Best Rowing Machine Reviews and Buying Guide

Last Updated on

Decided you’re going to exercise seriously but bored of treadmills or bicycles or elliptical? Get the best rowing machine and start rowing now!

I’m a personal trainer at the gym, and many of my clients would ask me to recommend the best home rowing machines for them. So I decided to write this blog and I hope that it will help you find the best and right rowing machine for your home.

Types of Rowing Machines

To an untrained eye, rowing machines may look the same. But there are different types of rowing machines which will suit you depending on their intensity.

  • Air Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Air/Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Piston Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Water Resistance Rowing Machines

These different types of rowing machines have different intensity and feel; you might like the magnetic resistance for a quieter workout, or you might prefer water resistance for realistic action. We shall look into the details of each type in my later post.

Rowing is not like other types of exercise equipment such as the treadmill, which might have impact on the knees or ankles, but it still has its safety risks. Rowing’s common injury is the lower back. So, I always tell my trainees to keep the proper techniques in mind while rowing. I will write about these safety tips as well.

Indoor rowing is a good sport for our cardiovascular system, and it’s working more towards strength endurance. You can try interval training with rowing, which will definitely get those calories burning and soon you’ll get toned muscles and a healthier body. Many people row to lose weight too.

Do you know what the fun thing about indoor rowing is which is different with other exercises? There are competitions around the world (even online) for indoor rowing!

Can’t wait to get your rowing machine already?

So how you do choose the best type of rowing machine for yourself?

How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine

Decided on 1 of the 5 types of rowing machine? Yes? Now, you’re ready to look for the best indoor rowing machine for you. There are a few questions to ask yourself before you can decide which is the right rowing machine for home.

  • 1) Have you tried rowing machines before?
  • 2) How often will you use the rowing machine? Casual or serious rowing?
  • 3) Do you have constrained space?
  • 4) Don’t forget to check the weight limit for the rowing machines!
  • 5) Where to put the rowing machine?

Best Rowing Machine Reviews

With so many rowing machines reviews out there, it might be difficult to believe that the best rowing machine exists. It honestly does exist but you must first know what you are specifically looking for!

Different rowing machines and different brands cater for various needs. So, I’ve picked 6 different rowing machines which I believe are best in their respective categories and have created the rowing machine review for each of my recommendations.

Below are my top picks:

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Best for Hardcore Rowers

What makes Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine the best rowing machine compared to other rowing machines in the market?

Check out the sliding seat.

With every row you take, your legs will be compressed and extended together with the muscles in your back and arms. What you’ll gain – strength, flexibility and a toned body!

What I like best about Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

That I know that it is the right rowing machine. Just take a look at any of the rowing machines which are used by those who train in rowing club and this is bound to be there. Sweep rowing or sculling – take your pick!

Go around to the regulars and you’ll understand why these users have been faithful to this particular brand after years of usage. If you’re in it for the long-term investment, this should be essentially the only one to consider seriously.

High Quality and Durable

Extremely durable, you can clock up the miles on this Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine without worrying whether the machine will break down on you the next second. As it is one of the regular machines which rowers train on this, it is pretty much left unsaid that it is there for you for the long-term.

Seemingly indestructible, this piece of equipment has had very little complaint since it was first released on the market – trustworthy, isn’t it?

As this rowing machine does not require high maintenance, the long-term costs shouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Couple of swipes of oil on the chain should do the trick.

ProRower H20 RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine – Best Home Rowing Machine

Calling all home workout enthusiasts, the high-quality ProRower H20 RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine is your answer for the best home rowing machine.

Offering smooth and natural resistance, it feels just like you’re rowing in the water, but at the comforts of your home!

Suitable for Anyone Except Hardcore Athletes

Compared to treadmill or elliptical or the bike, it suits me regardless of how fit you are. Whether you are physically disabled, or a person who craves a good workout, the resistance can be specifically adjusted based on your own capability.

