Best Rowing Machine – Our Top Picks and Reviews 2018!
Looking for the best rowing machine in the market today? With more than a dozen brands offering different models of rowing machines, it is important to narrow down your requirements before making your choice. This way, you can be confident about your purchase and be fully satisfied with the rowing machine you eventually take home. In this article, we will provide you with a rowing machine buyer’s guide in the hope of helping you with that all-important decision.
Best Rower by Budget
Rowing Machines for Competition Training
If you wish to train on a competitive level and not outgrow your rowing machine then here are our top two recommendations for you to buy.
1. Concept2 Model D – Model D is a second to none with its online connectivity and build quality. It is a professional grade rowing machine, this model can normally be found in your local fitness centre, it has beaten every machine on the majority of our tests.
2. Stamina Avari – The next best option to the Model D under $1000. The Stamina Avari is a great all round machine and very well built, it has 12 workout programmes that can be adjusted on the fly.
Rowing Machines For Beginners
If you are looking to just get in shape and find a suitable rowing machine that won’t blow your budget sky high we have a great machine for you. Here is our top recommendation.
1. Stamina Air Rower – If you aren’t the extravagant type, or just need a rowing machine to get started, this is the one to go for, it has great features and is ideal if you are just starting out.
Finding A Rowing Machine To Suit You
So what rowing machine works best? We tested the rowing machines over 6 months and analysed every aspect we could, we then compared them to each other and around the table agreed on the following recommendations.
Here is an overview of the top rowing machine brands in the market today:
Best Rowing Machine For Under $1000
#1 Overall Winner: Concept2 Model D – Overview
Available for around $900, this particular product is a full-body machine with a low impact and a flywheel resistance. It has a 14-inch seat height and can actually be separated into two pieces for storage purposes. Capable of taking up to 500 pounds in weight, the model is covered by a 5-year warranty and features a monitor system for workout data. The online connectivity and monitor features make the rower second to none.
Best Rowing Machine For Under $500
#2 Runner Up: Stamina Air Rower – Overview
One of the cheapest in the market today, this model is sold for around $300 but has pretty good feedback from buyers. It comes with a calorie burned monitor and is a wind-resistance type of machine. Attached are built-in wheels that make it easy to transport but at the same time comes with floor protectors to prevent skidding accidents. For storage purposes, the material can be folded. Warranty for the frame is at three years while the parts have a 90-day warranty. With padded seats and large footplates, this is one of the most cost-efficient models in the market.
Best Rowing Machine For Over $1000
#3 Recommendation: WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor – Overview
Fairly high price at over $1,000, this water flywheel model simulates water rowing at near perfect accuracy. Smooth and quiet with a self-regulated resistance, this particular model comes with a 4-fold monitor that tracks workout information such as stroke rate, heart rate, and workout intensity. The model is specially designed for high-volume use which is why many gyms today choose this unit. Weighing an astounding 117 pounds, the model is made from solid ash which ensures long term durability.
What to Look for in a Rowing Machine?
Granted that there are a lot of features to be considered today when shopping for a rowing machine, but the following should help you get started:
Weight refers to the overall mass of the row machine – which should not be too much. You will find machines with weights as low as 30 pounds which should make it easier to move it around. Note, however, that if you intend to keep the machine in just one place, it is perfectly OK to purchase a heavier one. Remember: although weight does not directly mean sturdy, heavier machines are typically stronger.
Capacity refers to the total amount of weight the product can support. Most machines can take at least 300 pounds so it would work for practically anyone within the average or even overweight category.
Four Types Of Rowing Machines (Air, Water, Magnetic, Hydraulic)
Row machines are typically categorized depending on the type of resistance they carry. Here are the different resistance types available today and their pros and cons:
• Hydraulic – currently the most popular in terms of adjustability, hydraulic types are often the smallest machines. This makes them perfect for apartment life. With hydraulics, the tension usually comes from the compressed cylinder which can be adjusted as necessary. The only problem here is that it compromises positioning, making it hard for the user to assume a natural rowing position.
