We’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 we got impressed with few of the rowing machine models. Based upon our results, here is the curated list of the best rowing machines that we have tested:
Best Rowers for Beginners and Experts
Here are our quick recommendations for the best rowing machines for beginners and experts. These results are curated after various tests on these rowing machines by our experts and the results are determined by various factors such as price, computing features, performance.
Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2018 – Top Recommendations
We have done an extensive research on 100+ indoor rowing machine models available in the market and here are our top recommended rowing machines for you.
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.
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.
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.
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”).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Who Should Buy Rowing Machine?
1. People Looking To Lose Weight
Rowing machines are ideal for those who want a healthy and strong workout session to lose weight. It can help you burn your calories at a good rate. At any given point, you can lose as much as 377 calories in just 30 minutes of continuous training session with a rowing machine. This number is specific to individuals who weigh between 180-185 pounds, and push themselves to perform a high intensity workout.
2. People Looking To Reduce Stress
Rowing machines are used mostly for cardiovascular workouts. At least a 30-60 minutes workout session with it helps to increase the number of endorphins present in your blood. This further helps you to reduce stress and prevent the chances of you getting depressed. Your energy levels will be pumped up and with regular exercising, you will also reduce chances of heart risks.
3. People Concerned With The Health Of Their Heart
If you take to aerobic exercises with a rowing machine daily it will strengthen your heart. Not just that, it will also improve the health condition of your lungs as well. This could be quite effective for those who have recently quit smoking and is looking for a healthy lifestyle. You will lower the risk of most coronary artery diseases as it will help you maintain your heart rate. You need to maintain a low level tension on the machine, while engaging in high speed and low resistance level.
4. People Looking For A Low Impact And Without Weight Bearing Workout
Rowing machine can be used by anybody and everybody and what makes it worth the money is the fact that it has low impact and you can perform the exercise of rowing while you are seated. This makes it ideal for those who are looking for non-weight bearing exercises, or those who have weak knees, ankles and joints, or even those who have lately recovered from some surgery or injury. If you involve in high-impact exercises on a daily basis, there might be chances of you developing pain in your joints. This is one reason why a lot of people opt for rowing machines in their exercise routine.
Which Muscles Does Rowing Work?
1. Leg Muscles
When you push rowing strokes with the machine, you powerfully tend to push your legs, something that is called “catch in the rowing”. This directly affects muscles within your knees and hips, and you tend to make use of the largest muscles in your body, which includes hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus muscles. Hamstrings is located on the front side of your thighs, quadriceps is located on the back of your thighs while gluteus muscles is located on the back of your hips.
2. Midsection Muscles
The force you push through your back and arms must reach the handle of the rower. When you do that, the main muscles in your midsection tend to contract thereby stabilizing your lower spine and preventing your lower back from any kind of injury and collapse. The core of your lower back includes your rectus abdominis, obliques, erector spine and transverse abdominis. When you lean slightly backward while pulling on the rowing machine, your erector spinae is continuously helping you extend your lower back.
3. Arm Muscles
When you complete a rowing stroke, it is actually your biceps on the upper arm that bends the elbows and push your arms to pull the rower handle. Here after, your chest muscles along with your triceps help you to get ready for pushing another rowing stroke.
4. Upper Back Muscles
Everytime you draw the handle of the rower, you are involving many of your muscles within your upper back and shoulders. This happens as you pull with your arms and shoulders. The muscles within your shoulder which is called rhomboids tend to pull your shoulders back when you complete a rowing stroke.
5. Hip Muscles
Every time you complete a rowing stroke, you tend to slightly move forward. This happens because of the movement inside your arms and also partly because your hip muscles and hamstrings tend to contract. Your hip muscles work simultaneously with your rectus femoris which is located on the front side of your hips. The contraction in this area prepares you to push forward and get ready for the next rowing stroke.
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.
