10 Best Rowing Machines Of 2020 – Reviews And Buying Guide

by Annie Jangam
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Rowing is one of the best cardiovascular activities. Rowing machines can help you tone and strengthen your core muscles without exerting pressure on your joints. The rowing motion targets all the major muscle groups and provides a total body workout. It increases your heart rate and improves circulation. Rowing burns more calories in lesser time than other aerobic machines, making it an ideal choice for a workout.

Products
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Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine
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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
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WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine
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Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
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NordicTrack RW Rower – Most Customizable Rowing Machine
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Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5
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Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
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Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
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ProForm 440R Rower
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Depending on the resistance system and resistance level used, they provide a range of workouts catering to elders who require low-impact exercise to Olympic athletes who want to replicate intense water rowing indoors. Rowing machines are compact enough to be used both at home or in the gym. Most of them can be transported and stored easily.

This article discusses the benefits and key features of the 10 best rowing machines available right now. We have also compiled a comprehensive buying guide discussing the types of resistance used in rowing machines and other important characteristics to keep in mind while purchasing one.

10 Best Rowing Machines – 2020

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5 Performance Monitor –Best Rowing Machine Overall


Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is so versatile that it caters to the needs of professional rowers, fitness enthusiasts, and even beginners seeking effective cardiovascular workout at home. The lowimpact exercise engages all the muscle groups, helping in burning calories effectively. It is made with commercial-grade material and is sturdy for use in a boathouse, gym, or home. Its powder-coat finish is durable while the 14” high seat is designed to fit most users. The Performance Monitor 5 lets you control your workout intensity in real time. This air-resistance rower is easy to assemble and store, making it an ideal rowing machine for people who like to work out at home.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 96″
  • Width: 24″
  • Height: 14″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 57 lbs
  • Resistance System: Air

Key Features

  • Air resistance rower
  • Suitable for home use
  • 14” seat

Pros

  • Preset workouts
  • 500 lbs user weight capacity
  • Caster wheels offer mobility
  • Easy to assemble
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Minimal noise

Cons

  • Steel chain requires maintenance

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2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine has 12 levels of resistance that let you customize your fitness routine. It is ergonomically designed with commercialgrade steel and is equipped with a smooth gliding seat, non-slip grip handles, and pivoting foot plates, making it the perfect choice for a home gym. The LCD screen displays the calories burned and time duration, which helps you track your progress during low-impact aerobic exercises. This machine helps in working out your arms, abs, glutes, back, and legs simultaneously. Thus, this home rower with hydraulic resistance provides effective an workout for all body types.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 54″
  • Width: 20″
  • Height: 23″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 20.5 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • 12 levels of hydraulic resistance
  • Non-slip handles and foot pedals

Pros

  • 220 lbs user weight capacity
  • Non-slip pedal
  • Adjustable foot strap
  • Wide cushioned seat
  • Digital display

Cons

  • Limited range of motion

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3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine


Another amazing product from Sunny Health & Fitness makes it to our list. The SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machineis a magnetic rowing machine that is sturdy and robust and designed with 8 levels of adjustable tension, a fully padded seat, large anti-slip foot pedals, and an LCD monitor. The LCD console displays time, count, calories, total count, and scan. The range of motion is smoother and quieter than nonmagnetic rowing machines. It also has transport wheels, making it convenient to move around. This is a great machine for intense workouts to build endurance and stamina.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 82″
  • Width: 19″
  • Height: 23″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 59 lbs
  • Resistance System: Magnetic Piston

Key Features

  • 8 levels of magnetic tension
  • Smooth resistance

Pros

  • Noiseless
  • Extra-long slide rail
  • Strong resistance
  • Non-slip foot pedals
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Foam grip handlebars

Cons

  • Tiny electronic monitor

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4. WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine – Best Water Resistance Rowing Machine


