Rowing Machine Reviews - Our 10 Best Rowers Compared for 2017!

Ultimate Rowing Machine Reviews and Ratings by Fitness Experts

Top Home Rowing Machines

Rowing machines give you a total body workout that’s unmatched compared to many fitness equipment out in the market.

With countless choices, we’ve broken down the top 10 you will absolutely love.

To make your buying decision effortless and pain-free, we dive into the pros & cons, features, and benefits. We will help you find the best rowing machine to help you with your weight loss or muscle building journey.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 is the standard among all rowers, from beginners to professional athletes. This is the best choice if you want to invest in something to last you a lifetime.

First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower Water Rower Exercise Machine

The Waterclub Rower in Ash wood. What if you could experience rowing down the river, with real water resistance? But all from the comforts of your home? If you’re a professional rower, serious athlete, or fitness enthusiast who wants the replication of a real rowing experience, the First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower is for you.

Is every rowing machine for home the same? Not really!

Continue reading below for our comprehensive rowing machine reviews, detailed comparison charts and comprehensive buying guides – all designed to make it a little easier for you to buy the right model for your fitness goals.

Our Top High-End Rowing Machine Picks

The Concept 2 Model E and the Water Rower Club machines are for the serious athletes who don't want to compromise on quality and performance.

Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

The Concept2 Model E is an incredible upgrade from the Model D. Caters towards a wider audience: If you suffer from mobility issues, this rowing machine is a life saver. An excellent choice for geriatrics. If you’re a tall person and tired of exercise machines not fitting your height, this rower gets rid of that problem for you.

WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

The Gorgeous WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in ash wood construction. You can easily close your eyes and fool yourself into thinking you’re floating on a boat down a lake or river. The best water rower with the smoothest stroking experience – you will fall head-over-heels with this rustic rowing machine. It provides a realistic and fluid motion that’s unparalleled by any other and is ultra-durable.

Our top 2 Best Budget At Home Rowing Machines

The Soozier and the Sunny Health brand machines below are rated as the best budget friendly rowers within our top 10 list.

Soozier Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine

The Soozier is the best rowing machine for beginners. Simple settings. It’s also a great buy for those who are petite! If you want the most basic and compact rowing machine and save tons of money, go with this guy.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634 gives you the essentials. It’s an excellent choice for someone who wants a minimalistic design without all the fancy features or high-tech options the more expensive choices offer. A superb entry-level rowing machine. Gives you a solid workout without breaking the bank.

Our Winners: Best Indoor Rowing Machines 2017

 

  
 
Design
Resistance
Belt
Weight
Mobility
Display
Price

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Design : Aluminum front, Steel rear
Resistance : Air
Belt : Nickel Plated Steel Chain
Weight : 500 lbs.
Mobility : Separate into 2 pieces + wheels
Display : Backlight, USB Drive, Distance, Speed, Pace, Calories, Watts, Bluetooth wireless heart rate monitoring
Price: $$$$

2. First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower Water Rower Exercise Machine

Design : Aluminum
Resistance : Water Flywheel
Belt : Nylon Cord
Weight : 300 lbs.
Mobility : Wheels
Display : Time, distance, 500m split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training, and optional heart rate reception
Price: $$$

3. Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

Design : Aluminum
Resistance : Magnetic
Belt : Nylon Cord
Weight : 275 lbs.
Mobility : Folds
Display : Time, Count, Distance, Calories, Strokes per minute, Pulse, Watt, Backlit
Price: $$$

4. Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Design : Steel
Resistance : Air
Belt : Nickel Plated Steel Chain
Weight : 500 lbs.
Mobility : Separate into 2 pieces + Wheels
Display : Backlight, USB Drive, Distance, Speed, Pace, Calories, Watts, Bluetooth wireless heart rate monitoring
Price: $$$$

5. WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

Design : Ash Wood
Resistance : Water Flywheel
Belt : Nylon Cord
Weight : 1000 lbs.
Mobility : Wheels
Display : Workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, and distance. Compatible w/ heart rate monitor
Price: $$$$

#1 Recommendation: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

4.375 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

The Concept2 Model D is the standard among all rowers, from beginners to professional athletes. To be blunt, the Concept2 is the only ergometer seen as acceptable by the entirety of the rowing community globally. You’ll find this in countless gyms and fitness centers. Engineered by a former Olympic rower, there is no comparison when it comes to the most widely recognized and used professional rowing machine in the entire world.