• Magnetic – as the name suggests, this uses a magnetic system for tension. The best thing about this type is that it has a very smooth and noiseless operation, perfect for smaller homes.
• Air – this makes use of a flywheel and blades, which is why the type is often called the Flywheel Rower. Like magnets, it has a very smooth rowing motion with a near-silent operation. This resistance type is common in gyms.
• Water – as the name implies, the resistance is mainly derived from water which is a plus. This simulates an actual rowing experience in the water which is preferred by a lot of users.
Footprint refers to the amount of space the machine occupies when in use. It is usually better if you find a machine that can be folded and stored, but this is not always ideal for everyone. Try to figure out exactly where you intend to put the machine and check how much space you can spare for it. This should be the footprint size you use as your guide for buying the machine.
Seat height should be adjustable and capable of accommodating someone who is at most 6 feet tall. Of course, the seat accommodation depends largely on you – the buyer. Just pay close attention to how well the seat can be adjusted and more importantly – to the relative comfort of the seat. When checking the seat height, extend your search to rowers with an excellent foot rest that helps support your body. Bigger footrests are generally regarded as better because they give you sufficient room to adjust.
Of course, don’t forget to check out the rower reviews as provided by buyers. This should give you a pretty good idea on how the machine performed and how well it lasted. Take a good look at what others have to say and do not settle for models that have a rating of 3 and below. Opt for the ones with excellent reviews provided by a variety of people for accuracy purposes.
Prices may vary depending on the brand and quality of the machine. You can actually find ones sold for $300 while there are those that cost as much as $1,100. Consider the amount you are willing to spend and use this as a limit when making a search.
Monitor features refer to any additions that rowing machine might have to make it more productive when used. This includes heart rate monitors, fat burned monitor, preset workouts, languages, timer, and more. Although unnecessary, you will find that having them increases the quality of your workout.
Proper Rowing Technique
1. What are your fitness goals?
We know rowing machines are valued because they are able to work all the major muscle groups in one session. They allow us to build both endurance and muscular strength which is a combination not often seen with equipment since most offer one or the other. The other major plus is that indoor rowing is impact free, that means you get to spare your joints, hips, knees and ankles.
For the most part, fitness goals fall into one of these 4 major categories or a combination of them:
- strength or muscle building
- cardio or endurance
- weight loss or burning calories
These categories can dictate the type of rowing machine you choose. There are 4 types of rowing machines: Hydraulic, Magnetic, Air and Water, each with different pros and cons.
Hydraulic and magnetic rowers are built more for fitness, they can be set to higher resistances if you want to build strength and lower settings if you prefer sweating out the extra calories, building your stamina or getting washboard abs. They’re quiet, and provide consistent resistance based on the level you set them to. Their downside is, while they get you in shape, they don’t really help you get better at rowing in open water since they aren’t good at simulating that motion. That said they are cheaper and more affordable to most.
On the other hand, air and water row machines were developed to help rowers train when the lakes or rivers were frozen during the winters or the weather didn’t allow them to get on a boat. These allow users to use technique very similar to that on a rowboat. They aren’t limited to serious rowers though because of their quality. Air and water rowers are often the more expensive types of equipment and give a better overall workout experience, ability to track workout progress and let you train for fitness or sport. The one issue that some people may find is the resistance is dependent on how much work you put in. This leads some people to cheat and row at slow paces to make the exercise easier, but less effective.
2. Price and Warranty
With exercise equipment, cost is one of the most important factors because most of them are expensive. With rowers, the level of quality correlates directly with price. The better the build and performance, the more expensive. There is a balancing point however, which falls under the $400 to $700 range. This is where the top end hydraulic powered models (close to or slightly over $400), most of the magnetic rowers, and lower priced air and water rowing machines ($600 to $700) are.
Price often will dictate the quality of the build, the sturdiness of the frame, the durability of the mechanism and seat rollers and smoothness of the chain or strap. These are important since the sport of rowing is a highly repetitive action so poor quality components will quickly give way. This is why the length of the warranty is very important here also, more so than other other products.
