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Rowing machines recreate the motion of a person rowing a boat on the water. They can provide an efficient, full-body workout and are suitable for cardiovascular, or cardio, and strength training.

Rowing machines combine the benefits of aerobic exercise and strength building to provide a low impact, full-body exercise.

In this article, we look at the health benefits of rowing, factors to consider when choosing a rowing machine, and some of the best options available.

A quick look at the best rowing machines for 2022

Rowing is a beneficial workout, as it recruits many of the body’s muscles. According to the American Fitness Professionals and Associates, the rowing stroke comprises 65–75% leg work and 25–35% upper body work.

The American Council on Exercise states that the health benefits of rowing include the following:

  • It targets multiple muscle groups, providing a full-body workout.
  • It includes cardio and strength exercises.
  • It places less strain on the joints due to its low impact and non-weight-bearing movements.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults include a combination of cardio and strength training each week.

It advises people to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise that raises their heart rate or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio per week. In addition, people should perform moderate to high intensity resistance training at least twice per week to strengthen their muscles.

Being more active in general also has significant health benefits, including:

In a 2014 study, the aerobic fitness and muscle strength of 24 participants improved significantly after using a rowing machine for 3 days per week over 8 weeks.

Using a rowing machine can also be good for the rest days in a training schedule due to their low impact on joints.

Additionally, rowing machines can be a good exercise option for people with visual impairment. A 2015 study found that a rowing exercise program provided safe exercise for 16 participants with low vision and had a positive effect on body composition and fitness levels within 6 weeks.

People can choose from the following types of indoor rowing machines:

  • Air or flywheel rowers: These rowers use a flywheel with fan blades to generate wind that provides resistance. To increase the resistance, a person simply needs to pull harder. This machine offers a similar feel to outdoor rowing.
  • Hydraulic rowers: These rowers can be a good option for those with limited space or a smaller budget, but they may not provide as smooth a rowing motion as other machines. This type of rower uses tension from compressed air or fluid to provide resistance.
  • Magnetic rowers: These can be the quietest and smoothest rowing machines, but they may be expensive. These machines use a magnetic brake system to provide resistance. As magnetic resistance produces no friction, these rowers typically make no noise.
  • Water rowers: These rowers may be most suitable for those who participate in outdoor rowing, as they try to replicate the dynamics of rowing a boat on the water. They are also quiet, as they use water to provide resistance.

Individuals may also wish to consider the following factors:

  • Cost: A person can look for well-reviewed, quality machines within their budget. Those buying their first rowing machine may want to opt for a cheaper model to try it out.
  • Size: Some people may need to consider a compact or foldable machine that can fit in a small space. They can look for rowing machines that have upright storage or that they can divide into pieces.
  • Goals: People training for outdoor rowing may prefer a water rower, as this type most closely recreates the feeling of being on the water. Anyone with set fitness goals may find that a rowing machine with programmed workouts, immersive training, or data displays helps them reach their targets.

Individuals who want to start using a rowing machine should first invest some time into learning how the machine works and reading the instructions. Every rowing machine is different and comes with various features.

According to the South Dakota Department of Health, when using the machine, a person should:

  • make sure to position themselves properly, particularly if they have a history of lower back pain
  • use a machine that stays in place when in use
  • avoid twisting or stretching the rowing cord beyond the length that the manufacturer recommends
  • perform warmup and cooldown exercises

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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NordicTrack New RW900

Price: $1,899

The NordicTrack New RW900 rowing machine comes with a rotating touch screen to provide personal fitness training classes.

According to the product website, key features include:

  • a 22-inch (in) HD smart touch screen that rotates and tilts
  • a 1-year iFIT family membership
  • access to iFIT rowing classes, strength training, and mindfulness sessions
  • access to classes in global locations, including lakes and rivers
  • interactive personal training, where trainers can digitally adjust the resistance
  • 26 resistance levels
  • detailed statistics on workout data

Moreover, this rowing machine folds vertically for storage, and the company offers payment plans.

On the downside, NordicTrack requires customers to purchase the iFIT subscription for an additional $49 per month.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor

Price: $289.99

According to the product website, key features of this model include:

  • eight resistance levels
  • a magnetic resistance system
  • anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable straps
  • a durable, heavy-duty steel frame
  • a digital display screen to show workout data
  • transportation wheels
  • a padded, slip-free handlebar
  • a wide, padded seat
  • floor stabilizers for extra balance

The company allows buyers to extend their warranty period at an additional cost.

