If you have ever used one of the rowing machines in your local gym, you will know that these machines not only provide you with a very effective cardiovascular workout, but they also work a number of different muscle groups in addition to your arms and legs.
Therefore they are ideal if you want to improve your fitness, lose weight or tone up certain parts of your body that you are unhappy with.
If you are interested in buying one of these indoor rowers for your home, you can expect to pay as much as $1000 or more on a gym-standard rower, but if you just want a basic rower that you can use every now and again, you can pick one up for as little as $100.
So in this article I want to review some of the top models that are currently available in each of the different price categories right now in 2018, starting with the best gym-standard machines that many of the professionals use and finishing with some low-cost entry-level rowers that are more suitable for people who are on a tight budget:
Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
Of course I have to start off by discussing the two Concept 2 rowing machines because a lot of Olympic and professional rowers train on these machines and consider them to be the best ones on the market.
I certainly wouldn’t disagree with this because I use the Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine in my local gym on a regular basis and it really is an outstanding machine.
The workout itself is quiet and exceptionally smooth because the air resistance seamlessly adjusts to your every stroke as you increase (or decrease) the intensity of your rowing action.
It is also strong and exceptionally well-made, with a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds, and is clearly built to withstand regular use, which is why many gym owners buy these machines for their gym, and why it is now the best-selling indoor rowing machine in the world.
Furthermore, the latest models feature the new Performance Monitor 5, which allows you to track data such as speed, distance, pace, calories and watts, and features lots of preset workouts and games.
It also has wireless capabilities so that you can hook it up to your smartphone or tablet, and supports machine-to-machine racing so that you can race against other people from all over the world using the LiveRowing app.
So it’s easy to see why this particular model is so highly rated. However it’s worth mentioning that you can also buy the slightly more expensive Concept 2 Model E Rowing Machine, which is very similar in many respects and comes with the same PM5 monitor, but the key difference is that this one is six inches higher off the ground, and is therefore easier to get on and off.
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Most indoor rowing machines are quite mechanical in nature and nothing like the real thing, but you can now buy a range of WaterRowers that are a lot more realistic. That’s because they include a water tank at the front with two paddles inside that control the resistance, and make it sound as if you are actually rowing on water.
These are generally handcrafted from solid wood and are exceptionally strong as they have a maximum user weight of around 1000 lbs, which partly explains why they are so expensive.
However they can certainly be classified as gym-standard machines because they guarantee a smooth, quiet and realistic workout, and are guaranteed to last a very long time because they require no maintenance at all, and are not prone to wear and tear.
The most popular model is the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine, which has an intuitive resistance system that responds to your every stroke, just like all the other WaterRowers, and comes with a top quality LCD monitor that displays your workout intensity, pulse, stroke rate, time and distance, for example.
To be fair, though, all of the WaterRowers are exceptionally well-made and very good quality, and having used one myself, I can vouch for the smoothness and quality of the actual workout.
→ WaterRower Club Rowing Machine – this is very similar to the Natural Rowing Machine featured above, but this one is suitable for home use and commercial use, whereas the Natural rower is more suitable for home use (read review).
Mid-Range Rowing Machines
Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
If you are prepared to spend a little more money on a mid-range rowing machine, there are three models in particular that are very highly rated, one of which is the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower.
This has a very quiet magnetic resistance system that you can control electronically via the display unit, and it is easy to monitor your performance because this large LCD display indicates speed, time, distance, number of strokes, calories and watts.
It will also display your pulse rate because it comes equipped with a free chest strap, and you should find that this machine is comfortable to use because of its molded saddle, and easy to fold away for storage when it is not being used.
So when you consider that you also get 12 workout programs with varying degrees of resistance, this is a good quality machine that represents good value for money.
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower
Another good quality mid-range rowing machine that is pretty good value for money is the Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower.
This is quite a similar model to the one above in that it has 12 exercise programs, as well as a magnetic resistance system that you can control electronically via the backlit In Touch Fitness Monitor. Indeed 7 of these preset programs will adjust the resistance automatically so that you don’t have to.
It also comes with a chest strap so that you can monitor your pulse rate during your workout, and will tell you all of your key performance data such as time, strokes, distance, calories burned, strokes per minute and watts.
Finally, it also features an extruded aluminium beam that guarantees a smooth movement during your rowing action, and has a foam-padded rowing handle to ensure that your workout is as comfortable as possible. Plus it also has a foldable steel frame for easy storage.
Kettler Stroker Rower And Multi-Trainer
Kettler have produced several top-end rowing machines that are more than suitable for everyday home use, but one of the most affordable ones is this Kettler Stroker Rower and Multi-Trainer.
This is a magnetic resistance rower, which once again ensures that you get a very quiet workout, and it comes with 8 resistance levels that are said to be quite intense even at the lowest settings.
