Rowing Machine Reviews - December 2018. Rowing Benefits and Techniques

Rowing Machine Reviews, Benefits and Techniques 2018

updated December 1, 2018

Want an all-in-one exercise device that will give you a fantastic cardio workout, burn a ton of calories and provide a great back, shoulder and leg workout?

You need to add a quality rowing machine to your home gym. Using a rowing machine will improve your cardio fitness, increase your overall strength and endurance, it is low impact and is always accessible. In this article, we discover the best rowing machines on the 2018 market.

In the past few years indoor rowing machines, or ergometers, have exploded in popularity. Put simply, they are one of, if not the, most efficient method of total body aerobic exercise.

If you are simply looking for a quick list of indoor rowing machine reviews for shopping purposes, below we have included a list of our top rated rowing machines that are currently on the market.

Click here to read in depth review of the best affordable Rowing Machines in 2018.

A Snapshot of the Top 10 Rowing Machines

We’ve graded the 10 top rated rowing machines on the market in terms of their price, durability and then given an overall rating out of 5. This makes it easy for you to compare each product. In the following section, we go into detailed review on the best rated rowing machines.

Product

Features

Rating

Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower
  • Designed to fit users of different height
  • Easy to store, move and assemble
  • User capacity: 500-pound
  • Real-time workout data monitoring
  • Compatible with various devices over Wirelessly

Price: 4.5/5

Durability: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rower
  • Durable and Smooth
  • 10 level magnetic tension based resistance
  • Large LCD screen to display stats
  • Built in wheels for easy movement

Price: 4.5/5

Durability: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515
  • 8 level adjustment
  • Comfortable padded seat
  • Extra safety with anti-slip foot pedals and straps

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.25/5

Overall: 4.25/5

Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike/ Rower
  • Can also be converted into recumbent exercise bike
  • Can also be used as a leg press
  • Large LCD display
  • Built in heart beat sensor in hand grips

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.0/5

Overall: 4.25/5

Lifecore R100
  • 16 adjustment levels of magnetic resistance
  • 15 preset programs and 4 heart rate control programs
  • Ergonomically designed seat and grips

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.0/5

Overall: 4.25/5

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower
  • Ergonomic design
  • 3 vibration frequencies
  • Flexible cushioning

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.25/5

Overall: 4.25/5

Stamina Air Rower
  • 12 preset workout programs
  • Track the workout stats on LCD Display
  • In Touch® Fitness Monitor to easily adjust duration and resistance settings

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.25/5

Overall: 4.25/5

Water Rower GX
  • Made of ash wood and aluminum
  • Easy to store, saves space
  • Maximum user weight: 300 pounds

Price: 4.25/5

Durability: 4.0/5

Overall: 4.0/5

First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower
  • Fluid resistance technology
  • Ergonomic Design
  • Smooth drive with durable belt

Price: 4.0/5

Durability: 4.25/5

Overall: 4.0/5

Xeber Air Rower
  • 110LB Base for stability
  • Comfortable grip and seat
  • Easy-to-use console
  • 10 Adjustment Levels

Price: 4.​5/5

Durability: 4.75/5

Overall: 4.5/5

Xebex Rower has been making waves in the home fitness industry. Read more about Xebex Rower.

Our top rated rower is the Concept 2 Model D, which provides an ultra smooth, realistic rowing motion, rugged body construction and a very comfortable, ergonomically positioned user experience.

The best priced quality rower we encountered was the Sunny Fitness SF-RW5515, which features 8 levels of adjustable resistance, a smooth operation and comfortable padded seat and handles.

ModelOur RecommendationPriceNotes
Concept 2 Model EThe priciest of our suggestion but this model has it all.1000$+Concept 2 is a leader in the indoor rowing industry
Concept 2 Model DSlightly different aesthetically than the model E but still a great buy900$+
Velocity Exercise Magnetic RowerBudget choice. This uses a magnet for resistance. Great deal for the price500$+

Indepth Indoor Rowing Machine Reviews

Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower Review

The Concept 2 Model D is the top selling indoor rower in the world for good reason; it is efficiently engineered to deliver the performance and rigidity to handle the toughest workout year after year. The flywheel and damper respond to every stroke and the spiral damper allows you to control the airflow to the flywheel. This means that you can change the feel of the stroke to suit your preference.

The Performance 5 on the Concept 2 erg rowing machine monitor is the most advanced display you’ll ever come across. You get accurate data on every stroke and you can also wirelessly adjust your heart rate. There are adjustable footrests and ergonomic handles. You also get a 5 time limited warranty on this product.

PROS

  • Extremely rigid
  • Advanced display unit
  • Ergonomic handle and foot rests
  • Wireless heart rate monitoring

CONS

  • A little noisy operation
The GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine

The GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine is a durable budget rower that provides a quiet, smooth rowing motion. The fully padded seat and non-slip grip handlebars ensure your rowing comfort. You get 10 levels of adjustable resistance, along with large anti-slip foot-pads. The large LCD screen on the GoPlus provides you with readouts of your total count, calories, count per min, count, scan and time. 

