The Best Rowing Machine Accessories – Which Ones Do You Actually Need?

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

We may receive a commission from our affiliate links at no additional cost to you. See disclosures page.


Do you want to make your rowing experience as enjoyable as possible? Feeling like there’s something missing in your current indoor rower setup? Have you been scrolling through endless online shops and can’t decide which items are truly worth your money and effort?

While most indoor rowing machines these days have their own fundamental components, we can always enhance the overall experience with some additional perks. So, without further ado, let’s take the plunge and explore the best rowing machine accessories that will take your rowing workout to the next level.

A group of people using rowing machine accessories at the gym
  • Save

In A Hurry? Here’s Our Best Picks

Garmin 010-12955-00 HRM-PRO, Premium Heart Rate Strap, Real-Time Heart Rate Data and Running Dynamics
  • Save
TreadLife Fitness Rowing Machine Seat Cushion - Designed to Fit The Concept2 Rowing Machine
  • Save
Sunny Health & Fitness NO. 074-M Treadmill Mat, Medium black
  • Save
New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker, Black/Magnet, 6.5
  • Save
Fit Active Sports Weight Lifting Workout Gloves with Built-in Wrist Wraps for Men and Women - Great for Gym Fitness, Cross Training, Hand Support & Weightlifting
  • Save
TreadLife Fitness Concept 2 Rowing Machine Chain Oil + Microfiber Cloth | Lubricates and Protects Rower from Rust & Dirt | Compatible with All Chain-Drive Rowers, Including Concept 2 Models A B C D E
  • Save
Product's nameAbsolute Must-Have
Garmin 010-12955-00 HRM-PRO, Premium Heart Rate Strap,...
Solid Nice-to-Have
TreadLife Fitness Rowing Machine Seat Cushion - Designed to...
Preferrable, Could Go Without
Sunny Health & Fitness NO. 074-M Treadmill Mat, Medium black
Strongly Recommended 
New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker,...
Definitely a Must
Fit Active Sports Weight Lifting Workout Gloves with...
Regular Necessity 
TreadLife Fitness Concept 2 Rowing Machine Chain Oil +...
VerdictLet's face it - running without a heart rate monitor for rowing is like driving without a speedometer.In most cases, a rowing machine seat cushion can make the difference between a successful workout and an excruciatingly uncomfortable experience.Safety is undoubtedly the primary concern here. Without a mat, you risk damaging both the floor and the machine itself, not to mention the fact that you might find yourself losing balance and having an accident.You should keep an eye out for a pair of rowing machine shoes with a decent number of eyelets and a lacing system, as these will provide a better fit and easier adjustments.With each stroke, your hands are subjected to a considerable amount of friction and pressure, which can lead to blisters and other issues. Wearing a pair of rowing machine gloves is actually necessary.This keeps the chain running seamlessly and prevents them from getting stuck, which in turn leads to a more consistent water rowing experience.
Build Qualityplastic, elastic, fabricdense foam, breathable fabricrubber, foam or PVCpolyester or nylon meshleather, neoprene, mesh, polyesterbase oil, thickening agent, anti-corrosive agent
Price$$$$$$$$
Learn moreSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at AmazonSee at Amazon

Why Should You Trust Us

With a diverse and knowledgeable team of fitness enthusiasts, Boxlife magazine has been providing top-notch advice on a wide range of topics since our inception. We understand the importance of getting the proper equipment to experience a smooth and efficient workout, all while minimizing the risk of injury.

That’s why we keep our finger on the pulse and try out innovative products both at the gym and at home. By combining our experience with a comprehensive and thorough research process, we’ve had the pleasure and the opportunity to review and compare some of the leading options on the market today.

A man preparing his workout session using rowing machine accessories
  • Save

Who Is This Guide For?

At first glance, it might seem like we’re targeting newly-minted rowers, given their lack of experience in the field. From a novice’s perspective, it might be hard to tell which items can truly make a difference in their dynamic rowing session while still staying within their budget.

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$

However, this guide is also an excellent source of information for experienced rowers who already have some core accessories and are willing to expand their collection. After all, there’s always room for improvement, and we can all benefit from a few extra items here and there.

How We Picked the Best Products

Putting aside the subjective part of our evaluation process that involved trying out some of the products ourselves, we’ve also searched the web for customer feedback. We understand the importance of clients’ experience with a product, which is why we paid special attention to the user experiences on Amazon, Titan, and Rogue Fitness.

Moreover, we checked out the major fitness forums, such as Quora and Reddit, for additional information. This helped us further narrow down to a selection of items that we felt deserved the most attention in terms of rowing machine accessories.

