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A rowing machine in your home may arguably be one of the most underrated investments you can make in your health and fitness. Treadmills and exercise bikes always seem to steal the spotlight, but rowing machines are home gym worthy, too. While the aforementioned treadmill and bike machines are great for giving your heart a boost, it’s your legs that do the heavy lifting. In contrast, rowing machines offer a full-body workout that not only keeps your heart rate elevated (so it counts as cardio), but also works your body’s large muscle groups. In fact, rowing engages every part of your body, so it’s an excellent conditioning exercise.
If you’re new to the world of rowers, you don’t know what you don’t know. So, to help you find the one that’s right for you, we’ve done the heavy-lifting (aka research) to find the best rowing machine for home use.
Our Picks for the Best Indoor Rowing Machine:
- Best Overall Rowing Machine: NordicTrack RW900
- Best Rowing Machine for Beginners: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
- Best High End Rowing Machine: Hydrow Rower
- Best Budget Rowing Machine: Get RX’d Xebex Air Rower 2.0
- Best Water Rowing Machine: Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
- Best Air Rowing Machine: Stamina ATS Air Rower
- Best Rowing Machine for HIIT Workouts: Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine
- Best Rowing Machine for Full-Body Workout: Aviron Impact Series Rower
- Best Smart Rowing Machine: Echelon Row Connected Rower
- Best Folding Rowing Machine: ProForm 750R Rower
As you might have guessed from its hefty price tag, the NordicTrack RW900 easily falls into the top-tier of home rowing machines. And while you’re certainly paying more, the machine has plenty to offer which is why it hits our list as the best overall rowing machine.
The NordicTrack RW900 only has a 250 pound weight capacity, but it is solid and well-built. It features steel stabilizers and an oversized steel monorail, both of which do their part to contribute to the machine’s incredible stability when you’re on it. While some rowers use a chain drive for tension, the RW900 rower uses a belt attached to the flywheel and the handle.
The belt and the adjustable magnetic resistance make the machine extremely quiet. In fact, the RW900 makes little to no sound, even as the seat moves over the steel rail.
The rower is equipped with a 22 inch touch screen that tilts and rotates, so you can also use it for iFit classes or any other type of training off the rower. All of the functionality of the RW900 rower is within the screen. The screen is where you’ll access pre-programmed workouts and iFit; it’s also where you can adjust the 26 levels of resistance and volume.
Unlike some rowers, the NordicTrack RW900 doesn’t fold up for storage. However, it can be stored upright , and there are two wheels on the front of the machine which makes it easy when you need to change locations.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 82 inches long, 22 inches wide, 54 inches tall, 163 pounds
- Resistance: Magnetic Flywheel, 26 Resistance Levels
- Display: 22 inch Tilt & Pivot Smart HD Touchscreen
- Extra Features: Front-mounted Transport Wheels, 30W Premium Sound System, AutoAdjust™ Technology
- Membership Details: 30-Day iFIT Family Membership Included
- 22 inch touch screen that tilts and swivels
- Quiet magnetic resistance
- Large padded seat
- iFit has thousands of classes
- Monthly subscription is required for use
- Large footprint—not recommended for small spaces
- Low max weight capacity (250 pounds)
If you know anything about rowing machines, then you might be familiar with Concept 2 rowers. These machines are commercial-grade rowers, and they’re built solid, so much so that they’re often the preferred rowing machines for gyms. If that weren't convincing enough, the Olympic rowing team also uses the Concept2 Model D for their off-season training because of the machine’s ability to closely mimic the resistance of rowing on water.
How does the Concept 2 rowing machine mimic real-world rowing? Glad you asked. It uses air flywheel resistance. And like most rowers that use an air flywheel, the faster you row, the higher the resistance. It is worth noting that with the Model D air-resistance system, you can row at your own intensity, and the resistance will adjust accordingly.
