If you have also been thinking of a great way to meet your cardio goal right in the comfort of your home, you are not alone in this. Many fitness beginners and exercise freaks have been asking to know what type of exercise equipment they can purchase to help them challenge and get their muscles moving, yet in a comfortable way. Therefore, I have put together the best 5 rowing machines on the market based on their features and reviews from users. So here you are.
For a decade now, rowing machine has been used as an equipment to upswing cardio health in the comfort of the home. There is now a variety of this highly-refined, sleek equipment, and having one of them in your home can be just the push you need to daily challenge your muscles and get them moving. If your goal is to increase fitness by burning more calories and building muscle in a low-impact, safe way, rowing machines will provide you an outstanding way to achieve this.
However, when you are on the search for a rowing machine you can use at home, you need to remember that this exercise equipment comes in different style and with different features that you will need to consider before making an investment. Even though high quality will always come with a price, there are also some reliable rowers that you can get at lower prices. In this article, I have done my best to provide you everything you need to know when going for a rowing machine. I have also brought you my best 5 picks to help you decide when opting for any rower of your choice.
Best Rowing Machine reviews
You can spend half the money budgeted on rowing machines and yet get twice the function in them. Below is the list of the top 5 picks of rowing machine available out there for 2019.
Concept2 Model D
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Stamina ATS Air Rower
Excellent for both cardio and strength training
- Spiral damper and flywheel to easily adjust resistance
- Latest PM5 Performance Monitor to help you track your progress
- Ergonomic handle
- Quick-release frame lock
- Fan engineered to reduce noise
- Separate into two pieces for easy storage
- Flexfoot footrests
- Caster wheels for easy transportation
The Concept2 Model D Rower happens to be the first on our list because it actually cannot be compared to any other indoor rowers out there. With several indoor rowers listed on Amazon, the Concept2 Model D outshines them all. This rower reminded me of the old saying that “Good thing always comes with a price”. Even though this rowing machine is listed among the high-priced rowers, you are definitely sure to get what you paid for. If you are going to be spending lots of time on a piece of home exercise equipment, you may need to pay a bit more for quality. Moreover, it is an investment worth considering and you definitely not going to regret it.
Coming from a brand that has long been known for solid construction and durability, I wasn’t so surprised at the build of this rowing machine. The rugged and ergonomic design makes it tough and virtually indestructible. This will make it serve you for a longer time without bothering about making a replacement. I also combed through several reviews from users across different sources and virtually all of them gave the rower a 5-star review, testifying to its functionality and durability. If you also seek a rower that will serve longer than you could have ever thought, it’s completely safe to go for the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine.
Just like many customers also reported, the Concept2 Model D rowing machine arrived after two days of ordering and was delivered well-packed inside a double layered box. Assembling it was super easy as the instruction manual and the necessary tools that come with it makes the job easier and doesn’t take more than 30 minutes to get it running.
The rower features a 14-inch seat as well as a nickel-plated chain which makes it perfect for an intense cardio and toning workout. Focusing on distributing the force between all muscle groups, it is an ideal full-body workout machine you should have right in your home. I consider this rowing machine as safe for both seniors and people recovering from injuries because it offers a natural and safe workout that doesn’t cause injury or overstrain specific muscles.
If you also prefer a machine that combines different exercise routine, then you will like the concept put into this rower. The machine is excellent for both cardio and strength training, combining durability and comfort in just one neat package. It will train all your muscles equally. The spiral damper and flywheel that comes with it also make it easy for me to adjust my resistance and tension levels at any point of my workout. Its seat moves smoothly and doesn’t make noise. Therefore, Concept2 Model D rower is a rower you can opt for, no matter your fitness level.
Moreover, if you are also the type that likes to have a total control over your wo
rkout, you will definitely find the monitor that comes with this rower extremely helpful. It is very simple and easy to use. It will help you track your progress level, telling you how many strokes you have made, how much distance you have covered, calories burned, your heart rate, and many more. This will not only make your workout completely fun, but the real and detailed data provided will help you get better in your daily workout.
These, among many other reasons, have made this rower top the list of many rowing machine reviews. If your target is to get a reliable, solid piece of equipment that can give you an intense home workout without taking much space in your home, the Concept2 Model D is a great choice to consider. It doesn’t only make rowing super-enjoyable, it also ensures you get a quality, powerful workout.
