Table of Contents
- 1 Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine
- 2 Best Rowing Machine Comparison Table
- 3 Reviews of the Best Rowing Machine of 2018
- 3.1 Best Overall Rowing Machine
- 3.2 Best Budget Rowing Machine
- 3.3 Best Folding Rowing Machine
- 3.4 Best Air Rowing Machine
- 3.5 Best Rowing Machine Under $500
- 3.6 Best Water Rowing Machine
- 3.7 Best Magnetic Rowing Machine
- 3.8 Best Rowing Machine Under $1000
- 3.9 Best Commercial Rowing Machine
- 3.10 Best Rated Rowing Machine
- 4 What You Should Know When Shopping for the Best Rowing Machine
- 5 In Conclusion
Rowing is one exercise a lot of us overlook primarily because it’s less popular than cycling on an elliptical or exercise bike. In fact, while we were doing this review, one of us said the question he has had to answer over and over again is “what does a rowing machine do for your body?” Being a fitness expert, he tries his best to answer that question using less than 10 words; a rowing machine exercises your body inside and out. Edwin from Rowing Machine King shares the same thoughts with him.
This brings us face to face with the benefits of using a rowing machine.
Benefits of Using a Rowing Machine
Every time you exercise on a rowing machine, you exercise many of your body’s muscles. But that’s not all… Below, we’ve highlighted some of the important benefits of using a rowing machine.
Tones and strengthens the muscles
The rowing machine undoubtedly strengthens several muscles with each stroke of the machine. Strengthened muscles are vital for daily living. Aside from that, it reduces the risk of muscle fatigue irrespective of the activities you carry out for that day.
Some of the muscles exercised include back muscles, hamstring, calf muscle, quadriceps, triceps, chest muscles, wrist flexors, biceps, etc.
Using a rowing machine is a quick way to get some weight off your body. Some individuals opine that one can lose up to 600 calories in an hour by exercising on a rower. We have no source to back up this claim. However, it might interest you to know that it is possible given the fact that a rower works on many muscles at once.
Convenience is a plus when it comes to owing exercise machines. You never have to leave the comfort of your homes. In addition to that, you are free to change the TV channel to your favorite channel. Hence, you will be able to watch your favorite shows and even watch President Trump and North Korea’s President’s debacle on CNN.
Effective Cardio Exercise
Treadmills, elliptical machines, exercise bikes, and rowing machines are one group of fitness equipment that helps one get a good cardio workout any day, any time. According to this article shared by Paige Waehner, the benefits of cardio exercises are endless. Some of the benefits include weight loss, stronger heart, reduced stress, better sleep, and more energy, to mention few.
Additionally, some of the hormones released during a workout can be instrumental to improved sleep quality. Furthermore, a rower offers a low impact cardio exercise which is good for someone looking to take it slow on their joints. Rowing machines are as good as exercise bikes when it comes to offering low impact cardio workouts.
Adds Variation To Your Workout
If you ever want to try a different cardio exercise without using the treadmill, elliptical, running, or using an exercise bike, you should try exercising on a rower. Exercising on a rower adds a bit of variation to your workout. This is in addition to the extra warm-up which it gives you. Oh yes, by exercising your lower and upper body simultaneously, it gets you warmed up for other activities and exercises.
Build Endurance, Learn Patience
Rowing can be fun yet tough at the same time. There’s no telling you would want to quit as soon as all your muscles begin to feel the impact of the workout. Nevertheless, you continue going and keep pushing forward. Thus, you end up building endurance – one of the necessary survival skills for today’s world. With endurance comes patience and so you learn how to be patient.
This would help you get through most of your daily activities as a lot of people would end up trying to delay you. Given that you have begun to master how to be patience, you bring emotions like anger under control. This, in turn, saves you a lot of stress and should keep you away from trouble and from the police.
Fun and Easy to use
Rowing machines are easy to use. And they are fun to exercise with. You can tease your friends into competing with you on their own rower especially when you are at the gym. Gets everyone in a happy mood.
