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.
Our Top Rowing Machine Reviews at a Glance
Concept2 Model D
Concept2 Model E
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
WaterRower Club Rowing Machine
Kettler Kadett Outrigger
Stamina Air Rower
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000
Stamina 1205 Precision Rower
Stamina 1215 Orbital
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
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
Below you will find what we believe to be the best value for money rowing machines on the market from all the reviews we have carried out. Arguably the best rowing machine is the Concept 2 model D, however in terms of value for money we believe it is beaten by the following rowing machines.
Our Top 5 Indoor Rower Picks
Buying an indoor rower is an investment in your health. That’s why it’s important to choose a model that will help you reach your health and fitness goals. These five models are our top picks because they deliver a great workout while offering durability, easy use and comfort.
The included Performance Monitor 5 sets this rower apart from others due to its unmatched accuracy. The backlit monitor is easy to read, and the included USB flash drive port allows you to export and store your data. It also allows you to wirelessly monitor your heart rate during your workouts.
You’ll also love the fact that you can adjust the monitor’s position for easy viewing.
The ergonomic handle and 14” seat height makes this rower comfortable to use, while the adjustable footrests allow you to find a fit that’s just right for you.
When you’re finished with your workout, the Concept 2 Model D separates into two pieces for easy storage. The front caster wheels make it easy to push the machine into your desired position.
With unmatched monitoring, quiet operation, easy storage and the power to deliver a challenging workout, the Concept 2 Model D is as good as it gets.
Handcrafted with ash wood, this rower features a water flywheel and water tank, which mimic the actual feeling of rowing out on the water. The water itself provides resistance – the faster and harder you row, the harder your workout will be.
Smooth and quiet, the WaterRower is designed to absorb vibration and sound, so you enjoy a quieter, more pleasant workout.
The Series 4 performance monitor accurately tracks your stroke count, heart rate, intensity and so much more. It’s also compatible with optional heart rate chest straps.
With a weight capacity of 1,000 pounds, this rower can accommodate most users with ease. And in between workouts, the frame folds up to save space.
If you’re looking for an indoor rower that accurately mimics the feeling of real water rowing, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is an excellent choice.
Magnetic resistance ensures quiet, smooth rowing action, while the built-in workout programs allow you to vary your workouts with ease. The included fitness monitor offers 12 workout programs in total: 6 cardio, 1 manual, 4 custom and 1 heart rate.
The backlit monitor also tracks important stats, like calories burned, distance, time, count, pulse and strokes per minute. Resistance and time can be adjusted with the touch of a button for easy adjustments on the fly.
Unlike other indoor rowers, the Stamina Avari comes with a chest strap, so you can monitor your heart rate with each workout.
With a folding design, this rower can be stored away to save space in between your workout sessions.
The Stamina Avari is the ideal indoor rower for anyone looking for a quiet machine that delivers a great workout no matter their fitness level.
The Stamina 35-1405 is affordable, easy to use, and doesn’t compromise on quality. Using the power of air resistance, this indoor rower delivers a great quality workout, whether you’re a beginner or advanced user.
The built-in electronic performance monitor tracks your distance, speed, calories burned and time, so you can maximize your workout results.
In the comfort department, the 35-1405 offers a comfortable foam padded seat. The seat glides smoothly on ball bearing rollers along the chrome seat rail.
When you’re done working up a sweat, you can fold this rower up and store it away. The built-in wheels make it easy to move this rower into a corner or another room in between workouts.
For users who want a budget-friendly, quality air rower with a simple design, the Stamina 35-1405 is a smart choice.
The Kettler Favorit rowing machine is fitted with rowing arms to mimic the position and action of real water rowing. And with two hydraulic cylinders, this rower offers continuous resistance throughout your entire workout.
The ergonomically-designed seat is comfortable to sit on even during long workouts and the mounted running rollers allows for smooth movement with each stroke.
The included training computer tracks your strokes, speed, distance, pulse rate and energy consumption, so you can keep a watchful eye on your progress.
With a 250-pound weight limit, this rower can accommodate nearly all users with ease.