Best Rowing Machines 2017 – What Are Some Of The Best Rowers?

Last Updated :- May 2nd 2017

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream. ~

We love rowing machines about as much as we love this rhyme. Rowing is infinitely more interesting as a cardio exercise when compared to something as mundane and boring as running on a treadmill.

Rowing machines make It possible to access this awesome exercise from the comfort of your home. They’re not just about cardio however, rowing is a full body workout and the right piece of equipment will let you engage 70-85% of your total muscle mass. Sounds good? How do you choose the right one? Our list of the best rowing machines is at your service: –

Best Rowing Machine – The Winners!!

Top-End Pick – Sunny Health & Fitness

Sunny Health and Fitness have a penchant for making fitness equipment of incredible value and the SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine is no different. For just a little over $200, this machine packs all the essentials needed for a good workout experience.

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Low-Budget Pick – Concept2 Model D

There’s a reason why the model D, despite its price, is the world’s bestselling indoor rower. That reason is that it’s very, very good. An Olympic-level athlete wouldn’t feel out of place on one of these and indeed, many of them use rowers like these to keep fit in the off-season.

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Best Rowing Machines 2017 – Our Top Picks!

Products
Product Name
Dimensions
Maximum User Weight
Our Rating
82L x 19W x 23H
250 Pounds
4.4/5
96L x 24W x 14H
500 Pounds
4.8/5
84L x 21W x 22H
1000 Pounds
4.5/5
77L x 18W x 22H
250 Pounds
4.3/5
58.25L x 42.25W x 18.215H
250 Pounds
4.0/5

#1 Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515

Sunny Health and Fitness have a penchant for making fitness equipment of incredible value and the SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine is no different. For just a little over $200, this machine packs all the essentials needed for a good workout experience.

So what do you get for your money? The short answer is; a lot! The rower utilizes a sturdy steel frame, 8 levels of magnetic resistance and an easy to read LCD display. While looks are subjective, we think this is a pretty nice looking piece of equipment and it takes up very little space.

Thanks to the magnetic resistance, the machine is very quiet. In fact, the actual rowing motion makes next to no noise, most of it comes from the seat being pulled back. Unlike rowers with air resistance, the tension doesn’t increase as you perform faster repetitions. This leads to a smooth and predictable motion regardless of intensity level.

Let’s talk about the all-important contact points. The cushioned seat and comfortable posture makes it very easy to focus on the workout and not worry about anything else. The same can be said for the large, sturdy, non-slip pedals with toe straps that secure your feet to the machine no matter the intensity of exercise.

Overall, this is a rower that does the job without breaking the bank.

Specifications & Warranty:

Dimensions: 82L x 19W x 23H inches
Maximum user weight: 250 Pounds
Warranty: 90 days

#2 Concept2 Model D

concept 2 d model

There’s a reason why the model D, despite its price, is the world’s bestselling indoor rower. That reason is that it’s very, very good.

An Olympic-level athlete wouldn’t feel out of place on one of these and indeed, many of them use rowers like these to keep fit in the off-season. That being said, you don’t need to be an elite athlete to take advantage of its capabilities.

Available in light gray or black, the Model D is all business. While the design is simple and practical, one can tell within minutes that this is a very high quality machine.

A big part of what makes this thing great is the smooth and dependable motor, which through a combination of a flywheel and damper keeps the motion/resistance challenging and yet you feel in total control through each stage of the movement. The chain Is coated with nickel which adds to the smoothness and reduces maintenance.

Okay so the motor is awesome. What really matters however is the human interaction with the machine. This is done via the contact points, namely the seat, handle and footrest; all of which are designed ergonomically. The footrests are large enough for bigfoot to get his paws into and the handle is bent at a 10-degree angle to let you row along in a nice and natural position.

What about portability then? It’s hard to expect gym level equipment to be portable but surprisingly, that’s exactly what the model D is. The frame features a quick-release lock that lets machine separate into two parts for easy storage. Even when fully assembled, transport wheels make it easy to move/roll the machine into position.

Lastly, we come to the Concept2 party piece, the high-tech Performance Monitor 5 or PM5 for short. This adjustable, accurate and incredibly well made monitor tracks workout data, allows you to transfer It via USB and wirelessly accepts heart rate information from a number of ANT+ or Bluetooth Smart sensors. The PM5 can be connected to smartphones, computers and even other Concept2 rowers for some machine-to-machine racing!

