10 Best Rowing Machine Reviews by Fitness Experts [2024]

Hayden Saunders

* Project Fit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking Project Fit to Amazon properties.

The rowing machines used at your gym aren’t always best-suited for home use, that’s why it’s always recommended to take expert advice before buying one. That’s why we decided to get in touch with fitness experts across the UK and asked them opinions about things to consider when buying one and after interacting with 73 fitness freaks and conducting various polls and testing over 30 different machines, we’ve ranked & reviewed the 9 top-rated models.

But, before we start talking about any specific rowing machine model, let us tell you one thing – Just like there are products that cater to multiple needs of multiple users, rowing machines are available in different kinds to suit different users in the best possible way.

There are plenty of rowing machine models available in the market and there is nothing like the one-size-fits-all rower. As 2024, there are 30+ various rowing machines (from Hydraulic to Magnetic/Flywheel) available in the market. With this wide range of rowing machines available in the market, it becomes difficult to choose the right rowing machine for you – as every rowing machine has some or the other advanced and innovative features you’ve never heard of!

That’s the reason why we’ve decided to dig into these rowing machines and tested every other rowing machine out there for more than months. To be honest, most of the models sucked, but we got impressed with few of the rowing machine models. Based upon our results, here is the curated list of the best rowing machines that we have tested.

Best Rowing Machine Reviews 2024 – Top Recommendations

Here are our quick recommendations for the best rowing machines for beginners and experts. These results are curated after various tests on these rowing machines by our experts and the results are determined by various factors such as price, computing features, performance.

We have done an extensive research on 100+ indoor rowing machine models available in the market and here are our top recommended rowing machines for you.

Project Fit is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking Project Fit to Amazon properties.

Introduction to Rowing Machines

  • Full Body Workout – If you have been looking for equipment that will help you with the complete workout, your search is over on the rowing machine. The rowing machine involves workout of all lower and upper body muscles that help in strengthening and toning of muscles. The machine can give you the perfect sculpted muscles with the complete body training.
  • Low Impact – The machine is known for its low impact and non-weight bearing feature and doesn’t stress you. The chances of injury, muscle tear; joint pain etc is very less. The low impact feature of rowing machine makes it ideal for use by senior citizens, injured athletes and for people recovering from surgery or injury. Running for long time impacts you knee but this can be altered by using the low impact rowing machine.
  • Work at home – Most of us make promises to hit the gym or join a yoga class or aerobic session but lack of time stands as the nebulous devil. The rowing machine can compensate for all as it offers total body workout and it can be done in the comfort of home without compromising on time. The machine offers efficient workout session and values your time.
  • Lose weight and burn calories – The rowing machine is a great aerobic workout and the intensity can be customised as per your requirement. It strengthens every muscle in your body and is known to aid rapid weight loss. It is a calorie burning machine and on using it intensely you can expect to burn around 600 to 1000+ calories per hour which is equivalent or more as compared to other gym equipment. It tones and tightens up your body and makes you tip-top summer ready.
  • Enhance Metabolism and Cardiovascular – Rowing machine is known to enhance the rate of metabolism by increasing the flow of oxygen around the body. It also helps in improving cardiovascular system by enhancing heart functions, increased carbohydrate utilization and improve blood circulation system for the heart.
  • Easy workout session – It is for sure that the machine aids in weight loss, toning and burning of calorie but along with that, it can also reduce the level of stress. According to some reports, it was found the rowing stimulates centers in your brain that trigger the release of endorphins. Relax and workout while listening to music or watching TV.

Who Should Buy a Rowing Machine?

1. People Looking To Lose Weight

Rowing machines are ideal for those who want a healthy and strong workout session to lose weight. It can help you burn your calories at a good rate. At any given point, you can lose as much as 377 calories in just 30 minutes of continuous training session with a rowing machine. This number is specific to individuals who weigh between 180-185 pounds, and push themselves to perform a high intensity workout.