Best Rowing Machine Comparison Table
Take a look at the best rowing machines which we’ve selected for review.
Reviews of the Best Rowing Machine of 2018
In this section, we’ll do an in-depth review of the aforementioned rowing machines. We’ll start with the best rowing machine of the year.
Best Overall Rowing Machine
We chose the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 as the best rowing machine there is. Want to know why? Read on…
To start with, the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing machine is affordable yet it packs necessary features you’ll need for day to day use. This best rowing machine consists of a frame which is built with steel and aluminum materials. According to the product manual, the maximum user weight for the machine is 250lbs. This is equal to the user weight seen on some other rowers that fall within the same price range.
Rowing on the Trac Glider is fun, thanks to the well-designed full range motion handlebars. This machine certainly gives you a feeling of rowing on water. It is worth mentioning that the machine is compact sized and in addition, foldable. This should save home users a lot of space in their homes.
Even though exercising on this machine is fun, it can also get tough. The Stamina Trac Glider comes with the piston type resistance. In the knowledge-based section of this article, we explained how piston type resistances work. On the other hand, there are 12 resistance levels to choose from on this machine. Working your way through each resistance level is a really daunting task – you’ll learn endurance in no time at all.
We didn’t like the fact that we had to wait for the shock under the seat to cool down before switching to another resistance level. The instruction is glaringly stated in the product manual. However, it doesn’t hinder your workouts in any way.
The seats are nicely molded although we’d have loved such seats as seen on recumbent exercise bikes. Equally, the seats are accompanied by an effective adjustable hydraulic cylinder that makes rowing smooth.
We like the foam pads on the hand grip. They aren’t the best per se, but they are very comfortable. Furthermore, the footplates are quite comfortable and the straps hold one’s feet firmly in place. Lest we forget, there is a basic LCD screen that displays your workout data.
Best Budget Rowing Machine
Over time, we have seen that the team of engineers at Sunny Health & Fitness factories are a relentless bunch. They keep producing masterpieces and won’t stop until they have conquered the fitness world. For the next few minutes, we’ll review the Sunny Fitness and Health Rowing Machine. We chose it as the best rowing machine in terms of affordability.
Name wise, the rowing machine could’ve done better – the name is a simple sentence no doubt. In terms of features, the machine stands shoulder high against some more expensive models. We were skeptic about the quality of the rowing machine given its “cheap price”. But after a few minutes on the rower, our fears were assuaged.
The machine features 8 levels of magnetic resistance. This is in contrast to the hydraulic resistance we saw on the Track Glider. The resistance is easy to adjust, thanks to a conspicuously placed adjustment knob. However, you’d have to stop your workout in order to set the desired resistance.
Next, we look at the center console which houses the common LCD display. It’s in no wise different from what we have seen on budget machines. If you want a bigger screen, you should be ready to dole out some more bucks. The screen displays handy workout information like time, stroke count, calories burned etc. We didn’t like the fact the monitor isn’t back-lit.
On the other hand, the Sunny Health & Fitness team did a good job with regards to build quality. The rower is strongly built. It can support users weighing up to 250lbs. In addition, it comes with wheels that help facilitate easy movement.
The seats are pretty comfortable but not as comfortable as the large-sized anti-slip foot pedals. Additionally, we found the handlebars comfortable – the grip point is padded with anti-slip material.
Best Folding Rowing Machine
The Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine is our choice for the best folding rowing machine. One of the benefits of owning the Merax Indoor rowing machine is that it literally takes up less space after each use. Additionally, there is a built-in wheel that aids in the transportation of the machine from one place to another.
It comes equipped with 8 different resistance levels, just like the Sunny Health & Fitness rower. However, that’s about the only similarity both rowing machines have. During our review, we tested the Merax in a quiet house. It’s a silent machine although one can still hear the muffled sounds coming from the machine behind a closed door. The pull strokes on the machine are pretty smooth in addition to the sturdy frame of the machine.
