If you have a home gym, and you’ve been searching for a new addition, then consider adding a rowing machine. There are so many benefits to be gained from picking up one of the best rowing machines available. For one, there are few full-body workouts as effective as what you can get from a rowing machine. With a slight variation in your body movements, you can target muscle groups in your arms, legs, back and, of course, your core. Rowing machines also provide a good cardio workout in as little as 15 minutes, making them highly effective for those who don’t always have a ton of time. And if time is the thing you are looking to get more of, you could always skip the gym entirely and put a rowing machine in your home. A single machine can make a big difference for multiple people in a home, they are designed to be easily stored at home, thanks to most of them having convenient folding frames.
Rowing machines have evolved in design over the years. Now you have smart rowing machines like the Peloton Row, which are a step up from traditional rowers. We tested different models to determine the best rowing machines on the market. Here are our top picks for rowing machines to keep in your home.
Factors to consider
Make sure you have enough space— lengthwise and widthwise—to hold a rowing machine.
Consider if you need to be able to store the rower upright or if there is enough room to spare.
Compatible with all users
If multiple people are going to be using the machine, make sure it’s user-friendly for all heights and fitness levels.
Rowing machines can be expensive. Determine if your budget fits a standard or high-tech rower.
Types of rowers
There are various rowing machine styles to pick from such as hydraulic, flywheel, water and magnetic.
Best rowing machines
The Echelon Row-S is the ideal rowing machine if you’re a rowing beginner. Assembly was easy enough that only one person was needed to put it together. It’s not the fanciest looking machine, but it felt sturdy and smooth and got the job done. I found it less intimidating than the smart rowers and appreciated parts of its design, like the handle’s protective covering to prevent blisters. I also liked the footplate design the most of all the rowing machines because it felt intuitive to use the fastener straps.
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Most “budget” rowers mean sacrificing something important, like quality displays or software features or the quality of material. Hydrow, which already makes one of our favorite rowers, has put on a master class in subtly trimming away hardware to make something in a couple of ways could be seen as improvements. The Hydrow Wave is lighter and more compact without sacrificing its maximum height and weight capacity. There’s a stainless-steel track with a nearly perfectly silent fly wheel, makes it quieter than most unless you’re the type to shout as you row. It’s got a 16-inch screen instead of a 22-inch screen, but the same 1080p resolution which means this smaller display is actually slightly clearer than the more expensive model. The one big feature Hydrow Wave is missing compared to the premium model is the adjustable neck on the rower — which, if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t notice for the first few days of use and can’t say I’ve personally needed.
Peloton has revolutionized rowing machines by creating the Peloton Row. It’s the first smart rowing machine that teaches you how to row and corrects your form. I will admit the price tag was higher than I anticipated and at $3,195, it’s the most expensive rowing machine on this list. However, there’s no denying the features found in the Peloton Row are impressive.
If you don’t mind spending a little more on a rowing machine then you’ll love the Hydrow. While testing rowing machines, I got input from the CNET Wellness team and we collectively agreed that Hydrow was a smooth and high quality rowing machine. Not only does Hydrow look sleek and futuristic, even the stride feels smoother and natural.
Aviron offers two types of rowers to choose from: the Aviron Impact Series and Aviron Tough Series rower. For this review, I tested the Aviron Impact Series version. Aviron gives a unique spin to indoor rowing with its interactive workout programs. This is especially appealing if you enjoy video games. The machine’s resistance is made up of dual air and magnetic resistance. It is one of the lighter machines on the list, weighing only 97 pounds (43.9 kg), and its base folds upright for easy storage. Another thing to note is that you’ll want to place your rower in an area with strong Wi-Fi connection to get the best gaming experience.
I was super excited to try EnergyFit’s Ski-Row because I love the idea of a rowing machine being two-in-one. The Ski-Row does just that by combining skiing and rowing. It offers two machines: The Ski-Row Air + Pwr and the Ski-Row Air. For this review, I tested out a Ski-Row Air + Pwr. Having used other two-in-one fitness machines like the Concept 2 rowers and Ski Ergs before, I knew I would have to compare the Ski-Row to them to see if the design does it justice.
The LIT Strength Machine impressed me by how the creators challenged the traditional rowing machine. This machine is an all-in-one rower, Pilates reformer and strength trainer.
Earlier in the list we mentioned the Hydrow. Now, we’re focusing on its newest and smaller model, the Hydrow Wave. One of my original issues with the Hydrow was the size of the machine. It rectified the issue by shrinking the original model by a few inches. I had this one delivered to my home and was impressed by its size. It fit in the space I had in mind in my apartment with ease. When it was delivered, the Hydrow team assembled it incredibly fast and ensured I could access my account before they left.
How we chose the best rowing machines
Since rowing machines are very specific machines, there were several factors we considered to determine which were best. We narrowed it down to these rowing machines based on the following guidelines.
Assembly: We took into consideration how easy it would be for the average person to assemble the machine.
Ease of use: We looked at how easy it was to set yourself up on a machine as well as the ease of use on the metrics monitor.
Noise level: We checked to see how loud or silent the machine was during rowing sessions.
Features: We observed unique features that made the rowing machine stand out and/or improved the user experience.
Storage: We looked to see how easy it was to store when not in use.
Rowing machine FAQs
What are the different types of rowing machines?
How much do rowing machines cost?
Depending on the type of rowing machine you’re shopping for, some cheaper machines can cost about $500, while more expensive ones can cost over $1,000 to $2,000-plus.
Is rowing a good workout?
Yes, rowing is a full-body workout and targets 85% of your body. It targets your arms, back, core, legs and chest, and can help build up your endurance and strength.
How long should I row for?
Rowing is so efficient that you can get a good workout in as little as 20 minutes. Most of the classes offered through memberships on this list have classes lasting 20 to 45 minutes.