Top Rated Rowing Machines
Designed to mimic row boat rowing motions, they offer you a full body workout that builds strength and stamina while being completely low impact.
Are you ready to improve your health, tone your muscles and burn some fat? Instead of buying that gym membership, you will never use or strapping on your running shoes to pound the pavement, consider the unassuming yet powerful fitness tool that is the rowing machine.
- 1 Top Rated Rowing Machines
- 1.1 Concept 2 Model D
- 1.2 Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine
- 1.3 Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399
- 1.4 Lifecore R100
- 1.5 Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic
- 1.6 Buyers Guide
- 1.7 Do You Know How To Row?
- 1.8 Try Before You Buy
- 1.9 Know Your Goals
- 1.10 Conclusion
Caloric burn: Average individual can burn 377 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous rowing.
Joint Friendly: No strain on joints or back make it perfect for older individuals.
Cardiovascular Benefit: Rowing with low tension allows you to build up speed and pump the cardiovascular system.
Muscle Friendly: Rowing motion engages and therefore strengthens all the muscles in the human body, arms, legs, hips, back, shoulders and core.
Now that you know a little more about the benefits, let’s dig into which models are the top rated rowing machines in the field today.
There are many ways to rate a rowing machine as you will find if you do a quick perusal of rowing machine reviews. What is the best economical machine, nicest home model, smoothest action and much more.
One machine that takes top marks no matter what the criteria is the Concept 2 Model D rowing machine. It is on every top rated rowing machines list you can find. It probably doesn’t hurt to see rows of these machines at cross fit competitions. Hey, if it is good enough for Rich Froning, what more do you need to know? Well, maybe a few more details would be helpful.
- Size – overall length -96 inches, width -24 inches and 54 inch monorail (good for people with inseams up to 38 inches).
- Air Resistance
- Maximum user weight- 500 lbs
- Chain – nickel plated steel
- Included performance 5 monitor
What makes the Concept 2 Model D the best selling home rowing machine on the market? For starters, it is one of the most dependable units and easily fits into a home or gym setting. What other features do customers focus on when talking about this top rated rowing machine? Here are just a few items of interest:
Performance 5 Monitor- most rowing machines will come with some type of monitor, but the Concept 2 model D offers a monitor that measures heart rate (with wireless heart rate device), calories burned, speed and distance traveled.
Quick Assembly – out of the box you can have this thing up and running in 30 minutes or less, even if you are less than mechanically inclined.
Easy Storage – not everyone has a hanger for their in home rowing machine, the Model D breaks down quickly into two compact pieces and is equipped with caster wheels for ease of movement.
Sturdy – consumers agree this is a well built machine, no wiggles or shimmies during use.
Water Rower Natural Rowing Machine
It should be said that this rower is not necessarily superior nor is it inferior to the Concept 2 Model D. Both are great machines and the major difference is in user preference.
As the name suggests, the water rower incorporates a water flywheel to provide that natural rowing motion you get from being out on the river or lake. Rowing is smooth and much quieter than the average air rower.
- Wooden construction – solid ash
- Measurements: 84” x 21” x 22”
- Rail – Dual or monorail depending on specific model
- Sealed water flywheel
- Rated for users up to 1,000 lbs
Natural movement, durability and high user ratings keeps the water rower consistently on the top rated rowing machines lists. In addition to quick set up and smooth action, the water rower also easily stores away upright in about the same area as your standard dining chair. This can be very important when space is a premium in your home gym.
We have so far compared the top two models in the industry, and while they are all they are cracked up to be and then some, they also come with a healthy price tag.
Either of the aforementioned units will cost you close to $1,000 and not everyone is in a position to make such a large investment. If you are looking for a lower cost alternative rower for getting started in the top rated rowing machines, look no further than the Stamina Air Rower.
- Dimensions – 77” x 18” x 22”
- Rated for users up to 250 lbs
- Multi-function monitor
- Steel rowing beam
- Fold-able frame
- Price – $300 or less
This is an affordable model in the top rated rowing machines niche. While it does not have all the bells and whistles of pricier models, it will give you a good workout without breaking the bank. It is a solidly built machine with plenty of leg room and though you cannot adjust the resistance, if you row harder, you will get all the resistance you need.
By and large, there are not a lot of negatives with this little machine. However, it does have a louder than average “fan” and there is definitely room for improvement on the foot straps. Consumers report the straps can be difficult to use and some experiences a light clicking as the seat meets the back of the foot rest. (this could be too vigorous movements on the part of the exerciser, to be fair.)
If you are not overly impressed with the idea of the expensive water, noisy air or cheaper yet more limited hydraulic, perhaps a magnetic rower is more to your taste. The Lifecore R100 is definitely in the top rated rowing machines category.
This is a commercial grade rower for your home gym that offers all the bells and whistles.
- 16 Resistance levels – from beginner to hard core there is a resistance setting for you.
- 15 presets
- Cooling Fan – blows directly on you for a nice cooling breeze
- Large ergonomically designed seat
- Easy to read monitor
- Silent operation
- Sturdy build, especially for larger users
- Rated for users up to 600 lbs
Lifecore R100 is for the rower whose sole interest is a great workout, movement is silky smooth and silent. This means you can watch your favorite television show or enjoy inspiring tunes while you get your sweat on.
Consumers report few if any complaints with this model other than the steep initial price. These units sell upwards of $1200, which is several hundred more than most top rated rowing machines. That being said, no reviewer has reported being disappointed in this unit.
