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After More Than 10 Years Of Rowing, We’ve Found The Best Rowing Machines In 2022

Concept2 RowErg row machine with Garage Gym Reviews watermark

We test and review fitness products based on an independent, multi-point methodology. If you use our links to purchase something, we may earn a commission. Read our disclosures.

Table of Contents

Rowing machines don’t seem to get the same hype as ellipticals and exercise bikes. But, certified personal trainers and other fitness experts are quick to recommend rowing as a form of low-impact cardio exercise for both endurance and speed training. If you’ve been thinking about adding a rower to your home gym arsenal, read on for an expert’s take on the best rowing machines.

8 Best Rowing Machines in 2022


Best Overall Rowing Machine:

Best Overall Rowing Machine
Concept2 RowErg
Concept2 RowErg

This air rower is the best value for the money for every type of exerciser.

Concept2 RowErg Specifications
Resistance Type Air
Monitor LCD display plus device holder
Programming 5 built-in workout options, Bluetooth-enabled
Weight Capacity 500 lbs
Product Weight 57 lbs (68 lbs with tall legs)
Dimensions 95” L x 24” W x 14” seat height (20” seat height with tall legs)
Warranty 5-year frame, 2-year parts

Pros:

  • Worldwide leaderboard and built-in workouts
  • Very little maintenance required
  • Easy to assemble and use

Cons:

  • Costs around $1,000
  • Air flywheels can be loud
  • Seat is rather firm

The Concept2 RowErg, also known as the Concept2 Model D Rower, is not only the best air rowing machine, but the best rowing machine overall. After more than a decade of rowing on various ergs, our team of product testers unanimously agrees time and time again that the Concept2 is an unbeatable value—we could let the customers using a Concept2 rower from the 1990s speak for us.

Equipped with a large fan flywheel, a damper with 10 settings, a nickel-plated chain pull cord, and a Bluetooth-enabled performance monitor, the Concept2 RowErg will last you more years than you might even want it to. While it doesn’t fold, it does disassemble easily into two parts or store vertically to save space when not in use.

Best Water Rowing Machine:

Best Water Rowing Machine
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with logo
WaterRower

For a beautiful and high-quality indoor rowing machine that matches your home decor, go with a WaterRower.

WaterRower Specifications
Resistance Type Water
Monitor LCD monitor
Programming WaterRower Connect app
Weight Capacity 700 lbs
Product Weight 117 lbs
Dimensions 83” L x 24” W x 21” H
Warranty 5-year frame; 3-year parts if registered

Pros:

  • 700-lb weight capacity
  • Frame constructed of handcrafted hardwood
  • Quiet and feels like rowing on real water

Cons:

  • Wood isn’t as durable as steel or aluminum frames
  • Not foldable; takes up a lot of space
  • Heavy, weighing 117 lbs

There are three main reasons someone might want a WaterRower: It actually mimics the feeling of rowing on real water in a real boat; there’s no need for a dedicated gym since the wooden frame looks so nice among furniture; and it’s just a dang good rowing machine. Solidly built of handcrafted hardwood, the WaterRower boasts a whopping 700-pound weight capacity and a low-maintenance water tank that just needs to be emptied and cleaned periodically.

We must note, however, that wood can dent or chip more easily than metal frames. As long as you don’t have any gnawing pups or accident-prone youngins around, though, it should remain in good shape forever. Also, the monitor is in a slightly awkward location, making it tough to view during workouts. Aside from that, there’s nothing not to love about the WaterRower.

Best Magnetic Rowing Machine:

Best Magnetic Rowing Machine
NordicTrack RW900
NordicTrack RW900

You’ll love this magnetic rower if you like instructor-led workouts and a high-tech experience.

