Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2018 – Best Rowers Compared

best-rowing-machines-2018We’ve been asked countless times, “Which is the best rowing machine?”. But, before we start talking about any specific rowing machine model, let us tell you one thing – Just like there are products that cater to multiple needs of multiple users, rowing machines are available in different kinds to suit the user in the best possible way.

There are plenty of rowing machine models available in the market and there is nothing like the one-size-fits-all rower. As of Jan 2018, there are 30+ various rowing machines (from Hydraulic to Magnetic/Flywheel) available in the market. With this wide range of rowing machines available in the market, it becomes difficult to choose the right rowing machine for you – as every rowing machine has some or the other advanced and innovative features you’ve never heard of!

That’s the reason why we’ve decided to dig into these rowing machines and tested every other rowing machine out there for more than months. To be honest, many of the models sucked, but there are some of the best rowing machines available. Refer to the following curated list of the best rowing machines and choose your next rower.

Best Rowing Machines 2018 – The Winners!

To make your buying decision effortless and pain-free, we’ve broken down the top 4 rowing machines you will absolutely love.

Best Rowing Machines – Our Top Picks 2018!

Here are the best rowing machines (rowers) reviewed by Finesstep1’s experts team. Let’s take a look at individual rowing machine model.

#1. Concept 2 Indoor Rowing Machine ‘Model D’

Concept 2 Indoor Rowing Review

The model is developed by Concept2 which has earned a great name and reputation for manufacturing fitness equipment worldwide. The company is responsible for manufacturing a wide range of rowing devices depending on the needs and suitability of the user.

It is a high-end rowing machine for indoor training with an overall length of 96 inches and width of 24 inches designed with massive durability. The leg support has front legs made of aluminum with rear ones made of steel. The power generation process is simplified where during the workout sessions, the monitor tends to collect power from the spinning flywheel and give extended battery. Assembly of Concept2 is pretty simple and anyone can do it without any assistance.

The training device consists of advanced monitor called PM5 which is user-friendly, accurate and easy to operate. This digital monitor gives accurate data about the activities being performed on this machine and there are ergonomic buttons for setting up the device. The monitor is equipped with powerful backlight that enhances the visibility and has an adjustable frame to adjust the monitor according to your convenience. The monitor is compatible with USB flash device for storing your performance data and is also able to monitor your heart rate wirelessly.

This is one of the integral parts of the machine as the entire movement depends on it. The flywheel and damper are designed and assembled in a way that you are in control of your exertion and resistance while working out on the machine. The airflow to the flywheel is adjusted by the spiral dampers and using this you can change the level of stroke during the effort put in. The flywheel gives a smooth move without much noise which is the best part of this rowing machine model.

#2. Stamina Air Rower

Stamina Air Review

After checking for multiple options for a low budget rowing machines, we found that STAMINA AIR ROWER is an effective yet budget machine which comes with incredible features, positive feedback from existing users and low-budget. This indoor rowing machine is completely value for money as it offers maximum performance at the minimum price and gives real feeling same as that of outdoor rowing. It is manufactured by a company name Stamina established in 1987 which is into designing of fitness equipment within budget.

This rowing machine is designed to provide a smooth, solid and comfortable workout at the convenience of home. It is a low impact machine offering complete body workout. The wind resistance machine is equipped with oversized upholstered seats with an inclusion of seat rail and foot plates for a comfort of work out. The machine has smooth sliding seat for ease of movement with comfortable padding and is backed by the secure grip.

It is an integral part of the rowing machine and especially in indoor ones as you workout without any assistance. It has an electronic performance monitor that display information related to speed, distance traveled, time and calories burnt. It has multi-function but can be operated using a single button making it user-friendly. The data can be accessed or viewed one at a time using the mode button.

It is light in weight, weighing only 250 lbs which are less than many other machines and thus is convenient for use. It can carry maximum user weight of around 250 pounds. The machine is designed for top class comfort with padded seats that easily slides up and down on the rail during the workout sessions. The seat can be used for people with height even more than 6ft, the ergonomic handle gives a good grip to the floor.

