7 Best Rowing Machines of 2018 – Reviews and Comparison

While it can be quite challenging to find a machine that will crush your calories and improve your endurance at the comfort of your home, with a bit of research, you will find rowing machines that are perfect for that. It is a very effective home equipment that gives you a full body workout especially your lower and upper body muscles. Rowing in most cases is a mix of endurance strength. The best part is that most of the machines come with pre-set routines and many work-out programs that ultimately help you achieve your body goals. In addition, it has a monitor that tracks your performance.

There are many best rowing machines out there that are a good investment for you. Most of them are made of very high quality and have a warranty that guarantees value for your money.

After some intense research, we have come up with the best rowing machines that will no doubt be very useful for you.

Best Rowing Machine Reviews by Experts

Here is the list of best performing rowing machine recommended by Healthoclock’s expert’s teams. Take a look at an individual rowing machine model below and choose the best rowing machines for you with ease.

Product Name
Our Rating
Water Rower Natural
82L x 19W x 23H
Lifecore R100 Commercial
96L x 24W x 14H
Kettler 7978-900 Favorite
84L x 21W x 22H
Stamina Air Rower
77L x 18W x 22H
Stamina Avari Magnetic Power
65L x 21W x 24H
Velocity Fitness Magnetic Power CHR-2001
86L x 42Wx 20H

Best Rowing Machine 2018 – Our Recommendations!

Here are some best rowing machine quick recommendations reviewed by Health o’Clock Fitness Team.

#1 Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine

Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine Review

Designed for home gyms, the water rower Natural rowing machine is a durable machine whose ash has been made from premium hardwood which has dimensional stability and an amazing longevity. This handcrafted machine uses hardwood because it effectively absorbs vibration which ultimately leads to a smooth and quiet ride.

The rowing machine has a monitor panel whose purpose is to track your workout progress such as the intensity level, duration, distance, heart rate and target fitness zone. This machine has water resistance which gives you an unmatched experience and the sensation of rowing a real boat.

If you intend to gradually strengthen and tone your muscles, this machine will accomplish that for you because whilst it has a low impact, it is surprisingly very effective. It is advanced in that it has a number of preset workouts for you and has a high weight capacity of up to 1000 pounds.

#2 Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine

Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine Review

This great, as well as best rowing machine review, is unique mainly because it is the only one that has a perfect blend of magnetic and fan resistance. The magnetic resistance gives a controlled intensity during high- intensity workout while the fan resistance is there to ensure a smooth, consistent and quiet rowing experience. It is designed to suit both home and commercial use and although it is one of the most expensive machines, it has a lifetime warranty which gives you value for your money.

Additionally, the machine can withstand heavy use to a capacity of 600 pounds which implies that it is high quality. It has an attractive computer display that is backlit and makes the user view their workout data even when it is extremely dark.

It is also highly recommended because of the monitor that has an adjustable arm which is placed far enough from the frame to mainly give you a perfect and clear view of the features and also for easy interaction.

The LCD monitor maintains data for up to four people where they get information about their speed, total strokes, calories, heart rates and many others. It has a solid steel support and an aluminum frame and is perfect because it has 15 preset challenging routines for your workout.

#3 Kettler 7978-900 Favorite Rowing Machine

Kettler 7978-900 Favorite Rowing Machine Review

This is the most pocket-friendly model in the market mainly because it uses hydraulic resistance and hence only suitable for short workout sessions. It provides a full body workout and greatly helps with your endurance and stamina. It comes with a digital display that shows all your exercise data and a monitor that can be customized according to your target.

Because of its low cost, it gives an incredible rowing experience without the realism and comfort that comes with the more expensive models. It does not have a high weight capacity as it is only limited to 285lbs.

It has a seat that is thickly padded for maximum comfort and footplates that essentially support a healthy motion. With a three year warranty, it is also among the smaller models. The good news is that the resistance level can be reset when it is needed and is generally self-adjustable.

#4 Stamina Air Rower

Stamina Air Rower Review

Suitable for all skill levels, the stamina air rower is one of the most affordable wind-resistance rowing machines. It comes with a solid steel frame and has a sturdy construction.