NordicTrack RW900 Specifications
Resistance Type Magnetic
Monitor 22” touchscreen
Programming iFIT
Weight Capacity 250 lbs
Product Weight 163 lbs (in box)
Dimensions 82″ L x 22″ W x 54″ H
Warranty 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor

Pros:

  • Beautiful 22” HD touchscreen display
  • On-demand and live workouts via iFIT
  • 26 levels of resistance

Cons:

  • iFIT requires a monthly subscription
  • Product weighs more than 100 lbs
  • Weight capacity is only 250 lbs

With a swiveling, 22-inch high-contrast display; nearly 30 levels of magnetic resistance; intra-workout auto-adjustments from iFIT trainers; and a library of on-demand workouts and live fitness classes, the NordicTrack RW900 rower has everything you could possibly want in a smart rowing machine.

This is one of our favorite magnetic rowing machines thanks to its pivoting display, which allows you to do off-the-rower workouts with the same screen you use for rowing workouts (and as any good personal trainer will tell you, cross-training is key to long-term injury prevention and exercise adherence). Although we’re not impressed with the 250-pound weight capacity, the RW900 does seem solidly built and does not shake or tremble at all during use.

Best Smart Rowing Machine:

Best Smart Rowing Machine
Hydrow
Hydrow

The 22-inch touchscreen, exceptional build quality, and digital rowing experience on the Hydrow will give you Peloton vibes.

Hydrow Specifications
Resistance Type Magnetic
Monitor 22” HD touchscreen
Programming Live workouts and on-demand classes
Weight Capacity 375 lbs
Product Weight 145 lbs
Dimensions 86″ L x 25″ W x 47″ H
Warranty 5-year frame, 1-year parts, components, screen, labor

Pros:

  • Large digital monitor to stream rowing workouts
  • Sleek, modern design
  • Financing available

Cons:

  • No “just row” or “free” mode
  • Large frame with no easy storage options (must buy a kit)
  • Expensive, starting around $2,500

Hydrow was one of the first smart rowing machines on the market, and it remains one of the best. Between its beautiful modern design and boastful (in a good way) HD display, the Hydrow rower is as smart and sleek as they come. Its workout platform is known for scenic virtual rows that are actually shot on-location all around the world.

More than a machine, Hydrow is also a community. On the leaderboard during each workout, you’ll see other Hydrow fans rowing in real-time; and in the app, you can like, comment, and share workout stats and successes. Many people will find Hydrow to be out-of-budget at its around-$2,500 price point. But, people who value durability, longevity, and community will find the price tag worthwhile (and there are financing options available).

Best Interactive Rowing Machine:

Best Interactive Rowing Machine
Aviron Impact Series
Aviron Impact Series

Turn your full-body workouts into video games with Aviron’s gamified home workout platform that’s effective but fun.

Aviron Impact Series Specifications
Resistance Type Dual magnetic and air
Monitor 22” HD touchscreen
Programming Live workouts, competition mode, on-demand classes, video games
Weight Capacity 397 lbs
Product Weight 97 lbs
Dimensions 97” L x 21” W x 43” H
Warranty 10-year frame, 1-year parts

Pros:

  • Auto-adjustable resistance
  • Amazing performance monitor with in-depth metrics
  • Padded seat

Cons:

  • Quite large (but folds)
  • Expensive, starting at more than $2,000
  • Some complaints of buggy software

Do you often find yourself bored during cardio workouts, counting down the minutes until you’re done? If so, take a look at the Aviron Impact Series rowing machine, which utilizes Aviron’s proprietary gamified workout platform. It’s seriously like playing video games while you work out! But games aren’t all that’s offered on Aviron: You may also choose from instructor-guided workouts, virtual on-the-water rows, competition mode, free mode, and more.

Something else special about Aviron? Its extremely in-depth performance monitor. While you row, you’ll see tons of stats to analyze your performance during each workout (and to look back on to see your progress). And, while we love Aviron for its sturdy build and unique platform, we must say the $2,000+ price tag is hard to swallow.

Best Folding Rowing Machine:

Best Folding Rowing Machine
ProForm 750R
ProForm 750R

Home gym owners who want a foldable, smart rowing machine for less than $1,000 will love the ProForm 750R.

