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The Best Rowing Machines for Your New Fitness Routine

Last updated on January 5, 2024
Best Rowing Machine

Our Review Process

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If you’re looking for a great way to get in a full-body workout without having to leave the house, a rowing machine is your answer. This device offers a host of benefits, including the ability to burn calories while being easy on the joints. The actual act of rowing is also quite calming, which can help reduce stress. As you search for the best rowing machine, you’ll want to take a look at the machine’s construction, ability to control the amount of resistance and any extra features that improve the unit’s functionality.

Start off by examining exactly where you’re going to set up the rowing machine. Some models are bigger than others and you want to make sure the rower you select will fit in your available space. If you don’t have a lot of space, you can always go with a machine that folds when not in use. Make sure that the machine also has back wheels to make moving the rower easier.

Continue to review the construction of the rowing machine by checking its weight capacity. There are models that can only handle 250 pounds, as well as rowers that have a 500-pound weight capacity.

Determine how many levels of resistance the machine offers. The Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine has a dial that allows you to quickly switch between eight different levels of magnetic resistance. While eight levels are plenty for most, there are rowers that have as many as 16 levels of resistance.

Check how comfortable the rowing machine is to use. If you don’t feel good when you use it, you probably won’t keep up with your workouts. Look for a padded ergonomic seat, foam handlebars that are slip-resistant and a set of adjustable footrests. If you need, there are even models with extra-wide seats and thick handlebars.

Look at the technical capabilities of the rowing machine next. For example, some rowing machines not only have an LCD digital display for immediate feedback, but they also utilize Bluetooth technology to connect to the complimentary My Cloud Fitness app. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices and aids in keeping track of your workouts.

Consider any extra benefits the rowing machine may have to offer. Some models are equipped with extra-long side rails, while others are made for additional exercises beyond just rowing. For example, one model uses an aluminum flywheel and slide rail and no-touch magnetic resistance to keep it running quietly. That means you’ll be able to workout early in the morning or late at night without disrupting sleeping family members.

Our Picks For The Top Rowing Machines

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Product Overview
Our Take
 Top Pick

CIRCUIT FITNESS Reinforced Comfortable Rowing Machine

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

CIRCUIT FITNESS

Reinforced Comfortable Rowing Machine

Whether you're a beginner or more advanced in your training, this magnetic rowing machine has you covered. It offers eight resistance levels and an LCD screen panel to help you keep track of your progress. On the screen, you'll be able to monitor your distance traveled, speed, ambient temperature and calories burned.

Overall Take

Handy and VersatileSince this rowing machine folds up, you won't have any trouble storing it when not in use.

 We Also Like

Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Alloy Steel Rowing Machine

Sunny Health

Alloy Steel Rowing Machine

You'll get great workout with this rowing machine, which uses magnetic resistance with eight different levels. The machine is great for individuals of any height and comes with a padded seat and sweat resistant handlebars. If you need to store the rower when not in use, you can fold it and move it with ease, thanks to the built-in transportation wh...

Overall Take

Great WorkoutThis rowing machine comes with a digital monitor that displays the time, calories burned and the time spent rowing.

 Strong Contender

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Foam Padded Rowing Machine

Stamina Body Trac

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Foam Padded Rowing Machine

If you're looking for a rowing machine that folds up when not in use, this model is your best bet. Although it's compact, it's constructed using a durable steel frame. The hydraulic cylinder resistance is fully adjustable and the rowing arms allow for a full range of motion, which is great if you're getting in shape for a race.

Overall Take

Easy to StoreThis rowing machine is designed for users with a height between 4 foot 9 inches and 6 foot 4 inches and a weight capacity of up to 250 pounds.

 Also Great

Lanos Full-Body Ergonomic Rowing Machine

Lanos

Full-Body Ergonomic Rowing Machine

Keep your heart in tip-top shape with this high-quality rowing machine. The seat is molded for comfort, while the rowing arms allow for full motion. Workout enthusiasts will appreciate the LCD monitor, which keeps track of row count, calories burned and how long you've been working out.

Overall Take

Most EconomicalThanks to the affordable price tag on this rowing machine, you won't have any trouble sticking to your budget.

What to Look For

  • Perform a weekly check on your rowing machine. Check that the screws and nuts haven’t come loose. If they have, take the time to tighten them. Use a lubricant on the screws and chains, so that they aren’t rubbing against each other and shaving off any metal.
  • Once per year, it’s a good idea to take the rowing machine apart to adjust and lubricate its inner parts. You should have received a product care manual with your purchase that can take you through this process one step at a time. If you didn’t and you don’t consider yourself handy, you can schedule an appointment with a mechanic and have them perform the necessary maintenance for you.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting your rowing machine regularly is extremely important. Choose an all-purpose cleaner with germ-fighting capabilities and use that and a lint-free cloth to wipe down the surface of the rower. The handlebars, padded seat and footrests are especially important, as these spots are the most likely to come in contact with your sweat and the dirt from your shoes. If you prefer to wipe down the machine with a moist cloth, you’ll need to spray the machine down with a disinfectant afterward. Let your rower dry completely before you resume using it for your workouts.
  • Store your rowing machine in a cool, dry location when not in use. Hot areas with extra moisture could cause the metal parts of the machine to rust.
  • Always check with your family physician before you begin any new workout routine, even one on a rowing machine. This is especially important if you have any pre-existing health conditions or are currently pregnant.
  • Set fitness goals for yourself before using the rowing machine for the first time. Start off slow, as you can always increase your goals later on. You can list how long you want to spend on the machine per day, how many calories you want to burn or how many strokes you want to achieve. Simply taking the time to put these goals on paper will help you achieve them.
  • No matter what your budget, you’re sure to find a rowing machine that can help you reach your fitness goals. The Sunny Health SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the most affordable models. If you’re looking for a rowing machine with all the bells and whistles, you may not mind spending extra for the Mr Captain Vintage Oak Water Rowing Machine, which has the highest price tag of the bunch.

More to Explore

Did you know that the first rowing machines were made out of wood over 2,500 years ago? It’s true! Athens and Sparta were at war and this war took place on the high seas. The vessels used during the war required soldiers to do a great deal of rowing. The military for Athens was smart and built wooden rowing machines for the soldiers to practice on, while still on dry ground. Not only did the machines help the soldiers build up their endurance, but they also aided in strengthening important muscle groups.

Fast-forward to the 19th century when a man by the name of W.B. Curtis received a patent for the first hydraulic rowing machine. The machine wasn’t as easy to use as the models we have today, as the flywheels were heavy the movements were not fluid. In the 1970s, the design of rowing machines took a step in the right direction. Gjessing-Nilson added a friction braking system and the ability to adjust the gear and overall speed. Current rowing machines are much more advanced and many even connect wirelessly to a variety of health apps.