The 3 Pillars of Health: Fitness, Food, Sleep

5 Best Rowing Machines for Full-Body Workouts

5 Best Rowing Machines for Full-Body Workouts

You’re probably looking for a way to get high-intensity workouts at home. Like anyone, you hope to find one machine that can help you tone up and get lean. Look no further, because we’ve found what you are looking for. A home rowing machine may be the best piece of exercise equipment to have in your home.

Rower machines provide both cardiovascular workouts and resistance training simultaneously. They are low impact, smooth gliding, and can fit nicely in almost any home. Indoor rowing machines can give you a highly efficient and effective workout so you can reach your fitness goals in no time!

In this article, we highlight the benefits of row machines as well as provide a list of Fitnessator’s top picks in home rowers. Check out “The Rundown” of these top 5 picks so you can easily determine which home rowing machine is right for you. Make sure to try our sample rowing workout below!

How does an indoor row machine work?

Woman Using Rowing Machine At HomeRowing machines mimic the motion and intensity of competitive rowing. The best home rowing machines will give you aerobic and strength training in one workout, much like you would feel if you were actually rowing a boat over water.

Rowing machines operate based on “strokes.” These strokes require you to use several main muscle groups, especially in the legs. In fact, exercises that warm up and/or train the leg muscles can help you improve upon other aspects of your workout.

Such warmup exercises can improve balance and strength, so they should be added regularly into your routine (1).

A rowing machine is a great way to loosen up your muscles, work on cardiovascular endurance, and burn calories for weight loss. If you like the sound of that, make sure you try our sample workout on your new rowing machine!

What are some other benefits of a row machine?

You already know a row machine will get you sweating and warm up your muscles. Here are some other benefits of a rower machine:

  • Easy to use for both beginners and expert exercisers
  • Fits various price points
  • Convenient and often compact to keep in your home
  • Low impact for those with joint issues
  • Rowing motion activates the abdominal muscles for abdominal toning
  • Uses several muscles, which increases your heart rate and oxygen load

As with any equipment, always check with your doctor and physical therapist to determine if a rowing machine will be helpful to add to your workout routine.

Are their drawbacks to indoor rowing machines?

Despite being an all-in-one piece of exercise equipment, there are some drawbacks to using rowing machines.

  • Elite rowers may not reach their full potential. Using a rowing machine requires some skill in mastering the proper rowing technique. If you are a novice or intermediate rower, you can improve your rowing technique while getting a good workout. On the other hand, if you are an expert rower (those who row for sport), you may find that rowing machines do not challenge you. As seen in this 2017 study, expert rowers could not reach their highest row intensity on rowing machines when compared to authentic rowing.
  • Row machines tend to be low to the ground. If you have an injury or trouble with sitting on something low to the ground, a row machine may not be best for you. Some row machines are higher than others, but make sure you consider how you will get on and off of the machine.

We have compiled a list of Fitnessator’s top picks for the best rowing machines. We also sifted through the research to make sure that this equipment is backed by science.

Check out our rowing machine reviews below to see which may be the best option for you. If you don’t have time, skip to “The Rundown” section if you want the quick facts about the best rowing machines on the market today.

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

Model D Indoor Rowing Machine by Concept2

Model D Indoor Rowing Machine by Concept2Why We Love It:

The Model D rowing machine earned the “Fitnessator’s Top Pick” in part due to its positive customer reviews. According to customer ratings, the rower was rated 5 out of 5 stars by 93% of those who purchased the product. You can rest assured that if you purchase this product, you’ll be happy with it.

The Research:

Highly dynamic exercises like those performed on an indoor row machine yield several positive results for weight loss. A 2018 study of obese Korean women showed that combining aerobic and strength training was very beneficial. After 12 weeks, these participants showed improved lung function and heart rate variability. They also experienced reduced stress and decreased body fat at the end of the program.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 500 lbs
  • This is an ergometer rowing machine which means it can measure the amount of work you are putting in. Not all rowers have a built-in ergometer
  • Recommended space requirement when using this product: 9ft x 4ft clearance
  • Total product weight is 57 lbs. Dimensions: 96in x 24in x 44.5in
  • Amazon.com price: $945 + FREE Shipping
Things to Consider: 

Even though consumers love this product, it is not priced for every budget. With the high user weight capacity, those who are overweight or obese can utilize this product for exercise.

Customer Reviews:

We looked around for some Concept2 row machine reviews. Obviously, there were many positive reviews about this product (over 1700 5 out of 5-star reviews to be specific). According to one customer, the Model D is a “miracle.” As a result of using this machine, the customer stated that her flexibility improved dramatically.

Other customers claim that this machine gives them a good workout. In 5 minutes or less, customers feel warmed up and ready for the rest of their workout. While you may not think that this product is a “miracle,” you can rest assured that you will be working and sweating on the Model D indoor rowing machine.