ProForm 750R Specifications
Resistance Type Magnetic
Monitor 5” LCD display plus device holder
Programming iFIT
Weight Capacity 250 lbs
Product Weight 116 lbs
Dimensions 86.5” L x 22” W x 45.5” H
Warranty 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor

Pros:

  • Costs less than $1,000
  • Folds up when not in use
  • Auto-adjustable resistance
  • Compatible with iFIT

Cons:

  • Handlebars have an odd angle that could be more ergonomic
  • iFIT requires a monthly subscription
  • Need personal device for streaming

Typically, smart rowing machines are pricey, beginning at prices in the low $2,000s. Not everyone can afford that, so our team of product testers was thrilled to try the ProForm 750R rowing machine, which sports the same features as more expensive machines for a fraction of the price. The only thing this rower lacks compared to others is the big HD touchscreen—and that’s exactly why it’s so inexpensive for a smart rower. You’ll just need to use your own phone or tablet to stream workouts on the 750R.

The ProForm 750R is also foldable, so while its slide rail allows you to reach full hip extension during use, it neatly folds into a rectangle to save space when you’re not crushing a row sesh. This rower is compatible with iFIT, a workout streaming app, which features trainer-led workouts and auto-adjustable resistance (meaning you don’t need to worry about adjusting anything during your workout).

Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces:

Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces
Lifespan RW1000 Indoor Rower
Lifespan RW1000 Indoor Rower

Anyone who needs compact fitness equipment will love this no-frills cardio machine that folds up into a neat little rectangle.

LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rower Specifications
Resistance Type Magnetic
Monitor LCD display
Programming None built-in
Weight Capacity 300 lbs
Product Weight 98 lbs
Dimensions 90” L x 18.5” W x 23” H (unfolded); 34″ L x 19″ W x 64″ (folded)
Warranty 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor

Pros:

  • Folds up to 34″ L x 19″ W x 64″
  • Has a full-length monorail
  • Free shipping

Cons:

  • No live classes or on-demand workouts
  • Only 5 resistance settings
  • Somewhat shaky ride

This rower is the bee's knees for people working with a small home gym space. It has a full-length slide rail (and an overall 90-inch length when in use), but it folds up to be just 34 inches long. When you’re not using this rower, you can use the front casters to move it and store it anywhere you have a few square feet of floor space and at least 5-and-a-half-foot ceilings.

One thing we don’t love about the LifeSpan RW1000 is that it only offers five resistance levels. This isn’t the best option for people who are advanced at rowing, but it’s more than suitable for beginners and even some intermediate rowers. The LCD console shows metrics like distance, time, calories, stroke count, and strokes per minute so you can track your progress over time.

Best Budget Rowing Machine:

Best Budget Rowing Machine
Sunny Health And Fitness SF-RW5801
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801

This rower is great for people looking to keep costs low as they outfit their home gym.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Rower Specifications
Resistance Type Magnetic
Monitor Small LCD display
Programming None built-in, but can use SunnyFit app
Weight Capacity 285 lbs
Product Weight 50 lbs
Dimensions 77” L x 23” W x 22.5” H
Warranty 3-year frame, 180-days parts

Pros:

  • Price point under $300
  • Weighs less than 50 lbs
  • Easy to fold and store

Cons:

  • Slide rail is short
  • No built-in workouts
  • Doesn’t provide many metrics

For cost-conscious home gym outfitters, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 magnetic rowing machine is a solid choice. Featuring pivoting footplates (a bonus for people with limited ankle dorsiflexion), 16 levels of resistance, a device holder, wide padded seat, and transport wheels, this small-but-mighty rower won’t put you out more than $300, unless you elect to purchase the optional expert assembly.

Unfortunately, although this model is available on Amazon, it’s not eligible for Prime free shipping. The shipping is still free—it’ll just take more than 48 hours to arrive. A happy wallet is usually worth the wait! Plus, you can use the SunnyFit app for free at-home workouts in the meantime.

