• Home  / 
  • Best Equipment
  •  /  Best Rowing Machine for Home | Top 10 Rowers for Every Budget

Best Rowing Machine for Home | Top 10 Rowers for Every Budget

Best Rowing Machines for Home for Every Budget

Rowing machines have become hugely popular and very affordable, especially in the last couple of years.

We reviewed and rated the best rowing machines whatever your budget is.

Including cheap rowers that you can get for under $100 (!) and up to professional indoor rowers costing up to $1,000 or even more.

We reviewed many rowing machines under $500 that are darn good and will help you get in shape just as good as the more expensive one.

Read on to see which one is best for you.

Why a Rowing Machine?

The rowing machine is ideal as a stand-alone exercise equipment for your home because you get a cardio and a full-body workout at the same time.

It's also a great addition to a home gym, you can work hard and intense for hitting your back muscles or work light to moderate for more of a cardio kind of exercise.

Cardio equipment likes treadmills, ellipticals and exercise bikes will all help you burn fat and loss weight, but they won't make your much stronger.

Recommended read:
Comparison of rowing machines vs. other cardio equipment

No other cardio machine targets upper body muscles as hard as a rowing machine does.

You will feel your arms, back, lats and delts all getting stronger, and I don't know anyone who wouldn't mind getting bigger biceps along the way.

Whether you are an experienced rower on the water or have never been in a boat in your life, rowing can be an excellent exercise regimen. When you know more about what this machine can do for your health, you'll start to feel motivated to try indoor rowing ASAP.

Interesting Fact
Rowing machines owe a lot of their recent exposure to more people thanks to TV show House of Cards. Time magazine went as far as naming the rowing machine the House of Cards' breakout star.

Here's what we'll talk about

You can jump to any section of this article or just read through it.
If you want to jump directly to the reviews of rowing machines click here.

Helpful Info About Rowing Machines


Best Ultra Low-Budget Rowing Machine

LOW BUDGET ROWING MACHINES (some under $200)


Smoothest Movement 

Foldable & Comfortable

AFFORDABLE ROWING MACHINES (some under $500)


Best Magnetic Resistance Rower

Top Affordable Pick​
(Air Resistance Rower)



Best Rowing Machine

Most Luxurious Rowing Machine

What Muscles do Rowing Machines Work?

Rowing machines mimic the action of rowing a boat across water. However, the machine lets you engage the muscles of your lower body in a way that a traditional rowboat can't. The result is a tremendous full-body workout that calls on you to use all major muscle groups.

The legs begin the rowing motion with a powerful thrust backward. This movement engages the largest muscles in your body, including the quadriceps and gluteus maximus. The hamstrings, the muscles on the backs of your thighs, will be firing as well.

Your hip muscles will get a workout when you row. The often-neglected iliopsoas gets the attention it deserves as your legs bend to bring you back to the front of the machine for the next row. With stronger hip flexors, you are less likely to experience chronic lower back pain.

Although you may not expect it, rowing similarly engages your core muscles. These tissues are essential for having a strong, pain-free back and promoting better posture. The muscles of your midsection contract as you pull back, protecting the lower spine while also giving your abs a fabulous workout. When you row, you'll be firing your transverse abdominis, obliques and rectus abdominus.

You won't be leaving out the muscles of your upper back when you use a rowing machine. Proper rowing technique will have you pulling your arms and shoulders back, engaging the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids and the upper trapezius.

Your arms are bound to feel a rowing workout too. The biceps will get the brunt of the arm workout, but the triceps get in on the action when you extend your arms during the forward movement.

I'm always surprised by how many major muscle groups you can tone with this one, simple movement.

Regular training on a rower is an excellent way to build lean muscle mass that will help you burn calories more efficiently. You'll probably also notice that you look a lot better in a swimsuit after a few months on this machine.

Of course, toning your muscles is just one of the benefits you can receive from regular rowing workouts. Indoor rowing also helps you melt away excess fat, which means that your muscles can be seen more prominently.

Muscles Worked on the Rowing Machine


Muscles Worked on the Rowing Machine

Are Rowing Machines Good for Cardio?

We've already discovered that rowers deliver an outstanding strength training workout. However, toned muscles are just the beginning of the benefits you'll reap from using this machine,  rowing machines are a fantastic way to get your heart pumping.

At first glance, it doesn't seem like a rower would give you much of an aerobic workout

If you're like me, the first things that pop to mind when you hear cardio are running or walking. That usually involves a lot of jumping around, and a great deal of stress on your joints and muscles.

This is the problem with many high impact workouts. However, rowing is more like cycling or swimming in that it provides a low-impact aerobic workout.

What do I mean when I call rowing a "low-impact" workout? I'm referring to the fact that rowing machines are really easy on the joints. There's no jolting or bouncing, so if you have concerns about joint pain, you can leave them behind with a rower.

If you have bad knees or range of motion problems, the rower can still be your friend. In fact, rowing machines are found in many rehabilitation centers and in the fitness room at many retirement centers.​

Don't be lulled into thinking that this means that rowing is "easy." Any rowing session can be as strenuous as you prefer, but if you are new to the sport, then it may make sense to start out slow.