As with any product, there are always some issues. According to an unhappy customer, the rower chain can either fall off or get stuck. While small mechanical malfunctions can happen to any piece of equipment, it should not happen on a new exercise machine! After some manipulation, however, the customer was able to fix the problem. If you decide to purchase this product and experience mechanical failures right away, contact customer service.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

This product can fit a variety of needs with the high user weight capacity. At $945, this product may not be financially feasible for many people, but it can give you a full body workout (saving you money on other equipment). Perhaps some may see the value in having this one multifaceted exercise product in their home.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine by Sunny Health & Fitness

Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine by Sunny Health & FitnessWhy We Love It:

The incline rower earns the “Fitnessator’s Runner Up” due to its positive customer reviews and moderate price. This particular row machine has an incline setting, which increases the intensity on the leg and abdominal muscles during a workout.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 350 lbs
  • This is an ergometer rowing machine which means it can measure the amount of work you are putting in
  • Contains 5 incline levels to challenge the abs and legs at different angles
  • Total product weight is 39 lbs. Dimensions: 55.5in x 21.5in x 18in
  • Amazon.com price: $231.78 + FREE Shipping (+ $80.24 with expert assembly)
Things to Consider:

This product has a max user weight of 350 lbs. Some people may be over the max weight limit. Before you buy, make sure that you are purchasing a row machine that is made for your weight.

Customer Reviews:

Some customers love this machine. Per their reviews, they claim that this machine gives a great workout and provides room to grow and improve. Even on a low incline, customers say that their bodies are “on fire” after a few minutes. While you can expect similar results, keep in mind that you are the one who has to put the burn into your workout.

Based on the reviews above, this machine rocks. That being said, someone had a different view on the product. According to this customer, the machine slides around, so you will need to purchase a workout mat. If you have knee or back issues, this machine is only about 8 inches from the ground, making it hard to mount. Before you buy, compare the heights of each of these rowers to determine which is the best height for you.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

The incline rower is moderately priced to fit the budget of many consumers. It is also lighter and smaller than some of the other options on this list. Those who cannot lift heavy objects or those with limited space should consider this row machine for their home. As seen in the customer reviews, this product is rather low to the ground and has given some customers issues.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood by Water Rower

Natural Rowing Machine in Ash Wood by Water RowerWhy We Love It:

The Natural Rowing Machine is our “Fitnessator Honorable Mention.” With nearly 300 reviews, many people have experience and useful information regarding this product. Water rower machines operate differently than a conventional row machine. These machines have a built-in water tank that creates resistance on small paddles inside. The paddles in the tank are connected to the rowing handlebar. As you can imagine, the more resistance that the water puts on the paddles in the tank, the higher the resistance on the handlebars when you pull. This makes the experience very similar to what you would feel out on the water.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 1000 lbs
  • The water flywheel creates resistance and closely resembles an “out on the water” feel
  • Measures intensity, stroke rate, and heart rate
  • Total product weight is 117 lbs. Dimensions: 83in x 24in x 21in
  • Amazon.com price: $1160 + FREE Shipping (+ $80.24 with expert assembly)
Things to Consider:

The Natural Rower is a larger and heavier piece of equipment compared to some of the other models. It can hold a user up to 1000 lbs, so you know that it is constructed to be sturdy. Also, it is the only water rowing machine that made the top picks list. Another cool feature of this water rower is that it is primarily constructed of wood (rather than metal, steel, or plastic). That being said, the Natural Rower may complement your home better than other machines. 

Customer Reviews:

As you can guess, we were interested to see the customer reviews for this piece. Luckily, we were even able to find a review that compared this model to the top pick product. According to one customer, this water rower is “zen-like” due to its quietness and comfortable seat. For those who like to watch TV while working out, this quiet water rower will not disrupt your binge-watching.

Unlike the customer above, other customers did not enjoy this product as much. Per their reviews, setting up this rower was a hassle and very difficult to accomplish. Also, they claimed that the water pump was cheap and caused water and air to leak out of the tank.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

The Natural Rower has the highest max capacity weight compared to the other products on this list. With the high user weight capacity, those who are overweight or obese can utilize this product for exercise. It also is the only product in this review that uses a water tank for resistance. Consider this product if you are a sport rower so that you can train like you would out on the water.

Best Row Machine for Under $225

Magnetic Rowing Machine by Sunny Health & Fitness

Magnetic Rowing Machine by Sunny Health & FitnessWhy We Love It:

This is another row machine by Sunny Health & Fitness. The Magnetic Row Machine is a great row machine to consider since it is lower in price than the others on the list. There are nearly 1000 reviews about this product online.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 250 lbs
  • Contains 8 resistance levels
  • Tracks calories, strokes, and time but does not track distance
  • Total product weight is 59 lbs. Dimensions: 82in x 19in x 23in
  • Amazon.com price: $214.39 + FREE Shipping (+ $80.24 with expert assembly)
Things to Consider:

The product has a max user weight of 250 lbs. Some people may be over the max weight limit. Before you buy, make sure that you are purchasing a row machine that is made for your weight.