2. People Looking To Reduce Stress

Rowing machines are used mostly for cardiovascular workouts. At least a 30-60 minutes workout session with it helps to increase the number of endorphins present in your blood. This further helps you to reduce stress and prevent the chances of you getting depressed. Your energy levels will be pumped up and with regular exercising, you will also reduce chances of heart risks.

3. People Concerned With The Health Of Their Heart

If you take to aerobic exercises with a rowing machine daily it will strengthen your heart. Not just that, it will also improve the health condition of your lungs as well. This could be quite effective for those who have recently quit smoking and is looking for a healthy lifestyle. You will lower the risk of most coronary artery diseases as it will help you maintain your heart rate. You need to maintain a low level tension on the machine, while engaging in high speed and low resistance level.

4. People Looking For A Low Impact And Without Weight Bearing Workout

Rowing machine can be used by anybody and everybody and what makes it worth the money is the fact that it has low impact and you can perform the exercise of rowing while you are seated. This makes it ideal for those who are looking for non-weight bearing exercises, or those who have weak knees, ankles and joints, or even those who have lately recovered from some surgery or injury. If you involve in high-impact exercises on a daily basis, there might be chances of you developing pain in your joints. This is one reason why a lot of people opt for rowing machines in their exercise routine.

Is The Rowing Machine A Good Option For Elders?

Indoor rowing exercises are not just suitable for young fitness enthusiasts but also old people who are looking for an easy and effective way to lose weight and gain muscle strength. There are scientific studies that have proved the credibility of the rowing machine stating how the equipment is ideal for building physical stamina, bone growth and improving bone mineral density.

The indoor rowing machines are suitable for all ages, it doesn’t matter if you are in your 40s or your 60s, the exercise regime supports all. Indoor rowing is also a suitable exercise for people who are recovering from an injury, of course with professional supervision and guidance. People who want low-impact rowing action can opt for a water-based machine as it offers a wider range of resistance and is easier to use.

If you are a beginner, then it would be best to start slow and slowly increase your exercise routine and rowing time. We’d advise elders to consult with their doctors first before they try out this equipment.

Which Muscles Do Rowing Machines Target?

1. Leg Muscles

When you push rowing strokes with the machine, you powerfully tend to push your legs, something that is called “catch in the rowing”. This directly affects muscles within your knees and hips, and you tend to make use of the largest muscles in your body, which includes hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteus muscles. Hamstrings is located on the front side of your thighs, quadriceps is located on the back of your thighs while gluteus muscles is located on the back of your hips.

2. Midsection Muscles

The force you push through your back and arms must reach the handle of the rower. When you do that, the main muscles in your midsection tend to contract thereby stabilizing your lower spine and preventing your lower back from any kind of injury and collapse. The core of your lower back includes your rectus abdominis, obliques, erector spine and transverse abdominis. When you lean slightly backward while pulling on the rowing machine, your erector spinae is continuously helping you extend your lower back.

3. Arm Muscles

When you complete a rowing stroke, it is actually your biceps on the upper arm that bends the elbows and push your arms to pull the rower handle. Here after, your chest muscles along with your triceps help you to get ready for pushing another rowing stroke. It enhances the flexibility of your arm muscles with the repeated stretching and contracting movements. The rowing machine, hence, provides an all-round holistic workout, strengthening the arm muscles as you pull and push the handle with each stroke.

4. Upper Back Muscles

Pulling the rover towards your body not only stretches your biceps but also strains your back muscles to contract. Everytime you draw the handle of the rower, you are involving many of your muscles within your upper back and shoulders. This happens as you pull with your arms and shoulders. The muscles within your shoulder which is called rhomboids tend to pull your shoulders back when you complete a rowing stroke. Pushing the rover back relaxes the upper back and puts the pressure instead on the arms thereby affecting all the muscles in the upper half of the body.

5. Hip Muscles

The rowing machine doesn’t just affect the upper body but also exercises the lower half even though you are seated. This is because every time you complete a rowing stroke, you tend to slightly move forward. This happens because of the movement inside your arms and also partly because your hip muscles and hamstrings tend to contract. Your hip muscles work simultaneously with your rectus femoris which is located on the front side of your hips. The contraction in this area prepares you to push forward and get ready for the next rowing stroke.

