Man has invented many ingenious exercise devices. One of the oldest is the rowing machine. It’s actually been around since the 4th Century BC.
Rowing machines were first designed for military training. Nowadays they are used either for general exercise in the gym or home. They are also perfect for those in training for any rowing event.
Whether it’s burning a few calories or an alternative to the weight bench and recumbent exercise bike, rowing machines are popular with a wide range of users.
What Is A Rowing Machine?
- What Is A Rowing Machine?
- Why Use One?
- How To Use A Rowing Machine
- What To Look For?
- Top Rowing Machine For Home Use
A rowing machine is a home-based version of real rowing which can work to sculpt the whole muscular system. Much like swimming, using a rowing machine offers your body complete exercise.
Boat racing has been traced back to the 13th Century and the first rowing machine was made in 1872 by WB Curtis so rowing is extremely well established. The core purpose remains the same as back in the 19th Century: to keep athletes in good shape when they are not on the water.
Rowing machines have undergone substantial transformations. Many different designs are currently available. One of the most popular types has hydraulic resistance thanks to pumping metal cyclinders. These are very lightweight so can be easily folded up which makes them a common choice both at home and in the gym.
Why Use One?
Using a rowing machine has many benefits. Using one of these will work all the muscles in your body and can give you a lean, sculpted look.
- Burn More Calories: Kiss goodbye to getting up early and heading out in all weathers for a morning run. You can get the same benefits from rowing as from running. Using both your upper and lower body you can burn off plenty of calories in a vigorous session
- Simple Storage: If you work out a lot at home, the last thing you want is cluttered equipment all over the place. You can easily collapse your rowing machine. Stash it under the bed or in the closet if it’s not in use
- Store Data Easily: You can keep tabs on your daily workout via the digital monitor. You can store this data on a USB or smart card. Don’t worry if you’re not too tech-savvy. These devices are extremely user-friendly
- Give Your Stamina A Boost: Rowing machines are great for physical and mental stamina. As well as benefiting your body, watch your focus and endurance improve as well
- Enhance Cardio: By raising your pulse and heart rate, blood flows more quickly. This lowers the blood pressure while strengthening the heart muscle. Rowing machines are among the best methods of getting a short, sharp cardio workout with lasting benefits
How To Use A Rowing Machine
- Sit down with your body centered
- Adjust the footstraps so they feel comfy
- Grab both handles but not too tightly. Keep your thumbs underneath and hands shoulder width apart
- Lean back slightly and pull your arms toward your chest
- Start rowing by putting your arms out, leaning forwards and bending your legs
- Reverse and repeat
This fitness equipment is remarkably easy to use so just get started and enjoy!
Correct Rowing Machine Technique
20 Minute Cardio Routine With Rowing Machine
What To Look For?
You can choose from 4 main varieties: water, air, magnetic, hydraulic.
Rowing machines with water resistance are bigger and heavier. They also tend to be quieter. Requiring little maintenance, these are a great way to mimic being on the water.
Machines with air resistance are the most common and they are highly effective if a little noisy.
Home users often favor magnetic rowing machines. These can be easily folded up for storage.
Hydraulic resistance machines are cheap and quiet but not suitable for more advanced users.
If space is an issue and you want a folding rowing machine for your home gym, sidestep the large water rowers and check for folding magnetic or hydraulic designs.
Some rowing machines also have wheels to help with moving so investigate these aspects if portability is a concern.
Check whether the rowing machine you are looking at comes with a display.
Most machines now show details of calories expended, workout time, strokes per minute, overall distance and heart rate.
Some offer much more detailed functionality.
Compatibility With Heart Rate Monitor
This is an overlooked but valuable feature.
If you are looking to boost your fitness levels, you’ll want to keep in your target heart zone.
If pulse monitoring is not inbuilt, check that the machine you have your eye on is compatible.
You’ll get some kind of warranty with most machines but the ones guaranteeing their equipment for 5 years are worth looking out for.
It’s unlikely you’ll encounter any problems but get peace of mind in case anything does goes wrong with good warranty coverage.
If you want to take some of the stress out of your workout, look for rowing machines which have a selection of workouts programmed.
Only you know if this feature is necessary.
If you want a truly balanced routine it’s certainly worth considering undertaking some of the options laid out for you.
We’ll look now at 5 strong contenders if you are looking for the best rowing machine…
Top Rowing Machine For Home Use
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
We might as well kick of this review by telling you that the Model D is the best selling indoor rowing machine in the world.
The Concept2 is the go-to option for competitive rowers.
This machine really is rock solid and it will take heavy use on a daily basis without causing problems.
The Performance 5 monitor lets you track speed, pace, calories burned, distance and watts.
You can easily analyze your data via USB on either Mac or Windows.
The frame comes with a 5 year limited warranty while the moving parts and PM5 are covered for 2 years.
