Best Rowing Machine
Indoor rowers have multiple uses as they can be used by avid rowers to train in the off season or by regular Joes looking to build muscle and cardio strength at the same time. When you are looking for the perfect rower, you should be aware of both your budget and space issues in your home. While indoor rowers are a great form of exercise, they can take up a lot of room inside your home. By comparing these rowers and their unique features you are sure to find the machine that fits your needs perfectly. Be sure to check out our rowing machine buyer's guide which outlines all the essentials you need to know about these classic pieces of workout equipment.
WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor
Kettler Coach E Indoor Rower
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Water Rower Slider Dynamic Rower
Stamina DT Pro Rower
ProForm 440R Rower
Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine
Stamina X Air Rower
Avari Free Motion Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness Ultra Tension Magnetic Pro Rower
There is no more natural feeling rower than the Water Rower Club Model. Basically everything you need to know is already in the name. Water Rower does not specify a maximum weight capacity, but they do boast about the durability and longevity of the frame and since it is a club model it is pretty much guaranteed to be weight rated at least at 500 pounds. The other part of the name is what makes this rower especially incredible. Nothing gets more natural feeling than the resistance of water, and it provides a consistent resistance on the eccentric and concentric motion.
The only downside to water resistance is that it is loud and there is not a lot that you can do about it, but the one negative is worth all of the positives. Water Rower spares no luxury with their S4 monitor which is both advanced and user friendly. It has four separate windows to easily read all of your key metrics at a glance and easy to use buttons for more advanced rowers. This device also comes with an optional heart rate monitor which always a benefit no matter the machine.
Kettler’s name is associated with excellence because of their high standards and solid manufacturing. The Coach E has a slightly smaller footprint for its class of rower, but can still support weights up to 300 pounds. This rower uses magnetic resistance which is smooth, nearly silent, and adjustable to continue to challenge you during your workout. Not to be outdone, Kettler has one of the best display screens you will ever find. It shows 8 different windows which puts all of your key metrics and more at your fingertips. Kettler provides a wireless heart rate monitor which is a nice touch. It is also designed to fold for storage and has additional attachments to open up even more workout options.
Concept2 may not be as widely known as some other fitness product manufacturers, but you can bet that their users swear by them. This machine is long, but it has an incredibly slim frame that folds up when you aren’t using it and can still support users up to 500 pounds. It has a small, but heavy flywheel which offers smooth wind resistance with minimal noise. The display is really what makes this rower stand out against other models. The screen is large and backlit which makes it easy to read all of your key metrics and the multi-button system makes scanning through your metrics a breeze. The monitor comes with an adjustable arm to perfectly place the screen at eye level and a USB port to record your workouts. This device also comes equipped with the ability to connect a wireless heart rate monitor.
Water Rower Slider Dynamic Rower
With a name as generic as Water Rower, you would think that their products belong in the trash; but don’t judge a book by its cover as it’s actually the exact opposite. This machine uses air resistance which is smooth and consistent, but tends to be a little on the noisy side. Fortunately, this rower is perfectly designed for both comfort and is just as functional when not in use thanks to the frames folding capability.
Water Rower doesn’t offer a weight capacity for this device which likely means the rower is designed to withstand more than a human being could put on it. Just in case something does go wrong, this manufacturer does offer a warranty up to five years. The monitor on this devices is large and well-lit with a button for each key metric which makes navigating the display simple. The Slider Dynamic also has one of the most impressive features that you will ever find in a rower as it can connect with other Slider Dynamics to simulate an actual team row.
Stamina is well known for delivering quality products at a reasonable price, but even a middle of the line model has their top tier products. The DT Pro puts together all of the features that you would want all in the same package. The steel and aluminum frame makes this frame lightweight and easy to move, but still supports weights up to 300 pounds. When you’re not using the DT Pro, you can fold it up to save space, especially if you’re somewhere where available room is at a premium.
This Stamina rower is unique because it combines both air and magnetic resistance for smooth and quiet movement. As far as monitors go, this one offers of the most advanced on the market. Personally, I love the large blue backlit screen which is easy to read and easy to navigate with its large side buttons. The screen displays all of your key metrics as well as of the 12 workout programs that are built in.
ProForm is a go to company for quality fitness equipment which makes the price of this rower surprising. At just over six feet long it’s not exactly short, but that’s still fairly compact for a rower and it also folds up nicely when not in use. The 440R has a simple turn dial controls eight levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance along with an extra setting which allows you to move the bar and use the rower as a strength training machine for hundreds of exercises.
The rowers seat is surprisingly comfortable for its shape and the handle is perfectly padded and non-slip for comfort and safety. While the max support weight of 250 pounds isn’t exactly the best, it’s good for a budget machine and the monitor is large and easy to read with a single button for easy navigation. Backed by a five year warranty, the Proform 440R offers a lot of good stuff at a decent price.
When it comes to rowers Kettler is the gold standard which makes it a pleasant surprise that they have a rower in the budget category. The Favorit uses hydraulic resistance which is nice and quiet and offers smooth resistance on both the eccentric and concentric motions. The resistance is adjustable, but it’s a little more difficult than just turning a dial.
