The Best Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

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If you’re setting up your dreamy home gym and are looking for premium quality cardio equipment to take your fitness game to a new level, finding the best rowing machine should be high on your list. Indoor rowers are low-impact cardio machines that can provide excellent results, offering a head-to-toe workout.

Thanks to the great increase in the popularity of home cardio workouts, a lot of well-known brands have launched their own model of rowing machines. As a result, today, fitness enthusiasts can have their pick from the wide array of options and buy the best rowing machine that meets all of their needs and budget. 

People using the best rowing machine
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To help you get the most bang for your buck, we thoroughly researched the most reputable brands on the market and read tons of customer and expert reviews to find the best rowing machine to spruce up your home gym and level up your workout routine.

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In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine - PM5 Monitor, Device Holder, Adjustable Air Resistance, Easy Storage
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Hydrow Rowing Machine with Immersive 22' HD Rotating Screen - Stows Upright | Live and On-Demand At-Home Workouts, Subscription Required
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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower w/ 350 lb Weight Capacity and LCD Monitor, Silver
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WaterRower Ash Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor | USA Made | Original Handcrafted Erg Machine for Home Use & Gym | Best Warranty
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Product's nameOur Top Pick
Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine - PM5 Monitor, Device Holder,...
Great Alternative
Hydrow Rowing Machine with Immersive 22" HD Rotating Screen - Stows Upright...
Best Budget Option
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower w/ 350 lb...
Best Water Resistance
WaterRower Ash Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor | USA Made | Original...
VerdictIf you're looking to spend a bit more money for a premium quality rowing machine with quiet and easily adjustable air resistance, the Concept2 Model D indoor rower is the best pick for you.If you fancy a rower with an ultra-sleek design, quiet and water-like rowing experience that they can immerse in the comfort of their own home and don't mind splurging a bit, this is the one.The Sunny Health and Fitness Full Motion rower is an inexpensive and great option for beginners who are still unsure of whether they like rowing for exercise. It's a great choice if you're looking for an aesthetically pleasing rower that will spruce up your home gym and don't mind splurging a bit.
Tension SystemAir-resistance flywheelElectromagnetic resistance
Hydraulic cylinderWater flywheel
Dimensions8 ft. x 2 ft.7.1 ft. x 2.1 ft.52.2 x 28.7 x 11.8 in6.8 ft. x 1.8 ft.
Machine Weight57 lbs145 lbs35.8 lbsWithout water: 66.5 lbs
Weight Capacity500 lbs375 lbs350 lbs700 lbs
Digital MonitorAdvanced PM5 Performance Monitor22-inch HD touchscreenCalories, Count, Time, Total Count, Scan
S4 Performance Monitor
WarrantyLimited 5-year warrantyStructural Frame & Upright Storage Kit: Five years
Components, Screen, & Other Electronics: One year
3 Year Structural Frame, 180 Days Other Parts And Components3-year warranty on parts
5-year warranty on the frame
Price$$$$$$$$$
More InfoSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at Amazon

How Am I Qualified to Write About These Products?

As a seasoned fitness enthusiast and writer, I’m well aware of how essential thorough product recommendations can be. So, after years of working out in gyms equipped with the best pieces of equipment, once lockdown hit, I decided to take my fitness journey into my own hands and set up my home gym

One of my favorite pieces of cardio equipment was always the rowing machine. So, to make the most out of my budget and get the best rower for my needs and space, I had to study them inside and out to get the best one for my space and needs. Consequently, through some trial and error and profound research, I’ve found a few great models that stand out. 

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine
4.5

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

Who Is This Guide For?

In short, this guide is for anyone who wants to get cardio and a full body workout in the comfort of their own home while simulating the experience of rowing on water. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a beginner in rowing or a seasoned athlete who’s been working out for a while.

The purpose of this guide is to help you weigh your options and find the best rowing machine for your needs, budget, and space, so you can stay consistent and reach your fitness goals.

How We Picked the Best Rowing Machines?

When I was picking the best rowing machines, my selection criteria included customer feedback, expert recommendations, cost-effectiveness, and overall quality. I make sure to constantly stay up-to-date on the latest rowing machine models through comprehensive research, evaluating factors such as key specifications, construction, warranty options, resistance levels, and price.

