Best Rowing Machine for 2018

Beside treadmill for home use, Indoor rowing machines have been become a popular choice to enhance user’s cardio health. Nowadays, there is a variety of sleek, highly-refined rowing machine produced to meet the demands of the user not only about the efficiency but also about aesthetics. Through this post, I will try to provide you with as much as possible information about this great exercise equipment.

7 Best Rowing Machine for 2018 Reviewed

In order to help you easily find the best model for your needs, here are some best rowing machines for 2018 which are chosen basing on reviews and rating of experts as well as customers.

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

This is a great fitness investment because it comes from a well-known brand which always produces the durable and solid construction machines. It has a PM5 Monitor and strong skeleton providing everything you need for a powerful but smooth workout. Additionally, this machine operates quietly thanks to the unique design of flywheel. With a variety of workout programs, the Concept 2 Model D’s style allows the user to training at home without the boredom.

The Concept 2 Model D can fit almost every home environment thanks to its compact size and design. Its frame is designed in a convenient way for simple separating in two pieces for easy storage. In the terms of general structure, this model is used to promote a natural, comfortable hand and arm position while rowing. Besides, its mechanics offer a well-coordinated and balanced workout and its construction concentrates on distributing the force between muscle groups. The machine is indeed a great combination of the durability and comfort and is an ideal option for intense home workouts.

Plus, the high-tech PM5 Performance Monitor which is easy and simple to use. It constantly shows you all the information you need relating to your training goals. This feature provides you with total control over your workout. The Concept 2 Model D is not the most expensive rowing machine but also is not the cheapest one on the market. In short, this great investment will not make you regret.

2. Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

Another Concept2 rowing machine is also rated as one of the best models for 2018 is the Model E. It is a high-quality piece of exercise equipment that is built to offer a total body workout for individuals of any fitness level and age. It hits all of your major muscle groups but still make you feel comfortable to continue your workouts. A 20 inch seat height offers the great ease and comfort when you get on and off the equipment and also providing a very natural rowing movement. Plus, ergonomic handles and adjustable footrests allow you to row in a natural arm, hand and foot position. The machine can withstand users weighing up to 500 LBS.

In the terms of durability, this machine is built with solid and long-lasting materials. Aluminum monorail with a stainless-steel track provides a smooth seat movement. Like the Model D it features the nickel-plated chain which doesn’t require frequent oiling. It also comes with an excellent warranty. Noticeably, the flywheel design minimizes noise to deliver the smooth operation of each stroke. When it comes to the convenience, the machine can be separated into two pieces thanks to Quick-release framelock mechanism for easy storage. Additionally, it is equipped with caster wheels that make the rower easily moveable from room to another.

Besides, The PM5 Performance Monitor on this rowing machine also provides a plenty of options including games, pre-loaded workouts and the Garmin chest strap heart rate monitor. Aesthetically, this model has a luxury looking. It is solid and sleek in light black or gray and always outstanding in your home gym or in a fitness center. If you try it for the first time, the Model E will satisfy even the most prissy buyers.

3. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

Whether you are looking for a rowing machine to keep you fit or to do an intense workout at home, WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine definitely meets your all requirements. In others word, its design can satisfy any training types. The model employs a water flywheel to mimic the feel of rowing in water. It is able to make you break a sweat only within a several minutes and push your muscles to the limit.

Moreover, the WaterFlyWheel of WaterRower delivers dynamic resistance that allows the user to comfortably choose the expected level of intensity for workout. Its dual rail models and ergonomic seat ensure stability, safety and a smooth operation during training.

Perhaps, the most highlight feature is the S4 Performance Monitor. This feature provides you with plenty of programs as well as detailed and accurate data while rowing to make sure you can track your workout will help as well as set specific goals to achieve them.

Especially, the unit is made from nice solid ash wood. This material makes it more luxurious compared to other average rowing machines. Plus choosing wood to build up the machine also a great way to guarantee vibrations and sounds are better distributed and absorbed. This rowing machine is rated to be able last for years or decades. In short, this is a great combination of elegance and durability.

4. Stamina Air Rower

Beside expensive models, Stamina Air Rower is also rated as the best choices which represents for good but low-priced rowing machines on the market. It features wind resistance to provide a very smooth workout.

Despite having a cheap price, Stamina Air Rower is still made of durable and high quality materials. When it comes to the quality, the machine has a solid construction with sturdy steel and aluminum frame that can withstand users of 250lbs. The sliding seat is padded, upholstered, and surprisingly comfortable. Besides, large footpads on this model can be suitable for any user’s shoe size.