#3. Kettler 7978-900 Favorit Rowing Machine

Kettler 7978-900 Review

The machine is designed and manufactured by Kettler and is one of the toughest and affordable rowing machine. The machine is designed in a way that it can be used by both professionals and beginners.

The machine is equipped with two hydraulic cylinders that offer continuous resistance to maximize the workout output and helps in performance intense exercise. The machine has an anti-slip base that prevents the machine from skidding on a floor. It has a comfortable ergonomic seat that smoothly runs on the rail. The handles are padded to prevent blistering and maintain a strong grip.

The best part of the monitor is you can customize your workout session by setting time, stroke rate and distance to be covered and on completion of the target, you be alerted. The monitor gives you audio and video signal on completion of your fitness target. The monitor is compatible with a plug-in ear clip that monitors and closely checks heart rate using a wrist monitor and chest strap.

The resistance level of the machine is self-adjustable and it can be done by resetting or repositioning the knurl marks on each rower which can be set between 50 knurls or more. The machine has moving foot plates along with straps that can be adjusted according to foot size and the force can be continuously adjusted with the folding oars. The machine supports weight up to 250 lbs or under only which is one of the cons of the machine.

#4. Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine

Lifecore R100 Review

The machine is manufactured by LifeCore Fitness and is known for its robust, durable and affordable products. The manufacturers have produced versatile fitness equipment for both personal use and commercial grade.

It is undoubtedly a great machine designed with an inclusion of Electronic Brake System Technology and offers air and magnetic resistance. It is used by athletes and is more of a commercial machine which enables smooth operation and is perfect for both personal and commercial use. The machine is designed with ergonomic handles for strong grip and the footrest is compatible with multiple shoe size which is angled with pivoting heel support. It has a strong and sturdy body with black semi-gloss paint coating and is supported by an aluminum frame with solid steel support.

The monitor is in form of large LCD with blue backlit computer display which offers 15 challenging preset programs. The display monitor is also able to store data for 4 users. There are 16 levels of magnetic resistance along with 4 heart rate control program. Using the monitor and its settings the user can conveniently choose the workout plan according to their needs. The monitor display information like total strokes, strokes per minute, watts, time, pulse rate, calories burnt, distance, meters mowed etc.

The resistance types can be set according to the type of workout session required. It has an ergonomically designed seat that adds to the comfort of the user and adjustable cooling air vent keeps your session relaxed. Although it has a silent drive system for minimum noise creation but at times due to intense workout there might be slight noise due to high resistance level offered. The nylon straps or foot straps helps one to keep the feet in position and handles gives a good grip. It undoubtedly is one of the most user compatible machine as it can handle weight up to 600 lbs and height of up to 1.92 m(6.4”).

#5. Pro Rower H20 RX-740 Home Series Rowing Machine

Pro Rower H20 RX-740 Review

The machine is manufactured by H20 fitness which is known for some of its innovative and great fitness equipments. The machine is made based on realistic dynamics that makes the whole experience of using the rowing machine more authentic and effective.

The machine is built strong and durable which uses the innovative Hydro – Power Drive system and it mimics the realistic dynamics of actual rowing. The machine consists of polycarbonate water tank along with an internal paddle system which integrates realistic motion of rowing a boat. It is a water resistance machine with a durable and strong frame that is manufactured for professional as well as commercial and personal usage. It is foldable and the frame measures less than 20 to 21 inch on storing it upright.

The performance monitor tracks details like exercise time, distance 500 – meter split time, strokes per minute, calories burned and heart rate which can be detected using heart rate receiver. The display screen is oversized making it easy to read. The monitor gives statistical figures individually or they can be scanned using the “scan” feature and the display screen can be adjusted in different viewing angles.