A group of people at the gym using rowing machine accessories for their training
  • Save

How We Compared Each Product

Since we were faced with a diverse range of products, we decided to create a comprehensive comparison chart with several key criteria that we believe are essential for any rowing experience, for both beginner and advanced rowers. As such, we included the following points in our comparison chart:

Durability – Given the range of movements required to perform a basic rowing stroke, any accessories you use should be able to withstand some wear and tear. How does each item hold up over time?

Comfort – As this is inherently quite a strenuous activity, the entire rowing machine setup should be as comfortable as possible. No one wants to sacrifice their performance or hinder their progress due to an unpleasant accessory.

Compatibility – Every rowing machine manufacturer has its own unique design, which means some items can’t be used with certain brands. This doesn’t negate the value of those accessories, but you’ll have to double-check if they’re compatible with your particular model.

The Products

Once all the data was gathered and the comparison chart was created, we picked out the most noteworthy items that can make a real difference when it comes to your rowing workout. Each one of them brings something unique to the table, with its own strengths and weaknesses.

Heart Rate Monitor – Absolute Must-Have

Unless you get a commercial-grade rowing machine that has built-in heart monitoring ability, you’ll need to purchase one separately. This small yet powerful device keeps track of your heart rate during the entire session, giving you a complete overview of your progress and improving your rowing technique.

Pros

  • Can almost instantly detect changes in your heart rate
  • Gives you an accurate overview of your performance
  • Easy to use and doesn’t require any manual input

Cons

  • Not all devices are compatible with every rower
  • Some brands offer limited features

Why You Need It

Let’s face it – running without a heart rate monitor for rowing is like driving without a speedometer. You won’t be able to accurately measure the effects of your workout on your body and how much effort you put in. Not to mention the fact that it opens up a whole new dimension of information when it comes to heart rate variability and other important metrics.

On top of that, some brands offer additional features such as calorie tracking, so you can keep an eye on your daily intake and make sure you don’t exceed the limits. Other useful features for your heart rate chest belt – like the one from Garmin – are a stopwatch and distance tracker, so you know exactly how long and far you’ve rowed.

Padded Seat Cushion – Solid Nice-to-Have

When you’re doing intense workouts on a regular basis, it takes a toll on your body, particularly in the lower back area. More often than not, rowers are forced to deal with a sore butt or lower back pain, which are undoubtedly direct results of the lack of proper cushioning. With a quality seat pad like the one from TreadLife or Skwoosh, you won’t have to worry about this anymore.

Pros

  • Offers superior comfort for long workouts
  • Relieves pain and fatigue in the lower back area
  • Can be used with a compatible foot pad for enhanced comfort

Cons

  • Some models require frequent cleaning
  • Not all seat cushions are waterproof

Why You Need It

In most cases, a rowing machine seat cushion can make the difference between a successful workout and an excruciatingly uncomfortable experience. Not only does it have an ergonomic design that fits snugly around most rowing seats, but it also keeps your spine properly aligned for an improved posture. This means less fatigue, more endurance, and greater overall performance in the long run.

Most models are made of high-quality materials like dense foam and breathable fabric, which provide a soft and snug fit. You can even find a gel rower seat cushion that’s somewhat easier on the skin and has a longer lifespan.

Non-Slip Rowing Machine Mat – Preferable, Could Go Without

Anyone who’s ever tried working out at home can tell you that floor surfaces aren’t always the most reliable. You don’t want your rowing machine sliding around, and you definitely don’t want to leave unsightly scratches once you’re done. To mitigate these risks, you need a heavy-duty rowing machine mat that will take the brunt of the impact. 

Pros

• Lays flat and stays put

• Protects floor from scratches and dings

• Compatible with most types of exercise units

Cons

• Some models are prone to curling

• May need to be cut to accommodate a smaller floor space

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$

Why You Need It

Safety is undoubtedly the primary concern here. Without a mat, you risk damaging both the floor and the machine itself, not to mention the fact that you might find yourself losing balance and having an accident. Fortunately, there’s a whole array of rowing machine mats that are suitable for any type of floor surface, from carpet to hardwood.

The former are usually made of rubber or foam, and the latter are typically crafted out of PVC. Both options provide a decent grip, though there may be some differences when it comes to carpet dust and dirt accumulation. If you’re unsure of where to start, the ones from Sunny Health & Fitness and Motion Tex can jumpstart your journey.

A Pair of Shoes for Rowing – Strongly Recommended

Most users make the rookie mistake of wearing whatever type of shoe they have in their closet without giving it too much thought. That’s all good until you realize that your ankles and footbeds are starting to ache like crazy. The reason? Simple – regular sneakers don’t have the necessary support to keep your feet in place when you’re doing your favorite rowing machine workout.

