The 8 Best Rowing Machines of 2021

Row your way to better health with these picks

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Best Rowing Machines

Verywell Fit / Sabrina Jiang

Combining cardio and strength, rowing machines are great for total-body fitness. The device builds endurance, engages your core muscles, and maximizes your workouts without putting too much stress on your joints—making them great for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Rowing machines can have multiple resistance mechanisms, including water, wind, hydraulic, or magnetic resistance. Traditional machines have a single handlebar, while others may offer two handlebars, similar to an elliptical. “The biggest thing is to determine what your goal is with the rowing machine. That's going to steer you towards which type of machine is best for you,” says Grace D'Souza, U.S. National Rowing Team member, U23. 

D’Souza says that, at the most basic level, you’ll want a device that displays essential metrics like time, meters traveled, strokes per minute, and pace. For more advanced rowers, D’Souza advises securing a rowing machine with a monitor, guided classes, and more. 

Here are the best rowing machines on the market.

Our Top Picks
This immersive rower offers live and on-demand outdoor rowing classes that you can stream from the comfort of your home.
While many rowing machines are built around a pulley, this one relies on two handlebars, putting the emphasis on your upper body.
If minimal noise is a priority, this pick offers exactly that while keeping your workouts sturdy and stable.
Best for Total-Body Workouts:
Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine at Amazon
Since the machine gets its tension from hydraulic cylinder resistance, it mimics the feeling of rowing outdoors.
The comfortable full seat and recumbent design is particularly suited to beginners and seniors looking to keep fit.
This pick's compact design is perfect for people with limited space, as it folds in half when not in use.
Its durable frame will stay stable as you row, while its 16 magnetic resistance levels ensure you stay challenged.
Equipped with a variety of challenges and workouts, the sleek rower will consistently challenge you no matter your rowing level.
Best Wind Resistance:
Stamina ATS Air Rower at Amazon
A solid option that will keep you balanced as you build strength, this rower is designed to increase resistance as you gain speed.

Best Overall: Hydrow Rower Starter Package

hydrow-rower
4
Pros
  • Most immersive rowing experience

  • Top-of-the-line design

  • Smooth and quiet strokes

Cons
  • Larger footprint than other options

  • Heavy

If you want your rowing workouts to feel like the real thing, the Hydrow Starter Package is worth the splurge. The rower uses electromagnetic and computer-controlled resistance to mimic the feel of real water, giving you workouts that are both dynamic and challenging. And if you really want to feel transported, you can take advantage of the rower’s large touchscreen and built-in speakers—both of which promise a truly immersive experience.

The rowing machine was designed with performance in mind, and it doesn’t skimp on comfort. Its ergonomic seat offers all the cushion you need to make it through long workouts, and its industrial-grade glider keeps your strokes smooth and quiet.

The Hydrow Starter Package ships with a rowing machine, a mat, a heart rate monitor, and a pair of wireless headphones, so you’ll have everything you need to start rowing. And since it tilts upright, it will be easy to store between uses.

Resistance Style: Electromagnetic and computer-controlled resistance | Maximum Weight Capacity: 375 lbs | Dimensions: 86 x 25 x 47 in | Product Weight: 145 lbs

What Our Testers Say

"Throughout testing, I took a ton of classes—there are more than 2,383 on offer. Surprisingly, there were more than just rowing-specific workouts. Your Hydrow Rower also offers mobility, strength, yoga classes, and more. That is a definite bonus." —Rozalynn S. Frazier, certified personal trainer and Verywell product tester

Best Budget: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine
Pros
  • Great for small spaces

  • Quiet

  • Easy to use

Cons
  • Changing resistance mid-workout isn't seamless

The Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine is a budget-friendly trainer that will give you a great workout without taking up too much space. While many rowing machines are built around a pulley, this one relies on two large handlebars. This design puts the emphasis on your upper body—instead of using your legs primarily to glide forward and back, you use your arms, chest, and back. 

The machine relies on hydraulic cylinder resistance, which makes it incredibly small space-friendly and puts you in control of your workouts. Simply turn the built-in dial to kick the resistance up a notch, and scale it back whenever you need to recover. 

Resistance Style: Hydraulic cylinder | Maximum Weight Capacity: 350 lbs | Dimensions: 52.2 x 28.7 x 11.8 in | Product Weight: 35.8 lbs

Best Quiet: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
Pros
  • Solid construction

  • Easy to assemble

  • Quiet enough to use in a common area

Cons
  • Too small for tall people

Want a rower that won’t make too much noise? The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower gets its tension from a magnetic resistance system, which keeps your workouts challenging and surprisingly quiet. Meanwhile, its durable aluminum frame keeps your workouts sturdy and stable.

Its padded seat keeps you cushioned during your longest, most grueling rowing sessions. And the non-slip pedals keep your feet firmly in place as you row. What’s more, the machine folds up for convenient storage between uses, shrinking to half its size when you're done with your workout.