The ergonomic handgrip gives maximum comfort. The water in the water tank acts as main resistance system and resistance is brought by the speed of rowing. Row faster for an intense workout which gives higher resistance and for a slow and steady workout, it is recommended to row slower. The machine is equipped with dual caster wheels and the machine can be stored easily. It is able to take maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.

#6. Stamina Avari Magnetic Power

Stamina Avari Review

The machine is manufactured by Avari which focus on total body workout and help in building your stamina. The company is involved in the production of fitness equipments including rower machines which are very helpful for users.

The Avari Magnetic Rover has magnetic resistance systems that use a smooth braking system, controlled levels of resistance and is known for its noiseless operation. The machine has a strong solid frame made of steel along with aluminum beam and the pulleys are made of durable nylon. The machine is easily foldable along with mobile wheels and thus it is easy to store them and ensure easy movement. The unique ball bearing roller and hydraulic resistance integrated into the machine give smooth rowing experience.

The programmable monitor of the machine features around 12 programss which can be displayed and viewed on LCD screen. The visibility is enhanced using the backlit in Touch Fitness monitor. The performance monitor has 7 preset programs which adjust the magnetic tension and enhance the cardiovascular workout. On connecting the chest strap to display you can also monitor heart rate and pulse rate. The panel gives information about time, distance, stroke rate, pulse rate, and calories burnt.

The seats are molded with a comfortable cushion which reduces pressure and the Velcro strap on the footrests makes it easy for exercise. The handle is padded making it comfortable and promotes a good grip. It is a low impact workout machine and makes your workout session more comfortable. The padded handle reduces an occurrence of blisters. The machine can support a weight of up to 275 lbs and is comfortable for users as tall as 6 feet 4 inches.

#7. Velocity Fitness Magnetic Power CHR-2001

Power CHR-2001 Review

The machine is developed by Velocity Exercise which is designed based on Drum Magnetic Control. Velocity Exercise is a company that has so far manufactured various types of fitness equipment including versatile rowing machines.

The machines in integrated with magnetic resistance system which is the exclusive feature of the design and is made of an aluminum frame. The frame extends towards the outer side and holds the ergonomically designed foam padded seat. Along with the inclusion of Drum Magnetic Control System, the device also supports electronic tension control and has transportation inbuilt wheels for easy movement. The machine is foldable and can be stored when not in use.

The machine features a large LCD monitor to display all the important details about your performance. The monitor display information like time, count, stroke per minute, distance covered, calories burnt, pulse rate and watt. The display monitor offers 12 programs which include manual as well as 6 pre-set ones. There is a provision of connection the chest strap to monitor that detects the heart rate.

The machine features great comfort with the molded saddle that brings maximum comfort and balance while working out is maintained via the non-slip foot pedals which are compatible with multiple shoe size. The pedals are oversized with Velcro strap for easy movement. The seats are frictionless due to padding and the handles are padded that prevent blistering while working out. The machine is able to support a weight of around 275 lbs and height of around 6ft.

#8. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

WaterRower Natural Review

The rower machine is manufactured by Water Rower and is known for its patented WaterFlywheel design which mimics the realistic dynamics of boat moving through water and imparts the exclusive benefits obtained by rowing a boat.

The major highlight of the rowing machine is its handcrafted body made of solid Ash Wood with a smooth finish of honey oak stain with Danish oil. The natural body of the machine makes it raw, durable and user efficient. The machine has patented WaterFlyWheel which has dynamics of a real boat. The water Flywheel consists of two paddles within enclosed water tank that provides natural resistance with a feeling of rowing in real water. The machine doesn’t require a motor since sufficient resistance is created by the flywheel and water tank. The machine can be compacted and stored.

It is equipped with a Series 4 performance monitor which is user-friendly and technically sound. The monitor displays information about your performance and health which includes workout intensity, heart rate, zone bar, stroke rate, duration of workout and distance covered. The monitor is also compatible with heart rate chest strap and receiver that enables you to achieve your goals through the optimized workout session. The monitor supports USB device via which you can download your performance data.

