Best Rowing Machine Reviews – Our Top Rowers For 2017!
Rowing Machine Reviews and Ratings Provided by Experienced Trainers and Rower Enthusiasts
Top Rowing Machines for 2017
If you are serious about building up your stamina to competitive standards and constantly tracking and improving your fitness levels, then a rowing machine might be the perfect choice for you.
Not only will a rower work your upper body, but these exercise machines will also target your abdominal, calf and thigh muscles. With a rowing machine you can easily get in a full body workout, and all of the benefits that come with it.
Trying to find the top reviewed row machine to maximize your workouts in 2017? We recommend the Concept2 Model D with PM5. Trust us when we say it is a monster.
If your workout budget is tight and don’t really see yourself spending a lot of money for a rowing machine then you might find Stamina Air Rower to be a better suit for yourself. It’s inexpensive but delivers the performance that comes with an air rower. It’s compact and designed for comfort. While it does leave out on some critical upgrades, at this price tag, it is definitely a big bargain.
Our Top Rowing Machines
Read our comprehensive reviews, find detailed comparison charts and comprehensive buying guides all designed to make it a little easier for you to buy the right rowing machine for your next workout.
Best Rowing Machines for Competitive preparation and Triathlons
Concept2 Model D – Model D is a monster compared to other rowing machines and if you’re seriously working your improving your fitness levels then this one is a worthy investment.
Stamina Avari – The next best option to the Model D. The Stamina Avari has a lot to offer and the sleek design, state-of-the-art tech and magnetic resistance are just the highlights.
Best Rowing Machines for Beginners
Stamina Air Rower – This rowing machine has the best value that money can buy, in our opinion. It comes with everything you would get with high end row machine but at a cost that fits smaller budgets.
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is the only piston powered rower that made it to our list. Real rowing (oar-like) action, rather than just pulling on a single T-bar at very low cost.
Concept2 Model E
Concept2 Model D
Stamina Air Rower
Our Winners: Best Rowing Machines
#1 Recommendation: Concept 2 Model D With PM5
The Concept2 Model D (Black) with PM5 is priced is our top choice for 2017 due to its beautiful, sleek and ergonomic design.
The model D by Concept2 comes is supported by an aluminum monorail frame.
Secondly, the machine features a spiral damper that allows you to adjust the airflow and keeps noise to a minimum and making it possible to enjoy music during your workouts. The seat is comfortable to sit on during long workouts and provides the required stability during intense workouts.
The handles provide a firm grip even after a sweaty 30-40 minute workout. Thanks to the air resistance makes the whole rowing process flows surprisingly smoothly, without sudden jerking motions.
Rowing machines can get noisy and while there is some noise that is generated due to the resistance, it is not distracting or annoying. However, if you do not like it, you could always play some background music while you workout.
The machine is easy to dismantle into two convenient parts. Simply use the quick locks to move it around.
A feature that sets this machine apart from other rowers is the bright display that monitors important stats during your workout. The screen will display the intensity level and length of the workout, as well the distance rowed and how many calories were burned.
It is even possible to choose a specific resistance level that matches your current level of fitness. And while a lot of other rowers do offer this kind of technology, the one used in Model D offers 160×160 resolution, and your workout data is conveniently stored on a USB card. Best of all, it can be downloaded into MyFitnessPal app so you analyze your performance as it grows. This is a good upgrade for those of you who want to constantly improve.
This is a good upgrade for those of you who want to constantly improve upon your strength and endurance or if you’re a fitness nerd like me. However, if you’re not excited by data and just need a rowing machine for a daily home workout, then Stamina Air Rower is more than enough.
Concept2 Model D integrates a great build quality with a lot of features and that’s what has made it bulk up in size.
This is one of the key drawbacks of this machine and shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, as long as you have enough space to place it.
The Model D does come with a cost that is on the higher-end which makes it a high-end rowing machine and if you’re looking for a rower to use in your workouts for the next few years then it is well worth the investment.
