14 Best Rowing Machines in 2023, According to Fitness Experts

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Burn calories and build muscle with these low-impact exercise machines. Commercial Magnetic Rower

14 Best Rowing Machines in 2023, According to Fitness Experts

Looking for an at-home workout? The best rowing machines offer a full-body exercise at home in one compact piece of equipment, no gym membership necessary—just one of the many reasons they’re so popular. Much like an under-desk treadmill, some of the picks on our list even fold up for storage, so they won’t take up precious space!

As you invest in your home gym, consider adding a rowing machine alongside your treadmill, your weight set, and your fitness accessories for a great low-impact workout in about 20 minutes. Just ask Nick Karwoski, a Hydrow athlete and triathlete, who swears by them.

Meet the experts: Nick Karwoski, a Hydrow athlete and triathlete, Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.

“Using a rowing machine is one of the most efficient ways to get a cardiovascular and strength training workout in a short amount of time,” he says. “We live in an ever-stressed world, where we’re constantly sitting and rounding our backs, but rowing helps correct this by engaging those lats and sitting upright.”

Ready to row? We’ve corralled the best rowing machines for an at-home, full-body cardio, and strength workout below. You’ll never have to wait your turn at the gym again.

If you’ve ever used a rowing machine at the gym, chances are it’s from Concept2. Gym owners love it almost as much as online reviewers; in fact, an astounding 95% of Amazon customers (that’s over 11,000 people!) give it a perfect five stars.

With adjustable footrests and an ergonomic handle, this model can record your workout data and can even connect to your favorite fitness app. Not only does it support up to 500 pounds, it’s easy to assemble and you can also easily move it around your home thanks to its convenient caster wheels.

A regular CrossFitter, Prevention’s digital director Allie Early uses this machine twice a week for a full-body workout. “The rower is lightweight and easy for anyone to move around, and the panel folds down so you can easily store the machine vertically in a corner,” she says, adding that it measures helpful stats, like stroke rate, and offers interval options.

Jim White, R.D.N., A.C.S.M. Ex-P, owner of Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios is also a fan. “It has many options for you to customize it to your needs, like adjustable footrests and adjustable airflow, and it accommodates users up to 6.6 feet tall with a high maximum weight capacity at 500 pounds.”

What the Reviews Say: “This machine rides like a Cadillac...I can also watch TV at just over normal volume and hear everything,” writes one reviewer on Amazon. “Having this machine in the house is great. A 15 minute workout in the morning takes 15 minutes and 30 seconds...Did I mention this machine is smooth?”

Often lauded as the quietest kind of rowing machines, magnet-driven devices keep noise to a minimum—ideal for using at home, any hour of the day. This affordable option (from a brand that also makes one of our favorite exercise bikes) boasts eight resistance levels, on top of an “incredibly quiet” design, according to Amazon reviewers; it’s even possible to watch TV while you use it.

Sturdy and durable, it’s made of quality, heavy-duty steel and has a maximum weight capacity of 350 pounds—not to mention, it has a foldable design and wheels that make it easy to move around your home.

What the Reviews Say: “This is the best rower I’ve ever used. I’ve used many brands of high end rowers in gyms. I typically need the hardest or near hardest setting to feel like I’m really working muscles. This machine is hard on four; I usually use three. It’s also very quiet....The mechanics are smooth and comfortable, nothing loose or jerking.”

Shoppers say that this rower is smooth, very easy to assemble, and sturdier than its price might suggest, making it a great investment for newbies. “This rowing machine has all the basics and necessities that you would need when just getting started in rowing,” White says.

It uses a magnetic mechanism for resistance, with 16 different levels of tension—and it offers a slip-resistant handlebar and large padded seating that holds up to 285 pounds. The machine is also foldable for convenient storage, making it a great option for small home gyms. All in all, it may not have all the bells and whistles of the upgraded models, but for many athletes, that’s OK—especially with a fairly affordable price tag.

