Article last updated 22nd January, 2017.

best rowing machines 2017

Firm up, power house! Looking for the best rowing machines in 2017? We’ve got you sorted!

In this guide we deliver comprehensive rowing machine reviews which will enable you to make the right choice come decision time. With the enormous amount of rowing machines available on the market, it was not an easy feat. But we have done our due diligence and we are confident our list will assist you choosing the right machine for your needs.

Even at the lower end of the price spectrum, a rower is a significant investment. It is a good idea to take your time considering all the pros and cons of the different brands and models. You should always align your training goals with the features available on the device. This will prevent you from outgrowing your rowing machine before you are even halfway through your training program.

A home rower is definitely not a one-type-fits-all kind of device. There are many choices, with different features and a wide range of prices. We have highlighted some of the best rowing machines in each price range to help you make an educated decision:

Best Rowing Machine 2017

Concept2 Model D

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Found in gyms across the world, Concept2 offers up a great experience in a rowing machine full of features with the Concept2 Model D Indoor. It is no coincidence that health club owners trust this rower time and time again. It is built with high quality materials of offers a full feature set, catering to everyone, from absolute beginners to even the most demanding professional athletes. What we particularly like is that it allows a full stroke range, which is good news for anyone on the taller side.

Price Range: Upper price range

Read Our Concept2 Rowing Machine Reviews

Rowing Machine Reviews 2017

ModelKey FeaturesOur RatingUser ReviewsPrice Guide
Concept2 Model DUpper-price product but has all the features you need and made by the best brand in home rowing machines.5/5ExceptionalUpper Price Range
Sunny Rowing MachineKnown brand that produce quality, low-price products.4.5/5Very GoodLow Price
Stamina 1215 OrbitalKnown brand, very good review history from users and consistent hot seller.4/5GoodLow Price
LifeSpan Fitness RW1000Best-known for quiet operation.3.75/5GoodModerate Price
Avari Programmable RowerKnown brand, very good review history from users and magnetic resistance.4.5/5Very GoodModerate Price
Concept2 Model EFollows the Model D closely and is made by renowned brand Concept2.4.75/5Very GoodUpper Price Range

Sunny Rowing Machine

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It is smooth gliding on this affordable rower. Its relatively low price does not compromise its build quality and features. Pivoting foot plates to make your workout more comfortable, while customizable foot straps and a nice cushiony seat are added perks. It is not heavy and easy to move around, but sturdy enough for beginner and intermediate workouts.

Price Range: Lower price range.

Stamina 1215 Orbital

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The most eye-popping feature on this cheaper range favorite is the proprietary rowing system, which keep the arms and legs in extension while the elbows flex. This puts to work the abdominal muscles. Its hydraulic resistance system engages the full body, leading to faster results. Moreover, space wise this is one of the best choices, as it takes up less room than the average home rowing machine.

Price Range: Lower price range.

LifeSpan Fitness RW1000

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Moving to the mid-range priced rowers on the market. the LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 is our weapon of choice in this category. If you are in the rowing business to lose weight, you cannot go wrong on this versatile machine. Solidly built, it offers a wide range of workouts without the nagging peeping and creaking some of the less quality machines are known for.

Price Range: Moderate price range.

Avari Programmable Rower

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As we move up the price chain, we come across a great professional-grade device in the Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower. Twelve workout programs, six cardio profiles to keep tabs on your progress, as well as a manual program are included in its electronic feature set. It is extremely sturdy and comfortable as is to be expected from a device in this price range. Busy individuals will love the fact that its high quality build makes it a very low-maintenance device. This puppy will last for a long time.

Price Range: Moderate price range.

Concept2 Model E

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The cream of the crop is another Concept2 rowing machine. Probably the most efficient and well built rower on the market today, the Concept2 Model E is the best investment a serious rowing enthusiast can do, given that they can afford it. It really caters to everyone: where other rowing machines often have a 250lbs. maximum weight allowance, this machine will handle people up to 500lbs. without any trouble. Its features will help to shed weight and improve muscle strength like no other. If you want the best of the best, the Concept2 Model E is for you.

Price Range: Upper price bracket.

Read Our Concept2 Rowing Machine Reviews

Types of Rowing Machines

Generally, the most important characteristic of a rowing machine is simple: Resistance. This is the one feature that mimics plowing around in a real rowing boat and makes machine rowing such a great workout. There is a number of different types of resistance used in various models:

Water resistance:

this is the closest you will get to actually involving water in your rowing workout (although sweat might count). Rowing machines using water resistance are supplied with a water tank. Inside, it features suspended paddles which provide users with an almost real world experience of rowing on water. Additionally, this system emanates a relaxing wave-like sound which makes the experience even better. Prices for water resistance rowing machines are at the high end, often costing between $1700 and $4200, making them the choice of more serious athletes.

