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The Best Home Rowing Machines to Boost Your Fitness and Health

Lately, there has been growing concerns as more and more people suffer from the negative effects of a sedentary life.

But you can avoid this by making physical fitness a top priority.

If you can’t find time to go to the gym, you should invest in a professional piece of workout equipment such as a rowing machine.

These have become quite popular over the years as they offer all the benefits of rowing on the water, without having to leave the comfort of your home.

Furthermore, with your own rowing machine you can decide when you want to work out, whether it’s early in the morning or late at night.

Plus, since the machine is in your home things such as adverse weather conditions won’t be a hindrance to your workout routine.

In this post, we take a look at the best home rowing machines available to buy, and help you to make the final choice which best suits your needs.

Why Buy a Rowing Machine?

As mentioned earlier, there are many benefits to owning a rowing machine including the positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.

However, there are other benefits worth knowing about as well.

Health Benefits

One of the most important benefits is the physical and mental benefits of having a workout machine at your disposal.

It will lead to a fit and toned physique as well as a clear and relaxed state of mind.

Rowing offers a full-body workout targeting all the major muscle groups in the body to include the legs, arms, back and shoulders, abs and butt.

It offers a versatile workout, giving you the option of steady cardio along with high and low intensity options.

Rowing allows you to personalize the workouts to suit your fitness level and ability.

Although you can do high-intensity workouts with a rowing machine, the risk of injury is far less than that of other exercise machines such as a treadmill. [1]

Convenience

A rowing machine allows you to control the intensity level that works best for you, so it’s ideal at any fitness level. 

It is also a convenient change from going to a gym.

Since you can choose when and where you want to workout, it is a good pick if your job requires you to work odd hours.

New Skill

The rowing machine mimics water rowing without having to actually be in the water.

However, keep in mind that rowing is a sport and the machine allows you to learn a new skill and you may even become an expert rower overtime.


What to Look for When Buying a Rowing Machine for Your Home

If you’ve never used or purchased a rowing machine before, you should pay attention to some very important features so that you get value for your money.

Type of Home Rower

There are some popular types of rowers each with their own benefits.

One option is the flywheel which offers a smooth rowing stroke.

It gets resistance from the wind and allows you to control the intensity by how fast you pull the device.

Another variation is the magnetic resistance rower, ideal if you want a quiet device since it uses a magnetic brake system.

Another quiet option is the hydraulic rowing machine which gets tension from fluid and air.

It is more cost-effective than the other versions and is great for those on a budget.

There is also the water rower which is ideal for persons who have experience with traditional outdoor rowing.

It features a water flywheel that imitates a boat moving through water.

Intensity and Resistance Levels 

Whether you are a novice or an expert it’s important to find a machine that offers a range of intensity levels.

This will help you to tweak your workout based on your fitness level and you’ll be able to increase or decrease the intensity as you see fit.

Even if you’ve never used a rowing machine before it’s important to think long-term.

Find a selection that offers levels for both beginners and pros so that it will still challenge you as you get more experienced.

Purpose

Think about your reason for wanting a rowing machine and then ensure that the option you select takes these factors into consideration.

If you want an intense, sweat-inducing workout then opt for a device with a range of intensity levels.

But if you prefer a relaxing rowing experience, opt for a machine with an ergonomic design, padded seats and handles for extra comfort.

Space Saving

If you have a small space ensure that your rowing machine is lightweight and comes equipped with wheels for portability.

It’s also useful if your rowing machine can fold away and be stored after use.

Noise

If you want to use your rower while watching tv, then you’ll need a quiet device.

Furthermore, if you live in an apartment a noisy machine may disturb your neighbours–especially if you plan to work out during odd hours of the day or night.

Also be sure to read user reviews to make sure your rower won’t start to squeak overtime.

Assembly

Some machines are easier to assemble than others.

So, if you don’t want to take on this headache, it may be sensible to purchase professional assembly.

Price, Reliability and Warranty

Rowing machines range in price which is based on the features they offer, their size, weight capacity and a range of other features.

Pay special attention to the warranty and return policy of your purchase and read the reviews for reliability and quality.


The Best Home Rowing Machines

Now that you know the features to look out for let’s look at some of the best home rowing machines on the market today.

These were chosen based on customer feedback, price and special features.

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

This rowing machine boasts a backlit LCD display, has ANT+ compatibility for apps, heartrate monitoring and wireless Bluetooth feature. 

It lets you connect to other fitness apps and has games for your entertainment.

Plus, it comes with a free ErgData app so you can record and store workouts on your smartphone or save them to a USB flash drive.