Design

  •    Construction: Aluminum front & steel rear
  •    Resistance: Air
  •    Rowing Belt: Nickel Plated Steel Chain
  •    Display: Backlight, USB drive, distance, speed, pace, calories, watts, Bluetooth wireless heart rate monitoring
  •    Storage & Mobility: Separates into 2 pieces. Caster wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 500 lbs.

Very lightweight but extremely sturdy. This can be used hours a day by multiple people. The chain is not too loud. You may notice a little bit of noise from the air resistance fan, but it’s not loud enough to be an annoyance.

Performance

Performance is where the Concept2 Model D truly shines. The PM5 (Performance Monitor 5) can connect to custom, compatible RowPro software, which is a huge benefit that you only get with a Concept2. The rowing simulators are super fun and engaging! The PM5 monitor saves data on every stroke – this allows you to compete against your own prior rows or online against people around the world. The free software from Concept2 can upload data from a USB cable connection or a USB thumb drive up to online software. You can compare your progress to thousands of others around the world, and see their pictures and standings! For an additional $100, you can purchase the RowPro software which is a highly motivational tool to push you through all of your rowing workouts.

Cheaper exercise machines typically use magnetic resistance, but the Concept2 Model D is air resistance only. The advantage air resistance has over magnetic resistance is that it allows you to begin your row stroke at one level of force. As you build momentum, you end your row stroke with the flywheel moving fast – this makes it easier to pull the last bit out of the flywheel (at this point, your arms would feel like they’re on fire and ready to give out due to magnetic resistance’s constant pressure). Air resistance gives you that feeling of accomplishment when you pull back all the way.

Comfort

The seat is made of firm rubber. Quite frankly, it’s not the softest. You’re not going to feel like you’re sitting on a cloud. But the Concept2 seat has research behind it – it’s designed to balance the perfect amount of cushion during your workout. Softer seats may initially make your butt feel like it’s more comfortable, but it can cut off your blood circulation during longer or more intense sessions. You can always, of course, purchase a gel cushion or softer seat. But we don’t believe that will be necessary.

The ergonomic handle features a 10-degree bend that allows you to row with a natural arm and hand position.

Price

Just shy from a grand. But it is worth every penny.

Bottom Line

Extraordinarily solid. While the Concept2 Model D is more expensive than other options, it is by far the longest-lasting and easiest to maintain. The problem with cheaper rowers is that pieces tend to fall off over time. That’s not the case with the Concept2 Model D.

This rower is great for everyone. Really. And it’s the ultimate rowing machine that will last you last you a lifetime. While the price is on the heftier side, you truly get what you pay for. And more.

#2 Recommendation: First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower

4.275 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

What if you could experience the same feeling of rowing down the river, with real water resistance? But all from the comforts of your home?

Design

  •    Construction: Aluminum
  •    Resistance: Water
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Time, distance, 500m split time, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training, optional heart rate reception
  •    Storage & Mobility: Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 300 lbs.

Stunning and vibrant red. It really dazzles the eyes. Compared to average air rowers, this unit is relatively compact. An excellent choice for individuals who don’t have a large space to place an exercise machine or live in a smaller home. Noise levels are low. This is, however, not a silent rower. It’ll depend on how hard you row (and personal preference), but the sound of water is quite pleasant compared to air or magnetic machines.

Performance

Overall, this is a terrific rower. The First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower is a cool change from traditional models because you can admire the swirling of the water in the tank and listen to the splashing sounds – all of which add to the fun of the workout. If you’re accustomed to air or magnetic resistance (which are usually the rowers in most gyms), the water resistance will feel different.

How it works: There are 4 levels of resistance – you shift the intensity of your workout by adjusting the valve control. By tweaking the valve control, the water goes in and out of the machine’s internal and outer tanks. To start out, adjust the water level by setting it on “1”. This level feels like a nice way to warm up. Keep in mind that the harder you pull, the more resistance the water gives back. This is the beauty of water resistance – it accommodates to how much energy you exert. If you set it to “4,” the workout becomes a little more challenging. But it really depends on how hard you pull. If you pull lightly (even on level “4”), it won’t feel as challenging as it potentially should be. Pull back hard, and it will give you a strong resistance. Overall, this may feel like it’s less challenging because of how smooth it is. But don’t let the fluidity fool you. You will still get a tough cardio workout, increase your fitness level, and improve your muscle tone.

