Top 5 Best Rowing Machine Reviews for 2016
When “it’s finally time” to get back into shape, people often purchase one of the most commonly-seen home accessories in America: the treadmill which then eventually sits in the guest room or basement, with clothes draped all over it.
The reason is easy to understand; walking or running on a treadmill is not only boring, but it doesn’t do much for your arms or core. The best rowing machines for home use, on the other hand, give you a full body workout. Rowing benefits your entire body, boosting your cardiovascular health and stamina like a treadmill, but also toning almost every one of your muscles and building your strength. Simply put, rowing is one of the most efficient means of exercise you can choose, and you can do it without going to the gym, and it will help you lose weight while building a better body.
There are different types of rowing machines on the market. Each provides a different type of resistance to power your workout, and each has strengths and weaknesses:
- Magnetic rowers are usually the cheapest and a bit less effective than other types, but a good choice for starting out.
- Hydraulic-resistant rowers are good for small areas and a good compromise between effectiveness and price.
- Air-resistant rowers cost more, but give you more control over your training. Unfortunately, they’re usually pretty noisy.
- Water-resistant rowers are the newest craze. They’re expensive, but best simulate the rowing experience and provide the most benefit because the paddles are actually in a water tank.
GroomNStyle have checked out all of them, and compiled this list of the top 5 best rowing machines for home workouts.
If you are just starting your investigation you might want to read our Rowing Maching Buying Guide.
1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5
Anyone familiar with fitness equipment would have heard of Concept 2, because it’s well-known for reliability and outstanding workmanship. This Concept2 rower is used by most professional rowers and is in many professional gyms, but it is also the perfect choice for home workouts. It’s an air-resistant model but with a nice addition: a flywheel which is designed to cut down on the amount of noise air-resistant rowers usually generate. There’s also nickel-plating on most of the areas which experience heavy friction, cutting down on maintenance requirements.
You can select how arduous you want your full body workout to be with the Concept2 rower. But once you’re comfortable with the machine and ready to go full out, it’s possible to create as much resistance as you’d feel when rowing a real boat – pushing your arms, abdomen, thighs and legs to the max. It’ll even help with your posture.
There are a ton of great features on the Concept2 Model D. The best is the included Performance Monitor 5, which lets you keep track of everything from distance and speed to calories burned and pace, and then store all of the data to your computer or device. It will also connect to accessories like heart rate monitors via Bluetooth or ANT+, and even will connect machine-to-machine for competitive racing. Add in one of the best rubber grips you’ll find on any rower, and you’ve got the full package. It’s a bit pricey, but this is easily the best rowing machine for home use on the market.
The specifications for the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine With PM5:
- Dimensions: 96 x 24 x 14 inches
- Maximum User Weight: 500 pounds
- Weight: 57 pounds
- Resistance: Air
- Warranty: Five years limited on frame, two years on moving parts and monitor
2. WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor
When you can afford to move up another step in price to get the added benefits of a water-resistant rower, the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine is unquestionably what you are looking for. Of course, you can dial things down for an easy row, but you can also add more water to the tank (where a flywheel powers the machine) to get the intense workout experience which would normally only come from actually rowing a boat full of passengers at high speed.
The WaterRower Club is a commercial-grade machine making it solid and impressive, from the polycarbonate tank to the hand-crafted and sealed solid ash body. Don’t be fooled by the wood construction, because it is strong, sturdy and a surprisingly great choice. Extra touches like an ergonomically-designed, comfortable seat and soft handle make the machine a joy to use. Most importantly, the rowing motion is completely fluid no matter what speed you row at, how much water is in the tank, or how large (or small) you are.
The S4 monitor which comes with this unit can track speed, power, calories, strokes, time, distance, and check your performance against a designated target zone. You need to add an extra accessory to monitor heart rate, though, as with most of these units. All data can be exported for use in tracking software. It’s not the most advanced monitor you’ll see, but it does everything most home users would ever need.
Finally, this machine is QUIET. Combined with the fluidity of the WaterRower Club, you’d almost think you were really out on the water. All you need is some birds to chirp in the background – and more than $1000 left on your credit card – and you’ll have the ultimate rowing experience.