Talking about frames, the machine has a weight limit of 264lbs – a tad higher than the 250lbs on other models. We had a guy who weighs about 213lbs get on the rower and the machine didn’t even groan. Nice, perhaps, we should have tried it with someone weighing 240lbs – that’s a job for another day.
The seats are nice and comfortable. In addition to that, the foot pedals are comfortable. They come with strong straps which are undeniably going to last you a long time. The same cannot be said for the LCD screen which is basic, to say the least. It keeps you posted with a handful of workout data as you row.
One of the few downsides of having the Merax is the noise the seat makes when someone is on it. We didn’t assemble the machine ourselves, however, the guy that did gave it a thumbs up when it comes to ease of assembling.
Best Air Rowing Machine
Rowing machines with air resistance systems are unique, and by their appearance, you shall know them, literally. They are easily distinguished from the other rowers by a fan that sits in place of their flywheel. The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1405 made it to our list – as the best air rowing machine, of course.
It features a strongly built durable frame which supports individuals who weigh 250lbs or less. The rowing beam is made of aluminum hence its ability to support such user weight. Surprisingly, it’s foldable like the Merax rower which shares similar features. However, there’s no resistance setting on this machine given the fact that it uses air resistance. As we mentioned earlier, we’ll explain the types of resistance in the later part of this article.
The Stamina ATS rower sports a comfortable seat with an accompanying seat rail that ensures stability during workouts. Furthermore, there is an adjustable foot pedal with nylon straps. Pretty comfortable, if you must say.
There’s an improved LCD screen on the machine. We do like the fact that it’s a tad bigger than the ones we’ve seen in the rowers we’ve reviewed above. You can scan through your workout data for only 6 seconds by pressing the scan button. The rower displays workout data like strokes per min, speed, time, calories, etc.
Best Rowing Machine Under $500
If you have set aside only $500 to buy the best rowing machine but can find your choice amongst the ones we’ve reviewed, you should look the way of the Kettler Home Rowing Machine.
Kettler takes the bar higher with regards to the user weight limit of this rower – it is pegged at 285lbs. This is 35lbs higher than the 250lbs benchmark we’ve seen so far. Unlike the other models, this rowing machine monitors your pulse via two channels; an infrared earlobe clip sensor as well as a chest strap heart rate monitor. These handy data is displayed on the sizeable LCD screen which towers well above other screens. The LCD screen displays up to 6 functions simultaneously. In our opinion, this feature is far better than the scan feature on some of the rowing machines we’ve reviewed. Data displayed include pulse rate, strokes, time, distance, etc. Additionally, the machine has a scan feature which displays the data in a larger way.
The machine sports two high-quality hydraulic pistons which can be adjusted. This ensures smooth rowing. Additionally, there are 8 resistance levels to choose from, each offering its own intensities for better workout results.
You’ll find the footplates convenient and comfortable irrespective of how fast you are rowing. The same can be said for the thick padded seats on the machine – pretty much comfortable as most seats on other rowing machines on our review list.
Best Water Rowing Machine
We selected the Stamina Wave Water Rowing Machine for this category. Here’s why.
One of the chief benefits of owning the Stamina Wave rowing machine is its relatively affordable price. Simply put, it is arguably the most affordable rowing machine with water resistance in the market. Rowing on this machine is akin to real life rowing, thanks to its water resistance. Rowing machines with water resistance are similar to machines with air resistance – they don’t have resistance adjustment knob. However, each stroke is as smooth as can be.
The Stamina Wave Water Rower is strongly built. It sports a steel rowing beam which can support users who weigh up to 300lbs. One clearly notices that the higher the price of the rowing machine, the higher the weight limit of the machine. In addition to the steel beam, the water tank is made of durable high-quality plastic material. It is adequately positioned and built in such a way that the rower is balanced on the floor no matter how hard you row.
The seats on the machine are comfortable. This is in addition to the handles and footrest which fit properly. There’s an LCD screen that clearly displays your workout data as you workout. Data shown on the screen include time, stroke count, distance traveled, calories, etc. Stamina included wheels on the machine for easy transportation.
