Rowing machines are great for spiking your heart rate during long strength sessions, or for using as a form of low-impact endurance training. The best thing about a rowing machine though is that unlike some cardio equipment that’s designed to just burn calories, rowing machines also work pretty much every muscle in your body throughout the stroke. Your legs cover the drive and your back and arms work during the finish, making it a great machine for increasing both your strength and cardio endurance.
When you’re deciding on the best rowing machine for your home gym, you’ll definitely have to sift through a lot of information. Water rowers, air resistance rowers, magnetic resistance rowers — what’s the best option? Whether you’re looking for a high-tech rowing machine that will have you rowing virtually alongside professional athletes, or you just want a simple machine that gets you sweating, we’re confident this list will help you find the best rowing machine for your fitness goals.
Best Rowing Machines
Best Rowing Machine Overall: Hydrow Rower
Best Rowing Machine for Home: CITYROW GO Rower
Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces: Sole SR 500
Best Rowing Machine for Competitors: Ergatta Rower
Best Rowing Machine for On Demand Workouts: NordicTrack RW900
Best Rower for the Money: Concept 2 Model D
Best Water Rowing Machine: Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Best Quiet Rowing Machine: ProForm 750R
Best Rowing Machine Overall
Our top pick is one of the most interactive rowing machines on the market, featuring a touchscreen display, live and on-demand classes, and electromagnetic resistance.
The Hydrow rower is not only a quiet machine, but also one of the most versatile for home use. With a monthly membership fee of $38, you’ll have access to the rower’s full library of coached virtual classes, all of which you can view on the large 22” touchscreen display. Its smooth ride and pivoting monitor screen make it comfortable for all users, short or tall.
Who Should Buy The Hydrow Rower
Rowers who are looking to follow along with virtual classes as they row.
Those who need to keep quiet in their home with electromagnetic resistance.
Users who prefer a large touchscreen display for easy and immersive viewing.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Hydrow Rower
Athletes who don’t want high-tech features getting in the way of their at-home workout.
Customers who need a rower that doesn’t take up a lot of floor space.
Overall, if you’re looking for a quiet rower for your home gym that has interactive technology, streamable classes and a smooth stroke, the Hydrow will check all of your boxes.
Read our full review of the Hydrow rower.
Best Rowing Machine for Home
If you’re looking to take your studio rowing experience home with you, the CITYROW GO Classic or Max is our top pick as the best rowing machine for homes and home gyms.
CITYROW GO Rower
Both the Classic and Max versions of the CITYROW GO support bringing studio classes home with you on a well-built water rower. The Classic comes with a mobile device arm that will hold your phone, but if streaming classes on that size screen doesn’t work for you, the higher-end Max option comes with an interactive touchscreen display. With either option, once you pay the monthly membership fee for the CITYROW app, you’ll have access to their library of virtual classes that come straight from the studio instructors themselves.
CITYROW GO Rower
CITYROW GO Rower
The CITYROW GO rower was made to bring the studio vibe home. Paired with the CITYROW GO app, you can basically workout just as you would in-studio. The app features classes that range from rowing, to HIIT and endurance, to strength and yoga. Get $200 OFF any rower through the end of July.
Who Should Buy The CITYROW Rower
Rowers who want a studio workout experience at home.
Athletes who like following along with virtual classes.
Anyone who wants to feel like they are rowing on the water with water resistance.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The CITYROW Rower
Fitness enthusiasts who want a magnetic resistance or magnetic air-resistance rowing machine.
Anyone who’s not interested in a studio experience.
The CITYROW rower was definitely created for those who love the CITYROW studio classes — and this machine supplements those perfectly, bringing the studio energy straight to your living room — but the machine itself is solid and can be purchased and used without the subscription if you’re looking for a solid water rower for your home gym.
Read our full review of the CITYROW rower.
Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces
Our top pick for small spaces folds in half for easy storage when it’s not in use, saving you a whole lot of floor space.
The Sole SR500 doesn’t come with the high-tech add-ons that other rowing machines provide, but it also has a more pleasant price tag. And as far as basic machines go, it’s one of the best — especially if you’re in a small apartment or need to clear out some floor space in your home gym. It is a magnetic air resistance rower, so while it’s a little quieter than regular air resistance rowers, it will still make noise while you row.