Water Rower Classic Rowing Machine is handcrafted with American black walnut wood and finished with Danish oil. The wood absorbs most vibrations to give a smooth and quiet rowing experience. Its patented Water Flywheel mimics the dynamics of a boat in water and creates the feeling of natural rowing in water. The paddles are actually attached to a tank filled with real water! It does not need a motor as it works on a self-regulating resistance system. The 4performance monitor is userfriendly and tracks workout intensity, heart rate, duration, distance, and stroke rate. This is one of the best water rowing machines currently available.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 83″
  • Width: 24″
  • Height: 21″
  • Storage: Upright
  • Weight: 117 lbs
  • Resistance System: Water

Key Features

  • Amazing craftsmanship
  • Water resistance
  • Patented Water Flywheel technology
  • Exercises 84% of your muscle mass

Pros

  • Pulleys don’t require lubrication or maintenance
  • Smooth and fluid motion
  • Noiseless
  • Easy to assemble
  • High quality

Cons

  • No backlight in the monitor

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5. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine – Best Budget-Buy Rowing Machine


Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine has a steel frame and an aluminum center beam. This machine’s ball-bearing roller system and adjustable cylinder resistance arm create a seamless and smooth rowing motion. This hydraulic rower can be adjusted to the desired intensity of workout. The LCD monitor tracks the total strokes accumulated, calories burned, and workout time. The machine is designed with comfort in mind, so the molded seat, adjustable nylon straps, and textured surface come in handy during long workout routines. This low-maintenance machine can be used in a small space.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 50″
  • Width: 12″
  • Height: 10″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 39 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • Compact foot plates
  • Smooth ball-bearing roller system
  • Full-motion arms

Pros

  • Comfortable molded seat
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Foldable arms
  • Compact storage
  • Textured foot plates
  • Foam-padded hand grips

Cons

  • Not very sturdy

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6. NordicTrack RW Rower – Most Customizable Rowing Machine


NordicTrack RW Rower comes with Interactive Personal Training that you can avail from home. It offers two types of resistance. The first one is a coach-controlled resistance with up to 26 levels, customized to your fitness goals. The second type is manual air resistance, which lets you increase the intensity and build strength. The silent magnetic resistance (SMR) and an inertia-enhanced flywheel help in experiencing rowing at home. This rowing machine comes with a 22” HD SMART touchscreen display, space-saving design, an adjustable console angle, and an ergonomic molded seat for a comfortable but efficient workout. It is compact and has built-in wheels that make it easy to transport and store.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 86.5″
  • Width: 22″
  • Height: 50.4″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 130.6 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • Interactive Personal Training
  • Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR)
  • Innovative SpaceSaver design

Pros

  • Interactive coach-guided training
  • Two forms of resistance
  • Adjustable console angle
  • Convenient storage and transport
  • Quiet, energy-efficient workouts

Cons

  • The HD smartscreen needs improvement

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7. Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5 – Most Portable Rowing Machine


Concept 2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine is durable, sleek, and suitable for use at home or at the gym. It is available in two colors: light gray and black. The durable 20” frame offers mobility and flexibility. The resistance is controlled by a spiral damper and a flywheel. This is a quiet machine that offers a smooth rowing experience. The glossy double coat finish does not need frequent oiling. This commercial-grade indoor rower also comes with a Performance Monitor 5 that has a strong back light and a USB port. Your workout data can be stored in a flash drive. This exercise equipment works out the entire body.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 96″
  • Width: 24″
  • Height: 20″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 63.9 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • 20” frame height for better mobility
  • Double powder coat with a glossy finish to protect against scratches

Pros

  • Adjustable monitor angle
  • Higher seat
  • Real-time reliable data
  • Easy to assemble
  • Stores in two pieces
  • Low maintenance

Cons

  • Performance Monitor 5 needs to be updated

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8. Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine – Most Compact Rowing Machine


Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine has adjustable hydraulic resistance thatoffers a smooth gliding motion. It has a strong steel frame, making it one of the most durable rowers currently available. It is space-saving as it comes with foldable arms, adjustable footplates, and a molded seat for comfort.  This ergonomic and compact rowing machine has an easy-to-read LCD monitor that records various parameters like calories burned, time, and total rowing count.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 50″
  • Width: 36.2″
  • Height: 20″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 34 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • Space-saving
  • Durable steel frame construction

Pros

  • Adjustable hydraulic resistance
  • Large footplates with safety straps
  • Easy-to-read LCD monitor
  • Foldable arms
  • Durable
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Needs more resistance levels

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9. Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower – Best Rowing Machine For Beginners


Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower features drum magnetic control and electronic tension control that provide strong resistance. This rowing machine is very smooth and quiet. It has a sturdy aluminum frame, non-slip foot pedals, and a molded foam seat that compliments your posture and form while working out. Various parameters such as pulse rate, strokes per minute, distance, and calories are captured on the LCD monitor. It also comes with 12 programs, out of which 6 are preset.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 80″
  • Width: 20″
  • Height: 29″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight:75 lbs
  • Resistance System: Magnetic drum

KeyFeatures

  • Drum magnetic control system helps in noise reduction
  • Heart rate monitor

Pros

  • Large molded foam seat
  • Noiseless
  • Big non-slip foot pedals with Velcro straps
  • Folds for easy storage
  • Sturdy frame

Cons

  • Difficult to transport
  • Poor resistance

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10. ProForm 440R Rower – Best Lightweight Rowing Machine


ProForm 440R Rower is integrated with an inertia-enhanced flywheel that creates a smooth and steady motion. It offers 8 levels of resistance, making it an excellent option for strength and endurance training. It is quite sturdy with a lightweight aluminum seat rail and large bike pedals that can be secured with straps. This portable rower is designed with an ergonomically molded cushioned seat. A large LCD monitor measures your progress by tracking strokes per minute, distance, total number of strokes, calories, and time duration.

Product Dimensions

  • Length: 77″
  • Width: 21″
  • Height: 38″
  • Storage: Upright/Foldable
  • Weight: 61.7 lbs
  • Resistance System: Hydraulic Piston

Key Features

  • Inertia-enhanced flywheel for a noise-free experience
  • Integrated dual-action strength training (8 resistance levels)
  • Extra-large pedals with adjustable nylon foot straps

Pros

  • 8 rowing resistance levels
  • Large pedals
  • Adjustable foot straps
  • Compact
  • Easy to transport

Cons

  • Not very sturdy

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Those were the ten best rowing machines available right now. Listed in the next section are some of the features to keep in mind while buying one for your home/gym. 

Buying Tips For Rowing Machines

Type of Resistance

The rowing experience of the user is dependent on the type of resistance mechanism used in the rowing machine. Each type of resistance has unique characteristics, such as size, noise level, storage capacity, and price. The four major types of resistance in indoor rowing machine are:

  1. Water Resistance: Rowing machines that use water to create resistance are designed by suspending the paddles in a water tank. The amount of water is proportional to the resistance experienced by the user. When the user pulls the handles, the paddles in the water are set in motion, thus mimicking the feel and resistance of outdoor rowing. The levels of resistance are adjustable and dependent on the user. Though these machines make noise, most people consider the sound of splashing water calming and relaxing. This type of rowing machine gives one of the smoothest rowing experiences. This comes at a price as most of these are made of wood and handcrafted.
  2. Air Resistance:Uses a spinning fan flywheel that spins when the user pulls the handle. The harder the user pulls, the faster the wheel spins, setting in motion the act of rowing. Thus, the resistance the user feels is proportional to the force he uses. This type of resistance is very popular for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and is even preferred by Olympic athletes for practice as it offers a very smooth rowing motion. The rowing machines that use this mechanism need a longer seat rail and are also a little noisy.
  3. Magnetic Resistance: The machines that use magnetic resistance rely on a magnetic brake system that controls the speed of the flywheel. The closer the magnet, the stronger the resistance. There is very little friction, hence it results in a quieter motion. The motion is similar to air resistance but is not as smooth or fluid as that achieved by air resistance. It is perfect for people of all fitness levels as the resistance levels can be adjusted. The salient feature of this type of resistance is its noiseless quality.
  4. Piston/Hydraulic Resistance: Rowing machines that use hydraulic pistons offer more control over resistance.The adjustable resistance comes from the ability to control the amount of fluid in and out of the piston with a manual knob. This also creates levels of resistance that are perfect for people looking for rehabilitative or corrective exercises, such as elders or beginners. They are fairly noiseless and don’t require much space. This is alsoone of the most affordable types of rowing machines currently available. However, they come with a downside, which is they overheat quickly.
  • Stability And Quality

