Rowing Machine Reviews for 2017 – Comparison of the Best Rowers
The Best Indoor Rowing Machines
Just like so many other things, rowing machines have evolved so much thanks to the advancements in technology. From design to functionality, there’s not an aspect left untouched. Now we have sleek, polished, high-quality machines for us to exercise at home. Having a rower at home is definitely one way to improve your cardio endurance and to get your muscles working on a daily basis in the comfort of your own home. Overall, rowing machines provide a safe, low-impact way of improving your physical fitness.
If you’re looking to buy a rowing machine, you have to keep in mind all of the different varieties that there are. You have to consider style and features before making your buy. High-quality always comes with a fitting price tag, but there are also great, reliable rowers for those on a budget. We have done our best to summarize everything you need to know about every rower on our list. We also included our top picks for you to choose from!
Best Rowing Machines Sorted by Price
There are so many models to choose from when it comes to rowing machines! Their prices have a wide range, going from $100 to over $1500. You can imagine that within that spectrum there are a lot of different types of rowing machines. That means there’s something out there for everyone! To show you, here’s a guide of the best rowing machines and brands sorted by price:
PRICE RANGE: $50-$200:
Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine– $79 – 650 Reviews
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine – $110 – 2136 Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $200-$300:
Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms – $215 – 327 Reviews
Stamina ATS 1399 Air Rower – $299 – 645 Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $300-$400:
ProForm 440R Rower – $300 – 137 Reviews
Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine – $399 – 130 Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $400-$800:
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower – $549 – 154 Reviews
NordicTrack RW200 Rower $599
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower – $699 – 110 Reviews
ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine – $749 – 63 Reviews
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike/Rower – $799 – 89 Reviews
PRICE RANGE: $900-$1300:
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Monitor – $945 – 1,362 Reviews
Xebex Air Rower – with Bonus Conditioning Pack – $945 – 5 Reviews
WaterRower Club Rowing Machine – $1160 – 183 Reviews
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood – $1160 – 207 Reviews
Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine – $1190 – 43 Reviews
PRICE RANGE: +$1300:
WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine in Black Walnut with S4 Monitor – $1560 – 47 Reviews
Our Top Rowing Machine Picks
Welcome to our review of the top 4 rowing machines for you to choose from this year!
- Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
This is one of the most popular air rowers on the market; you’ll find the Concept2 Model D at most gyms, so you’ve probably used this before. Truthfully, this is one of the best indoor rowers money can buy. Its expertly conducted design and construction along with its quality make this rowing machine both look great and run smoothly.
You might be wondering what an air rower is? Well, the Concept2 creates the resistance that gets you to work by using air baffles. That’s what an air rower does. There’s a nickel-plated chain that pulls the flywheel, you get your workout from pulling against the increasing air pressure that the fan creates for you.
This machine comes with an amazing PM5 monitor that shows you all of the data you need to know about the machine and about your workout. You can choose from the two ways of displaying your workout performance. You can see the entirety of your workout, along with distance and time, or you can see it as “splits”. Splits shows you how your pace varies between two set points in your workout. Both ways of analyzing your routine are very useful. The only difference is that the splits shows you a more real-time calculation of what you were doing.
One of the other very nice features that the Concept2 Model D’s PM5 monitor can offer you is the calculation of the drag factor. This way, you get a complete, real measurement of your efforts! It doesn’t matter if any other factors are in constant change, like damper resistant adjustments or the presence of a stiff breeze, which is actually not very likely. Overall, this monitor allows you to have control over your whole workout experience. Plus, it is very easy to use!
Apart from the PM5 monitor, here are some other amazing features of the Concept2: flywheel and spiral damper (to adjust resistance), aluminum rail, ergonomic handle, flexfoot footrests, and quick-release frame lock. It comes with caster wheels to aide transportation, and it separates into two pieces so you can easily store it away while you’re not using it.
In short: the reason Cross Fit enthusiasts always go for the Concept 2 Model D is that it’s one hell of a machine!
- WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor
This is another great machine you’ll find in the top shelf! The WaterRower makes for an amazing hand-crafter, water-resistance workout machine. As opposed to the previous model, this machine operates with a water flywheel. This is a very attractive feature giving that it mimics the feel of rowing in actual water.
Perhaps one of the coolest things about this machine is that it is made out of wood! With its American ash wood frame and its Honey Oak Stain finish in Danish oil, it makes for a beautiful appliance. It will provide a smooth but very challenging workout. You can choose how rough it’s going to be, but even at its lowest point it makes for a great session. This is truly one of the best machines to get the best out of that low-impact rowing motion that makes for one hell of a sweat!