What the Reviews Say: “This appears, so far, to be quite a catch,” one Amazon reviewer writes. “If you are looking to keep it reasonable in price, this is a top option for sure. It seems to perform quite well and quietly at that.”

If you’re looking for a reliable rowing machine, this model has all the essentials necessary for a powerful at-home rowing workout. Because it uses a magnetic tension system (complete with eight levels of resistance), this rowing machine is always quiet.

It also comes with a large LCD console that displays your meters rowed, calorie count, and time—so you can easily keep track of your workout. And bonuses like the fully padded seat, no-slip foot pedals, and handlebars make it comfortable to row so you can go the distance.

“All in all, this is a great option to think about when buying a rowing machine,” says White, who notes that this Sunny Health & Fitness rower is a step up fro the RW5801 model that also made our list.

What the Reviews Say: “This is the quietest rower I’ve ever used,” says one reviewer. “It’s smooth and has decent number of levels of resistance. Very stable and doesn’t move on a wood floors during a vigorous workout...honestly, this rower is better than some I’ve used in professional gyms.”

NordicTrack’s RW900 is the rowing machine to beat: With an ergonomic, molded seat made for comfort, an easy-to-use 22-inch touchscreen display, and powerful performance trackers, it’s a major upgrade on the rower you might be used to using at the gym.

Better yet, a one-year iFit membership, which includes personalized training built upon 26 coach-controlled resistance levels, comes with your purchase. Even as you’re sweating like crazy, the RW900 works quietly. And when you’re done, it folds up and wheels away for easy storage.

What the Reviews Say: “The rower itself is very very smooth and sturdy...the iFit videos are excellent and make my workouts zip by!” writes one reviewer. “All in all, the NordicTrack rower is definitely the complete package!”

This indoor rowing machine is hydraulic, delivering smooth, adjustable resistance that’s also budget-friendly. With 12 levels of adjustable resistance, the machine’s design ensures that it actually feels like the natural motion of rowing, with reviewers saying that it provides quite the workout.

Plus, it’s designed with comfort and convenience in mind: A deep, ergonomic seat and textured footplates allow you to row comfortably, and it also has a compact, foldable design, so that once you’re done, you can stow it away easily.

What the Reviews Say: “The machine is quiet, runs smooth; [I] never felt any excessive strain anywhere in my body. It never squeaked at all. The resistance was excellent and never lost resistance for me. I got a great work out on it,” writes one satisfied customer on Amazon.

Details like a smartphone and tablet stand, a simple stats screen, and app compatibility elevate this rowing machine above the competition, especially because it costs just under $400. It uses water for resistance, with six different customizable levels, and also has adjustable non-slip pedals as well as a large tablet stand—so you can comfortably watch TV during your workout.

Made of quality solid steel and able to support up to 330 pounds, the machine also has a sturdy build and a sleek design. Plus, its only noise is the calming sound of its 16 blades swishing water inside the tank.

What the Reviews Say: “This HouseFit water rower, hands down, is the best piece of workout equipment I’ve ever owned, period,” one Amazon reviewer raves. “I can’t stress enough the sturdiness and quality of this water rower, and it’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye.”

Looking for a no-frills, compact rowing machine? Try this simple, sliding machine that’s designed with 12 resistance levels. The handlebar doesn’t quite mimic rowing, but at this price, reviewers don’t really mind. It’s also designed with comfort in mind, providing foam handlebars, pivoting foot pedals, and a cushioned seat.

Plus, you can check up on your stats with a small forward-facing digital monitor that displays the time spent rowing and calorie count right on the handle–after which you can congratulate yourself on spending next to nothing.

What the Reviews Say: “I was skeptical of the quality of this product because of the low price, but was very surprised at how great this rower is,” raves one Amazon reviewer. “Perfect in a small area, and easy to store/lightweight. Worth every penny!”