The display gives you a great overview of your stats – it gives you most of what you need to know. It also has a USB port that allows you to download performance data to your computer. A minor complaint is that it doesn’t show you your heart rate. You can purchase a heart rate monitor separately, if you would like that additional feature. Also, it would have been helpful if there were built in programs (like the Concept2 Model D and Model E), to spice up the rowing sessions and to give you that extra motivational push.

Comfort

The seat is comfortable for most workouts unless you stay on it for an excessive amount of time. The seat glides easily back and forth on ball bearings and rollers, allowing for a smooth slide without obnoxious or unwanted noises. The grip is comfortable overall – the handle is foam padded.

Price

This machine is at a higher price point but doesn’t break a grand.

Bottom Line

If you’re a professional rower or serious athlete who wants a replication of a real rowing experience, then this is the best option for you. True rowing enthusiasts will love the soothing and natural sound of water swooshing. If you live in an environment where noise is an issue, this machine will be a wonderful choice because of the minimal noise it produces. Also, if you don’t like traditional fitness machines, but want a quality home rowing machine that has a bit of a personality, then the First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower will give you a unique and enjoyable experience.

#3 Recommendation: Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower

4.225 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

The Stamina Avari is one of the finest magnetic rowers out on the market! If you’re looking to add one to your home gym, the Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower is an excellent buy.

Design

  •    Construction: Steel & aluminum
  •    Resistance: Magnetic
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Backlight, time, count, distance, calories, strokes per minute, pulse, watts
  •    Storage & Mobility: Folds
  •    Max. User Weight: 275 lbs.

The Stamina Avari reminds me of a futuristic, space mobile. While it may not transport you from location to location, it is designed to fully support you throughout your entire workout. The build is very sturdy, made from a steel frame and aluminum beam.

Performance

Utilizes magnetic resistance – adjust from the center monitor by pushing the up or down arrows. This is quite convenient because you don’t have to stop rowing, get up, walk to the front of the machine to change the intensity, sit back down, and start the workout all over again. All you have to do is reach over towards the front and press the appropriate arrow key on the monitor.

Advanced athletes tend to stay away from magnetic rowers because it doesn’t challenge them enough with a high enough resistance. That’s not the case with the Stamina Avari. It pushes a powerful resistance system for a magnetic rower. You’ll definitely feel your heart pumping and muscles working. However, if you’re used to top-of-the-line rowing options (such as the Concept2 models), the Stamina Avari doesn’t give you the full range of motion you may be accustomed to. You can’t extend your arms past your knees when you finish your stroke.

One huge benefit of magnetic rowing machines is how incredibly quiet they are. For people who live in an apartment, or need to be mindful of noise levels – this is one of the most quiet rowing machines for home as you will thank how quiet this thing is.

By the way, we love the fact that the Stamina Avari gives you a free heart rate monitor. Unlike the First Degree Fitness Newport AR, you don’t have to purchase a separate heart rate monitor or feel like you’re lacking a vital piece of information while you’re exercising.

The display: An LCD monitor with 12 complete workout programs (6 cardio programs, 1 manual, 4 custom user programs, and 1 heart rate program). It’s an amazing combination because most rowers  with all these features are set at a much higher price point.

Comfort

The seat is comfortable for about 10-15 minutes. But many users have complained that it becomes unbearable after an extended period of time. You many want to purchase a separate foam or gel cushion if you are not used to sitting on harder surfaces for prolonged periods.

A concern for those who are taller: It comes down to personal tolerance, but for people over 6 feet tall, you may not like the angle and low height.

Price

Mid-price range. It’s a happy medium for the features you get.

Bottom Line

This is a great bargain if you don’t want to spend $1000 or more, but want a solid piece of equipment that will give you all the benefits of a high-quality machine. While it doesn’t perform as well as the Concept2 models, you can still get the same workout results and improve your physique. Making it one of the best indoor rowers around!

#4 Recommendation: Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

4.15 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

The Concept2 Model E is pretty similar to the Concept2 Model D (Our highest rated rowing machine). So what’s the difference? Well, it’s an incredible upgrade from the Model D. This model has all the amazing qualities that the Model D has, with some handy improvements. The Model E employs new techniques to cater towards a wider audience.