Plus, the computer monitor on the rowing machine can display the speed, calories burned, workout time, covered distance and everything you need to allow users to effectively track their progress.

In the terms of convenience, it is very easy to assemble too. It can fold and comes with attached roller wheels making the moving and storage very simply. In short, with its high durability as well as the great comfort and efficiency it provides to user, Stamina Air Rower is considered as one of the best in its class. It can be used for beginners, intermediates, and even advanced trainee alike.

5. Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower CHR-2001

This model uses magnetic resistance to provide a very smooth and quiet workout. Especially, The Velocity Exercise CHR-2001 is loaded with 12 programs that keep your training varied and challenging. The polyurethane molded saddle combines with an anodized aluminum beam supported by rectangular tubing delivering comfortable and stable performance. This machine supports a weight capacity up to 275lbs. Plus, padded handles will reduce blisters and protect your hands from tiring after long workout sessions.

The computer also allows users to track their workout data on distance, pulse rate, time, calories burned, strokes per minute, and stroke count. Additionally, you can control the tension resistance electronically via the computer. This feature makes the CHR-2001 become the best one among other magnetic rowers which use knobs.

This model is very durable with a magnetic drum resistance and polyurethane molded saddle seat which don’t require much maintenance. Besides, this design also helps reduce the noise in use. So you can row while listening to music or watching TV. Additionally, the seat rail of CHR-2001 is long enough to accommodate most trainee leg lengths. It is indeed the best mid-priced rowing machine for beginners or even experienced trainees.

6. Kettler Kadett Outrigger

The Kettler Kadett Outrigger Style is rated to be one of the better designed, better built, and better quality piston rowers, despite only being under $600. Although it’s a fast rowing machine, it certainly gives you a heart-pounding, tough and heavy rowing workout. The seat with thick padding provides users with maximum comfort. Pus, the machine features 12 levels of resistance which can be changed by using adjustment knobs placed the hydraulic piston arms.

A high-resolution LCD digital display uses 2 AA batteries showing workout data including time, distance, energy consumed (in joules), strokes and pulse rate. It allows users to track and achieve their fitness goals more easily.

In the terms of durability, its frame is made of high carbon steel and powder coated and ensured by a lifetime warranty. Besides, the seat and rollers are built with sealed ball bearings that don’t require the lubrication as well as deliver exceptionally smooth performance. This unit supports a user capacity of 285 lbs.

7. Kettler Favorit

If you can’t afford the high end models like the Model D by Concept2 then Kettler Favorit rowing machine is what you should consider. It is the lowest-priced rowing machine produced by Kettler. This rowing machine is a great combination of solid structure, expected features, and compact design at its price range. It is built with a powder coated steel frame that has a lifetime warranty. Although it can’t be folded like other models, its high carbon steel frame is light enough for you to move it around without any difficulty.

The small gray and red LCD display screen of the machine is very easy to use. It records your workout data like number of strokes, speed of strokes, the energy consumed, time spent, and distance traveled. Besides, you can measure your pulse thanks to an included infrared sensor clipped to your ear.

Moreover, two industrial strength hydraulic cylinders provide continuous resistance (50 levels) which can be adjusted for a higher challenging level of training. In the terms of comfort, this unit also features a thick padded seat. It gives a great comfort to your body. It only weighs 44 pounds but can withstand users of 285 pounds. It is an ideal option for light use.

Best Rowing Machines by Price

Normally, high quality often comes with a high price, but there are also very reliable rowers at low prices. And then, I would like to recommend some best models at each price range.

Best rowing machine under $200

1. Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

This model gives full motion arms with 12 levels of hydraulic resistance that target all major muscle groups such as the legs, back, arms, glutes, abs and more. In the terms of comfort, it is designed for an optimal comfort with fully thick-padded seat, large anti-slip pedals with safety straps and non-slip grip handlebars.

Besides, you will be able to track your progress and easily achieve your new fitness goals thanks to a convenient LCD monitor featured on this model. It displays your calories, count, time and total counts. Although it is not expensive model, it still has a sleek design with a solid steel frame that can support up to 220lbs of user weight capacity.

2. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

If you’re finding a low-impact, total-body workout but affordable rowing machine, Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is also a great suggestion. Like other models, this machine not only builds user cardiovascular endurance but also enhances their quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, shoulders and arms through its adjusta12 levels of hydraulic resistance.

The seat is quite comfortable for a low-priced model and it is good for short workouts. The monitor of this model doesn't come with preset programs, or ability to save workout performance.