3. Consider the space you need to use it
Space and the equipment’s size may or may not matter to you depending on where you plan to use and store it. This section is split into two subsections. Once is the actual physical size and weight of the rower and second how it will be stored considering its storage size and transportability.
When it comes to size, the cheaper, hydraulic row machines are king. They are compact and often among the lightest. This makes them easy to place anywhere since most of them are between 4 to 5 feet long and around 3 feet wide. And added bonus with these models is they often fold down and fit under furniture.
The mid to higher end models are often longer and thinner, usually at least 7 feet long and more and two feet wide. The reason being their mechanism is positioned at the front of the equipment, whereas hydraulic based rowers have them at the sides or underneath. Also, you’ll need to allocate some leeway on the left and right sides for elbow space with the non-hydraulic style models.
So depending on which type of space you have more room for at home, space and storage may be a factor in your decision making process.
4. Is it comfortable to use?
Comfort when it comes to rowing machines is paramount, which is why our reviews tell you whether or not the seat, handles, and footrests do a good job or not. If you’re not comfortable on the rower you’re not going to use it. This is essential since rowing requires that you repeat the same motion for a long period of time. If you’re uncomfortable after ten strokes you’re not going to be doing much work on the equipment.
For the most part, most workouts will last between 20 and 40 minutes, and to make it effective you’ll need to execute good rowing technique in rhythm to get the desired cardiovascular benefits and hit the right muscles rowing machines are designed to do. This will only happen if you feel good on the machine.
5. Control Panel Features
In general, if you’ve used treadmills and exercise bikes, you’ll quickly realize that the control panels and monitors on those machines are much more advanced compared to those on rowers, except for a few of the higher end ergometers. All however, provide you with the basic information like distance covered, time of current session, number of strokes, speed and calories burned.
Starting in the mid-range models, around $450 and above, you’ll start finding those that include workout programs, both pre-programmed and those you can custom make. Only a few have the ability to store your training statistics or transfer them online or to a computer.
Also if you want to be able to track calories expenditure more accurately you’ll need to choose at least a mid range rower that lets you enter gender, age and weight which helps produce for accurate computations of how much calories you burn.
6. How difficult is it to assemble?
Unlike some products that come fully assembled, rowing machines like many exercise equipment require some assembly. The good news is most of the items we’ve found in our rowing machine reviews don’t take much time or difficulty in putting together. Some are much easier to assemble than others. The easiest ones range from 15 to 20 minutes since most of the components are already together all you need is to screw or bolt some of the moving parts on. Instruction guides are among the most useful tools here, along with customer support if all else fails. The one that’s a bit more difficult because their instructions weren’t too clear and lacked text explanations were the rowing machines by Kettler. The actual machines and customer support however were excellent.
Time to Get Rowing
There use to be a time when only elite rowers were able to get on an ergometer because they were expensive and not accessible to anyone. That has all changed and rowing can be done at the comfort of your own room. And now that you are equipped with the best rowing machine reviews and how to go about choosing one, you can take the next step into getting as fit as possible.
Workout of the day
Rowing machines are popular and effective machines for practice, with origins in ancient Greece. Today, these machines are known as “Ergs”. They are imitating the real rowing process, and during the practice, you are using both lower- and upper-body muscles that are increasing your cardiovascular conditioning. Since the rowing machine gives you a full-body cardio activity, and because it is using all your muscles, there is almost no chance of muscle soreness. These exercises are adjusted for all ages, so in this article we will give you seven rowing exercises that can be your workout of the day. Before you begin your daily exercises, it is essential that you do a proper warm-up. You can do a series of your regular exercises, or you can work on a Pick drill machine.
