Weight loss is a goal that many people set themselves but fail to achieve. Two key factors on any fitness journey are increasing energy expenditure and consistency. Therefore, an effective way to achieve both of these goals is being able to exercise from the comfort of your own home. There is a wide range of fitness equipment available to choose from such as a treadclimber, exercise bike or elliptical. But the most effect full-body workout comes from the rowing machine.
With a rower in your home gym there will be no excuse for skipping a workout and many of the best rowing machines come with pre-programmed workouts. This will help ensure you workouts stay interesting and keep you motivated and maintain that consistency.
Finding a good rowing machine online these days is not easy, especially with so many reviews giving different recommendations. As a result, our team has done the hard work for you and come up with our list of rowers to suit a variety of different budgets and needs.
Our Top 10 Picks
Arguably the best model on the market is the Concept 2 model D, however in terms of value for money we found other machines that give it a run for its money.
For serious rowers, it doesn’t get much better than the Model D. The variable air resistance with a spiral dampener (to reduce noise) delivers more than enough resistance for even the most seasoned of athletes.
In addition, it also comes equipped with the gold standard of on-board computers, the PM5. Highly accurate, the console tracks all your basic information such as calories burned, pulse, speed, distance, pace and watts. Furthermore, it comes loaded with the ability to race other users online and has a clear backlit LCD display.
Built to withstand commercial use, the Model D can accommodate users of all shapes and sizes with a 500lbs maximum user weight and long seat rail. Overall, this machine is built to last, comfortable to use and will deliver a great full-body workout.
As you can probably guess from the name, this rower uses water resistance. A water tank fitted with a flywheel delivers a realistic indoor rowing experience. In addition to the tranquil swishing from the tank, the harder and faster you row, the more drag will be created increasing the resistance. This makes for a great workout that will test your fitness levels.
The built in S4 monitor rivals the PM5 which we saw earlier and accurately tracks your stroke rate, heart rate, duration, distance, intensity and “zone bar”. Also, it comes loaded with a selection of workouts to choose from. Not only but also, you can create your own workouts and race other users online over the Netathlon network on a virtual river.
Hand-made in the USA using natural materials, the WaterRower is a unique indoor rowing machine. However, the high quality of workmanship does come at a price and we would only recommend this model to enthusiasts.
3. Stamina ATS
Our second-best air rowing machine is the Stamina ATS. Although it doesn’t have the same level of features as the high-end models, the price is much more reasonable. Designed with sturdy steel components, an oversized seat rail and LCD display. The ATS does the basics well and provides a great cardiovascular workout.
The console is easy to use and tracks speed, distance, calories, time and has a scan feature.
As is to be expected with an air resistance rower, it does produce more noise than other types. However, it is comfortable to use on prolonged workouts without discomfort. Secondly, it is foldable with transport wheels making it easy to move around.
Costing a third of the price of the high-end rowers, the ATS is great value for money and delivers a tough workout.
Rightfully earning its place in the top 5 is the Kettler Favorit.
Equipped with an LCD display with 6 different functions, twin hydraulic pistons, 50 different levels of resistance, earlobe heart rate sensor and a weight capacity of 285lbs, there is lots to like about this model.
Each rowing arm acts independently of the other and has its own hydraulic piston. This creates a realistic rowing experience, as if you were using real rowing oars.
The performance monitor tracks the total strokes, speed, distance, pulse, calories and frequency. Included, is an earlobe sensor which allows users to accurately track their heart rate.
Comfortable to use with a great fluid rowing motion, the Favorit is a good choice for beginner to intermediate users.
5. Velocity Exercise – Best Magnetic Rowing Machine
Our first and best magnetic rowing machine is the Velocity exercise.
Built with a high quality-finish the rower comes with 8 levels of electronically controlled resistance, 12 built-in workout programs, is foldable and has a 275lbs weight capacity.
The magnetic resistance makes this model very quiet to use and the 8 levels of resistance are controlled electronically via the console. However, the highest resistance isn’t meant to build muscle and is intended for cardiovascular workouts. See our Best Home Gym page if you want to build muscle.
The large clear LCD console tracks distance, pulse, time, calories and strokes per minute. In addition, the 12 pre-set workouts automatically adjust the resistance to keep workouts interesting and effective.
All in all, this is a good quality rowing machine that is very quiet to use and comes at a reasonable price.
6. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 – Best Budget Rower
Our most budget friendly option is the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050, which can be picked up for a little over $100. It comes with 12 levels of hydraulic resistance, long seat rail, foldable design, performance monitor and a steel frame construction able to withstand a user weight of 250lbs.
Compact and lightweight, this rower can easily fit in a wardrobe, perfect for users short on space. However, it does lack transport wheels making it slightly more awkward. Despite its compact design the rower has no issues accommodating users 6 foot 4” and taller.
A no-frills, easy to use console keeps track of the time, stroke count, total count, calories burned and scan.
At a very budget friendly price, this is a great model for beginners that is comfortable to use and tracks the basic information required for a good workout.
7. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 – Best Under $250
Our favourite rower under $250 is the SF-RW5515. This is a magnetic rowing machine that comes with 8 levels of resistance, LCD display, oversized rail for tall users, large foot pedals and a 250lbs weight capacity.
While the rower doesn’t produce a tremendous amount of resistance it is whisper quiet and will help improve your fitness. In addition, it is comfortable to use and can be folded away in-between uses.
Although, the display is on the small side and lacks a backlight, it does the job and tracks calories, time, stroke count, total count and scan.
Overall, the SF-RW5515 is a good all-round rowing machine that is great value for money and explains why it is one of the most popular models on amazon.
8. Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine
A relatively new arrival in the market comes from Merax. Fitted with 8 levels of magnetic resistance, transport wheels, foldable design, 15-degree rail, LCD console and all for under $250.
Quiet and comfortable, this rower delivers adequate resistance to have you working up a sweat. In addition, the 15-degree seat rail forces you to engage extra leg drive resulting in a fluid rowing motion. While the display is small, it tracks all the basic information you will need over the course of your workout.
Merax has impressed us in the past and featured in our adjustable dumbbell buyer’s guide.
Although the Stamina Avari is comparable to the Velocity model we saw earlier. Its biggest drawback is price. Nevertheless, it has 12 workout programs, LCD backlit display, aluminium seat rail, chest strap heart rate monitor and a comfortable seat.
The resistance is quiet when in use and has plenty of variety to choose from. In addition, the rower has a clean and clear backlit LCD display with plenty of features to choose from.
Overall, this is a good quality rower, but for over $500 there are better options available in terms of value for money.
10. ProForm 550r
Last but not least, is the ProForm 550r Rower. It comes with ergonomic seat and handle, 5 levels of air resistance, large LCD display and a compact design when folded.
The console tracks distance, time, strokes per minute and total strokes.
While the features sound good on paper, there were a number of complaints and is the reason why the 550r only managed 10th in our guide.