This is good choice for people who are limited in their pace requirements. It folds up easily for compact storage and even features transport wheels so you can simply wheel it away when your workout is finished. 

PROS

  • Very smooth rowing experience
  • Very sturdy frame
  • 10 levels of adjustment

CONS

  • A little noisy
Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 Review

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine makes use of a magnetic tension system to provide 8 levels of adjustable resistance. A simple yet functional LCD monitor displays all of your needed workout diagnostics, featuring a set, mode and reset button. The large, rigid pedals on this unit have adjustable safety straps and provide a secure non slip surface to work from.

The seat is cushioned with extra padding to allow you to train longer in comfort. Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 features a grip pulse rate sensor to reveal your training heart rate. Then magnetic resistance system provides a smooth, jar free movement and is very quiet. The heavy duty steel frame makes this a reliable, sturdy rower at a great price.

PROS

  • 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Smooth, jar free movement
  • Well priced

CONS

  • Rower will move around if not secured to the floor
Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike/ Rower

The Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Bike/ Rower provides you with a combination between a rower and a recumbent exercise bike. On this machine you can even do additional resistance training exercises such as biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and forearm curls. This incredibly versatile machine will even double as a leg press when you attach the rowing handle to the seat hook.

The Stamina Conversion II provides you with eight levels of magnetic resistance for a smooth, fluid rowing operation. The easy to read display tracks your speed, time, distance, calories burned and pulse. The switch from rower to bike is seamless allowing for instant change of exercise form. A padded cushion and seat back provide maximum comfort and the footplates and adjustable straps provide stability while rowing.

PROS

  • Bike and rower in one
  • Allows for resistance exercises
  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance

CONS

  • Not overly sturdy
Lifecore R100 Review

The Lifecore R100 is a commercial grade rower that comes with 16 levels of resistance. This foldable machine offers you 15 pre-set programs, and an additional 4 heart rate control programs. The unit works with any Polar heart rate monitor. The body of this machine is very sturdy, as shown by the max user weight of 600 pounds. Foot rests are angled and provide pivoting heel supports.

The Lifecore R100 provides a very natural, comfortable ride. The seat and handles provide quality padding and are ergonomically designed for back support. This rower uses a combination of air and electronic brake system technology for a very smooth operation. The drive system is extremely quiet and an adjustable cooling vent is included.

PROS

  • 16 levels of resistance
  • 15 pre-set programs
  • Max weight of 600 pounds

CONS

  • Heart rate monitor innacurate
Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower

The Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic rower provides you with a solid framed, smooth and fluid rower that will give you a solid workouts. The monitor on this rower isis large and easy to read, providing instant readouts of time, calories, count, stroke, distance and pulse. This machine provides 12 workout programs, six of which are pre-set. There are also built-in wheels for ease of transport.

The magnetic resistance is not as strong as what you get with an air rower but it is smooth and fluid. The Stamina Avari row machine uses a drum magnetic control system along with electronic tension control. The saddle is especially comfortable, being molded from PU foam. The main beam is made from sturdy anodized aluminum.

PROS

  • 12 workout programs
  • Smooth rowing action
  • Comfortable seat

CONS

  • A little noisy
Stamina Air Rower Review

The Stamina is a very compact foldable air rower that comes with a sturdy steel frame. It features an inertia enhanced flywheel to provide a very smooth operation that feels just like rowing on the lake. The maximum user weight is 250 pounds.This machine features a very easy to use foldable design that allows you to fold and wheel it away in one move.

The Stamina features very comfortable saddle and hand grip ergonomics. The foot pedals are angled to provide the ideal leg positioning for your rowing movement. The pedals also pivot and have adjustable straps. This machine comes with a 3 year frame warranty and a 90-day warranty on parts and labor.

PROS

  • 5 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Compact foldable design
  • Pivoting pedals

CONS

  • Noisy
Water Rower GX Rowing Machine

The Water Rower GX Home Rowing Machine provides you with the most realistic rowing experience you are likely to get short of actually being on the water. It is made of ash wood with an aluminum monorail. This handcrafted machine is a beautiful work of art that will lokngtreat in any setting. You get the ideal low impact workout thanks to the patented water flywheel. The machine targets 84 percent of major muscle areas so you can strengthen your muscles as your improve your cardio fitness.

The design of the Water Rower is very space saving, allowing you to store it on end. The max user weight is 300 pounds.

PROS

  • Smoothest most natural resistance
  • Great looking machine
  • Max user weight of 300 pounds

CONS

  • Seat not overly comfortable
First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower

#9. First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower

The First Degree Fitness Newport AR Water Rower makes use of a unique hydro power drive system to power its mechanism. This mimic the action that you get out on the water more than anything else on the market. That’s because the main form of resistance that you’re facing is water. Unlike with other systems, there are no dead spots or unnatural jerky actions with this system.