Customer Reviews:

As you can imagine, we expected a good customer response with this budget-friendly rower. Surprisingly, this cheap rower is very quiet and smooth. If you remember some of the other products on this list, the more expensive rowers sometimes were loud and clunky for customers. Based on the Magnetic Rower reviews, you can get a quiet and smooth rower that is cheaper than comparable products. Also, customers say that it provides a serious workout.

Commonly, cheap products have their issues. According to one customer, there were issues with the longevity (or lack thereof) of the product. Apparently, the customer was able to work out on the rower about 5 times before the machine started making strange clunking noises.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

While this is a cheaper row machine, remember that this machine can only tolerate 250 lbs. Don’t invest in a row machine that can’t withstand your weight! Otherwise, if you are looking for a no-frills row machine that is cheaper than other options, this one may be best for you.

Best Row Machine for Under $125

Body Trac Glider 1050 by Stamina

Body Trac Glider 1050 by StaminaWhy We Love It:

If you are looking for a really cheap rower for sale, this is your best option! This budget-friendly row machine received 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com. It is the #3 best seller in rowers. Nearly 2350 customers have reviewed this product, so you can find a lot of valuable information before you buy. The Body Trac is also the most compact row machine on the list.

Details:
  • Max user weight capacity is 250 lbs
  • Foldable paddles for compact storage
  • Adjustable hydraulic resistance
  • Total product weight is 39 lbs. Dimensions: 50in x 12in x 10in
  • Amazon.com price: $111.99 + FREE Shipping (+ $80.24 with expert assembly)
Things to Consider:

While this is the cheapest row machine on this list, remember that this machine can only tolerate 250 lbs. Avoid investing in a row machine that can’t withstand your weight! While some people may fall under the limit, some people may not.

Customer Reviews:

As mentioned before, this product has nearly 2350 reviews. We found one noteworthy positive review about this product. According to one customer, the rower is a great machine for the price, but they had to get creative to modify the foot pedals to fit their feet. While they claim it was an “easy fix” involving cutting PVC pipe and attaching it to the food pedal, most people may not want to deal with that. If you want minimal adjustments to be made on your new rower, check the foot pedals or consider one of the other products.

Despite the 4 out of 5 star rating, there are some drawbacks to this product. Per one dissatisfied customer, the machine was too noisy and clunky during use. While he ended up having the product fixed, he experienced the same issues after 2 or 3 months of use.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

The Body Trac Glider is lightweight, smaller, and cheaper than our Fitnessator’s Top Pick. If you need a compact machine for a small home, you should consider purchasing this product over some of the others on this list. Likewise, if you are on a budget or on the fence about buying a rower, this cheap row machine may be a great way to test out this type of product.

The Rundown on Row Machines

Here is a quick way to compare all the rowing machines we reviewed in this article. Hopefully by using this list, you can find the best row machine for your needs.

Product Less than $150 Less than $300 Max weight is 300+ lbs User rating greater than 4.5 stars
Model D (Top Pick) X X
Incline Rower (Runner Up) X X
Water Rower (Honorable Mention) X X
Magnetic Rower X
Body Trac Glider X X

 

Sample Workout: Row Machine

Now that you can better determine which row machine is the best fit for you and your lifestyle, here’s a sample workout to try. Our workout exercises your upper body, lower body, and cardiovascular ability. Once you get accustomed to your new rower, follow the step-by-step workout below.

Interval Meters Minutes Resistance levels (increase from any starting resistance)
Warm up 5 Starting resistance
Interval 1 5 Starting resistance; 40 seconds hard rowing + 20 seconds easy rowing
Interval 2 500 +2 levels from start; at your own pace
Rest & Stretch 2
Interval 3 10 Starting resistance; 40 seconds hard rowing + 20 seconds easy rowing
Interval 4 250 +3 levels from start
Interval 5 250 +4 levels from start
Cool down 5-10 Starting resistance; easy rowing

 

Before you Purchase

As you can see, rowing machines can be a great addition to your home workout space, but they may not be suitable for everyone. Remember that if you have trouble sitting or getting down on low objects, a rower may not be right for you. As always, consult your doctor before starting any exercise routine. Upon their approval, use the rundown above and the list of products we reviewed in this article. Try out our workout once you feel comfortable on your new row machine.

Thinking about your past, have you ever used a row machine before? What other machines do you use to get a full-body workout? Stationary bikes? Ellipticals? Or, have you not found a full-body machine yet? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

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