Top 5 Best Rowing Machines

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.


Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

For the best rowing machine we chose the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 which sells for $945. From beginners to experts everyone seems to love this rower since it is the best-selling and highest rated model on Amazon, plus it earned the highest score from the leading consumer magazine. In fact, you would have a hard time even trying to find a negative review for this fitness machine.

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.


WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

Looking more like a piece of furniture, the $1160 WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is perhaps the most beautiful piece of fitness equipment you will ever see. This thing has a unique ‘water flywheel’ that replicates a natural rowing effect all while providing a quiet, smooth resistance. All you hear is the sound of whooshing water.

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.


Stamina DT Pro Rower

The Stamina DT Pro Rower provides buyers with a bit more affordable price tag of $559. It combines air resistance with magnetic resistance to make the smoothest possible stroke. The DT Pro Rower is pretty well built, but is not up to the standards of our top two choices.

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.


LifeSpan Fitness RW1000

The best rowing machine under $500 is the $400 LifeSpan Fitness RW1000. It features a solid steel frame with an eddy current drive system with a 16.5 pound flywheel. Users up to 300 pounds can use this model and track time, strokes, strokes per minute, distance, and calories on a 3 lcd console display.

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.


Stamina ATS Air Rower 1403

If you are looking for a cheap rowing machine you should consider the $299 Stamina ATS Air Rower 1403 which is the least expensive rower to make our list. Construction quality is the poorest of any rowers on this list with a max user capacity of 250 lbs.

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
Console Resistance
Programs Seat
(L x W x H)
Folds Up /
Storage Dimensions
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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