However, it still shows stroke count, time, and calories burned. Although its price is low, it still has a sturdy, steel frame construction that can withstand users weighing up to 250 lbs.

3. Stamina 1205 Precision Rower

The last best model at this price range is Stamina 1205 Precision Rower. This is a hydraulic-piston resistance model. The resistance can be adjusted by placing the hydraulic cylinders lower or higher on the rowing arms. This feature let you find the perfect intensity for your cardiovascular improvement and fat burning.

Moreover, the well- padded seat combining with the unique design of the handles offers a great comfort and allows users to make long workouts. Additionally, its monitor allows you to track your speed, distance, time, stroke count and calories burned during your workout. This is a good way to keep you motivated.

Besides, it has a compact design and light weight that are very convenient for storage and moving. Despite its light weight, the frame is still strong, sturdy and supports a maximum capacity up to 250lbs.

Best rowing machine under $500 ($300- $500)

1. LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine

Featured with the solid frame and strong current drive, it is very durable and provides effective exercise and workouts. Like other rowing machine, this model helps strengthens every part of your body through rowing exercises. Plus, it is also good choice for cardiovascular exercise for trainee of any age.

The three included LCD screen provides you with everything you need to know about your workout that is a good way to keep you workout effectively. This machine gives you quiet and smooth rowing exercise that doesn’t hurt your ears like other models.

Especially, LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rowing Machine offers a user weight capacity up to 300 lbs so if you weigh less than 300 lbs, this machine will work well for you.

2. Kettler Coach E Indoor Rower

This model uses magnetic resistance mechanism to provide a high training performance with impressive resistance range from 25 to 500 watts. This range is wide enough for both beginners and elite rowers. In the terms of durability, its frame is made of high carbon steel, powder coated which is very sturdy and durable with a lifetime warranty. It also comes with transport casters for easy moving.

Besides, the machine has the well-positioned footrests and a padded seat that offer an optimum comfort for users to easily achieve their fitness goals. The large LCD display of this model shows all important information you need to know to track your workout.

Especially, the Coach E is featured with a T34 Polar Heart Rate chest strap, which is not included on most models at the same price. It keeps you train in the optimum zone for effective fat-burning and weight loss.

3. Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower

This model uses dynamic air resistance to create a different kind of cardio platform to keep the rowing motion consistent and smooth. It runs very quietly in the comparison with many air rowers in this range. A nicely padded seat gliding on ball bearings limits rattling and bumps. The adjustable foot plates can suit most of feet sizes but the largest ones. The nylon straps were sufficient to place your feet securely. Plus, this model can fold to save a large amount of space and is equipped with wheels for easy portability.

Next, it has a useful monitor which shows time, distance, speed of strokes and some other information that helps you track your workout process. Stamina 35-1405 ATS Air Rower includes a user weight capacity of 250 lbs.

Best rowing machine under $1000 ($800- $1000)

1. BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine

Beside Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Monitor, BodyCraft VR100 Rowing Machine is also rated as one of the best models at the price range from $800 to $1000. This rowing machine comes with 6 resistance levels including 5 air and magnetic resistance and1 air resistance that are to provide effective workouts.

With a robust frame made of aluminum, it is sturdy and strong enough for user less than 250 lbs to sit on it confidently. The seat is quite supportive, comfortable and one of the widest seats I have seen on a rowing machine. It glides along precision-bearing rollers to offer a very smooth performance. The VR100 features a wind resistance fan to keep you calm during your workouts.

Especially, the display unit is adjustable for easier viewing to track your time, strokes, distance, calories burned, and heart rate. This model can be folded for easy storage.

2. Xebex Air Rower Conditioning Pack

No matter your fitness level, Xebex Air Rower Conditioning Pack is a high-end model that offers a great workout. This air rower with damper setting allows you to adjust resistance from 1 to10. Lower levels with less resistance mimic water rowing near the surface while high levels can mimic a deep water row as well as give more strenuous workouts. Its 110lb heavy duty frame is considered to be heavier and more stable compared to most models being designed for commercial and home use.

Xebex Air Rower is not only built with high quality components, but also designed to provide superior comfort. Xebex also equips the machine with a very well-padded seat and handle so the users will be able to comfortably row for longer workout sessions. Besides, the simple fold-up design as well as included wheels makes the storage more easily. The weight capacity of this model is 500lbs.

3. Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower

The last model I would like to recommend in this price range is Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower. It comes from a leading fitness manufacturer so you don’t have to worry about its quality. Like the Stamina Air Rower, it provides great upper and lower body workouts with a very smooth rowing motion. The low center of gravity helps keep the machine stable even when you are doing the most intense workouts.

The In-Touch® Fitness Monitor offers 12 built-in workout programs that simulate rolling hills, ramps, valleys and mountains. Additionally, this monitor also allows you to track your workout process easily even in low light environment. Moreover, the large molded seat foam and padded rowing handle will provide you with a very superior comfort. This model is ideal for those who don’t have lots of space for their exercise equipment because it can be easily folded up for compact storage.

How to buy a good rowing machine

If you’re hunting a rowing machine for your home fitness, remember that there are many features and tips that you should consider before choosing.

Component parts of a rowing machine

A rowing machine is exactly like a machine which is designed to mimic the rowing a boat motion in the water. A typical rowing machine is built up from 6 component parts:

  • Monitor: Most of machines come with a monitor that allows users to track their speed, distance, power, and calories burned. In higher-end model, the monitor also has some other better functions.
  • Track: The Track provides a low friction, smooth plane for the seat to slide on. It includes channels inserted into the wheels of the seat to deliver a smooth pulling motion as well as allow the core of the body move.
  • Seat: The next part is the seat. With each extension of the legs it moves along the track. This part should be well-padded to offer a comfortable sitting position for yourself.
  • Foot Holds: The Foot Holds include adjustable straps and heel cups. This allows each user to place their feet in the most advantageous, secure position for their rowing motion. With this part, depending on your preference you can wear shoes or no shoes.
  • The Handle/Rip Chain offers the link between the rower and the resistance from the Damper. A well-padded handle will push you over your workouts easily but in contrast it will slow your rowing sessions if it cause blisters on your hands.
  • The Damper is used to increase or decrease rowing resistance based on setting and stroke speed / length.

Buying Guide

Type of Resistance

Despite having similar designs, they are different in form of resistance they provide. There are some popular types of resistance including: water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance and piston/hydraulic resistance. Each type of resistance has its own pros and cons so you should take careful consideration before choosing the best type for your training.

  • Air Resistance Rowers: these machines work with a flywheel and fan blades. The resistance is created by the motion of the blade against the wind. This type of resistance provides a smoother and more natural stroke than hydraulic rowers.
  • Magnetic Resistance Rowers: the resistance on these models is created by enlisting the use of a magnet breaking system during the rowing motion. They operate quietly and deliver a smooth movement.
  • Hydraulic Resistance rowers: these models often have a compact design that makes them easy to move and store. Hydraulic rowing machines allow users to adjust the rowing tension easily making them a good choice for enhancing strength. However, the rowing motion of these machine is not as realistic as ones of magnetic or water resistance systems
  • Water rowers: the strong point of using water resistance systems is that they provide a similar rowing experience to actual rowing motion on the water.

Consider fitness goals

Because of different types of rowing machine, a buyer's should consider her fitness goals before choosing the best one. For example, if you wish to lose weight, any low cost rowing machines can be suitable for you to get your goal. However, if you want to achieve more, the models which feature different tension levels like a hydraulic rower are better choice for you. Besides, there are also models coming with different programs. These will be a great option for people preparing for an event.

The size of the machine

Rowing machines has plenty of different sizes. In order to not end up buying a rowing machine that is too large for your home, you should measure the space in your home first and check the size and weight of rowing machines to know whether they fit your space.


The comfort plays very important role in achieving effective workouts. Therefore, the best rowing machine has to have a well-padded seat, handles and good foot pads to deliver the optimum comfort during user’s workout process.

Rower Price

Like other fitness equipment, the higher priced models often provide much more functions and can last longer with a decent warranty. While the budget level often needs more maintenance or replacement sooner.

Storage features

The best models often come with folding design that makes you put them in your closet or in other storage areas easily. This feature should be considered by those who don’t have a wide space for their equipment. Besides, integrated wheels on the bottom are also very helpful for easy moving.

Monitor/ computer

The good rowing machine often has a user-friendly monitor that can display important information of your workout such as time, distance and calories burned. Some also displays your heart rate to keep you training in the optimum heart rate zone to get the most effective workouts. You should choose models which can provide the information you need to know. Besides, you can check to know whether your rower has ability to connect to apps that allows you to upload data and track your process.

