The best rowing machines of 2023:
The best rowing machines of 2023:
In the world of home fitness, there are plenty of worthy equipment options to consider. The best rowing machines provide an excellent workout, utilizing almost every muscle in your body while increasing your heart rate.
With so many options in terms of rower type, tech perks, and design, it's tough to know which model to buy. Based on research and years of experience as a certified personal trainer, this list of the best rowing machines will help you narrow down your picks based on specific needs.
What are the benefits of rowing?
Rowing is an ideal form of exercise for many reasons. Not only does it help boost your heart rate and help with energy balance, but the activity calls on almost all of the muscles in the body. These benefits make rowing machines a versatile piece of aerobic and resistance exercise equipment.
Research shows that those who row have a higher aerobic capacity, greater muscle mass in the thighs and trunk, and lower risk of atherosclerosis than those who are the same age but sedentary. Similar studies have shown rowing to increase aerobic capacity (a measure of physical fitness and heart health) and muscle power, leading to a better blood lipid profile—all of which are beneficial for your cardiovascular and overall health.
Rowing is ideal for those needing a low-impact form of exercise that's easier on the joints, and an excellent choice for beginners or anyone with joint pain or mobility issues.
Types of rowing machines:
There are four types of rowing machines: water, air, magnetic, and hydraulic rowers. Some combine types, such as air and magnetic, working in tandem to provide both forms of resistance.
Air rowers produce resistance through air displacement as it flows around the flywheel. Magnetic rowers create resistance through magnetic current, which resists the spinning of the flywheel. Water rowers use paddles on the flywheel that run through a tank filled with water to create resistance. And, finally, hydraulic rowers use pistons in place of a flywheel to create resistance as you pull against either fluid or air pressure inside a cylinder.
How to choose a rowing machine.
Choosing a rower that will work best for you includes making decisions about your available space, budget, and what type of workout you are seeking. Some rower types and brands are more compact or foldable, making them ideal if you have limited space. Others provide extra features and programs but may cost more than budget picks.
The type of resistance you prefer can also determine the price, experience, and quality. Hydraulic, magnetic, and water rowers are quieter than air rowers, but air rowers may best mimic the experience of rowing in actual water. If you simply want an excellent workout and aren't concerned with how similar your rowing experience is to an actual watercraft, then you might choose something other than an air rower. If space is your main concern, magnetic and hydraulic rowers are typically more compact than air or water rowers.
How we picked:
We looked for top-quality machines, scouring reviews and features to ensure the best products made the list.
Rowers need to be designed with user comfort and functionality in mind, so we selected those with designs that accommodate a wide range of body types and preferences, including resistance type, technology options, and available adjustments.
While some people have more space than others, we aimed to include options that can fold or have smaller footprints for easy home use.
Including no-frills basic-yet-functional rowers and high-tech immersive rowers, we considered products with user-friendly features at a range of budgets.
Our picks for the best rowing machines of 2023:
Best for beginners: Echelon Row S
- 22” touchscreen display
- Live and on-demand instruction
- Ergonomic design
- Paid membership needed for programs
- Lower weight limit
Dimensions:81” x 24” x 47”
Heart Rate Monitor:Bluetooth sync
Beginners to rowing (or exercise in general) will benefit from this rower’s quality instruction, motivational features, and ergonomic design. You’ll find live and on-demand classes available 24/7, with over 40 daily live sessions and 3,000 pre-recorded classes. Leaderboards with stats will keep you motivated, if you enjoy friendly competition.
The design includes an ergonomic seat, adjustable foot pads, and a weight limit of 300 pounds—which, we’ll point out, is lower than similar designs.
Reviews on Echelon’s website are overwhelmingly positive, with several beginners raving about the programming and motivating features. One writes, “I purchased my first rower in November. It has been a nice way to rest my body from weight training and from the spin bike. I love the variety of the available classes and many different instructors. There is something for everyone. A seasoned rower or a novice like myself.”