The materials used for building the framework determine the stability of the rowing machine. Most machines are built using stainless steel, lightweight aluminum, or wood, depending on the type of mechanism used. Wood-based rowers are considered to be the best quality.

  • Comfortability And Adjustability

The other components of a rowing machine, such as the seat, handles, and foot pedals, determine how comfortable the experience is going to be for the user. The seat is usually made of plastic but has a cushion to help the user work out for extended periods of time. One of the most common mobility issues is that of sliding seats. Adding extra padding is a great feature for an uninterrupted full-body workout.

Similarly, the handles are padded and sometimes need gloves for a better grip. The handles in certain machines are adjustable, offering more flexibility for a full-body workout. Finally, the size of the foot rests and the straps to keep your feet secured in place help in providing the best rowing experience. Pivot pedals are a great feature to have as they improve the workout experience. Most pedals are large to accommodate all foot sizes, and the adjustable straps help in keeping your feet from falling off.

  • Maximum User Weight

The weight capacity of the rowing machine depends on its build and its own weight. Most rowing machines are sturdy and robust. Some even have a maximum user weight capacity of up to 500 lbs. Thesolid construction of a rowing machine adds to its overall value.

  • Noise Level

The noise level is mostly dependent on the type of resistance used. Rowing machines with magnetic resistance make the least amount of noise.

  • Price

Various factors, such as the material used and the type of technology incorporated, determine the price of a rowing machine. Budget rowing machines with great value are also available.

  • Reliability And Warranty

The warranty of a rowing machine is usually at the discretion of the manufacturer or the brand. Although wooden machines are known to have a longer life, most rowing machines come with a decent warranty. It is a good idea to have a parts warranty as well.

  • Storage Features

Most rowers are compact and lightweight. Some of them can be folded for saving space and easy storage. Most of these machines come with transportation wheels, making them convenient to move around.

  • Row Computer Or Monitor

A staple feature of most rowing machines is a monitor that tracks the intensity of the workout. The display screen tracks various parameters such as the number of strokes, time duration, distance covered, heart rate, and calories burned during a session, which are recorded in real time to give the user an opportunity to adjust their fitness targets.

  • Ease Of Assembly

Most rowing machines are easy to assemble. They come with an instruction manual and there are online resources available, as well. Some brands may also offer at-home assistance for assembly. 

Rowing machines provide one of the best forms of aerobic activities available that can be done in the comfort of your home. Rowing works on the core muscles of both the upper body and the lower body and is a great choice for a full-body workout.

If you would like to make this amazing exercise a part of your fitness regimen, pick up one of the rowing machines listed above. Try it out and let us know about your experience in the comments section below.

Keep rowing for a great workout!

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Annie Jangam

Annie Jangam is a Molecular Biologist with 7 years of research experience in Rice Functional Genomics and Nutrient Signalling with International Publications in Abiotic stress, Nitrogen, and G-protein signaling. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has been an avid reader since childhood and is passionate about stories that help decipher life and its meaning. She believes in Human Rights for all and that one should "love others like we love ourselves."
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