Benefits of rowing machine

Low-Impact Workout

Rowing machine is ideal fitness equipment for the elder trainee or for those who are nursing an injury because it doesn’t put too much strain on their back and joints. With this machine, your hands keep contact with the padded handles and your feet contact with the foot pads so there’s very little or no impact placed on the knees, ankles, hips, elbows or shoulders, which are easy to be injured.

Weight loss

It is a great addition to your workout regimen if your chief priority is weight loss because frequent rowing can burns calories rapidly which is integral to lose weight. Doing a workout on rowing machine can burns an average of up to 600 calories per hour. That amount of calories is larger compared to many other machines on the market.

Building muscle groups

Rowing uses most of major muscle groups in your body. The rowers work from the hips, legs and buttocks to upper-body muscles like back, shoulders and arms. The trunk and core also take part in the exercise when rower performs each stroke. Over time, your muscles will grow, develop and become stronger. In short, having a rowing machine right there in your home is really a good way to push your muscles moving over a challenging but in a comfortable way.

Strengthen your cardiovascular function

Rowing is also great for the lungs and heart because it uses most of major muscle groups of your body. Rowing requires your heart to pump more blood to the working muscle tissue to offer nutrients and energy to your cells. When your heart pumps, you will feel harder to breathe during rowing. At this time your body will adapt and change to feel a little easier the next time. By this way, you are improving your cardiovascular fitness.

Increased Endurance

Rowing machine workouts at first make you feel exhausting, but the long-term benefits of this exercise will help give you more energy and increase your endurance. Because rowing exercise works out all your major muscle groups and strengthens cardiovascular, it's better than many other types of fitness equipment. With repeating rowing motion, you will boost your metabolism as well as gain increased stamina.


Using the rowing machine at a gym or buying your own one is relatively cheaper compared to other cardio equipment. Specifically, in order to buy a top commercial rowing machine, you just pay around $1000 while you have to pay much more to buy a high-end commercial group cycling bike or a high-end commercial treadmill or elliptical trainer.


In steads of rowing boat sitting at the dock, now you can enjoy the same physical benefits from rowing at your own home. This is likely a motivation of you in bad weather days. Rowing machine offers accessible and uncomplicated workouts which are much more appealing. It also gives you the needed comfort and convenience to achieve your fitness goals.

Easy to use

While other complicated workout machines make you feel difficult to workout at home, this machine is easy to use. It is suitable for all abilities and ages. The important thing is that you use proper rowing technique when doing exercise. It will help to both minimize the potential for injury and maximize your workout.

Reduce the stress

Lastly, you may not think that perform a rowing workout can reduce the stress. Physical activity is proven to be able to stimulate pleasure centers in the brain. Besides, cardiovascular workouts not only increase the amount of released endorphins in the body but also lift feelings of depression and reduce stress. You can use rowing machine to do exercise while watching TV as the good way to you relax in the evening.

Overall, this type of equipment offers an outstanding and safe way to boost maximum physical fitness performance through building muscle groups, burning calories, strengthen your cardiovascular function and increase your stamina. If you combine eating a healthy and balanced diet with using a rowing machine it is definitely a great way to achieve your fitness goals.

rowing machine workout

How to use a rowing machine effectively

  • Correct form and good posture while rowing are very important to help users avoid injury and get the best workout.
  • Don’t start with a high resistance level, start with a low resistance level will make you comfortable. If needed, you can gradually increase resistance.
  • Sit on the seat and place your feet securely on the pads with the straps that are tight enough to ensure that your feet don't move around when you slide. Slide to the end of the machine and pull the handle up to your chest. Your legs should be straight and slightly lean back. This is a beginning position of your workout and also the ending position when you finish a full stroke.
  • Firstly, move your arms out and it is followed by the upper body. Keep your back straight. When your arms are extended out, your upper body position will be at slightly lean forward.
  • Bend your legs to slide your body forward on the seat. When you are at the top of the machine, your arms will completely extend and legs will be bent. This phase is called the catch.
  • Next, push off with your feet to slide back to the finish position. Your legs are straightened but your body is still leaning forward slightly and your arms are still extended. This phase is called the drive that mimics pulling the oar out of the water and pushing the boat forward. This part of workout will work your core muscles and leg the most.
  • Continue pushing your legs and at the same time move your upper body to lean back.
  • Bend your arms and pull the handle so that the handle ends up back to your chest like when you started. Don't grip the handle too hard or use too much force to pull the cable to avoid hand blisters or back problems.

Conclusion, according to the benefits that a rowing machine provides, this type of fitness equipment indeed works better compared to a treadmill. I hope that with information I have provided above, you can easily choose the best one that fits both your body and fits in your budget.