Home gyms have come a long way in recent years.
The number one way that they’re constantly shifting is through the available, affordable equipment’s constantly being innovated.
Rowing machines might not be new, but thanks to cutting-edge scientific study and over a decade of serious interest in physical fitness backed by science, manufacturers are coming up with more ergonomic, ultra-functional designed home gym machines all the time.
They’re all in a contest to create the best rowing machine, and you’re going to benefit from it.
On this list, I’ve put the top five rowing machines with detailed information and specs about them, effectively giving you the cream of the crop to choose from.
Rowing is one of the most impactful, beneficial exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home, and it’s time to get serious about it.
Best Rowing Machine
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
If you’ve been looking around before you came here, then you know the Concept2 is basically the most well-known rowing machine available.
We’ve seen the rowing machine reviews, and when it came time to test it for ourselves, we were not disappointed.
The Concept2 Model D features an all-aluminum frame made with commercial grade quality in mind.
The chain is stainless steel with a nickel plating for better usability.
That chain, like many other parts of this, are protected by a two-year parts warranty, but you’ll get a five-year warranty on the frame.
Rowing machines work extremely well for weight loss, and Concept2 kept this in mind during construction.
That’s why they enabled this with a 500-pound maximum weight capacity, so no matter where you are in your journey, you can jump to this.
For such a powerful piece of machinery, I was expecting a much better screen.
It’s plain to see that their focus was on the capability of the rowing and not necessarily the data-tracking screen, but it feels like you’re looking at an IBM screen from a late-80’s flick.
It works as intended, but the low-res and lack of backlighting brings on that archaic feeling.
You can select workout regimens through the menu, or even check out their games section to make your workout a little more interesting.
The Concept2 took the top spot for a lot of reasons, but among them was the storage capabilities.
This is technically listed as a portable rowing machine because you can disconnect the front and back via a spot in the middle, though this is best suited for storage since the machine is 57 lbs total.
Altogether, Concept2 knows exactly what they’re doing.
You get untold durability, weight capacity, and plenty of power in that almighty chain they included.
The screen could use an upgrade, but other than that, it’s a perfect machine.
Mr. Rudolf Water Rowering Machine
Perhaps you’re on a budget, or you want a more authentic rowing experience.
Mr Rudolf has you covered. While it’s a bit odd that they call it a rowering machine, it gets the job done just fine.
As one of the best value rowing machine models on this list, they took a different approach.
You’re not on a commercial-grade aluminum or steel track—it’s completely made of oak wood.
It sounds insane at first, but it still allows for up to 320 lbs of weight without breaking, so it’s built plenty tough.
This is by no means portable, but it is lighter than it looks based on the dimensions.
You can pick up the back end of the track, and tilt this upright, just as it was designed.
This makes it easier to store in cramped home gyms, but it comes with one problem.
It really is designed to be positioned upright, but it’s a 58.5 lb machine; it’s a lot of weight if this were to fall over.
I would recommend either storing it in a closet or strapping it down/to another machine to ensure it doesn’t budge.
The workout monitor that they give you is a lower-grade than the Concept2 that we just reviewed.
Once again, it does what it’s supposed to, but the display is extremely bland.
This one features a backlight at the very least, but it’s not very powerful, so it’s important to position yourself just right if you want to track your progress.
One of the most important parts of a rowing machine isn’t just the resistance type, but the seat.
Bad support can lead to serious injuries and immense discomfort when you get off your rowing machine, but thankfully Mr Rudolf already thought of that.
This ergonomic seat is contoured to fit your butt, and the design accounts for things getting a bit sweaty. Don’t worry; you won’t slip off.
WaterRower Rowing Machine
I just want to start this off by addressing the seriously impressive design and its ability to hold up to 1,000 pounds, because that’s practically unheard of for home gym equipment.
It’s more than anyone is going to need, but being eccentric about the details is why WaterRower ended up on this list in the first place.
It’s one of the best exercise rowing machine models I’ve ever had the pleasure of using, and partly because they actually took the time to develop a decent screen.
Good lighting, plenty of options, and a bit easier to read than the others.
They position it a bit differently as well, so you won’t be distracted by it since it’s not right in your face.