Sole SR500 Rower
Sole SR500 Rower
The Sole SR500 is an advanced magnetic air resistance rower with a 5.5” display that tracks all your necessary stats, like heart rate, calories, wattage, strokes per minute and split time. It has a raised seat, making it easy to get in and out of and a high weight capacity of 515 pounds, which is ideal for larger users.
Who Should Buy The Sole SR500
Rowers who need something that stores away easily and saves space when it’s not in use.
Anyone who wants a solid, basic rowing machine without the extra technological frills.
Athletes looking for lots of resistance levels — this one has 16.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Sole SR500
Users who want virtual class streaming options that come with their machine.
Rowers who need a near-silent machine for their home.
As far as home rowers go, the Sole SR500 is one of the best for saving space — unlike many rowers who just store vertically, this rower folds in half to get out of your way even further.
Read our full review of the Sole SR500 rower.
Best Rowing Machine for Competitors
This pick features games and competitions you can play on-screen for anyone who needs a little added fun to keep them hooked on rowing.
The Ergatta rower was created for home use to motivate athletes who need a little extra push. For those who don’t do well when listening to inspirational quotes from fitness instructors, the Ergatta features workout programs, competitions and games where you compete with yourself to motivate you as you go. This way, you’ll still be able to get the class experience but you’ll be competing against your own numbers instead of trying to row faster than your instructor. On top of that, this machine is made of a beautiful cherry wood so it will look good in any room of your house.
The Ergatta rower is ideal for athletes who want an elevated home workout experience. You can choose from pre-programmed workouts, games, and competitions to make your row more interesting, or you can select an open row to simply push your limits. This machine will adjust as your strength and stamina increase to challenge you even further.
Who Should Buy The Ergatta Rower
Athletes who like to challenge themselves with games and competitions.
Rowers who don’t love listening to fitness instructors throughout their workouts.
Customers who want the feel of being on the water with a water rower.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Ergatta Rower
Anyone who doesn’t need a machine with added technological features to get a good workout.
Athletes who prefer a quiet machine to add to their gym space.
With a library full of games and competitions, the Ergatta rower will keep you excited about rowing and provide a smooth workout every time.
Read our full review of the Ergatta Rower.
Best Rowing Machine for On Demand Workouts
If you love participating in virtual workouts that will help you increase stamina, build muscle and improve your technique, this pick is for you.
This NordicTrack rowing machine has one the best libraries of virtual classes, both live and on-demand. You’ll get a free month of iFit classes with your purchase, which means access to over 16,000 coached classes to choose from. These classes will appear on the 22” touchscreen display making is easy to follow along as you row.
NordicTrack RW900 Rower
NordicTrack RW900 Rower
The NordicTrack RW900 is a durable machine that features a 22” touchscreen display, a quiet belt drive and large pivoting pedals to fit pretty much any shoe size. You’ll also get a free month of iFit classes with your purchase, which you can view on your tilting display as you row virtually across the globe.
Who Should Buy The NordicTrack RW900
Athletes who love to follow coached virtual classes as they row.
Users who want a lot of resistance levels to choose from — there are 26 levels on this machine.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The NordicTrack RW900
Heavy-built rowers — this machine can only handle 250 pounds.
Athletes who want a quiet machine for their home gym.
This is a high-tech option for athletes who thoroughly enjoy following along to virtual classes and maybe even learning a little bit about technique as they row. Its touchscreen display and large library of classes are sure to keep you hooked on rowing.
Read our full review of the NordicTrack RW900 rower.
Best Rower for the Money
If you’re looking for a good deal, the Concept 2 Model D is a rowing staple that offers great quality for your money.
Concept 2 Model D
The Concept 2 Model D is basic when it comes to features, but durable and very popular throughout the rowing community. In fact, olympic athletes use the Concept 2 for daily training, so you know it can withstand consistent use. It’s one of the louder rowers — it has both air resistance and a chain belt—but for just $900 you’ll get a quality and lasting machine.
Concept2 Model D Rower
Concept2 Model D Rower
The Concept2 is one of the most tried and true rowers on the market. The “erg” (as it’s commonly known) provides a double-dose of conditioning and muscular endurance, and is equipped with Bluetooth connectivity and a nifty monitor to track meters rowed and calories burned.
Who Should Buy TheConcept 2 Model D
Users who aren’t looking for anything fancy when it comes to technology.
Athletes who need a durable rower they can use every day.