This machine is comfortable to use because it features a padded handle and thick padding on the seat, as well as foot plates that pivot naturally as you row. It also has a decent LCD display that displays all the key data.
However what really sets this one apart from some of the others is that this one doubles up as a strength station. Therefore you can perform 10 additional exercises that will increase your strength and help to build muscle, in addition to the full-body toning and cardio workout that you will get from the actual rowing workout.
Low-Cost Rowing Machines
Stamina Air Rower
If you are on a tight budget, but are still looking to buy a good quality machine that will last you a long time and will give you a decent workout, then the Stamina Air Rower has to be worth considering.
Unlike many of the entry-level models, such as the two listed below, for example, this one has a wind resistance system that delivers a much smoother workout and makes it easier for you to control the resistance intuitively because it responds to your every stroke.
In addition, it also comes with a multi-function electronic performance monitor that indicates your speed, time, distance and calories burned, and is comfortable to use thanks to its padded upholstered seat and its oversized seat rail that can accommodate people of all heights.
It can also be folded away into an upright position when it is not being used in order to take up less room in your home.
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine
Another low-cost machine that you might want to consider buying is the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine.
This one is made by Stamina and is slightly more expensive than some of the cheapest models, but it still represents good value for money because this hydraulic resistance rower is strong and sturdy, has 12 adjustable resistance levels and provides you with a realistic workout that is similar to rowing on water.
It also comes with a thick padded seat for extra comfort, and has a LCD display that tracks time, speed and calories.
However the one major benefit of this machine is that it is small and compact, making it ideal if you have limited space in your home, and can be folded away really easily when you have finished using it.
→ Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1060 – this machine is an upgrade on the 1050 model because it features larger footplates, a more comfortable seat and an enhanced monitor that now includes a tablet holder (read review).
Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine
Finally, if you are looking for an inexpensive entry-level rower that you can use at home, they don’t come more basic than the Sunny Health & Fitness Rowing Machine.
This is actually one of the cheapest indoor rowers you can buy, and is a very simple design, but to be fair, it’s not a bad little machine at all because it has 12 levels of resistance, a comfortable padded seat and an LCD display that indicates time, number of strokes and calories burned.
Of course it’s not in the same league as some of the gym-standard rowers listed above, but the customer feedback has been very positive on the whole, with many people saying that this is a well-built machine that stands up well to regular use, and is very quiet in operation.
Additional Product Reviews
These are some of the top indoor rowing machines in 2018, but we have also reviewed a few other rowers that are also really good quality but didn’t quite make this list:
→ Apollo Pro II – this is a commercial-grade water rowing machine from First Degree Fitness that delivers a comfortable and natural-feeling rowing workout, and benefits from having a four-setting resistance dial on the water tank to adjust the volume of the water, and subsequently the resistance.
→ Sole SR500 – this is a top-end rowing machine that is similar in quality to the Concept 2 Rowers because it is exceptionally strong and well-made, and boasts a powerful combination of air and magnetic resistance that provides you with 16 levels of resistance.
→ Impetus IA 6800AM – this is a commercial-grade rowing machine that offers 12 workout programs, and has an air and magnetic resistance system that is smooth and exceptionally quiet, and adjusts according to the intensity of your rowing stroke.
→ Xebex Air Rower – this commercial-grade rowing machine is a serious rival to the Concept 2 rowers because it is exceptionally strong with a smooth and fluid air resistance, is very comfortable to use and easy to get on and off because of the 20-inch seat height.
→ Stamina Conversion II – this rowing machine doubles up as a recumbent bike to give you a total full-body toning and fitness workout, and can also be used as a strenth station to develop your arms and your upper body.
→ Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine – this is a good quality magnetic rowing machine that has a strong frame made from durable components and a really comfortable seat, and offers 10 levels of resistance for people of all fitness levels.
→ Stamina X Air – this is a low-cost rower that doesn’t have a lot of extras, but it does have an impressive air resistance resistance system that responds to every stroke, and is a very strong and sturdy machine that is comfortable to use.
→ Marcy Turbine NS-6050RE – this folding magnetic rower has 8 levels of resistance, a good quality computer display, a foam padded seat and a solid steel frame construction.
→ Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5612 – one of two new models from Sunny Health & Fitness, this rower has a magnetic tension system and is one of the few that enables you to perform various different arm and shoulder exercises.
→ Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 – this impressive new model has a very strong frame and is one of the most affordable magnetic rowing machines on the market.
→ Soozier Magnetic Rower – this is an affordable magnetic rowing machine for the home that is small and compact and can be folded into an upright position when it is not being used.
→ Tenive Indoor Fitness Rower – this is a space-saving entry-level rower that has adjustable hydraulic resistance and a heavy duty steel frame, and can be folded away when it is not being used.