This quiet device has a 14-inch seat height and is made with steel rear legs and aluminum front legs.

It boasts a nickel-plated steel chain with a powder coat finish and has a weight capacity of 500 pounds. 

The resistance levels range from 1 to 10 and it is simple to assemble.

The rower has wheels for portability and separates into two pieces for easy, convenient storage.

There is also a Concept 2 model E, which boasts a glossy finish and has welded steel construction.

It sits 6 inches higher than the model D and weights 65 pounds while model E weights 57.

Some buyers had issues with Bluetooth connectivity and with trying to save their workout data.

There was also mention of the machine being better for cardio than for resistance training.

Nonetheless, this is a solid piece of equipment with many enviable features.

Pros: Allows you to store workouts on your smartphone or USB device, 500-pound weight capacity, separates in two for easy storage. 

Cons: May have issues with Bluetooth connection and saving workout, might be better for cardio than resistance training.

Related: Concept2 Model review

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2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine

This lightweight rowing machine weighs 20 pounds and boasts 12 resistance levels. 

It features a well-equipped digital monitor which displays the calories burned, count total, time and has a scan function.

Plus, the hydraulic resistance system gives a smooth, quiet row.

The ergonomic design boasts foam handlebars offering different levels of adjustable tension.

The wide cushioned seats help to relieve pressure points in your tailbone and the textured, pivoting foot pedals are for added comfort. 

The frame of the machine is made from heavy-duty steel and has a weight limit of 220 pounds—less than half the capacity of the Concept 2 model D.

Buyers complained that Sunny Health offers a limited range of motion, and that it only allows 15 minutes of rowing before it gets hot.

Also, it is not ideal for heavier persons.

Nonetheless, it’s lightweight and quite inexpensive and might be a good pick for beginners and casual rowers.

Pros: Ergonomic design for added comfort, has 12 resistance levels, simultaneously targets several muscle groups.

Cons: Weight capacity of only 220 pounds, can only be used in 15-minute intervals, gets hot after a while.

See Prices >


3. NordicTrack RW Rower

The NordicTrack RW rowing machine comes with interactive personal training powered by iFit as well as a 1-year membership.

It gives you access to a variety of studio rowing classes any time you want.

Other perks include, elite trainers, an expansive workout library, live interactive training and new, daily workouts at your disposal.  

This machine boasts a 22- inch, HD smart touchscreen display and offers 26 coach-controlled resistant levels designed to mimic real-life water resistance.

It has a moulded, ergonomic seat and an adjustable console angle for an immersive, energy-efficient workout.

The silent magnetic resistance and inertia enhanced flywheel ensures a quiet workout anytime of the day or night.

Furthermore, NordicTrack features front-mounted transports wheels and folds up after use for easy transportation and storage.

Several buyers had issues with their screen dying and there were lots of complaints about not being able to activate the iFit service.

Furthermore, the machine is expensive and there is no Bluetooth support.

Nonetheless, the large, HD touchscreen display makes it a good option if you can afford it.

Pros: Smart touchscreen display, comes with iFit membership,26 coach-controlled resistance levels.

Cons: No Bluetooth support, issues activating the iFit membership, screen may start to give issues.

See Prices >


4. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

This magnetic rowing machine boasts an alloy steel frame and can accommodate users of almost any size. 

It has a large LCD console that displays your calorie count, time, total count and scan mode to help track your fitness goals — much like its counterpart the SF-RW1205.

However, this device can accommodate 30 pounds more at a 250-weight capacity.

It boasts extra-long slide rails, and magnetic resistance so you can adjust intensity of your workout with a simple twist of the tension knob. 

You can increase or decrease the levels which range from 1 to 8.

This rower has textured, non-slip foot pedals, and foot straps for extra balance.

Furthermore, it has a padded seat and foam grip handlebars.

It is also portable, thanks to the built-in transportation wheels and has floor stabilizers to prevent rocking or tipping during use. 

It is easy to assemble and can be folded upright for storage in small spaces. 

Users shared that the display screen is of poor quality, and some foot straps gave out after a while.

Keep in mind it is a cost-effective unit, and a good selection for first-time users and persons on a tight budget.

Pros: Easy to store and assemble, boasts extra-long slide rails, has tension knob to adjust the resistance level. 

Cons:  Display screen is not high quality, foot straps may give out after a while, not for heavy-duty use.

Related: Sunny health rower review

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5. Stamina ATS Air Rower

The STamina ATS rower provides a low impact workout and claims to activate 86% of the body’s musculature for a tighter and stronger body.