Investing in a rowing machine for your home gym should not be a rash decision. This comprehensive guide will assist you in making an informed choice, ensuring that the equipment you choose fits your budget and space.

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How We Compared Each Product

To determine the best rowing machines, I considered various factors and narrowed it down to the top options based on specific criteria. I selected the rowers on this list for their exceptional quality and compared them based on the following factors.

  • Resistance: I took into consideration how many levels of resistance the machines have, their type of resistance system, as well as how easy it is to adjust the resistance level. 
  • Ease of use: I looked at how easy it is to set up the rower, as well as how easy it is to make the best use of the metrics monitor.
  • Noise level: Noise level was a key factor in my evaluation of rowing machines. I assessed the machines’ decibel levels during use to determine how loud or quiet they were.
  • Design: I chose rower designs that are sleek, compact, or foldable, which are ideal for limited home spaces. I also made sure to look for innovative features that enhance the rowers’ functionality.
  • Performance: The ideal rowing machine should be stable, secure, and comfortable, regardless of the pace you are rowing. Additionally, it should have handles that move smoothly.
  • Features: In my evaluation, I also looked for unique features that set the rowing machine apart and enhanced the user experience. These added elements help determine the overall quality of the machine.
  • Storage: I evaluated how easy it was to store the machine when not in use, ensuring it wouldn’t take up unnecessary space in the home.

Although most rowers on this list offer similar benefits, their design variations make some of them better suited for specific individuals. To help you choose, I have compiled a list of four top-performing indoor rowing machines based on my personal testing.

The Products

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Our Top Pick

Designed by rowers, for rowers, the Concept2 Model D is one of the finest-built indoor rowers on the market. Thanks to its adjustable damper and flywheel, you can have complete control of the resistance yourself. The faster you row, the more drag you’ll feel. This Concept2 model has air resistance that is quiet enough to watch TV or listen to music at a normal volume.

The Concept2 Model D rower features solid steel legs, adjustable footrests, a comfortable seat, and an ergonomic handle which significantly boosts its functionality. It comes with an LCD monitor which displays important user data such as stroke rate, pace, and calories burned. Plus, you can also program various different workouts on it.

Thanks to its Bluetooth connectivity, you can easily transfer important data to your smartphone through all the apps compatible with this exquisite rower. The Concept2 Model D comes with a device holder where you can place your tablet or smartphone and follow your favorite workouts.

This rower is on the more expensive side, but taking into account its premium quality design and the fact that it’s packed with great features, the Concept2 Model D indoor rower is well worth the price for rowers of all fitness levels.

Pros

  • Smooth gliding operation
  • Adjustable damper and flywheel
  • Easy and simple to assemble
  • Can be used by taller people

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Requires a bit of space (9 feet by 4 feet)

Key Specs

Tension system: Air-resistance flywheel
Dimensions (length x width):8 ft. x 2 ft.
Product Weight:57 lbs
Weight capacity:500 lbs.
Digital monitor:Advanced PM5 Performance Monitor
Smart features:Wireless Bluetooth and ANT+ compatibility, as well as time, distance, and interval workouts
Portability:Easy to store since it can be broken down into two pieces or hung
Warranty:Limited 5-year warranty
Price at time of publication:$1,986

Who It’s Best for

If you’re looking to spend a bit more money for a premium quality rowing machine with quiet and easily adjustable air resistance, the Concept2 Model D indoor rower is the best pick for you. There are many good reasons why you can find Concept 2 products in almost every gym in the world.

The Model D comes with tons of smart features, and it’s great for taller users as well. The Concept 2 Model D Rower is the best rowing machine that provides excellent low-impact exercise.

Hydrow Rowing Machine – A Great Alternative

Want to recreate the experience of rowing on water in the comfort of your home? Looking to take live or on-demand classes or just an unguided virtual trip to explore the water? Want a machine that’s packed with high-tech features, sets up, and stows in seconds? You will love Hydrow’s premium quality rower!