We loved this rower because it has seats that are very comfortable, smooth, and well-padded and foot plates that increase the level of comfort during workouts. It has straps that are easily adjustable to keep feet secure and footpads that are big enough for people with all shoe sizes.

Unlike other rowers, the stamina air does not come with pre-set routines but still has a monitor which displays exercise data. This rower is relatively easy to set up and does not take up a lot of storage because the beam and seat can be easily folded after a workout to save up space.

Although it has a short warranty, this rower has high-quality features and generally doesn’t spoil very easily. It is very convenient as it only weighs 250 lbs but it is limited to a user who has 250 pounds or less.

#5 Pro Rower H20 RX-740 Home Series Rowing Machine

Pro Rower H20 RX-740 Home Series Rowing Machine Review

This is a rower that generally mimics and makes the experience of rowing more realistic as if you are rowing in water. It is beautifully designed, extremely strong and durable and it is made for home use for people who fancy an intense workout.

It is unique because it has an over-sized monitor which makes it possible for the user to see the data in the display without straining especially during an intense workout. It has a sturdy frame and is water resistant which gives it stability and ensures a smooth movement.

It has an ergonomic hand grip purposely for more comfort and footrest that are adjustable and can be used effortlessly by people with different foot sizes. The machine is easily foldable hence it does not occupy space in your home after work-out.

With this rower, you can easily regulate the intensity of your work-out in that if you are for an intense workout all you need to do is row faster to get high resistance and if it’s a mild workout you can slow it down a bit. In addition, it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds.

#6 Stamina Avari Magnetic Power

Stamina Avari Magnetic Power Review

Manufactured by Avari, this rower is perfect for a full body workout that is, the upper and lower body workout. It has a frame that is made of steel and aluminum beam hence is very strong and durable and can remain sturdy under extreme pressure.

It is great because it has 7 preset programs that automatically adjust the magnetic tension during the workout.it has a backlit screen, that tracks and detects calories, time, distance and pulse and that can be read even in dark room.

To ensure maximum comfort for you plus a smooth rowing experience, it has handles that are foam padded and molded seats. It also has large footsteps that ensure your safety during workouts.

It has a weight capacity of 275lbs and has 12 workout programs that have been put in place to give you an intense workout. The magnetic resistance system is great for professional and beginners since it has friction from the resistance which technically makes you toil hard to get your goals.

#7 Velocity Fitness Magnetic Power CHR-2001

Velocity Fitness Magnetic Power CHR-2001 Review

It is special because it is has a magnetic resistance system that uses a drum magnetic control to ensure there is a smooth variable resistance. This rower gives a great workout experience and does not make any noise at a very affordable price.

It is perfect because depending on the level of your workout, you can always adjust the resistance to our choice. The LCD is usually strategically placed between your legs and is large enough making it easy for you to see and read the data.

This model has oversized footrests, padded handles that prevent blisters, a smooth seat and generally has a quiet motion to allow you to have a great time and also to achieve maximum comfort during your workout. The seat rail has been made to be long enough hence can accommodate different leg lengths.

The display monitor has 12 programs that help with the intensity of the workout and also has 6 preset routines to help you get the best out of the workout. It is able to a capacity of 275 lbs and less.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Rowing Machine

best rowing machine

It should fit comfortably in your home

It is very important for a rowing machine to properly fit in your house. It should fit in a spot of your house where you can access it and exercise with no objects interfering with your movement. Moreover, the machine should fit and leave some space around it for you to place exercise accessories. Examples of these are your water bottle, sneakers, gloves or towel.

A rowing machine should also not be so large that it interferes with movement around your house. Also, it should not be so small that you have to crouch to use it. As a guideline, it should occupy approximately the same amount of space as a love seat sofa. With this size estimation in mind, you can pick one that is just the right size for use at home.

As pertains to size, hydraulic rowing machines normally have the smallest size while air and water resistance machines are the largest. The mechanism of use can also guide you on the sizes of a rowing machine as you shop for one.

It should be affordable for you

Rowing machines are available at various prices. For example, you can get a rowing machine for under $100 to over $4,000. You should pick one that is affordable for you.