It features dynamic air resistance and you can control the intensity level of your workout by rowing harder to increase the resistance. 

The machine has a large LCD monitor which helps to track you distance, speed, routine, time and calories burned.

It also has a padded upholstered seat with textured grip, and padded rowing handles.  

This Stamina rower boasts an oversized, angled seat rail to ensure smooth gliding and the adjustable foot plates are large enough to accommodate users of different shapes and sizes.

It has built-in wheels to easily move and store the foldable frame, and anti-skid floor protectors to prevent nicks and scratches on your floor.

The device has a 250-pound weight capacity and your purchase also comes with a 3-year warranty on the frame and 1 year on the parts.

Users noted that the device was complicated to set up, parts may break easily and that it doesn’t offer much of a challenge for seasoned users.

Keep in mind that there is a 1- year parts and 3-year frame warranty with purchase making this a good pick for beginners.

Pros: Three-year warranty, padded upholstered seat with textured grip, foldable with built-in wheels.

Cons: Complicated setup, some parts may easily break on the machine, not for intermediate users.

Related: Stamina ATS air rower review

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6. Hydrow Live Outdoor Reality Rowing Machine

This state-of-the-art rowing device has a computer-controlled electromagnetic drag mechanism which gives a smooth and quiet rowing experience. 

It has a 22-inch HD sweat-and-dust resistant touchscreen and front-facing speakers so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the river locations features on the device.

Hydrow gives you the experience of rowing on water with the added touch of hearing and seeing splashes, strokes and waves as you row. 

The ergonomically designed machine is made with commercial-grade material and has an aluminum frame with a 10-roller system cushioned seat for proper support and added comfort.

With a paid membership you have access to world-class trainers and real athletes along with 1000 pre-recorded studio and river recorded rowing sessions.

Buyers complained that the device requires internet access in order to work and they were also not pleased about the paid membership option.

But, it does offer real live rowing experience with sights and sounds, plus access to real athletes.

Pros: 22 Inch dust-resistant touchscreen, computer-controlled electromagnetic drag mechanism, live and on-demand rowing sessions.

Cons: Must pay to access trainers and other rowing sessions, requires internet connection to access features.

See Prices >


7. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

This rower mimics the experience of rowing on water and offers a full range of motion during use.

It has a multi-function electronic monitor, padded hand grips and molded seat.  

The BodyTrac Glider boasts a hydraulic cylinder to adjust the intensity of your workout.

It has a sturdy frame constructed from steel and textured footplates with straps to keep your feet secure. 

It has an easy-to-read LCD monitor which displays your total accumulated strokes, calories burned, workout time and stroke count. 

For added stability, the machine smoothly moves along a ball-bearing roller system and allows for a full-body workout while accommodating up to 250 pounds. 

This lightweight device weighs 37 pounds and has foldable arms for compact storage.  

Buyers shared that the rower is loud and some found the seat to be shaky while others noted a lack of sturdiness.

Nonetheless, this is a very cost-friendly machine and is ideal for a novice who does not want to invest in a high-priced option.

Pros: Features adjustable, hydraulic cylinder resistance, has foldable arms for compact storage.

Cons:  Makes a loud sound during use, seat might become shaky overtime, not very sturdy.

Related: Stamina body trac glider review

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8. WaterRower Home Rowing Machine

This machine from WaterRower is the only one on our list made from American ash wood, along with aluminum.

The unstained ash frame is also sealed with Danish oil.

It uses a water resistance mechanism and boasts the highest weight capacity of all the rowers we’ve mentioned today, at 660 pounds.

It has a medium sized duty seat and boasts a monitor complete with 3 information windows.

The machine comes with a few workout programs and is designed for quick and simple start of the workout programs.

WaterRower can stand vertically for space saving purposes and it also has wheels for easy transportation.

Some buyers had issues with the bolts fitting correctly during assembly and some people didn’t find it very challenging especially for the high price tag.

However, this is the only rower on our list that can support persons of over 500 pounds so it’s a good selection for heavier users.

Pros: Made from American ash wood, can accommodate a weight of up to 660 pounds, stands vertically to save space.

Cons: Expensive, issues assembling the product, may not be challenging enough for some users.

Related: WaterRower review

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9. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower

This rowing machine is made from steel and can accommodate up to 250 pounds.

It has a large 3.5 inch LCD screen and boasts a  large, contoured cushioned seat and extra-wide handlebars.

It features patent- pending foot pads which allows you to do additional exercises such as triceps extensions, standing shoulder presses, front raises and more.

It is the only one on our list with these features.

The machine offers 14 levels of dual-transmission resistance.