Featuring the sleekest and most streamlined design out of any rower you’ve ever seen, Hydrow can level up the aesthetics of any home gym. Designed with an aluminum and steel frame and a flat, anthracite polymer body, Hydrow’s rower is a highly durable and sturdy machine suitable for both beginners and seasoned fitness enthusiasts. 

The machine comes with an HD touchscreen which enables you to access its library containing a myriad of interactive workouts. With Hydrow, you can do virtually anything from open swim-style free rows to whole-body workouts, and live classes.

Featuring a whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance, the Hydrow comes at a premium. Priced at nearly $2,500 delivered and requiring an ongoing monthly fee of $38 for access to the classes, the Hydrow is certainly not cheap. But hey, few connected fitness machines of this caliber ever are, so I’d say this magnetic rowing machine is well worth the investment.

Pros

  • Hundreds of motivating classes and rowing events to choose from
  • Seamless cardio and full-body workout
  • Whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance

Cons

  • Expensive

Key Specs

Tension system:Electromagnetic resistance
Dimensions (length x width):7.1 ft. x 2.1 ft.
Weight:145 lbs
Weight capacity:375 lbs.
Digital monitor:22-inch HD touchscreen
Smart features:Live and on-demand interactive classes, ANT+, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth capabilities.
Portability:You can tilt the machine vertically into the upright position for safe storage between use with the Upright Storage Kit.
Warranty: Structural Frame & Upright Storage Kit: Five yearsComponents, Screen, & Other Electronics: One year
Price at time of publication:$2,495

Who It’s Best For

If you’re someone who fancies themselves a rower with an ultra-sleek design, quiet and water-like rowing experience that they can immerse in the comfort of their own home and don’t mind splurging a bit, the Hydrow rowing machine is just the right fit for you.

The Hydrow provides virtual classes that highly motivate you to level up your rowing and creates a competitive environment where you can compare your ranking with users from all around the world or anyone else who is using your machine.

Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine – The Best Budget Option

The Sunny Health & Fitness RW5639 is a full-motion rowing machine, meaning it requires you to move both arms, similarly to ‘real’ rowing. Its design puts the emphasis on your upper body as the full-motion activity of pulling back the two oars works out your upper back, shoulders, and arms much more than the traditional single-handle rowers.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine
4.5

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

Pros:
  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

It is our chosen budget-friendly option because it provides an excellent workout for the price without taking up too much space. It has a comfortable seat, wide pivotal footrests, and well-padded handles. Not only that, but it’s also very solid, as it can support users of up to 350 lbs.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine relies on hydraulic cylinder resistance. It has twelve levels of resistance that you can change by turning the collar on the piston. The levels of resistance between 1 and 12 are wide enough to spot the difference, but the lowest is probably way too easy for most users.

The monitor on the Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion rower is very basic. The only data it displays is the time you’ve been rowing, the stroke count, and a rough estimate of the calories burned.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact – perfect for small spaces
  • Quiet
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Changing the resistance level mid-workout isn’t seamless

Key Specs:

Resistance Style:Hydraulic cylinder
Maximum Weight Capacity:350 lbs
Product Weight: 35.8 lbs
Dimensions:52.2 x 28.7 x 11.8 in
Digital Monitor: Calories, Count, Time, Total Count, Scan
Smart Features: /
Warranty: 3 Year Structural Frame, 180 Days Other Parts And Components
Price at time of publication: $169.98

Who It’s Best for

The Sunny Health and Fitness Full Motion rower is an inexpensive and great option for beginners who are still unsure of whether they like rowing for exercise. This rowing machine is also a great starting point for unfit individuals or people who are recovering from an illness and need to take it slow. If you’re on a limited budget, this machine will help you get started and gain some level of fitness.

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine – The Best Water Resistance

When it comes to indoor rowing machines, the WaterRower comes the closest to recreating the feeling of rowing on water outdoors. This is thanks to the flywheel that pushes through water in its sturdy and heavy-duty tank. What’s more, the machine even delivers soft and soothing swooshing sounds of water as you start rowing.