Rowing may not be a high impact workout, but you'll still hit your target heart rate on a rowing machine. By increasing the resistance or speeding up the pace, you can give your heart and lungs the workout they need to keep you in optimal shape.

If your doctor has recommended that you routinely hit a target heart rate for your optimal health, then you may want to consider a rower that comes with a chest strap heart rate monitor.

These models tend to be more expensive than rowing machines that don't have a heart rate monitor. If this does not fit into your budget, then you might consider getting a fitness tracker that can be used to monitor your heart rate during any aerobic activity.

By now everybody knows that regular aerobic workouts help you lose weight and stay healthy. But the benefits of aerobic workouts go way beyond just weight loss, fat burning and having a healthier heart.

Other benefits of aerobic exercise include boosted energy levels, improved immune system and sleeping better. The fantastic endorphin flow that follows a workout is a known mood lifter.

Personally, I do cardio more for its mood-lifting effect than any other benefit. Rowing machines are especially good at that because the cardiovascular workout is combined with a lot more muscle work which is known to release even more natural mood-enhancing chemicals in your body.

Rowing Machines & Crossfit

A rowing machine workout doesn't have to be all about the machine. It's possible to come up with a variety of workouts that can keep things interesting for you and give your body new challenges.

CrossFit is, without a doubt, one of the most revolutionary exercise trends in recent memory.

CrossFit is a fascinating exercise system that is focused on achieving total body health and fitness. Many of the movements are functional, which means that they will help you lead a more active, pain-free life even when you're just engaged in everyday activities.


Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to join a CrossFit gym to reap the benefits of this workout. While traditional CrossFit workouts are completed in a gym or boot camp setting, it is possible for you to adopt this approach for your at-home rowing workout.

CrossFit & Rowing Machines go hand in hand

You can integrate your rowing machine into a routine that combines numerous strength-training and cardio phases that will take your physical fitness to a whole new level.

Rowing Machines Workout Videos

One visit to YouTube is all it takes to discover a world of rowing machine workout videos. You'll find endless inspiration that will have you constantly reaching toward new goals.

Whether you're trying to increase the resistance or row farther than you ever have before, an easy-to-follow video may give you the motivation you need.

You'll also learn how you can turn your rowing session into HIIT workout (High Intensity Interval Training).


One of the valuable components of using rowing machine workout videos is that you have the opportunity to learn from several qualified experts who really know what they are talking about when it comes to getting a fantastic rowing workout. Having said that, it is important to be able to tell the difference between an expert and someone who took up rowing a week before you did.

Many people who post YouTube videos are upfront about their experience and professional qualifications.

Try to stick to videos produced by people who are certified personal trainers, were or are competitive rowers or someone who coaches competitive rowers. These professionals have the knowledge and skills that are required to take you safely and effectively through a guided rowing workout.

Direction for Beginners & Newbies

There's no deny that rowing machines are going to be the thing. The Huffington post predicts that rowing classes are going to replace spinning classes in gyms!

Before you get all too excited, hold on a sec, if you're new to rowing, then chances are good that you will find that spending even five or 10 minutes on the machine is challenging.

This can be discouraging, but consider where you were yesterday. Maybe you weren't working out at all. Compared to being sedentary, any time on a rower is time well spent. Stick with it, and you'll soon be rowing for longer periods of time.

Before you get really serious about your routine, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with basic rowing technique. It isn't difficult, but not using the proper technique can lead to injury.

Rowing Technique for Beginners

This 11 minute video will show you the technique to use. If you didn't buy a rowing machine yet you don't have to watch now, just come back to it later after you've got yourself a rowing machine you can practice on.

Before you sit on the rower, take a few minutes to warm up your muscles. A short, five-minute walk will be perfectly fine. Alternatively, you might choose to do a few body-weight exercises or do some light weight training to get your body moving and warm. This will mean that your body is prepared for the greater demands that rowing will make on it.

Then, it will be time to get settled onto the rowing machine. Don't feel discouraged if you can only manage five or 10 minutes at first.

Keep coming back to it a few times a week. After the first week, try adding a one to five minute segment to your rowing time. Continue scaling upward, and don't forget to consider increasing the resistance on your machine. Chances are good that you'll be surprised at how quickly you progress.

If you experience muscle soreness in connection with your first few workouts, be certain to give your body a day or two to rest and recover. When you come back to rowing, you're not likely to experience the same level of soreness.

Eventually, you'll be able to row without getting sore at all. You'll be surprised by how strenuous your workouts can be without resulting in any muscle soreness.

Features to Look For a Rowing Machine

There are many rowing machines on the market today. Some of them come with numerous, high-tech bells and whistles that might be really nice to have. Unfortunately, the more feature-packed models can be budget busters.

The good news is that you can buy a great rower for less than you'd think for.

If you're not sure that you will persist with the exercise, it might make sense to initially purchase a basic model, and then upgrade in the future when you're already hooked or need a bigger challenge.

A cheaper model also lets you learn the ropes of the rower without worrying losing too much money if you decide to quit after two weeks of using it.

If you already know you'll be persistent and have the budget to afford than you can skip the low-cost models and get yourself a higher-end model instead.