Resistance Style: Magnetic resistance | Maximum Weight Capacity: 275 lbs | Dimensions: 81 x 21 x 25 in | Product Weight: 75 lbs

Best for Total-Body Workouts: Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
Pros
  • Full range of motion for arms

  • Mimics rowing outdoors

  • Very compact

Cons
  • Challenging to assemble

Many rowing machines offer a total-body workout, but the Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine offers a particularly dynamic one. Because the rower boasts two large handlebars instead of a single handle on a pulley, it gives your arms a fuller range of motion as you row. This design helps you challenge more muscles in your upper body while strengthening your core and lower body the way any rowing machine would. The result: A killer workout from head to toe.

Since the machine gets its tension from hydraulic cylinder resistance, it mimics the feeling of rowing outdoors. An adjustable tension dial helps you keep your workouts challenging while a thick, padded seat keeps you comfortable while you row. The machine is also surprisingly compact, making it a pretty easy addition to small spaces. 

Resistance Style: Hydraulic cylinder | Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lbs | Dimensions: 49 x 14 x 7 in | Product Weight: 52 lbs

Best Recumbent: Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike and Rower

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower
Pros
  • Great for users who need additional support

  • Convenient to fold and store

  • Two-in-one design

Cons
  • Doesn't mimic a traditional rowing experience

If comfort is your priority, you may want to invest in a recumbent rowing machine like the Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Rower. While many rowing machines boast comfortable padded seats, very few of those seats come with backrests. This one offers a full seat for you to rest in while you work out, making it more comfortable and supportive than most. 

Even better, the design doubles as a recumbent bike. If you’re in the mood for a cycling workout, slide your seat toward the front of the machine, slip your feet into the front-most set of pedals, grip the sides of your seat, and start pedaling. To use the machine as a rower, slide your feet into the footholds that are closer to you, grip the built-in handle, and start rowing. You can use the same resistance dial to up the intensity for both workouts.

Resistance Style: Magnetic resistance | Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lbs | Dimensions: 75.5 x 20 x 27 in | Product Weight: 106 lbs

What Our Testers Say

“The Stamina Conversion rower marries a recumbent bike and rowing machine and takes up half the space of two separate machines but has double the value. It’s built to operate primarily as a rower and recumbent exercise bike, but it can also be used as a leg press or resistance strength machine for a full arm and shoulder workout.” Deanna McCormack, Verywell writer and product tester 

Best for Small Spaces: Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine
Pros
  • Silent

  • Very small footprint

  • Secure design

Cons
  • Doesn't mimic a traditional rowing experience

If you’re really low on space, you may not have room for a traditional rowing machine. But with the Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine, you can get a dynamic workout within a much smaller footprint. The machine boasts a unique upright design. Instead of sitting down and rowing back, you sit upright and row up. This format makes your rowing workouts more focused on the lower body, but you still get opportunities to challenge your upper body and core as well.

In lieu of a more traditional resistance mechanism, this rower comes with three adjustable resistance bands. Attach these to your machine to increase the intensity of your workouts, reaching a maximum resistance level of 22 pounds.

The rower’s textured pedals offer plenty of traction, and its non-slip handlebars are easy to grip. Adjust the height of the seat and the handlebars until the machine fits you just right, and take advantage of the fact that the machine folds in half for easy storage between uses.

Resistance Style: Three adjustable resistance bands | Maximum Weight Capacity: 220 lbs | Dimensions: 36.5 x 19 x 37 in | Product Weight: 24.5 lbs

Best Foldable: ECHANFIT Foldable Rowing Machine w/ LCD Monitor

ECHANFIT Foldable Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor
Pros
  • Very easy to move

  • Sleek and sturdy design

  • Quality resistance mechanism

Cons
  • Tracker needs improvement

It’s rare to find a foldable workout machine that's also sturdy and durable, but the ECHANFIT Foldable Rowing Machine is just that. Climb on the rower for an intense workout, and fold it away when you're done to make room for other activities. The frame remains stable as you row, and the 16 magnetic resistance levels keep you challenged. Adjust the built-in handlebars, pedals, and console until you feel comfortable, and settle in for a solid workout.

When you’re finished using the rowing machine, you can fold it in half. This design makes it easy to store against a wall, but you can also tilt it onto its transport wheels and roll it into another room.

Resistance Style: Magnetic resistance | Maximum Weight Capacity: 265 lbs | Dimensions: 44.5 x 25.5 x 8.75 in | Product Weight: 61 lbs

Best Design: Ergatta Rower

The Ergatta Rower
4.7
Pros
  • Sleek, handcrafted design

  • Easy to move and store

  • Multiple features and workouts

  • Bluetooth compatibility

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Technology takes time to master

Crafted with style in mind, The Ergatta Rower is handmade from American cherry wood and designed for the home—not the gym. The back wheels make it easy to store and move with minimal effort, and the rower can be placed upright, minimizing the space it occupies when not in use.

Featuring a clear, fillable 3-pound tank, The Ergatta Rower relies on water resistance to scale naturally with your pull, meaning the harder you work the more resistance you'll receive from the rower.