Best foldable rowing machine: ProForm 750R
- Powerful and quiet resistance
- Easy to assemble
- Lower weight capacity (250 pounds)
- Small screen without integrated display
Dimensions:22" x 86.5" x 45.5"
Membership:Yes ($39/month; $180/annual)
Heart Rate Monitor:No
This rower, while full-sized and relatively heavy, easily folds against a wall or behind furniture when you aren’t using it. Although a no-frills option, it’s very budget-friendly at under $1,000. There is no integrated screen, but you can use your own device to access iFit programming for guided workouts. Plus, the rower comes equipped with 20 built-in workout options, no membership required.
The machine is also relatively quiet due to magnetic resistance, making it a great choice for apartments and small spaces.
With a solid 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon, most reviewers comment on the excellent value and customer service. Others note that, while some assembly is necessary, the machine is very easy to put together.
Best budget rowing machine: Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine
- Smooth motion
- Compact design
- May heat up if used for long sessions
- Seat not very comfortable
Dimensions:52.2” x 28.7” x 11.8”
Heart Rate Monitor:No
A great choice if you are hoping to save money, or aren’t ready to commit to a large rower, this rower uses hydraulic resistance to save money and space. It has pistons in place of a large flywheel, garnering a compact, easy-to-store design. Although this rower is smaller and less expensive than others, it can accommodate up to 350 pounds while remaining sturdy and stable.
Overall, it is a fantastic, no-frills rower with 12 adjustable resistance levels and a digital monitor that helps track time, stroke, and calories so you can log your progress. The small frame and quiet decibel mean you can even use it in front of the television without taking up too much space, which users tend to call out in their reviews.
Many reviewers report being surprised by how sturdy, smooth, and compact the design is, raving about the excellent value it provides. Customers note that their whole family uses the machine, “it's quiet and doesn't make any noise,” and that it feels well-made, especially for the price.
Best interactive rowing machine: Aviron Strong Series Rower
- Adjusts for wide range of body types
- Motivating and engaging features
- Combines air and magnetic resistance for smooth, quiet resistance
- Paid subscription required for programs
Dimensions:84” x 27” x 48”
Membership:Yes ($29/monthly; $300/annual)
Heart Rate Monitor:Syncs through Bluetooth
If you want a more immersive, interactive, game-like experience or enjoy competition, thisis an excellent pick. With several options for games, group rowing, coached rowing, guided programs, and competitive challenges, you will be easily motivated to keep up with your rowing workouts. Moreover, the 22-inch HD touchscreen makes viewing and choosing your programs a cinch while perched on the machine.
Rowing on this machine is exceptionally smooth, due to a combination of air and magnetic resistance. When testing, we found it very comfortable and accommodating. The rower has adjustable features like foot width, which is unique to Aviron. With a weight limit of 507 pounds and a height limit of 6-feet 8-inches, it is ideal for many body types. Plus, the higher seat height makes getting on and off the machine a breeze.
With a 4.8 out of 5 stars, the Aviron is a fan favorite. Some reviewers (like me, the writer) were accustomed to using a traditional air rower until someone recommended he try an interactive model, and are now converts. Others say this rower motivates them to exercise every day. One writes, “I truly love this rower. It is so diverse in its programs, and even on my laziest days, I get to Netflix and row. I have also utilized the strength training portions that are led by an instructor and definitely get a nice burn the day after.”
Best compact rowing machine: Hydrow Wave
- Immersive experience with 4,000+ workouts
- Available in multiple colors
- Smaller footprint
- Wall anchor for folding storage sold separately
- Paid subscription required for programs
Dimensions:80” x 19” x 43”
Heart Rate Monitor:Bluetooth sync
If you’re looking for a full-featured, immersive, and ergonomic rower that doesn’t take up as much space as others, this model is a great choice. It’s less expensive and 30% smaller than the brand’s original rower, and also folds up easily for storage. Although, for safety, you may want to purchase a wall anchor, which is available on the website.
This durable-yet-compact rower has a 16-inch screen with access to a library of live and on-demand classes, albeit at a fee of $38 per month, which is higher than some comparable brands. The weight capacity for the Hydrow Wave is 375 pounds, accommodating more body types than a few others on our list.
The Hydrow Wave has an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5, from almost 10,000 customers. People mostly comment on the ease-of-assembly and how energized they feel after using this machine.