We do understand that everyone might not be able to afford the C2 Model D which is why we’ve included reviews on some budget friendly options, but if you can afford it this really is the best rower you can get.
#2 Recommendation: Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower
Listed among the top 10 best-selling rowing machines on Amazon, the Stamina Avari is the next best choice after the Concept 2 Model D.
Stamina has done an excellent job on overall design and build quality with the Avari. For example, the rowing beam is reinforced with extruded aluminum to ensure durability.
It’s a comfortable machine with padded seats and handlebar. Fortunately, the footrest has the width to prevent your feet from slipping. While it might sound weird, a lot of rowers do not come with enough space at the footrest which can gets a little annoying 10-15 minutes into your workout.
Talking about assembly… the assembly process for Stamina Avari is a breeze. Best of all, it only takes a short period of time to put it together. Simply attach the three pieces together, plug the row machine in and it’s ready to go.
The main advantage of the Stamina Avari is that it comes with the In Touch® Fitness Monitor. This is what gives this rower its “life”. With it you really do have basically everything you’ll ever need to get the most out of your workouts. Change resistance with the up and down keys or choose from one of the 12 pre-set workout programs. This way you can track your calorie count, distance covered, duration, intensity level of your workout and even your pulse rate.
Another high end rower that justifies its price and beyond. At a big price difference, the Avari gives a very tough competition to the Model D.
#3 Recommendation: Stamina Air Rower
The machine is constructed on a sturdy steel frame. The handle is attached to the damper by a durable nylon strap. The seat is a little larger than most, which I personally liked because there’s a lot of room to adjust yourself during intense workouts.
Surprisingly, even at a low price point, the Stamina Air Rower comes with a digital monitor so you can easily keep track of all your workout stats. This includes speed, the distance you rowed, the length of the session, along with the number of calories burnt.
The price is definitely one of this rowing machine’s strongest selling points.
Stamina Air Rower is priced just right and there isn’t another machine that can top it in the performance and functionality you get without breaking your budget.
#4 Recommendation: Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is the only piston powered rower that made it to our list.
The frame is constructed from high quality steel and comes with an aluminum beam for added durability. Compared to other rowing machines it is relatively compact in size and when this is combined with its lightweight build it is easy to store when you’re not working out.
The machine also comes with a small monitor that displays the pertinent details of your workout. See the distance you travelled, total time spent working out and how many calories you burned during the session.
#5 Recommendation: ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine
ProRower is classified as a traditional water rower and while this makes it impossible to compare to models from Stamina or Concept2, water rowers have their own advantages. If you only need a model that actually uses water to provide resistance, this rower machine might make sense for you to purchase. If not, there are other types of rowing machines that will make it easier for you to reach your fitness goals a little faster.
The ProRower is well built from a solid framework to a comfortable ergonomic seat.
There’s little room for complaint when it comes to the design. The footrest isn’t as wide as you might want it to be but it’s something you can work with.
The ProRower H20 RX-750 does come with a digital monitor that will display important workout stats that include, distance, duration and number of calories burned.
There have been reports of inconsistent readings when it comes to the heart and stroke rate. These metrics don’t always work as well as we would’ve have liked, and we found that the readings were often inaccurate.
Unfortunately this seems to be a main setback associated with water-powered rowing machines since we’ve also seen this issue with natural water rowers.
All things considered, this is a dependable model if you’re in the market for a waterrower. If this isn’t important to you then I strongly suggest that you consider the Stamina Avari or the Concept2 Model D as an option more suitable for you.
#6 Recommendation: Xterra ERG400
Even if you’ve been looking for a rowing machine for a while or another type of cardio training machine for home, there is a good chance that Xterra will seem like a newly introduced model. This is due to the fact that while the company has been in the sports business for several years, and known for making treadmills, spin bikes and other exercise machines they have focused primarily on meeting the needs of tri-athletes.
comes with an aluminum beam that provides support and stability. We also found the overall construction and design to be surprisingly attractive considering this is an exercise machine.