Why? It is almost child’s play to attain the correct form and rhythm, so all you have to remember is to keep a straight back and row in fluid rhythms. Hearing the ‘wooshing’ sound of the water is heavenly!

Good Bargain

Priced relatively lower than the original water rower, this ProRower H20 RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine is a great catch. In fact, K. Rogers, a reviewer, gushed over this rowing machine which worked better than most rowers for people who weighed over 250 pounds.

This machine is almost like an addictive drug. Being unconsciously drawn to use it every time they see it is a motivating way to beat laziness. Perhaps it has to do with the excitement of the swishing sound and trying out different styles of rowing!

However, serious hardcore athletes might want to re-think twice before getting this. Due to the inaccurate monitor, it is difficult to track your progress. Having said that, it will not be a major issue for casual rowers who just want to have a nice workout.

Kettler HKS Ergo Coach LS Rowing Machine-Best for those who want to row at home but want the realistic outdoor feeling

Looking for the answer to train your rowing indoors? Look no further than Kettler HKS Ergo Coach LS Rowing Machine.

With an impressive 500 watts maximum resistance, it would be an exciting challenge even for the fittest of you.

Great for the Hardcore Athletes

By gauging your ability precisely through the built-in programs, the resistance system helps hardcore athletes to find out your true level. With that, you can improve as you train without worrying about heartburn as you can monitor it with the heart-rate-control program.

If you are serious about rowing, the smooth magnetic resistance allows you to up the tempo level by level. Better yet, the 16 various strength training exercises can come in handy to boost your level even further.

Easy to Use

Putting this solid machine together can be done in a blink of an eye. The other ease of use is found in the screen. The 6 different types of pre-set programs can help jump-start your exercise if you’re dilly-dallying.

No more excuses that your body condition is not suitable as the manual setting allows flexible adjustments! The quiet nature of this Kettler HKS Ergo Coach LS Rowing Machine can help you kill two birds with one stone by watching TV or listening to music.

However, it has been commented that since the wheels are too small, you have to decide once and for all where to put your rowing machine. Also, the poor positioning of the power supply for the computer makes it fail at times but Kettler seems reliable in sending technicians.

Stamina 35-1400 ATS Air Rower – Best Rowing Machine for Beginners

Super sturdy Stamina 25-1400 ATS Air Rower makes rowing more enjoyable by being surprisingly comfortable. With the oversized chrome seat rail and molded seat, you can work out for long hours and won’t stand up having as sore a butt as you would on other rowers!

For Occasional Home Use

Just as Stamina warns, it is for home use. Perfect for those who just want to have a little work-out after work now and again, but certainly not for the hardcores!

Instead of hitting the gym, you can save on time and travel costs by zooming right home and work-off the stress from work! At the comforts of your home, you can listen to music or news or whatever you like.

They say good things come in pairs – A rowing machine for physical exercise and as a stress reliever. Need I say more?

Great for Beginners

If you’re about 5 foot 5, the length should be just about right for you. This Stamina 25-1400 ATS Air Rower is actually best for an introduction to rowing (not too hard on resistance). If you’ve never tried rowing before, why not check it out. The price is not too steep and you can see if rowing is up to your taste.

The main complaints about this machine are the noise and the lack of durability for hardcore rowing training.

Nevertheless, these complaints tend to come from people who are very serious in exercising or competitive athletes. So, if you’re not in that category, many of the issues raised by them shouldn’t be a major concern for you.

Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine – Best Value Rowing Machine

Need a best value rowing machine? This hydraulic resistance system in Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine helps you to use all the main muscle groups in just one type of exercise!

What I like best about Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine

The super high quality, really! Don’t believe me? Close your eyes and start rowing: focus on your other senses apart from your sight and it will feel just like you are rowing in a boat on the water!

This feature has been particularly hyped up but surprisingly, this hype can actually be taken at its worth! The fluid action and the sturdy seat – it’s all true!