Best water rowing machine: Ergatta Rower
- Smooth resistance
- Includes programming and games
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Cannot change resistance
Dimensions:86” x 23” x 40”
Heart Rate Monitor:Syncs
Likely the most aesthetically-pleasing rower available, this machine has a gorgeous cherry wood frame and beautiful craftsmanship. It is sleek and functional, with engaging programs that help build up your fitness level. Since this is a water rower, it is quiet and smooth, which is ideal for shared living spaces or apartments. The machine is also quite compact and folds up to save space.
This rower accommodates a wide range of body types with a 500-pound weight capacity and 6-foot 8-inch height limit. Although the resistance cannot be adjusted like it can for a magnetic rower, it still provides a fantastic full-body workout, and more closely mimics that of real water rowing. Keep in mind, there is some light maintenance involved in terms of topping up and replacing the water—and you will need to pay for a subscription to access programming.
The Ergatta rower has an overall rating of 4.9 stars out of 5, from almost 700 customers. A common theme in the reviews is how enjoyable it is to use, and how consistent people are with their workouts because of that. Plenty of people also comment on the machine’s aesthetic, how fun the pre-programmed workouts are, and how “smooth” and “realistic” the rower feels compared to “real water.”
Best air rowing machine: Concept 2 RowERG Model D
- Stores easily
- Adjustable airflow resistance
- Performance monitor tracks stats
- Only five built-in workouts
Dimensions:95” x 24” x 14”
Heart Rate Monitor:Yes
Likely the most well-known rower on this list, this air model is widely found in gyms and homes and closely mimics actual on-the-water rowing. It’s a low-tech, no-frills rower with an excellent reputation for quality and longevity.
While the design is a bit large, it folds up for storage. And, if the folded footprint is still too large, you can take it apart to store in even smaller spaces. This rower is ideal for those who want a quality, long-lasting machine but are not looking for a lot of tech or built-in programs. It does come with five workouts, but you’re on your own outside of those options. However, the performance monitor is top-notch, measuring elapsed time, average pace, split meters, strokes per minute, heart rate, and projected distance (meters) in 30 minutes.
This machine takes the cake with 4.9 stars out of 5 overall, from almost 12,000 ratings. One user, who wrote a detailed review after extensive use, wrapped up by saying, “I enjoy that it's full body and get less bored during the workout than I usually do running or on an exercise bike. If you need just one piece of equipment and one workout, this machine certainly is a good choice given how many body parts are worked in each stroke.”
How much do rowing machines cost?
Rowing machines range in cost from around $200 up to nearly $3,000. The less expensive options tend to use hydraulic resistance, which is less smooth and does not mimic rowing on the water the same way air rowers or air and magnetic options do. More costly rowers tend to provide additional features such as HD touchscreens, aesthetic appeal, and workout subscription options.
Which is the best rowing machine for home use?
The best rowing machine for home use is one that you will be motivated to use consistently. If you prefer technology-based exercise motivation, choose a smart rower with access to workouts, coaching, and games.
Is rowing 10 minutes a day good?
Rowing for 10 minutes a day is an excellent way to get in some cardiovascular work and is ideal for warming up before another form of exercise, such as resistance training. If you plan to use rowing for your primary cardio exercise, try increasing your time on the machine as you become more accustomed to it. Alternatively, a 10-minute high-intensity workout every couple of days is an excellent way to get a cardio workout in a shorter period.
Why should you buy a rowing machine?
You should consider buying a rowing machine if you plan to use one consistently and know you enjoy them after trying one at a gym or friend's house. Many brands offer trial periods and return windows, too, so you can test it out in your own home. If you want to improve your cardiovascular health and fitness while encouraging a healthy weight balance and working most of your muscles at the same time, a rowing machine is a fantastic choice.
Rowing machines are one of the best options for building fitness through cardiovascular exercise. You'll work almost all the muscles in your body and improve your health and fitness level with consistent use. Choose a rower that appeals to your needs, whether that's your budget, needs for motivational features, or a space-saving design. Still weighing your options for your home gym? We've rounded up the best gym equipment and the best online workout programs to keep you motivated and healthy, for every lifestyle and budget.