What are the best rowing machines?
Although this site does aim to provide reviews of the best models available, we have also provided you with plenty of general exercise tips, home fitness advice and also some free diet advice, so that you can get the most out of your purchase.
Read all about the benefits of rowing machine for health and fitness here.
With all of our reviews that we have put together for you, we understand that you may fall into one of three categories:
- A regular gym user or someone that exercises regularly and is familiar with rowing machines and would be looking for quite a bit of detail
- Someone who is looking to get fit from home but has very little past exercise history. If this is the category that you fit in, you will find that our reviews are written in easy-to-understand language and complete with a simple rating systems and indication of price you should look to pay. We aim to give you everything you need to make your decision and have put together a handy article that covers the benefits of rowing.
- Someone who has not exercised for a while, but has some past experience but is not up-to-date with the best types of machines to go for.
Of course, if you have any questions then you can get in contact with us via the contact us page.
Skip to rowing machine buying guide where you can learn exactly what to look for in a rower for home.
Types of Rowers:
You will find that there are four different categories of machines and they each have quite different characteristics:
Air Resistance Rowers: These have a flywheel that creates the resistance. The harder you pull on the handle, the greater the resistance. It is fair to say that these can be a little noisier than some of the other types of rowers, but they are typically not that expensive and also provide you with complete control over how hard you work out as the resistance is defined by the force of your stroke.
Water Rowers: This model of rower has become increasingly popular in the past few years. They tend to be very life-like when you are performing regular strokes, but you will find that they are less effective for stop-start interval training that air resistance rowers for example.
Magnetic Rowers: You will find some magnetic rowers that have the ability to offer air resistance also, however in general, magnetic rowers are the quietest of the four rowing machine types, are quite easy to adjust in terms of resistance, though can be a little more highly priced.
Hydraulic Rowers: These are a cheaper option and are sometime referred to as a folding rower as many of the models are able to be folded for storage (which is a great feature if you are short on storage space). They tend not to be as “smooth” as other options however. But, if you’re in the market for an inexpensive model, these are a good place to start.
Machines come in a range of prices, and you will find then for as little as a couple hundred dollars and right up to around two thousand dollars!
What should I look for?
First of all, determine your intended usage. If you are only going to use it intermittently, or if you have a history of stopping and starting fitness regimes, then you should probably look for a rower in the low-mid price range.
It does not make sense to go out and purchase a fully-functional rower worth thousands of dollars if you are taking a risk that you will not use it in 3 months time.
Look for something in the lower end of the market, get yourself into a routine, and then if you do find that you are exercising regularly you can upgrade to one of the top machines and sell your existing model as a second hand rower for sale.
Fixed vs. Folding
You will find that rowers will fall in one of two categories in terms of space required to have it in-home; They will be either a set size, or able to be folded.
The units can be as long as a fully grown adult, however they are generally quite slim in terms of width.
Fixed Machines are generally the better model in terms of overall use and user experience. They do require around 6 feet of length plus some clearance at the back to cater for the full rowing motion. They are very slim in terms of width however so can be placed against a wall when not in use.
Folding Machines are a little more space-friendly in that you can bring yours out for a quick workout, but then fold it up and store it away either in a cupboard, tucked away in a corner, or potentially under a bed. We have covered the benefits and negatives of these plus a list of the best options available on the market on this page about folding rowing machines.
Top Brands To Look For:
Concept 2: Probably the most well-known brands, Concept2 rowers are used extensively by top gym chains across the globe, however they also have a great range of rowers for home use. With Concept2, you will not be getting the cheapest rower, but you will be making a very high-quality purchase. We have reviewed the Concept Model D and Concept Model E extensively.
Sunny Health & Fitness: Sunny tend to fill to the lower-end niche within the market and you will be able to find products at very affordable prices, including this model.
Schwinn: Schwinn are renowned for manufacturing a variety of home exercise equipment, including exercise bikes, but Schwinn rowers are consistently among the top-seller lists year after year.
Stamina: Founded in 1987, Stamina have developed a vast range of exercise equipment including cardiovascular equipment (such as bikes and rowers), strength training equipment and even into the pilates market with their pilates reformers. Their product range includes cheap rowing machines up to middle/upper-priced options. Some of them we have rated very well, whilst others are products that we would urge you to avoid.
HCI Fitness: Rowers from this manufacturer are also regularly in the top-sellers list and you will typically find HCI Fitness rowers in the mid-price range. HCI also manufacturer a range of other cardiovascular equipment. Their rowers include the H2o line of water rowers.
York: The company is a leader in the home fitness equipment market and unlike many other fitness manufacturers, York focus primarily on the domestic market and offer products in over 50 countries. The York Aspire is a hot seller.
Velocity Fitness: Manufacturers of multiple home cardio equipment pieces, the Velocity Fitness Magnetic Rower is among the Amazon top sellers and comes with a fantastic 4.6/5 user review!
LifeSpan: Makers of the RW1000 Indoor Machine, LifeSpan have managed to score a 4/5 user rating and put together a fantastic little folding rower in the mid-price range.
First Degree Fitness: Used by commercial gyms and home-gym buyers alike, the First Degree Fluid Rowers are leading the way in water rowers globally. If you are in the market for a rower with water resistance, First Degree are a great option.
V-Fit: Renowned home exercise equipment manufacturer with a very solid user review rating across the range in Europe.
Roger Black: Also a solid seller in Europe, our Roger Black machine review is a popular article.
Kettler: Kettler manufacture everything from children’s toys, to bicycles and then home exercise equipment. Their Kettler Favorit (that is not mis-spelt) is well-rated and very high in the Amazon best-sellers list. The Kettler Coach E and Kettler Coach M are also highly recommended.
Reebok: Perhaps better known for their sports clothing, Reebok do have an impressive range.
Body Sculpture: Produce a wide range of home gym equipment and multiple rowing machines.
There are many, many more brands and manufacturers out there, but the above are the best available. You could spend hours researching the company backgrounds and best prices available, but we provide up to date reviews on all 2011, 2012 and 2013 models to save you the time and effort!