There might not be a better piece of training equipment to add to your home gym than the best rowing machine you can reasonably afford.
Many would argue that a rowing machine addition is almost as important to your home gym set up as your bench press or an “all in one” home gym equipment, and some would even argue that it’s even more important than that.
The kind of training equipment that can double as a cardio machine as well as a strength training solution, such as a quality rowing machine is going to give you a tremendous amount of versatility. Which will help you get every single drop of performance from your training sessions while helping you build the body of your dreams.
Of course, with so many different options to choose from it can be a real nightmare trying to find the best rowing machine for your needs. All of them promise the moon and the stars, but only a handful of them are actually worth owning.
Before we get into the options that we feel are amongst the best solutions out there, it’s important that you know exactly what to look for so that you go into the purchasing decision with both eyes open.
What Kind of Workout are you Looking for
Even though most rowing machines can double as training equipment for cardio and strength training programs, many of them are better suited to one arena or the other. Outline your expectations for how you hope to use your new rowing machine ahead of time, and you’ll be able to find the one that best suits your needs.
How Much Space are you Willing to Dedicate
Standalone rowing machines are going to eat up a bit of your space while portable or “add on” rowing machines are a bit more compact and won’t require the same amount of square footage to get you up and running. Your space availability will likely determine which one of these two different types you’re able to move forward with, so it’s something that you’ll want to think about.
Resistance Mechanism is Absolutely Everything
The type of resistance that your new rowing machine brings to the table is going to make or break its performance and its utility. This is definitely something that you’re going to want to focus on if you’re serious about picking up the best rowing machine on the market today.
Best Rowing Machine Reviews for 2018
1. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
A relatively simple and straightforward rowing machine perfect for home gyms that do not have a tremendous amount of space to spare, the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine isn’t quite as efficient or as “full-featured” as some of the larger rowing machines out there – but it definitely gets the job done all the same.
- Super compact footprint allows you to set up this rowing machine almost anywhere
- Adjustable “gas shock” resistance mechanism lets you tailor your workouts
- Control and command center monitors workout duration, stroke count, and the amount of calories you burn
- Super sturdy 100% steel frame construction promises years and years of utility
What’s to like about Stamina Body Trac Glider
Even though you aren’t going to be getting the full rowing experience like you would with other full-sized machines, the rowing workout that you get with this compact setup is almost as good.
The adjustable rowing arms offer a full range of motion, the sturdy steel construction is as stable as can be, and the rowing deck itself will slide and glide without any extra effort whatsoever.
What’s not to like
As mentioned above, this isn’t the traditional kind of rowing machine, and may not be perfectly suited to those that want to flip between cardio style exercises and strength training exercises. The variable resistance system isn’t quite as flexible as other options, but for a compact rowing machine this is probably as good as it gets (or close to it).
All things considered, this is a perfect starter style rowing machine, and definitely a piece of exercise equipment that will help get the job done. For the price, it’s a top option, and we are comfortable giving it 4 out of 5 stars.
2. Sunny Health Rowing Machine
Another relatively compact and very portable rowing machine, this top option from Sunny Health and Fitness is going to give you a more complete workout comparable to some of the full-featured rowing machines out there without eating up a tremendous amount of floor space in the process.
Comfortable, adjustable, and intelligently designed, there’s a lot to like what it comes to this particular rowing machine.
- A dozen different levels of adjustable resistance make this perfect for cardio and strength training
- Smooth running seat allows you to get an efficient workout in without any jumps or stutters
- Adjustable deck and put straps make this a true “one-size-fits-all” piece of exercise equipment
- Command and control module tracks important workout details
What’s to like about Sunny Rowing Machine
The 12 different levels of adjustable resistance make this one of the more versatile compact “starter” rowing machines, and definitely one of the best rowing machine options at this price point. It’s also nice that the entire unit is almost infinitely adjustable, giving you a true one-size-fits-all kind of solution.
What’s not to like
Some have reported that the compact nature of this rowing machine isn’t exactly the stable list of rowing machines (especially when you’re really plowing through a high intensity cardio workout), but the outriggers themselves are pretty stable and this is going to stay upright on almost any floor surface.
At the end of the day, there are a bunch of different rowing machine options out there to pick and choose from, but you aren’t going to be able to go wrong with the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine. We give it 4.6 out of 5 stars.
3. Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine
As full-featured a rowing machine as you are likely to find, this particular rowing machine is as good as it gets (though you’ll definitely have to shell out the extra dough to get your hands on this machine).
Infinitely adjustable, extremely comfortable and smooth operating, and able to “breakdown” for easy storage, this is a professional and commercial gym quality rowing machine that you can set up in your own home.