How Long Should One Row A Rowing Machine?

There is no fixed exercise routine that would suit everybody. Set your fitness goals and then determine the nature and duration of your regime accordingly. Users who are using a rowing machine for the first time can consult a physical trainer for guidance. So, the first question you need to ask yourself is- why am I exercising? To lose weight? For toning the body? For cardio? Once you have identified your goals, the rest of the process becomes relatively easier. If your goal is to lose weight then you have to set a target weight you want to achieve and strive towards it. A healthy diet combined by a 10-30 min rowing program would work. Those wanting a cardio workout can workout 45-90 mins.

Types of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines mimic the technique of rowing on water and this is useful for complete body workout that focuses on strengthening the core, toning all muscles, improves cardiovascular system and is easy to master. It has a sliding seat along with oar-like fixtures and you have to paddle them using the hands and legs. There are different types of rowing machines depending on your requirement.

  • Air Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Water Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
  • Piston Resistance Rowing Machines

All the machines are similar that is all use the sliding seats and oar mechanism that mimics the normal rowing activity but the only difference is the type of resistance they offer. For intense and best workout session, magnetic resistance machines are found out to be the best.

5 Rowing Machine Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

Although it is not a Herculean task to master the use of a rowing machine there are some mistakes that need to be avoided while using the machine for your workout session. It is important to prevent such mistakes so that you can maximum result without discomfort. Here are few mistakes that definitely need to be avoided.

  • Settings for Dampers – Damper is the little level which is present to the side of air resistant flywheels and it is important to adjust the same before starting with your workout session. It is very important for beginners to check the adjustment as high settings offer more resistance making it difficult to work out. In order to keep the workout session more effective gradually increase it and for newcomers the settings of 3 to 5 should be fine.
  • Follow the Order – The rowing machine gives you result only when you work at certain pace. Don’t make things difficult for you by trying to synchronize hand and leg movement simultaneously as it will drain more energy and give fewer results. Try to learn the process of rowing gradually starting from pushing your legs, pivot back with hips where shoulders will pass your pelvis and followed by pulling your arms to the chest.
  • No Hunching Back – This is a strict rule to be followed where you are not supposed to hunch back at any point of time but keep your back straight. Hunching may lead to discomfort and affect your body while working out. Sit straight on the seat, tighten the belly or core muscles, and relax the shoulders and workout on the rowing movement.
  • Arm Movement – The rowing machine is not only about using your arm to complete the workout session but also equivalently use your legs. Don’t stress your arms too much by putting a pressure on it but the focus should be on spending 60% power through leg push, 20% through cores and rest 20% using your arms.
  • No Jerky Motion and Stop Rushing – Try to master the rowing machine gradually and ensure that you don’t rush into the process. Mastering to control your body while sliding forward and back again is difficult but don’t rush into it. The first half involves the drive where you legs push and arms pull and second half is resuming the calm position. Don’t run the session as if you push your legs too quickly, your butt might shoot ahead and create a jerking motion. The jerking may cause injury and in order to avoid this, you need to keep a firm and controlled posture.

Top 5 Rowing Machine Brands Compared

1. Concept 2 Rower

The Concept 2 Rower is one of the most popular and best selling rowing machine brand in the market. They come in two types of models: Model D and Model E. While the Model D is reasonably priced, the experience you get is the same as rowing a boathouse. It is a sturdy looking rowing machine that is made with steel and aluminum and comes with ample leg room. Overall it weighs a total of 57 pounds. The Model E comes with a monitor that is fully functional and gives you all the vital information of your workout routine. It can also be used by those who suffer from some kind of lower back pain or those with some kind of lower back disability.

Concept 2 Rowers are great for total body workout using air resistance. You can easily fold them and store them in any space. Mostly designed for home use, these rowers provide you with full range motion that is the same as rowing on water. The experience can be both challenging as well as fun. Your largest muscles in the your body are continuously working as the contract and release while rowing.