However, this model does not provide live and on-demand workouts with trainers.

Hydrow Rower

Price: $2,295–2,695

The Hydrow Rower aims to recreate the feeling of being on the water, so it may best suit people looking for a professional approach to rowing. A person will need to pay an additional monthly membership to access the interactive training classes.

According to the product website, key features include:

  • an electromagnetic, computer-controlled drag mechanism
  • a webbed strap to make strokes smooth and almost silent
  • a cushioned and ergonomic seat design
  • wheels and vertical storage position
  • a 22-in touch screen display
  • a variety of workouts led by competitive athletes in scenic locations

Also, Hydrow donates money to the charity Water.org with every row.

Reviews on Trustpilot are very positive. Many buyers say that working out with the Hydrow is enjoyable and that the software’s gamification features make the experience challenging and engaging.

However, reviewers note their dissatisfaction with the subscription price.

Concept2 Model D

Price: $900–1,050

Users rate the Concept2 Model D rowing machine highly, because it is quiet, and there is the option to split it into two pieces for easy storage.

According to the product website, key features include:

  • a performance monitor to display workout data
  • bluetooth and wireless capabilities to connect to apps and fitness monitors
  • a spiral damper for adjustable airflow
  • a flywheel design that creates smooth motion and minimal noise
  • low 14-in seat height
  • adjustable footrests
  • caster wheels on the front foot for easy transporting
  • an ergonomic handle that enables natural arm and hand positioning
  • a nickel-plated chain for low maintenance

The company provides attachments that allow for team training and a water rowing feel.

This product has a high rating on Amazon, with buyers praising its quality, smoothness, and quietness.

However, some argue that it does not work the back muscles enough and is more suitable for cardio than strength training. They also claim that the screen and software feel dated.

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1060

Price: $299.99

This Stamina product may be a good choice for those looking for a compact machine with good storage options.

According to the product website, key features include:

  • rowing arms with a padded grip
  • a monitor to track workout data
  • a tablet holder
  • hydraulic cylinder resistance
  • a ball-bearing roller system
  • a durable steel frame
  • adjustable resistance
  • large footplates with straps
  • a molded seat for comfort
  • rower arms that fold in for vertical storage

An advantage of this Stamina rower is that it requires no subscriptions. It integrates with the free app müüv, which provides a mixture of cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises via audio coaching. It also offers personalized workouts.

Buyers appreciate the brand’s customer service and say that this piece of equipment targets muscles in all body areas, including the abs, shoulders, and back. They also mention that the seat could do with improvements to increase comfort.

ProForm 750R Rower

Price: $707.80

The ProForm seems a suitable option for individuals who want to experience rowing actively with trainers live and on demand. This rower combines traditional working with other features, including:

  • access to the iFIT family membership for streaming live and on-demand classes
  • virtual access to outdoor workouts with trainers worldwide
  • the ability to allow certified trainers to adjust resistance on the go
  • progress tracking
  • exercises that automatically adjust according to progress
  • quiet paddling
  • the ability to adjust the seat and handlebars for better comfort

Also, the rower works 14 body areas, such as the arms, lower body, and back.

It is particularly beneficial for those who already have fitness equipment from ProForm, as they can use the same iFIT membership without paying extra subscription fees.

On Amazon, buyers say that they are very happy with this machine thanks to its comfort and high quality. Negative feedback revolves around the subscription fees.

Ergatta Rower

Price: $2,199

The Ergatta rower is vastly different from the rest on this list. The company designed it to store, use, and display in the living room. The Ergatta’s unique feature is its game-based workouts that are fun and encourage activity.

Reviewers find this machine fun to use and look forward to working out every day. They love the finish, and those with families say that their children enjoy the machine without problems.

The Ergatta features:

  • back wheels for easy movement and storage
  • a standard rowing mode horizontally on the floor
  • an upright mode for a tougher challenge
  • bluetooth capabilities for heart rate monitors and audio
  • body weight support for up to 500 pounds (lb)
  • interval and endurance workouts
  • progress tracking and real-time feedback
  • race workouts
  • scenic rowing

The Ergatta machine does not feature live classes with trainers or friends. However, the brand says it releases five new workouts per week, and new software releases every 2 weeks. This means there is a chance that the company will add such features later on.