Choosing your first rowing machine isn't easy with so many choices out there. That's why I've put together this list of options and factors to consider before you buy. When you can more clearly define what you're looking for, you're far more likely to be satisfied with your purchase.

Consider Size

Before you start browsing for a machine, pick out a space in your home where you're likely to keep your rower.

Take precise measurements, and understand that the rower you purchase will need to be slightly smaller than these dimensions. This way, you'll have room to move without running into anything.

If your space is really limited, you may want to consider a collapsible or folding model that can be stored between uses. This is a little less convenient than having a rower that is always out and ready to go, but it can be a realistic solution for the right person.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

The Stamina Body Trac Glider folds to save space

Portability & Weight

Once you start looking, you'll probably be amazed at how the weight of rowing machines varies from model to model. You may not want a heavier machine if you know you're going to have to move it from place to place. Conversely, you may find that a lighter model just isn't as durable as one with more heft.

Of course, it's also important to consider the machine's weight in terms of moving it into your home. A back injury is not a good way to start a new exercise program. Make certain that you can move the machine yourself or enlist the assistance of a few helpful friends..

What Are Your Goals? Losing Weight? Bulking up?

Deciding what you want out of an exercise program can inform which rowing machine you purchase.

For instance, if your primary objective is to lose weight, then you can probably do well with a fairly inexpensive, simple rower. In other words, the cardiovascular exercise this machine will give you is sufficient to help you meet your goals if you are consistent and follow a healthy diet.

If it's your intention to bulk up, then you may need a rower that's a little more robust. These machines have variable resistance that can be dialed up or down depending upon your training for the day. As you progress toward your goals, you'll be able to dial up the intensity to keep pace with your improved performance.

A third alternative to consider is the person who is training for competitive rowing events. If you are hoping to compete at a specific distance, some more advanced rower models may have built-in programs that will help you get into the best shape of your life. These programs may have variables such as time, stroke rate and distance.

Comfort of Seat

The comfort of the seat, or saddle, can make a big difference in your continued determination to use your rower.

A hard, unforgiving saddle can take the fun right out of your routine, and make you reluctant to exercise on subsequent days. Although, people do say that it's all about getting used to it.

Inexpensive rowers tend to have very basic seats made from molded plastic or a similar material. As rowing machines get more expensive, the saddle tends to get cushier.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor

The Sunny SF-RW5515 has a comfortable seat

You can also buy seat cushions separately as add-ons, some of them are universal and would fit most seats and saddles, while others are made for specific models.

The Display

Even the most affordable rowing machines have some sort of display that gives you information about your performance.

More expensive models may feature in-depth displays that provide pre-set programs and a wealth of options. As attractive as these are, they may not be of much use to you if you are a more casual rower.

If you aren't certain that you want to use pre-set programs for your workouts and you don't particularly care about a lot of really technical information, then you can certainly go with a more affordable rower that has a less sophisticated display.

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

The Stamina Avari Backlit Display

However, there is still value in reviewing the readability and performance of the display on any model of rowing machine that you choose.

For instance, can you read the display while you are in the middle of a workout? Does the monitor have a "scan" function that allows you to see a number of different metrics throughout the session? How easy is the display to use? Does it seem intuitive and straightforward or will you be in a constant struggle to figure out the settings?

The answers to these questions may be more or less important to you depending upon how you plan to use your rowing machine.

If you just want to keep track of elapsed time, that's easy enough to do with the most basic of rowers. However, if you're looking for more in-depth data, then you'll have to spring for a more sophisticated machine.

Resistance Types of Rowing Machines

One of the other factors that will inform your choice of rowing machines is the type of resistance.

The resistance or tension settings on the rower help you to vary your workout by how much intensity you want to put forth. If you're looking for a really blistering exercise session, then cranking up the resistance may make a lot of sense.

Rowing machine manufacturers rely upon four major types of resistance systems:

• Hydraulic Resistance Systems
• Air Resistance Systems
• Magnetic Flywheel Resistance Systems
• Water Resistance Systems

Some are more effective and adjustable than others. There also is a significant price variance.

Hydraulic resistance systems tend to be the most affordable.

Air resistance, magnetic flywheels and water resistance tend to cost quite a bit more because of their increased sophistication.

Let's take a look at the four main types of resistance systems. This will give you insight into which type of tension you might prefer on your rower.

Hydraulic Resistance

This is the least expensive option for resistance systems. Tension is provided by air or fluid being compressed in a piston or cylinder.

On most rowers with a hydraulic resistance system, it is possible to adjust the level of tension, although these abilities are sometimes quite limited.

The Stamina InMotion is an hydraulic based rowing machine that's very affordable and gives an excellent value for money.

Although rowers with a hydraulic resistance system are certainly a cost effective alternative, there are drawbacks to consider:

The handle is typically affixed to a single metal rod, which makes for a motion of the arms that is less like actually rowing a boat. This can mean that it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve a true rowing stroke on these machines. Accordingly, the strokes may seem somewhat choppy or uncoordinated.

Hydraulic system on some rowers can overheat quickly. Manufacturers frequently recommend using these machines for only 15 minutes at a time. Using the rower in excess of the time period may cause the hydraulic system to fail because of overheating.