Best for Tall People

If you’re taller than most, this Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style Rower Rowing Machine saves you the ache of hunting for one that will fit you. No more worries about squeezing your legs and having cramps afterwards. In fact, you will be able to have a full complete extension when rowing without hearing the dreaded ‘clang’ when the seat hits the end of the track.

If your legs need a breather, feel free to make use of this machine’s versatility. It is unique in allowing you to choose to work out your upper body solely. If you’re feeling bored, just fiddle with the level of resistance.

While some first-timers have mentioned the difficulty in setting up the equipment, don’t be daunted! The manual comes in multiple languages and English is one of them.

BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine – Best All-Rounder Rowing Machine

Need cardiovascular exercise but bored of walking or running on the treadmill? BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is one to check out.

With a level of air resistance and other levels of a combination of air and magnetic resistance, you will be able to adjust the intensity according to your likings.

Gives Value for Money

Mostly praised for its value for money, it’s not exorbitantly cheap but it certainly gives you much more worth than most from the same price range.

As a relatively mid-priced rowing machine, you’ll be surprised as how easy it is to assemble it and the quality of the parts. This is certainly one that can withstand constant usage if you’re up for a fair bit of rowing everyday!

If age is catching up on you, this BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is softer on the joints which should not lead to any major injuries.

It’s pretty easy to work up a sweat using this if you want a quick jump-start to your day before you head to work. Most use this as an aerobic workout which will not wear down your shoes too quickly as you don’t even need to step out of your home!

A Few Small Drawbacks

There are some drawbacks which you might want to take note of though. The computer is not entirely accurate but if you’re not a competitive rower, this might not concern you too much.

If you’re planning on listening to music or watch the TV while rowing, you might have to turn the volume a notch higher as the fan is relatively noisy. So, it might restrict your rowing hours if you have plenty of sensitive neighbors.

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower: For everyone looking for a full body workout.

The 15-9003 Deluxe can either be a rower, or fold up to become a recumbent bike. It also has a resistance cord so you can do exercises such as, triceps push downs, curls, and many more.

With the Recumbent/ Rower you can choose to gain muscle and lose fat, all with the same machine. The machine is one of the few that can accommodate all of your workout needs and be stored away so easily.

Key Stamina 15-9003 Info

Prior to purchasing any expensive weight loss equipment you should first spend time researching the products features.  Learning about the features will increase your chances of getting a rower that meets all of your needs.

A few key features of the Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent/ Rower are:

  • Ability to Switch Between Rower and Recumbent Bike
  • Additional Resistance Cord
  • Electronic Monitor

Researching these features prior to making a purchase will help you avoid making an expensive mistake.

Switch Between Rower and Recumbent Bike

While rowers are known for helping users drastically increase their upper body strength, bikes are perfect for those who want to improve their lower body strength.  However, few people can afford to invest in two large pieces of exercise equipment.

The Stamina 15-9003 gives buyers a chance to own two types of exercise equipment without requiring them to figuring out how to purchase and store two different pieces of equipment.

Additional Resistance Cord

Certain types of exercises are easier to complete when they are performed using more resistance.  Kick backs, leg presses, and other workouts build strength and improve muscle when they are completed strong resistance.

The Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent/ Rower comes with an additional resistance cord that anyone who desires a more challenging workout can use and then remove when desired.

Electronic Monitor

The ability to monitor the results of a workout helps individuals who are tracking calories consumed and burned during the day.

Though it is possible to monitor calories burned, heart rate, and pulse manually it can be difficult to track these details while attempting to finish a workout.

The Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent/ Rower has electronic monitoring that tracks not only calories, but the time you have worked out and the distance you have rowed or biked.

Also, the hand grip has electronic sensors that monitor heart rate and pulse.

What Do Others Think?

When it comes to reviews on the Stamina 15-9003, the overall feedback is positive. You can check out what people had to say here, as well as a few negative messages.

Where to Buy?

After looking around the Web and researching buying local, we have determined that your best deal is buying from Amazon, which includes free shipping, making this the best bargain around.

Verdict~Should you buy this?

