Purchasing any piece of exercise equipment is going to be a major investment. When it comes to cardiovascular equipment, the price is always going to be a factor. After years of experience, we know that there is a fine balance between the best rowing machine and the best machine in your price range. When you don’t have money to spend frivolously, the last thing you want to do is buy a rowing machine that will sit and collect dust in the corner.
Before we take a deeper look at our top rated list and provide detailed rowing machine reviews for each model, let’s examine the best 3 models at a glance.
Know Before You Buy
Not all rowing machines are created using the same technology. In fact, rowing machine workouts are drastically different when using a machine that utilizes water-resistance flywheels or a machine that uses hydraulic-resistance rowers or an air flywheel.
Prices will also be significantly different as well. For the typical user, water-resistance flywheels may be too expensive. Water-resistance flywheels are ideal for more advanced rowers and may not be the best choice for your budget range.
Rowing Machine Resistance Types
The following resistance types are available.
- Magnetic-resistance: Quiet and smooth. Magnetic rowing machines are ideal for precise measuring of a workout and provides very accurate resistance. The downfall of these models is that they are often heavier and larger than other resistance-types.
- Air-resistance: Equipped with an air flywheel. Air rowing machines may come with a resistance tension option to make a workout more difficult by altering the amount of air allowed to pass into the flywheel, however not all air rowers offer this option. The downfall with this model is usually a lack of resistance adjustment and high noise production. However arguably the best and most popular model is the Concept 2 rowing machine.
- Water-resistance: As close to real rowing as an indoor rowing machine can get. Using water as resistance, these models simulate rowing in actual water. There is a lack of resistance adjustment with all water-resistance rowers, but rowing faster will produce further resistance. These models are often heavy due to the water needed for resistance and they are often very expensive. See our WaterRower Review if you want to see one of the best water rowers available on the market.
- Hydraulic-resistance: The arm workout rower. Hydraulic-resistance often includes handlebars that provide more of an arm workout than the good leg workout other models provide. Resistance adjustment is an option with hydraulic-resistance, and these models are often able to be folded for further space-saving benefits. The downside is that hydraulic-resistance provides less of a full body workout and less range of motion, however if you are looking for a cheap rowing machine this is most likely the type of resistance you will want.
As you can see, all of the resistance types have their own benefits and their downsides. Even the best rowing machine may be a little noisy or bulky compared to other models, but the benefits of rowing far outweigh these minor nuances.
Maintenance will allow you to get the most out of your rower and extend its lifespan as a result. The rowing machine type that you choose may or may not come with a regular maintenance schedule and outline that needs to be followed.
A general maintenance checklist will be:
- Examining and tightening any loose screws or bolts monthly
- Lubricating the chain (attached to the rowing handle) on some models
- Wiping down your machine
- Tightening the seat to ensure it is secure
- If you own a water resistance rower, changing the water weekly will ensure no algae growth occurs
Rowing Machine Benefits
Rowing has been on the rise in recent years. Not only is this exercise great for burning fat, but it’s also easy on your joints and can be done no matter your age or fitness level. Because you’re seated while you row, there is little chance of you falling or becoming injured. With immense safety benefits seen over the likes of a treadmill or elliptical, rowing is starting to be the preferred method of cardio and exercise.
The benefits of using the best rowing machine do not stop here. Let’s take a look at what you can expect when rowing on a regular basis.
It is no coincidence that rowing machine reviews are full of people stating that they have lost weight after rowing regularly. Users can expect different amounts of calories to be burned based on their weight and the intensity of the workout.
Studies show that, on average, rowing will burn 11 calories per minute. This equates to 660 calories burned in just 60 minutes or over 300 calories burned in just a half hour. Compared to other pieces of equipment, rowing is on par or ahead of other pieces of exercise equipment. The best part about rowing is that you will be utilizing all of your major muscle groups, resulting in an overall better workout in the same time span.
Understanding what muscles are needed to row properly will require you to know the two phases of rowing: The catch and drive.
- Catch: The catch takes place when you are starting a row and your knees are fully bent into an almost-squat position.
- Drive: The drive is the movement needed to go from the catch into a fully extended position where your legs are straight and your arms have moved the rowing oars.
The catch phase will engage the following muscles:
- Upper and lower back muscles
During the drive phase, the following muscles will also be used:
- Gluteus Maximus
- Forearm extenders
When done correctly, a proper rowing motion will utilize all of these muscles providing a full body workout. Various other smaller muscles will also need to engage during rowing exercises.
