Best Rowing Machines 2022

If you’re looking for a new workout that has little impact but delivers big results, a rowing machine should be high on your list. The best rowing machines provide an incredible full-body workout; The movements involved in rowing work the major muscle grips of the legs, glutes, abs, arms, shoulders and back, activating about 85% of all muscles. Rowing is an effective exercise for cardio and strength training. And unlike other high-impact exercises that tax your joints, like running, jumping, or sprinting, rowing is easier on your body and it burns as many, if not more, calories in the same amount of time.

If you’re looking to go all in and add a rowing machine to your home gym, your options are endless – countless brands have launched their own rowing machines in recent years due to the rise in popularity. There are now so many that picking just one can be a challenge. As a former competitive rower, I’ve tested all types of rowing machines to see which ones are worth the price and space. Read on to see which are the best rowing machines based on my research and testing.

Best rowing machine ever

Good for beginners and pros alike

Dimensions: 24 x 96 x 20 inches | Weight: 112 pounds | Resistance: air | Advertisement: PM5 LCD

There are many reasons why rowing coaches prefer this particular rowing machine, but the most important among them is ease of use. While many college-level rowers have prior experience, schools also have high percentages of walk-on athletes. This machine is suitable for both learners and professionals. What’s more, it’s relatively affordable (especially compared to other options) and incredibly durable – which it needs to be to withstand the rigors of rigorous training day in and day out. Resistance is supplied via a flywheel and damper, and a nickel-plated chain requires occasional oiling.

The RowErg’s performance monitor records speed, strokes per minute, kilometers rowed and more. It can also connect to a variety of apps via Bluetooth (including Concept2’s own free app, ErgData). Conveniently, it also has a device holder for your phone or tablet, so you can track broadcasts while you work out.

Advantages:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Large maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds
  • Onboard games enhance the experience

Disadvantages:

  • Some users cite an uncomfortable seat
  • The screen is dated compared to newer models

The best budget rowing machine

An affordable entry into the kind of gear that typically doesn’t exist

Dimensions: 78 x 20 x 25.5 inches | Weight: 72 pounds | Resistance: water | Advertisement: LCD

If you’re new to rowing or just don’t want to spend the big bucks on another piece of exercise equipment, the Merax Water Rower is a solid option — it’s one of the few rowers priced under $500. But don’t get me wrong; while it is cheaperthat doesn’t mean it is cheap. The list of features includes a sturdy steel construction, an ergonomic handle and an LCD monitor that displays live statistics.

A water tank puts resistance in your way, so you hear the trademark slosh that can give you the impression of actually rowing in open water. The tank is sloped to allow for more resistance. It’s also somewhat portable, in the sense that it can be stored upright when not in use, so it takes up less space than others on the market.

Advantages:

  • Very affordable
  • Upright storage saves space
  • Including funnel and pump siphon

Disadvantages:

  • Users report a tricky, unlit display

Best Magnet Rower

Sleek, quiet and the trendiest of all rowing machines

Dimensions: 86 x 25 x 47 inches | Weight: 145 pounds | Resistance: Electronic Magnet | Advertisement: LCD

What makes rowing such a challenging workout is the resistance. On some machines this resistance is caused by water; in others it is moving air. With magnetic rowing machines, this resistance occurs when two strong magnets move past each other. That means a quieter and more compact machine. While there are countless magnetic rowing machines out there, Hydrow is arguably the best. Sometimes referred to as the rowers’ peloton, it features a 22-inch HD touchscreen (which rotates 25 degrees in any direction) with more than 500 pre-recorded rowing sessions.

When you jump into one of the river sessions, it can actually feel like you’re on the water thanks to the silky smooth 10-wheel seat. However, it’s worth noting that if you want to experience the full capabilities of the machine (by which I mean all of the live and on-demand classes), you’ll need to pay an additional $38 per month to subscribe to online classes.