With so many great features, the Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II, is the best choice when you want a full body workout on one machine.

The conversion machine gives you the option to either burn fat or build lean muscle as you exercise. You can do all upper body exercises or you can work on the lower body. It’s all up to you and your routine.

Owners of the Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent/ Rower are able to benefit from two different types of workout equipment that are easy to use and store.

Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine

The Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine offers consumers a quiet, sturdy exercise machine for building upper body strength through rowing.

Tension is created by both air and magnetic resistance, offering settings that are reasonable for both the weakest to strongest users.

The sturdy frame supports up to 600 pounds; while utilizing the quieter than air technology that allows the machine to switch to magnetic resistance, which automatically occurs in times of high effort.

Full, consistent resistance is maintained by the magnetic system built in the rowing machines design making the Lifecore R100 a machine that serious rowers should consider.

Lifecore R100 Key Features

Since it is a commercial rowing machine, the Lifecore R100 has features that the average home user might not be aware of.

Spending time learning about these features will help a user understand why they can benefit from exercising using the rower.  Key features of the Lifecore R100 rower are:

  • Sixteen Levels of Resistance
  • Multiple Power Source Options
  • Advanced Monitoring Features
  • Several Accessories

Learning about these four features will help a user fully benefit from the well-reviewed rowing machine.

Sixteen Levels of Resistance

When working out using a rowing machine a person benefits from increasing and decreasing resistance in intervals.

The LIfecore R100 has sixteen different resistance levels allowing those who are new to rowing a chance to slowly work their way up to a higher level, and letting someone who is an experienced rower challenge themselves daily.

There are multiple resistance programs stored into the machine for user convenience.

Multiple Power Source Options

Designed to be as convenient as possible, the Lifecore R100 has two different power source options.  In addition to the traditional power supply cord that most rowers have, the R100 can be powered using batteries.

The multiple power source options allow owners of the machine to store the rower in any part of the house even if there is no power outlet nearby for convenient use.

Advanced Monitoring Features

The ability to monitor heart rate, pulse, and calories burned is something that most users look for when considering any new workout equipment.

The Lifecore R100 has an added feature of storing and monitoring user data over periods of time.

Up to four different users can create their own unique user profiles on the machine.  Once their profile is set up, users can store the results of their routine; create their own customized routines, and more.

Several Accessories

Owners of the Lifecore R100 commercial rowing machine also benefit by receiving free accessories that are provided by the machines manufacturer.

Each machine comes with an extra-long rowing machine mat that keeps the machine stable during use helping to prevent damage to the equipment while it is in use.

The machine also comes with wireless heart monitor straps to increase the accuracy of the heart rate readings during exercise.

Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine Reviews

When deciding whether or not to buy this rowing machine, it is helpful to look at actual consumer reviews. We found mostly positive reviews on this machine with a few exceptions. To check out actual customer reviews go here now.

~Final Thoughts~

While choosing a commercial quality rowing machine is not something that should be done without careful thought, there are certain things that you can research that will help you speed up the decision making process.

Learning about the multiple features of the Lifecore R100 will help you decide whether or not it is the right rowing machine for you.

Though it is intended for commercial use, the advanced monitoring options, several resistance levels, free accessories, and different power supply options combined makes the rower one model that all serious shoppers should consider.

Types of Rowing Machines Explained

Below are five different types of rowing machines, where you can find the difference in terms of the level of resistance:

1) Air Resistance Rowing Machines

Favored over many other rowing machines, this type of rower gives you a smoother row, allowing you to feel as though you were rowing outdoors in the open water. Resistance is generated by a fan or a propeller. This means, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance. So, you can get a better work out through the combination of both aerobic and a total body strength/ tone training.

If you have less space in your home, find models that can be folded as air these machines are typically long. Oh and if you’re environmentally conscious, it’s a machine that fits the bill and which won’t burn a hole in your pocket as it does not use much electricity!

2) Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines

The advantage over the air resistance rowing machine is it is quieter and offers an easy level for beginners. The magnetic resistance rowing machines tend to be chosen by casual or first-time rowers while the air resistance rowing machine is usually chosen by professional and competitive rowers. Beginners also like the silent rowing action as they can watch the TV or listen to music at the same time.

The downside is the higher the tension, the higher the amount of electrical energy consumed by the electromagnets. So if you’re not looking towards high electric bills in the long run, this may not be the rowing machine for you.

3) Air and Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines

As the name itself says, this rowing machine is a combination of air resistance and magnetic resistance. This means, you have the freedom to choose any of these options when you want to work out.

Present features are different weight capacities, programmable settings and tension adjustment, the air/magnetic resistance rowing machine is basically the combination of the features mentioned above in the air resistance rowing machines and the magnetic resistance rowing machines.

4) Piston Resistance Rowing Machines

Whoever said rowing is only a luxury item should check out Piston resistance rowing machine. It serves another purpose for those who live in small flats/ apartments as the smaller size take less space.

The downside is that as it is small and might not suit tall people. Serious rowers usually do not buy this as they do not give you the satisfaction of a full elongation.

5) Water Resistance Rowing Machines

Water resistance rowing machine can mimic the real-like rowing function, just like the air resistance rowing machine. Even though they are foldable (ideal for storage purposes), they are better in terms of letting you enjoy a full rowing motion. It is also quieter and good for building high levels of stamina.

A common issue noted by serious rowers is that it is not as efficient as the air rowing machines. A final point is that it is more expensive to buy although the different frames make them look attractive.

Safety Tips when Using a Rowing Machine

Like all exercise, do be careful not to over-exert or to exercise in the wrong technique.

Before you row, tick off from this checklist:

  • Check with your doctor if it is safe for you to undertake rowing
  • If possible, look at the manual for rowing and get a trainer for proper techniques
  • Start off with easy rowing to warm-up your muscles
  • Slowly build intensity and add time into your program. Start with a few minutes and add to it each day
  • A good target will be between 24 and 30 strokes per minute
  • There are a few positions/ techniques in general when it comes to rowing

1. Catch Position/ Starting position

  • Take a seat and strap your feet firmly onto the foot pads
  • Grab the handles, extend your arms straight while keeping your wrists flat
  • Slide forward on the seat but stop when your shins are vertical
  • Bend forward slightly at the hips Follow the starting position: extend your arms straight and keep your wrists flat

2. Drive Position

  • Extend your legs and push off from the foot pads
  • Keep your core tight, straighten your arms and keep a firm back to transfer the power to the handles
  • Bend your arms and lean your upper body back as you straighten your knee
  • The motion ends with a slightly backward lean

3. Finishing Position

  • To pull the handle into your abdomen, bend your elbows and extend your legs
  • Just lean ever so slightly to the back from your hips

4. Recovery Position

  • Straighten your elbows and your arms will extend automatically
  • Follow that by leaning forward from your upper body
  • Slowly bend your knees to slide forward, coming to the starting position

Now that you have learned the techniques, watch out for common mistakes:

  • Leaning too far back or leaning too far forward can cause back pain
  • If you keep your arms loose, that will jerk the handle back and will not let you strengthen your arms fully

So what’s the secret to rowing beautifully?

  • Practice, practice, practice!
  • Don’t rush, take your time to improve. Geniuses aren’t made in a day
  • Don’t let your legs laze around. Get them rowing, not just with the arms!

As you can see from the above, it’s not about achieving the perfect technique in a minute or in a day. Start slowly, focusing on technique instead of brute strength. Don’t work-out intensely in your first session as your muscles may not have time to adapt. That might result in a backlash, with too sore muscles or strained muscles, which will be worse as you might have to put practicing rowing on hold for an even longer period of time.

All sports take time to learn but rowing is easy to progress once you have picked it up!

Patrick Mahinge is a freelance writer and journalist, lover of sleep, and all other good things. Much of my writing focuses on healthy living lifestyle. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply