Rowing offers a whole-body workout unlike almost any other. Whether you’re looking to improve your aerobic fitness, lose weight, or just work muscles in your upper and lower body simultaneously for size and strength gains, rowing machines can help you achieve several different fitness goals.
But, while rowing machines are thought of as big, bulky machines only fit for a commercial gym, the fitness industry has come a long way. Rowers that are sleek, compact, and silent enough to be usable in your home gym are commonplace. Given that this single machine can effectively substitute a full body workout, a good rower can make an awesome addition to any home or garage gym. To that end, this article explores seven of the best home rowing machines that will help you build your endurance and overall fitness, as well as develop all of your major muscle groups!
Best Home Rowing Machines At a Glance
Best Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym Overall
The Model D is the best-selling rower in the world, and the machine owes its popularity to being exceptionally durable while also providing a smooth and comfortable workout. Its PM5 monitor tracks all essential details, while this rower also quickly dismantles into 2 sections for convenient storage, making up for its slightly larger size.
Best Budget Home Rowing Machine
If you’re looking for a budget rower that can be folded after being used, offers the build quality of premium rowers, and allows for smooth rowing, Lifespan’s indoor rowing machine is an option worth serious consideration. Its magnetic resistance system is almost completely silent, while the comfortable seating makes it ideal for long workouts.
Best Water Rower for Home Use
Despite being one of the most affordable water rowers on the market, MaxKare’s rowing machine is brimming with quality. It’s especially suited for home use since it is relatively small and can be stored vertically. Furthermore, the stable frame and numerous monitor functions make this rower a smart purchase guaranteed to last.
The Best Rowing Machines for Home
|Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine||
|LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rower||
|MaxKare Water Rowing Machine||
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine||
|Sole Fitness SR500 Rower/Ergometer||
|Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower||
|Fitness Reality 2000F Rowing Machine||
|Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine|
|LifeSpan RW1000 Indoor Rower|
|MaxKare Water Rowing Machine|
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine|
|Sole Fitness SR500 Rower/Ergometer|
|Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower|
|Fitness Reality 2000F Rowing Machine|
The Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is easily the best rower on the market. Concept2 is renowned for the high-quality build of its machines and the Model D is no different. It’s commercial grade bearings, aluminum/steel supports, and nickel-plated steel chain are ideal for high intensity workouts. The air resistance mechanism makes minimal noise while allowing for a smooth, realistic rowing motion. You can also adjust the level of tension automatically by simply rowing harder, instead of having to pause your workout to do so.
The included PM5 monitor is another handy feature that makes exercise more engaging through its pre-designed workouts, games, and the details it tracks while you row. These include strokes-per-minute, heart rate, pulse, the number of calories burned, and distance covered.
The Model D can support users as tall as 6 feet, and as heavy as 500 lbs. Its dimensions are 96″ L x 24″ W, making it larger than many other rowers, but you can quickly break it down into 2 sections without tools for easy storage or transportation. While this machine won’t come cheap, it is a great investment that will pay off for years to come.
- Exceptional build quality
- Air resistance mechanism makes rowing smooth
- Automatically adjustable resistance
- Easy to store
The Not So Good
- Size when unfolded is on the larger side
- It’s pricey
LifeSpan’s indoor rower is yet another convenient machine for home use since it can be folded and stored away after working out. Its magnetic resistance mechanism functions even more silently than air resistance systems (like the one used by the Model D) without compromising the smoothness of the rowing motion. It offers five levels of resistance, with the maximum resistance being 16.5 lbs. Though this is somewhat inadequate, the incline of the seat increases as you approach the back of the rail, adding resistance to make workouts more challenging. Thus, most users can get an intense workout out of this rower, but experienced rowers might nevertheless find the resistance to be low.
This rowers steel frame remains sturdy through intense workouts since it divides the weight over three points of ground contact as opposed to two. Its padded seating is also ideal for longer exercise sessions. While the included digital monitor displays rough estimates of distance, calories, and strokes, it does not come with preset workouts. Lastly, the maximum weight is 300 lbs meaning even the heaviest of users can get a solid workout.
- Sturdy steel frame
- Is extremely silent even on maximum resistance
- Comfortable seating
- Easy to store
The Not So Good
- Resistance is low for experienced rowers
- It’s blocky design isn’t the most stylish
MaxKare’s rowing machine has much to offer rowers of all proficiencies. This ergometer offers both manual and dynamic resistance adjustment in that increasing/decreasing the water level affects the overall tension, while the intensity with which you row also impacts the drag exerted by the water. Its steel frame is firm and secure, while the stabilizers below each pedal also contributes to its overall stability. The included digital monitor is easily readable during workouts and can be used to challenge yourself in several ways. The race mode has 15 levels of difficulty, while the pulse recovery function rates your fitness on a scale of 1-6. It also tracks metrics like strokes per minute, pulse, calories, distance, 500-meter split times, and more. With dimensions of 78″ L x 17″ W, this rower won’t occupy too much space while in use either.