The first step to doing this is to establish a budget. By doing so, you are able to narrow your choice of rowing machines from a multitude of options to just a few units that are within your financial reach.

After establishing a budget, the next step is sticking to it. While buying a rowing machine, you will see quite a number that have the latest technology, materials or design. It is easy to get distracted by these features. Ensure that you stick to your budget so as to get the right machine for your fitness needs.

The rule of thumb while choosing a rowing machine to buy is that the higher the sticker price, the better the quality of the machine. Therefore, pick a budget level that is low enough to afford and high enough to get you a good quality unit.

There are 3 levels of rowing machines. Low-End machines range in price from $400 going lower, Mid-Range machines range in price from $400 to $700 while High-End models range from $700 going upwards. With these tips, you can buy one that is financially ideal for you and effective for your fitness needs.

The rowing machine should fit your fitness environment

When you buy a rowing machine, the objective is to work out. However, it is important to figure out the setting where you will be doing so. You can use a rowing machine either in your home or in a gym. If you want to use it in the comfort of your house, a residential model is ideal. On the other hand, if you want one for a gym facility, then you should pick a commercial model. Residential models are good enough for occasional, light to medium use. However, a commercial model is built for heavy use. As such, buy a rowing machine that is designed for the environment you intend to use it in. This way, it will last long and give you quality service.

Are you a rowing athlete? The machine should be as realistic as possible

Rowing machines were originally created to provide professional rowers with indoor training equipment for the off-season. However, their ability to tone the body made them popular with fitness enthusiasts too. So if you are a professional rower, buy a machine that mimics the conditions of your sport as closely as possible. It should be very similar to the rowing conditions on the water so as to give you good quality training. The rowing motion should be life-like and the machine should have the option to adjust its resistance. Two good types for professional rowers are water and air resistance rowing machines.

The rower should be versatile

A versatile rowing machine has a collection of settings that you can use to determine its resistance. It is important to buy this type of machine because you may have to share it with a roommate, family, partner or fitness instructor. In such a case, a machine with variable resistance is good because it can accommodate the different levels of strength exhibited by each user. Everyone can set their ideal level so as to experience effective fitness.

While choosing a machine that you intend to share, remember to consider the weight and height capacity. Ensure that you buy a rower which has maximised dimensions so that short, tall, light and heavy users can use it comfortably.

Its resistance mechanism should be comfortable for you

Rowing machines make you stronger by applying resistance in the movement of the cord that you pull. This resistance is delivered by a special mechanism. There are 4 main types of resistance mechanisms. They include:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Hydraulic pistons
  4. Magnets

Air resistance rowing machines are the most common type found in gyms and health clubs today. The level of resistance is determined by the intensity of the rower. If you row with high intensity, the machine delivers higher resistance and vice versa.

Hydraulic piston rowing machines deliver resistance through a mechanical system. The pistons are adjustable so as to deliver various levels of resistance. This type is very quiet, compact and popularly used at home.

Magnetic rowers rely on a breaking system to provide you with resistance. Their motion is very smooth and quiet. In addition to that, you can adjust the resistance too.

Water rowers deliver the most realistic rowing experience. When you are using this type of machine, it feels as though you are actually rowing on water. The resistance increases and decreases with your level of intensity. Water rowing machines are the most realistic, hence are more pricey than the other types. An ideal rowing machine should use a mechanism that is perfect for your fitness objective and environment too.

Benefits of rowing machines

best rowing machine

  • Improve cardiovascular fitness

Engaging every single muscle of your body, rowing machines increase your breathing volume after use and heart rate meaning it efficiently works on your cardiovascular fitness. More blood gets pumped to the muscle tissues which deliver nutrients and energy to your cells ultimately. Your overall health improves, your immune system becomes stronger and your mood becomes better as a result of this cardiovascular fitness.

  • Weight loss

More efficient than most gym equipment, the rolling machine burns approximately 600 calories in an hour. When you use it consistently and also watch your diet and eating habits, there is no doubt that you will burn more fat than you could ever imagine possible. For people who want to shed pounds of excess fat, the rolling machine is the greatest tool to help you achieve that.

