Best Rowing Machines for Your Home: A Buying Guide

Want to improve your upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness in the comfort of your home? A rower is one of the few machines that can allow you to perform an amazing workout. If you have enough space at home or garage, a rowing machine can be your ultimate workout partner as you work to get in shape. However, choosing the right one can be tough because there are numerous options available to choose from and a lot to consider.

To make your buying decision easy, we have put together a list of best rowing machines for your home gym so you can get the best among the rest. Let’s get started.

Features to Consider

Resistance

Checking resistance in a rowing machine is the most important thing to do as there are four types of resistance that have their own characteristics and specialties. Here are them:

1. Air Resistance

Rowing machines that work on the mechanism of air resistance get their resistance from a spinning fan flywheel. When a person pulls on the handle, it causes the flywheel to spin and create wind. The harder you pull the handle, the more the wind is created. The more wind means, the harder it will get for the rower to pull the handle, and he will feel more resistance. Thus, in an air resistance rowing machine, the level of resistance is directly proportional to how hard or fast you row by pulling the handle.

Due to its variable resistance type, it is very popular for doing HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) and CrossFit workouts. However, the only downside with air resistance rowers is that they make a bit of noise due to the flywheel when you pull the handle.

2. Water Resistance

As the name suggests, water resistance rowing machines use paddles suspended in a tank of water to create resistance as the rower pulls the handle. The created resistance feels similar to rowing in a boat. The harder/faster you pull the handle, the faster the paddle inside the water container spins, making it more difficult for you to pull the handle due to increased intensity.

The functionality of an air resistance rower and water resistance rower is the same; the only difference being water used instead of air to create resistance. Also, you can adjust the water in the tank to variate your rowing experience. The more water the tank has, the heavier the rowing will feel (just like you are rowing with passengers in a boat). The less water, the lighter the rowing will feel (just like you are rowing in a boat all by yourself).

However, water resistance rowing machines also make a bit of noise, but users consider the sound of water to be relaxing and soothing.

3. Magnetic Resistance

Rowers that work on this mechanism uses a magnetic brake system to create resistance. It also has a flywheel that spins to create resistance – you can adjust the magnet to be closer or farther away in order to create more or less resistance. Magnetic rowing machines produce no friction and are noiseless – a great option to consider if you don’t want to disturb others in your home during your workout.

However, you won’t get a smooth or realistic rowing experience with magnetic resistance as you would get from an air resistance or water resistance rowing machine. Plus, the resistance is also weaker in magnetic rowers.

4. Hydraulic Piston Resistance

Yes, you guessed it right! This type of rowing machine gets its resistance from hydraulic pistons. Most rowers have two pistons (one is attached to the arm of the handlebar) while others have one piston. You can turn a knob on the piston to adjust the resistance. A two-piston rowing machine is the only type that allows you to train each arm independently, which is a great thing for rehab and correcting muscle imbalances.

They are noiseless, compact, and dominate the low-budget market. However, the disadvantage with hydraulic piston rowers is they are not good for tall and heavy users due to their build quality being a bit lower than other types. Plus, if you want to use your rowing machine a lot, we don’t recommend this one because the pistons can get hot while working out for long periods, causing them to overheat and sometimes leak oil.

Price

Considering the price is important to narrow down your options so you can choose the best rower according to your budget. If you only have like $300 to spend, the number of options will decrease dramatically. But one thing to remember is the saying “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here when you are buying a rowing machine for your home.

Functionalities

If you want to track your rowing data or concerned with data accuracy, then you need to invest in a higher-end rowing machine model, but if you need to work out without tracking any stats or digging deep into the functionalities, then a budget rowing machine would be a great option to go for.

Build Quality

If you weigh over 250 pounds, then build quality is a very important factor to consider because most budget rowing machines cannot support heavier weights, decreasing your options dramatically. The more costly the rowing machine is, the better the build quality it has. However, don’t worry, we have also mentioned a few “diamonds in the rough” rowing machines in our article.

Comfort

If you easily get a sore butt or blisters on your hand or, then you should pay attention to the comfort of the rowing machine you are going to buy. Make sure the seat is padded, footrests have no issues, and the handle has a comfortable grip.

Dimensions

You must have enough space in your home; this is why you are going to buy a rowing machine. Checking dimensions before opting for a rowing machine is an overlooked factor, but people who live in small apartments or need to exercise in their room should pay attention to the dimensions of the machine as well.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

  • Low impact exercises
  • Upper body workout
  • Lower body workout
  • Effective cardio workout
  • Weight loss
  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • HIIT

Here is the list of best rowing machines for your home:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower
WaterRower Rowing Machine
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine (SF-RW5639)
Stamina ATS Air Rower
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

  • Type: Air Resistance
  • Weight: 57 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 96 x 24 x 14 inches

Starting with the best indoor rowing machine ever made, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is fully equipped with a performance monitor that tracks your stats and is loaded with preset workouts so you can easily train your muscles with convenience. If you want to save your entire rowing data, you can transfer it to your personal computer via USB to track your fitness goals. Also, it features Bluetooth compatibility for heart-rate monitoring.

If we talk about comfort, then its seat is ergonomically made from firm rubber that most users find incredibly comfortable. Also, the footrests and handle offer a smooth grip – say no to blisters! If you are a tall or heavier person, this machine is perfect for you as it is made to bear up to 500 pounds, while most other rowing machines max out at a 300-pound weight capacity.