2. Kettler Rower

Kettler is a famous German brand that was founded in the year 1949. There are four models that comes with this brand: Coach E, Coach M, Kadett, Favorit. Coach E is the top rowing machine from Kettler that comes with 12 preset workout programs and with 3 years of warranty. Coach M comes with magnetic resistance that can be manually controlled and support 16 additional exercises. Kadett is the most expensive hydraulic rowing machine from Kettler that comes with a warranty of three years. Favorit hardly weighs 44 pounds and can even be folded. It further comes with 50 levels of hydraulic resistance.

All of the rowing machines from Kettler comes with a maximum of three years of warranty. With some of the models such as Coach M and Coach E you can also perform heart rate control workouts. The best part about Kettler rowing machines is that they come with easy-to-attach plates that can support for up to 16 other exercises as well, apart from rowing. You can store these rowers in an upright position as well as fold them.

3. Lifecore Rower

Lifecore is an American brand that was founded in the late 90s. They are a leading fitness retailer to whom the customer’s demands matter more than anything else. The rowing machines from LifeCore are home friendly and can even be used in a gym. There are three models in their rowing machines: R88 Compact, R88 Pro, R100. The R88 Compact is their most affordable model amongst the three and is ideal to be used only at home that comes with six levels of resistance. The R88 Pro also comes with six levels of resistance and ample foot rest space. There are however no preset workout options with this rowing machine. The R100 rowing machine from Kettler can be used both at home and in gyms. It comes with 16 levels of resistance and 11 preset workout programs.

All rowing machines from Kettler comes with at least 3 years of warranty up to a lifetime, and enabled with wireless heart monitor to help users make the most of their workout routine. Both R88 Pro and R100 comes with ample foot rest for a comfortable rowing session. If you are looking for rowing machines that can also save you space then these are ideal for you.

4. Proform Rower

Proform is a leading name in fitness equipment industry designing and manufacturing world class cardio workout machines for decades. With the Proform rowing machines you can enjoy comfortable cardio as well as full body fitness routines. The Proform 440 R Rower is the highest selling rower from Proform which is traditional in design and comes with a low-pulley station that allows for intensive upper body training.

Proform rowers are budget friendly and built with ergonomic comfort along with a solid frame. It would not require you a lot of time to assemble them either. The total duration of setup will be between 45 minutes to one hour. You get a warranty of two years with Proform rowers and free part repair of 90 days. You can expect to lose up to 300-500 calories per hour irrespective of gender and weight with Proform rowers with resistance as high as up to 800.

5. Stamina Rower

Stamina rowers are both affordable as well as high quality. They can be used by trainers at entry level as well as those looking for intensive workout session. If you want a smooth workout session within a sturdily constructed rowing machine then the Stamina rowers are ideal for you. The seat is padded well and is comfortable with sliding feature. There is ample space in the footpad and can accomodate trainers of all shoe sizes.

You can easily fold the steel frame and they also come with rolling wheels for you to port them from one room to another. The monitor is easy to read and displays all vital informations of your workout from time, speed, distance to calories burnt. Overall, the Stamina rowers are best in class for those looking for a cost effective home friendly rowing machine.


Fitness should be the mantra in every individual’s life and with the rowing machines exercise and fitness has become more convenient and affordable. The above provides you comprehensive information about the rowing machines, their benefits and top machines that you can consider buying. It is not at all difficult to master the motion while on rowing machine but all you need to do it take it forward gradually. We have also listed the mistakes to be avoided hoping you will keep them aside while stepping for the first time on the rowing machine.

The rowing machine is a powerful beast that enables total body workout, stimulates metabolism, enhances stamina and makes your workout session a pleasurable one. If you choose one of the above-mentioned best rowing machines, we assure there will be not a second of regret and in no time you will be ready to flaunt your chiseled and sculpted body. Want to get back in shape, order one right now and get yourself working out at the comfort of your home.

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Last Update 08 October, 2021