Rowing Machines


Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine

Rowing machines, often referred to as indoor rowers or rowing ergometers, are versatile fitness equipment designed to simulate the motion of rowing a boat. These machines provide users with a full-body workout that engages various muscle groups while offering cardiovascular benefits. They have become increasingly popular in both home and gym settings due to their effectiveness in improving overall fitness levels and helping users achieve a wide range of health and fitness goals.

Rowing machines consist of a seat mounted on a rail, a handlebar attached to a flywheel, and footrests with adjustable straps. To use a rowing machine, individuals sit on the seat and secure their feet in the footrests. They then grab the handlebar with an overhand grip, bend their knees, and slide forward on the seat to start the rowing motion.

The rowing action involves pushing with the legs while simultaneously pulling the handlebar towards the chest. This coordinated movement mimics the natural motion of rowing a boat, engaging the legs, back, arms, and core muscles. As users extend their legs and lean back slightly, they work their quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. The subsequent pull of the handlebar engages the biceps, shoulders, and upper back muscles. Throughout the entire stroke, the core remains engaged, promoting core strength and stability

The top 10 Rowing Machines

Product name Image Rating Pros Cons Best Price More information

TOP PICK

Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine


Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine
4 and a half star review
  • High-quality build and durability
  • Smooth and quiet rowing motion
  • Suitable for all fitness levels
  • Highest reviewed rowing machine on Amazon
  • Pricey compared to some other models
  • May require additional accessories for tracking data
  • Takes up a bit of space
Coming Soon!

BUDGET PICK

Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Adjustable Rowing Machine


Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Adjustable Rowing Machine
  • The rowing machine provides a range of workouts with 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Features a fully padded seat and non-slip grip handlebars for comfortable and prolonged workouts
  • Ideal for home use without disturbing others
  • Some initial setup is necessary
  • The machine has a moderate footprint, requiring adequate space for use
  • Might not suffice for highly advanced fitness enthusiasts seeking intense workouts
Coming Soon!

PREMIUM PICK

Hydrow Rowing Machine with Immersive 22″ TV


Hydrow Rowing Machine with Immersive 22
  • The 22-inch screen and patented magnetic drag system create a lifelike rowing experience
  • With over 3,000 live and on-demand workouts, it offers a wide range of exercise options
  • The machine uses a webbed strap instead of a chain, making each stroke quieter and smoother
  • The price is relatively high
  • While it works without a membership in a limited mode, full functionality requires a monthly subscription fee
  • Requires a considerable amount of space
Coming Soon!

SUPER POPULAR

YOSUDA Magnetic-Water Rowing Machine


YOSUDA Magnetic-Water Rowing Machine
  • Magnetic resistance mechanism ensures Quiet and Smooth Operation
  • Super budget-friendly while still providing a full-body workout
  • Fully Bluetooth compatible
  • Provides only 16 resistance levels
  • No Pre-set Workout Programs
  • The rower’s dimensions may not comfortably accommodate very tall users (maximum 6’2 or 188 cm)
Coming Soon!

Stamina BodyTrac Glider Hydraulic Rowing Machine


Stamina BodyTrac Glider Hydraulic Rowing Machine
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Affordable
  • Uses a Hydraulic resistance system
  • Limited resistance levels
  • Not as sturdy as some higher-end models
  • May not be comfortable for long workouts
Coming Soon!

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine


Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
  • Budget-friendly.
  • Magnetic resistance for smooth and quiet operation
  • LCD display for tracking workout data
  • Limited resistance levels for advanced users
  • Some users may find the seat uncomfortable
  • Assembly instructions can be unclear
Coming Soon!

Stamina ATS Air Rower Machine


Stamina ATS Air Rower Machine
  • Affordable
  • Dynamic air resistance for a challenging workout
  • LCD monitor for tracking performance
  • Louder operation due to air resistance
  • Limited preset workout programs
  • Some users may find the seat uncomfortable
Coming Soon!

XTERRA Fitness ERG200


XTERRA Fitness ERG200
  • Budget-friendly
  • Magnetic resistance system
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Limited resistance levels
  • Basic display features
  • May not be suitable for very tall individuals
Coming Soon!

Proform 440 Rower


BlueBonnet Calcium Citrate
  • Budget-friendly
  • Adjustable resistance levels
  • Comfortable seat and backrest
  • Can be used for biceps, shoulders, obliques, lower back, and various other exercises besides rowing
  • Assembly can be time-consuming
  • Some users have found the folding of the machine unwieldy for storage
  • Higher price point compared to some alternative rowing machines
Coming Soon!

Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine


Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine
  • Foldable design for easy storage
  • Affordable
  • Hydraulic resistance system
  • Limited resistance levels
  • Less sturdy compared to higher-end models
  • Not as comfortable for extended workouts
Coming Soon!