This machine will take up a space of 4 x 9 feet, but can also be separated into two pieces for easy storage. Plus, it has wheels for portability.

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower

  • Type: Magnetic Resistance
  • Weight: 102 pounds

This one is a two-in-one machine from Stamina that is an excellent choice for those who like to change their workouts or want to do full-body workouts in the comfort of their home. You can’t just row or bike with this, but also perform upper body exercises, such as bicep curls and tricep kickbacks by retracting its top handle. The machine is also equipped with a resistance cord that can be attached under the seat so that you can perform leg presses. For more convenience and tracking your stats, the machine has an LCD that can display calories burned, distance covered, and more.

Like other indoor rowing machines, Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower can also fold up for storage purposes. Many users love the noiseless movements while working out and how easy it is to set up this machine. However, it is not suited for everyone as its maximum weight capacity is only 250 pounds.

WaterRower Rowing Machine

  • Type: Water Resistance
  • Weight: 117 pounds
  • Dimensions: 84 x 21 x 22 inches (W x H x D)

Fashioned from classy solid ash and stained honey oak, this rowing machine by WaterRower is definitely a piece of art. Its design is inspired by the glorious vessels found spearing down the Thames River during the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race. This rowing machine features a smooth, moist flywheel that is designed to mimic the feeling of gliding across the watery surface.

The best thing about it is instead of hearing the annoying humming of a fan and clanking of a chain; you will listen to the soothing sound of rushing water with every stroke. Plus, its resistance type is extremely comfortable and smooth, adapting to your input – the more you pull harder, the more the resistance increases.

The package also includes a mini S4 performance monitor that displays distance, stroke rate, distance covered, and workout duration, without needing to be plugged into anything. The only downside (not for everyone) with this water resistance rower is that it is not foldable and does not feature wheels for portability. It is designed to be stored vertically when not in use.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

  • Type: Hydraulic Piston Resistance
  • Weight: 250 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 58 x 43 x 18 inches

If you have a tight budget and want to get a rowing machine that allows you to perform effective workouts without any problem, then Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing machine is a great choice to opt for. It features a compact design that is made to fit tight or limited spaces. The steel frame offers quite an excellent construction that won’t let you down in the long term. For more portability, it has aluminum center beams that make it light enough to move around, store and fold up.

Although the machine looks quite small compared to others on the list, don’t let its appearance dissuade you – it is made to provide a solid workout. The resistance it offers is created by hydraulic pistons, which can be adjusted via a manual control knob to increase or decrease the resistance. Also, the rower comes with a performance monitor that allows you to track your fitness journey.

Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine (SF-RW5639)

  • Type: Hydraulic Piston Resistance
  • Weight: 33 pounds
  • Dimensions: 54L x 29W x 12H inches

This machine by Sunny Health and Fitness is not only affordable but also has everything a beginner or a person on a budget could need. This rowing machine allows you to use your arms in a full range of motion so you can get the maximum out of your workout. Also, you can change the resistance with a turn of a knob. The maximum weight capacity it can support is 350 pounds, which is quite decent for the price it comes at.

It features an LCD that can display the stroke count, time, and calories you burned. If you are concerned about the comfort level, then with this machine, you won’t find yourself in discomfort for even a minute because of its fully padded seat and non-grip handlebars that provide optimal comfort and reliable support. Although it is not the sturdiest machine on our list, it can still provide great performance and all the advantages of a budget rowing machine.

Stamina ATS Air Rower 

  • Type: Air/Wind Resistance
  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Dimensions: 77 x 19 x 22 inches

This one is an air resistance rowing machine by Stamina that offers great value for money. The assembled size of this machine is 77in long, 18in wide, and 22in tall – it is convenient enough to move, store, and fold. As it is an air resistance rower, you have to increase the speed of your rowing stroke to increase the intensity. This rowing machine can help you burn more calories, build body strength, and improve your heart health.

You also get an easy-to-read LCD performance monitor in the package that helps you track speed, time, distance, calories burned. For more convenience and portability, the machine is equipped with wheels.

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

  • Type: Magnetic Resistance
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Dimensions: 25″ H x 20″ W x 80″ L

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower features a Drum Magnetic Control system along with electronic tension control, allowing you to adjust the resistance level easily so you can increase or decrease the intensity of your workout. The monitor that comes with the machine displays all the essential information, including rowing time, strokes per minute, heart rate, and calories burned. Plus, it has 12 more programs that include six preset workouts and one manual program.

Additionally, it is easy to assemble the machine with the help of the manual provided. If you need a quiet-operating machine that enables you to row smoothly, then this one by Velocity Exercise is a great option to consider. For more comfort, the machine is equipped with an ergonomically designed seat and non-slip foot pads that maintain your correct posture while you work out.

On top of everything, the frame of this rowing machine is backed by a 5-year warranty, a 90-day warranty on performance monitor, and 30 days on all other parts.

Bottom Line

There is a wide variety of rowing machines available on the market, and they are fantastic for improving body strength and getting fit and stronger. But before you go ahead and buy a rowing machine that seems best for your home, there are many features that need to be kept in mind to make sure you only opt for the right one according to your requirements and needs – for this purpose, read through our detailed guide and the rowing machine options mentioned above. Happy Shopping!