Design

  •    Construction: Steel
  •    Resistance: Air
  •    Rowing Belt: Nickel Plated Steel Chain
  •    Display: Backlight, USB drive, Distance, Speed, Pace, Calories, Watts, Bluetooth wireless heart rate monitoring
  •    Storage & Mobility: Separates into 2 pieces. Caster wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 500 lbs.

This was truly built to withstand the most grueling and intense rowing workouts.

Performance

So let’s talk about the main improvement: The Concept2 Model E has a higher seat. It is 6” higher than the Model D. This helps those who are extremely tall, have balance/mobility issues, or have difficulty getting up and down from lower places.

Like the Model D, the Model E is an air resistance rowing machine. The spinning flywheel attached to fan blades creates the resistance. You pull the handle of the rower (which makes the rower spin the fan blades to generate the wind). As you create more wind, it gets harder and harder to pull. But because it’s air resistance, the whole motion feels very smooth.

The Model E also gives you the much-beloved PM5 (Performance Monitor 5). Another improvement with this edition is that the monitor arm is longer. Therefore, the monitor is easier to see because it is closer.

Comfort

As mentioned before, the Concept2 Model E is 6” higher than the Model D (making it a total of 20” off the ground). This height difference makes it way more comfortable for people who are taller. If you have mobility or balance issues, you’ll thank the higher seat placement because you won’t have to get down as low.

Price

A premium rowing machine, the price of the Concept2 Model E is a bit more expensive than the Model D edition due to the upgrades and added features mentioned above.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, you must decide if the price is worth the benefits this machine offers you. It can be frustrating when you have the desire to exercise and want to become stronger but are experiencing physical limitations. If you are suffering from mobility issues (due to back pain, joint pain, etc.), this will be a life-saver. This is also an excellent choice for geriatrics (since aging may present unexpected mobility or balancing difficulties). If you’re a tall person who’s tired of exercise machines not catering towards your height, then this may the solution you have been looking for.

#5 Recommendation: Water Rower Club Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

3.95 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

Design

  •    Construction: Ash wood
  •    Resistance: Water
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Workout intensity, stroke rate, heart rate, zone bar, duration, distance. Compatible with a heart rate monitor
  •    Storage & Mobility: Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 1000 lbs.

Gorgeous, ash wood construction – commercially designed to take on heavier uses and higher frequencies at gyms. The frame is unquestionably durable and firm. The wood design was strategically chosen to absorb sound and vibration. Rowing has long been recognized as one of the best total body workouts, with naturally smooth and flowing movements. The Water Rower Club Rowing Machine applies the same principles that govern the dynamics of a boat in a water by utilizing a water flywheel. It provides a realistic and fluid motion that’s unparalleled by any other and is ultra-durable.

Performance

The Water Rower Club Rowing Machine feels like a real boat (minus the sunshine, waves splashing on you, sunburns, etc.). It is pleasing to the senses – from its appearance to the sound of the water in the tank as you’re using it. You can easily close your eyes and fool yourself into thinking you’re floating on a boat down a lake or river. It’s also much quieter than an air resistance rowing exercise machine.

Using a water flywheel, the paddles are suspended in a tank of water to provide resistance. When you pull the handle back, it makes these paddles spin. Like the First Degree Fitness Newport AR, the Water Rower Club model has a resistance system that depends on how hard you row. If you pull at a low intensity, you won’t feel much resistance. But if you start pulling harder, you’ll feel a strong resistance. You can further adjust the intensity by adding or taking out water from the water tank. The more water you add, the heavier and more difficult the workout will be. If you take out water, the pull will feel lighter.

The S4 (Series 4) performance monitor enables you to see all of your important stats. You can hook up the S4 monitor to your computer to use with computer software for training, racing, or to upload your information for fitness tracking and data analysis.

Comfort

The seat has adequate padding to provide long workouts the right amount of comfort. It is ergonomically designed to give you the best stability for each row. Compared to many other high-end choices, the handles are more comfortable and easier to grip because of its shape and soft material.

Price

High-end price point.

Bottom Line

The Water Rower Club is perhaps the most fluid and well designed. The only downside is the amount it costs. If you want the best and smoothest water rowing experience, you will absolutely fall head-over-heels with this one.