- Flywheel design almost eliminates operating noise while still promoting and effortless“glide” as far as rowing motion is concerned
- Proprietary “Performance Monitor 5” technology gives incredibly accurate workout data and information on every single row
- 14 inch sliding seat is infinitely adjustable and as smooth operating as they get
- Variable resistance mechanism allows you to train at your own pace for the results that you want most
What’s to like about Concept2 Rowing Machine
One of the bestselling indoor rowing machines you’re going to find on the planet today, this particular rowing machine has been engineered to last a lifetime and then some.
Absolutely everything about this rowing machine is top notch and high quality through and through, and you’re going to find it almost impossible to choose any other rowing machine if you’ve got the budget for this one.
Smooth in operation, variable as far as resistance is concerned and engineered to last practically forever, this is far and away one of (if not THE) very best rowing machine on the market right now.
What’s not to like
On the other hand, the people behind this rowing machine know that it’s one of the best options money can buy and have priced it accordingly. A lot of people have reported that they’d love nothing more than to own this rowing machine, but it’s a little bit more expensive than they expected – and that something that you’ll have to understand going into this investment.
But as far as “buy it for life” exercise equipment goes, it really isn’t going to get any better than this.
Easily the most impressive home rowing machine we’ve reviewed, we give this the full five out of five rating and have zero reservations about it!
4. Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
Magnetic resistance of rowing machines really exploded onto the marketplace about 15 years or so ago, but the technology just wasn’t quite there yet to make them a truly viable option.
Nothing could be further from the truth today.
The technology has been refined significantly, and now many people consider magnetic resistance systems to be some of the best out there – and a lot of them consider them to be far more impressive than wind or resistance options that used to be quite popular.
This Velocity Exercise magnetic rower take advantage of advanced magnetic resistance technology to definitely delivered the goods.
- Drum Magnetic Control proprietary resistance technology allows effortless transition between resistance levels
- Precision molded saddle and effortless “slip and slide” rowing deck makes this a dream to use at high speed
- Anodized aluminum construction material throughout make this a lightweight rowing machine
- Equipped with command and control monitor that tracks all workout progress
What’s to like about Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
The real star of the show here has to be the magnetic resistance mechanism of this rowing machine. If you’ve used older style rowing machines in the past, this is going to be a jarring transition (but definitely a welcome change).
The resistance mechanism is smooth, efficient, and infinitely adjustable, something that simply cannot be said about more traditional mechanical rowing machine setups.
What’s not to like
At the same time, you’re definitely going to have to spend a bit of extra money to get your hands on this advanced magnetic rowing machine compared to more comparable options that use mechanical resistance mechanisms.
The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is certainly one of the most impressive rowing machines you’ll come across today, and it’s one of our favorites for those that don’t have a tremendous amount of space to dedicate to a home rowing set up. We give it our 4.4 out of 5 rating.
5. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Those looking for a more authentic rowing experience indoors are going to want to seriously consider getting their hands on the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor.
As close as it gets to jumping in a row boat and hitting open water, this professional rowing machine is manufactured out of 100% full Ash wood material and uses a water flywheel mechanism to give you the same kind of feel that you would have gotten out on the lake while rowing.
- Handcrafted rowing machine has been built to withstand a hurricane and should last decades
- Water flywheel mechanism most accurately replicates actual rowing motion out on the water
- Almost silent flywheel operation and “self regulated” resistance gives you the kind of workout that you’ve been searching for without noisy equipment that needs to be maintained
- As solid and stable a rowing machine as you’re going to come across today
What’s to like about WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Whenever you’re talking about a rowing machine that actually uses water to produce the kind of resistance that you are getting you’re talking about something special, and that’s exactly what this rowing machine is.
Magnetic resistance, tensioner resistance, and air resistance systems just can’t quite compete with the “real deal”, which is what helps to separate this rowing machine from all others.
What’s not to like
You are going to have to have a tremendous amount of space to set this rowing machine up in your home – it isn’t the most portable thing you’ve ever purchased. Not only that, but it’s more than a little bit on the heavier side of things, and you’ll have to replenish the water supply when you get ready to row.
If you are dying to experience the “real thing” while rowing, it just doesn’t get a whole lot better than the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor. It’s as close to an authentic rowing experience as you’re going to find outside of actually jumping in a boat and hitting the lake, which is why we give it 4.7 out of 5 stars.
6. Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
Another compact rowing machine that really folds up to almost nothing for effortless storage when not in use, this rowing machine helps to separate itself from the rest of the compact units out there by providing a full range of rowing motion thanks to its “free motion” rowing arms.
The Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms may not look quite as impressive as some of the other machines out there, but it’s definitely going to get the job done, that’s for sure!