What I don’t like about the rowing machine
- Easy to assemble and only takes seconds to store away
- Included is one of the best monitors on the market
- It is built to last
- Provides challenging and consistent full body workout
What I don’t like about the rowing machine
- More expensive
- Handles can be a bit rough on the hands
- Fan can be too noisy for some people
- Seat can get harder after some years of use
Perfect for all fitness Levels
- 8 levels of adjustable resistance
- LCD Monitor
- Fully padded seat
- Offers low impact aerobic exercise
- Foldable design for easy storage
- Built-in transportation wheel
- magnetic tension for resistance
- non-slip grip providing an optimal comfort
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine indeed is a fulfillment for many rowing machine users, and what does come into their mouth each time they see or hear about this rower is AT LAST!
At last, we can get a magnetic rowing machine under $200.
For some years ago, it has been impossible to get a good magnetic rowing machine unless you have more than $500 to spare, and that has forced many users to settle for hydraulic-piston rowers if their desire is to have a rower with no noise. However, that seems not to be the situation again as this exercise equipment now goes for a more affordable price, and in fact, it is one of the less-prized rowers on my list.
At first, I was a bit nervous about the quality of this rower considering the price, but the Sunny Health Magnetic Rower SF-RW5515 has proved itself beyond every doubt among several users and have thus received lots of favorable reviews from them.
Unlike the Concept2 rowing machine, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine comes with a magnetic resistance, and what this means is that it makes use of a magnet inside the flywheel to generate resistance against a spinning metal drum, making it a perfect rowing machine if you seek a rower that won’t make noise and yet help you have a full body exercise targeting major muscle groups. You can have a smooth, realistic and silent row any hour of the day without waking up your family. It is also perfect for watching movies or TV even while you have your workout.
This rowing machine is not like Concept 2 Model D that increases resistance as you row harder. The Sunny Magnetic Rowing Machine comes with 8 different levels of resistance and with a turn on the knob, you can easily adjust your resistance. My wife is a beginner when it comes to rowing, and the level 1 was just perfect for her.
Users of varying fitness levels also mentioned how great the resistance on SF-RW5515 is. While most users row at a resistance level of 4 or 5 which is great for growth, I have also seen even the most serious athlete had a great workout with level 8 of the machine. The resistance is very easy to adjust with the knob. The only problem is that you will always be required to stop rowing to adjust the resistance, but I don’t think that is really a problem anyway.
This Rowing Machine also comes with a basic large LCD monitor. This was very much what I expected because, with such a low price, it is not common to see an advanced monitor on a rowing machine. However, the monitor will allow you track basic fitness data including your strokes, calories burned, and total time spent on the machine.
The monitor on the SF-RW5515 is operated on battery, so you wouldn’t have to get an electric outlet before you can track your progress. However, a few users complained about being disappointed because the monitor failed to record the distance or meters they have rowed. Another user also pointed it out that the display was a bit small and isn’t backlit, therefore making it difficult to read.
I should also let you know that on basic monitors like this, it’s not very accurate to track calorie and thus should only be used when comparing workouts. The calories calculated are not specific to the person rowing but only based off an average user. However, apart from the fact that the monitor is basic, it tracks all the necessary fitness data you need to get better and comparable to all other monitors in this price range.
The rowing machine is constructed with a heavy-duty steal mainframe built to stay strong for many years. From reviews of many users, they commented that the machine felt sturdy enough for its price. This means even though it may not be of the same quality build as a $900 rower, it is also not going to fall apart anytime soon. You shouldn’t bother about having some annoying clinking or squeaking noises when you row because the SF-RW5515 is very quiet and comfortable to use.
If you also worry about comfort, you can be sure of having a great deal with the Sunny Health Rowing Machine. It has large foot pedals; large enough to accommodate any shoe size, and also comes with adjustable foot straps. So you can be sure your feet will always stay firmly in place.
For the several reviews checked for this rower, no users mentioned that the machine is uncomfortable in rows of up to 30 minutes long. However, you can add more stability when you row on a very soft carpet or slick hardwood by using a rowing machine exercise mat. It doesn’t matter how hard you intend to row, Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic rower is there to give you the comfort you need for your exercise.