This overheating usually does not cause permanent damage. Instead, you'll notice that the resistance goes down to nothing. Until the hydraulics cool down, you won't be able to truly take advantage of the tension system.

Some people work around this problem by dividing their workouts into segments where they row for 15 minutes, then do another exercise for 10 or 15 minutes before resuming rowing for another 15 minutes. This can be a very effective workout plan.

The main advantages of rowers with hydraulic resistance systems is that they tend to have a much smaller footprint, so if space is a primary concern for you, then this may be the way to go. Also, these rowers are far cheaper than other options. You can probably get a decent one for less than a Benjamin.

Hydraulic Resistance Rowers

Pros

  • check
    Least Expensive
  • check
    Most Compact & Small

Cons

  • minus
    Movement isn't like real rowing
  • minus
    May overheat

Air Flywheel Resistance

These tension systems are a big step up from hydraulics, and you won't necessarily have to shell out your life savings to pick up a great rower with an air flywheel.

Many people prefer the air flywheel because it gives them the feeling of rowing outdoors, yet they don't have to pay as much for it as they would with a water-based resistance system.

Users also say that the air resistance system allows a more natural stroke that is smooth and continuous. This could significantly improve the quality of your workout.

The best air flywheel based rowing machine is the Concept2 Model D Indoor rower.

When you use a rower that has air resistance, you have the ability to vary the intensity of your workout by simply pulling harder.

Instead of having a knob or other component to adjust the tension, you simply start working faster to increase your effort or slow down to give yourself a bit of a break.

The harder you pull, the faster the flywheel moves. This increases resistance, and you get a more strenuous workout.

Novice rowers frequently don't understand the intricacies of the air flywheel. They mistakenly think that the lack of adjustable tension via a knob means that this is an easy workout. The truth is that with this machine, the intensity of the workout is entirely in your hands. If you really want a challenge, all you have to do is work harder.

Rowing machines with air flywheels are used in indoor rowing competitions throughout the world, which only backs up my argument about what a great choice these machines can be.

If you're willing to spend a bit more and you're comfortable with the concept of varying the intensity of your workout with your own exertions, then this may be the right resistance system for you.

The biggest drawback of air flywheel resistance based rowing machines is that they are notoriously loud. So if noise is a concern, then you would do best to look elsewhere. 

Air Flywheel Resistance Rowers

Pros

  • check
    Give the feeling of real rowing
  • check
    Smoother movement
  • check
    No need for a knob - Vary intensity simply by pulling softer or harder

Cons

  • minus
    Very loud & noisy

Magnetic Flywheel Resistance

A magnetic brake system is what provides the tension in these smooth-operating rowers.

These may be among the quietest rowers available today. Accordingly, if you are looking for a rower that makes virtually no noise at all, then this may be your top choice.

Another reason to choose the magnetic resistance system over air or water is that these rowers tend to be far more compact. The air flywheel can be quite large, and so can the water tank on a water rower. If space is a primary concern for you, then a magnetic flywheel may be the way to go.

The magnetic flywheel is able to adjust tension by varying the distance between powerful magnets. Mechanical sliders may handle this task in more economical models while console controls may digitally control the adjustments on more sophisticated rowers.

These extraordinarily quiet machines offer plenty of resistance level alternatives, so you can really vary your workouts day to day. Just as important, little maintenance is required to keep the machine running smoothly.

If there is a disadvantage to rowing machines with a magnetic flywheel resistance system, it is that they do not simulate the feeling of rowing on the water particularly well. However, if you are just looking for a great, total body workout, then that does not need to deter you.

Magnetic Resistance Rowers

Pros

  • check
    Quietest rowing machine
  • check
    More compact than air flywheel & water based machines
  • check
    Offer plenty of resistance levels

Cons

  • minus
    Don't simulate real feeling of rowing in water

Water Resistance

Many high end rowing machines use a water tank to provide tension.

These state-of-the-art machines may be an ideal choice for someone who participates in outdoor rowing and wants an indoor rowing experience that more closely resembles the feel of being on the water.

The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is the best water best rowing machine

Another plus when choosing a water rower is that it is quiet. If you have the money to spend and want a quiet machine, this could be the ideal solution.

However, it is wise to keep in mind that a water rower can take up quite a bit of real estate in your house. If space is a serious issue for you, then you might do better with a different resistance system.

The water rower provides resistance with paddles that revolve in a round tank of water. As the paddles move, the mass of water moving across them causes resistance.

Like the air resistance system, you can change the intensity of your workout simply by pulling harder and faster. Simply ease up if you want to make things a little less challenging.

The smooth, consistent rowing action is a big plus for machines with this resistance system. Many experienced rowers say that it is the closest resemblance to actually rowing on a body of water.

Some users describe the sound of the water whooshing in the tank as being soothing. This may enable you to lengthen the distance of your workouts without feeling as fatigued.

Another advantage to this system is that it requires relatively little maintenance. The water does have to be changed out occasionally, but this is not a difficult task.

The most obvious drawback with a water resistance system is that the rowing machines that feature this technology are all at the upper end of the price spectrum.