Now, this is where it gets a bit tricky, because you already knew this was too good to be true.
It’s a solid design with immense capability and durability, but it’s very pricey.
That’s because it uses a combination of solid ash wood, as well as honey stained oak, and those make up most of the construction.
The resistance system runs very smoothly. It’s a self-regulated water flywheel, which gives you varying degrees of difficulty depending on what you set it to.
This system helps cut down on friction and prolongs the life of your rowing machine.
Unlike many others, this isn’t going to sit on a bench or stand, so you’ll be right on the floor.
Because of this, posture is extremely important, so you need to focus on it. The last thing anyone wants is a fitness-related injury.
The warranty here is agreeable, but it comes with a stipulation.
You get five years on the frame and three on parts, but only if you register your rowing machine after you get it.
This marketing ploy is designed to have people forget about their warranty in the average 30-day window after the purchase date, effectively pulling the warranty rug right out from under your feet.
It’s not a straightforward approach.
Before I leave you to your thoughts on the WaterRower, I have to mention that the wood here isn’t sealed, so you have to be very careful with the water tank.
This is lightweight, hence making it portable, but it should still be placed in a stationary spot to prevent spilling and wood rot.
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
As we get down the list, we’re still looking at the best of the best, but you can see some aspects gradually decrease compared to our top picks.
In the case of Sunny Health & Fitness, it’s the maximum weight capacity.
This only holds up to 250 lbs, meaning it’s not designed for many people seeking weight loss on a long journey.
Now, I will say that you definitely get what you pay for, and Sunny Health & Fitness priced this to be a budget-friendly option.
You’re going to get some budget-friendly problems and limitations with it. One spot you can see this is in the monitor and its limited control options.
Personally, I don’t buy gym equipment because of the on-board computer. I don’t think anybody should, but it’s still a talking point.
The place where this really shines is on the magnetic resistance.
It’s entirely adjustable, so you can remain in command of your workout at all times, even if you’re just not feeling high-intensity today.
Adjustability is one of the main selling points of this rowing machine, because your adjustable seat can extend to be extra long at 48”, accounting for taller users.
The foot pedals are pretty good as well. The traction feet are agreeable, but if you aren’t using a mat underneath it, you might notice a bit of drifting in your home gym from time to time.
There are some quality areas that they could have tightened up on, but nothing major.
Before we wrap this review up, I just want to let you know that the resistance knob can be a bit finicky, so it’s difficult to really gauge how much resistance you apply to the machine.
It’s just something you’ll learn while using this rowing machine for a week or two, but expect that bit of a learning curve.
MaxKare Magnetic Power Rowing Machine
While this is the bottom-tier best erg machine on this list, it’s priced well, and works for a lot of people.
You already know by now that I’m going to complain about the LCD screen, so we’ll get that out of the way first.
The entire system runs pretty smoothly on most resistance levels.
You have 16 different resistance levels to choose from, which is a bit of an odd way to market it, since most of the time you’re applying pressure via a dial with no preset number of levels.
However, on the lowest or highest settings, this thing doesn’t even work.
On low, you can flip backwards if you anticipate any pressure, and on the highest, it’s basically like having a boot on a tire: it’s not going anywhere.
If nothing else, the settings are true to nature. I recommend this if you don’t mind starting on a low/moderate setting, but definitely not on the bottom.
You can get a good workout out of this rowing machine either way.
When it comes to the warranty, I can only really transmit my take on it in one word: disappointed.
They’ve changed the terms on their warranty so many times that you can’t find anything current, and when you purchase this rowing machine, you have to hound them for warranty information.
MaxKare ironically does not have good customer care, so if that’s big on your list of reasons to pick a specific brand, these are not your guys.
As a standalone rowing machine that’s built to last, it’s very good.
Easy to transport, sturdy aluminum design, and a max weight capacity of 243 lbs. It gets the job done without destroying your wallet.
Rowing Machine Buying Guide & FAQ
What to Look for in a Rowing Machine
You have air resistance, magnetic, and water rowing to name a few.
Each resistance type is going to offer you diffeerent benefits, and some of them are better suited for those of you on a weight loss journey versus people who are just looking to tone an already slim physique.