Unfortunately the other aspects of the rower machine only boasts a mediocre quality and this includes comfort. The seat looks and feels cheap, and it won’t keep you comfortable during long workouts.
When it comes to the construction and design, these are definitely not the ERG400 strongest features.
Technology and Performance
While the design of this rower machine brought disappointment this is definitely not the case when it comes to its performance capabilities.
The ERG400 boasts 16 levels of electronic resistance that can be easily adjusted as needed. Simply choose the select the setting by using the integrated LCD Console.
Best of all this rower allows you to track everything you need to improve your overall endurance. The bright LCD screen clearly displays the length of the workout, number of strokes that you’ve made, distance, calories burned during the session, along with your speed.
The rowing motions are relatively smooth, without any sudden jerks that can disrupt your rhythm.
For a mid-priced row machine it does perform above average and this is why it made onto our list.
How is a Row Machine Designed?
How is a Rowing Machine Designed?
The basic concept of a row machine consists of a handle that is connected to a damper using a connecting cable.
The only difference that you’ll see in various machines, in terms of design, is the way motion takes place while rowing.
Most commonly, you’ll have the flywheel and the foot stretcher that are stationary and the motion will be handled by a sliding seat and is commonly known as ‘Fixed head’ ergometer.
Another variation would be where both the seat and the foot stretcher move together and this design is commonly known as a ‘Floating head’ ergometer.
Types of Rowing Machines
There are 4 different types of rowing machines when it comes to the functional design and these are primarily differentiated by the way they generate resistance and the intensity of the resistance that is generated.
Here are the four types of machines that you can choose from:
1. Air Resistance
This is probably the best technology present in the market right now this is probably the one you’ll end up with.
Concept2 builds their machines around the same concept, this is what you’ll see in local gyms and this is what I got for my personal use.
Here’s how it works.
As you pull the handle, the spinning flywheel builds up resistance in the form of wind and thus the intensity of the resistance is directly proportional to the amount of force you apply.
This is what makes these the best option for people who are just starting out with rowing workouts.
2. Water Resistance
These type of machines are more popular among professional rowers as the friction and the resistance that is generated is very similar to what you would experience when you row in water.
These machines are definitely developed for athletes and those who are serious about competing professionally.
3. Piston Resistance
Piston resistance mechanism is common in the low-end machines and if you’re just starting out and you’re on a budget then these machine is probably what you’d want to go with.
As suggested by the name, the machine uses pistons to generate resistance that you’ll have to work against and it generally works out well as an upper body workout.
4. Magnetic Resistance
Magnetic rowers are the cheapest options in the market and while they’re light and simple to use.
Since they use electromagnets to build up the resistance, they really do not offer the intensity of resistance that one needs for an effective workout.
This is good for light workouts and if you’re looking forward to add 5-10 minutes rowing in your daily workout. However, these machines will not provide you the performance you need to really tone up and build some serious muscle.
You should also be concerned about other aspects about a machine like the amount of space it takes, how much it weighs, what level of workouts are you planning to do on them and how much can you spend for an effective workout.
Yes, there do exist trade-offs when it comes to size, price and performance and that is why we have selected the best machines from each category.
What are the Benefits of using a Rowing Machine?
I’ve been working out on a Concept2 Model D, for my cardio, the past 6 months and it has been truly one of the things that I’m actually excited about working out on.
Rowing machines give you a good variation from the traditional treadmill runs and if you plan on getting one for your home then listen to me and place it next to a window that has a good view. You’ll never skip another rowing machine workout again!
It brings a lot of stuff to the table and one reason why I use it daily is that it is a “full body workout” i.e. it is a compound exercise that involves a huge range of muscle groups and thus promotes muscle buildup in almost every part of your body.
Second, it burns a ton of calories and this is why I love it for my cardio. Did you know that an hour long session on one of these can burn unto 1000 calories?
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid while Rowing
A lot of people like working out on a row machine but just like any other workout, if you do not do it right then you can do more harm than good to your body.