At just 4.3 feet in length this is one of the most compact rowers on the market. The units display screen is large and clear with five separate windows to view all of your key metrics at a single glance. The seat is extra padded for comfort, sliding back and forth with ease while the handles and foot rests are specifically designed for comfort and safety. You’re also getting an optional heartrate monitor which is hard to find on any rower, much less a budget model.
Stamina is a great company when it comes to reliable machines at affordable prices and this rower is no exception. The rowers air resistance offers smooth and infinite because of the wind resistance as well as a creating a cooling breeze around the room; however, the tradeoff here is it’s much louder than magnetic or hydraulic resistance types. At six and a half feet long, it’s not exactly compact, but much shorter than a full-size rower.
This pick is no stranger to comfort either, offering a nicely padded seat, oversized foot pedals, and comfortable foam grip handles which are slip resistant. The screen is a great size and it is easy to read all of your key metrics, which combined with single button scanning, makes it easy to navigate during your workout. This rower does only support weights up to 250 pounds which is a little bit of a drawback but a three year warranty on their solid steel frame makes up for this shortcoming.
The Avari Free Motion Rower is only one of many great rowers in Stamina’s Avari Collection. The free motion rower was chosen out of the Avari collection because of its namesake. The free motion of the handles allows for a very realistic rowing motion while the rowers hydraulic resistance is both smooth and quiet. To give you added variety during your workout, this rower provides both both eccentric and concentric resistance motions.
At just under five feet in length it already sports a pretty small footprint, but this thing folds up tight enough to store in your closet. The screen is pretty basic and fairly small but it works great for a rower of this size, while the single button navigation is perfect for a rower. The only features of this rower that aren’t compact are the seat and foot pedals which are oversized to ensure operator comfort.
This particular model from Sunny is quite the anomaly because it’s both higher quality for a budget model and offers more than many of its competitors. At a little over seven feet in length, it’s the “largest” rower on our list but the increased size does add to the machines overall stability. This device offers 10 levels of magnetic resistance which are smooth, quiet, and easy to adjust.
The LCD screen is large and placed in a perfect position which makes it easy to navigate and even easier to read. There’s also a padded seat and non-slip handle bars which make make rowing for long periods of time something that’s actually enjoyable to do. The most impressive aspect of this machine is its ability to enhance your workout with the addition of a wireless heart rate monitor (sold separately) which is a rarity among budget rowers.
Rowing Machine Buyer's Guide
If you’ve already started looking for a rowing machine, then you know how intimidating it can be. There are tons of parts and features to consider when making your rower purchase like size, fit, technology, warranty, and more resistance types than any other type of cardio equipment. This buyer’s guide will answer all the questions you may have and some that you hadn’t even thought about yet to help you pick out the perfect rowing machine.
Is a Rower for You?
The answer is a resounding yes; save for space considerations or injury a rowing machine is the best piece of cardio equipment out there. It combines strength and cardio for a killer workout every time and offer some real world applications. Almost anyone can benefit from a rower, now it is up to you to decide which rower will benefit your specific needs the most.
Air resistance rowers are a favorite among serious rowers because of their smooth and accurate simulation of actual rowing. These rowers offer resistance through friction caused by the air which means the harder you row, the more resistance there will be; however, unlike other cardio machines rowers offer a damper to adjust the resistance level. The one major downside to air resistance is it can get unbearably loud sometimes.
Magnetic resistance is popular in almost every form of cardio equipment because it offers a smooth and quiet resistance without breaking the bank. This type of resistance work by activating and deactivating different magnets on the flywheel in order to increase or decrease resistance. Magnetic resistance can be found in many mid-level and upper-level rowers.
This is definitely one of the most unique forms of resistance out there for cardio equipment and would be much more popular if it wasn’t so expensive. You will not find a more realistic rowing experience than with water resistance as you are literally pulling through water just like you would in an actual boat. Other than the price, the only real downside to this type of resistance is it can be a little noisy when you really get going with your workout.
Hydraulic resistance works when force is applied to an incompressible liquid, usually and oil, so that liquid is moved to another point creating resistance in the process. Hydraulic resistance is never a good idea unless you are strapped for space and cash. They’re usually under $400 and fold up when not in use, but the movement is a little jerky and certainly not as quiet as a magnetic rower.
Size is a major factor with a rowing machine as most of them take up a lot of space. Your rowing machine must not only fit in the space you have picked out for it, but it must also fit your height and weight capacity. Unfortunately people will often buy machines with smaller footprints only to find out it doesn’t support their body type.
It may not seem like it, but the console may be more important on a rowing machine than on any other piece of exercise equipment. Whether the console simply shows the key metrics or an advanced touch screen with built in workouts, it has to be big and clear enough so you can read it while moving further away, but not so big that it interferes with the natural rowing movement.
Rowing requires great form to get the maximum benefit which means your rower needs to be ergonomic. You want to make sure the seat is comfortable, offers decent support and is wide enough to disperse your weight evenly over the entire seat. You also want to make sure the handles aren’t too wide nor too thin with adequate padding; otherwise, your hands and forearms will tire out prematurely.
Rowers are pretty simple but some of the upper level models do come with a few extra features like downloadable workouts and progress trackers. With so many moving parts, you also want to make sure your new rowing machine includes a comprehensive and long-lasting manufacturer’s warranty.