With a magnetic tension system instead of air resistance, this popular rowing machine by Velocity is ideal for its whisper-quiet noise level. The design is great, too, coming in a sturdy aluminum frame with padded seating to reduce pressure on your lower back and an ergonomic handle for easy grip.

The machine is easy to assemble, according to reviewers, and it conveniently displays your stats on a large LCD screen. Not to mention, it even comes with a heart rate monitor to keep an eye on your workout intensity.

What the Reviews Say: “The machine itself is very heavy and durable, easy to assemble and move, space-efficient, quiet, and it gives you a great workout,” says one satisfied customer. “I love knowing I can work out pretty much any time of the day without traveling anywhere or making too much noise.”

This rowing machine layers on the resistance with an electromagnetic drag mechanism. It has an ergonomically designed seat for comfort and an industrial-grade strap for smooth strokes. You can follow along with more than 4,000 rowing workouts on the machine’s 22-inch touchscreen display, or pivot the screen for mat workouts to switch things up. When you’re not using the lightweight equipment, you can store it vertically to instantly get back your floor space.

“Hydrow offers an incredible, full-body workout in just 20 minutes,” says Karwoski. “It’s an immersive experience that makes on-the-water rowing available to everyone.” Along with the realistic rowing experience the machine provides, Karwoski loves its “super sleek” design and the fact that it’s “near silent.”

What the Reviews Say: “Best. Purchase. Ever. This is the quietest, sturdiest rowing machine I’ve used. The touchscreen display is high quality and delivers stunning videos. The athlete trainers are fantastic!” said one reviewer. “Best of all, the Hydrow rows like a dream.”

This highly-rated rower has 16 fan blades enclosed in a water tank, creating the same feel and resistance you’d get while rowing on water. It has sweat resistant handlebars and a molded, padded seat for extra comfort, as well as an LCD monitor that shows your stroke count, calories, and distance, so you can create the perfect training plan for you.

There is one thing to consider, however: Reviewers say that the footplates tend to swivel and are not fixed, which means this option is probably better for experienced rowers who are already confident in their form.

What the Reviews Say: “The assembly looks intimidating but was very easy. The workout is smooth. You can control your own resistance based on how intense you row. I go anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes and [feel] very satisfied,” says one user. “It lifts up for easy storage so it doesn’t monopolize your space.”

This at-home rower will help you reach your fitness goals in style. Handcrafted from locally sourced cherry wood, the exterior is sleek and perfect for just about any room in your home. It also folds up for easy storage. The wheels on the back of the rower make it easy to move and store all by yourself (no need to call your neighbor to help you move your machine).

Plus, it has an android-powered touchscreen and is Bluetooth-enabled for both heart rate monitors and audio (though wifi is required). Although this pick comes in at a steep price, reviewers say it’s worth it.

What the Reviews Say: “When I say we love this product, I mean we LOVE it. It’s beautiful, compact and gives you a rocket of a workout every time you strap in. The content options are endless and I love exploring new rows/challenges,” raves one reviewer.

With an intuitive LCD display and a convenient folding design, this surprisingly affordable magnetic rowing machine has rave reviews because it’s simple and dependable. Not only does it provide 16 different levels of resistance options, but the sturdy and durable design also can support up to 350 pounds.

The rower is easy to assemble, can fold right up for quick and convenient storage, and is easy to move thanks to its transport wheels. Plus, reviewers love how smooth and quiet the machine is while you’re using it.

What the Reviews Say: “Assembly was simple, instructions were clear, also came with all necessary tools,” one shopper raves. “Living in an upstairs apartment I was hoping to get a very quiet machine, and this is perfect! Makes almost no noise at all.”

Though it’s listed for $400, this Merach Rowing Machine has just about everything you could want in an at-home rower. It uses a magnetic flywheel system and allows you to toggle between 16 levels of resistance with a straightforward knob that controls the tension. It also connects to an app via Bluetooth so you can track and measure you workouts and accomplishments.