Perhaps the only underwhelming feature here is the uncomfortable seating. While it is low enough to enable those with mobility issues to safely get on and off, this may also cause some discomfort to anyone with knee issues or lower back pain.
- Secure, stable frame
- Excellent digital monitor
- Can be stored vertically
- Small dimensions
The Not So Good
- Some users may find the seat uncomfortable after a while
Sunny Health and Fitness is renowned for making durable machines at affordable prices, and their magnetic rowing machine is yet another example of this. With a maximum weight of 250lb, this rower is suitable for beginners and intermediate users looking to introduce themselves to rowing. The magnetic resistance mechanism is fairly silent and can be adjusted between 8 levels of tension through the attached knob. Its dimensions are 82″ L x 19″ W, meaning it won’t take up too much space and it can be folded after use.
Like previous entries, this machine has a heavy-duty steel frame that feels stable while being used. The rowing handle is made of nylon, which avoids blisters and contributes to making rowing smooth. It also supports users as tall as 6’ 7″, enabling most to use the machine comfortably.
One noteworthy negative here is that the included monitor is fairly basic and small, which can be attributed to its price. It records basic metrics like calories, total strokes, and time, but not distance. It can also be somewhat difficult to read.
- 8 levels of resistance
- Makes minimal noise
- Comfortable rowing handle
- Easy to store
The Not So Good
- Low maximum weight
- Disappointing monitor
Sole’s SR500 rower has many features that few other ergometers possess. It has a dual air and magnetic resistance mechanism that ensures smooth rowing motion, dynamic resistance, and quiet operation. Furthermore, you can also manually adjust resistance through its handlebar without interrupting your workout, switching between 16 different levels. This makes the machine suitable for users of all proficiencies. It can also support those weighing up to 515 lbs, while the pedals are oversized and adjustable to suit diverse needs.
Additionally, the steel frame and aluminum seat rail make for a stable build that can withstand long and intense workouts. The rower also comes with a backlit monitor that can track your heart rate with the included chest strap, among other metrics such as calories, distance, and strokes per minute. It also has a variety of modes to keep workouts engaging and challenging.
The machine’s dimensions are 94″ L x 18″ W, and thankfully this rower is foldable. Lastly, the comfortable seating rounds out a quality rowing experience, albeit a slightly expensive one.
- Dual resistance mechanism
- High maximum weight
- Heart rate monitoring
- Durable build
The Not So Good
- Large size
- Very pricey
As the name suggests, the standout feature of Fitness Reality’s rower is its Bluetooth support that enables tracking through the MyCloudFitness app. This supplements the basic digital monitor attached to the rower, allowing you to set goals or track metrics like time, distance, calories burned, and even heart rate with a compatible Bluetooth heart rate monitor. The rower also has a phone holder above its monitor for convenience.
Besides this, the machine also has a stable build thanks to its aluminum seat rail. The footrests are fairly wide, while the beam supports users as tall as 6’ 6″. The seat is also hooked on to industrial-grade rollers that feel smooth going back and forth. Moreover, the magnetic resistance mechanism is equipped with 14 different levels.
Like the SR500, this rower is also fairly large. Its dimensions are 88.5″ L x 21.5″ W, but it can be folded up and wheeled away for convenient storage. Lastly, the maximum weight is 250 lbs, which might be too low for some users.
- Bluetooth connectivity is a handy feature
- 14 levels of resistance
- Long beam supports tall users
- Quality seating
The Not So Good
- Fairly low maximum weight
The 2000F rower by Fitness Reality resembles the 1000 Plus in most respects. It connects to the MyCloudFitness app through Bluetooth to track all essential details from your workout. The magnetic resistance mechanism that has 14 distinct levels to switch between. It supports users as tall as 6’ 6″ and those weighing up to 250lbs. The seat and footrests are both wide enough to accommodate different types of users. It can also be folded for easier storage.
The 2000F has dimensions of 80″ L x 23″ W. This small footprint makes it suitable in smaller spaces in case you’re cramped for room at home or in the garage. The seat rail is also made of steel instead of aluminum, which isn’t necessarily a significant tradeoff, but aluminum is the sturdier of the two.
- Bluetooth support with MyCloudFitness app
- Small dimensions
- 14 levels of magnetic resistance
The Not So Good
- Infrequent issues with Bluetooth connectivity
- Tension resistance can create more wear and tear
Should You Get a Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym?