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is super easy to assemble and many users mentioned they were able to set it up within 30 minutes. Thanks to the instruction system that comes with the machine. In fact, it is one of the best I have seen with a rowing machine. The machine also folds easily to help manage storage space. I folded it up in just 30 seconds.
what I liked about Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
- it has strong resistance
- comes at a great price
- seat is comfortable enough to give a great workout session
- supports up to 250lbs
- very quiet and with strong built
- foldable storage
what I don’t like about it
- monitor lacks advanced features
- short warranty period
- occupies much space when not in storage mode
Perfect for low impact workout
The Stamina Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine appears to be one of the best compact rowing machines I have ever seen. Not only is the rower small, but also happened to be very affordable. And as expected, it is the cheapest on my list of the best 5 home rowing machines. It was able to make the list because, though it seems smaller in size, it’s however, able to perform the same job with equally good results, plus it’s also easy to store and handle.
The rower has registered its name in many households for its remarkably low price. For just a few dollars above hundred, you can get yourself a great rower that will help you have a low impact workout in the comfort of your home. It doesn’t take too much space and comes with a varying resistance and a functional fitness monitor to help you track your progress. If you are looking for a beginner rowing machine or wants to be having a light workout at home without breaking the bank, I’m sure you will definitely like the Stamina Body Trac 1050.
One important and unique feature of this rower is that it comes with a hydraulic-piston resistance. While this type of resistance mechanism could have several benefits, a few reviews have also mentioned a couple of downsides associated with it.
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 allows you to row over a varying resistance level; up to 12 levels. This means even as a beginner, you can always use the rower while you gradually work your way up to level 12 as you become more experienced. Hydraulic-piston resistance has a characteristic I think everyone will love to have in their rowers. The resistance levels can easily be adjusted while working out and also makes the machine almost without any noise. You can conveniently change from one resistance level to another without needing to get off the rowing machine like it is in Concept2 Model D. the noiseless nature of the rower makes it possible for you to use it even while you are watching TV.
However, some users mentioned that the rower doesn’t provide a resistance challenging enough for their workout. Hydraulic-piston, unlike other types of resistance that comes with some of the rowers on this list, does not provide so much strenuous of a workout. It is better for people looking to row for only about 30 minutes in a day and at a moderate level.
Regardless of the price of the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050, the machine still comes with a multi-function electronic monitor to help you keep an eye on your progress as you workout. Though not backlit, the monitor will allow you track some important fitness data like the time you have spent rowing, the number of strokes you have completed, and the number of calories you have burned. This feature never stops to amaze me with such a small and low-priced rowing machine.
Among the very many things I will look out for when going for a rowing machine is how much comfort the machine provides while working out on it. Comfort is usually a motivation to want to exercise, so it’s important that aspect is not skipped. The seat of the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is built with molded plastic and so allows you to comfortably be on it for short to moderate rowing sessions.
The rower comes with standard padded grips which are neither too soft nor too hard. With just unscrewing two knobs to unlock the arms, this exercise equipment is super-easy to fold and store away. This can be achieved in less than a minute.
I will recommend you opt for this rowing machine if your interest is to have a full-body workout exercise equipment that will not eat too much of the space in your home, and at the same time will not cause you to wreck your wallet.
What I liked about the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
- Great value for money
- It’s easy to assemble
- Perfect for beginners
- Small and compact
- Adjustable tension control
What I don’t like about the rower
- Feet may slip off because foot straps are not secure
- Extremely fit people may need to get a more robust rowing machine
Affordable air-resistance rower
There is so much to say about Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 as it has its features so close to that of many popular high-end rowing machines. Stamina allows you enjoy the full benefit of using an air resistance rowing machine and yet pay less than a thousand dollars to have it. While you won’t be hurting your wallet with this rowing machine, the quality won’t suffer either.
The rower comes with a solid steel frame, multi-functional monitor, comfortable padded seat, and also 3 times lower in price than most of the top-end rowers on the market, while still delivering almost same result. Many reviews from customer pointed it out that the Stamina ATS Air Rower feels just as powerful as the expensive and popular Concept2 Model D rower. But do you also believe that this rowing machine can deliver the same kind of full-body workout like you get from top rowers like Concept2?
After personally testing this rower and spending several hours sorting through series of websites, forums, reviews, and also calling the manufacture, I finally came up with an answer to the question. So you are definitely going to find out soon.
The Stamina Air Rower 1399 is an air-resistance rowing machine that generates resistance by an internal flywheel which adjusts the resistance level based on how hard you row. This means when you decide to pull harder on the rower, more wind will be created as the flywheel spins faster, and thus creating more resistance. Therefore, if you choose to row a bit lighter, the resistance level will be minimal, and if you decide to have a more intense workout on the machine, all you need to do is to row harder, and I can assure you it will be much harder to row due to the greater resistance that will be produced by the flywheel.