The Benefits of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines offer a multitude of benefits that make them a popular choice for fitness enthusiasts of all levels. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Full Body Workout: Rowing is one of the few exercises that engage almost all major muscle groups in the body, including the legs, arms, back, and core. This makes it an efficient workout for overall fitness.
  • Low Impact Exercise: Rowing is low-impact, which means it puts minimal stress on the joints. This is particularly beneficial for those with joint issues or for individuals who are recovering from injuries.
  • Cardiovascular Fitness: Rowing is an excellent cardiovascular workout. It helps to improve heart health and increases lung capacity as it requires the use of large muscle groups over a sustained period.
  • Calorie Burning: Rowing machines can help burn a significant number of calories, making them a great option for weight loss or weight management. The intensity of the workout can easily be adjusted to suit fitness levels and goals.
  • Increased Endurance: Regular use of a rowing machine helps build stamina and endurance. As it is both a cardio and strength-training exercise, it enhances muscular endurance and heart endurance.
  • Convenience: Rowing machines can be used indoors, regardless of the weather or time of day, making them a convenient piece of exercise equipment for regular workouts at home.
  • Stress Reduction: The rhythmic nature of rowing can be quite meditative, helping to reduce stress. Additionally, the endorphins released during vigorous exercise like rowing can improve mood and decrease stress levels.
  • Versatility: Many rowing machines offer different settings that allow you to adjust the resistance according to your fitness level and the intensity of the workout you desire. This makes it suitable for beginners as well as advanced athletes.
  • Improves Posture: Rowing helps strengthen the back and core muscles, which are critical for good posture. Proper rowing technique emphasizes a straight back and a powerful leg push, which can translate into everyday activities.
  • Community and Competitive Spirit: Rowing can be a solitary workout or a team sport. Many rowers enjoy the community aspect of rowing clubs or team competitions, which can be motivating and enhance the overall fitness experience.

The History of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines, also known as ergometers or “ergs,” have a rich history that extends back over a century, reflecting both the evolution of technology and the growing popularity of rowing as a form of exercise. The development of the rowing machine is intrinsically linked to the sport of rowing, which has been a traditional form of competition and fitness for centuries.

The first recorded concept of a rowing machine dates back to the 4th century BC, as described by an ancient Greek engineer, but it wasn’t until the 1870s that the first practical rowing machines began to appear. These early models were primarily used as training tools for professional rowers. The basic principle was to simulate the resistance experienced on water by using mechanical means, thereby allowing rowers to practice regardless of weather conditions or time of day.

By the early 20th century, rowing machines had begun to incorporate more sophisticated mechanisms, including hydraulic and pneumatic resistance systems. These advancements made the machines more effective and appealing to a broader audience, extending their use beyond professional rowers to the general public and fitness enthusiasts seeking comprehensive workout options.

The real transformation in rowing machines came in the 1980s with the introduction of the air-resistance rowing machine by Concept2. This design utilized a flywheel to create resistance and closely mimic the natural dynamics of a boat moving through water. The Concept2 rowers quickly became standard equipment in rowing clubs and gyms worldwide, renowned for their durability and the effective workout they provided.

The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw technological enhancements in ergometers that continued to push the boundaries of what was possible. Modern rowing machines now feature advanced digital monitors that track everything from stroke rate to heart rate, distance rowed, and calories burned, making them more user-friendly and enabling detailed performance tracking.

Moreover, the rise of interactive and connected fitness platforms has further revolutionized the rowing machine experience. Companies like Hydrow and Ergatta offer live and on-demand classes streamed directly to rowers’ machines, providing an immersive, engaging workout that combines the benefits of personal training with the convenience of home fitness.

Who should use Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are highly versatile pieces of exercise equipment suitable for a wide range of users. Here’s a summary of who might benefit most from using rowing machines:

  • Fitness Enthusiasts: Individuals who are looking for a full-body workout that combines strength and cardiovascular training will find rowing machines highly beneficial. Rowing engages multiple muscle groups including legs, arms, back, and core.
  • Those Seeking Low-Impact Exercise: People with joint concerns or older adults can benefit from the low-impact nature of rowing. It offers a rigorous workout without placing undue stress on the knees, hips, or ankles.
  • Cross-Training Athletes: Athletes involved in various sports can use rowing machines for cross-training to improve cardiovascular fitness, enhance endurance, and increase overall strength.
  • Weight Loss Goals: Individuals aiming to lose weight will find rowing machines effective for burning calories and boosting metabolism, which are essential for weight loss.
  • Rehabilitation Patients: Those recovering from certain injuries, particularly around the legs and lower back, can use rowing as a form of rehabilitation due to its controlled, smooth, and repetitive movement patterns.
  • Competitive Rowers: Professional or amateur rowers use rowing machines to train off-water, especially when weather conditions make outdoor rowing impractical.
  • Home Gym Users: People looking for an efficient, space-saving exercise machine for home use will find rowing machines ideal since they typically offer easy storage options.
  • Stress Relief Seekers: For those looking to reduce stress and improve mental health, the rhythmic nature of rowing provides a meditative effect, helping to decrease anxiety and increase mental clarity.