The basic thing for the efficiency of your rowing exercises is stamina and proper form of exercising. With this gained you will not lose much energy during the exercises. This can be difficult if you are working for longer periods, and that’s why we are giving you an exercise that will help you with this problem. The distance is 1.000 meters, but strokes per minute are changing. You will need to do a warm up for about 10 minutes. Do it well because this can be a difficult exercise in the beginning. Set the level of your machine to medium. You will have to do 3 sessions of 1.000 meters, with the spm (stroke per minute) variations. Take breaks between the sets, and do some easy rowing for 4 minutes. First, start with 28 spm or the first session. In the second lower the spm to 24, and then raise it up again to 26 in the last session. This is a fine workout of the day, and you will surely lose calories in no time.
If you do not have time or a proper workout session, you can do some intensive exercises that will burn your calories fast. You will need around 35 minutes for this exercise, including the warm-up. Your spm should be between 26 and 32 during the whole session. Do the warm-up with 10 minutes o easy rowing. Start the first set with 30 seconds of fast rowing, than 30 seconds of rest, and repeat this or five times. After that, do a 2-minute air squat set. For the second set repeat five series of 30 seconds sprint – 30 seconds rest, and finish with 2 minutes of pushups. In the last set repeat again the five series and repeat the air squat set. This good exercise will sweat you in the short time notice, so you can feel your muscles pumping.
This workout of the day is a high-intensity interval exercise, which means that you will combine short periods of hard work with lighter ones, which will burn your calories fast. You will need only 20 minutes for the next exercise. Warm up for only 3 minutes, then begin with the sessions. These sessions are combined out of working part and recovery part, and each of them lasts the same. Start with 15 seconds of work, and then recover or 15 seconds. Repeat, and then raise the time up to 30-second interval. Repeat this one, too. The next interval should count 45 seconds, and this one do not repeat. However, repeat the next one for three times, and the time count should be 1 minute. After this, just go backwards and do 45-, 30- and 15-seconds intervals and that’s it. It is not so complicated exercise, but it will give you great results.
This exercise is similar to weight lifting, because it produces lactate, which will give you that burning feeling in your muscles. You can increase the power output and your endurance during these sessions. The exercise lasts for 40 minutes, and it will burn around 700 calories. Do some easy rowing or 10 minutes as a warm-up. The basic principle is to keep the constant time of the practice, but to vary the spm rate. Start with 26 spm in one minute, then rest for a minute. Raise spm up to 28 and do it for a minute, then rest again. Repeat both 26 spm and 28 spm parts, and add another 26 spm work on the end. After all of these recover for 2 minutes, and then repeat everything for three rounds. This might be a bit intense workout of the day, but the results will be remarkable.
Now, this is a simple exercise, and you can decide how much time you will need for it. It is also a full-body workout, and you can burn 250 calories in just 30 minutes. Your damper should be between 2 and 5. The warm-up session should be really easy and comfortable, and you should do it not more than 5 minutes. After that, row 500 meters using all your strength, and then rest for 2 minutes. During the rest, lower your spm drastically. Now, this is a whole practice, and you can repeat it as many times as you like, and you will surely have good results. Finish the session with another 5 minutes of slow rowing, and that’s it.
Let us now present some exercise that will definitely leave you exhausted but satisfied. Set a goal of 3 kilometers rowing, and then cut it into shorter 500-meter intervals. Do your regular warm-up, and set the flywheel somewhere from three to five, you chose. This exercise is similar to the previous one, but there are some major changes. Row the first distance of 500 meters, and then rest or 2 minutes. Row another 500 meters, but rest for 1:45. This is the main difference, since you are decreasing the recovery time for 15 seconds, while you tend to keep the 500-meter intervals the same.
The last rowing workout of the day we are mentioning here is created or Olympic athletes. Yes, there will be some hard working here, but after you tame this exercise, you can do anything. Do the warm-up for 10 minutes, and include a couple of two-minute sprints that will prepare you for the main part of this exercise. Rest no more than 4 minutes, and then begin with the main part. The first interval is a 1.000-meter sprint, and recovery of 3 minutes. The second one is 750-meter sprint, and recovery of 2:30 minutes. Lower the distance of 500 meters, and rest for 2 minutes. Lower it again to 250 meters, and rest for 2 minutes. The last interval is the trickiest one because you will have to sprint or 750 meters, so be sure that you save some energy.