The Concept2 Model D has a 14-inch seat height. If you prefer a taller sitting position, there’s the near identical Model E with a 20-inch seat height. Both these excellent rowers are built to last a lifetime.

Specifications & Warranty:

Dimensions: 96L x 24W x 14H inches
Maximum user weight: 500 Pounds
Warranty: 5-year frame warranty, 2 years on the monitor and moving parts.

#3 WaterRower Club

WaterRower Club

Moving on from one high-end rowing machine to another, we were fortunate enough to finally try out one of these famed and fabled rowers and compare it to the commercial-grade, industry standard Concept2.

Immediately, there’s a big difference between the two. WaterRowers are absolutely beautiful, handcrafted pieces of art in stark contrast to the industrial-looking and businesslike Concept2 machines. But it’s not form over function and we’re happy to report that they’re just as capable.

We can talk about specs and build quality but the thing that they really bring to the table is an unmatched user experience. First and foremost, this rower has no motor. Instead, it has a ‘water flywheel’ with paddles that come as close as possible to mimic the feel of rowing a real boat. This also provides smooth resistance that increases the faster you paddle, just as it would in an open water body. Even the best rowing machines have occasional jerks and judders across their range of motion but WaterRowers remain smooth and sublime.
The WaterRower Club is made out of an ash hardwood which, apart from being beautiful, incredibly strong and durable, also has sound dampening properties. This, along with the water flywheel makes for an incredible quiet and pleasant workout experience. The only sound you really hear the calm, soothing notes of water swishing around.

The attention to detail and an emphasis on user experience rather than outright features or performance is continued with the excellent Series 4 performance monitor. Unlike the PM5 on the Concept2 machines, it doesn’t inundate you with workout data but still covers all the bases. Just like the rest of the machine, a bit of sophistication has found itself into this monitor. The screen displays your workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, and distance and the monitor is compatible with an optional chest heart rate strap. Even the target monitor politely beeps when you are in the correct intensity zone so that you can focus on enjoying your workout and listening to the pleasant sounds of water as you row.

The WaterRower Club uses a stained wood with a darker color that’s suited for home as well as commercial gyms/studios. It features dual black rails have been styled to prevent scuffing and as such is suitable for heavy and rough usage. There is the option of a natural finish for those who prefer it. The Club version however is finished in an attractive rosewood which is much more resistant to soiling.

Lastly, the frame flips upright so that it can be stored in an unbelievably small footprint. If you still have any doubt left about the quality of construction, it supports a user weight of 1000 pounds! These things will last forever and look great while doing it. You owe it to yourself to check one out in person.

Specifications & Warranty:

Dimensions: 84L x 21W x 22H inches
Maximum user weight: 1000 Pounds
Warranty: 1 year on frame & components, 5 years on frame and 3 years on components after registration.

#4 Stamina Air Rower

stamina air rower

And now for something a little different; The Stamina Air rower. Unlike the rowers, we’ve reviewed so far that rely on magnetic resistance, this one uses air as the name suggests.

An air rower has advantages of its own. The rowing experience is generally more intuitive when compared to standard magnetic machines and the effort increases progressively as you get faster. Now I know that some of you may be thinking; ‘this thing is probably loud as a result!’. In reality however, it’s not as loud as you would expect.

The oversized seat rail is set at an angle for smooth operation and comfort. The seat itself is nicely upholstered so that you don’t end up walking funny after a hard session. There’s a performance monitor, wheels for portability, the ability to fold for storage and an overall solid construction that should last a long, long time.

Simple is good sometimes and that’s exactly what the Stamina Air Rower is; a simple and highly effective machine offers plenty of value for money.

Specifications & Warranty:

Dimensions: 77L x 18W x 22H inches
Maximum user weight: 250 Pounds
Warranty: 3 years for the frame, 90 days for the parts

#5 Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050

If you’re new to rowing and not yet sure if you want to make invest big bucks into a pricey machine, the Stamina Body Trac Glider might persuade you with its eminently affordable price tag.

It’s hard to find a rower for around a 100 dollars and especially one that doesn’t completely suck. Based on our own experience and an overwhelming amount of mostly-positive reviews from thousands of users, we feel okay with putting this thing on our top 5.

The Trac Glider 1500 isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. It may be a budget machine but it still gets you the impressive exercise benefits of rowing and does so at an accessible point of entry.

Resistance is provided via a gas-cylinder system. This resistance is adjustable via a knob, so that’s a plus. You also get a frame that is reasonably sturdy, a basic monitor that displays the essentials. It folds for storage and even when fully assembled, fits into a very small footprint of only 23.5 inches wide by 46 inches long. We also couldn’t really fault the molded, well-padded seat.