Concept 2 rowing machine features a PM5 console, a screen that allows you to view your workout intensity in different units of measurement: pace, watts or calories. And while it may not be as fancy and high-tech as some other rowers (which makes it great for beginners), it tracks a wide range of data, including calories, strokes per minute, distance rowed and time. Moreover, the PM5 also allows you to race online with other Concept2 users and display your previous sessions on one screen. The console switches on automatically when you start rowing and turns off after a few minutes of inactivity.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 96 inches long, 24 inches wide, 28 inches tall, 57 pounds
- Resistance: Air/Flywheel
- Display: PM5 Performance Monitor
- Extra Features: N/A
- Membership Details: N/A
- Durable/quality build
- Smooth action
- Closely mimics real-world rowing
- PM5 monitor is a no-frills experience
Founded in 2017 by Bruce Smith, a former U.S. national rowing team coach, Hydrow has quickly worked its way up to a premium indoor rowing machine. And while high price tags sometimes translate to complicated tech, the Hydrow rower is quite easy to use. To get started, you just need to plug in the machine and jump on your Wi-Fi to access the programming.
The Hydrow rower is equipped with a 22-inch HD touchscreen that features Bluetooth connectivity, and it’s adjustable for easy viewing. Moreover, you can connect the rower to a heart rate monitor or your Apple Watch to keep up with those stats while you’re working out.
A monthly subscription gives you access to Hydrow’s programming for live workouts or classes. And unlike many rowing classes, Hydrow’s classes are not filmed in a studio; they’re filmed on a body of water with the instructor actually rowing, which might be a nice change for some folks. For those who thrive in a little healthy competition, Hydrow’s programming also has a feature where you can row against others in live and pre-recorded classes.
The Hydrow features an aluminum and steel frame, and it’s equipped with a magnetic resistance belt drive system—all of which add up to a smooth user experience that closely mimics rowing on water.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 86 inches long, 25 inches wide, 47 inches tall, 145 pounds
- Resistance: Electromagnetic, computer-controlled resistance
- Display: 22” HD Touchscreen Display
- Extra Features: Hydrow app, Free One-on-one Personal Coaching with purchase, One-Year Home Use Warranty
- Membership Details: All-Access Membership Subscription $38 per month
- Sleek, modern design
- Closely mimics real rowing
- Requires an additional kit for upright storage
RX’d Xebex Air Rower is another rower that uses an air flywheel to create a similar rowing experience to what you’d find on the water. Like most rowers, the harder you pull, the faster the blades turn to bump up the resistance. And like many other rowers, there’s no way to change the resistance besides putting a little more muscle into it.
Because of the air flywheel, it’s louder than rowers with magnetic resistance. This machine has a steel frame which means it’s quite heavy, but it has wheels for easy maneuverability, and it can be folded and stored against a wall or in a closet when not in use.
As you’d expect, the LCD screen displays all the usual performance stats such as calories, strokes per minute, distance rowed and time. You can also program the rower for a personalized workout or use one of the many pre-programmed training programs.
RX’d Xebex Air Rower also features a bucket-type seat with extra padding for an exceptionally comfy workout, and the footrests are adjustable with the touch of a button— a feature many will find handy if they’re sharing the machine.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 99 inches long, 20 inches wide, 45 inches tall, 112 pounds
- Resistance: Air
- Display: LCD Screen
- Extra Features: N/A
- Membership Details: N/A
- Feature-rich console
- Comes fully assembled
- Good build quality
- Larger footprint when folded
Water rowers can be pretty pricey, but coming in at less than $600, the Obsidian Surge is a low-cost entry-level model with some pretty great features.
Obsidian Surge uses a flywheel submerged in a tank of water, which ultimately translates to a realistic sensation of rowing on the water for its users. In this case, resistance comes from the fan blades pushing through the water. And much like rowing on a boat, the harder you pull, the more resistance you get. You can also change the resistance level by adding or removing water from the tank. Keep in mind that higher-end water rowers will allow you to adjust the resistance by moving a lever, but this is a budget-friendly rower, so the tech is minimal.
As you might suspect, there is a bit of noise that comes with this water rower, but that’s usually just the swishing sound of the water moving in the tank, and for many, that’s actually a good thing, not a deal-breaker.
The Obsidian Surge is made from a lightweight steel frame, so it feels pretty solid, even when you’re rowing at high stroke rates, and it can accommodate users weighing up to 300 pounds.