We like the texture on the rowing handle – it feels nice to the grip. In addition to that, the machine is foldable. This should save you a lot of space.
Best Magnetic Rowing Machine
Magnetic resistance systems have been an integral part of fitness equipment. Therefore, it’s not surprising to find it on our review list. We picked the Avari Stamina Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower as the best rowing machine with magnetic resistance.
The Avari Stamina Rower packs a ton of features under its hood. First of all, we appreciate the distinct design. At a glance, one would easily conclude the machine is a premium model. Well, in all honesty, it is premium in its own way – at least 12 workout programs put it in that league.
We like the 12 workout programs on the Avari rower. It includes 7 cardio profile options, 4 user custom programs as well as 1 heart rate program. All of these are controlled by a nicely backlit LCD monitor. Controlling your workout is easy, thanks to the monitor. There is an up and down arrow button that comes in handy for adjusting options. For example, you can easily set your workout data easily by flicking those arrow buttons. Other data displayed on the LCD include strokes, distance, time, count, and watt.
The beam on this rower is made of aluminum. This ensures it can support users who weigh up to 275lbs. Honestly, we were disappointed with that weight limit given the fact that the machine looks premium. However, we like the whisper quiet nature of the machine. It’s not every day you come across a rowing machine which is as quiet as this. So, if you’re like one of our team members who like to workout by 5 AM in the morning in his house, you’ll be glad you got the machine.
Best Rowing Machine Under $1000
This is our all-time favorite – a perfect combination of commercial grade rowing machine and recumbent exercise bike. The Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower is ideal for homeowners who need both a rower and an exercise bike. It’s ideal for everyone looking to exercise on both machines. If you’d rather not use either of the two features, you can use it as a leg press. This can be achieved by simply connecting the machines rowing handle to the seat’s hook.
The machine sports a large LCD screen which displays workout information such as speed, distance, time, calories burned as well as pulse rate. This LCD screen is easily controlled via a set of buttons directly beneath it. Directly under the LCD screen console, you’ll find the resistance adjustment knob. There are 8 different resistance levels to select from irrespective of the fact that you are using it as a bike or rowing.
As we earlier mentioned at the beginning of this review, if all rowing machines should have the seat found on this particular machine, it would have been great. The seat is comfortable and doesn’t hinder you from carrying out any activity you intend to carry out. More so, the seat can be fixed to a comfortable position when you want to use the rower as an exercise bike. The footrests are pretty comfortable and the straps snuggle fit. For the bike mode, the pedals are also comfortable.
We were surprised to find out this rower was foldable. Talk about convenience at its best. Furthermore, it comes with high-quality transport wheels which aid in its movement. All these features don’t come cheap as the machine’s price is almost ten times that of our overall best rowing machine. Let’s not forget that there are 8 levels of resistance
There are two things we found disappointing in this rowing machine. First, the fact that the user weight limit is 250lbs. Secondly, there aren’t any workout programs.
Best Commercial Rowing Machine
Gym owners and individuals with large households are two categories of people who need commercial rowing machines. With regards to them, we selected the Concept2 Model D indoor rowing machine. The Concept2 machine is designed for heavy-duty tasks and continuous usage. Aside from being the best rowing machine for commercial use, it also doubles as one of the best indoor rowing machines available.
The machine comes equipped with a monitor that self-calibrates. Additionally, it also sports a heart rate monitor which is in the form of a belt. This undoubtedly provides near accurate heart readings which are displayed on the LCD screen. Unfortunately, the machine didn’t come with any workout apps. However, it makes up for that in other departments.
We like the fact that the rowing machine came with an adjustable seat with 14” seat height. The seat is comfortable, to say the least. On the other hand, the footrests and rowing handles are comfortable too. They are both adjustable.
The Concept2 rowing machine is a heavyweight carrier. It can support individuals weighing as much as 500lbs; a round of applause, please. Assembling the machine is pretty much easy. There are only 8 screws that need to be screwed into the right places and then you are good to go.
We found out that the machine can be detached to save space. This is in addition to the fact that it also comes with moving wheels that aid in transportation.