#6 Recommendation: Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

3.8 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

Is it possible to get a full body rowing workout without spending lots of money on a high-end fitness machine? Well, now you can with the Stamina ATS.

Design

  •    Construction: Steel
  •    Resistance: Air
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Speed, Distance, Time, Calories
  •    Storage & Mobility: Folds. Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 250 lbs.

The Stamina ATS 1399 is truly excellent, especially at this price point. It is highly affordable and gives you a satisfying workout. The metal and plastic design is unfortunately not the most appealing attribute – the flywheel looks like an oscillating fan you’d find in use on a hot summer’s day. Expect some wind noise from this machine (it’s not quiet like magnetic or water resistance rowers). For many people, this won’t be an issue if you’re listening to music or have headphones on during your workout.

Performance

The Stamina ATS 1399 is an air resistance rowing machine. There is no damper to control the airflow but as with all air rowers, you can increase the resistance by rowing harder. You don’t turn a knob or press anything to change resistance settings. So the harder or faster you pull, you create more wind resistance. As more wind is created, the resistance will become more challenging. Ultimately, the workout challenge comes down to you. While it may seem to limit your options, it can actually be extremely beneficial. For example, let’s say you’re rowing really hard. But need to slow down for about 10 seconds. And then you get back into rowing hard again. You can do all of that without stopping or pressing any buttons. On the other hand, if you’re the type of person who needs to depend on a set resistance level, this may take some time to get used to. You have to push yourself to row faster if you want to feel your muscles working.

A downside is that it doesn’t come with any workout programs, but that’s expected with rowing machines that are at a cheaper price point. The display monitor provides you basic fitness data, but it doesn’t give you much else. This may be sufficient for people who don’t necessarily care about data and just want to get a good workout in here and there.

Comfort

Comfort is average, nothing phenomenal. The seat has enough padding to provide a decent level of comfort. The handle is textured, which is a nice design choice because it makes it easier to grip for long periods of time.

Price

Affordable and wallet-friendly price point.

Bottom Line

The Stamina ATS 1399 is great value, making it one of the best cheap rowing machines on offer. It’s a smart choice for beginners or people who are looking to get into better shape and are on a strict budget. As you get used to rowing, you will probably want something that’s more advanced. If you’re used to high-end machines in fitness centers, this will take time to get used to. But once accommodated, you will get an amazing full-body workout.

#7 Recommendation: Soozier Magnetic Rowing Machine

3.175 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

Are you an amateur rower? Do you care only about your budget and saving as much money as possible? Then the Soozier will be the perfect choice for you.

Design

  •    Construction: Steel & plastic
  •    Resistance: Magnetic
  •    Rowing Belt: Cord
  •    Display: Time, calories, count, total count and scan
  •    Storage & Mobility: Folds
  •    Max. User Weight: 220 lbs.

Visually, the Soozier doesn’t look too shabby. But fair warning: it’s not that sturdy. It is a good rowing machine for home use, but you won’t see this type of exercise machine at a gym. To be honest, this may be better suited for people who aren’t overweight. A positive feature is that the noise level is minimal.

Performance

The Soozier doesn’t have fancy features or anything extra to really motivate you. But then again, you are buying an exercise machine that costs less than many smartphones. There are 8 resistance levels for you to choose from and control. Overall, the rower is smooth and quiet.

The ABS monitor display is basic and gives you general information.

Comfort

This isn’t the best for taller people – you may be able to row, but it’s going to feel uncomfortable because there is limited leg room front-to-back.

Price

As cheap as cheap gets – one of the best budget rowing machines under $500.

Bottom Line

The Soozier is the ultimate at home rower for beginners. The settings are simple. It’s also a great buy for those who are petite! Please note that this rower will not give you a high intensity workout like high end options. It may even frustrate experienced rowers or serious athletes. If you want a basic and small rowing machine and save tons of money, go with this guy.

#8 Recommendation: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

3.15 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is an awesome choice for first-time or intermediate rowers. By paying a little bit more than the Soozier, you get a good magnetic exercise  machine at an affordable price. Magnetic rowers tend to be more expensive than air rowers. But this one is the exception.

Design

  • Construction: Steel
  •    Resistance: Magnetic
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Time, Count, Calories, Total Count, Scan
  •    Storage & Mobility: Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 250 lbs.