The LCD screen is a good size and easy to read even when rowing, and the monitor displays the usual metrics, such as total workout time, 500-meter split times, strokes per minute and calories burned. One notable feature of the Obsidian Surge is the “recovery” mode, which measures how long it takes your heart rate to recover after a workout. For those who don’t know, this is an excellent way to measure your fitness level and your progress over time.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 80 inches long, 22 inches wide, 34 inches tall, 91.9 pounds
- Resistance: Water
- Display: LCD screen
- Extra Features: Recovery Mode
- Membership Details: N/A
- Good value for money
- Lightweight, steel frame
- Smooth rowing action
- Water can leak from the tank when stored vertically
- A little noisier than other water-resistant rowing machines
The Stamina ATS Air Rower may not be high-tech or state-of-the-art, but it’s a solid no-frills rowing machine that gives your body a good workout. Resistance for this rower comes courtesy of its Air Transfer System (ATS). Like plenty of rowing machines on the market, there are no levers to adjust the resistance; it’s all up to you. And there’s no secret here, but the faster you row, the greater the resistance.
The Stamina ATS Air Rower is noisy because of the air resistance, so much so that you’ll need earphones or headphones to hear your music. And if you live in an apartment or some other type of shared space, the noise could be an issue.
The Stamina ATS Air Rower features a three-screen LCD monitor that’s really quite basic. You can easily see your performance stats and monitor your progress, but that’s as high-tech as this one gets. This machine may not have enough bells and whistles for serious rowers, but it’s sturdy and smooth, certainly enough to get anyone started.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 73.5 inches long, 18.25 inches wide, 22 inches tall, 55 pounds
- Resistance: Air resistance
- Display: Three-screen LCD Monitor
- Extra Features: Padded seat, Textured handle
- Membership Details: N/A
- Smooth action
- Multi-function monitor
- Sturdy steel construction
- Foldable frame
- Only a 90-day warranty on moving parts
- Low max user weight (250 pounds)
The Concept2 RowErg hits our list as the best rowing machine for HIIT workouts, and considering that it’s a sturdy machine built by rowers, for rowers, it’s not a stretch to see why.
This rower is a solid machine (often a top pick for gyms and rowing clubs) that offers smooth rowing and is great for anyone leaning into no-frills exercise equipment.
The Concept2 RowErg is a classic air resistance machine that uses a flywheel, and it’s equipped with a damper that has 10 settings so you can adjust the airflow. In many cases, air resistance also means “noisy,” but coming in at 70-100 decibels, this rower may not annoy your neighbors. (For context, normal conversion typically comes in around 60 decibels)
The machine features a PM5 monitor. And while it may look pretty basic, users can pull plenty of data from it. Not only does the screen show pace, stroke rate and calories, but it also has Bluetooth and wireless ANT+ connectivity, so the PM5 screen can be synced with a heart rate monitor. Moreover, there are plenty of options for programming workouts and analyzing your data, and the PM5 can be synced with Concept2’s ErgData app.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 96 inches long, 24 inches wide, 50 inches tall, 57 pounds
- Resistance: Air Resistance Flywheel
- Display: PM5
- Extra Features: N/A
- Membership Details: N/A
- Excellent value
- Durable and reliable
- Basic monitor
- Basic design
- Plastic seat and handles
With a jaw-dropping media platform and gaming-inspired workouts, it would seem that the Aviron Impact Series Rower was designed to take the tedium and monotony out of exercising.
While the Concept2 RowErg (above) leans into low-tech, the Aviron Impact Series Rower leans into high-tech and entertainment in a very big way.
The machine itself uses a combination of both magnetic and air systems to create resistance, and users can choose between 16 magnetic resistance levels. The handle on the rower is connected to the flywheel, and coupled with a commercial grade nylon belt, it all comes together for a machine that operates quietly. In this case, “quiet” comes in somewhere around 60 decibels, the same volume as, for example, an air conditioner.
The Aviron Impact Series Rower is equipped with a 22-inch HD touchscreen display that’s Android OS based. It also comes with built-in speakers, a front-facing camera as well as Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. Users will find that most of Aviron’s workouts are HIIT workouts, but make no mistake, there are tons of options to choose from. From racing-style games to scenic rows through virtual destinations around the world and from instructor-led workouts to performance-guided workouts, it’s pretty hard to get bored with this rower. But, if you do manage to get there, you can always access Netflix, Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and YouTube to watch your favorite shows directly through the touchscreen console while you work out.
