Rowing machines provide a total body workout unlike any other fitness equipment. From aerobic to strength, there are a ton of types and features to meet your exercise needs. From basic to full interactive like the Hydrow, rowing in place has never been more fun.
Of note, there is a full guide to Hydrow as it is so unique, it deserves its own analysis and is not included in the listing of the 11 rowing machines below.
For those who are competitive or like being on the water, these offer great training sessions for when you can’t get to your local rowing spot.
Beyond rowing, it can increase your running capabilities or provide a base for functional fitness. This article provides rowing machine benefits, types, and top 11 to choose from… so get ready for one of the most intense and rewarding workouts out there.
Why You Need A Rowing Machine
Using a rower machine has many benefits, especially for weight loss, increasing stamina, and toning and building muscles.
More specifically, using a rower functions as effective aerobic exercise, which is an important part of any workout regiment. In fact, rowing machines are a great tools to use when trying to get your heart rate up and increase your oxygen intake for a cardio workout.
Regular aerobic exercise can lead to a large number of health benefits, including weight loss. increased stamina, and a stronger immune system. And, because using a rower requires the use of a number of major muscle groups, it is a great full body workout.
Targeted Muscle Groups
Speaking of muscle groups, utilizing a rower combines an upper and lower-body workout. Rowers exercise the lats, trapezii, and rhomboids to improve back strength, as well as biceps, pecs, and abs for toning arms and strengthening the core.
As far as lower body is concerned, the main leg muscles involved in using a rower include the quads, the calves, and the glutes. And, if you’re working out to lose weight, working out the lower body is the quickest way to burn calories!
Endurance and Low Impact
Some individuals are also interested in using rowers for exercise to increase endurance. Rowing workouts, at first, will certainly feel exhausting, but after a while your endurance and cardiovascular health will increase immensely.
If you’re an athlete who has joint issues, using a rower is a great way to get your cardio in without performing high-impact workouts like running or even walking.
Easy of Use and Reasonable Cost Depending on Features
While higher-end rowers can cost a large chunk of change, it’s pretty easy to find basic machines for cheap. In fact, there are a number of models available for under $200 with great features.
Plus, if you’re new to exercising with a rower, it’s fairly easy to learn! Ideal for any age or ability level, anyone interested in learning about how to use a rower can pick it up in no time!
Rowing Machines Types And Features
Did you know that there are several different rowing machine types? In fact, there are four types of rowers, each with specific benefits and drawbacks.
If space or price is the most limiting factor of your purchase, you’ll most likely want to go with a hydraulic rower. This type of machine receives its tension from the air of fluid that is compressed by the cylinder or piston.
This type of rower, although low-cost, generally lack certain attractive qualities that higher-end rowers have. More specifically, hydraulic rowers don’t allow you to pull in a straight line or synchronize your arm and leg movements.
Flywheel rowers, also called air rowers, offer a feel that is similar to outdoor rowing. This is because the rower receives resistance from the pulling motion of the exercise, which spins a flywheel and sends wind flying toward the rower.
Pulling hard increases the resistance of the rower, making this a great type or rower for anyone looking for a more natural, smoother rowing experience than they’d experience with a hydraulic rower.
Magnetic Resistance Indoor Rowers
This type of rower is characterized by being nearly silence and providing a very smooth rowing stroke. Utilizing a magnetic brake system, the magnetic resistance rower is great for anyone looking for a smooth, friction free workout.
There are also some rowers that create resistance through both wind and magnets, which provide a very difficult workout.
The final type of rower is ideal for anyone who competes, or is looking to compete, in outdoor rowing. Through use of a patented water flywheel, this rower emulates the feeling and dynamics of a boat in water.
More specifically, the WaterRower receives resistance by using the drag that occurs as water runs the tank. Because of this, the rower is almost completely silent, except for the swishing of water.
Constructed with wooden frames, or occasionally a metal frame, this model of rower is one of the most attractive looking.
Top 11 Best Rowing Machines On The Market
Now that you know a little about rowers, and the different types that are available, the next step will be deciding which exact model to purchase. As long as you keep your preferred specifications in mind, and utilize this guide, you should find a great rower to use in your workouts.
It is also important to note that there are rowing machines… and then there is Hydrow. Check out the Ultimate Guide and Tips for Hydrow to learn the differences.