The specifications for the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood With S4 Monitor:
- Dimensions: 84 x 21 x 22 inches
- Maximum User Weight: 1000 pounds
- Weight: 117 pounds (with full tank)
- Resistance: Water
- Warranty: Five years on frame, three years on components
3. LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine
As we’ve mentioned, you can spend a lot less on a rower if you opt for one with magnetic resistance, and the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 is the best of those rowing machines for home use. The manufacturer bills the RW1000 as a commercial-grade machine; while the GroomNStyle review team think it might be more suitable for a house than a gym, there’s no question that it’s as well-built as you’d expect from a LifeSpan Fitness product. It has also won awards for its performance.
The rower has a solid steel frame with nicely padded handle and foam seat, and uses a patented magnetic drive system to ensure that the rowing motion is fluid and quiet without feeling any slack in the belt when you’re between strokes. There are five resistance adjustments you can select with a conveniently-placed knob, in order to control the intensity of your workout. The experience isn’t quite the same as with our top-rated models, but you’re paying a whole lot less to come pretty close.
The built-in LCD monitor isn’t as extensive as GroomNStyle would like, but it’s more than enough for most novice or intermediate rowers with time, distance, calories, strokes and strokes-per-minute all displayed as you row. The RW1000 folds up easily for storage, but you’ll probably want to leave it set up, since it’s an easy-to-use machine for an effective low-impact workout, at less than half the price of our top-ranked rowers.
Checking the details of the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine:
- Dimensions: 87 x 19 x 23 inches
- Maximum User Weight: 300 pounds
- Weight: 56 pounds
- Resistance: Magnetic
- Warranty: Three years
4. Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms
The one complaint you often hear about rowing machines is that the single handle creates an experience that “doesn’t really feel like rowing.” The Stamina 1215 takes care of that issue by providing two separate rowing arms, which can be adjusted for different resistance if you prefer to work one side of your body more than the other. There are some other cool features on this rower as well including foot plates that pivot and make it easier to get your feet set just right, and a padded frame which gives extra support to the lower body.
The hydraulic-resistance system is very quiet in action, with five different resistance settings available to vary the impact of your workouts even while you’re rowing; the fluidity of motion is improved by a unique ball-bearing system. There is a wide-screen display monitor which isn’t extensive but does the job, showing things like distance, time, strokes and calories.
Perhaps best of all, the Stamina 1215 is compact and very reasonably-priced, in part because of its aluminum frame but also because of its hydraulic system. You’ll get almost as effective a workout as you would with a comparable water or air machine (without the noise of an air-resistance unit) for just a couple of hundred dollars. If you’re just starting out, this is a rowing machine that gives you a lot of bang for the buck.
Key specs for the Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine With Free Motion Arms:
- Dimensions: 48 x 32 x 28 inches
- Maximum User Weight: 250 pounds
- Weight: 52 pounds
- Resistance: Hydraulic
- Warranty: Five years on frame, 90 days on parts
5. Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine
It’s usually true that “you get what you pay for,” but with this Sunny machine you get a lot more than you pay for. This is a budget-priced hydraulic-resistance machine, designed primarily for those just trying rowing for the first time, but it gives the user a surprisingly effective workout. The thick padding will be appreciated for those whose bodies aren’t accustomed to more demanding low-impact sessions, as will the fact that the Sunny unit comes almost fully-assembled.
This is a relatively small rowing machine only capable of holding users who weigh 220 pounds or less, but that also means it has a small footprint and is easy to move around. There are 12 different resistance settings available on the Sunny Rowing Machine, allowing you to slowly progress toward more difficult workouts. It has a very basic monitor, which isn’t a major drawback when you’re still deciding whether you want to spring for a more expensive and full-featured rower.
You can pick this rowing machine up for less than a hundred bucks, and you’ll have gotten your money worth after just rowing a few times around the room. It’s a great buy for newbies.
Details of the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine:
- Dimensions: 53 x 20 x 21 inches
- Maximum User Weight: 220 pounds
- Weight: 23 pounds
- Resistance: Hydraulic
- Warranty: One year on frame, 90 days on parts
If you are not fully convinced by the idea of a rower, but still want to get fit, why not investigate elliptical machines? Elliptical machines also provide a low impact form of exercise which works the core and upper body – luckily the team at GroomNStyle has prepared a list of the top 5 best elliptical machines for your convenience.