The Concept2 Model D is your strongest overall choice if you have the spare cash and want assured results from your rowing machine.
- Exasy to use
- Straightforward assembly
- Doesn’t take much space
- Low profile with seat height 14 inches
- Adjustable footrest
- Ergonomic handle
- Comfy seat
- Flywheel design makes for quiet operation
- You will struggle to find any meaningful negative comments regarding the Model D, Contact us if you have any issues to report
Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
Another quality offering from Concept2 is the Model E.
It’s even more expensive than its stablemate so what do you get for the extra?
For one thing, it’s better suited to larger people with the seat sitting a full 6 inches higher.
The upgraded nickel-coated chain requires less maintenance.
All things considered, once on and rowing, there is not much else to choose between these Concept2 siblings.
If you are torn between this pair then continue your research and read plenty of honest user reviews. Test them if you can and then make your choice according to your needs.
The Concept2 Model E really is an outstanding rowing machine.
- Very smooth action
- Padded seat at ideal height
- Very smooth action
- Padded seat at ideal height
- Durable and reliable
- Nicely shaped handle
- Flywheel can be loud in confined spaces
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
This magnetic rowing machine from Sunny Health & Fitness is much more friendly on the wallet if your budget doesn’t stretch to the Concept2.
The magnetic system provides a strong and smooth rowing experience.
Some users complain about the relatively basic features displayed but you’ll have all the main bases covered.
The frame is covered for just 1 year by the warranty with only 90 days for moving parts so bear this in mind.
If you want a rowing machine which is easy to assemble, simple to use and very budget-friendly, take a good look at the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515.
- Magnetic tension
- 8 levels of adjustable resistance
- Padded seat
- Large anti-slip pedals
- Non-slip handlebars
- Wheels for transportation
- Crisp LCD console
- Monitor lacks advanced functionality
- Large footprint when not in storage mode
- Short warranty
Stamina Air Rower
If you are a beginner looking to get in shape and want something at the upper end of the budget range, take a look at the Stamina Air Rower.
It uses air resistance to produce what you need to work against while exercising. Some more advanced rowers notice that the legs and back are not given too much of a workout due to the resistance not kicking in early enough. This dead-spot will not mess with a simple rowing session but it could cause problems for more serious rowers.
It’s easy to put together and folds away for any periods of inactivity.
The display is basic but easy to navigate and gives you what you are looking for.
This is a functional workhorse which might not be a gym-quality rowing machine but will certainly help you to shed a few pounds or generally stay in shape. If you used the Air Rower daily for 20 minutes you could expect several years of use from it.
Look out for the warranty which covers the frame for 3 years but the moving parts for just 3 months.
For a budget rowing machine which will deliver, take a look at the Stamina Air Rower.
- Strong and durable steel frame
- Easily folded for storage
- Upholstered seat is comfortable
- Large footplates to accommodate most foot sizes
- Nylon rowing cord
- Good for moderate users
- Upper body shoulders most of the load
- Can be noisy when rowing quickly
- Warranty on parts only 90 days
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Our final review will explore another rowing machine from Stamina, the Body Trac Glider 1050.
This rowing machine is a budget offering which is very keenly priced but not without its drawbacks.
This is a hydraulic rower with a single piston used to provide the resistance. Take note that if losing weight is your core purpose, then regular heave use can lead to problems with the resistance lowering and could hamper your goals.
Watch out for problems with the footrests. Many users report issues with their feet slipping out so check out if this affects you. Sure, you can fit some thicker Velcro straps but it’s an annoying flaw if your feet don’t sit in tight.
The seat is relatively comfy and it’s also sturdy for a compact machine.
The Stamina has a basic but adequate console.
Overall, if you plan to use your rowing machine quite lightly and not continuously, the Stamina Trac Glider 1050 is worth investigating further.
- Budget price
- Fairly quiet
- Solid steel frame
- Compact and simple to store away
- Good for occasional or light users
- Seat quite comfortabl
- Footrests can present problems
- Resistance drops after heavy use
- Seat can cause issues after long workouts
- Limited warranty
As with most products, everyone has different needs when it comes to home exercise equipment. Whether it’s an inversion table or an elliptical machine, an exercise bike or a rowing machine, it’s key to assess your own needs so that you can invest in the wisest choice of gear.
If you are an accomplished rower and compete at any level, the Concept2 Models D and E are the obvious solution to your rowing needs at home. With either of these rowers, you’ll get a professional grade piece of kit which will last you well. If you look at the use you’ll get from your Concept2 tit will seem like money well spent.
The good news for those with lighter requirements – perhaps some weight loss or general toning up – is that there’s no need to spend a fortune to get a high quality rowing machine…
The air, magnetic and hydraulic rowing machines from Sunny Health & Fitness and Stamina are well worth checking out if you are a less demanding user who wants good quality at a keen price.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions at all.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these best rowing machine reviews. Let us know what you think.