Best Rated Rowing Machine
The last rowing machine we’re looking at is the Concept2 Model E rowing machine. It’s a tad higher than the Model D reviewed earlier. It’s undeniably one of the most sought-after top-rated rowing machines. Hence, our decision to crown it the best top rated rowing machine. The Model E is available in two colors; gray and black, just like its younger sibling.
During use, the machine is pretty much noiseless save for a few grinds here and there. Rowing is smooth and there are 8 resistance levels to choose from if you intend to intensify your workout.
There’s a similar monitor to the one found on the Model D and it does a great job of displaying the necessary data nicely. The monitor arm is even adjustable so you can see it from any angle. Like the saying goes, “if something doesn’t come to you, you go to it”.
Comfort is guaranteed on the machine as the seats and the footrests are both adjustable. As with the Model D, there is a 500-lbs maximum user weight for this machine.
If you’ve made it this far, please give yourself a round of applause.
We’d want to share a few tips about buying rowing machines in the section below.
What You Should Know When Shopping for the Best Rowing Machine
There are a handful of important tips we’d like to share with you with regards to selecting the best rowing machine from a plethora of options. We’ll start with the types of rowing machines.
Types of Rowing Machines
Rowing machines are categorized based on the type of resistance they have as well as their physical features – as in the case of the recumbent conversion exercise bike/rower.
The types of rowing machines include
- Air resistance machines
- Magnetic resistance machines.
- Water resistance machines
- Hydraulic resistance machines.
Air Resistance Machines
Rowing machines with air resistance don’t have resistance adjustment knobs. Instead, the air builds up the resistance when you row fast. Machines with air resistance are easily distinguished by the large fans sitting in the place where the flywheel supposed to be. It can be a bit noisy, no thanks to the whoosh sound made by the fan while the machine is in use.
Magnetic Resistance Machines
They use a magnetic resistance flywheel to generate resistance. The resistance is controlled by a resistance knob. It is silent during operation and can be used even in the dead of the night. Magnetic resistance machines are easy to store, however, this is dependent on the brand of the machine.
Rowing machines with water resistance have a water tank sitting in place of the flywheel. The water tank is usually marked although this doesn’t in any way signify the resistance level. Resistance is generated the more you draw the rowing handle.
This is the simplest resistance type. Rowing machines with this type of resistance have two high-quality hydraulic pistons that are adjusted to provide resistance during rowing. They are inexpensive although other features can drive the price up.
The next factor to consider is cost.
The price of rowing machines fall between a hundred quid and goes up to a thousand. If you are on a budget, there are a plethora of inexpensive well-equipped options to choose from. The nicest machines are the ones that cost as much as a thousand dollars. However, if you don’t have the need for such, the low priced ones should suffice.
Comfort is of utmost importance when it comes to rowing. There is no telling how bad you will feel when you’re done working out on an uncomfortable rowing machine. From the seats to the rowing handle, not to mention the footrests, all of them need to be comfortable.
The more comfortable you are, the longer you exercise on the machine. This, in turn, makes it possible for you to workout the more and stay fit always.
Extra Features You’ll Use
As with very other fitness equipment out there, there are some features that will entice you. One of such is the foldability of the machine. Foldable machines help owners save a lot of space. This also allows for easy storage when the machine is not in use. Additionally, you’ll find other features such as a heart rate monitor and adjustable seats and footrest a plus. Always remember that the more the features, the more you have to pay for the machine.
Maximum User Weight Limit
The maximum user weight limit for most of the rowing machines on the market is 250lbs. However, we’ve seen models with user weight limits of 500lbs. If you have a relatively large household, it is advisable to buy a rowing machine with at least 300lbs weight limit.
Finding a good rowing machine that meets your needs is akin to finding the woman of your dreams. There’s an inexplicable unparalleled joy one drives from it.
With the best rowing machine in sight, you know certainly that there’s no limitation whatsoever when it comes to all-around body workout. And if you prefer dual machines, the recumbent bike and rower we reviewed in this article is up to the task.