In other words, there is not as yet a "bargain basement" version of water resistance technology. This is seen as a more elite item, which may be why the rower shown on House of Cards is one that has a water-based resistance system.

Water Resistance Rowers

Pros

  • check
    The best rowing machines of all
  • check
    Closest feeling to real rowing in water
  • check
    Smoothest movement
  • check
    Relatively quiet

Cons

  • minus
    Very expensive
  • minus
    Take up a lot of space

Reviews Of The Best Rowing Machines (By Budget)

I've broken up my reviews of recommended rowing machines into various price categories. This will enable you to determine your budget, and then use your budget to more quickly review the recommended models in your price range.

The cost of rowing machines vary significantly.

That's why we arranged our list of recommended rowing machines based on your budget.

Generally speaking, you can get good budget rowing machines for around $100. Some pretty good rowers can cost under $500, while top professional rowers may cost around $1,000 and even more.

ULTRA-LOW BUDGET ROWING MACHINES

Rowers Reviewed in Category :
Stamina In-Motion Rower
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

These models may be exceptionally affordable, but they are still capable of delivering a challenging workout.

Beginning rowers, those who are new to fitness routines and the elderly will most benefit from this category.

Experienced rowers will note that the fixed nature of the handles on these machines makes it virtually impossible to truly simulate the motion of real world rowing.

These machines can afford years of fitness challenges without breaking the bank.

Stamina InMotion Rower

Best Low Cost Rowing Machine

Stamina 35-0123  InMotion Rower, Silver

The Stamina Inmotion is the company best economical model. It's made primarily of steel making it relatively sturdy yet has a compact footprint.

It has over-sized foot plates with safety straps and are designed to pivot during use for comfort. 

A hydraulic resistance system provides five levels of challenges for users. The unit weighs in at 27 pounds, and can be stood on end for easy storage.

Stamina 35-0123  InMotion Rower, Silver

Users typically say that the Stamina InMotion Rower is quiet enough for use in small apartments, and that it will not disturb people in neighboring rooms.

With its low price and no-fuss operation, this model is a good choice for people who are just starting an exercise program or are new to rowing.

It also is appropriate for the elderly. The manufacturer suggests a weight limit of 250 pounds, which means this may not be the best choice for severely overweight people.

Pros

  • check
    Well-designed Pedals: Oversized, pivoting pedals ensure both safety and comfort
  • check
    Comfortable Seat: Nice upholstery and cushioning translate to a smooth ride
  • check
    Higher Weight Limit: The 250 pound limit beats the 220 pound limit of the Sunny model

Cons

  • minus
    Handle Discomfort: Some users have complained about the hardness of the handles
  • minus
    Too Small: Users over six feet tall may find the machine too short for them
  • minus
    Heavier Weight: At 27 pounds, this model outweighs the Sunny machine, which may make it harder to move around

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

Lightest Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine Rower w/ Digital Monitor

This Sunny model features a solid steel frame. Resistance is provided by hydraulics, but users have 12 levels of resistance with this rower. This gives it the potential to provide a more challenging workout over a longer period of time.

Users have noted that although the machine is quiet, the hydraulic system does heat up fairly quickly. For this reason, it is recommended that the unit only be used for 15 minutes at a time. Some people overcome this limitation by breaking up their rowing workout with other exercises.

Pivoting foot plates and a digital monitor make this model both safe and informative.

The display provides basic information like time, stroke count and calories burned.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 12 Adjustable Resistance Rowing Machine Rower w/ Digital Monitor

Although this model is lightweight, it is nonetheless sturdy and reliable. Users note good stability and smooth action from the saddle. Anyone could easily assemble and start using this rowing machine the same day.

Pros

  • check
    Good Resistance: 12 levels of resistance guarantee an ongoing challenge
  • check
    Quiet operation: It's easy to watch TV while rowing, and other people won't be disturbed by the noise
  • check
    Lightweight: Weighing in at just 20 pounds, this model is a cinch to move around and relocate

Cons

  • minus
    Limited Operation: The manufacturer recommends just 15 minutes of use at a time to avoid overheating the piston
  • minus
    Small Saddle: With a limited saddle size, larger users may experience discomfort after a few strokes
  • minus
    Weight limit: The 220 pound weight limit is fairly limited

LOW BUDGET ROWING MACHINES

Rowers Reviewed in Category :
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

The recommended rowers in this category cost just a bit more, but they also have more features and greater sophistication. If you are looking for a rower that is still affordable, but is capable of delivering a motion that is more similar to actual rowing, then one of these machines may be for you.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410

Smoothest Movement for the Price

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410 Rowing Machine Rower with Full Motion Arms and LCD Monitor

This Sunny model has dual, full-motion arms for a more natural rowing stroke when compared with the less expensive model.

Once again, this Sunny rower affords 12 levels of rowing resistance with a hydraulic resistance system.

The weight limit on this machine is still just 220 pounds, making it unsuitable for use by larger people.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1410 Rowing Machine Rower with Full Motion Arms and LCD Monitor

The rower itself weighs 34 pounds, which means that it is still lightweight enough to be moved for easier storage. 