Besides giving you the ability to control the rowing resistance through your strokes (the harder and faster you row, the greater the drag), you can also boost the resistance level by adding more water to the tank. This means that the more water there is in the tank, the heavier the drag on the flywheel will be, thus, the harder you will have to row. 

The WaterRower comes with a stable and cushioned seat that smoothly rolls along dual rails. It has a premium S4 monitor that tracks time, distance, and calories burned. However, what many users may consider a drawback is the fact that the monitor is placed right next to your right foot, and you have to look down at the touchscreen during your workouts. While this placement does improve the overall appearance of the machine, it also affects its functionality.

The body of the WaterRower is made of handcrafted wood, which makes it one of the most aesthetically pleasing rowing machines available on the market. However, keep in mind that although the wood lends the machine a gorgeous touch, it also makes it less durable when compared to rowers made of aluminum and steel.

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing appearance
  • Relaxing whooshing sounds
  • Simulates rowing on open water 
  • Among the quietest rowing machines on the market

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Inconvenient placement of the monitor
  • The water tank requires maintenance

Key Specs

Resistance StyleWater flywheel
Dimensions (length x width):6.8 ft. x 1.8 ft.
Maximum Weight Capacity:700 lbs
Machine Weight:Without water: 66.5 lbsWith water: 103.5 lbs
Weight Capacity:700 lbs.
Digital Monitor:S4 Performance Monitor
Smart Features:Time, distance, speed, and row intensity displayed via the onboard monitor, compatible with heart rate monitors (kit sold separately)
Warranty:3-year warranty on parts5-year warranty on the frame
Price at time of publication:$1,199

Who It’s Best For

The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is the ideal option for people who want to mimic the feel of rowing on real water. It’s a great choice if you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing rower that will spruce up your home gym and don’t mind splurging a bit. 

The Buying Guide For The Best Rowing Machine

As much as they may seem straightforward and simple to use, when buying an indoor rower, there are quite a few things to keep in mind to make the most out of your money. With so many different types and models of indoor rowers available on the market, it can be hard to find a model and make it that meets your needs, budget, and space requirements.

But, worry not, we’re here to help you out with the essential features and specifications to consider before spending a small fortune on an indoor rower.

Durability and Build Quality

If you end up spending $1,000 or more on an indoor rower, you want to make sure that it’s of good quality and that you will use it for years to come. For that very reason, it’s important to buy from a reputable company that offers quality made products that come with a decent warranty.

If you want a durable rower that can withstand daily wear, don’t go for a cheap model from a brand you’ve never heard of just because it seems like a good deal. When it comes to fitness equipment, you almost always get what you pay for. So, if you’re planning to row regularly and want to use your rower for years to come, your best bet is to invest good money into a model that will last.

Determine Your Budget

Depending on your budget for this purchase, the price tag might be the most important consideration for you. Rowing machines can be a hefty investment that can cost you well over $1,000. Keep in mind, though, that if you’re on a tight budget, you can always find a decent mid-range model for less than $1,000 and even a great budget model for less than $300.

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Decide on a Resistance Mechanism

The core of every rowing machine is some sort of resistance mechanism. There are four main types: hydraulic, flywheel, water-based, and magnetic resistance.

  • Hydraulic resistance is based on air or fluid compression in a cylinder and is usually the most affordable option, but it provides less customization for workouts.
  • Flywheel resistance is based on air resistance and is said by some trainers to be similar to rowing on water.
  • Water-based and magnetic rower models are quieter, pricier, and have more complex mechanisms, but they provide a greater range of resistance, allowing you to increase the intensity as your fitness improves.

Storage Options

Rowing machines are inherently large and often weigh a lot. If you have enough space in your home, non-foldable versions tend to be more stable and more convenient to use when it’s time to exercise. They are always prepared to be used.

However, if you’re living in urban areas or are limited in space, a foldable model might be a better option. There are rowers that fold neatly in half or can be stored vertically to save floor space. Consider models with wheels for easy movement. 

Handle Design

The design of rowing machine handles can vary greatly from one model to another. Traditional rowers usually have a single handle that you can grip with both hands and pull back. Other rowers have two handlebars, similar to those on an elliptical machine. These are usually more comfortable to use while working out and offer a wider range of motion for your arms.