A personal membership will run you about $25 per month, but users can enjoy unlimited profiles with one membership.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 97 inches long, 21 inches wide, 43 inches tall, 97 pounds
- Resistance: Dual magnetic/air resistance systems
- Display: 22″ HD touchscreen console
- Extra Features: Access to Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+, YouTube, Game-based workouts, Racing options, Instructor-led workouts
- Membership Details: Personal membership is available for $25 per month
- 22-inch HD touchscreen console
- Dual magnetic/air resistance systems
- Access to Netflix, Hulu, Prime, Disney+, YouTube
- Only a one-year warranty on parts
While you may have to supply your own tablet for a screen and connectivity, a monthly membership to Echelon United opens up a world of workout possibilities on the Echelon Row Connected Rower, including access to 40+ daily live classes and 3,000+ on-demand workouts.
The Echelon Row Connected Rower uses magnetic resistance and a flywheel to offer users a smooth experience, quiet operation and 32 levels of magnetic resistance that users can adjust using the two buttons on the handle. Any noise coming from the machine is limited to the noise of the seat sliding up and down the rail as you row.
Users can connect to the Echelon app via Bluetooth. Once there, you’ll find that it’s split into three sections: Featured, OnDemand and Live. There’s also a Progress tab where you can see performance stats like resistance level, stroke count and overall output as well as a live leaderboard to see how you rank against others. This is also where you can keep track of the classes you’ve completed.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 84 inches long, 21 inches wide, 45 inches tall, 106.5 pounds
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Display: N/A
- Extra Features: Integrates with Echelon United for live and on-demand classes
- Membership Details: Membership costs $34.99 per month. Discounts are available for annual and two-year commitments.
- 32 levels of resistance
- Tons of workouts available with paid membership
- Limited functionality without paying for membership
- User must provide their own screen
- Big footprint
While there are plenty of rowing machines that fold away for easy storage, there aren’t many that reduce their footprint by half when doing so. The ProForm 750R is one of the few, and for that reason, it hits our list as the best folding rowing machine.
Beyond its space-saving prowess, this rowing machine is sturdy and supportive. Users will also find a smooth drive courtesy of an inertia-enhanced flywheel. Even better, the magnetic resistance makes this rowing machine silent. There is some airflow noise, but it’s just a low “whirring” sound that won’t disturb those around you. Ergonomic pedals that pivot beautifully allow for flexion through the ankle, ultimately reducing knee and ankle tension and potential injuries on either.
The ProForm 750R console is simple and straightforward. Like most rowing machines, it will show strokes per minute, calories burned, total strokes, time and distance. While you will have to supply your own tablet, you can sync your rower with the iFit app, which exponentially increases your workout options—iFit contains hundreds of classes and content. In addition to studio-based rowing classes, users can choose rowing classes with outdoor routes filmed all over the world. So who knows, your next workout can take you for a row along the Thames river in London or around the Tiber river in Italy.
- Size/Dimensions/Weight: 86.5 inches long, 22 inches wide, 45.5 inches tall, 116 pounds
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Display: 5-inch High Contrast Display Screen
- Extra Features: Lift out tablet holder
- Membership Details: iFit® Membership costs $39 per month
- Compatible with iFit
- Simple, easy-to-use console
- Sits low to the ground
- Low max weight capacity (250 pounds)
- Requires your own smart device/tablet
The Benefits of Rowing Machines
In addition to being a master calorie burner (Hydrow estimates around 800 calories per hour with moderate effort), it appears that you can row your way to better health, too. While we all know that physical activity can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, research shows that even though rowing is low-impact, it can help you maintain your bone density.
Rowing machines are great for both HIIT workouts and low-intensity exercise, and they can work for a wide range of ages and fitness levels. Whether you’re just starting out or a competitive athlete looking to cross-train from the comfort of your own home, a rowing machine can get you where you need to be.
What Are the Different Kinds of Rowing Machines?
Water rowing machines
Water rowers are relatively new to the rowing machine market. As their name implies, these rowers use water and paddles to create resistance. Some people who use rowing machines prefer water rowers because they more closely mimic the feel of rowing on real water, and the whooshing noise can be quite satisfying. Typically, users can expect quieter, smoother action with water machines. Water rowers are usually larger than other types of rowing machines, and prices can be a bit steep. Overall, water rowers require very little maintenance; occasional water may be necessary, but that’s about it.
Magnetic rowing machines
Magnetic rowers are one of the most popular types of rowing machines, particularly for home gyms. These rowers are easily the quietest of all types of rowing machines, courtesy of their magnetic resistance. Magnetic rowers are also more compact than their water counterparts.