Pros

  • check
    Less Expensive: This model offers features of more higher-end models for less
  • check
    Better Footrests: Large footrests with good traction make for an easier workout
  • check
    Quite Lightweight: Weighing in at just 34 pounds, it's not too hard to move around

Cons

  • minus
    Weight Limit: The 220 pound weight limit makes this model unsuitable for larger or obese people
  • minus
    Uncomfortable Saddle: The seat is smaller and features less padding than the Stamina Body Trac Glider
  • minus
    Doesn't Fold: Unlike the Stamina Body Trac Glider, this Sunny model does not fold for easier storage

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050

Foldable & Comfortable

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

The wider, cushier seat is just what you need to see you through longer workouts. Like the Sunny model in this category, this machine features quiet operation and an easy-to-read monitor with a limited selection of workout factors being tracked.

Unlike the Sunny model, the Stamina Glider can be folded for storage.

So if you don't want to have your rower on continuous display, you'll have an easier time of hiding it away.

The 37-pound weight of the machine is slightly more than the Sunny rower but still lightweight.

Both the Sunny and the Stamina model offer 12 levels of resistance, a nice touch at this price level.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

Pros

  • check
    Higher Weight Limit: The 250 pound weight limit may make this model suitable for larger individuals
  • check
    Well Padded Seat: A wider saddle with extra padding ensures comfort
  • check
    Folds For Easy Storage: If space is at a premium, you may appreciate being able to fold and store this rower

Cons

  • minus
    Low Quality Foot Straps: Some users have difficulty keeping the foot straps fastened

AFFORDABLE ROWING MACHINES

Rowers Reviewed in Category :
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
Stamina Air Rower Rowing Machine

These machines are still conveniently priced so that most folks won't have to think too much about the purchase and surely no need to break a savings account. In my opinion they are in the sweet spot between not spending too little or too much.

In this category of affordable rowers you will find a big jump ahead in quality and durability. Prices fluctuate, but these rowers may cost well under $500.

This is the first category in which we see more advanced types of resistance than hydraulics.

Chances are good that you won't have to worry about the resistance systems on these machines overheating on you mid-workout.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Best Magnetic Resistance For the Price

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor

This Sunny model is the first machine in this roundup that uses a magnetic resistance system to deliver eight levels of resistance.

I discussed before that magnetic resistance systems offer smoother motions than the hydraulic air systems that you can find in the cheaper machines.

The intensity is easily adjusted with the twist of a knob.

It's very reasonably priced with plenty of nice features. You will enjoy the LCD display because it is larger and easier to read than those you see on cheaper models.

The padded, contoured seat delivers reasonable comfort over the long haul.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor

Transportation wheels on the frame make it possible to move this machine without having to lift it.

Maximum user weight is 250 pounds.

At 82 inches long, this model may be long enough to suit taller users. Smooth motion means that workouts are comfortable

Pros

  • check
    Good Saddle: This seat won't wear on you even during long sessions
  • check
    Reasonable Price: Affordable yet durable

Cons

  • minus
    Difficult Monitor: It would be nitpicking, but some users have difficulty programming the monitor

Stamina ATS Air Rower Rowing Machine

Top Affordable Pick
(Best Air Resistance)

Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

This is the first unit in our list to use air resistance flywheel.

At 77 inches long, it isn't quite as roomy as the Sunny SF-RW5515 (reviewed above). This shouldn't be too much of a problem unless you have incredibly long legs.

Because resistance is based on air, users have total control over how hard their workout. There's no need for a knob to adjust, you row harder for a more intense workout or softer for a lighter workout. This makes for a no-fuss workout, though some people prefer being able to set resistance by a knob.

Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

The sound of the wind whooshing through the wheel may sound a bit loud to other people in the room with you. Nonetheless, it is not the sort of sound that is likely to disturb neighbors or prevent listening to music or watching TV while you row, but something you should be aware of.

Pros

  • check
    Good Portability: Folds and has wheels for exceptionally easy movement and storage
  • check
    Variable Intensity: You control the intensity of your workouts simply by pulling harder

Cons

  • minus
    Basic Seat: Some may want to add padding to the saddle for added comfort
  • minus
    Less Features: The Sunny Air Magnetic Rowing Machine (reviewed above) has more bells and whistles

MID-HIGH LEVEL ROWING MACHINES

Rowers Reviewed in Category :
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower
Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Here's where our review of reliable rowing machines takes quite a jump in price. As you might imagine, some of these models come with lots of bells and whistles. You'll also see more advanced resistance systems that deliver plenty of bang for your buck.

One of the biggest upgrades that you are likely to notice in this category is the quality of the monitors. They are easier to read while working out and come with programs and features. For some this isn't an important upgrade, for others it can make the exercise routine more interesting.

You'll further discover that these models have far more advanced resistance systems.

As such, these rowing machines are more likely to be useful to you over the long haul.

These rowers are easy enough to be used by absolute beginners, but even advanced more demanding athletes are likely to find that these machines give them a challenging workout. 

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

Most Features for the price

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

The Stamina Avari is a big step up from its entry level models.

The Avri  has plenty of bells and whistles if you're willing to pay the price. It comes with the capacity for 12 workout programs, including six cardio workouts, four custom programs to be designed by the user, a manual program and a heart rate program.