This has been a point of confusion to many customer and thus made them conclude that the machine does not have an adjustable resistance because there is no knob to turn or any button to press. If only they understand how an air-rower works, they will know the Stamina Air Rower ATS has an adjustable resistance level. The harder you row the more resistance generated for you to row, and vise versa. This is the same resistance mechanism implemented in Concept2 Model D rowing machine.
If you desire to have a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Crossfit style workouts, then this rower will be great because of its variable resistance. It will allow you speed up or slow down without having to stop to press any button or turn any knob to change resistance. It automatically adjusts to your speed.
The seat of the Stamina 1399 ATS Air Rower is also on an inclined rail which will help you generate additional resistance as you try to pull yourself up the slight incline. This will also help you achieve a better leg workout.
However, another important thing to mention about the resistance of this rower is the ‘wooshing’ noise it makes when the flywheel spins. This is general to all rowers that makes use of air resistance. So I will suggest you listen to music with headphones if you think the noise will bother you. But according to most users of this machine, they commented that the noise isn’t heard in other rooms and so doesn’t wake up their children while sleeping. Therefore, if your children are small or you live in an apartment, you may not have issues with the noise.
The Stamina 1399 Air Rower strength is suitable for users of all fitness levels and up to 80% of their users have given 5-star reviews for this. Although some users also complain about the machine given them an uneven workout. I think the reason for that might have been because these users use the rower incorrectly. Rowing should be about 60% legs, 20% arms, and 20% core. Any less or additional percent to any of these categories could result in an imbalance between the lower and upper body.
The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 also comes with a basic, single-button multi-function monitor. This monitor is perfect to help you track some basic fitness data like distance covered, speed, time and calories burnt. However, the monitor has no back light which could make it a bit difficult to read it in low light areas. If you are also used to using Olympic distances, you may have some challenges using this monitor as the units are not in metric. But I have to say, despite these little downsides, the monitor seems great for this price range and its comparable with other monitors I have seen on rowers of the similar price.
Stamina Rower is built having a solid-steel frame while it also feels sturdy to the touch. The rower is built for comfort and had a very few complaints in this area. The padded, upholstered seat of the rower glides smoothly up and down the rail and has comfortably served many users without any complain. If you are the type that enjoys rowing for a long period of time, you will also definitely find the comfort provided by the ergonomic design of the rower very interesting.
Folding and storing this machine is super easy. Within a few seconds, you can get the rower up for storage. All you have to do is to just remove a bolt from the frame, fold it upwards, and replace the bolt back to its position. This feature makes it perfect for you if you don’t have enough space in your home.
Moving this rower around is also a piece of cake due to its portability and caster wheels. Just lift it up at the end opposite where the fan is located and push it.
This rowing machine, though low-priced compared to other rowers using air resistance, it performs far more than my expectation.
What I liked about the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
- It supports a user of up to 250lbs
- Low price for an air-resistance rower
- Has a basic but quality monitor
- Easily folds for storage
- Comfortable design and seat
- Has a great variable resistance
- Easy to move around with its wheels
What I don’t like about the rowing machine
- Damper is not adjustable
- Monitor is not backlit and not in metric
- A little bit noisy
Great for home with limited space
The Harvil hydraulic rowing machine is also another great rowing machine to consider when looking to get a low impact workout machine in your home. It is a highly affordable and new machine that just came to the market in the late months of last year. The reviews about this rower were so amazing that I cannot but include it on this list.
The Harvil hydraulic first appeared on Amazon in November 2017 and was just in two colors; black and green. It is a compact and space-saving rower that comes with foldable full range motion arms. The machine is well-constructed that even if you and your family use it every day, you wouldn’t have any problem with it.
Even though the rower was just recently released and so doesn’t have many customer reviews online, it has scored up to 4.6 out of 5 overall stars at the moment. It is designed in such a way that it provides low impact workout without putting much burden on your joints, knees, and back.
Despite its low price and small compact size, the rowing machine comes with a smart easy to read LCD monitor that provides you standard useful indicators, including calories burned, time used, number of strokes you have taken, as well as the accumulated strokes you had throughout the rowing session. One great thing about this is that the monitor on Harvil shows each workout metric every six seconds in order to keep you tracked throughout your workout.
This rower is sturdily built with a durable 35.4-inch steel frame which makes the machine support a user weighing as much as 265 pounds. That of course, beats what is offered by many rowers on this list, even those at higher cost end.
The Harvil rowing machine is built with safety in mind, so if you are concerned about your safety while working out, it seems the manufacturer of the steel also was. The large fixed pivoting footplates located just below the LCD monitor has an anti-slip surface which will fit pretty much any foot size. This also comes with safety straps o ensure your foot is constantly put in place while you row.
It has an ergonomic design with a molded sit. But some users mentioned that even though the seat is very durable and glides smoothly on the steel, it doesn’t provide enough comfort when they workout. But I believe you can still get a moderate comfort on the seat.
You can easily fold this wonderful exercise equipment in a matter of seconds to save space, making a great choice for you if you have a limited space in your apartment. Out of the box, the instruction manual included in the packaging makes its assembling very easy and fast. In less than 30 minutes, you can get the machine working out of the box.
Your legs are driven by your body weight, and the adjustable hydraulic resistance on the Harvil rowing machine is for the tension on your arms. There is a manual control knob underneath that helps you adjust the resistance produced by the machine according to your ability or how much you want to row that day. It is a great machine to help you get off lower back pain and strengthen your back muscles.
Considering the built and features on this rowing machine, it is an inexpensive option offering an outstanding value for money.
What I liked about the Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
- Runs quietly and requires limited space
- Easily folds into storage
- LCD monitor makes it easy to track fitness progress
- Price for value
- Large pivoting footplates and straps for safety
- Provides a full lower back workout
What I don’t like about the machine
- Seat can be uncomfortable after about half an hour of workout
Buyer’s Guide for Rowing Machine
This is a buying guide I have put up to help you with what exactly you need to know when opting to get a new rowing machine for your home. Rowing is a two-way beneficial exercise that gives you a killer cardio workout as well help you have a great full-body workout.
Even though there are lots of benefits embedded in rowing, many people are yet to key into the awesome benefits. And I discovered that it is not really the ignorance of the benefits keeping people away but how to buy a good rowing machine that appropriately meets their fitness needs.
But that is nothing to worry about again now as this guide will help you decide which indoor rowing machine to invest in next time you are in the market to get one.
The following steps will surely help you:
1. Identify how much space you have
It is important you know if you have enough space for the rowing machine you are going for. Of what good will it be after searching the market for a great rower and you discovered you don’t have enough space to accommodate it?
To prevent this from happening, know that a typical rower has a footprint similar to that of a love seat sofa. This will help you determine your exercise space. Also, know that while water and air resistance machines have a large footprint, hydraulic-piston rowers have a small footprint.
2. Identify your budget and go by it
There are lots of rowing machines on the market having their price ranging from $100 to over $3k. it’s important you figure out your budget so you don’t end up with a machine that will wreck your wallet. However, you will also need to remember that every quality thing comes with a price. So keep that in mind when making your budget.
3. Identify how you will want to use the machine
It is true that the primary reason you are getting a rowing machine is to have some workout exercises. However, you will need to figure out if you are going to be using it for residential or commercial purpose. If you intend to buy this piece of equipment for home use, you will surely don’t have issues with going for anyone of your choice. However, if you will be using it commercially in a gym, boathouses, and health clubs, you may need to go for one that is of commercial-grade and built for heavy use.
4. Learn about the various types of resistance that comes with rowing machines
There are 4 different types of resistance that could come with rowing machines, and they include the air, magnetic, hydraulic-piston, and water resistance. While each of these resistance types has their unique pros and cons, understanding how each of them works will help you decide which one will best meet your needs. This will also help you narrow down your search and help you get the best rower without many hassles.
5. Get your hands on some rowing machine reviews
Now that you know your budget and the type of resistance you will like in your rower, it is important you check users reviews to be sure you are going for the right machine for you. However, when reading reviews, there are specific details you should pay more attention to, including:
- The built and quality of the rowing machine’s material
- Data displayed by the monitor
- How comfortable the seat is
- Check if the machine makes noise
- Check to see if it’s foldable, especially if you have a limited space in your house
- What other users think about the machine
- And many more
Even though it could be quite difficult finding the right rowing machine to buy, I am hoping this review and the buying guide will be of great help to help and lead you a step closer to finding the perfect match for you.