If you’re crafting your dream home gym or hunting for cardio equipment to spruce up your at-home workouts, one of the best rowing machines should be high on your list. As a low-impact cardio machine that yields big results, stationary rowers are a head-to-toe workout. Unlike treadmills, which predominantly work the lower body and core, a rowing machine challenges major muscles during each stroke—legs, glutes, core, arms, back and shoulders included. Rather than sprinting down a track or partaking in plyometric workouts, both of which place high-impact stress on your joints, rowing is much gentler method of burning calories and developing muscles.
A myriad of brands have launched their own rowing machines recently due to an increase in popularity for at-home cardio workouts. As such, the rowing machine market is full of options to meet all of your needs—budget, space and technical capabilities included. We’ve thoroughly browsed a variety of brands and customer and expert reviews to find the best rowing machines to shake up your home gym.
Dimensions: 24 x 96 x 20 inches | Weight: 112 pounds | Resistance: Air | Display: PM5 LCD
There are many reasons competitive rowing coaches favor this particular rower, but chief among them is the ease of use. While many collegiate-level rowers have previous experience, schools also have a high percentage of walk-on athletes. This machine is good for both learners and pros. In addition, it’s relatively affordable (particularly compared to other options) and incredibly durable—which it needs to be to stand up to the demand of rigorous training day after day. Resistance is delivered via a flywheel and damper, and a nickel-plated chain requires occasional oiling.
The RowErg’s performance monitor tracks speed, strokes per minute, kilometers rowed, and more. It can also connect via Bluetooth to a multitude of apps (including Concept2’s own free app, ErgData). Conveniently, it also has a device holder for your phone or tablet, which means you can catch up on shows while you get your workout in.
What the reviews say: “After buying lower-end workout products to save on cost and ultimately being disappointed, I decided to buy the best. It was certainly worth it. This thing has a very solid build, is easy to assemble, easy to disassemble, and works like a charm.”
Easy to assemble
Large max weight capacity of 500 pounds
Onboard games improve the experience
Some users cite an uncomfortable seat
Screen is outdated compared to newer models
Dimensions: 86 x 25 x 47 inches | Weight: 145 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: LCD
What makes rowing such a challenging workout is the resistance. In some machines, that resistance is caused by water; in others, it’s moving air. In magnetic rowing machines, that resistance happens when two strong magnets move past each other. That translates to a quieter and more compact machine. While there are myriad magnetic rowers, Hydrow is arguably the best. Sometimes called the Peloton of rowers, it has a 22-inch mounted HD touchscreen (that can pivot 25 degrees in each direction) with more than 500 pre-recorded rowing sessions.
If you jump into one of the river sessions, it can actually feel like you’re on the water, thanks to the smooth-as-silk 10-roller seat. It’s worth noting, however, that if you want to experience the full capabilities of the machine (by which I mean all the live and on-demand classes), you’ll need to pay an additional $38 per month for a subscription to the online classes.
What the reviews say: “Awesome machine. This is definitely the “Peloton” of rowing so expect to pay a monthly fee to get it with the full experience. The machine itself is heavy but very sturdy and sleek.”
Large, colorful display
Built-in speakers pump up the tunes
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
More expensive than many other options
Limited activity options without a paid subscription
Dimensions: 86 x 23 x 40 inches | Weight: 103 pounds | Resistance: Water | Display: Full-HD touchscreen
If you’re looking to be challenged with your rowing machine, literally and figuratively, the Ergatta is a good choice. While it has the same functionality as other rowers—you can do free, steady-state rows and workouts of your own design—it also has a game-based workout platform wherein you can virtually race other rowers, do training sessions, compete in challenges, and more with the 17.3 inch HD monitor. A horizontally mounted water tank delivers the adjustable resistance.
Like Hydrow, there’s a monthly membership fee, though it’s more affordable ($29 per month) for the additional features. And it’s definitely worth noting that with a cherry wood frame, this Ergatta is visually stunning. While you could store it vertically, we’d understand if you wanted to leave it out all the time for guests to admire.
What the reviews say: As Vetted’s gear editor notes, “The Ergatta Rower is perhaps one of the nicest pieces of at-home fitness equipment I’ve ever used. After loaning it from a friend, I’ve fallen in love with its blend of natural materials and high-tech features that elevate any workout.”
Vibrant touchscreen display
Beautiful, quality craftsmanship
Supports up to 500 pounds and a 40-inch inseam
Foot straps become loose over time
Dimensions: 90 x 18.9 x 23.6 inches | Weight: 60.9 pounds | Resistance: Magnetic | Display: LCD
Although it’s not the most advanced piece of gym equipment on the market, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower offers a bundle of functions for a steal. The quiet magnetic system has eight adjustable resistance levels to alter the intensity when you need it. There’s also an LCD console to track your workout by displaying time, calories, total reps and more.