Comparative Reviews Of Top 5 Rowing Machine Brands
1. Concept 2 Rower
The Concept 2 Rower is one of the most popular and best selling rowing machine brand in the market. They come in two types of models: Model D and Model E. While the Model D is reasonably priced, the experience you get is the same as rowing a boathouse. It is a sturdy looking rowing machine that is made with steel and aluminum and comes with ample leg room. Overall it weighs a total of 57 pounds. The Model E comes with a monitor that is fully functional and gives you all the vital information of your workout routine. It can also be used by those who suffer from some kind of lower back pain or those with some kind of lower back disability.
Concept 2 Rowers are great for total body workout using air resistance. You can easily fold them and store them in any space. Mostly designed for home use, these rowers provide you with full range motion that is the same as rowing on water. The experience can be both challenging as well as fun. Your largest muscles in the your body are continuously working as the contract and release while rowing.
2. Kettler Rower
Kettler is a famous German brand that was founded in the year 1949. There are four models that comes with this brand: Coach E, Coach M, Kadett, Favorit. Coach E is the top rowing machine from Kettler that comes with 12 preset workout programs and with 3 years of warranty. Coach M comes with magnetic resistance that can be manually controlled and support 16 additional exercises. Kadett is the most expensive hydraulic rowing machine from Kettler that comes with a warranty of three years. Favorit hardly weighs 44 pounds and can even be folded. It further comes with 50 levels of hydraulic resistance.
All of the rowing machines from Kettler comes with a maximum of three years of warranty. With some of the models such as Coach M and Coach E you can also perform heart rate control workouts. The best part about Kettler rowing machines is that they come with easy-to-attach plates that can support for up to 16 other exercises as well, apart from rowing. You can store these rowers in an upright position as well as fold them.
3. Lifecore Rower
Lifecore is an American brand that was founded in the late 90s. They are a leading fitness retailer to whom the customer’s demands matter more than anything else. The rowing machines from LifeCore are home friendly and can even be used in a gym. There are three models in their rowing machines: R88 Compact, R88 Pro, R100. The R88 Compact is their most affordable model amongst the three and is ideal to be used only at home that comes with six levels of resistance. The R88 Pro also comes with six levels of resistance and ample foot rest space. There are however no preset workout options with this rowing machine. The R100 rowing machine from Kettler can be used both at home and in gyms. It comes with 16 levels of resistance and 11 preset workout programs.
All rowing machines from Kettler comes with at least 3 years of warranty up to a lifetime, and enabled with wireless heart monitor to help users make the most of their workout routine. Both R88 Pro and R100 comes with ample foot rest for a comfortable rowing session. If you are looking for rowing machines that can also save you space then these are ideal for you.
4. Proform Rower
Proform is a leading name in fitness equipment industry designing and manufacturing world class cardio workout machines for decades. With the Proform rowing machines you can enjoy comfortable cardio as well as full body fitness routines. The Proform 440 R Rower is the highest selling rower from Proform which is traditional in design and comes with a low-pulley station that allows for intensive upper body training.
Proform rowers are budget friendly and built with ergonomic comfort along with a solid frame. It would not require you a lot of time to assemble them either. The total duration of setup will be between 45 minutes to one hour. You get a warranty of two years with Proform rowers and free part repair of 90 days. You can expect to lose up to 300-500 calories per hour irrespective of gender and weight with Proform rowers with resistance as high as up to 800.
5. Stamina Rower
Stamina rowers are both affordable as well as high quality. They can be used by trainers at entry level as well as those looking for intensive workout session. If you want a smooth workout session within a sturdily constructed rowing machine then the Stamina rowers are ideal for you. The seat is padded well and is comfortable with sliding feature. There is ample space in the footpad and can accomodate trainers of all shoe sizes.
You can easily fold the steel frame and they also come with rolling wheels for you to port them from one room to another. The monitor is easy to read and displays all vital informations of your workout from time, speed, distance to calories burnt. Overall, the Stamina rowers are best in class for those looking for a cost effective home friendly rowing machine.
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.