Who should NOT use Rowing Machines

While rowing machines are beneficial for many, there are certain individuals who should be cautious or avoid using them due to specific health concerns or conditions:

  • Individuals with Lower Back Pain: People suffering from chronic lower back pain should be cautious when using a rowing machine. The rowing motion can exacerbate back issues, especially if the proper form is not maintained throughout the workout.
  • Those with Recent Surgeries or Severe Injuries: Individuals who have recently undergone surgery, particularly on the back, hips, or abdomen, or those recovering from severe injuries should avoid using a rowing machine until they are fully recovered and have consulted with a healthcare provider.
  • People with Certain Heart Conditions: Individuals with unstable or severe heart conditions should consult their doctor before starting any new exercise regimen, including rowing, which is a vigorous cardiovascular workout.
  • Pregnant Women: Pregnant women, especially in their second and third trimesters, may find the rowing motion uncomfortable and potentially risky. It’s crucial for pregnant women to consult with their healthcare provider before using a rowing machine.
  • Individuals with Hernias: Since rowing involves significant use of core muscles, individuals with hernias might experience discomfort or worsening of their condition while using a rowing machine.

Pros and Cons of Rowing Machines

Pros

  • Rowing machines provide a comprehensive exercise that engages nearly all major muscle groups, including legs, arms, back, and core.
  • Rowing is an intense cardiovascular workout that can burn a significant amount of calories in a relatively short period, aiding in weight loss and metabolic health.
  • It offers a robust workout option that is gentle on the joints compared to high-impact exercises like running, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels, including those with joint issues.
  • Regular use improves cardiovascular fitness, enhancing heart and lung function, and promoting better circulation.
  • Regular training on a rowing machine helps build stamina and endurance, both muscular and cardiovascular.
  • The repetitive, rhythmic nature of rowing can have a meditative effect, reducing stress and improving mental health.
  • Regular rowing helps strengthen the core and back muscles, contributing to better posture and reduced risk of back pain.
  • Many rowing machines offer adjustable resistance and programming options, allowing for varied workout intensity and objectives, catering to beginners through advanced users.

Cons

  • Incorrect rowing form can lead to strain or injury, particularly in the back and shoulders. Proper technique is crucial and may require guidance or practice to perfect.
  • While many rowing machines are designed to be space-efficient, they still require a fair amount of space during use, which might be a constraint in smaller living areas.
  • Depending on the type of resistance used (air or water), rowing machines can be quite noisy, which might be an issue in shared spaces or apartment living.
  • High-quality rowing machines, especially those with advanced features like detailed performance tracking or interactive elements, can be expensive.
  • Rowing machines, particularly those with complex resistance mechanisms, may require regular maintenance to ensure smooth operation and longevity.
  • New users may find rowing machines intimidating due to the coordination required between legs, arms, and core, impacting initial usability.
  • While rowing is inclusive, it might not appeal to everyone’s fitness preferences, especially those who prefer more varied, interactive types of workouts.
  • While it does engage the legs, rowing does not provide the same level of lower-body intensity as weight-bearing exercises like squats or lunges.

Studies regarding the benefits of Rowing Machines

Title: “The Impact of Indoor Rowing Exercise on Body Composition among College Age Students”

Summary: This study examined the effects of regular indoor rowing sessions on body composition, including fat mass and muscle mass, among college students. The results indicated significant improvements in overall fitness and body composition, suggesting that indoor rowing is an effective exercise for young adults to maintain and improve their physical health.

 

Title: “Cardiovascular Responses to Rowing Exercise in Elderly Individuals”

Summary: This research focused on the cardiovascular responses of elderly participants to a regimen of rowing exercise. It found that regular rowing helped improve heart function and cardiovascular health, supporting the use of rowing as a safe and beneficial exercise for older adults.

 

Title: “Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training on a Rowing Ergometer”

Summary: This study explored the benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a rowing machine. Participants showed significant improvements in aerobic capacity, endurance, and fat loss, highlighting the effectiveness of combining HIIT with rowing exercises.

 

 

Title: “Comparative analysis of basal physical fitness and muscle function in relation to muscle balance pattern using rowing machines”

Summary: Analyzing muscle activation patterns, this study compared rowing machine exercise with conventional gym activities. Results showed that rowing engages more muscle groups simultaneously than most other exercises, offering a more comprehensive workout solution.

 

Title: “Rowing as an aerobic and resistance exercise for elderly people”

Summary: Aerobic and resistance exercises are recommended for elderly people to help maintain their health. Rowing involves almost all of the muscles in the body and may have elements
of both aerobic and resistance exercise. Rowing and indoor rowing exercise using ergometers
have been widely used among elderly adults and young individuals worldwide.