Due to the use of solid ash wood, the device is able to absorb sound and vibration that increases the overall performance along with smooth operation. The wood makes the entire machine durable and for comfort, the machine has dual rails with four corner wheels that enhance the stability of the seat. The seats slide smoothly across the wooden rails and the resistance completely depends on the speed of paddling. It doesn’t require much maintenance and oiling as it doesn’t contain parts that tend to wear out with time. It is light in weight and can support a weight of up to 700 lbs.

Introduction to Rowing Machines


Rowing machines are great as they are based on the design of rowing boats and are trending these days as new age fitness equipment. They can be used at home or gym and doesn’t require any assistance or gym trainers. They put less strain on muscles, burn your calories and help you continue your routine exercise at the convenience of homes. There are huge benefits of rowing machines and was found to be very helpful for people suffering from an injury to stay fit. Here are few reasons why you must immediately purchase a rowing machine.

  • Full Body Workout – If you have been looking for equipment that will help you with the complete workout, your search is over on the rowing machine. The rowing machine involves workout of all lower and upper body muscles that help in strengthening and toning of muscles. The machine can give you the perfect sculpted muscles with the complete body training.
  • Low Impact – The machine is known for its low impact and non-weight bearing feature and doesn’t stress you. The chances of injury, muscle tear; joint pain etc is very less. The low impact feature of rowing machine makes it ideal for use by senior citizens, injured athletes and for people recovering from surgery or injury. Running for long time impacts you knee but this can be altered by using the low impact rowing machine.
  • Work at home – Most of us make promises to hit the gym or join a yoga class or aerobic session but lack of time stands as the nebulous devil. The rowing machine can compensate for all as it offers total body workout and it can be done in the comfort of home without compromising on time. The machine offers efficient workout session and values your time.
  • Lose weight and burn calories – The rowing machine is a great aerobic workout and the intensity can be customised as per your requirement. It strengthens every muscle in your body and is known to aid rapid weight loss. It is a calorie burning machine and on using it intensely you can expect to burn around 600 to 1000+ calories per hour which is equivalent or more as compared to other gym equipment. It tones and tightens up your body and makes you tip-top summer ready.
  • Enhance Metabolism and Cardiovascular – Rowing machine is known to enhance the rate of metabolism by increasing the flow of oxygen around the body. It also helps in improving cardiovascular system by enhancing heart functions, increased carbohydrate utilization and improve blood circulation system for the heart.
  • Easy workout session – It is for sure that the machine aids in weight loss, toning and burning of calorie but along with that, it can also reduce the level of stress. According to some reports, it was found the rowing stimulates centers in your brain that trigger the release of endorphins. Relax and workout while listening to music or watching TV.

Types of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines mimic the technique of rowing on water and this is useful for complete body workout that focuses on strengthening the core, toning all muscles, improves cardiovascular system and is easy to master. It has a sliding seat along with oar-like fixtures and you have to paddle them using the hands and legs. There are different types of rowing machines depending on your requirement.

  • Air Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Water Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Piston Resistance Rowing Machines

All the machines are similar that is all use the sliding seats and oar mechanism that mimics the normal rowing activity but the only difference is the type of resistance they offer. For intense and best workout session, magnetic resistance machines are found out to be the best.

Mistakes to Avoid During Rowing Machine Workout

Although it is not a Herculean task to master the use of a rowing machine there are some mistakes that need to be avoided while using the machine for your workout session. It is important to prevent such mistakes so that you can maximum result without discomfort. Here are few mistakes that definitely need to be avoided.