AssaultRower Elite

Price: $1,199

People looking for an athlete experience may want to consider the AssaultRower Elite. The company keeps this machine simple, with no subscriptions or apps.

The brand manufactures this for commercial gym usage, with a solid steel frame construction. The rower also includes:

  • steel footplates
  • a commercial, sweat-proof seat
  • on-board training programs
  • a heart rate monitor
  • capacity for high intensity interval training (HIIT) or endurance training
  • a rugged buttoned console
  • zero electrical consumption

This rower comes in black and runs completely on human power. The frame is also resistant to corrosion.

Buyers praise the quality of this machine. However, they argue that the console should have more lighting.

Teeter Power10 Rower

Price: $1,149

The Teeter Power10 is a different kind of rowing machine. It combines normal rowing with bidirectional resistance and multi-grip handles that target the upper body. This combination can provide a full-body workout experience.

This rower comes with a few other features, including:

  • a large bench seat
  • seven levels of magnetic resistance
  • a bluetooth heart rate monitor
  • workouts with no subscription fees
  • silent movements
  • adjustable foot straps and stroke length
  • progress tracking
  • transport wheels

Buyers report that this machine can be fun and has helped them lose weight and build strength. Others argue that the rower is loud and provides an electric moment that reduces overall resistance.

The table below shows how some of the above products compare.

Dimensions (L x W x H)Maximum user weightWarrantyMembershipPrice
NordicTrack New RW90082 x 22 x 54 in250 lb• 10-year frame warranty
• 2-year parts warranty
• 1-year labor warranty
$49 per month$1,899
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor78 x 19.1 x 23.2 in250 lb• 3-year frame warranty
• 180-day parts warranty
Hydrow Rower86 x 25 x 47 in375 lb• 5-year frame warranty
• 1-year parts and labor warranty
$38 per month$2,295–2,695
Concept2 Model D96 x 24 x 14 in or
96 x 24 x 20 in
500 lb• 5-year frame warranty
• 2-year parts warranty
Stamina BodyTrac Glider 106049.25 x 36 x 20 in250 lb• 1-year frame warranty
• 90-day parts warranty
free via the müüv app$299.99
ProForm 750R Rower86.5 x 22 x 45.5 in250 lb• 6-year frame warranty
• 1-year parts and labor warranty
$39 per monthlist price of around $707.80
Ergatta Rower86 x 23 x 40 in500 lb• 5-year frame warranty
• 3-year parts warranty
• 1-year tablet warranty
$29 per month$2,199
AssaultRower Elite92.5 x 20.1 x 48.6 in350 lb• 5-year frame warranty
• 3-year non-wear parts warranty
• 1-year labor warranty

Other options for individuals looking for a machine that can provide a full-body workout include cable machines, elliptical trainers, and vertical steppers.

People may also wish to consider other home exercise machines, such as exercise bikes or treadmills.

It is also possible to work out with minimal equipment. Those who prefer this option could use resistance bands or dumbbells, or they could avoid equipment altogether and perform bodyweight exercises.

Here, we answer some of the common questions about rowing machines.

Which home rowing machine is best?

It depends on an individual’s needs. Those looking for simple resistance rowing without access to classes can usually opt for a cheaper rowing machine that is stable and comfortable and can provide a full-body workout.

Others may prefer access to live or on-demand classes, assistance from trainers, or even a gaming experience. Ultimately, the best rowing machine is the one that an individual uses on a frequent basis to reach their health goals.

Do rowing machines help lose weight?

Yes, many rowing machines require the user to exercise their arms and legs to move, and burn calories. Some also provide a full-body workout experience to build strength while losing weight.

Is 30 minutes of rowing enough?

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs states that a 30-minute workout with a 15-minute warmup and cooldown can be very effective for aerobic conditioning.

However, this does not take into account variable resistance, intensity, and frequency adaptation. A 2020 study suggests that adaptive rowing can have benefits for health and training.

An indoor rowing machine can offer a person a low impact, full-body workout that provides cardio, HIIT, and strength training. A rowing machine may suit people looking to increase or maintain their fitness and those training for outdoor rowing.

People can choose from a range of machines to suit their budget and preferences. Depending on their priorities, they can opt for additional features, such as minimal noise, a touch screen for workout classes, or the ability to fold the machine for easy storage.