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 found plenty of solid options available from about $500 to $1200. Below we review our top 5 best rowing machines.
For the best rowing machine we chose the Concept2 Model D with PM5 which sells for $900. 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. 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. It 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.
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.
Another solid unit is the $1160 WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine. This thing has a unique ‘water flywheel’ that replicates a natural rowing effect all while providing a quiet, smooth resistance. Made from solid ash wood this model 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.
The Sole SR500 is another excellent choice and is available for about $1050. It features a smooth, natural pull thanks to a eddy current magnetic air resistance system. You can easily move and store this model thanks to a foldable design and wheels. It also has an LCD console for tracking your workout.
The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is available for a more affordable price-tag of under $530. Buyers on Amazon have rated this unit at 4.3 stars. The maximum user capacity is 275 pounds for this model which also provides a magnetic resistance system. Users have 7 programs to choose from – 1 manual and 6 preset – and the rower includes a large LCD that tracks time, count, strokes per minute, distance, calories, and pulse.
Overall the construction quality does not quite compare to the more expensive models, but it does provide a solid, quiet workout at a decent price.
The best rowing machine under $500 is the 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.
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