When choosing a rower, pick one with handles that are comfortable to use and have a good grip, so they don’t cause blisters and damage to your hands over time.

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Maintenance

Rowing machines require minimal maintenance and only need to be wiped down after use to maintain their durability. This involves removing sweat and cleaning any dirt that accumulates. Water rowers have a tank that should be cleaned out every six months.

Seat

When buying an indoor rowing machine, it’s important to choose a model with a properly padded seat that will be comfortable to use. Your best bet is to opt for an ergonomic seat that’s spacious enough to enable you a comfortable workout and help you maintain proper rowing form.

Warranty

Rowing machines are a significant investment, with the top models costing over $1,000. It’s crucial to choose a manufacturer that offers a clear and comprehensive warranty. The warranty policies in the industry vary greatly, with some budget-friendly brands offering only 90-day warranties for some parts, while others have 10-year warranties for all components.

Generally, the more you spend upfront, the better the warranty will be. If anything is unclear about the warranty, don’t hesitate to ask. It’s your money, after all.

Additional Rowing Machine Features

The basic design of rowing machines have remained unchanged for decades, and you can still find a traditional model at an affordable price. However, if you’re looking for a more advanced experience, consider smart rowers.

These usually have touch screens with integrated apps that connect you to professional trainers who can motivate and help you achieve your fitness goals. These rowing machines are more expensive initially, but many also require ongoing monthly subscriptions to fully utilize their smart, connected features.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is rowing better than running?

Rowing is a more comprehensive full-body workout than just running, as it engages around 85% of all your body’s muscles and up to 9 different muscle groups. It also provides benefits such as strengthening your back, toning your arms, and working both your upper and lower body.

Can you row every day?

In short, yes. However, if you are new to rowing, or it has been a long time since you regularly rowed, you will want to slowly build up your rowing capacity. Start with short reps or a few minutes of rowing and gradually increase over time.

Aim for three to five days a week of exercising for 45 minutes to an hour, with adequate recovery between sessions. To progress your rowing workouts, increase one variable at a time and only increase by 10%.

What is the best form for rowing?

Proper rowing form and technique are important when using an indoor rower as they not only help you achieve better results but also reduce the risk of injury. It is recommended to start with a focus on proper form and gradually increase the intensity of your workout as your body adapts.

Remember to breathe rhythmically, inhaling at the catch and exhaling at the finish, to support your performance.

The Rowing Stroke

The drive is the portion of the rowing stroke where the rower uses the legs, back and arms to propel the machine forward. The recovery is the rest portion where the rower returns to the starting position, allowing the body to prepare for the next drive. It is important to keep the movements smooth and continuous to maximize efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.

The Catch

  • Keep your arms straight, your head neutral and your shoulders at a level position. Avoid hunching.
  • Starting from the hips together with the shoulders, lean your upper body forward in front of the hips.
  • Keep your shins vertical and do not move them beyond perpendicular.
  • You can lift your heels if you need to.

The Drive

  • Start the drive by using your legs to push off, then smoothly bring your back through the upright position before adding the arm pull.
  • Your hands should move in a smooth, straight line towards and away from the flywheel.
  • Maintain low, relaxed shoulders throughout the motion.

The Finish

  • Lean back slightly, relying on your core muscles for stability.
  • Keep your legs straight and grip the handle slightly below your rib cage.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and low, with your wrists flat and grip loose.

The Recovery

  • Straighten your arms and then bend at the hips towards the flywheel.
  • After your hands pass your knees, bend your knees and smoothly glide the seat forward on the monorail.
  • To begin the next stroke, return to the starting position with relaxed shoulders and upright shins.

Pro Tip: Breathing can have a significant impact on your workout. With enough practice, you can coordinate your breathing with your rowing stroke.

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About

Julien Raby is the owner of BoxLife. He owns a bachelor in literature and a certificate in marketing from Concordia. He's Crossfit Level 1 certified and has been involved in Crossfit since 2010. In 2023 he finally made it to Crossfit Open Quarterfinals for the first time. LinkedIn Instagram Facebook

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