so you can be sure that you’re in for serious exercise if that’s what you’re looking for. The magnetic and hydraulic rowers offer great workouts as well. However, they are inherently easier to use and tend to be less intense than air/water resistance types. Another aspect to consider that can affect your workout are dual/single straps. It is, therefore, a good idea to determine your exercise goals before you choose.
Noise: Noise can put you off and cause you to loose focus during your workouts. The air resistance rower makes very little noise when you row, and it also provides a cool breeze as you row harder which can be quite refreshing. The water type provides the best kind of noise, especially if you love rowing. All you can hear is the calming sound of water swishing around in the tank. Hydraulic types can be noisy, especially when they’re in need of maintenance. The magnetic type is virtually silent since it produces no friction. Read our Rowing Machine Reviews for further details before you choose.
Cost: Indoor Rowers range in price between $200 and $1000. There are many products available in the market, so you need not worry if you are on a strict budget. What’s important, however, is your personal preference, available space and your workout goals. You should be sure and positive when you choose so that your chosen product continues to pay you dividends in the future.
Favorites: Best Rowing Machines By Price
If you have a strict budget, you need not worry, because there are several indoor rowing machines that fit into various price ranges, so you can be sure you will find a rower that satisfies your needs.
Best Rowing Machine Under 200$
Sunny Rowing Machine
The Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine is one of the best products you can get if you’re budget is below $200. Although it is more affordable than most products, it offers a level of quality built that can rival several high-priced indoor rowers.
This Hydraulic resistance type rower offers 12 resistance levels for moderate as well as intense rowing. This erg machine itself is quite sturdy and supports long intense sessions of rowing. Some of its hallmark features include a comfortable and smooth gliding (heavily padded) seat, pivoting foot peddles with straps and an electronic monitor that can track calories-burned, count strokes as well as display time and distance. This erg machine is guaranteed to give you a full body workout that will burn high-calories while also protecting your joints from impact. It is compact enough for easy storage and also provides a strong and stable frame for working out. Read our full Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine review for more information.
Best Rowing Machine Under 400$
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing machine boasts all the benefits of a Hydraulic resistance rower. It showcases five levels of resistance that can be engaged with the fully adjustable rowing arms that allow for a full range of motion.
This indoor rower was designed to deliver a full body workout with a greater emphasis on the engaging the core muscles with each stroke. The beam incline can also be increased for a more intense workout, especially when you’re looking to burn excess calories. The hallmarks feature for this rower include a rolling seat, adjustable tension controls, pivoting foot plates, and a single button monitor, that shows speed, distance, time, calories burned and the number of strokes. The sleek design can support up to 250 lbs while also making this rower a great space saver.
Best Rowing Machine Under 600$
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is a smooth, silent, electronically sophisticated machine. Velocity also throws in a chest strap heart rate monitor, so you can track your heart rate and stay within your target heart zone during intense cardio training sessions.
This machine is as sleek as they come. The rectangular beam has an anodized aluminum profile that can carry up to 275lbs of body weight. Resistance is built by the DMC (Drum Magnetic Control) system coupled with electronic tension control that allows for exquisitely silent rowing, so you can get in a late workout and not worry about disturbing your family. There is also a large LCD monitor that tracks strokes per minute, distance, pulse, and calories burned. There are also plenty of workout programs from which to choose, including six preset workouts and a manual program.
Best Rowing Machine Under 800$
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rowing Machine
With a truly multi-functional LCD monitor that showcases 12 workout programs including six cardio Profiles, 1 Manual, 4 Custom user programs and 1 Heart rate program, the Stamina Avari Rowing machine is one of the most sophisticated rowing machines there is.
It has a sleek body with a long aluminum rowing beam that can support up to 275 lbs of body weight. Everything about this rower spells comfort, from the extra padding on the seat to the foam padded handles and the pivoting foot rests. However, on top of the comfort, it is also extremely convenient and easy to store as well as assemble. The machine is foldable, and assembly only takes a few minutes since all the various parts are designed to come together pretty neatly. Read our full review here.
Best Rowing Machine Under 1000$ : An Absolute Fan Favorite
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
Apart from being on the cover of many fitness magazines, this Concept 2 Rowing Machine with PM5 is an integral part of several gyms, military training facilities and is the standard design for indoor rowing competitions worldwide. In short it is the daddy of all indoor rowing machines.
The body is built using stainless steel and aluminum and can support up to 500 lbs! The seat glides effortlessly over the rowing beam in pin drop silence and the ergonomic handles allow for a comfortable and fantastic rowing experience. The flywheel resistance coupled with a nickel plated chain supports long and hard training sessions. The frame itself separates into two pieces for easy storage and also includes castor wheels for convenient mobility. Also, there are just too many awesome features including a state of the art monitor that tracks a lot more than just calories burned. For more information on this indoor rower, read our complete Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine review.
Indoor Rowing machines are a great exercise tool that offers a unique strength-endurance workout. Despite being comfortable and easy to use, they offer high calorie-burning workouts for the whole body. And, since there is no harm on the joints, people of all age groups can benefit from using them.
This page is intended to serve as a guide to rowing machines so that potential users have access to all the latest information related to rowing. Our team of experts has also put together several product reviews of the best rowing machine products on the market in the hope that you can make an informed decision when purchasing different types of rowing machines. So take your time, do your research and explore the awesome sport of rowing!