Customers who aren’t looking to drop a ton of money on a new machine.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Concept 2 Model D
Rowers who want virtual classes to follow along with as they row.
Anyone who needs a quiet machine for their home gym.
Customers who are looking for a modern, high-tech piece of equipment.
The Concept 2 Model D is olympic rowers’ machine of choice, so you know it’s going to be high-quality, even at its lower cost. If you don’t care about noise or tech, you can’t go wrong with the Concept 2.
Read our full review of the Concept 2 Model D.
Best Water Rowing Machine
As far as water rowers go, the Life Fitness Row HX stands out because — unlike many other water-resistance rowing machines — you can adjust the resistance levels.
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Most water rowers’ resistance stays the same, and you make your workout harder or easier by producing a more or less powerful stroke. However, with the Life Fitness Row HX, you’ll find that you can change the resistance to four different levels. On top of that, this machine also has a natural wood frame, making it a beautiful addition to any room.
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
The Life Fitness HX rower is a durable water rower that offers four resistance levels, quality stat tracking and a beautiful wood frame that will add to the aesthetic of any room. With a contoured seat and adjustable footboards and straps, this rower can fit most any user.
Who Should Buy The Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Rowers who would like a workout that feels similar to rowing on the water.
Athletes who prefer a water rowing machine but also would like to be able to choose their resistance levels.
Anyone who doesn’t need fancy technological frills that come along with their rowing machine.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Life Fitness Row HX Trainer
Rowers who want a lot of choices for their resistance levels like you’d find on magnetic or air-resistance machines.
Athletes who like virtual classes or other more advanced technological features.
This is one of the more unique water rowing machines because it features four resistance levels, which most water rowers don’t. It has a smooth ride and looks great in any room of your house with its natural wood frame.
Read our full review of the Life Fitness Row HX Trainer.
Best Quiet Rowing Machine
The ProForm 750R isn’t only quiet, but also allows for class streaming and makes for a quality addition to any home gym space.
The ProForm 750R is a magnetic resistance rower, which means it’s one of the quietest options on the market. You’ll only hear a soft whirr as you row instead of the loud spin you usually hear with air resistance or water rowers. In addition, the ProForm 750R comes with one month of iFit streaming for free. With the machine’s tablet holder, you’ll be able to prop up your tablet and stream from the library of over 16,000 live and on-demand classes.
ProForm 750R Rowing Machine
ProForm 750R Rowing Machine
The ProForm 750R is a sturdy 116-pound magnetic resistance rower. It’s practically silent and offers 24 levels of resistance to challenge your strength and endurance throughout your workout. Plus, you’ll get three free years of iFit with it, so you can stream virtual rowing classes across the globe.
Who Should Buy TheProForm 750R
Users who need a quiet magnetic resistance rower for their home gym space.
Athletes who like to stream virtual classes as they row.
Customers who want a lot of resistance levels to choose from — this machine has 24.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The ProForm 750R
Heavier people who need a machine with a very high weight capacity.
Rowers who prefer the on-water feel of a water rower.
The ProForm 750R is a great pick for those who need to stay quiet in a large household. On top of its magnetic resistance, this machine also has a lot to offer technologically, making it a well-rounded option.
Read our full review of the ProForm 750R.
Before Buying A Rower Consider
Just as we considered many features when building this list, you also need to consider the details you want in a rowing machine before making your decision. Here are a few things to think about before you drop any amount of money on a new machine for your gym.
Size is definitely a factor when it comes to buying a new piece of equipment for your home or commercial gym. One of the most important things to consider when looking for rowing machines is if you need a rower that folds or stores vertically, or if you have enough room to just keep your rower at its full footprint even when it’s not in use. The dimensions and folding capabilities sections in our individual reviews should help you with this part of the decision.
You’re definitely going to want to make sure your rower can withstand daily usage for many years to come if you’re going to drop any amount of money on it. A solid frame, strong belt and sturdy flywheel or water tank will ensure durability. Overall, rowing machines are low impact pieces of equipment, so they tend to last a long time, but it’s still important to learn what amount of usage you’ll be able to get out of your purchase before you make your decision — especially for those who plan to use it as their main form of exercise every day. Overall, you can’t go wrong with a steel or solid wood frame.