Made with dual titanium alloy slide rails, it’s stable and quiet. It can hold up to 350 pounds and accommodate people who are up to 6’ 7” tall.

What the reviews say: “This machine is incredible for the price! It is very responsive and has an amazing range on the resistance levels.”

✔️ Pick your mechanism. Rowing machines with water, magnetic, hydraulic, and air resistance are all available, and each has its pros and cons. Water and air are smoother, magnets are quieter, and hydraulics are usually cheaper. Depending on your space, experience level, and budget, each could end up being an ideal option.

✔️Consider size. When you’re making your final decision, make sure you have enough space for your ideal model—it might be longer or wider than you’re anticipating, and it’s a pain to return a rowing machine. (We suggest measuring your home gym before you start your search.)

✔️ Balance features with cost. There are rowing machines at pretty much every price point, from $100 to over $2,000. Features like touchscreen displays, built-in workouts, and data reporting come at a premium, but they really do help beginners and serious athletes alike make their workouts better. However, they’re not necessary if they’re not in your budget. Some high-end rowers also require subscriptions, so watch out for those fees, too.

Proper form is key to an efficient and safe rowing workout. Here’s how to use a rowing machine, as previously reported by Prevention.

Step 1: Get into catch position. In this starting position, feet are in the heel cups of a rowing machine with the strap tightly secured over your shoelaces. Holding onto the handlebar with both hands and arms extended, knees are bent and torso is leaning slightly forward as you sit on the seat cushion toward the front of the machine.

Step 2: Straighten legs. The first movement on a rowing machine is led with the legs. Push both legs straight out powerfully, using the glutes and quads to send the seat toward the back of the machine.

Step 3: Lean back. Once legs are straight, lean the torso back farther than a 90-degree angle, keeping a flat back. Use your core to maintain the position and take the work out of the lower back.

Step 4: Pull arms to chest. While engaging your core and leaning back with straight legs, pull the handlebar to your chest. Finish the movement by pushing the arms forward and reversing the first three steps: Lean forward, bend knees, and return to the starting position. That’s one rep. You’ll repeat this motion until you meet your time or rep goal.

Using a rowing machine regularly can provide numerous benefits throughout the whole body. “The rowing machine combines strength and endurance and as a cardio exercise can strengthen a person’s cardiovascular system as well with progressive use,” says White.

This type of exercise provides a full body workout, White says. “Consistency with this machine will bring about positive effects to not only your quads, calves, and glutes but also secondary benefits to the upper body muscles, such as pecs, arms, and abs as well,” he explains.

Check out more of the benefits of using a rowing machine:

Rowing machines a great calorie-burning exercise that strengthens your cardiovascular system—which means that yes, consistent exercise with a rowing machine may help with your weight loss goals, given that you’re pairing it with a proper healthy diet.

“The intensity of the workout mainly depends on the user, but performing the workout still burns a substantial amount of calories and adding this to your exercise routine along with maintaining a caloric deficit-based diet will certainly yield an increase in weight loss,” explains White.

Although rowing might appear to be mostly an upper-body workout, your legs and glutes are actually the main muscles driving your stroke. “Rowing is 80% legs and 20% upper body,” Karwoski says. “But it also forces you to engage your core and back, so you feel completely connected from your feet to your shoulders.

Unlike running and other high-impact exercises like HIIT, it’s a low-impact workout that goes easy on your joints, making rowers ideal for just about anyone, especially those recovering from an injury or who are newer to exercise.

Jake Smith, an editorial fellow at Prevention, recently graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in magazine journalism and just started going to the gym. Let's be honest—he's probably scrolling through Twitter right now.

Ellen McAlpine is a commerce editor and writer at Hearst Magazines, covering tech, fitness, lifestyle, and beyond. In her time as a writer, she’s covered everything from top tech items like running watches and ring lights to phone cases and beauty tools. 

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14 Best Rowing Machines in 2023, According to Fitness Experts

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