It features a phone/tablet holder and free My Cloud fitness app– powered by Bluetooth Smart technology and available for both Android and iOS.

It also has floor stabilizers to prevent rocking and it folds away for easy storage.

Buyers noted that they had issues with the resistance settings, many complained that their fitness app does not work and some said the LCD screen gave out overtime.

However, this is the only machine that allows other exercises outside of rowing so if you’re easily bored this is a great option.

Pros: It has free My Cloud fitness app powered by Bluetooth, provides additional exercises, has floor stabilizers to prevent rocking.

Cons: LCD monitor may give out overtime, fitness app does not work for everyone, resistance setting can be problematic.

See Prices >


10. MaxKare Water Rowing Machine

This machine has an ergonomic design and a sturdy, durable steel frame built to accommodate up to 264 pounds.

It features a large LCD monitor which helps to track your calories, strokes, distance and time while you row.

Thanks to the incorporated wheels the rower is easy to transport and also folds upright if space is an issue.

Furthermore, the device boasts a large cushioned seat and fully foam-padded handles, which allow for a wider range of motion thus helping to maximize your upper-body workout.

It also has adjustable footplates equipped with straps to keep your feet in place. 

There is also a bottle holder to ensure that you’re hydrated as you work out.

Buyers of this product complained about the device leaking, while some had issues with their LCD monitor not working after a while.

Pros: Has wheels for portability, comes with bottle holder to keep you hydrated, allows for upright storage.

Cons: water wheel will leak if damaged, may experience issues with LCD monitor.

See Prices >


Best Home Rowing Machines: Recommendations

The Concept2 Model D rower is ideal for users of all levels and allows you to measure your progress while offering a range of workout options. 

It boasts a backlit LCD display, has ANT+ compatibility for apps and heartrate monitoring and comes complete with wireless Bluetooth feature. 

It comes with a free ErgData app to record and store workouts on your smartphone or a USB flash drive.

It is Bluetooth compatible, long-lasting and easy to assemble.

For easy storage the device boasts wheels and can separate into two pieces for convenient storage, making it a great space-saving option as well.

Furthermore, this machine has a weight capacity of 500 pounds.

Additionally, if you need a budget-friendly solution, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing machine is a good choice.

It features a well-equipped digital monitor and the hydraulic resistance system gives a smooth, quiet row.

It also has an ergonomic design, boasting foam handlebars textured pivoting wheels and wide cushioned seats to help to relieve pressure points in your tailbone. 

Also, a good water flywheel option is the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine which mimics the real stroke on water. 

It features an ergonomic design with a durable steel frame, a large cushioned seat and foam-padded handles.

This rower has a large LCD monitor and there are wheels on the device making it easy to transport. It also allows for upright storage if space is an issue.

If you need a top range design then try the WaterRower Home Rowing Machine.

It boasts a very high weight capacity at 660 pounds and is one of the pricier models on our list.

It features a medium sized seat and boasts a monitor complete with 3 information windows.


Other Cardio Machines for Your Home

If a rowing machine is not the best fit for your needs, there are similar types of home cardio machines that may interest you.

Mini Elliptical and Bikes

Mini ellipticals and bikes are for person looking to get fit while sitting.

These machines are similar to rowing machines but offer more of a lower body workout as opposed to the rowing machine that targets the entire body.

These devices primarily focus on the glutes, calves and hamstrings and strengthens the core as well. 

There are several variations on the market today. But they are generally slim and portable and offer different levels of resistant.

Home Treadmills

These are not ideal for a small space as they tend to be large and bulky.

However, they are perfect if you want a cardio workout in the comfort of your home.

There are basic, mid-range and high-end options available and they boast key features such as exercise programs, LCD screens, incline and decline, support rails etc.

Indoor Bikes

This is another low impact workout machine that offers all the benefits of a traditional bike, except that it’s stationary.

These machines are relatively quiet and their compact size makes them ideal for small spaces.

They boast features such as intensity level control, workout programs and an LCD screen to help track your progress.

Ellipticals

Ellipticals help you to get a cardio workout at different intensity levels.

They provide resistance against your legs and arms as you “climb” the machine forwards or backwards.

The forward motion activates your quads and tibialis anterior, the backwards motion works the calves, hamstrings and glutes and even the handlebars helps to activate the upper body.

Related: Best home ellipticals


Before we end this, article, it’s important to remind you to always read the product descriptions carefully before settling on a rowing machine.

Furthermore, before you settle on a device, make sure you know what your goals are, then find the rowing machine with all the features that’s geared toward meeting those goals.