The 6 Best Rowing Machines

Photo of author
Published On

There might be affiliate links on this page, which means we get a small commission on anything you buy. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

There are a lot of good reasons to get your own rowing machine. Not sure which one would be the best for you? We have you covered.

List of the 6 best rowing machines:

Here are the 6 best rowing machines compiled in a short list:

Is a rowing machine worth it?

Rowing can be a good cardio workout for getting and staying in shape.

One of the main advantages compared to something like running, is that rowing is a lot less stressful on certain joints. Another advantage is that it partly helps you build muscle in your upper body. Muscle is extremely helpful for long-term weight loss.

The first and most obvious reason for the need of a rowing machine is that not everyone has a rowing boat laying around. If you want to enjoy the benefits of this exercise you will most likely have to go to the gym or get your own.

Signing up for a (sometimes expensive) gym membership isn’t always the right choice.

By getting your own rowing machine you won’t have to spend time driving to the gym, finding a parking spot,… The rower will probably not be occupied (unless your family is really into it). Finally, you don’t have to exercise in front of other people.

Working out at home with a rower can also just make the whole exercise experience more enjoyable. You can put it in front of the tv, you can catch up with your family members, you can play your favorite music through your favorite music installation,…

Investing in your own rowing machine can be one of the best things you can do for your health.

Best rowing machines

Discover the 6 best rowing machines to buy so you can get your rowing workout in the comfort of your own home.

Best Overall: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

This rowing machine is a qualitative option made to help you do rowing workout after rowing workout for a long time to come.

The Concept2 Model D indoor rowing machine allows you to control the rowing resistance by adjusting the air resistance on the flywheel. This can help you burn off extra calories in a shorter amount of time.

The word air resistance might evoke images of a loud whirlwind going through your room but that’s not the case. You can still listen to your favorite music or watch your favorite tv-shows while working out.

You can connect the performance monitor to your heart rate belt and apps. This little screen also informs you of your distance, pace, and an estimation of calories burned.

You can’t call this rower inexpensive but you do get a lot of quality for the investment.


  • Dimensions: 94 x 24 x 14 inches
  • Stored dimensions: 25 x 33 x 54 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 500 lb as tested by Concept2.300 lb as tested per European Stationary Fitness Equipment Testing Standard EN 20957-7
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Damper levels 1-10
  • Foldable for easier storage
  • Warranty: Limited 2-year and 5-year warranty included

Best Budget: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

Rowing machines don’t have to cost crazy amounts. You can find ones under $500 and even a nice amount below that for a good rowing machine.

You don’t get the same sturdiness, durability, and max user weight as the other options.

However, you do get one of the best inexpensive rowing machines out there.

This Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 has 12 resistance levels and a digital monitor with some basic measurements like time, count, and an estimation of calories burned.


  • Dimensions: 54 x 20 x 22 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 220 pounds
  • Weight: 24.9 pounds
  • Resistance Levels: 12
  • Warranty: Not mentioned

Best Small Space: Stamina 1215 Orbital

It’s not always easy to figure out where you will put your rowing machine. This best small space rower can help you with that.

This Stamina 1215 Orbital screams out compactness without giving up too much quality.

One of its other strengths is that it really engages your whole body. Again, muscle is great for long-term weight loss so that’s a big plus point.

Of course this rowing machine also includes adjustable tension control and a monitor that shows speed, distance, time, row count, calories burned, and miles rowed.


  • Dimensions: 48 x 32.5 x 27.75 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 250 pounds
  • Weight: 52 pounds
  • Adjustable tension controls
  • Warranty: Five years on frame, 90 days on parts

Best For Limited Mobility: Concept2 Model E

Rowing sounds like a great way to stay in shape but most of the models are pretty close to the ground. Now, that’s not a problem for a lot of people but for some, it’s a lifesaver that this Concept2 Model E rowing machine exists.

The main limited mobility-friendly aspect of this rowing machine is the height of the seat. At 20 inches (50.8 centimeters) it’s pretty much as far off the ground as a regular chair.

In addition to that, it has all the top overall goodness of the previously mentioned best-overall Concept2 Model D.

For some people, the extra comfort you get is well worth the extra investment.


  • Dimensions: 96 x 24 x 20 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 500 lb as tested by Concept2.300 lb as tested per European Stationary Fitness Equipment Testing Standard EN 20957-7
  • Weight: 65 pounds
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Foldable for easier storage
  • Warranty: Limited 2-year and 5-year warranty

Best Quiet Option: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Exercising isn’t always simple. You need to make time, you need to have room, you need clothes and shoes to exercise in,…

If all those things weren’t enough you might have to be quiet for family members or apartment neighbors.

Some rowing machines can be surprisingly loud but not this Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower because of its nylon belt and magnetic drum.

Quiet running isn’t the only thing you get from this rowing machine. It also has 12 workout programs and the sturdiness you can expect from a medium-priced rower.

You also get the standard pulse rate, time taken and estimation of calories burned.


  • Dimensions: 80 x 20 x 29 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 275 pounds
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Workout programs: 12
  • Foldable for easier storage
  • Warranty: Not mentioned

Best Water Rower: WaterRower Vintage Oak

The magnetic or air resistance rowers sometimes just don’t feel enough like the real thing. Luckily there is a third category of rowers to help you with this, the hydraulic rowers.

Hydraulic rowers use fluid, water most of the time, as resistance. Water rowers usually work by having paddles that move through their water containers by moving your body.

Many people feel like this resembles the real experience more and who doesn’t like the wave-like sound of the water moving?

The main downside of water rowers is that they come at a bigger investment. In terms of having a good workout, they will certainly do their job.


  • Dimensions: 82.3 x 22.4 x 20..1 inches
  • Maximum User Weight: 1,000 pounds
  • Weight: 116.8 pounds
  • Warranty: One year limited

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Some people think that to lose weight in certain areas, like your belly, you have to do specific workouts focused on that area.

However, it doesn’t work like that. Calories are the measurement of energy in your food. If you absorb more calories than you use, your body stores the excess calories for later use in the form of body fat.

Where your body stores that fat is mainly dependent on your body type, you can’t choose it. Some areas are the first to gather fat. Usually belly and thighs. These areas are also usually the last where you lose fat.

By using a rowing machine you increase the amount of energy, calories, you use. If you don’t absorb too many calories and row enough you will lose fat.

In the beginning, this might be primarily from other areas first but if you keep doing the right things, sooner or later the belly fat will also go away.

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine

Best type of rowing machine

Rowing machines can use different methods to create resistance to make the movement a little heavier. By doing this you increase the amount of energy your body uses.

The 4 types of rowing machines are:

  • air
  • magnetic
  • water/fluid
  • hydraulic

It’s hard to claim that one certain type of rowing machine is the best for everyone. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s go over some important factors where some types shine and others don’t.


You might be an early exerciser with a baby trying to sleep in a tightly packed apartment block. Or you might just want to watch tv while exercising.

If the sound is an important factor for you, magnetic and water rowing machines are what you’re looking for. Air rowers can be noisy and hydraulic machines can develop a squeak.


Some people rowing as their workout because they love the simulation of real-life rowing.

In that department, most rowing machine types lack. If this is an important factor to you, water rowing machines are what you’re looking for. Of course, it’s still not the real thing but you do get closer to it.


There is a general price difference between the different types. Water rowers for example are usually on the more expensive side.

Price is an interesting factor because even within types there are big differences.

The top choices above take price into account. The type of rowing machine isn’t the end-all deciding factor when choosing the right exercise machine for you.

Photo of author


Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.