A heavy-duty steel frame. It has a sturdy feel to it. You can’t compare the build to higher-end rowing machines, but the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 will hold up. Run by magnetic resistance – it offers you a smooth rowing motion without annoying noises. An extremely quiet rowing machine. No squeaking or weird noises. You won’t bother neighbors or anyone in your house.

Performance

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is controlled by turning the knob on the central panel – you can adjust to 8 different levels. The higher the number, the more challenging the workout will be. Magnetic resistance feels different from air or water rowers because the resistance is constant. Air and water resistance is variable and depends on how hard or fast you pull.

The monitor is a minimalistic LCD monitor. One negative aspect is that there’s no way to track how many meters you’ve rowed (which is a bit odd. That’s like not knowing how many miles you’ve run on a treadmill). It only tracks strokes, time, and calories. Compared to other top rated rowing machines, the display does seem to be on the smaller side. It may be hard to see for people who don’t have the best vision.

Comfort

A decently comfortable seat with basic padding. The handle has a non-slip grip for a comfortable hold.

Price

Very affordable.

Bottom Line

This is an excellent option for people who want a versatile and inexpensive rowing machine that’s also silent. As mentioned before, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 may appeal more towards beginners.

#9 Recommendation: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634 Magnetic Rowing Machine

2.775 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price

Other than the Soozie, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634 is the next most affordable pick. It’s a remarkable choice for someone who just wants a simple and minimalistic rowing machine without all the fancy features or high-tech options the more expensive rowers offer.

Design

  •    Construction: Metal & plastic
  •    Resistance: Magnetic
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Time, count, calories, strokes per minute
  •    Storage & Mobility: Folds. Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 220 lbs.

Minimalistic. Simple. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634 is a step down from the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515. The design is metal and plastic. It’s not as sturdy or solid as more expensive units, but it works well for people who aren’t too tall or on the heavier side. Just like all other magnetic models, you’re going to love how silent this is.

Performance

Switch up the intensity of your workout with the convenient tension knob. With a simple twist, you increase or decrease resistance so your workout remains challenging and effective throughout your fitness journey.

The digital monitor is a straightforward screen with the most basic information for your monitoring.

Comfort

Average comfort level. It has a standard seat pad compared to other models. But it still provides good support.

Price

Incredibly affordable price point.

Bottom Line

A superb option that gives you a solid workout without breaking the bank. A valuable entry-level rower for those who want the convenience of having a rowing machine for home use. If you’re just starting out your fitness journey, go with the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5634.

#10 Recommendation: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 Air Magnetic Rowing Machine

2.775 Overall
Design
Performance
Comfort
Weight
Price
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So far, all of our top picks have been air, water, or magnetic resistance rowers. But here’s a curveball: The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 is surprisingly  innovative. Find out why:

Design

  •    Construction: Aluminum, steel, plastic
  •    Resistance: Magnetic & air
  •    Rowing Belt: Nylon cord
  •    Display: Time, count, calories, total count, and scan
  •    Storage & Mobility: Wheels
  •    Max. User Weight: 300 lbs.

Modern design with a solid aluminum and steel frame. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 is a hybrid beast: it utilizes both air and magnetic resistance. This style of combined resistance rowers s quite rare to start out with. But lucky for you, this is also one of the few budget-friendly air + magnetic rowing machines for sale. Due to the combination, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 is louder than standard magnetic rowers. It’s still quieter than most air rowing machines, however.

Performance

So how does this air + magnetic hybrid stack up? It’s very powerful and gives you the best of both worlds. This combined resistance provides you an overall stronger row than just a standard air or magnetic resistance exercise machine. The air component allows you to have the flexibility of controlling the resistance based on how hard you pull. The magnetic portion gives you a constant and reliable force to fall back on, regardless of how light or hard you pull. There are 8 magnetic levels you can adjust.

The monitor is very basic. It tracks just the essential stats (Note that it doesn’t count meters or strokes). But it’s what you get for what you pay.

Comfort

Comes with a padded seat. The handle is soft with a non-slip grip. One minor complaint is that the rowing machine doesn’t provide full-range of motion due to the placement of the handles.

Price

Affordable.

Bottom Line

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 is an outstanding option for all people at various fitness levels. It’s a nice compromise between air and magnetic resistance. This will give you a much more challenging workout compared to low-quality rowers. While not the cheapest, the price is a great deal.

