The 7 Best Rowing Machines to Buy in 2018

Outfit your home gym with the right model for you

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With a new year comes new health goals. Although many wellness resolutions are defined by getting in shape, it doesn’t mean you have to venture to a gym to get the best workout.

Creating a home-gym can seem like a daunting task when considering what equipment to purchase, so let’s start by talking about a piece that is made with all fitness levels in mind: the rowing machine.

No matter your athletic ability, rowing can be a great exercise due to its low-impact activity. While this workout is for everyone, not all rowing machines are created equal. Depending on your mobility, type of workout you want and how much you’re able to spend, each health-enthusiast will find different key features desirable.

Here are the best rowing machines for your needs:

Best Overall: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

With almost 1,500 five-star reviews on Amazon, the Model D is the bestselling rower in the world. Fully equipped with a performance monitor, this machine tracks all stats and is loaded with preset workouts for convenience. You can also transfer this data to a computer with USB (not included) to track your fitness goals easily. Also, it’s Bluetooth compatible for heart-rate monitoring.

Ergonomically, the seat is made from firm-rubber, which most buyers find to be comfortable. Also, the footrests adjust and the handles offer a smooth grip.

While most machines max out at a 300-pound weight capacity, this one is made to endure up to 500 pounds.

This rower takes up a space of 4’ x 9’ but quickly separates into two pieces for storage (and has wheels for a zippy move!).

Best Conversion: Stamina 15-9003 Deluxe Conversion II Recumbent / Rowe

This two-in-one machine is great for those who like to switch up their workouts or want something more “full body.” Not only can you bike or row with this, but the top handle retracts to perform upper body exercises like bicep curls and tricep kickbacks The machine also comes with a resistance cord that you can attach under the seat to do leg presses. It has an LCD display your calories burned, distance and more. 

Like similar products, this also folds up for storage purposes. Users also like the ease of set-up and quiet movements while working out. The weight limit on this is only 250 pounds so not suited for everyone. 

Best Water Rowing Machine: First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water rower

first-degree-newport-rower
Courtesy of Walmart

Most of us won’t be paddling outside this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t row like you're zipping across your favorite body of water.

This hydraulic rower is able to replicate the feel of being on water without dipping your toes in the actual water. Whether you’re looking to battle heavy waves or a smooth sea, the First Degree can adapt to your desired level of activity with its adjustable levels of fluid resistance. This model was designed in collaboration with professional rowers to help capture the real-life experience.

The ergonomic handles are made to prevent strain on the arms, wrists, and hands. Users comment on the smooth pull compared to other machines they’ve used.

To make it even more real, this machine even mimics the sound of rowing on the water. The weight limit on this model is 300-pounds. 

Best for Limited Mobility: Concept2 Model E

Nicknamed “The luxury machine of the indoor rower world,” the Concept2 Model E is the “newer” version of the ever-popular Model D. A major difference is this machine sits higher up, making it great for those with mobility issues. While rowing provides a low-impact workout aimed for all ages, some of the lower-seated machines aren’t as easy to slide in and out of.

There are eight levels of magnetic resistance to help personalize your work out along with easy-to-reach tension control.

The electronic monitor gives instant feedback on time, distance, speed, intervals, strokes per minute, etc. This rower has a capacity of 500 pounds.

Best For The Budget: Sunny Health and Fitness Full Motion Rower

This rower is not only great economically speaking but has all the bells and whistles a beginner or anyone on a budget could need.

An “Amazon Choice” product, the Sunny Health Rower allows you to have full motion use of your arms and the ability to change the resistance with a turn of a knob.

The LCD monitor is small but does the basics: tracks stroke count, time and calories.

The machine is equipped with a comfortable seat, that is able to hold up to 300 pounds, and non-slip handles and foot pedals. Reviewers note it is a great machine but for those who are more advanced, this might not be "strong" enough. 

Best for Full Body Workout: Stamina 1215 Orbital

Compact and portable (taking up just 32.5” x 48”) and a weight of 47 pounds, the Orbital Rower is a great way to work up a sweat in a small space.

But perhaps even greater than it’s size is the ability to have a workout where you have a full range-of-motion with your arms.

The actual rowing does mimic that of being on the water with its hydraulic cylinder resistance.

Pivoting foot plates make for ease of mobility and a thick, padded seat lets users enjoy their time in the rower. Another “Amazon Choice,” this machine is equipped with a monitor that shows speed, time, row count, distance, calories burned and miles completed. It can hold 250 pounds. 

Best For Quiet Environments: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

If you’re one who likes to workout early morning or at night while the kids are in bed, or maybe you want to hear the TV versus the hum of your equipment, you’ll be pleased with this whisper quiet machine.

This rower comes equipped with 12 different workouts for those who like to switch up their routine. Or want the option to customize their own.

With its smooth magnetic resistance operation, this magnetic rower can help you get in shape or help you practice for the real thing by perfecting your stroke.

The LCD display keeps you up to date on the typical readings: pulse rate, time taken, number of counts, calories burnt. The weight capacity is 275 pounds. 

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