Pros

  • Provides exceptional grip and stability on the footboards and leg drive
  • Shock-absorbing cushioning prevents fatigue
  • Breathable material keeps your feet dry and comfortable

Cons

  • Not all sneakers are compatible with rowing machines
  • May require a break-in period

Why You Need It

Think of it this way – why do runners need specialized shoes? Why can’t they just stick with their regular pair? The same logic applies to rowing, as this is a specific exercise that involves a lot of footwork and coordination with your upper body. When you don’t have adequate support, you risk straining your muscles and exacerbating existing issues like tendonitis.

The key thing here is to look for a hard, flat-soled shoe that fits snugly around your foot without compressing it. This allows you to have consistent and reliable contact with the footboards, prevents slippage, and ensures more accurate timing throughout your workout.

You should keep an eye out for a pair of rowing machine shoes with a decent number of eyelets and a lacing system, as these will provide a better fit and easier adjustments. The ones from New Balance or Reebok might be a solid start.

A Pair of Rowing Gloves – Definitely a Must

As with any type of machinery, getting scrapes and blisters from rowing is an all-too-common occurrence. While some people see this as a sign of their utmost dedication and commitment, others are definitely not in favor of the pain or sensitivity that comes with it.

Pros

  • Soft, breathable material for maximum comfort
  • Non-slip grip for better control
  • Prevents blisters and hand fatigue

Cons

  • Getting the right fit may be tricky for newcomers
  • May not provide enough protection for heavily calloused hands

Why You Need It

When you consider the basic clothing guidelines that are associated with this activity, seeing gloves as an essential rowing accessory may surprise you. After all, why would you need them if you’re only going to be pulling on a handle? But given the biomechanics of rowing, you’re actually using your hands as part of an integrated system that works in tandem with the rest of your body.

With each stroke, your hands are subjected to a considerable amount of friction and pressure, which can lead to blisters and other issues. Wearing a pair of rowing machine gloves like the Fit Active or LiFECT models ensures that this doesn’t happen, allowing you to row for longer without experiencing any pain.

A Bottle of Chain Oil – Regular Necessity

The good thing about rowing machines is that they require minimal maintenance to keep them running in top condition. This includes wiping the device down with a cloth, checking for loose screws every once in a while, and of course, lubricating the entire chain.

Pros

  • Minimizes unnecessary noise and vibrations
  • Smoother strokes for fluid, jerk-free rowing actions
  • Prevents the chain from warping or fraying over time

Cons

  • Not all lubricants are suitable for rowing machines
  • Excessive chain lubricant may cause it to slip off the sprockets

Why You Need It

Chains on rowing machines are notoriously prone to rust and corrosion, which can make them squeaky and less efficient over time. This doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the device, simply because exposure to moisture and prolonged use can naturally take a toll on them.

By taking the time to periodically lubricate your chain with a high-quality, branded rowing machine oil like TreadLife or Finish Line, you essentially create an extra barrier of protection against these materials. This keeps the chain running seamlessly and prevents them from getting stuck, which in turn leads to a more consistent water rowing experience.

A woman using rowing machine accessories for her workout
  • Save

The Buying Guide

Even when you have a full-on list of items as part of our complete rowing machine guide, you’d still be spoilt for choice in terms of which models, brands and features to look for with each product.

Materials

Always read the labels and specifications of each product to find out exactly what materials have been used in its construction. For instance, the correct clothing and gloves will be made from breathable, sweat-resistant fabrics that provide maximum comfort while exercising.

Internal Memory

This mainly goes for the central console of your device. It should have the ability to store your workout data, including time and distance, accurate heart rate, and even calories burned. This information can then be transferred to online applications or your smartphone, so you can track your progress over time.

If the memory storage capacity is too small, you may have to reset the information every time for a new session or use a USB flash drive to transfer the data. Either way, you need to make sure that the internal memory of your chosen console is sufficient.

Price

Lots of rowing machine accessories come with hefty price tags, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should break the bank for them. It all depends on the purpose of your purchase and how often you plan to use the device.

For example, if you’re just looking for a simple monitor or cushion, then feel free to go for a budget-friendly option. On the other hand, if you’re a serious rower or need something more advanced, then shelling out a few extra dollars may be worth it.

A couple working out using rowing machine accessories
  • Save

How can I make my rowing machine more fun?

You can incorporate different exercises into your routine or switch up your clothing range to mix things up. You can also add a gaming console or virtual reality headset to create an immersive experience.

Can you add a monitor to a rowing machine?

Most models come with a built-in monitor, but if yours doesn’t then you can always purchase an external one and attach it to the machine. Just make sure the two devices are compatible with each other.

Is rowing healthier than running?

It all depends on what your goal is. The major benefit of rowing is that it exercises both your lower and upper body at the same time. As for running, it primarily works out your lower body while offering cardiovascular training.

Related articles

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

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00
Share via
Copy link