It varies, so pay attention to the resistance type so you don’t end up with something that’s not designed to align with your purpose.
Wooden frames allow for more maximum weight, but they’re usually untreated, so they’re prone to breakage.
Aluminum and steel frames can literally be beaten with a hammer and still function just fine, but they’re heavier materials, making storage difficult.
If you have a small home gym with compact machines, you might want a lighter material.
Keep in mind that wooden frames tend to cost more than metal.
Rowing machines are in fact excellent for trying to cut belly fat, but they’re also used by bodybuilders to shred their arms, legs, and keep their back muscles tight.
Rowing machines with wooden frames can hold 500 lbs or over (depending on the brand), but like MaxKare, who made an aluminum frame, sometimes the weight limit hits around the 250 lbs mark.
This attribute is especially important if you’re on a long weight loss journey.
You can’t avoid the sticker price or how it plays a role in your decision, no matter how badly we all want to invest in the highest-rated rowing machine for our health and wellness.
Price can get in the way, but if you go for aluminum and steel frames, you can save money compared to wooden ones.
How Good is a Rowing Machine Workout?
It’s one of the best full-body, median-impact exercises that you can possibly do.
Many fat-burning workouts come with a lot of pressure on your joints, which can lead to problems down the road, but rowing machines—when you use proper form and a good technique—are safe and not high-impact.
Now, the best type of rowing machine for full-body workouts varies on what you’re trying to do. There’s a reason that we have so many different resistance types.
You need to find one that works for you to ensure you’re getting a good workout in.
Rowing machines workout your legs, arms, back, and touch on your core and chest muscles all at the same time.
The glorious thing about this is that you don’t feel tuckered out by the middle of your workout.
In fact, you don’t really feel much of the intensity until you go to stand up afterwards (a word of caution: get up slowly). It’s asn effective way to workout,
Can You Lose Belly Fat on a Rowing Machine?
You can lose belly fat from just about any exercise, but if you’re looking for the best ones to do, rowing machines can seriously help with stubborn midsection fat.
These aren’t just the best rowing machines for the money—they’re full-body workout machines that focus on your legs, arms, and midsection, all just by doing the motions that we’re going to describe in the next section.
How Do You Use a Rowing Machine Properly?
There are three basic things that you can do with a rowing machine, and once you get these down pat, then you’re good to go.
You don’t have to worry about looking like you don’t know what you’re doing or feeling awkward if you end up going to a gym later on, because you’ll know what you’re doing.
Holding onto the handle, you’re going to push off with your legs and only hold your shoulders straight enough to not get yanked forward by the handle.
The goal here is to pull your entire body backwards using only your legs.
Your feet are just there for stability and good form. You’re pulling back entirely with your arms, working out those shoulders and back muscles.
Posture is important here to avoid any potential injuries. Arm isolations are often more taxing on your stamina than leg isolations.
Pull back with your arms while pushing off with your legs.
Hybrid pulls are usually suited with high resistance levels to really see what you’re made of, just don’t put it too high that you end up hurting yourself.
If you’re trying to get a full-body workout in, you can start with these.
As time goes on, you can develop your own reps.
One leg io, then an arm iso, hybrid, and then start over again; whatever’s going to work up a sweat and burn those calories.
Does Rowing Help Your Posture?
Yes, rowing helps your posture, but not at first. It’s a very labor-intensive exercise, and form is absolutely everything.
One thing you should know about any workout that targets your back muscles, upp or lower, is that it builds on them and allows you to naturally repair your posture strictly through muscle strength.
Getting there is the problem.
Rowing machines can be used for weight loss, as talked about earlier, but you have to rigorously practice good form and feigning proper posture (fake it ‘til you make it).
Otherwise, you do run the risk of injuring your shoulders if you aren’t careful. Rowing helps, just start slow.
Another Way to Train Your Physique
If rowing isn’t already in your fitness repertoire, then it’s time to take the plunge.
Apart from working out various muscle groups in your shoulders, arms and back, it’s also a fantastic way to burn calories and shred your physique.
A home gym is an investment, and chief among the various investments you’ll make should be a rowing machine.