Because this is a machine that uses a water flywheel, it is made up of two paddles encased in an enclosed, circular tank of water. As you pull, the resistance is created by the motion of the paddles through the water. The harder you pull the more resistance you’ll get out of the machine because it uses the mass and density of the water to work against you. Of course, this only works if you challenge yourself to workout at a fast pace! This sort of resistance is great to strengthen your joints and your muscles.
This rower is just perfect for any kind of fitness level; whether you’re a beginner or an experience athlete, it doesn’t matter. The WaterRower is a great choice for you to workout at home on your free time!
A few other of the amazing features of the WaterRower include: a dual rail design, ergonomic handles and saddle, a LCD S4 performance monitor and it’s also polar compatible. It can support up to 350 kg.
- Stamina ATS Air Rower
This is one of the machines I was telling you about! With the Stamina ATS Air Rower you get a great piece of equipment for a very low price. You already know how air rowers work; well this rower creates just the perfect amount of wind resistance you need to have a smooth but strong workout.
One of the most important features to keep in mind about a rowing machine, apart from functionality, is the ease with which we can handle it. The Stamina ATS Air Rower excels at that. It can be folded and it comes with roller wheels so you can move it around easily. It can also be easily put away in the closet when you’re not using it.
Other features include a LCD monitor that gives you all of the feedback you need; speed, stroke count, time, and more importantly, calorie count. This machine is more on the sturdy side thanks to its steel and aluminum frame. The Stamina ATS Air Rower is a solid machine that you can get for a low price and you’ll have it ready to use in about 15 minutes. It’s very easy to set up and you’ll get the hang of it immediately. It can support about 250 lbs.
Height: 22 inches
Width: 18 inches
Length: 77 inches
Height: 48 inches
Width: 18 inches
Length: 28 inches
- Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001
This rowing machine also finds itself in the most popular side of the spectrum because it gives you a quiet, smooth workout experience. One of the features that make the Velocity Exercise rower just a popular machine is that it comes with a programmable computer!
This programmable computer has about 12 programs that are meant to keep your routines varied and challenging for years on end. Now you have to excuse, you can’t say you stopped working out because you were feeling a bit bored! The computer also provides all the necessary workout feedback, including: distance data, time, burnt calories log, strokes per minute, and pulse rate so you can see how your cardio is going.
The Velocity Exercise’s computer also allows you to control the tension resistance while you’re working out. Because we love technology, the electronic features are what make the CHR-2001 be a few steps ahead and above other rowers. Computers will always be more practical than knobs, and people are whiling to pay that extra money for more comfort and pragmatism.
Another attractive feature is the heart-rate monitor strap that allows you to see how your pulse is going during the most intense parts of your workouts. It also comes with a polyurethane molded saddle, it’s foldable for easy storage and it has an anodized aluminum beam and a rectangular tubing support. It can take on about 275 lbs.
The polyurethane molded saddle provides the highest comfort for you to go through your routine without having to constantly shift in your saddle or be worried about adjusting it. The Velocity Exercise is a very durable machine thanks to its magnetic drum resistance. What’s best is that it won’t need a lot of maintenance, so you can just worry about the quality of your workouts.
This rowing machine to exercise at home also makes very little noise! This is perfect if you live in an apartment building and you don’t want to disturb anyone. Plus, it allows you to enjoy your favorite shows and music while you’re exercising. Overall, this is a great choice for a mid-range price!
What You Should Consider When You’re Shopping for a Rowing Machine
Type of Resistance
Rowing machines don’t happen to be that different from one another when it comes to design. Where they do grow apart is in the way that they provide resistance and also how much of it. This is what makes your workout, so it’s really important that you take a look at what kind of resistance a certain machine is offering you. The point is to have a very effective workout, so you need to mind this.
There are four types of resistance: water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance and hydraulic resistance. Each of them has their own benefits and they all make for a distinctive rowing experience.
Comfort and Adjustability
Comfort is also one of the most important things to consider when you’re shopping for any exercising machine. If you’re uncomfortable, you might end up never using it and it will be money poorly spent. Pay attention to the rower’s seat, foot pads and adjustability features. Make sure that they suit you and that they provide the highest level of comfort and stability.
This is another important factor to consider, because noise can be quite disruptive. Especially if you’re already tired. There’s nothing like distracting yourself from the difficulty of a workout by playing music or watching a show. This feature also creates quite a bit of difference among machines; there are some that are noisier than others. It really depends on what you like. Some people don’t mind the noise, and they even see it as a sort of sign that means that they’re working really hard, while others might appreciate silence.