  • Upper and lower body workout

Though it is mainly considered a primarily lower body workout machine, the rolling machine has numerous benefits for the upper body too. It helps develop stronger arms as it works on your biceps and abs to give you a stronger core and perfect posture. The workout also builds strong legs as it heavily involves the quads that are in the upper front of your thighs.

  • It is a low impact workout

In general, rowing is easy on the joints of people due to the low impact that is placed on knees, shoulders, elbows, and hips. This makes it very ideal and suitable for people who are nursing injuries and those who feel rather uncomfortable doing weight-bearing exercises like jogging and walking. The motion during rowing feels natural hence there is minimal stress on joints. It is excellent mainly because it strengthens knees after injury and also is a great way to prevent injuries in the first place.

  • Increases endurance and body strength

Since most of the times, you are repeatedly pulling and pushing against resistance during a workout, your muscles naturally start developing and growing stronger with time. The machine workouts could make you exhausted at the beginning but after a while, your endurance will increase and you will have more energy. It will also boost your metabolism and you will gain increased stamina.

How to use a rowing machine

rowing machine benefits

1. Get your feet locked

Make sure your feet are in the footsteps and that they are secure. The straps should be pulled across your foot and ensure that they are tight so that they don’t slide off during your workout.

2. Grab hold

The starting position is commonly referred to as ‘the catch’. To get started, make sure to bend your legs until the point where your body is next to the handle at the front of the rowing machine. When that is done, ensure that your back is very straight and then make sure that you firmly grab the handle. The next thing you should do is to push the foot plate with your legs and be keen not to use the whole body at once.

3. Engage your core

To stabilize your back, you should lean back in a 45-degree angle to begin. At that angle, you can pull the handlebar towards you.

4. Keep your shoulders working

This is commonly known as the finish. It is crucial to keep the shoulder blades together while thinking how the core muscles are holding the body up at the 45-degree angle.

5. Reverse the movement

For a full stroke, extend your arms, pull your torso forward and bend your knees to bring the legs to the top of the machine. While doing all this it is important to ensure that you are stable and do not shift around the seat at any given point.

Common Rowing machine mistakes

  • Not setting the damper correctly

Just like a bicycle’s gear, the damper settings are very crucial. Technically, if you set the lever higher, it will be more difficult for you and you will end up using too much energy and getting exhausted real quick. Logically setting the lever a bit higher will be twice more challenging for you but the risk is that if you do that you will be worn out long before you get yourself a solid workout that you needed.

  • Using only your arms to row

It is essential to use the force of your legs to push during a workout. Using only your arms will put some serious pressure on them and could be a recipe for some serious injuries to your body.

  • Arching your back

Most people have a serious problem with how they position their back during a workout. You should avoid arching your back and make sure your back is straight and the posture is great so that you can get the best out of the workout. You can do this by making sure your shoulders are relaxed so that your spine stays neutral the whole time.

  • Mixing up the order of operations

While using your hands and legs at the same time feels right, the truth is that it ultimately strains your upper body. The best way to go about it is to always push with your legs first, pivot backward at the hips and then lastly pull the arms into the chest.

  • Going for speed over power

This might seem very effective but the point is not how fast you can row. If you are especially not a seasoned rower it is important to take things slow and focus on engaging the legs and your core so that every stroke is powerful and effective.

Summing up

Before diving into any workouts and purchasing any machines this top-list is something you should definitely consider. You can confidently choose any one of the rowing machines we have highlighted and you will definitely get a unique and great experience when working out. Oh, before I forget, always remember to maintain correct form when working out and most importantly, have fun!

20 replies to 7 Best Rowing Machines of 2018 – Reviews and Comparison

  1. I want to buy a rowing machine to lose weight since it is highly recommended but I am also wondering; what other benefits should I expect from a rowing machine?

    • It is well known that the rowing machine has tons of benefits which is why it is becoming popular. Rowing is an extremely effective cardiovascular exercise because when you row you use up most of your body muscles and your metabolism improves significantly after some time. It also gives you an excellent full body workout for the upper body and the lower body. The best thing about the rowing machine is that it is ideal for those people who have weak joints because of the non-weight bearing and it is also low impact. You can get a great workout without necessarily feeling beat up at any given point. There is that element of saving time because as opposed to many workouts out there, with the rowing machine you work out your upper body and lower body at the same time and it is also a great aerobics workout and burns a lot of calories at the same time.

