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Best Rowing Machines For 2021 Reviewed
If you are looking for a rigorous full-body workout, look no further. Rowing machines have been one of the most popular exercise machines for decades, and for good reason. Every stroke activates over 80% of your body’s musculature while providing impact-free exercise to preserve your joints and prevent arthritis.
Finding the best rowing machine can take your workout routine to the next level and provide incredible results.
Today’s modern iterations of the best rowing machines are far more advanced than the machines of old. Sophisticated work out tracking is available through digital displays and Bluetooth capable smart connectivity to provide accurate statistical analysis.
Just how capable your rowing machine is will depending on the model you settle on. Some of the models we reviewed are also designed for arm raises and curls, so you can work your biceps, triceps, and shoulders from your rowing unit. Others are designed with a focus on being the best rowing machine possible, and they do an excellent job of it.
Even among the top exercise rowers, there are a number of features to consider prior to investing your hard earned dollars. Balancing what you want to get out of your rower with the overall affordability is going to have a significant influence, but other features are very helpful as well and can have significant impact on your purchase as well.
We trust that you’ll find the right machine from our favorite rowing machine reviews. So let’s dive into a breakdown of our top picks!
Check Out Our Favorite Rowing Machine
Top Rowing Machines Comparison Chart
Best Rowing Machine
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
The Concept2 Model D is a top of the line piece of exercise machinery, and is preferred model in most gyms, and exercise clubs. It’s quick set-up, high performance motor, compact size, and high quality materials are just a few of the reasons why we here at rowing inc.com believe that this model ranks high above the rest of the competition.
It’s so easy to get started, just turn the machine on and start rowing. It doesn’t stutter, you don’t feel like the rowing belt pulls on anything – just nice and smooth!
Along with this, you get the Performance Monitor 5 inside the packaging, which gives you loads of stats and data relating to your workouts. So, you can track your progress and keep improving from day-to-day.
It’s also a fantastic rowing machine for people without a lot of room in their home. You can fit this in a bedroom, in your garage, or even in a basement. It has wheels on the base too, so it’s easy to move around from place to place. As if that wasn’t enough, you can split it into two different parts to store it away without taking up too much storage space.
All in all, this is a very impressive option. There are various levels of resistance to keep your workouts as intense as possible. It’s surprisingly quiet as well, which further improves it as an indoor product. You can install it on your own, but it’s much easier when two people are present. The only thing that might concern you is the price. It’s significantly more expensive than most other rowing machines. However, you get what you pay for, and you get a really high-quality and durable machine that wouldn’t look out of place in a commercial gym.
2. Stamina ATS Air Rower Rowing Machine
The Stamina ATS rowing machine is in a class of its own. While we’ve placed this machine second on our list, it’s still a beast of a machine. It’s minimalist profile and design paired with it’s smooth and comfortable function are just a few of the reasons why we love this rowing machine!
The Stamina ATS uses dynamic resistance that’s generated by your rowing force. As you row, you create wind resistance in the machine. So, the harder you go at it, the more resistance there is – and vice versa.
This simple air resistance mechanism makes the machine very straightforward as you don’t have to mess around with any difficult settings, baffles, etc.
Another feature that deserves attention is the LCD screen. It’s a nice size, and you can clearly see a range of data on it while you’re working out. You can quickly check how long you’ve been rowing for, your calories burned, and how far you’ve rowed. No tracker stores this information for you to look at later, but it still provides accurate information during your rowing machine workout.
The seat has actually been re-designed to provide more padding and support for your bum. It slides along the machine with ease, so we can have no complaints about the way this product works. The handle is long enough for anyone to grip – regardless of how big your hands are. The only issue with the handle is that it’s not the most grippy. It certainly feels durable, but your hands can slip a bit if you sweat loads. Obviously, this can be rectified with some chalk or a pair of gloves.
This is a top rowing machine for people that want to save space as well. It’s only 77 inches long and under 20 inches wide. As a result, it fits snugly inside your home. But, here’s the kicker; it features a foldable design. So, you can fold the machine up, store it in a closet or spare room, then unfold it when you need it.
In summary, there’s a lot to love about this product. It’s reasonably priced, does everything you need a rowing machine to do, and is easy to move around and store.
3. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetic Rowing Machine
Fitness Reality offers up a pretty unique rowing machine for you to enjoy. It works by using magnetic tension, letting you cycle through fourteen different levels depending on how hard you want to work out. It feels similar to the classic air resistance rowing machines, but the main difference is that you can potentially make it harder with the higher levels of magnetic tension.
As far as the design goes, everything is built around comfort. The seat feels very cushiony, and you never get the sense that you might slip off. Interestingly, the footpads can pivot round, which allows for more foot movement. Basically, this stops your feet from rubbing up against the straps too much, which often causes discomfort.
However, the unique thing about this rowing machine design is that there are footpads at the front of the machine too. This is because you can use it for other exercises as well as rowing. It can basically be used as a cable machine, so you can do loads of workouts for your arms and abs too.