 

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Rowing is arguably one of the best types of cardio exercise anyone can do. Here’s why:

  • Cardiovascular health: Like other forms of cardio exercise, rowing is proven to improve several markers of cardiovascular health.
  • Musculoskeletal health: You may be focused on the burn in your lungs, but during a rowing workout, your lower and upper body muscles are also working hard to continuously propel the flywheel.
  • Low-impact exercise: Rowing is a phenomenal form of exercise for people whose joints struggle to endure high-impact activities. Your whole body still gets a workout while avoiding excessive stress on the joints.
  • Mental health: Cardiovascular exercise has been shown to improve mental and emotional health.
  • Endurance: Rowing is an awesome choice for people who want to improve their cardio and muscular endurance either for rowing itself or in other activities.
 

How We Chose the Best Rowing Machines

Our roster of product testers includes Certified Personal Trainers, CrossFit-L1 coaches, functional training specialists, and all-around fitness enthusiasts. We’re gearheads and home gym owners ourselves. We’ve put hours of research, hands-on testing, and analysis into our guide to the best rowing machines, not to mention our years of experience rowing for our own fitness.

 

What to Look for in a Rowing Machine

The following factors will help you find the best rowing machine for your home gym and fitness style.

Construction, Materials, Durability

People who plan to row vigorously and frequently would be wise to choose a rowing machine with a great build quality, meaning more steel and aluminum and less plastic. Those who only plan to row at lower intensities or just a few days per week will enjoy many years of use out of even the most budget-friendly machines.

Resistance Type

When shopping for a rowing machine, you should know the basic differences between the four main types of this category of gym equipment.

  • Air resistance: Air rowing machines have a large flywheel that intakes and spins against air when the exerciser pulls on the cord, creating resistance. They often have dampers, which affect how much air is pulled into the flywheel.
  • Water resistance: Like air rowers, the name says it all here. Water rowers utilize water tanks and flywheel blades to create resistance.
  • Magnetic resistance: Most of the large, fancy, tech-enabled rowing machines on the market use magnetic resistance. These types of rowers are often compatible with heart rate monitors and fitness apps.
  • Hydraulic resistance: Maybe you’ve noticed we didn’t recommend any hydraulic rowers on this guide to the best rowing machine. While hydraulic rowing machines tend to be budget-friendly, they typically lack durability, customizations, adjustability, and tech features.

Monitor, Workout Programming, Tech Specs

Some people love instructor-led workouts while others prefer to row freely. If you’re the latter, you can save some money by purchasing a lower-cost machine without built-in workouts. If you’re the former, you can expect to spend more on a machine with a glossy HD touchscreen (like Aviron) versus one that requires your own smart device and simply offers a mount for it (like the ProForm 750R).

Dimensions and Portability

We beg you: Carefully measure your intended home gym space before handing your credit card info over to an online retailer. All of your excitement is sure to fizzle when you realize your shiny new rower doesn’t fit in your gym.

Some rowers, generally the more expensive ones, take up a lot of space, even when folded. There are plenty of smaller rowing machines available, though. Look for features like front-mounted transport wheels, folding monorails, and simple disassembly if you need to store your rower elsewhere when not in use.

FAQs

As always, “best” is subjective and based on an individual’s fitness goals, preferences, budget, space constraints, and more. However, our team of product testers has put in hours upon hours of research and hands-on testing to determine the best home rowing machines in different categories. Our top picks are:

Depending on your workout goals, exercising for anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes on a rowing machine is sufficient. If you like to get your heart rate soaring with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, sessions of 10 to 20 minutes are plenty. If you prefer lower-intensity, steady-state endurance workouts, 30 to 60 minutes is great, depending on your current fitness level.

All of the rowing machines we recommend would work for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. However, there are two routes a person can take if they’re looking for the best rowing machine for a beginner.

Many beginners prefer to dip their toes into the (figurative) water by choosing a budget-friendly machine, such as the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 rower. Other beginners want immersive, personal trainer-led workouts right off the bat and prefer to go with a smart rowing machine like Hydrow. You’ll pay much more for the latter, but the professional instruction is well worth the cost to many beginners.

Rowing machines engage your whole body, recruiting every muscle group including your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, back, arms, and core.