Never fear, magnetic rowers are not limited to rich playboys! You too can enjoy the smooth action of an at home rowing machine at a fraction of the cost with the Sunny Health and Fitness machine.
- 8 levels of resistance
- large LCD display
- Anti slip foot pedals- adjustable
- 82” x 19” x 23”
- Cushioned contour seat
At about one third of the cost of high end magnetic rowers, this is a lot of rowing machine for the money. Honestly, you even get a good number of bells with this unit as well with the 8 levels of resistance, nice large foot pedals and well designed seat. You will get a good whole body workout that is smooth and quiet.
As you may have already guessed, this particular unit does not have the longevity of the pricier models. Several customers have also mentioned the monitor is practically useless. It is difficult to see and operate. The Sunny Health and Fitness magnetic is still among the top rated rowing machines, but as you get better and better at rowing, you should know you will eventually need to replace the machine.
Now that we have looked at the top rated rowing machines models, it is time to talk about everything else you need to know before you make a purchase. Here we will look at the various types of rowers as well as other things you may want to keep in mind.
Each of these beauties has a specific footprint and you need to carefully consider your available space. Not everyone has a large personal gym in their home so it is vital you take a few basic measurements to compare against your chosen machine. Remember to leave a little wiggle room!
Understanding the different types of rowers will help you narrow your search as well. There are four basic types of rowers, wind resistance, water, magnetic and hydraulic. Each has their own pros and cons including but not limited to:
Wind: Pro- You can increase your resistance by simply rowing harder, most common rowing machine, smooth natural flow. Cons- wind flywheel can be quite noisy.
Water: Pros- Natural feel and sound, smooth action, quiet. Cons- usually higher in price and bulkier in stature.
Magnetic: Pros- Silent operation, multiple resistance levels, smaller scale usually and very little maintenance. Cons- Intensity levels will not increase, and has a mechanical feel.
Hydraulic: Pros- usually the cheapest alternative, compact, quieter than wind, easy to store. Cons- Oil inside heats up and changes your resistance, require regular maintenance and not as smooth as other machines.
Check The Specs
In addition to understanding the types of machines you are looking at, it is important to always check the specifications of a particular unit. You already know to check the measurements of the entire machine, but what about the rail length? Of course, this is most important to people who are on the tallest end of the scale. Your legs should be fully extended at the end of the movement.
Height – this may seem like a small thing, but if you have a hard time getting low, you may want to stick to the taller machines.
Weight – Are you going to be moving the machine to storage regularly? Are you physically fit? A simple machine that you can fold or hang easily may be better than one you need to partially dismantle when storing.
Seat Width – you are going to be exerting a lot of effort during your workout so the seat should be broad enough for your hind parts to be comfortable.
Foot Pedals – are they adjustable? If you have tiny feet and will be the only user, this may not be as big of a deal.
Display – where is the monitor located? Is it easily visible during your workout?
Do You Know How To Row?
This may sound like a silly question to ask someone considering a rowing machine purchase, but there is a proper way to execute the exercise. As with any exercise, if you perform it incorrectly, you are going to cause pain to your body or at the very least not reap the benefits of exercise. Common things to remember:
Do not put your arms into it – 60% of the effort it takes to row should come from your legs. Otherwise, you are going to overwork your shoulders and back, causing discomfort and pain.
Good Posture – make it a point to sit tall in the seat of your rower, shoulders relaxed and spine in neutral position. (some people will have to resist their natural inclination to slump)
Slamming – It is easy to get exuberant in your exercise efforts. Unfortunately, this can get out of control and have you slamming your bottom into the backs of your heels. This will jerk your body forward uncomfortably. Slow your roll a tiny bit and make sure your return move is more controlled.
Damper Settings – probably one of the most common mistakes is forgetting to check your damper settings before rowing. You do not want to start on the highest resistance setting available as you will tire your muscles too quickly. Progress through the levels at a steady pace to get the best workout.
Learn the process – most people will be tempted to simultaneously pull with the arms while you push with your legs, but it is a much more subtle movement than this. Push with the legs, pivot with hips and then pull with the arms. Your workouts will be much more effective when you master the technique.
If you are still not certain about your ability to row correctly, take the time to view a video tutorial or better yet, head down to the gym and work with a professional.
Try Before You Buy
While you are at the gym learning about how to row on top rated rowing machines, you have a great opportunity to try the different types of rowers. Most gyms will have a couple different alternatives for you to try and big gyms should have one of each.
Spend time with each resistance type until you get a good feel for what works for you. Don’t forget that some manufacturers offer a nice no questions asked money back guarantee if there are any problems with a rower, this includes simply not liking the unit.
Know Your Goals
Do you need to build stamina, lose weight, build muscle or all of the above? If you are focusing more on muscle tone than weight loss, you should look to a rowing machine that offers variable resistance. When pure fat loss is the goal, any machine that will promote a great cardio workout is the right choice.
It is IMPORTANT TO NOTE that while you can tone your muscles and enjoy more definition as you lose fat, this is not a muscle building machine. Tone and cardiovascular fitness are the main goals for your rowing machine.
What do you need? If you are like a large part of the population, getting in shape is high up on your priority list. Like many of us, you may be concerned about heavy impact exercise or worry about sticking out at the gym.
Purchasing your own home rowing machine from among the many top rated rowing machines on the market could solve many of these problems. Exercise in the privacy of your own home with the one machine that works nearly every muscle in the human body. In no time at all, you will increase your stamina, improve cardiovascular function, lose weight and just all around feel better!