With the ability to easily adjust the tension on our top 10 rowers, you will be able to perform a workout that is tailored to your fitness level
Indoor Rower Benefits
Compared to other equipment, there are a variety of benefits that indoor rowing will provide. These benefits include:
- Full body workout
- Muscle toning and strengthening
- Cardiovascular workout
- Minimal stress on knees and joints
- Little space required
Many rowers are light enough to be moved from one room to another, and some even fold up for easy storage purposes. If you live in a small space, this is ideal because you don’t need to occupy your living room with a large, clunky piece of exercise equipment.
With no excuse not to workout, you can row and get a full body workout that will keep you in tip-top shape without needing to step foot in the gym. For the stay-at-home mom that needs to watch her kids all day or the business executive that has little time to spare, rowing is the ideal choice.
Top Rowing Machine Reviews
If you are looking for a cheap rowing machine that is also durable. Then the Stamina Avari Easy Glide rower may be perfect for you. It has a 250-lb weight capacity and full range movement when rowing. An oversized seat is present which adds to the overall comfort level and there are 12 levels of resistance seen. There is a small LCD monitor present that provides you with your current workout statistics.
This rower uses hydraulic-resistance and takes only 30 minutes to assemble. This is the perfect entry-level rower priced at under $200.
Confidence has created a great magnetic-resistance rower that has the major benefit of being affordable and foldable for easy storage. A comfortable padded seat with non-slip pedals is present which allows for sustained rowing without any aches or pains in the process.
There are 8 levels of resistance seen and the LCD display has 4 functions: time, speed, rowing count and the total amount of rows done on the machine. One of the more affordable models on our list, the Confidence is chosen because it is durable, provides more than enough resistance and is one of the lower cost models on the market.
Over 100 people have left their own rowing machine reviews for this model and have nothing but great things to say about the machine’s functionality and durability. Priced just under $300, this Stamina rower is a mid-priced model that uses air-resistance and comes with a great monitor display that will keep you motivated when rowing. Speed, distance, time rowed and the total calories burned will be displayed on the monitor.
Large footplates, a comfortable seat and a padded handlebar are present to ensure comfort when rowing. When you are done rowing, fold the Stamina Air up and place it in the corner.
The Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing machine is our top pick under $200. This is a hydraulic, gas-shock rower that comes with a sturdy steel frame construction and 790+ positive reviews from consumers. From the seat to the foot pedals and the 1050’s ability to fold up neatly, we love every aspect of this rower.
There is a monitor present that shows the user how long they have rowed, the total stroke count and how many calories they burned during a session. There are even 12 levels of resistance, and the rowing motion utilized mimics oar-rowing.
Serious rowers know that Kettler is one of the better brands on the market and the Favorit is definitely one of the better mid-range rowers on the market. Coming in at under $400, the Favorit uses hydraulic-resistance with hydraulic cylinders and a very comfortable ergonomic seat. Users of up to 250 pounds can use this rower with ease.
A training computer is present that will display the distance, time rowed, strokes and speed. There is even a programmable setting which allows you to train based on distance or speed with visual and audio alerts.
A step up from the Kettler Favorit is the Kettler Kadett. The Kadett has a price tag under $600 which puts it at a mid/high-end range but for good reason. The Kadett is considered an outrigger style rower that is meant to simulate water rowing and does so with great precision. Users can also change the resistance from 1 to 12 to get an even more intense workout that will be sure to leave even the experienced users sweating and out of breath.
A training computer allows you to setup goals for your workout and comes with visual and audio signals to alert you when you have hit your goal during a session. You can also glance at the large display LCD to check out the distance, speed and oar strokes during a session among other statistics. Hydraulic-resistance is used with the Kadett.
The RW1000 is priced just under $500 and uses air-resistance. The RW1000 comes with a 16.5 pound flywheel, a steel frame and folds up nice and neat for the perfect storage solution. Upon pulling the handlebar, you will notice that unlike other flywheel models, this model does not produce excess noise.
There is a 3-LCD console that displays distance, calories, time rowed, strokes and even how many strokes you are producing every minute. Weighing just 25-pounds, this is the best rowing machine for anyone that wants to place this model in a closet and bring it out into their living room or another room in the house without needing help.