There's also a nice touch screen user interface that allows you to quickly change setting and programs even in the midst of a workout.

The great looking backlit LCD display monitor is easy to read.

The magnetic resistance system is predictably quiet, allowing you to exercise under almost any conditions without disturbing other people.

The Avri is a great machine with tons of good reviews,

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

What I didn't like about the machine is its seat. It seems just little bit small and utilitarian. You you can always add saddle cushioning addon later on, they are inexpensive and worthwhile if it means that you are more likely to stick to a rowing workout over the long haul.

A heart rate chest strap is included with the rower so that you can get the most out of every session.

With a weight limit of 275 pounds, this model is sturdy enough for heavier users to enjoy without fear.

The gliding motion of the seat will be just as smooth for you as it is for lighter users.

Pros

  • check
    Accurate Heart Rate Monitor: The included chest strap means heart rate reading is precise
  • check
    Excellent Screen: Easy to read backlit display. 
  • check
    Many Programs: Total of 12 programmable workouts including cardio.Easy to read with a wealth of useful features

Cons

  • minus
    Uncomfortable saddle: For the price, I expect a much more comfortable seat, although you can buy cushioning as an addon

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Most Versatile

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

The Stamina 15-9003 is unique in that unlike any other machine reviewed here.

It is the only machine that is both a recumbent exercise bike and rowing machine.

So even though the Stamina 15-9003 is priced at the mid to higher end of rowing machines, you essentially get two machines for the price of one.

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Exercise Bike Mode

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Rowing Machine Mode

You can even use the handlebar for alternative upper body and arm workouts. You can work your biceps, triceps and back as you stand over the machine. This kind of versatility is definitely worth the price.

For many users, the added benefit of being able to workout your arms is enough to make this rowing machine the right choice over others rowers.

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Work Your Biceps

Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rower

Work Your Back & Traps

The ball-bearing system on the saddle provides a smooth and easy gliding motion. Eight levels of magnetic resistance give you continual challenges. A simple twist of a knob changes the setting. Operation is remarkably quiet.

The upgraded monitor features large, easy-to-read numerals. It is capable of tracking many actors, including the user's pulse.

The sturdy rowing strap is made of nylon, and the padded handles are equipped with pulse sensors.

A steel frame ensures the durability and stability of this model.

This unit also folds so that it can be stored when not in use. Built-in transport wheels mean that even a small person would have little difficulty moving the rower.

With a length of 74.5 inches, this machine is sized to accommodate tall people.

Pros

  • check
    Two in One: Rowing machine and recumbent exercise bike in one machine
  • check
    Quiet operation: Nothing beats a magnetic resistance system for providing as little noise as possible
  • check
    Comfortable saddle: Compared to the Stamina Avari and other offerings, this is a deluxe saddle with plenty of cushioning for those long, challenging workouts

Cons

  • minus
    Not a Cheap Option: If you are on a tight budget, then this combination rower and recumbent bike might be out of your reach
  • minus
    No Chest Strap Heart Monitor: Heart monitoring is done by holding the handlebar which is less accurate than a chest strap (you can buy chest strap separately) 

PRO ROWING MACHINES

Rowers Reviewed in Category :
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

No we're talking!
No review of rowers could be complete without including these top of the line high-end rowing machines.

While I titled this section as pro rowing machines it doesn't necessarily mean they you have to be a professional rower to use them.

Pro machines are suitable for beginners as well as advanced trainees.

You don't need to be an advanced user or elite rower to notice the movement on these machines feel much smoother and the seat is more comfortable, anybody can feel that.

The point is, these machines are more expensive, if you have the budget than by all means, you can't go wrong by buying any of the machines in this category.

But if budget is an issue or maybe you only plan to use the machine for a couple of times a week and for just a few minutes each time, there's no point in stretching your budget. In that case you'd be better browsing our top choices for mid-level machines, budget machines or even ultra low budget ones.

These top-of-the-line rowing machines could easily be used by expert or professional rowers to stay in shape during the off season. This means that you can expect an unmatched durability and extraordinary workout that will deliver outstanding results if you stick with it. 

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Best Rowing Machine

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Black) with PM5

The Concept2 Indoor Rower is advocated by many as the best rowing machine ever.
It's a standard by which other rowing machines are compared to and judged by.

The Concept2 relies on an air resistance system. A dampener helps to provide extra variety and intensity. Like other models with air resistance systems, the harder you row, the greater the intensity you'll feel.

Suitable for Tall People
It is large enough for even the tallest person to use it. You do have the option of buying an extra-long monorail, which is the rail along with the saddle glides, if you are exceptionally tall.

Supports a Heavy Person
Just as promising, the 500 pound weight capacity means that an obese individual need have no fear of overstraining this rower.

Disassembles Quickly for Storage
If you don't want to keep the Concept2 in place at all times, it can be quickly broken down into two separate components. High quality caster wheels make transportation a breeze.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Black) with PM5

Comfortable Seat
The nicely contoured seat has just enough padding to keep you comfortable during a strenuous workout.