The best thing about the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus is that it has Bluetooth connectivity. It’s one of the only rowing machines to offer this, and it lets you sync your machine to a mobile app. Here, you can track all of your workouts, set goals, and much more. As of right now, the company is developing more features for the app – including workout classes and training programs. All of your data is stored in the cloud, so you can access it from any device wherever you are.
If you want a technologically advanced rowing machine, then this might be it. The Bluetooth connectivity is a massive feature, but the way you can use the machine for other exercises is also very intriguing.
4. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
Another magnetic rowing machine that’s packed full of interesting and beneficial features is the SF-RW5515 from Sunny Health & Fitness. There are only eight levels of resistance here, but that should still be enough for most people. The beauty of rowing machines is that you can vary your workouts so much. As a result, it’s easy to keep challenging yourself as you get stronger and stronger.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers a lot in terms of overall comfort. The seat is extremely comfortable and doesn’t leave your bum feeling numb after a few minutes. The pedals are very impressive. If you have big feet, then you know how hard it is to find a rowing machine that fits your feet. These pedals are gigantic, so there’s no worry of any discomfort for big feet here! But, the best feature of the design is the handle. It’s made out of foam, which means it soaks up any sweat and doesn’t become slippery.
You’ll find an LCD monitor on this machine, and it provides you with a large screen to view your data as you exercise. It also includes a ‘scan’ feature, which is pretty impressive. Essentially, this scans in all your data from each workout session. In effect, you can look at and compare your stats from each one. So, if you want to see how your times have improved, then you can view all the different workouts and compare them!
Transportation wheels are also present on this top rowing machine. This is such an underrated feature as it makes the product so easy to transport. You just need to tilt it onto the wheels, then move it around without needing to lift a heavy weight.
All things considered, this is a pleasing rowing machine that’s well-suited to your home. The fact you can scan in your workout information and track it via the machine is brilliant. Also, the portability factor must be considered – particularly if you have to move your machine around a lot.
5. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rowing Machine
Coming in a number five on our list is this sleek and angular model offered by Merax. Obviously one of the most attractive models on this list, not only would look good in any home gym, or exercise studio, but puts out a seriously aggressive performance.
Looks don’t matter, but the performance certainly does. Here, the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rowing Machine gives you plenty to be impressed with. Right away, you’ll notice how silent it is. Compared to other rowing machines, you barely hear a peep out of this – even when you’re really going for it. This is partly thanks to the magnetic flywheel, which is preferred over air resistance. Like the previous product, you only get 8 levels of resistance to play with. The other reason for the silent operation is the angle of the seat rail. It sits at around 15 degrees, which means it slides more efficiently. So, there’s less noise, but you also get more out of your rowing machine workouts.
The seat itself is made with special padding and a contoured design to cradle your backside. It’s not just comfortable, it also helps improve the circulation in your glutes, meaning they won’t fall asleep. There’s an almighty LCD screen that shows you lots of different data while you row. It tells you all the usual stuff, but it’s stored in the machine to compare against future workouts. Tracking features like this are always handy if you want to improve your fitness and see how you’ve progressed.
Finally, it has built-in wheels and a foldable design that make it easy to store. So, an impressively well-rounded rowing machine that won’t break the bank but will help you make some gains.
Top Rowing Machine Features To Consider
- Resistance – Air resistance and magnetic resistance are the two primary types of rowing machines and they both work the same muscle groups and provide a smooth stroke. Even though most folks are unlikely to even know there is a difference, there are some difference between the two. For one, air rowers use wind to create their resistance. In doing so, they closely mimic the resistance that is felt from rowing in the water. If available, different damper settings change the resistance with air rowers. There is a reason why professional athletes primarily use air rowers. Magnetic rowers provide resistance through using a strong magnet to slow a rotating flywheel. The closer the magnet, the more resistance is delivered.
- Storage – Rowing machines are long units and when fully assembled are usually between 6-8 feet long. If you have a dedicated room where you leave your exercise equipment then storing away your rower shouldn’t be a problem. If that’s not your case, then a rower that can fold or break down easily to be stored is going to be a big plus.
- Visual Display – This is where one of our rowing machine reviews will really stand out from the pack. The level of function and fitness tracking provided by your rower is going to vary from quite simple to very thorough. Depending on the rower, you can track metrics like your time, speed, distance, and calories burned. Some displays only provide real-time tracking, while others can store your routine and track improvement over time.
- Smart Fitness Connectivity – If you want to take your fitness tracking to the next level, smart tracking apps that take advantage of bluetooth connectivity will provide additional data and storage capability right to your smart phone. The ability to set and track goals is really handy and lets you analyze your performance whenever time allows, and while your away from your rower.
- Space Concerns – If you have limited space and need a rowing machine that will fit in a specific area, then you’ll want to get specific dimensions of the particular model you’re interested in before making a purchase. We provided the dimensions of each rowing machine we reviewed in our quick comparison chart.