If you’re looking for an all round workout, few exercises are more complete than rowing,
You can get a complete core, upper body and lower body workout in 20 minutes.
On top of that, it’s low impact, meaning most physiotherapists and doctors would recommend it.
If you looking for a suitable rowing machine for your home, there are a number great options on the market.
Here’s my recommended list of the best rowing machines you can use at home to activate your core, back, arms, and legs.
Favorite Indoor Rowing Machine
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
- Activates the core muscles, arms, and legs in a low-impact workout.
- Tracks your progress with a wireless performance monitor.
- Features adjustable footrests and comfortable handles.
- Easy to assemble and separate in two pieces for storage.
- 500 lbs. weight capacity with a 5-year frame warranty.
Best in the market
The Concept2 Model D rowing machine is used by competitive athletes and has been one of the best models in the market for over 40 years.
This particular model is made to fit your budget and your home.
It offers a rather low-impact exercise that is easy to do and accessible to all, regardless of our fitness levels and age.
Assembly & Storage
One of the most interesting features is that it is easy to assemble, and it can be separated into two pieces for easy storage.
It works with an air-resistance flywheel with up to 10 damper levels, and a wireless monitor you can synchronize with a heart rate monitoring gadget or application.
It also has a limited warranty of two years, made of aluminum and steel, and with a nickel-plated steel chain that requires oiling every 40 hours of use as the only maintenance indication.
What we like
- The high-quality materials and the sturdy design it has.
- Lightweight, easily assembled and can be stored.
What we dislike
- The seat may feel comfortable sometimes, as some users report.
Best Water Rowing Machine
Gorowingo Water Rower Rowing Machine
- It features water resistance and is made with pine wood to deliver a more realistic rowing experience.
- Ergonomic seat cushion, stable with a very smooth movement.
- Maximum weight capacity of 265 lbs.
- Digital monitor to display time, calories burned, current mileage, and target mileage.
- Resistant polyethylene straps made to last up to 10 years of daily use.
- Includes wheels for easy transportation, and a standing position for storage when not in use.
This device has an adjustable water resistance that can be increased by simply filling the tank.
The materials of the water tank are made for light transmission and corrosion resistance.
Thus, the water is always clearly visible and is not deteriorated rapidly. It is recommended to change the water in the tank every 4 months.
In a standing position, the storage space is only 2 and a half square feet, it has transportation wheels and anti-slip rubber feet for stability in your most intense rowing sessions.
The digital monitor is simple to use, with a single button to turn on and off plus adjust the target mileage.
The device is absolutely silent, and the water doesn’t leak from the tank, even in an upright position.
What we like
- Very silent and made with stylish and comfortable materials.
- Adjustable resistance and easy storage.
What we dislike
- The water tank appears clear in one of the advertising pictures, but it is black. You can see the water level clearly though.
Favorite Ergonomic Indoor Rower
NordicTrack RW Rower
- Interactive training with a 1-year free membership in iFit.
- Includes a 22-inch touchscreen display with an adjustable angle.
- 26 resistance levels and a program to mimic water resistance.
- Silent machinery for quiet workouts powered by magnetic resistance.
- Foldable and easy to transport and store.
One of the distinguishing features of this rower machine is definitely its 22-inch touchscreen display, and how it delivers a variety of workout experiences through iFit, a special platform with different trainers and modalities of exercise.
The training programs designed by iFit include cross-training exercises with rowing and bodyweight or dumbbell exercises to activate more muscles and provide a more complete cardiovascular exercise.
iFit Features and Cost
Resistance levels are changed automatically as you go through the exercises in iFit, so it feels like your coach is there live, making the adjustments for you.
However, the touchscreen display cannot be used to stream or input your own videos.
You will have a code included with the rower, and you can get your free iFit membership by using this as a promo code.
After one year, continuing your iFit membership costs $396 annually.
What we like
- A digital and engaging approach to exercising on the rower with many workout modalities.
- Comfortable to use and foldable to store when not in use.
What we dislike
- You can´t see your own videos or stream content other than iFit, which can be an expensive membership for some.
- Customer service sometimes takes long to reply, as reported by frustrated users.
Best Foldable & Compact Rower
Circuit Fitness Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine
- An excellent design made for upper and lower-body workouts and requiring minimal floor space.
- 8 different levels of resistance to be adjusted according to your fitness levels.
- Includes an LCD monitor to track time, distance, calorie count, and strokes per minute.
- Ergonomic molded seat and pedals with a slip-resistant surface and adjustable foot straps.
- Made in a foldable design for easy transport and storage.
Easy to store
This model is specially made for users who do not have much space at home.
It is a rowing machine that does the job in the smallest space possible. With an awesome compact folding mode that makes it simple to store in a 36×19 floor space.
It features foam-covered handles with an anti-slip grip, an LCD display panel with straightforward measures of your workout as you exercise, and a media holder that enables you to place your tablet or phone in and watch videos or stream your own media as you exercise.