Magnetic resistance:

More of a midrange choice, these are often the most popular and cost-effective resistance type rowers. The main draws are that they do not produce any noise, and boast an above average length seat rail, which is practical for the taller people among us. The system is almost frictionless. This allows for smooth rowing, but a con is that it tends to make a workout less effective than rowing equipment providing more friction. Prices starting at $225 and ranging up to $1400 makes these types of rowing machines a good choice for beginners and intermediate rowers alike.

Air resistance:

It is all about the flywheel in these rowing machines. The harder you pull the handle, the faster it spins into motion, increasing the amount of wind and therefore the resistance. This system allows you to effectively control the intensity and speed of your workout. A possible negative is the amount of noise these type of rowing machines generate, although you will get used to it. Pricing runs from $300 for the simpler models to $1300 for high end rowers. Intermediate and more advanced athletes will often be able to find just what they need in this category.

Piston resistance:

Last but not least we have the more portable and storable rowing machines using piston resistance. Two hydraulic pistons are attached to each side, enabling you to fiddle with their resistance settings as you like. Take a good look at the texture and padding on the moving parts, as they tend to get hot after rowing for an extended period. Piston resistant rowing machines often fall in the cheapest price range, starting at $200, with the most expensive models costing around $600. These are therefore often a good choice for users just starting out.

Home Rowing Machine Benefits

If there is one piece of fitness equipment that is often recommended by training experts, it is the rowing machine. It provides efficient cardiovascular training, enables fat loss and improving the strength of many of your body’s muscles. If you are the calorie counting type, know that a simple, low-resistance rowing workout yields about 300 to 500 calories burned per hour. Crank it up a notch and you could shed up to 800 calories. This is considerably higher than an exercise bike for example and although not as high as a home treadmill, rowing machines achieve the calorie burning in a low-impact manner.

Fitness professionals and doctors alike are raving about using the rowing machine as your preferred workout. It is not difficult to see why: It is the one workout where many of your major muscles groups are challenged, at a low-impact to joints to boot. Your lower back and core will benefit from the back-and-forth motion, while the push-off engages your thighs, calves, shoulders and quadriceps. For those toning the arms, the biceps and back will need to work to pull the handle towards you.

All these benefits have lead to rowing machines becoming a staple in many gyms, with most of them upgrading to advanced models to keep rowing enthusiasts happy.


Rowing Machine Buying Guide

The fitness benefits of home rowers are obvious enough, but do keep in mind these things as well before settling for a particular rowing machine:

Adjustability: If you are just starting out as a rower, you will probably need a completely different machine than a more advanced athlete. This is where adjustability of the above mentioned resistance comes into play. Beginners might easily get discouraged if their rowing machine does not offer a low enough resistance level to start out with. Try out different machines to be able to choose the right model for your personal situation.

Pricing: It goes without saying that your personal budget will come into play. A good rowing machine tailored towards your training goals does not have to be the most expensive kid on the block. High-end rowing machines look flashy and are often worth the money, but this does not mean they are necessary to reach your fitness goals. Choose a budget and stick to it.

Room Space: Very easy to overlook and often resulting in bad choices, you have to consider the space you have in your home to install and store your rower. The different types of rowers take up different amounts of space, so measure up before you buy!


Rowing Machine Benefits


If you’ve just started working out, you’ll realize that there are a great number of workout programs to choose from as well as exercise equipment.  Some of the most popular are the treadmill, indoor bikes, and rowers.  Many people are now seeing the benefits of using a rowing machine in the gym or investing in a rowing machine for the home.

Here are some of the reasons you should consider rowing as an exercise and start using a rowing machine:

1. Rowing is excellent exercise to improve heart health

The movements involved in rowing stimulate the heart and increase the heart rate for a period of time.  This helps fortify your heart and enhance cardiovascular health.  Both the pushing and pulling actions from the upper body and the forward and backward motion of the legs utilizes muscles all over your body.  This helps the body burn more calories and consequently, lose excess weight and fat.  You can also increase your pace and work out more often to optimize your aerobic exercise and see weight loss results sooner.

2. Rowing has little impact on the joints

Sports and other more intense exercises require being on your feet, straining your joints and in some case, carrying heavy loads.  Despite the energy needed for rowing and the various muscles involved, this exercise does not put too much pressure on the joints since you’re sitting while exercising.  As you’re not carrying any loads either, it does not unnecessarily strain your back, making rowing the perfect exercise for those who are still recovering from health problems and injury.  This also means rowing can safely be done by almost anyone.