- Super compact size makes this a dream for those that want to be able to row in tight spaces (like in an apartment)
- Hydraulic cylinder resistance system offers adjustable tension and smooth operation without any extra maintenance necessary
- Command and control system tracks all of your workout metrics for you and stores them for up to 30 days
- Full range of motion on the rowing arms allow you to get in a close to authentic rowing workout
What’s to like about Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine
The star of the show here has to be the smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance mechanism and the full range of motion rowing arms, as both of them pair up nicely to give you an authentic rowing experience even if you are as landlocked as it gets.
What’s not to like
Because it is so compact and designed for effortless storage it isn’t quite as stable or as solid under high-intensity workouts, but that’s really only because it’s manufactured out of lightweight (but still incredibly strong) construction materials. Sometimes this rowing machine gets to rocking back and forth a bit!
In the world of compact rowing machines, there really aren’t too terribly many out there that are better than the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms. We feel completely comfortable giving it a 4.1 out of 5 rating.
7. Stamina Air Rower
Air resistance rowing machines were some of the first few to be offered for home gym applications and are one of the “tried and true” methods for adding resistance that we know flat out works.
Not quite as efficient or as smooth motion as some of the newer resistance mechanisms out there, you can usually pick up a rowing machines like this one a lot cheaper than other options which definitely makes them pretty attractive.
- Wind resistance mechanism offers variable attention to give you the kind of workout that you have been searching for
- Super comfortable seat and oversized footplate’s make this a one-size-fits-all kind of machine
- Entire unit folds into the right position so that it can be stored when not in use without any trouble
- Three-year warranty gives you the confidence you need when purchasing a new piece of exercise equipment
What’s to like about Stamina Air Rower
The variable wind resistance mechanism is going to allow you to custom-tailor your workouts when you row with this machine, allowing you to flip from cardio focused workouts to strength training workouts – and then back again – without too much headache at all.
What’s not to like
The wind resistance mechanism, the other hand, isn’t quite as smooth operating as magnetic resistance or even water resistance, so you’re going to have to expect at least a little bit of stuttering – especially when you’re really ripping through a high-intensity training program.
For the money, you might not find a better rowing machine than the Stamina Air Rower, even if it is using older resistance technology to get the job done. It still remains one of the best rowing machine options money can buy, which is why we give it a 4.3 out of 5-star rating.
Choosing from the Best Rowing Machine Reviews
At the end of the day, you’re going to want to make sure that your money is going towards the best rowing machine for your specific needs. Hopefully, we’ve been able to point you in the right direction with the information we provided for you above.
If you’d like a “short list” of recommendations as far as what we feel are the best rowing machine options out there right now, we feel that you simply can’t go wrong with the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine, the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower, and the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5.
Those are the best of the best as far as we’re concerned!
How to Use a Rowing Machine
Rowing machines have become popular in the world of fitness thanks to their ability to simulate water rowing. The benefits of indoor rowing have been discovered soon after the invention of the first rower. Today’s technology helps indoor rowers monitor the activity and a wide variety of indicators that help improve one’s health and workout routine.
Today, every gym has at least one rowing machine and people who prefer to train at home are more and more interested in knowing how these machines can be properly used.
Why is a rowing machine good for daily exercise
Unlike other fitness machines you can find at the gym, a rowing machine requires you to use the entire body in order to train properly. Trainees who choose to work out on such a machine will notice that almost all muscle groups are put to work during their training.
Rowing is known to be one of the best cardio workouts that can be performed by any healthy person on a machine. Also, people who want to strengthen their cardiovascular system can exercise on rowers after obtaining a physician’s approval.
Weight loss is another one of the reasons why so many people are eager to row. Depending on the training session’s duration and intensity, a person can burn a large amount of calories. If practised daily or at least three times a week, weight loss is inevitable. More than that, the muscles and skin become toned and beautifully shaped.
How to properly use a rowing machine
Indoor rowers are pretty easy to use. Depending on the model, they have several resistance and workout options, but other than setting the machine, the only thing you have to do is row. When rowing, the body position is the most important thing of all. If you tried rowing and you found it too difficult, uncomfortable or painful, you probably had a bad posture during the exercise.
There are four main positions that should always be respected. In order to maintain a proper position, you should first try the finish position. This means that your legs will be straight; your feet will be placed on the footstools, your torso will lean back slightly and your elbows will be pointed outwards. You should be holding the handle with both hands, slightly under your chest level.
During the next step, you will move your arms away, forward, until they are straight. Then you will bend your upper body about 45 degrees. This is the third position. The forth position is when you bend your knees and move the hips towards the machine.
The only thing that you have to do next is to reverse the entire process, a bit faster, by stretching the legs first. You always have to reach the finish position, where your upper body leans back a bit.
In order to properly use the indoor rower, you just have to repeat the same motions over and over. A workout normally lasts between 20-45 minutes, but you can always increase or decrease the interval, depending on your abilities and stamina. When rowing properly, your entire body is exercising.