Yet another thing you’ll need to keep in mind! You want the machine to be proportionate to the available space so you don’t feel crammed. The length of rowing machines can vary quite a lot, so make sure you get one that fits into your space. You might have a problem with length, because they usually have long footprints, but width won’t be a problem.
It can be a little overwhelming to look at prices because, as it happens with most exercising machines, there are a lot of varieties. This means you have a very wide array of price options. If you’re looking for a long-time commitment to your workout, then the higher priced models might be worth your money. They are built to take heavy use and they’re very sturdy so they can last longer. However, if you’re on a budget then the cheaper rowing machines will get you started right away. The downside is that they might need more maintenance and they won’t have as much durability.
Max User Weight
One of the advantages of rowing machines is that they can support higher amounts of weight, as compared to other exercising machines. That’s because there are less parts to be stressed by heavy burdens.
This is a major consideration to make! Most people don’t want their exercising equipment lying around all of the time, that is unless they have a room at home that works as an at-home gym. Most users just want a machine they can move around and set up whenever they need to and that be as easily put away when the job is done. If that’s what you’re looking for, pay attention to dimensions and look for machines that can fold up for easy storage. Also look for machines that have wheels, so they’ll be easier to move around.
Row Computer / Monitor
The computer is one of the most important features of any exercising machine. It’s what tells you how exactly you’re doing, how much distance you’re achieving, in what amount of time and how many calories you’re burning. All of this information is necessary, unless you’re working out aimlessly. So when you’re shopping for rowers, make sure that they have a decent computer and check to see if they have apps you can use to keep track of all of your data and progress.
Ease of Assembly
Most people want and need their appliances to be easy to set-up. You only have to set-up your rowing machine once, but you still don’t want it to be impossible. Make sure you’re not shopping for a machine that’s complicated!
As with everything else, you’ll want your rowing machine to have as much coverage as possible.
Benefits of Rowing
Rowing is one of the best ways to get a full cardio workout experience. It also serves to strengthen your muscles as it engages all of the different muscle groups in your body. Granted, it is a low-impact exercise, but that can be quite as challenging as anything else.
If you’re on a weight loss journey, a rowing machine helps you both tone your muscles and burn all of those calories that you don’t want. Of course, the rowing machine won’t help you lose weight on its own, but combined with a healthy diet it can be a wonderful thing.
When it’s time to use your rowing machine for exercising, you need to have a proper technique to go about it. The risk of injuries is real, so remember to mind your body and always warm up first! When it comes to the rowing motion, you should focus on working with your legs, not with your lower back. That’s how you risk lower back injuries! So be careful. You’ll get a lot more out of the exercise if you engage the right parts of your body.
Here are some tips for you to have a better technique:
- Keep a good posture throughout your work out. Make sure that you never sacrifice your form! That’s the best way of avoiding injuries.
- Start slow, and continuously increase your speed. Managing resistance will help you a lot! Don’t just jump to the highest level of resistance, work towards it.
- For the “catch” part of the workout, make sure to keep your back straight and your arms extended as you hold the handles.
- For the “drive” part of the workout, you’ll need to keep control of the motion to push. Engage your legs, not your lower back, and pull the cable towards your chest.
- At the “finish”, your legs should be extended and your form should be controlled; push your shoulders back and keep your arms straight as you pull.
- When it’s time to “return”, bend your knees and keep your arms straight. This is the part where your core and your abs can be engaged the most, you just have to be mindful about it.
Remember that you get nothing out of your workouts if you just go through the motions. You need to be conscious of your every move, of your posture and of your speed. This is your workout, after all. If you want to make the best out of it, you have to do it right!
Weight Loss and HIIT
Combining the right diet and the cardio that the rowers offer you can make a significant change in your appearance. If you’ve been working out for a while and learning the ropes, then you know that one of the best techniques for weight-loss is the HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) training style that burns crazy amounts of fat and it builds muscle tone. You can get your HIIT by using your rowing machine! Here’s how:
HIIT Sprints – 26 minute workout. Warm up and cool down not included, so make sure you do that!
30 second sprint
30 second rest
Repeat for six rounds
20 second sprint
10 second rest
Repeat for four rounds
15 second sprint
15 second rest
15 second air squats
15 second rest
Repeat six rounds
20 second sprint
10 second rest
Repeat for four rounds
30 second sprint
30 second rest
Repeat for six rounds