There’s been a lot of buzz around rowers recently with the launch of the new machine by Peloton. But gyms have been putting people to work on rowers for a while now. The reason? It’s a full-body workout. According to the American Fitness Professionals Association, the rowing stroke consists of 65–75 percent leg work and 25–35 percent upper body work.
Interestingly, a study found that the time you work out impacts your results. For women, morning exercise reduces belly fat and blood pressure. And evening exercise increases upper body muscular strength, power and endurance, as well as improves mood and nutritional satiety. For men, working out at night lowers blood pressure, the risk of heart disease and feelings of fatigue. It also burns more fat, compared to morning exercise. Another study suggests that if you like coffee midday, you’ll benefit from an afternoon workout. Caffeine 30 minutes before exercising in the afternoon maximizes the body’s ability to burn fat during aerobic activities, such as rowing.
Additionally, because rowing is both an aerobic and resistance workout, you may also have a lower risk of cancer. Researchers in Brazil say resistance workouts lower a person’s risk of death from cancer by 14 percent, and adding aerobic exercise to the mix doubles that to 28 percent.
So, if you’re interested in rowing your way to a stronger, fitter body, read on. We’ve found the best rowers you can buy to support your full-body workouts. According to 15 experts, you’ll be happy with these five rowing machines. Prices start at around $100, so hopefully you’ll find the perfect fit for your budget and goals.
The List: Top 5 Rowers, According To Fitness Experts
1. Concept2 Model D
Insider raves that this is the best overall rowing machine out there, and here’s why: “The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine brings the gym to your home with its sturdy build, smooth gliding action, comfortable design, and superb quality.”
Live Science also has a glowing review: “This top-end model is beloved by rowers, thanks to its unbeatable performance and data-tracking prowess. It’s the model you’ll find used in most indoor rowing competitions and installed in gyms across the country. When we tested it out, we found it delivered a smooth, comfortable workout and we were happily surprised at how quiet it was, too. Keeping track of how much you’ve rowed (and being rewarded when you reach landmarks) is simple with the Concept2 logbook. All that data is synced, which means you can also enter competitions and pit yourself against other users over set distances.”
It’s a 5-star product for Prevention: “If you’ve ever used a rowing machine at the gym, chances are it’s from Concept2. Gym owners love it almost as much as online reviewers; an astounding 95% of Amazon customers give it a perfect five stars. ‘This machine rides like a Cadillac,’ one reviewer writes. ‘I can also watch TV at just over normal volume and hear everything.’ The Model D can also record your workout data, and thanks to its caster wheels, you can easily move it around your home.”
2. Hydrow Wave
Garage Gym Reviews calls the Hydrow Wave the best smart rowing machine you can get and reviews its features like this: “It’s just straight-up sexy. The price tag? Not so sexy, but at least the Hydrow Wave is less expensive than the original Hydrow! Anyway, the machine itself? Yowsa. And the guided workouts? Awesome. The Hydrow exceeds my expectations. Coaches who are on open water take you through workouts, which are displayed on a 16-inch HD touchscreen. There is a big library of options, and you can compete live with people around the world.”
Verywell Fit reports, “94% of 9,400+ Hydrow reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above. This complete package was designed for performance and comfort, making it an obvious choice for our top pick. The rower uses electromagnetic and computer-controlled resistance to mimic the feel of real water, giving you workouts that are both dynamic and challenging. The rower’s large touchscreen and built-in speakers promise a truly immersive experience during your ride. Its ergonomic seat offers plenty of cushioning for long workouts, and its industrial-grade glider keeps your strokes smooth and quiet.”
GQ thinks it’s the best rowing machine for most people, writing, “Founded by rowing champion and U.S. National Team coach Bruce Smith, the brand works with elite rowers around the world to screen live workouts every day from locations like Boston or all the way out in Bergen, Norway so you can fake a real rowing experience. It’s a heavy duty, commercial gym-worthy rowing machine … and a recurring monthly fee gets you constantly updating workouts.”
3. NordicTrack RW900
This is the best high-tech rowing machine for Forbes: “Rowing machines have become increasingly high-tech in the last few years, but NordicTrack’s RW900 might take the cake. With resistance delivered by magnets across a wide 26 levels, it’s among the most adjustable magnetic rowers. And not only can you stream classes on-demand with personal trainers, but your trainer can adjust your resistance automatically so you can focus on your technique (and getting your workout in). Once you’ve completed your row, you get access to workout stats on the 22-inch rotating Smart HD touchscreen and tips on what you can do to improve.”