Magnetic rowers often give a smooth rowing action, and they offer a wide range of resistance levels.
Air rowing machines
Air rowing machines have been around since the 1980s, and many consider them the best type of rower. These rowers produce resistance by using air flowing over an internal flywheel. The wheel is connected to the rowing handle, and as you pull, it spins the flywheel. Ultimately, the faster you row, the faster the flywheel spins through the air, and the greater the resistance. While air rowers can be a little noisy for home use, they offer smooth action and a wide range of resistance. Incidentally, serious rowers seem to prefer air rowers for off-season training as they, too, more closely mimic the action of rowing on water.
What type of rowing machine is best?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not black and white. The truth is, the best rowing machine is the one that delivers the results you want. Your fitness level, your (or your neighbor’s) noise tolerance, space limitations and your budget all play a role in determining which machine is best for you.
How to Use An Indoor Rower Without Getting Injured
Proper technique, rest intervals and adequate warm-ups are the keys to rowing without getting injured.
If you’re new to rowing, practice keeping your back movements to a minimum and do your best to strengthen your core. Ideally, your back shouldn’t bear the brunt of the strain in any of these movements. Proper rest and recovery are incredibly important to keep injuries in check. Not only do your muscles need time to heal, but research shows that muscle growth occurs on your rest days. And finally, tight muscles can increase your risk of injury, so stretching before your workout is crucial.
How Do I Choose A Rowing Machine?
When choosing a rowing machine, it’s important to find one that fits your needs. While many people instinctively seek out the cheapest model, that’s not always your best bet. Ultimately you could end up with a cheaper machine that yields a bad user experience. As you compile your shortlist, you may want to think about the following.
There are a few different types of resistance you can choose from, specifically, water, air and magnetic resistance. While some rowing machines have adjustable resistance, others don’t, and the resistance only changes based on how hard you pull.
For some, the noise of rowing machines can be a make or break. If you live in an apartment or other shared space, you may want to scrutinize how much noise your favorite machines will produce. Water rowers are quiet, but magnetic rowers are almost silent.
When shopping for a rowing machine, you may want to note the weight capacity for those on your shortlist as well. While some rowers may have a high weight capacity (some are upwards of 400 pounds), others have max weight capacities around 250 pounds. This could make a big difference depending on where you’re starting out.
Some rowing machines keep it simple with straightforward monitors that show basic stats on a very user-friendly dashboard. Others may lean heavily into tech and offer more in-depth tracking. These differences are important, as they can ultimately affect your overall user experience.
One of the most important factors to consider when buying a rowing machine is the size of your budget. When considering a purchase of this magnitude, most people tend to go for the cheaper machine. The problem here is that the old adage rings true, you get what you pay for.
At the same time, an expensive machine doesn't necessarily translate to better quality or better user experience. At the end of the day, it's important to do your research and your due diligence to find the machine that fits your needs and your budget.
Warranties are always important for large purchases; this includes rowing machines. So, as you can file your shortlist, be sure to note warranties on parts and frames. As we compiled this list of best rowing machines, we noticed that warranties could vary tremendously. Some manufacturers only offer a 90-day warranty on moving parts, whereas others warranty their products for 10 years. A little insurance is never a bad thing for an item that costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Rowing Machine FAQs
How long should a beginner row on a rowing machine?
When starting out, beginners should row for a minimum of five minutes and a maximum of 20 minutes. All workouts should include a warmup and a cool down.
Is a water rower or magnetic rower better?
Water rowers and magnetic rowers offer two different types of user experiences, and ultimately the better one for you depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a real-world rowing feel, then a water rower is likely your best option. If noise is your biggest concern, a magnetic rower might be best.
Is rowing good for belly fat?
Targeted fat loss is not actually possible, but rowing can help you burn a ton of calories. When paired with a healthy diet and caloric deficit, you could eventually see a smaller waistline.
Is rowing better than cycling?
Rowing is a full-body workout that uses all your large muscle groups, whereas cycling is heavily leg-focused. That’s why, at higher intensities, rowing burns much more calories than cycling on a stationary bike.
Rowing machines are a great way to get a low-impact full-body workout in the privacy of your own home. But just like any big investment, choosing the right one is no easy task. Make your decision on the best rowing machine for your in-home use; consider the resistance mechanism, noise levels, the amount of tech you're comfortable with and any space limitations you may have.
Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publish time.