How To Choose The Best Rowing Machine: The Ultimate Guide

Best Rowing MachineWith more and more people seeking ways to stay in shape, rowing machines are gaining popularity for their convenience. In addition to being a great and simple way to exercise, most machines can fit quite comfortably in your home. Rowing machines are best suited for people who are exercising to develop upper body strength and improve body toning. Unfortunately there is no perfect machine for everyone and all environments, you need to consider a number of factors such as versatility, size and price to select the best rowing machine.

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Which are my top 10?

Rowing Machine
Resistance Mechanism
Weight Capacity
Performance Monitor
User Rating
Value Added Service
Price ($)
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Magnetic500 PoundsEasy to Store, Separates in two piecesYesNo14”5 Star5 year Frame Warranty900
Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Air500 poundsEasy to Store, Separates in two piecesYes. Performance and Heart rateNo20”4 Star5 year Frame Warranty.1260
First Degree Fitness Commercial Pacific Challenge Fluid RowerWaterNot ProvidedStores UprightYesYes. Adjustable Resistance18”4 StarNot provided865
Stamina Avari Magnetic Exercise Rower
MagneticNot providedEasy to Store.Yes. Time, stroke count, speed, calories12 workout programs18”5 StarNot provided699
Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine
Hydraulic250 PoundsEasy to StoreYes. Time, stroke rate, speed, distance covered.Yes10”4 StarNot provided399
Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing machine
Magnetic600 PoundsEasy to StoreYes.16 levels of resistance. 15 preset programs19”4 Star5 Year Warranty on Parts1299
Stamina 1215 Orbital rowing machine with Free Motion Arms
HydraulicNot providedEasy to StoreYes. Speed, distance, time row count, calorieAdjustable Tension controls14”5 Star5 year frame, 90 parts warranty237
Stamina Air Rower
AirNot providedEasy to StoreYes. Speed distance, time, caloriesNo14”43 Year on Frame, 90 days on parts warranty265
WaterRower A1 Home Rowing Machine
WaterNot providedYes. Intensity, stroke rate and heart rateNo20”5 Star5 Year on Frame, 3 Year on components warranty895
Velocity Fitness Magnetic Rower
MagneticN/AEasy to StoreYes. Heart rate monitorNo16”4 StarNot provided474

Though price and warranty are good considerations you need to make sure your purchase gives good value for money. A beginner’s model though cheap may be quickly outgrown creating the need for a high performance model. Best practice suggests a good buy is a combination of both price and performance requirements.

The best rowing machines use four primary methods to create resistance; hydraulics, water, air and magnetic varieties. Each has specific advantages and is best suited for specific exercise programs and environments.

Hydraulic Machines – Shock Absorbers

These typically come equipped with shock absorbers such as those found in cars. This range of rowers is compact and typically smaller. The machines are considerably versatile as resistance can be adjusted. Their main disadvantage is the generally offer a lower range of motion in comparison to other machines. The hiss that comes with the compression shocks may also be unsuitable for some environments.

Air Resistance

These machines are equipped with an adjustable fan or wheel to simulate a rowing shell. The machines are considered versatile as the fan can be adjusted to suit both beginners and serious athletes. On the down side the fan is noisy and may not suit all environments.

Magnetic resistance

These machines are most favoured due to their silence. The machines are capable of providing a smooth and even resistance through the range of motion. However, these machines are often quite expensive.

Water Resistance

These machines use a water flywheel and provide the most authentic rowing experience. The machines compliment the user with the sound of water which may be may be soothing or in some cases distracting. These are also the most expensive machines.

Additional considerations for the best rowing machine

Range of Motion – This is a term that describes to which a joint or muscle group can safely be extended. Rowing as with most exercises is aimed at increasing this range and promotes flexibility. Be sure to select a machine that comfortably accommodates your range of motion.

Height – Depending on mobility considerations and condition of one’s knees a machine with a higher seat may be more comfortable and fun to use in the long run.

Storage – No one wants something too bulky or difficult to move around, especially if you have kids or old people in your home. Where possible, select machines that you can reassemble.

Weight Capacity – Most of the machines listed are designed to support people within a certain weight range. Exercising is great for losing weight but you need to be sure your machine can support your weight. A broken machine is likely to kill your spirit to exercise so ensure you stay positive.

Programming – Especially for a beginner, machines with designed programs may be better. These programs will give you a good workout and most are designed to suit a variety of needs. They will help build strength fast and provide the variety required to make exercising fun.

Durability – Though the machine selected in this list are all durable, frame materials and strength are a good way to identify a reliable machine. Aluminium is both light and strong, making it a good choice.

Service and Warranty – Depending on how much the machine will be used; products that provide buyers maintenance services are often a suitable choice.

User Reviews – Products with good reviews have been tested and should be considered reliable products.

With that in mind browse through the top ten rowing machines on Amazon and select what best suits your pocket and exercising needs.

*Note: The top ten compiled comprises the ten best buys on Amazon. The machines are not ranked in order and represent the best 2-3 machines from each category (Air, Water, Hydraulic and Magnetic).