Water, Air or Magnetic Resistance
There are three types of rowing machines: water resistance rowers, air resistance rowers and magnetic resistance rowers. Water resistance rowers use a tank of water to create resistance, while air and magnetic resistance rowers use a flywheel. Magnetic resistance rowers tend to be quieter than both air and water resistance rowers, but water resistance rowers will give you the feeling of being on the water that air and magnetic resistance rowers can’t. That’s a tongue twister if we’ve ever seen one.
To get down to the nitty gritty, just consider your priorities. Do you need something that is quiet? Do you want something that feels as close as possible to an on-water workout? Are you just looking for whatever is cheapest? If it’s the latter, air resistance rowers tend to be the most basic and you’ll be able to get those at the lowest price point if you don’t mind the noise. Water rowers, though still noisy, tend to be a little more expensive for their on-water feel and visual appeal. And magnetic rowers are a bit pricier because they are much quieter than the other two options. All options are great for the right buyer, and they’re all represented on our list.
Most rowing machines will track basic stats on your workout, including stroke count, time, and distance, while more advanced models include built-in workout plans and even games.
As far as displays go, many of the “best” picks on our list have touchscreen displays, making interacting throughout your workout just a tap away. We expect to see more and more rowing machines adopt bigger displays to accommodate for streaming classes and competing in virtual races, but if you’re on the hunt for a simple rower to start shaving calories there are still plenty of options out there. Just consider what you want out of your rower when it comes to a display and what you’ll be happy with years down the road.
Not all rowing machines are created equally in terms of weight. Some of the smaller models are not equipped to hold folks over a certain threshold, so be sure to consider your weight when selecting a rower.
How We Decide the Best
When deciding which rowing machines to list for our readers, we consider many factors — from noise levels to durability, everything is a consideration. You can consider this list your complete guide on your hunt for the perfect rowing machine.
A high quality rowing machine doesn’t have to break the bank. You can find rowing machines that are both affordable and long-lasting, so you can get a solid piece of equipment for your gym without taking out a second mortgage on your home.
When considering lower priced machines, we look for the qualities you’ll find in all higher priced rowers to make sure you’re still getting quality even at a lower cost. There are obviously some options included on this list that are extra durable or include high-tech features that will generally cost a little more, but rest assured, we think those picks are worth the cost. No matter which rower you pick on this list though, we’ve vetted them all to be worthy of the price tag that comes with them.
Some people will look for special racing features or virtual classes, while others have no interest in a large touchscreen display. We’ve included both options on this list to satisfy each type of customer.
The rowers we included with special features are great for streaming, propping up tablets and mobile devices, as well as offering fancy display screens. Some have virtual classes, libraries full of competitions, and some even come with a free class-streaming membership with your purchase. With all of the high-tech options out there, we’ve made sure to gather up the rowing machines with — what we consider to be — some of the most popular and innovative features on the market. But rest assured, even those who are trying to steer clear of added technology and special features can find a rowing machine on this list that will suit them, too.
No matter how much money you are putting down on a piece of gym equipment, you’re going to want to make sure you’re getting something that is lasting and high quality. Every rower you find on this list is durable and sturdy, so you won’t be putting your money in the wrong place. As far as these rowers go, the cheaper options tend to have fewer features rather than a shorter lifespan, so even with the less expensive picks you’ll be getting a lasting piece of equipment — no downgrades here.
Purchasing a rower is a big decision no matter how much you decide to spend. Finding a machine that will last, fit your needs, and help you increase strength and endurance effectively is no small task.
Before you dive in, write out a list of priorities you need in your rowing machine, and as you’re scouring the web (or this list) make sure the rowing machine you are considering checks off your biggest must-haves on that priority list. Once you’ve got your list and know what you want, this process will feel a lot less overwhelming.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best rowing machine?
With so many rowing machines to choose from, it all comes down to your priorities. If you like streaming classes and competing, opt for the NordicTrack or Hydrow on our list. If you want something simple, straightforward, and less expensive consider a rower like the Sole SR500 or Concept 2 Model D.
Can I get stronger using a rowing machine?
Absolutely. Rowers are certainly great for cardio, but they can also be great tools for strength and endurance training. Rowers where you can adjust the resistance can really help you grow and put your strength to the test.
How do I choose between similar rowers?
There are always differences between rowing machines, even similar ones. Consider weight capacity, screen size and brightness, and how big the rowers are. The details will matter as a rower isn’t just a csh investment, but a time and space investment as well.
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