The Body Trac Glider is one of the few budget products that we can recommend without reservation. As long as you don’t expect the world of it, it will pleasantly surprise you.

Specifications & Warranty:

Dimensions: 58.25L x 42.25W x 18.215H inches
Maximum user weight: 250 Pounds
Warranty: 1 year for the frame, 90 days for the part

What are the types of rowing machines?

Water

When you think of rowing, you think of water. Naturally, water-based rowers are often the best kinds. The resistance is progressive and suitable for advanced users. They also tend to last for ages if properly cared for.

On the flip side, water rowers can be heavy since they have a tank onboard. Apart from being heavy, it’s very likely that they’ll take up more space than most (some can be stored upright however). They also often have to use some sort of water filtration/purification method to ensure mechanical integrity of the parts that come into contact with the wet stuff. WaterRower for example supplies users with their own purification tablets; we recommend you stick to your rower’s manufacturer’s advice on this.

Arguable the biggest thing water rowers have going for them is that they mimic the feel of rowing in a real boat and offer the best user experience overall.

Air

Air resistance is also progressive but generally louder than water. Good air rowers can sometimes mitigate this drawback. A well-made air rower can be very competent and not at all a bad option for a commercial space such as a gym or studio.

Overall, air rowers are the simplest with the least number of things that can go wrong. So long as you’ve checked the noise levels, they’re a good option.

Magnetic

Rowers that use magnetic resistance are popular for good reason. First, they offer a linear resistance with many levels of adjustment. This is great for people who need a predictable and constant resistance throughout their workout.

The use of magnets also enables quieter operation and reduced part maintenance. These units can also be somewhat heavy.

In terms of feel, magnetic rowers offer a smooth experience.

Hydraulic

Hydraulic rowers are often the lightest and cheapest models available. They’re usually sufficient for beginners but some may find the maximum resistance a bit on the softer side. They’re also unlikely to offer variable resistance.

That being said, they’re still among the most affordable rowers available and will usually fit into a very small footprint.

Factors to consider before buying a rowing machine

Resistance

This is the main factor that differentiates between different machines and therefore should be an important consideration before choosing one. Consider the pros and cons as well as your personal preference and level before deciding.

Fit

Any piece of exercise equipment is only worthwhile if it fits you well. Look for extra-long handles, footrests, straps and a general focus on ergonomics when choosing your rower. Make sure you fit the height and weight criteria; this will let you get the most out of both yourself as well as your machine.

Dimensions

This goes without saying but you obviously need to make sure you have enough room to keep your new machine. Remember to make room for yourself when checking the manufacturer provided dimensions. It’s also a good idea to select a machine that folds or can be stored upright if you’re tight on space or won’t be using the machine often.

Conclusion

You’ve reached the end of our list of the absolute best rowing machines on the market today. Even though there’s a recommendation to cover every level and price-point, all the machines can handle a user weight of at least 250 pounds (and some can take many times that). In other words, we’re confident that they are up to the task.

20 comments

  1. There are many types of gym equipment that can help in cardio and a little bit of strength training. Why would I settle for a rowing machine to exercise?

    1. The rowing machine has proved to be one of the best exercising equipment in the case where a user would wish to burn lots of calories in a few hours. The concept behind the working of a rowing machine is that it increases the metabolism of an individual for quite a long time after an exercise. It is important to note that a rowing machine is the only exercising equipment that puts both upper and lower body into exercise. Rowing machines are a must have for any person who is in pursuit of physical fitness. The exercises that are provided by a rowing machine strengthen the hands as well as the forearms while holding and working with the machine. The core as well as other muscles in the body are well exercised by the machine as well as kept stronger.

      The fact that both the lower and upper body gets to exercise saves a lot of time that would have otherwise been used in different exercises for the upper and lower body. The low impact caused by rowing exercises is a benefit that should not be overlooked and therefore a definite reason why users would prefer a rowing machine over other exercising equipment.

  2. I have tried many exercises so I can lose weight in vain, will a rowing machine help? How exactly does this work?

    1. A rowing machine is an all-around exercise machine that helps both the upper and lower body to do exercises. It has been observed that rowing exercises can make a user to burn a lot of calories within a short period of exercising. The increased metabolism in the body is also a result of rowing exercises that helps the human body in the burning of excess fats and calories in the body. You will definitely be able to lose weight on using a rower for exercising.