If you could purchase only one piece of fitness equipment, a rower is among the most versatile choices you could make given the diverse fitness goals it can help you achieve. Depending on your weight and intensity, just 30 minutes of rowing burns approximately 200-350 calories. In addition to being great for your aerobic fitness, rowing is also capable of stimulating muscle development in both your upper and lower body. Muscles ranging from your biceps, forearms, hamstrings, quadriceps, core, different areas of your back, and calves, among others, are all involved when you row. If you’re more inclined towards CrossFit or high intensity interval training, a home rowing machine will also help you build endurance in the muscles mentioned above.
Besides these advantages, rowing is also a low-impact exercise—it exerts minimal force on your joints. This makes it ideal for both older fitness enthusiasts who might suffer from pain in certain areas of their body, and anyone who’s recovering from an injury, especially on the lower body.
Choosing the Right Rowing Machines for Home Use
Choosing the best rowing machine for home use that is suited for your needs primarily depends on your fitness goals, your experience with rowing and how often you intend to row, your body composition, and your budget.
Cost is relevant to all pieces of equipment because you generally get what you pay for. And, given the intensity of rowing as an exercise, you’ll want a durable rower that can withstand intensive training for long periods of time. This is especially important if you intend to row frequently, since cheaper rowers are more likely to break down after a few months of heavy usage. The reality is that the very best rowing machines aren’t cheap.
Additionally, all rowers have specifications in terms of the height and weight of users it can support. Therefore, you must ensure that your machine can be comfortably used by you or anyone the rower is intended for.
Your experience with rowing obviously matters. Some home rowers are more suitable for beginners due to their low maximum resistance, while others are more advanced in the resistance they can offer. Furthermore, experienced rowers might need more advanced data tracking to ensure they’re getting the information they need to reach their goals, in which case the included monitor also becomes relevant. If this is you, ensure your home rowing machine comes with adequate resistance adjustment and the requisite tracking capabilities.
Lastly, your fitness goals are another crucial factor in deciding on a rower and may determine how much you’ll need to spend. If you intend to row as part of your high intensity training routine or make rowing a central part of your workouts, you’ll need a tough rower that will likely cost more. However, if you only intend to row infrequently, you might be able to get away with buying a slightly cheaper rower since you won’t be placing excessive demands on it.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rowing Machines for Your Home Gyms
Considering you’re doing your due diligence and researching the ins and outs of home rowers, you likely have a bunch of questions about this unique piece fo fitness equipment. We’ve done our best to fully answer some of the most common questions asked by people looking at rowing machines for their home gym.
Can you lose belly fat with a home rowing machine?
Yes, rowing machines can certainly help lose belly fat. However, spot reduction is a myth, which means that rowers cannot help you specifically target fat loss in and around your belly. If you row consistently at an appropriate intensity, you’ll inevitably burn enough calories for weight loss that will be reflected in different parts of your body, including your stomach.
Is rowing better than running?
While the better option between rowing and running depends primarily on your fitness goals, rowing is arguably a better exercise overall. Rowing produces less impact stress on your joints, which leads to less wear and tear in ligaments and cartilage and avoids exacerbating any existing pain or injury you might be suffering from. Running, on the other hand, is a high-impact exercise and may eventually result in pain in either your knees, ankles, back, or hips.
Also, rowing works both your upper and lower body, while running generally only works the lower body. While this may not be relevant if you only intend to do cardiovascular training, rowing does lead to more holistic muscle development as you target almost all of your major musculature. In this regard, a rower is comparable to an air bike.
Lastly, according to a study by the American Council of Exercise’s physical activity calorie counter, running burns more calories than rowing but only marginally so. In 10 minutes of activity, an individual weighing 150 lbs. burns an estimated 90 calories while running at a moderate pace (5 mph) and 79 calories while rowing at a moderate pace. As such, if weight loss is your sole aim and your body can handle it, then going for jog may be a better option. On balance though, most people will likely benefit more from rowing.
How long should I row for on a home rower?
The answer to this question again depends on your motivation for rowing. If you’re rowing simply to stay in shape, then 30 minutes of moderately intense rowing or 15 minutes of vigorous rowing 3 – 5 days per week will suffice. However, if you’re aiming to shed a lot of pounds, then you’ll want to up the length and intensity. Build up to 150 – 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity rowing per week and, of course, eat a well-portioned and balanced diet.
Keep in mind that if you’ve only recently started rowing, you should begin with shorter sessions (10 – 20 minutes each) for the first few weeks before building up to longer sessions.
Well, there you have it: The Best Rowing Machines for Home.
Rowing is undoubtedly one of the best activities to improve your fitness and overall muscle development. To that end, this list features rowers at a range of price points as well as with various functions to suit different users. However, if you had to choose only one – assuming budget isn’t a concern – the Model D by Concept2 is the best rowing machine for a home gym.