Ultimate Buying Guide For Finding the Best Rowing Machine

Ultimate Buying Guide Best Rowing Machines

Are you serious about building your stamina up to competitive levels? Do you want to track your progress and make improvements as you go? If you answered “yes” to these questions, a rowing machine might be the perfect choice for you.

Working out on an exercise machine can help you “get in shape”. Along with building and toning your upper body, these machines also target abdominal, calf and thigh muscles.If you’re thinking of buying a rowing machine for your home, there are a few important aspects to consider.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know on how to choose the best rowing machine for you.

Why You Should Use a Rower

Rowers or row ergometers are designed to work various muscle groups, but this is not the only benefit associated with these unique exercise machines. Some of the other pros include,

  • Low impact workout
  • Good form of cardio
  • Build and strengthen various muscles
  • Burn calories
  • Increase stamina

Once you’ve mastered the technique, exercising on one of these machines for 60 minutes can burn up 700 calories. Since it provides an effective “low impact cardio workout”, using a rower is often considered safe for almost anyone.

Athletes often rely on the workouts they get from a rower to increase their level of endurance, while minimizing their risk for injuries.

Even though there are plenty of reasons to consider making “rowing” a part of your regular fitness routine, you should also be aware of the downsides.

  • Noise can be a problem
  • Using the machine can be difficult
  • Must be able to use your arms, legs and core

Some models are loud, especially when the flywheel is spinning at top speed. This could limit when you can use it. If you’ve never rowed a boat before coordinating the movements can be complicated. This can potentially lead to injuries or loss of interest in the machine. Most importantly, you must be able to use the muscles in your arms, legs and core. If you can’t, a row ergometer might not be the best exercise machine for you.

Although there may be a few disadvantages, these are usually outweighed by its benefits.

Choosing the Right Rower

You’ve decided that the benefits are exactly what you are looking for in an exercise machine, and are ready to choose a model. Before making a final decision, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

  1. Do you like “rowing”? Even if it’s your first time sitting in anything resembling a row boat, you should know if you’ll like this type of exercise. Try out one of these machines at a local gym, if possible. See how the movements feel. You don’t have to perfect your technique on the first try, only see if it is something that you’ll want to stick with.
  2. What is your budget? The good news is that it’s possible to find a top rated rowing machine at an affordable price. You might have to forego a few features, but deciding on a budget will make it easier to find the perfect model for you.
  3. How much space do you have? Row ergometers are not compact machines, even though some are designed to be “broken down” for easy storage. Making sure the model you choose fits in your available space will save you time, money and frustration. If space is an issue, folding rowing machines may be a great option.
  4. Will you use it more than once a week? If you’re not certain that you’ll actually exercise on a rower, it will be a waste of money. Getting results from this type of exercise machine requires you to use it for an hour, 3 to 4 times a week.

The final question to ask yourself is, “what type of rowing machine is best for me”?

Types of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines have changed and evolved over the years, providing consumers with several options. The main difference is the type of braking mechanism used, and there are four to choose from.

  • Air/Flywheel
  • Hydraulic
  • Magnetic
  • Water

The brakes are responsible for providing resistance, and one type is not necessarily better than the others. Deciding what works best for you often comes down to personal preference.

Flywheel Rowers

If you want the “natural” feel of outdoor rowing, look for a model that uses a flywheel. Resistance is created during the pulling motion, which forces the blades on the flywheel to spin. The resulting air provides resistance, and to increase it all you must do is pull harder. Compared to other types, models that use a flywheel typically produce smoother strokes.

Hydraulic Indoor Rowers

These models come with a piston or cylinder that compresses air to create resistance. Most also allow you to adjust the amount of resistance. The downside is that you will find it impossible to pull in a straight line. This can make it difficult to have continuous strokes. However, hydraulic rowing machines are economical and are often designed to fit in smaller areas. If budget or space is a concern, you might want to consider a piston or cylinder driven model.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Since this type of indoor rower uses a magnetic braking system, noise is almost never a problem. You can also enjoy smooth and continuous strokes. The only issue with this type of exercise machine is that it often comes at a price.