Durable  Design Even for Commercial Gyms
The company advertises this model as the best-selling indoor rower in the world. Competitive rowers rely on it for training, which means that it can easily deliver an effective workout for more casual athletes. In fact, these machines are considered of sufficient quality and durability to be used in the best commercial gyms. They will certainly serve you well in a home setting whether by itself or as part of a fully-equipped home gym.

Advanced Display - Performance Monitor 5
A sophisticated display known as the Performance Monitor 5 is surprisingly easy to use.

It is compatible with USB flash drives so that you can store an impressive amount of data about your workout history.

The display also enables you to wirelessly monitor your heart rate. An adjustable arm can be moved so that you can see the display more easily during your session.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Black) with PM5

Consumes a Lot of Space
It requires a footprint of nine feet by four feet (2.75m by 1.25m) so this model definitely is not appropriate if you have limited space, though you can fold it when unused.

Warranty
All Concept2 rowers are covered by a two-year warranty on all parts, a five-year warranty covers the frame. For a rower of this price and quality, that doesn't really seem like a good enough warranty, I would love to see them offer a better warranty.

What about Concept2 Model C ?
You may have come across Model C, that is an old discontinued model that is no longer available and has been replaced by Concept2 Model D. Model D which is what we review here features virtually all of the same attractive features as the Model C, but with more enhancements.

What about Concept2 Model E?
This company also produces the Concept2 Model E.
Like the Model D, the Model E is available in light gray or black.

To check the Concept2 Model E on Amazon click here.

The main difference between the two is the seat height. While the Model D has a seat height of 14 inches, the Model E has a seat height of 20 inches.

This is a height that is identical to a normal chair. Consequently, people with mobility issues may find that the Model E is easier to mount and dismount.

Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Shown above Concept2 Model E next to a chair to illustrate height of rower seat identical to normal chair

The other main difference between the two models is the monitor arm. On the Model D, the arm is shorter and adjustable. In fact, it can be folded for easier storage. The Model E has a longer monitor arm, which places the monitor closer to the user's head.

The differences between the two models are relatively minor. If mobility is an issue for you, then the Model E may be the way to go. However, you might place more value on being able to adjust the position of the monitor for your workouts.

Pros

  • check
    Seat height: You can choose the Model D or Model E depending upon your level of mobility
  • check
    Relatively Quiet: For an air resistance system, this machine is really quiet
  • check
    Excellent Display: The informative, functional monitor keeps you in the know

Cons

  • minus
    No Programs: The display does not include pre-set programs
  • minus
    Limited warranty: It seems like a rower of this price should come with a better warranty

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

Most Beautiful Rowing Machine

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

If you think an exercise machine can't be useful and nice looking wait until you see the WaterRower!

This is a beautiful machine that is crafted from high quality ash wood.
As a result, you could proudly display it in any room of your home. It looks more like an expensive, stylish piece of Swedish furniture than a serious piece of exercise equipment (yes it looks that good). For more pics check it on Amazon.

The WaterRower has cutting-edge technology
Looks isn't everything and this is one no-nonsense rowing machine. The WaterRower offers the last word in resistance technology.

The water flywheel naturally evokes the feeling of rowing over an actual body of water. It would be a soothing experience if it wasn't also such hard work.

Like an air resistance rower, the intensity of the workout on this machine is varied by how hard you work. Pull harder, and you'll be sweaty and out of breath in no time, pull softer if you want to take it easy.

This is one of the quietest water rowers on the market today.
Its solid wood construction isn't just an eye candy but it also makes the much less noisier than other water based rowing machines.

Each one of these rowers is constructed by hand, ensuring a perfect product that offers no rattling or wobbling. The result is a quiet machine that you can use in almost any conditions without disturbing anyone.

If you watch House of Cards, then you should know that this is the model that you're familiar with from the series. You'll notice that it's even more beautiful in person than it is on TV. It's also a pleasure to exercise with and is as smooth as a rower can be.

At 84 inches in length (2.2 meter), this machine is sized to accommodate even the tallest users, yet it stands upright for compact storage.

Pros

  • check
    Stylish Appearance: It looks like a work of art, so you can keep it in your living room
  • check
    Great Stability and Durability: These machines are constructed to last a lifetime

Cons

  • minus
    Hefty Price: Makes this out of reach for most people
  • minus
    Big Footprint: Expect these rowers to take up considerable space in your home

The WaterRower has a model with High Rise Attachment this makes it easier for people with mobility problems to get on and off the machine.

The height height is closer to that of a chair so getting on and off the machine is much easier if you have issues with your knees.

Recap Of All Reviewed Rowers

You've seen that you can find excellent rowing machines whatever your budget is. Dollar for dollar you would still get a better rowing machine for the same amount of money you would spend on a treadmill or an elliptical. And we already talked about the benefits that rowers have over other exercise equipment.

Now it's your turn, pick the rower that's right for your needs and budget and start rowing.

ULTRA LOW BUDGET


Best Ultra Low Budget Rowing Machine


LOW-BUDGET


AFFODABLE


Best Magnetic Resistance for the Price


Best Air Resistance for the Price

MID TO HIGH LEVEL


PRO HIGH-END



Best and Most Beautiful Water Based Rowing Machine

Like it?
Please share this article with friends 🙂

More...