This rowing machine has got it all, but it will run you a pretty penny. Specifically, this rower features a 11 inch HD smart touchscreen display, 26 different resistance levels, and a 1 year membership to iFit.
This is a magnetic resistance rower, and includes an inertia enhanced flywheel. When in use, you’ll be surprised at how quiet and energy efficient this product is.
Plus, this rower also folds up for easy storage, and features a front wheel that makes transportation a breeze.
- 30-Day iFIT Family Membership Included; Stream live & on-demand workouts on your equipment with Global Workouts & Studio Classes; Add up to 5 users; Elite trainers adjust your equipment ( dollars39 value)
- 22” HD Interactive Touchscreen Display streams on-demand iFIT workouts into your home directly on your rowing machine; Adjustable Console Angle for a variety of training both on and off your equipment
- 26 Digital Resistance Levels; Your iFIT Trainer auto-adjusts your smart rower’s resistance for an optimized workout that meets your goals and realistically simulates famous bodies of water
|Easily stored and transported||Expensive|
|Great LCD screen|
|Great for lovers of magnetic rowers|
The Merax Water Rower is a great piece of equipment, and features a large LCD monitor that isolates rowing intensity in a variety of means, including strokes, duration, calories, heart rate, and distance.
This rower is beautiful built, boasting a sleek design and solid steel construction. Plus, since this is a water rower, you can fill the tank to your desired level, thereby adjusting the resistance you feel.
Considered a space saver equipment, this rower also contains built-in wheels for easy transport, and a compact foot print that makes for convenient storage.
- 【Water Resistance】The inclined bucket design is the only water resistance rowing set in the market.The water tank holds water at a 60-degree angle with 12 hydro blades that provides resistance.
- 【Stronger Resistance Adjustment】Sleek and elegant in design with the dashing blue, Merax water rower is highly refined with solid steel construction for steady performance and durability, which supports up to 330 LBS. Unique inclined water tank ensures more powerful resistance compared to others in flat position. Get a more effective aerobic workout and your cardio health on the upswing.
- 【Quiet & Smooth Rowing】Merax water rowing machine provides a soothing glide which mimics the dynamic rowing movements across the real water. You can enjoy the relaxing sound of water splashing inside the aqua blue water tank or stream your favorite show without turning the volume too high.
|Solid design||Some individuals don’t like the feel of a water rower compared to other types|
|Adjustable resistance level|
If you’re looking for a low-price rower option, this will be a product you’ll want to check out.
Featuring a large LCD console, an adjustable magnetic resistance system, an extra long slide rail and non-slip foot pedals, this product is great for a wide variety of consumers. And, especially compared to other magnetic resistance rowers, this one comes at a very cheap price!
Plus, if you’re worried about calluses, this product utilizes a Sunny Health & Fitness Handle bar with a non-slip, foam grip to ensure comfort and safety.
- 【Legacy Equipment】 Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine, trusted by over a million satisfied customers with 12,000+ 5-star reviews. Purchase with confidence, knowing its quality has been time-tested and acclaimed
- 【Total Body Workout】 Full-body Workout with Extended Slide Rails. Engage & strengthen legs, glutes, core, back, arms & shoulders. Rowing activates multiple muscles, promoting balanced development & strength. Unlock your potential
- 【Ergonomic Comfort】 Experience unmatched comfort with our Rowing Machine. The cushioned seat provides support and coziness for longer rows. Stay focused on your goals, free from strain and distractions. Discover exceptional comfort
|Great magnetic resistance system||Cheap prices often leads to not as high quality parts used|
|Non-slip foam grip, extra long slide rail, non-slip foot pedals|
This air rower provides an efficient, smooth rowing stroke and features an electronic performance monitor-display that shows a wide range of exercise data.
With large foot-plates that accommodate users of any size, and nylon foot straps that hold feet securely in place, rest assured you will not hurt yourself from falling off this piece of equipment. And, with sturdy steel construction, this machine will not break down on you easily.
If you’re a price conscious consumer, this might not be the product for you. As far as rowers go, it’s in about the middle of what you can expect to pay for a rower.
- MATCHES YOUR PACE: The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1402 provides an all-in-one cardiovascular workout that burns calories, tones the upper and lower body, improves flexibility and boosts heart health. A carefully-designed combination of performance and comfort-enhancing elements help to ensure you attain the fitness results you desire.
- INTUITIVE AIR RESISTANCE: The dynamic Air Transfer System is easy to use - row harder to up your intensity; ease off for less.
- TRACK WORKOUT METRICS: View distance, speed, time, strokes per minute, total strokes and calories burned on the multi-function LCD monitor. SCAN mode cycles through each of these metrics in real-time.
|Great electronic performance monitor display||Pricey compared to other rowers on the list|
|Not easily broken; high quality build|
This rower utilizes a magnetic resistance system, and features 16 different levels of tension for a wide range of intensity options.
With an adjustable console angle, anti-skid pedals and ergonomic handlebars, this rower is a great option for anyone looking to improve their fitness. And, since the magnetic resistance is virtually silent, you will be able to workout without worrying about disturbing other members of your household.
This product, as is the case with the magnetic rower listed above, is very budget friendly!
- FROM BRAND ECHANFIT: Enabling you to enjoy a better workout journey through professional indoor cardio training machines is what we do. We have redefined the fitness experience and wholeheartedly served for over 10 years. We offer you a one year for replacement parts and answer in less than 12 business hours.
- SILENT MAGNETIC RESISTANCE: Deliver you a smooth and quiet workout and fill you with energy while indoor rowing, without worrying about disturbing your family.
- 16 LEVELS OF TENSION: The folding magnetic rowing machine has 16 levels of adjustable resistance and you can customize workout plans to match your fitness level.
|Practically silent while in use||Reportedly, this rower won’t last as long as other, higher quality rowers|
|Many helpful features, including anti-skid pedals and ergonomic handlebars|
Unlike most rowing machines, this piece from Sunny Health & Fitness has an incline feature that allows your body to sit upright and create a dynamic workout for your arms, legs, and abs.
In fact, with 5 levels of incline, and a padded seat that keeps you comfortable while working out, you’ll find this rower gives a completely dynamic and unique workout.
This rower, despite being relatively unique, is also quite cheap, perfect for budget-conscious workout buff.
- INCLINE FEATURE: While rowing the sleek and solid aluminum rail inclines with your body to create a dynamic, fluid motion giving you an effective ab and leg workout. MAX WEIGHT 350 LBS.
- FULL MOTION ARMS: Unlike traditional rowers, non-slip grip handlebars provide full motion capabilities giving user an authentic rowing experience.
- 5 LEVELS OF INCLINE: Compact and lightweight (39 lbs.) dynamic rower is built with 5 incline levels for an incredible quad and arm workout.
|Upright incline feature||Some individuals don’t like rowing while sat up|
|Relatively less expensive item|
The Scwinn Crewmaster Rower is on the expensive side of rowing machines included on this list, but it comes with a significant amount of great features. In fact, with 10 different levels of magnetic resistance, and a large LCD screen, it will give you a dynamic, intense workout.
A quiet yet powerful option for any home gym, this rower also boast an oversized seat for comfort, and stable pedals fit with feet straps for extra security.
Plus, this company offers a great warranty deal if your rower does break before too much time has passed.
- Large LCD display tracks time, count, distance, stroke, calories, recovery and pulley
- Adjustable console provides easy line of sight and ergonomically adapts for height and user preference
- Convenient easy-fold design, stows the rail vertically when not in Use
|Great warranty options||Most expensive option|
|Quiet yet powerful||Doesn’t have as many resistance levels as some other options|
|Large LCD screen|
This rowing machine is a great option, especially for workout buffs who are worried that a rower in their home will take up too much space. In fact, it splits into two parts, making for easy storage.
Although assembly is easy, and uses only 8 screws, if you’re not looking to put together your own rower, this product might not be the best for you!
The monitor on this rower has been dumbed the Performance Monitor 5, and reports a wide range of data to the user, including wireless heart rate via belt.
- Integrated Device Holder allows you to keep your Smart Phone or Tablet securely in place. Compatible with over 40+ apps.
- Space Recommendations: Assembled: 8 ft x 2 ft (244 cm x 61 cm) With Clearance for Use: 9 ft x 4 ft (274 cm x 122 cm) For Storage: 25 in x 33 in x 54 in (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cm)
- Included: Concept2 RowErg, Performance Monitor 5 Computer (PM5), Device Holder, User Manual, Pm5 Quick Start Guide, all tools for assembly and simple to follow instructions.
|Takes up very little space||Not fit for someone who doesn’t like assembling their own product|
|Includes a wireless heart rate belt|
This machine is characterized by its solid aluminum flywheel, and a quiet magnetic resistance system. And, with 10 levels of resistance, it makes for a dynamic and adjustable workout for anyone.
This product also features a digital monitor that tracks a wide range of exercise data. You can even watch workout videos or movies while working out with this rower.
- 【SUPER QUIET 】 This rowing machine is designed with a high-quality solid aluminum flywheel, aluminum slide rail, and no-touch magnetic resistance, which will make the workout super quiet and more smooth. It will be the best choice of rowing machine for home use.
- 【SAVE SPACE 】 With the special design, you can put this rowing machine in standing position for storage, it occupies less than 0.15 square meters of space. It also designs with dual caster wheels, so we can move it easily to anywhere you want it to be. Please keep the children away from a standing rowing machine.
- 【 FULLY ADJUSTABLE 】 With 10 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, the machine will fit for the different workout plans for beginner or experts; With adjustable non-slip pedals, it can fit different sizes of feet; The angle of the digital monitor can be adjusted to the most comfortable angle to read the display for the users with different height.
|Comes with a screen fit to play workout videos||Reportedly takes up a lot of space and doesn’t store well|
|Very solidly build|
This rower is the lowest price option on this list, but that doesn’t mean it is the worst. In fact, utilizes an adjustable hydraulic cylinder for resistance and offers a smooth rowing workout.
With textured footplates and foam padded handles, this rower is worth every penny that you’ll pay for it! Plus, its foldable arms make storage a breeze.
- STAMINA ROWING MACHINE - Our full-motion rower provides effective, natural rowing movement suitable for toning major muscle groups and stimulating the metabolism for fat burning. Experience more and support your overall cardiovascular health with our rower.
- ALL-IN-ONE CARDIO EQUIPMENT - This versatile hydraulic rowing machine offers different workout possibilities suitable for strength training, targeting specific muscle groups, and toning the overall body and muscular core.
- HYDRAULIC CYLINDER RESISTANCE - This row machine cardio is equipped with a ball-bearing roller system that allow low-impact movements that mimic rowing on the water. It offers 12 levels of adjustable hydraulic cylinder resistance for a smooth rowing stroke.
|Very low price!||Doesn’t stand up to higher priced rowers in terms of build quality|
|Foldable arms for easy storage|
The final product on this list is another water rower, and is made of an ash and honey oak that absorbs all sounds and vibrations. It is on the refined side of rowing machines.
With a series 4 performance monitor, rest assured that this product will track any workout data you might want to look at, including heart rate, stroke rate, and even intensity.
Reportedly, this rower replicates the actual feel of rowing in the water.
- THE ORIGINAL WATERROWER - HANDCRAFTED AND BUILT TO LAST - Designed in the mid '80s by Yale and US National Team Rower John Duke. WaterRower continues to combine stylish design, handcrafted workmanship, our unique WaterFlywheel resistance and ethically sourced materials create the world's finest rowing simulator
- MADE IN USA - Hand-built in Rhode Island; all timber used in the manufacture of wooden WaterRower rowing machines is sourced from sustainably managed hardwood forests in the Appalachian Mountains. The A1 Oak Rowing Machine is specifically designed to be lightweight, portable, space-saving, and vertically stackable. In fact, 3 A1 rowing machines can be stored vertically in the same amount of space as ONE indoor cycling bike!
- SMOOTH - Water rowers use a water-filled flywheel to provide resistance as you row. The resistance is created by the paddle-like blades of the flywheel moving through the water, creating a smooth and natural resistance that closely resembles the feeling of rowing on water. Like water, the harder you fight, the more resistance you get
|Replicates the feel of rowing in water||Very heavy and hard to transport|
|Fantastic series 4 performance monitor||Reportedly can be hard for very tall people to use|
|Features an attractive wood build|
From basic users hoping for a solid work to competitive rowers, these rowing machines offer a range of features to get you “on the virtual water” and moving. Make sure to utilize proper form and work into how much you row at a time, as its addicting. For those looking for the ultimate rowing experience, check out the Ultimate Hydrow Guide.