Water Rowers

Professional athletes often use a water rower, especially when they are in training. The combination of the flywheel and the water in the tank, simulate rowing on the water. Since resistance is created by the water moving over the flywheel, these models are virtually silent. The frame is typically constructed from wood, making them ideal for use at home. You can also find indoor water rowing machines with metal frames, but the combination of price and weight make them best suited for commercial use.

How is a Rowing Machine Designed?

The braking mechanism can differ depending on the type of row ergometer, but the rest of the design remains basically the same. A handle is attached to a damper by connecting cables. Most come with a stationary foot stretcher and a sliding seat. These are referred to as “fixed head” ergometers.

You can also find “floating head” ergometers, where the seat and foot stretcher move together. Choose your model on what feels right for you.

Indoor Rower Features

Along with deciding on the machine’s design and type of resistance, there are a few other features to consider. Some will help you maximize your workout, while others are nice extras to have. Your budget will also play a role in your final decision.

One important tip to remember is that you can find budget friendly indoor rowers but you could be sacrificing quality, along with the included extras.

Comfort

If the exercise machine is not comfortable to use, it will probably just sit in the room collecting dust. Look for models that allow you to make adjustments, and come with seats that are comfortable to sit in. You also want to check the quality of the foot pads, it will make a difference during the workout.

Noise and Space

Some fitness buffs thrive on the noise their exercise machine make, while others want to be as quiet as possible. If you are worried about waking sleeping roommates or family members, we recommend you choose one that uses water resistance or magnetic brakes.

All indoor models typically come with a long footprint. The width can vary, but rarely the length. Measure the space, and make your choice accordingly. You’ll be glad that you did.

Weight

We’re not only referring to the weight of the machine, but also how much it can handle. The design and type will affect how much it weighs, with water-rowers typically being the heaviest. Since all rowers come with only a few moving parts, these exercise machines typically have fewer weight restrictions than other types.

Easy to Assemble

The last thing you want to do is struggle to put an indoor rowing machine together. This is not how you want to get in a daily workout. The model you pick should come with simple instructions, and some even have a toll-free number you can call for help.

Storage

Not everyone has the room to leave their rower sitting out when it’s not being used. If this applies to you, don’t worry, there are some that conveniently fold up. There are also models that can be disassembled, just make sure that it doesn’t require a lot of time or additional tools.

Monitor/Computer

Most rower machines will track time, distance and number of calories burned, even budget friendly models. For those that really want to push themselves, you can find some that also come with the ability to connect to apps. Not only will this make it easier to track your progress, but also pinpoint areas where you need to make improvements.

Warranty

This is important. The last thing you want is for the rower to break down after only using it a couple times. The warranty should cover all the moving parts, along with the frame.

Rowing Correctly

It is crucial that you use your new rowing machine correctly. This will help prevent injuries, and ensure that you get the most out of the workout. Here are a few tips that will help you have the proper technique.

  • You must have good posture during the movements. Don’t slouch or lean forward. Use the muscles in your legs, arms and core, keeping your back straight and shoulders even.
  • Start with a lower resistance. You can always increase once you have built up some strength and endurance.
  • Sit on the center of the seat and keep your feet firmly planted on the pads. During the “catch phase” your back should be straight and arms fully extended.
  • The “drive phase” should be a controlled motion. Straighten your legs out as you are pulling the handle towards your chest.
  • When you “finish” the stroke your legs should be fully extended, shoulders back and wrists straight.
  • Finally, the “recovery”. This is when your core muscles are used. Your arms should be straight and your knees bent.

Simply by following these tips, you’ll be able to safely and effectively use an indoor row ergometer.

3 High-Intensity Rowing Workouts

The machine is set-up and you’re ready to start burning calories and building muscle strength. Instead of trying to “go it alone” here are three rowing machine workouts that are designed to help you get maximum results.

1000 Meter Meltdown

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

You can find this and other similar workouts in Men’s Health magazine.

Playlist Punisher

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 upbeat 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.

Olympic Challenge

This is the mother of all rowing machine workouts and will help you figure out how fit you actually are.

You really have to warm up for at least 10 minutes for this one to prevent possible injuries.

The workout is divided into 5 intervals with short amount of rests in between. 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

Before you attempt any of these or other workouts, it is always best to get approval from your primary healthcare physician.

Now that you know what to look for and how to use an indoor rowing machine, you are ready to start looking at our picks for the top rated models.

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