3. Rowing gives a workout for the entire body

As we mentioned earlier, rowing makes use of multiple muscle groups which gets your entire body moving even though you’re staying in place.  This strengthens your muscles and improves endurance at the same time.  Specifically, rowing activates the back and leg muscles such as the hamstrings at the beginning of the movement.  As you pull, more leg muscles are involved like the quadriceps and including the upper back.  When you pull further and push with your legs, your arms and biceps are now included as well as your abdominals.  Finally, at the peak of your pulling motion, more abdominal muscles and obliques are exercised.

4. Rowing can also be modified for various workout routines

Most people think that after a time, rowing can get boring since the movements involved are always the same.  However, one of the best things about rowing machines is that whether you’re a beginner or expert, you can modify your rowing routine to suit your needs and goals.  This is done by controlling the resistance settings of the rowing machine, allowing you to have a slower workout or a faster-paced and more intense one.

5. Rowing helps relieve stress

Any physical exercise can release “feel good” hormones in the body.  Rowing is particularly convenient since you can also do this on the machine at home.  You can even do your rowing exercise while watching TV to help you relax further.  The rhythm involved in rowing not only releases tension in the muscles but is also soothing on the mind and body.

Best Rowing Machine Brands

The first step to improving your health and fitness is to find an exercise routine that is safe on the joints. Forcing yourself to perform high-impact exercises when you are only starting may eventually lead to injuries. The rowing machine is one of the best cardio equipment that places zero strain on your joints and back. It helps improve your fitness level by strengthening and toning your muscles, and enhancing your cardiovascular function and stamina in one session.

Many people choose to have their own workout equipment at home because it is more economical in the long run, and it also helps them save time. However, looking for the right rowing machine for home use can be overwhelming. Check out the best rowing machine brands today that you can consider:


Concept2 is one of the most popular rowing machine brands. You will see in many fitness facilities. The Model D is currently the best-selling model, with the Model E not far behind in popularity. What makes this rowing machine brand famous is the overall quality and decades of workmanship. The most recent developments include online facilities and mobile apps that allow users to compete with others from various parts of the globe.

LifeCore Fitness

LifeCore Fitness produces rowers, exercise bikes, and ellipticals. Like Concept2, they have been in the scene for a long time and have gone a long way. Their magnetic machines are popular among rower fans not only because of the quality construction, but also because of the functions and features available.


The WaterRower was the first to use water as a mechanism for applying rowing resistance. Their wooden rowers are stylish and functional at the same time. They have also improved their product line by using incorporating other materials, instead of just wood. The only thing that you have to note when using rowers that use water resistance is that you have to keep changing the water every year – which is not difficult to do at all.


BodyCraft has been around since the ‘90s, providing quality and affordable workout machines to users, including rowers. Their entry-level model is the VR100, which has all the basic features you need without requiring you to break the bank. If you want more function and features, then you should definitely check out the VR500, which is the brand’s top model today.


Stamina rowers are known for being sturdy and affordable. If you are looking for a basic rowing machine, then this might be the brand for you. It has all the basic features you need for only a few hundred dollars, which is perfect for your home workout. This brand is ideal for users who only plan to do light workouts a few times a week.

First Degree Fitness

First Degree makes one of today’s most advanced rowers in the world. Starting only in 2000, the company focused on making commercial machines with fluid technology. They claim that their machines feature combined simplicity with robustness, which they definitely deliver. The company now has models for home use, and continuously expands its commercial-range rowers.

H2O Fitness

H2O Fitness is a water rowing machine. Its rowers are produced by the HealthCare International, a company that makes a wide range of exercise machines. Their Pro-Rower line has left users impressed by the build quality and features.  


Proform is well-known for its exercise bikes and treadmills. It has only been recently that they have introduced their line of rowing machines, but customers were impressed by the quality and features offered. Their rowers are solid performers and affordable at the same time.

Sunny Health and Fitness

This brand probably has the cheapest fitness machines out there today. Its range of exercise bikes, rowing machines, elliptical trainers, and treadmills mostly only cost under $100. This gives many household owners the opportunity to have their own home fitness equipment. If you are only after durability and basic function, then this brand could be for you.


Kettler has been around since the 1940s. This German company makes excellent rowers, and other fitness machines. Many of the models are built in Germany, and they are well-known for quality and customer services across the globe. All Kettler machines are said to be reliable and long-lasting.