  2. I am a new rowing machine user, is there a proper rowing form or any particular technique that I am supposed to know?

    • Most of the beginners are usually reluctant at first but using this machine is as easy as any other machine. You will need to have the right technique and form to be able to get the best and the maximum benefits out of the workout and also it helps you avoid injuries. There are tons of youtube videos and tutorials on how to use the rowing machines the best way possible. If you want to master that art then Google is definitely your friend.

  3. There are so many different rowing machines in the market, which one is the best to buy that will give me value for my money?

    • Well, this largely depends on what exactly you are looking for when buying a rowing machine. For some people, the important factors they look at are the durability of the machine, how quiet it is and the one that has the hardest resistance. These factors come into play when deciding which the best rowing machine to buy is and needless to say they vary among different individuals. The concept2 Model D is the most popular and many people have highly recommended it because it is affordable and easily found especially in any local fitness club, is extremely durable, has great resistance levels, and provides a realistic and smooth motion.

  4. I just purchased a rowing machine, is it simple to assemble the parts and fix it in my house?

    • Most of the manufacturers normally write down instructions and a clear step to step guide on how to go about assembling the parts. It is a very easy process and some even come with pictures to further illustrate to you the process. They come with tools too for the assembly and the whole process typically takes about thirty minutes to an hour to complete.

  5. What is the advised time or the maximum advised time that one should take when working out using a rowing machine?

    • Rowing machines are very effective and for the most part, they burn around 200 calories in 30 minutes when properly done. Most of the people advice that instead of focusing on time too much, you should focus on how much distance and strokes that you do in a minute. There are some tips that will help you to reach your target and ensure that you work out all the parts of your body. Once you follow the tips then you should typically take around 30-40 minutes to work out and that will be sufficient to achieve your goals.

  6. I am thinking of buying a refurbished rowing machine, will it be legit and as good as a new one?

    • For the obvious reason which is low price, many people go for the refurbished rowing machine as opposed to getting a new one. I would say that the machine is as good as buying a new one save for the fact that is won’t look as new since it’s been used severally before. It is a worth a short because specialist are used to doing this job and they have years of experience hence quality if definitely guaranteed.

  7. I am a personal trainer and I also own a training studio, is it possible to get a semi-commercial machine for my studio?

    • There is a wide range of rowing machines from domestic to semi-commercial to commercial. They are made to suit the needs of different people. To guide you on your decision, when you are looking into any machine ensure you read through the products specifications and descriptions so that you know where particularly the machine will be ideal for.

  8. Since there are many rowing machines out there made by different manufacturers, how do I know which model is best suited for me?

    • This will require you to basically do some bit of research before actually purchasing any rowing machine. For different people, different things will come into play but the most popular factors are fitness goals, exercise experience, height, your target and comfort needs. You should also see the product descriptions and the specifications for the different rowing machines so that you know what exactly what you ultimately want. There are also videos which show the features of the rowing machine and demonstrate how the features are used. With this prior knowledge, you should be able to make an informed and wise decision when buying a rowing machine.

  9. How long should I expect the machine to serve me before I have to replace it? Is the machine well built?

    • This varies from one individual to another and also on the type of model you buy. Generally, most of the rowing machines are from well-known manufacturers that have experience and hence make top quality machines. Most of these machines serve for very many years before wearing down. Depending on how frequent you use it, the machine can be of service for a few years or many years. When you do maintenance regularly and take proper care of your machine, you will see that it will stay much longer than when you don’t take care of it.

  10. My main focus during most workouts is the stomach; can using a rowing machine help tone my stomach? Also, could it help me lose belly fat?

    • Although there is no particular workout that is specific for the stomach, rowing is a very aggressive full body workout that eventually helps you burn the belly fat. With the combined benefits of weight lifting workouts and cardio, it helps strengthen and tone your abs. To effectively achieve results on your waist, you can make sure that each time you are working out, your abdominals are pulled and engaged.

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