Rowing machines provide the best total body workout of any cardio equipment you can buy. You exercise every major muscle group all while doing so in a controlled, smooth movement. They are also very easy on your joints like your knees and ankles which makes them a great choice for anyone of any age, size, or fitness level.
The biggest thing buyers should be aware of when purchasing one is that they take up a lot of space. Most are over 9 feet long when in use, so make sure you have enough room to use it. Many, however, do fold up when not in use to save space.
Some models can cost over $2000, or under $300, but we selected rowers from a variety of price points ranging from about $300 to $1200.
Below we review our top 5 best rowing machines. At the bottom of this list we also provide a spec comparison chart so you can easily compare one rower versus another.
The construction quality is outstanding and it can accommodate users of all shapes and sizes, from short people or those weighing up to 500 pounds. The Model D features the PM5 (performance monitor 5) which can track distance, speed, pace, and calories; while it also lets you customize your own workout routine or pick from 1 of 5 preset routines. Resistance is provided by a fanblade flywheel with 10 damper settings.
Overall we highly recommend the Concept2 Model D for any and all users. About the only negative we can find is that it is noisy due to the air resistance fanblade flywheel. It is also on the higher end of the price range, so there are cheaper options available.
If you like the Model D, but want the seat height to be higher off the ground you should consider the Concept2 Model E instead. There are a few minor differences, but the main difference is the Model E has a seat that sits 20 inches off the floor, which makes it easier to get on and off if you are older or if you have difficulty getting low to the ground.
Made from solid ash wood the Natural Rowing Machine is incredibly well built with a user capacity up to 1000 pounds. It also comes with the S4 monitor which tracks workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, and more. Overall we like the natural wood construction and water flywheel to provide the most real simulation of an actual boat being rowed through water.
However, one negative is that the Console is not intuitive and a bit difficult to use – you often have to hit a button or buttons multiple times to get to the function you want.
You should buy the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine if you want a stunning machine that can fit in with your decor while still providing you with an excellent workout. It is the most expensive rower on our list, so there are cheaper options out there. You might also be interested in the WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine in Black Walnut which costs $1560 – it is the same except for the wood and finish.
The DT Pro Rower has 12 preset and 8 resistance levels. The console displays all distances in miles, so if you are used to meters this might throw you off.
There are two minor complaints from us. First the seat is a bit wobbly if you lean too much to one side. This could present a problem for heavier users. Secondly the foot straps are just velcro straps that might not hold up over time.
Overall we think the pros outweigh the cons on the Stamina DT Pro Rower and would recommend it for moderate users.
The biggest negative we feel is the lack of natural feel in the rowing motion – it is just not as smooth as some of the more expensive machines. There are also certain parts of the unit that are prone to premature failure like plastic wheels on the seat. At this price, however, you expect some cons, and overall it is still a good value for the price.
This thing uses air resistance in which users control the resistance by rowing harder and faster, there is no adjustable resistance settings. The ATS Air Rower 1403 has a simple LCD readout that tracks speed, distance, time and calories burned.
Overall the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1403 probably won’t stand up to the abuse of a hardcore user. Therefore we only recommend this rower for casual users or lighter users who want a cheap rower.
Best Rowing Machines Comparison Chart
|Full Name||Rating||Best Price||Resistance Type||Max User
(L x W x H)
|Folds Up /
|Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5||9.3||$945.00||Air-resistance flywheel||500 lbs||PM5 tracks distance, speed, pace, and calories. Bluetooth for app compatibility.||10||5||14″||57 lbs||96″ x 24″ x 14″||Folds up to 25″ x 33″ x 54″||Limited 2-year and 5-year|
|WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor||9.2||$1,160.00||Water Flywheel||1000 lbs||S4 Performance Monitor displays workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, and distance.||Variable*||3+ (Distance, Timed, Distance Interval)||14″||76.5 lbs dry / 103.5 lbs w/ water||82.25″ x 22.25″ x 20″||Folds up to 20″ x 22.25″ x 82.25″||5 Year Frame, 3 Year Parts|
|Stamina DT Pro Rower||8.8||$559.00||Magnetic and Air-resistance flywheel||300 lbs||Programmable LCD monitor displays heartrate, distance rowed, workout time, strokes per minute, calories burned, stroke count, watts / power produced||8||12||16″||87 lbs||89.75″ x 20″ x 40.5″||Folds up||5 year frame, 90 days parts|
|LifeSpan Fitness RW1000||8.6||$399.99||Eddy Current Flywheel||300 lbs||Three-LCD console provides distance, calories, time, strokes, and strokes per minute||5||0||11″ – 14.5″||80 lbs||90″ x 18.5″ x 23″||Folds up to 34″ x 19″ x 64″||5 years Frame, 2 years Parts, 1 year Labor|
|Stamina ATS Air Rower 1403||8.1||$299.00||Air-resistance fan||250 lbs||Small LCD Digit display tracks speed, distance, time and calories burned.||Variable*||0||12″||54 lbs||77″ x 18.75″ x 22″||Folds up to 48″ x 18.75″ x 28″||3 year frame, 1 year parts|
* (Variable Resistance means the faster and harder you pull, the more resistance you get)
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