It also offers goal-based training plans—like races, open-row experiences, interval and endurance workouts, and challenges—that will help you reach your fitness objectives, even if you're a beginner. For those seeking foolproof training, the rower is equipped with a high-definition touchscreen and Bluetooth connectivity to help you track your workouts over time.

Resistance Style: Water tank | Maximum Weight Capacity: 500 lbs | Dimensions: 86 x 23 x 40 in | Product Weight: 76.5 lbs

What Our Testers Say

"I’ve been using the Ergatta for eight months and am fully converted to the rowing lifestyle. I love that I can work out on my own time—5-, 10-, and 20-minute workouts allow me to sneak in a sweat session during my lunch break—and I can still be part of the Ergatta community with group races and a very active Facebook group. The Ergatta isn’t some dusty old machine that you need to hide in your basement. With a little midcentury-modern flair, it’s good-looking enough to keep in your living room." Ariel Kanter, Verywell writer and product tester

Best Wind Resistance: Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina Air Rower
Pros
  • Resistance naturally changes based on your intensity

  • Lightweight

  • Comfortable

Cons
  • Louder than other options

The Stamina ATS Air Rower is a solid rowing machine that will keep you balanced as you build strength. While many rowers get their tension from magnetic, hydraulic, or water-based resistance, this one draws on dynamic wind resistance. A wheel on the front of the bike spins every time you row, adding resistance as you gain speed. This design allows for your workouts to become more intense as you grow stronger. The faster you row, the harder your workouts get.

The dynamic wind resistance design isn’t the only thing that makes this machine worth buying. Its cushioned seat, padded handlebars, and adjustable pedals keep your workouts comfortable, and the seat smoothly glides forward and back as you row. Since the machine’s frame folds up, it’s particularly easy to store between uses as well. Simply fold the rower, tilt it onto its built-in transport wheels, and roll it away. 

Resistance Style: Air fan | Maximum Weight Capacity: 250 lbs | Dimensions: 77 x 18 x 22 in | Product Weight: 54 lbs

Final Verdict

Quiet, comfortable, and plenty challenging, the Hydrow Rower (view at Hydrow) offers everything you’d want in a rowing machine. The feature-packed rower will keep your workouts challenging and engaging.

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower

Verywell Fit / Deana McCormack

What to Look for in a Rowing Machine

Durability

If you choose rowing as your form of exercise multiple times a week, a durable machine is necessary. “A more affordable option might seem attractive at first, but you’ll get much more value from a machine that is a bit pricier and more durable since it lasts for a longer time,” says Kenny Rosenzweig, Co-founder, and CEO of Rowgatta.

Resistance Mechanism

All rowing machines offer some amount of resistance, but the source of this resistance can vary. Some rowers come equipped with water tanks that handle the tension for you. Others rely on internal resistance mechanisms like hydraulic or magnetic resistance. And some others come with built-in fans that provide wind resistance. 

“I highly recommend air resistance as it best replicated the feel of rowing on water,” says Rosenzweig. “In my opinion, it also generates the best workout.” He also says that the type of resistance is a personal preference and that you should choose one that feels most comfortable during use.

Handle Design

Classic rowing machines boast a single handle, which you grip with both hands to pull. But some rowers boast two handlebars, instead. These handlebars look a little like what you’d find on an elliptical, and you can use them to get a fuller range of motion in your upper body.

“The best handlebar is one that will not tear your hands apart after a long session on the rower,” Rosenzweig explains. He says that finding a handlebar with traction and grip is also important, but warns that ones with too much texture can cause blisters over time. Find one that feels good from the first use.

Storage and Portability

Rowing machines can get large and heavy, which can make them hard to transport or store. But many rowers are designed with portability and convenience in mind. Some come with built-in transport wheels that make them easy to move from place to place, some are designed to be turned on their sides and propped up against your wall, and some even fold in half.

Special Features

Some rowing machines come with high-tech options like built-in workouts, games, or guidance from an instructor. The connected rowing machines can be more fun and motivating,” says Rosenzweig.

He warns that these options can often be more expensive since many require a corresponding content subscription. But if you have the budget to splurge, it could be a good option for beginners in need of additional instruction, or advanced rowers trying to add a new dimension to their workouts.

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike/Rower

Verywell Fit / Deanna McCormack 

FAQs

Is it safe to row every day?

Depending on the intensity with which you row, you can enjoy this total-body workout safely every single day—and for hours, if you choose to do so. Just pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're feeling particularly sore or stiff, consider a day of gentle stretches and rest to give your body a period of recovery. If you feel great, keep rowing!

Hydrow Rower Fitness Machine
Verywell / Rozalynn S. Frazier

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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  1. Kang SR, Yu CH, Han KS, Kwon TK. Comparative analysis of basal physical fitness and muscle function in relation to muscle balance pattern using rowing machinesBio-Medical Materials and Engineering. 2014;24(6):2425-2435.