  • Settings for Dampers – Damper is the little level which is present to the side of air resistant flywheels and it is important to adjust the same before starting with your workout session. It is very important for beginners to check the adjustment as high settings offer more resistance making it difficult to work out. In order to keep the workout session more effective gradually increase it and for newcomers the settings of 3 to 5 should be fine.
  • Follow the order – The rowing machine gives you result only when you work at certain pace. Don’t make things difficult for you by trying to synchronize hand and leg movement simultaneously as it will drain more energy and give fewer results. Try to learn the process of rowing gradually starting from pushing your legs, pivot back with hips where shoulders will pass your pelvis and followed by pulling your arms to the chest.
  • No hunching back – This is a strict rule to be followed where you are not supposed to hunch back at any point of time but keep your back straight. Hunching may lead to discomfort and affect your body while working out. Sit straight on the seat, tighten the belly or core muscles, and relax the shoulders and workout on the rowing movement.
  • Arm Movement – The rowing machine is not only about using your arm to complete the workout session but also equivalently use your legs. Don’t stress your arms too much by putting a pressure on it but the focus should be on spending 60% power through leg push, 20% through cores and rest 20% using your arms.
  • No Jerky Motion and Stop Rushing – Try to master the rowing machine gradually and ensure that you don’t rush into the process. Mastering to control your body while sliding forward and back again is difficult but don’t rush into it. The first half involves the drive where you legs push and arms pull and second half is resuming the calm position. Don’t run the session as if you push your legs too quickly, your butt might shoot ahead and create a jerking motion. The jerking may cause injury and in order to avoid this, you need to keep a firm and controlled posture.


Fitness should be the mantra in every individual’s life and with the rowing machines exercise and fitness has become more convenient and affordable. The above provides you comprehensive information about the rowing machines, their benefits and top machines that you can consider buying. It is not at all difficult to master the motion while on rowing machine but all you need to do it take it forward gradually. We have also listed the mistakes to be avoided hoping you will keep them aside while stepping for the first time on the rowing machine. The rowing machine is a powerful beast that enables total body workout, stimulates metabolism, enhances stamina and makes your workout session a pleasurable one. If you choose one of the above-mentioned best rowing machines, we assure there will be not a second of regret and in no time you will be ready to flaunt your chiseled and sculpted body. Want to get back in shape, order one right now and get yourself working out at the comfort of your home.


  • Calvin Dimauro

    Is a rowing machine good for cardio or muscle building?

  • Micheal Willson

    Actually, a rowing machine is great for both cardio and body building.It just depends on the routine you employ. If you increase the intensity of your workouts and use high-intensity routines, you are bound to get stronger muscles. The best thing about a rowing machine is that it targets both your upper body muscles and lower body muscles at the same time hence you stand a chance of working your entire body.

    However, a rowing machine is not enough to make you huge or bulky as it works your lean muscles. This is because of the high number of reps performed when rowing whereas, for body building, you will require more weight with fewer reps. The rowing action enables you to work your cardiovascular muscles hence making it a great equipment for cardio.

  • Daniel Hall

    What can I do to fit in the machine if I am too short or too tall?

  • Micheal Willson

    If you are too tall, (6.4”) and above, you will have a hard time fitting in an ordinary rowing machine. This will strain your legs as you work out and result in incomplete rows. For short individuals, it may be difficult to do a complete row since sometimes the seat does not fully move to the front of the machine to enable correct form while in the catch position.

    The best solution for people who are either too tall or too short is to buy the machine at a physical shop as opposed to online so that it may be easy to assess if the machine is good for you or not. Look for a machine with a seat that can move all the way up if you are short and if you are tall, ensure your legs fit well in the machine and you can see the console without struggling.

  • Frank Jacobs

    My place is really small, should I forget about buying a home rowing machine?

  • Micheal Willson

    Rowing machines have advanced greatly such that they come with wheels for easy moving. They can also be folded and stored away hence saving on space. Whether you have a small apartment or otherwise, go for a rowing machine with wheels and ability to fold as it is quite convenient.

  • Glenn Ackley

    Is there a way to reduce the noise on my rowing machine?

  • Micheal Willson

    Nothing much can be done if your rowing machine makes a lot of noise. However, if you have not yet purchased a rowing machine it would be wise to take into count the different types of rowing machines available and which ones produce the least noise.