Advantages:

  • Large, colorful display
  • Built-in speakers pump up the tunes
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

Disadvantages:

  • Incredibly expensive
  • Limited activity options with no paid subscription

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Best water rowing machine

Training device that doubles as a work of art

Dimensions: 86 x 23 x 40 inches | Weight: 103 pounds | Resistance: water | Advertisement: Full HD touch screen

If you want to be challenged with your rowing machine, both literally and figuratively, the Ergatta is a great choice. While it has the same functionality as other rowers — you can row freely, in a steady state, and run workouts of your own design — it also has a game-based training platform where you can virtually compete against other rowers, complete workouts, and participate in challenges, and more with the 17.3-inch HD monitor. A horizontally mounted water tank provides the adjustable resistance.

Like Hydrow, there’s a monthly membership fee, but it’s cheaper ($29 per month) for the extra features. And it’s definitely worth noting that this Ergatta is visually stunning with a cherry wood frame. While you could store it vertically, we would understand if you want to leave it outside for guests to admire at all times.

Advantages:

  • Vibrating touchscreen display
  • Beautiful, quality craftsmanship
  • Supports up to 500 pounds and a 40 inch stride

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Foot straps loosen over time

Best foldable rowing machine

Easy to use and easy to store

Dimensions: 84 x 21 x 45 inches | Weight: 106.5 pounds | Resistance: Electronic Magnet | Advertisement: none

If you’re interested in rowing but don’t have a lot of space to spare, consider a foldable rig. Echelon’s row-connected rower uses a magnetic resistance system and is one of the few that truly folds (most are simply designed to be stored upright or taken apart).

Aside from its origami-like abilities, this ergometer stands out for its resistance knobs built into the handlebars, which allow you to toggle the intensity up or down without any intervening movement. Another cool design element is the device holder where you can place a phone or tablet.

Advantages:

  • Folds in half to save space
  • Bluetooth resistance controller integrated into the grips
  • Suite of live and on-demand courses

Disadvantages:

  • This model does not have a built-in screen
  • Limited functionality without membership

Best high-tech rowing machine

When the workout ends with tips to help you improve

MOST POPULAR

Dimensions: 82 x 22 x 54 inches | Weight: 163 pounds | Resistance: Electronic Magnet | Advertisement: HD touch screen

Rowing machines have become increasingly high-tech in recent years, but NordicTrack’s RW900 could take the cake. With resistance supplied by magnets over a wide 26 levels, it’s among the most adjustable magnetic rowers. And not only can you stream on-demand classes with personal trainers, but your trainer can automatically adjust your resistance so you can focus on your technique (and start your workout).

Once you’ve finished your row, the 22-inch rotating Smart HD touchscreen gives you access to workout stats and tips on what you can do to improve. NordicTrack also has a patented SpaceSaver design, meaning it folds up for easy storage.

Advantages:

  • Powerful 30 watt sound system
  • 10 year frame guarantee
  • 26 resistance levels

Disadvantages:

  • Users report that trainers don’t reflect the intended workout
  • No buttons – everything is accessed via the touchscreen

Frequently asked questions about rowing machines

Is a rowing machine worth it?

Whether you’re looking to get back into shape after months of inactivity or want to increase your endurance before a big competition, a rowing machine is a worthwhile investment. The act of rowing strengthens the major muscle groups of the back, legs, and arms, and also challenges your respiratory system, forcing you to sustain the activity for extended periods of time. If you don’t want to purchase a gym membership or hate running, consider adding a rowing machine to your exercise routine.

Is a rowing machine suitable for a home gym?

Maybe you’d rather work out in the comfort of your own home or just replace outdated equipment with something new. Regardless of why you are in the market for new equipment, a rowing machine is a great addition to any home gym. The slim profile fits in most living rooms, basements, and garages, and many rowing machines are designed to fold away when not in use, saving space. If you’re looking for an adaptable device, look no further.

Is a water or magnetic rudder better?

Rowing machines rely on resistance to make you sweat, and the two most common forms of resistance are water and magnetism. Which one is right for you depends not only on your needs, but also on your environment. For example, magnetic rowing machines are incredibly quiet, which can be useful if you live in an apartment, but the technology doesn’t mimic the water rowing that so many enjoy. Water rowers, on the other hand, offer a unique experience similar to the natural movement of rowing in water, but they tend to be more expensive and require a bit of maintenance. Again, the choice is a matter of personal preference.

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