“Want group fitness workouts in the comfort of your own home? This rowing machine from NordicTrack has you covered. The RW900 Smart Rower has a crisp, 22-inch touchscreen, which allows you to take classes on-demand and automatically adjusts your resistance level according to the trainers’ preferences. Professional class instructors will even challenge you to go beyond just cardio, with strength training and yoga classes, too. Given the long list of smart features and the NordicTrack brand name, it’s surprisingly well priced at around $1,300,” according to Men’s Health.
Esquire also recommends it for its versatility: “How can home workout equipment be versatile? A rowing machine with 26 resistance levels, performance trackers, live and on-demand workouts is how. With RW900, your magnetic resistance level will be programmed based on your training by a coach. On the other hand, you can still manually adjust the air resistance to pace yourself.”
4. Ergatta Rower
This machine costs about $2,500 and according to ZDNET, it’s worth it: “The Ergatta Rower offers a variety of workouts, so you’ll never get bored of rowing. Sessions are uniquely game-based, with an enormous library of workouts and new classes added each week. The Ergatta Rower auto-calibrates while you enjoy a full-body, low-impact workout, all controlled from a 17.3” digital touchscreen. With cherry wood construction, it boasts an unobtrusive, sleek design with built-in wheels for easy storage. Plus, it can accommodate users weighing up to 500 pounds.”
It’s rated as the best water rower by Treadmill Review Guru: “The low-impact water-resistance of this rower gives a nice whooshing sound as you row, making it quieter than typical air rowers. Water-resistance also makes for a realistic feel when you row. You can also do open rows and scenic rows where you will enjoy various water landscapes.”
The Home Gym is impressed by its form and its function: “This rowing machine comes with a solid cherry wood frame that looks fantastic, but also turns out to make for one hell of a durable rower. I know it’s hard to look past the gorgeous frame, but once you do you’ll likely notice the large, 17.3″ console mounted in the front. Yup, the Ergatta is another streaming rower. And unlike the instructor-led workouts most streaming machines use, the Ergatta uses their own, game-oriented workouts to make using this rower more fun than most.”
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Rower
SELF says this model from Sunny Health & Fitness is the best budget choice: “Can you get everything you need — but maybe not want — for less than $100? It’s possible with the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205. Jonathan Frey, chief marketing officer at Urban Bikes Direct says, ‘This model is compact and ultralightweight, making it an excellent fit for a small city apartment. The max user weight capacity is 220 pounds, so it isn’t for everyone. But if you’re a smaller person, this rower might be a perfect fit for you.’”
Style Craze is crazy about this rower: “Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine has 12 levels of resistance that let you customize your fitness routine. It is ergonomically designed with commercial-grade steel and is equipped with a smooth gliding seat, non-slip grip handles, and pivoting foot plates, making it the perfect choice for a home gym. The LCD screen displays the calories burned and time duration, which helps you track your progress during low-impact aerobic exercises. Thus, this home rower with hydraulic resistance provides an effective workout for all body types.”
Yahoo! says for the basics, this is a good choice: “Weighing only 20 pounds and costing a fraction of other rowers, Sunny Health & Fitness’ hydraulic machine is a great option for newbies. There’s a digital monitor, equipped with time, count, count total, calories burned and scan functions. And no worries if you’re in close quarters with others; this machine runs quiet. Want to follow a trainer-led rowing class? You’ll need to get a stand for your tablet or phone, since there’s nothing here to rest it on; but at this price, that’s a quibble.”
Have a rower at home? Let us know if you recommend rowing in the comments below. And if you’re still in the market for a rower, hopefully this list helps you narrow down your choices.
- Live Science
- Garage Gym Reviews
- Verywell Fit
- Men’s Health
- Treadmill Review Guru
- The Home Gym
- Style Craze
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
I think you forgot the RP3 and waterRower
I’ve had a Concept 2 Erg since 1985 and use it almost daily now. Minimal maintenance has been required over the years and it’s great as either a single exercise or as part of a general fitness program. I’m not doing the same times I did 30+ years ago, and don’t expect to at age 64, but I remain very fit (despite having suffered a stroke and many injuries) and it’s brought/kept my blood pressure at a healthy level without the need for medication. I backed off for a few years and feel much better, fitter/stronger, after getting back into it. Whichever machine anyone chooses is up to them, obviously, but rowing/Erging is just a great part of an exercise regimen. I’ve had some serious lumbar spine injuries, including fractures, and the Erg has helped me tremendously over the years.
You forgot the Aviron, which has all of the features of your top rowers rolled up into one machine.
I have a Concept 2 Model D and like it, but this review misses a major point. If you only use it in a gym, you’ll never notice, but at home it’s LOUD. I live in a single-family house, so I don’t care, but I’ve heard of people in apartments getting complaints from neighbors.