Comfort elements include a padded seat, anti-slip handlebars and foot pedals, as well as a heavy-duty steel frame that helps keep the machine stable. Plus, the 48-inch slide rail length means taller rowers can benefit too. When your workout is finished, built-in wheels make for easy maneuvering if you want to hide the rower away.
What the reviews say: “I absolutely love this machine! The fact that the foot pedals rock forward and back works the legs so much better! The rower is super quiet and sturdy. I love the feature of setting a time and the timer works backwards.”
More affordable than many other models
Extra-long 48-inch side rail
Customers comment on the finicky folding process
Dimensions: 84 x 21 X 45 inches | Weight: 106.5 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: None
If you’re interested in rowing but don’t have a lot of space to spare, you might consider a foldable rig. Echelon’s Row Connected Rowing Machine relies on a magnetic resistance system and is one of the few that truly folds (most are simply made to be stored upright or taken apart).
Beyond its origami-like capabilities, what sets this ergometer apart is the resistance buttons built into the handlebar, so you can toggle the intensity up or down without mid-stroke. Another cool design element is the device holder, where you can place a phone or tablet.
What the reviews say: “It was a breeze to assemble and I love that it collapses to maximize space in your workout area. There is an abundance of classes to pick from for all skill levels and that makes this an easy piece to add to your workout routine!”
Folds in half to save space
Bluetooth resistance controller built into the handles
Suite of live and on-demand classes
This model does not feature a built-in screen
Limited functionality without membership
Dimensions: 82 x 22 x 54 inches | Weight: 163 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: HD touchscreen
Rowing machines have become increasingly high-tech in the last few years, but NordicTrack’s RW900 might take the cake. With resistance delivered by magnets across a wide 26 levels, it’s among the most adjustable magnetic rowers. And not only can you stream classes on-demand with personal trainers, but your trainer can adjust your resistance automatically so you can focus on your technique (and getting your workout in).
Once you’ve completed your row, you get access to workout stats on the 22-inch rotating Smart HD touchscreen and tips on what you can do to improve. NordicTrack also has a patented SpaceSaver Design, meaning it folds for easy storage.
What the reviews say: “This rower was easy to put together. It’s surprisingly quiet. The workout programs are very well done. I strongly recommend.”
Powerful 30-watt sound system
10-year frame warranty
26 resistance levels
Users report that trainers don’t mirror intended workout
No buttons—everything is accessed through the touchscreen
How We Chose The Best Rowing Machines
When selecting the best rowing machines, we base our decisions on customer reviews, expert insights, value and overall quality. We routinely conduct research on rowing machines to find the latest models on the market that provide the best experience for the price. This includes a comparison of tech features, materials, warranties, payment options and resistance specs. As an investment piece for your home gym, a rowing machine shouldn’t be purchased on a whim. This round-up will help guide your decision to find the best equipment that suits your space and budget. This roundup is updated regularly to ensure it reflects the best options on the market and the most accurate information. It was last updated in December 2022.
Is A Water Or Magnetic Rower Better?
Rowing machines rely on resistance to help you work up a sweat, and the two most common forms of resistance are water and magnetism. Which one is right for you depends not only on your needs, but your environment as well. For instance, magnetic rowing machines are incredibly quiet which might come in handy if you live in an apartment, but the technology doesn’t mimic the rowing-on-water experience that so many enjoy. Water rowers, on the other hand, offer a unique experience that resembles the natural movement of rowing in water, but they tend to be more expensive and require a bit of maintenance. Again, the one you choose will be a matter of personal preference.
What Are Rowing Machines Good For?
A rowing machine mimics the same motion and resistance as actual water rowing. Not only is it a cardio sport that increases your heart rate for endurance, it’s a strength training workout that targets major muscles across your body. You can set the resistance and pace to increase or reduce the intensity as and when you want. One of its major benefits above other cardio machines is that it’s low-impact and places limited stress on your joints. As you get into a rowing rhythm, your body will start to naturally move through the motion. But the workout is tough—you can’t slack off without losing momentum and as a result, it constantly challenges you.
Is Rowing A Good Way To Lose Weight?
Yes, rowing is an effective form of cardio for weight loss if you want to drop some body fat. One study among 20 participants found that a 6-week indoor rowing program decreased both fat mass and total body fat percentage. This is due in part to the cardio element, which helps elevate your heart rate and torch calories. It’s also an excellent machine for boosting your lean muscle as rowing recruits around 85% of the total muscles in your body. Combining cardio and strength training exercises is especially effective at boosting and maintaining your weight loss efforts.
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