    Avoid air rowing machines are the noisiest followed by water resistance rowers. These two should be avoided if you live in an apartment or noise is an issue for whatever reason. Consider magnetic or hydraulic piston machines. They are known for providing a quiet workout session.

  • Eugenio Powell

    I am in pain after using the rowing machine. Is this normal?

  • Micheal Willson

    Rowing machines provide a very aggressive cardio workout especially since it involves your entire body. So, a little fatigue and muscle soreness after working out is not unusual. This is especially after using the machine for the first time or after a while. Simply use an ice pack to reduce the soreness and get back to working out. Your body will be used to the workouts in a while.

    However, you should be keen not to confuse muscle soreness with pain. If you are feeling a sharp sensation across your muscles or joints. Stop working out and consult a physician.

  • Eddie Fleming

    How many calories will I burn on the rowing machine?

  • Micheal Willson

    The number of calories you are bound to burn while rowing is dependent on the workout routine you are going to employ. Intense workouts tend to burn more calories but on average, a person can burn between 400 to 1000 calories per hour. You should find out more about burning calories and different workout routines involving a rowing machine. I talk about this in detail in this post.

  • Larry Lindquist

    Is a rowing machine better compared to other famous gym equipment such as a recumbent bike, treadmill, and elliptical machine?

  • Micheal Willson

    While a rowing machine is one of the best machines for cardio and strength training. It would be unfair to rank it higher than the rest. This is because the machine you chose to use depends on factors such as preference, the muscle you intend to work and health conditions among others. For instance, you cannot compare a recumbent bike to a rowing machine as a recumbent bike will benefit people with mobility issues more than a rowing machine will.

    It all boils down to knowing your needs. However, for an average person who’s healthy and looking for a good workout session, a rowing machine should be top of the list of equipment you ought to use. Also, experts warn against depending on one machine to deliver your workout needs. So, mix it up a little. Use different machines to prevent your muscles from getting used to the same workout.

  • Nathan Donaghy

    How easy or hard is it to maintain a rowing machine?

  • Micheal Willson

    Normally, it is pretty easy to maintain rowing machine. All you need to do is clean the rails, and the seat to remove dust build up. Some machines usually require a little chain maintenance so be ready to oil it every 4 to 6 months. Hydraulic rowing machines are the ones that need the highest maintenance while magnetic ones require little maintenance.

  • Harry Moody

    What is the difference between an air, hydraulic, magnetic and water rower?

  • Micheal Willson

    An air rower comes with a flywheel that produces resistance such that the harder you pull on the handle the more resistance is generated. They are very cheap due to their simplistic nature but come with the disadvantage of being very noisy.

    Hydraulic rower comprises of cylinders filled with air or a liquid which when compressed by pulling the handle, provide resistance. They are come at a cheap price and do not produce noise while in use. They can also be folded hence will save on space. This, however, comes at the cost of having a rough time while rowing and also having to stop your workout in order to adjust the resistance.

    Magnetic rowing machine allows you to adjust the flywheel during your workouts. It is quite accurate too when it comes to defining the level of resistance. This comes in handy for anyone looking to gauge their performance in the hope of improving it in the future. Magnetic rowers also come with the advantage of operating quietly throughout your workout. You will love that they are compact and need little maintenance.

    Water rowers as the name suggest use water for resistance. They’re considered the most accurate s they mimic rowing action in the water. They come with small tanks of water which you will occasionally need to refill. They are not as loud as air rowers but they still produce some sound when rowing due to the paddles hitting the water.

  • Samuel Lee

    How much does a rowing machine cost?

  • Micheal Willson

    They come will all kinds of price tags depending on the technology used in providing resistance. The cheapest kind is usually hydraulic rowers. Generally, you can get rowers with a price as low as $50 up to a stunning $1000. Some high-end rowers usually come with a steep price of $3000 and above. You just have to know your needs and match it to the rower you desire.

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