Since, rowing is a pretty simple movement.
Here are 5 common posture and movement mistakes that you need to avoid to make sure you’re not doing it wrong.
1. Not checking the Damper Settings
Just like any other workout, make sure you start out at a low intensity and if it looks too low then consider it a warm up session and get your posture and positioning right.
Once you’ve figured out what is the right posture and seating arrangement, then you can slowly dial up the resistance to make it challenging.
You can start at three and depending upon your level of fitness, dial it up to 5.
2. Not using your lower body
Most people purchase the rowing machine since it offers a complete body workout but they end up using just their upper body while working out.
This is not right. Ideally, 60% of your effort should be put in through your legs and the rest should be powered by your arms and torso.
3. Not rowing in the right way
Rowing is a compound exercise and thus requires you to simultaneously use different body parts.
Here’s the exact way you need to do the row:
Push with your legs.
Pivot backwards in a slight backward leaning position.
And pull the handle with your arms.
4. Hunching back during the stroke
Make sure you have your chest out and back straight while working out. Hunching can cause injuries to your back and lower back area.
Please refer to the image provided in the last point for the right way to row on a machine.
5. Using momentum to complete rows
This is a common mistake when it comes to working out in general and happens when you’re trying to pull/push/lift more weight than you’re capable of.
Make sure you adjust resistance at a level that you can work out on and do not have to use momentum or jerk your body to complete the row.
A better posture and right movement is critical to your safety and growth of your muscles. Make sure that the level of resistance you choose is challenging but allows you to maintain good posture and enough reps to be effective.
Avoid making these 5 mistakes and you’ll row your way into new levels of stamina and endurance while building up the beach body.
Please make sure you’re in good health to work out on a rowing machine. Please visit healthfinder.gov to learn about the basic types of activity you can do to get started.
3 High-Intensity Rowing Workouts for Maximum Results
Once I received my rowing machine, I couldn’t wait to get on it and row myself to six pack abs.
The only problem was that I didn’t know what would be the best way to approach my workouts.
Now, I workout 3 times a week, 45-60 minute session each on my row machine and I like to workout in a different every session.
Here are the three workouts that I’m currently following for my 3 sessions every week and if you’re someone who’s interested in maximum results then you really need to take notes here.
1000 meter meltdown
I first read about this workout routine in the Men’s Health magazine and it is an amazing way to test your limits.
The point is to row for 1000 meters.
Now this can be challenging depending on how long you’ve been working out but here’s the recommended way of going about it:
Warm up for 5-10 minutes
Set the resistance settings to medium
Divide the complete 1000 meter row into 3 parts
Vary your Strokes-per-minute with every interval
Take 3-4 minutes of rest between each set of rows.
It’s just what it sounds like, rowing to the beat.
The goal here is to alternate between different intensities of workout and really force your body to push and recover at fast intervals.
Here’s what you need to do:
Set up a 30 minute up-beat workout playlist.
Warm up during the first song
Set the level to medium
Increase the intensity of rowing (up to 30 strokes per minute) during the chorus and decrease the intensity when the chorus ends.
Repeat for every song.
This is the same approach I used to use while working out on a treadmill or while running outside.
You’ll not know when you are done with your workout and find yourself sweating and motivated to keep pushing.
This is the mother of all rowing machine workouts and can be a real ball-buster when it comes to figuring out how fit you actually are.
You would really have to warm up for at least 10 minutes for this one.
The workout is divided into 5 intervals with short amount of rests in between and I would recommend going for it only after 3-4 weeks of working out on your machine.
Here’s how you need to go about it:
Interval 1: Sprint for 1,000 meters, rest for 3:00
Interval 2: Sprint for 750 meters, rest for 2:30
Interval 3: Sprint for 500 meters, rest for 2:00
Interval 4: Sprint for 250 meters, rest for 2:00
Interval 5: Sprint for 750 meters, cool down
These were the three workout routines that I follow while working out and as you might have judged by now, I’ve never felt better about my body and myself.