The weight limit of this rowing machine is 300 lbs and after assembly, it is very solid and well made, boasting very good quality for its price.
However, the assembly can be hard and frustrating, and there is no instruction manual to use the panel and other key parts of the machine.
The exercise is powered by magnetic resistance in the flywheel, and best suits beginners and fitness enthusiasts.
What we like
- Well-built with durable and comfortable materials.
- Works quietly and the media stand is very convenient.
- Foldable capacity and easy storage.
What we dislike
- Not enough resistance for rowing athletes or a high-intensity exercise.
- The assembly can be difficult and time-consuming.
Favorite Low-Cost Option
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
- LCD console to track time, calories burned, and other parameters.
- A long rail that accommodates users of a wide range of heights.
- Magnetic resistance with 8 adjustable levels.
- Built-in transportation wheels and non-slip foot pedals for easy transportation and stability.
- Foam grip handlebars for comfort in very long rides.
This is a very silent rowing machine with 8 resistance levels and it stands as a solid option if you’re on a budget.
It does the job and it is convenient for indoors and outdoors use.
The maximum user weight recommended for this machine is 250 lbs, and it has all you need for a comfortable exercise.
Features & Assembly
It includes non-slip pedals with safety straps, a cushioned seat, and easy-to-reach knob do adjust magnetic resistance, and a monitor to track your exercise.
Despite the cost, it is a very sturdy piece of equipment, and the most important parts of the machine come pre-assembled, adding up to a very high quality for the price.
It is very quiet compared to other rowing machines, and the resistance level is adequate for most users.
What we like
- It is durable and comfortable for the price.
- It provides an adequate workout for the majority of its users.
What we dislike
- The LCD display is very small and does not show many parameters of the exercise.
Rowing & Core Strength
Is rowing useful to build your core strength? We say it definitely is!
Rowing is an excellent workout for the core. Most question the difference it makes in their abs, forgetting that the core is much more than abdominal muscles.
Your core includes your lower back and obliques.
In a typical rowing exercise, your abdominals are activated as a secondary muscle, which helps you build tension in your core.
Rowing is also known as a wonderful cardiovascular exercise that helps you burn extra fat in your belly.
And if you think about it, that’s all you need to get a six-pack: build your ab strength and focus on fat-burning exercises along with your diet.
How To Engage Abs
If you want to activate more muscle fibers in your abdominal muscles while you’re on your rowing machines, this is what you have to do:
- The catch – With your knees bent, flex forward your torso and engage your abs.
- The drive – As you pull the handle and extend your legs, focus on keeping an upright posture while tightening your abs to keep perfect balance against the resistance.
- The finish – While your legs are extended and the pulling movement is done, engage your abs to stabilize the body and slow down the momentum that brings your body
- The recovery – As you return to the catch position, it helps to flex your torso forward by engaging your abs.
The key to making the best out of your rowing machine is to use a combination of exercises, intensity levels, and strokes per minute (SPM).
There are many rowing intervals you can try:
- 20 SPM for 2 minutes, then 22 SPM for 2 minutes, then 24 SPM for 1 minute. Rest 2 minutes, and repeat to complete 4 intervals.
- 20-24 SPM for 10 minutes. Rest 3 minutes and repeat a second interval.
- High-intensity rows for 1 minute, then low-intensity rows for 1 minute as an active rest. Repeat 10 times.
- 30 minutes non-stop, recording your total meter and comparing your results every week.
Other Recommended Rowers
Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
This rowing machine includes a performance monitor that connects wirelessly to Bluetooth heart rate straps.
The Concept2 Model E is easy to assemble and sturdy, with a 5-year frame warranty, and a nickel-plated steel chain, allowing for a maximum user weight of up to 500 lbs.
The fixed monitor arm is made of aluminum and the machine can be separated into two pieces for storage.
Fitness Reality Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine
If you hate straps, you’re probably going to love this rowing machine which uses dual independent handles instead.
It comes with 10 pre-set and 5 customizable workouts, plus 16 different levels of magnetic resistance.
The LCD display is 5’’ and displays the important parameters of your workout.
Moreover, this machine is sturdy, quiet, easy to assemble and easy to use.
WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood
If you’re trying to replicate the rowing experience at home and without going out, you may want to take a look at this hot pick.
It is made from solid ash wood and the water flywheel is made to replicate the feel and movement of actual rowing.
The movements are smooth, it’s a quiet machine, and it has a performance monitor to track your workout parameters.
Merax Water Indoor Rowing Machine
This particular rowing machine is of great value, especially if you like fancy colors and a sturdy design that looks different and feels similar to the actual rowing experience.
It has a declined water tank instead of a flat one, which provides additional resistance compared to other models.
It also features a large LCD monitor to track your exercise and is very quiet.
Similar to other models, you can adjust the intensity levels by filling the water tank to different degrees, and it has a storage mode to save up some space at home.