  3. I noticed this equipment usually come with a very large size. My house is small yet I want to get one for home use. Are there rowing machines that can fit in my small house?

    1. The design that has been used on rowing machines that are intended for domestic use makes them very portable. They have wheels for easy movements and are also foldable. This means they cannot consume much space for storage in your house or store. You can freely carry the rowing machine along in case you are traveling away and need to keep exercising.

  4. I want to choose a towing machine for my home for the first time. Is it really important to consider resistance types when purchasing a rowing machine?

    1. The resistant type is an important factor that needs to be taken into consideration by any user who wants to buy a rowing machine. Each user may anticipate a different rowing experience with the purchase of a rower. The characteristics of price, size, and noise levels are all different for rowing machines with different levels of resistances. It is important to know the type of resistance that you are looking for on a rowing machine so that you can get your rowing machine options narrowed down for you. The next step after finding out the resistance type will then be the price comparisons and later other factors such as portability may be considered.

  5. I live in an apartment and for obvious reasons, I do not need a machine that makes noise. Which type of rowing machine can I use to avoid producing too much noise?

    1. For most people living in apartments, it can be worrying to use a rowing machine that makes a lot of noise. I, therefore, cannot stress enough the importance of a quiet machine. An air rower produces the most amount of noise as compared to other rowing machines. In as much as the hydraulic rowers are not as loud as the air rowers, they are not the best for use when a user is out to get a quiet workout session. The magnetic rowers are among the best in cases where a user works towards noise reduction. An example of such is the Stamina orbital type.

  6. I don’t know if there are rowing machines enough to accommodate my height. I am really tall, what should I consider in terms of my height when buying a rowing machine?

    1. Most manufacturers have not put into considerations the height limitations of different potential users of rowing machines. The machines can still be used by people who are taller. However, there are different factors that such people should put into consideration in order to get the best rowing machines. The design of a rowing machine is a very crucial factor that should be put into consideration by tall people when purchasing a rowing machine. The seat length of the rail of the seat should be comfortable so that a user can freely extend their legs freely. A user should be able to clearly view the fitness monitor without straining any of their body parts.

      Based on the recommendations, the concept 2 model of the rowing machine has been recommended as being one of the best machines for tall people. Therefore, yes, tall people can also use rowing machines.

  7. I now that there are specific guidelines used when choosing a rowing machine. In order to get the best rowing machine for my needs, what factors should be considered when purchasing a rowing machine?

    1. The quality of the machine is another important factor that tall people should look at as they decide which rowing machine to use. The rowing machine should be in a position to provide a good resistance type and it should be adjustable. The monitor should be well working and the build of quite a durable material.

      The seat and handles of a rower should be able to provide comfort to a user during the entire period as they exercise. Additionally, in cases where the rower is for domestic use, it is advisable that it be foldable so that it saves space on the floor. The ability to get folded also makes it portable which is an added advantage to a user.

      The assembly of a rowing machine should also be considered. One should be able to easily assemble and disassemble. The warranty should also be considered and it should be for a considerable and reasonable amount of time. The price is another important factor to consider so it does not exceed a user’s projected budget.

  8. I am short and I’m sure I might not be able to perform complete sets while rowing. Which rowing machine is best for very short people?

    1. It may be a nightmare for the very short people who would wish to row to find a rowing machine. However, this has been solved as there are the rowing machine that is recommended or short people as well as kids. It is possible to assume that almost all rowers accommodate short people but they may make them strain in attaining the best catch positions. The recommended rowers for very short people are concept2 model D as well as the stamina air rowers.

  9. I want to maintain great form when rowing in oder to gain from these workouts. What are the steps that I should follow when rowing?

    1. The catch is the first step of rowing which assumes relaxed arms and shoulders while keeping the knees next to the chest. The drive is the second step that involves pushing away the legs and then bringing them back to their original position as in the catch step. The finishing step is where the legs are fully extended and you lean slightly on the back. The recovery phase involves the reversing of the recovery, drive and catch steps.

  10. The rowing machine is getting really famous and everyone is singing the praises for this equipment. I can’t help but wonder, are there any disadvantages of using the rowing machines?

    1. Just like any other equipment, there are pros and cons that are associated with using a rowing machine. There is the possibility of users getting some serious lower back injuries in cases where the users fail to maintain proper form when using this machine.

      Another drawback is the fact that the assembly process may prove to be a headache for some people. This can be solved by easy to use manuals being packaged with the rowing machines on a purchase. You can also ask the manufacturer to install it for you upon purchase.

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