The improved pulley system greatly increases the range of resistance while retaining constant tension and recoil action. The super comfortable seat runs on precision bearings and Delrin low friction seat rollers along a concealed track for a cleaner, smoother and safer operation.With this rowing machine with water, you get an incredibly smooth, realistic workout.

PROS

  • Hydro power drive system
  • Very smooth, realistic action
  • Comfortable seat

CONS

  • Front end may lift when training hard
Xebex Air Rower

The Xebex Air Rower is a medium priced air rower that provides you with a very good, natural rowing machine. The damper allows you to adjust to ten different settings. The console is quite simple but still provides all of your important training diagnostics. You also get pre-programmed interval settings and a ‘just row’ option. The machine can be moved around and stored easily. It is foldable which cuts its normal length in half. The rower has four wheels allowing it to be easily transported. 

PROS

  • 10 position adjustable damper
  • Pre-programmed interval settings
  • Foldable

CONS

  • Noisy

Rowing Machine Benefits

rowing machine benfits

The benefits of rowing stretch much farther than just aerobic.

With proper rowing technique you can:

  • Torch calories
  • Build muscle
  • Engages all core muscles
  • And boost stamina, all at once.
  • Risk free. Rare chances of getting injured. 
  • It is an impact free workout which will save your knees and help those with injuries recover faster.

It can be extremely hard to get back into a fitness routine after an injury. Rowing is a fantastic muscle building system for those going through rehabilitation from injuries such as ACL tears and knee replacements. 

The rowing machine is  the calorie-burning king that puts both running and cycling to shame. In fact, rowing burns 10 to 15 percent more calories than cycling at the same level of exertion.​ - Frederick Hagerman, director of the Work Physiology Lab at Ohio University

Rowing is a full body exercise much like real water rowing. When you row you push with your legs and pull with your back and arms, all while engaging the core muscles. It is the most essential cardio machine for any home gym system. There really is no other piece of cardio equipment that comes close to the benefits of a rowing machine. ​The ergometer is a staple of a popular workout plan that you more than likely have heard of - Cross Fit. If you haven't heard of it, Cross Fit is a physical fitness strategy that focuses on Olympic lifting and cardiovascular exercises. 

Rowing Machine Technique

Rowing successfully is all about technique. Unless you know how to use a rowing machine, you are likely to waste a lot of time - and hurt your lower back. Get the lowdown on how to do it right and learn about its benefits with this cool instructional video . . .

​It's relatively easy to step on an ergometer and start pulling away. You can do it with no training and it will be very difficult for you to injure yourself. However, without proper rowing technique you will be missing out on many of the benefits. Below I have listed some easy to follow directions that, with a little bit of practice, will make you a rowing pro!

How to master the technique of Rowing?

Rowing can be divided into two parts: The drive, and The recovery​.

The drive is the work portion of the stroke. The recovery is the rest portion that prepares you for the next drive.

Here are the basic steps:

  1. Center yourself on the bench. The top of your hamstrings should be just barely on the seat. Most importantly, make sure that you are comfortable.
  2. Strap yourself into the foot holds. This is very important so that you don't fall off when you are on the drive portion of the stroke.
  3. Grab the handle, make sure your hands are shoulder width apart and are evenly spaced on the bar. Make sure you have a good grip. Chalk up your hands if your hands are sweaty.
  4. Start the drive by bringing the handle towards your nipples. Lean forward ever so slightly as you bring the handle towards your chest. As the bar comes closer make sure your knees are still straight.  At this point, your hands should be just over your shins.
  5. Make sure your back is straight - Bend your knees and start sliding the seat forward and get as close to your knees as possible. You should have a straight back and be leaning slightly forward.
  6. Flex your core muscles and push your legs out until they are completely straight.
  7. Once your legs are straight you will change from a slight forward lean to a slight backward lean. Make sure your core is tight at this point.
  8. Pull the handle to your nipple line and pinch your back muscles together. Imagine you are grabbing something with your back muscles.
  9. ​Once the handle touches your chest, push it right back towards the machine and stretch your arms out. You have just started the recovery portion of the exercise.
  10. Now you will flex the core again and once again change your lean from backward to forward
  11. As soon as the handle has passed your knees you may slide the seat forward again and complete 1 "row"
  12. Congratulations! Do this a few thousand more times and you will have yourself a fantastic exercise

Read an in depth review of the Xebex rower so that you can make the most informed choice possible.

Additional cardio machines to consider:

Types of Rowing Machines

Concept 2 Rowers

The Concept 2 Rowing machine has long stood as the gold standard of rowing machines for in the home. Concept 2 put out a whole range of top quality machines that continue to impress.

How do you choose between the various Concept 2’s for home use? Check out our in depth reviews of the best Concept 2 rowing machines of 2018 to discover which Concept 2 belongs in your home gym.

Water Based Rowing Machines

Water rowing machines provide a unique and challenging form of cardio exercise that also maximally stimulates your quads and lats. They offer the most realistic rowing experience because you are actually using water as your resistance.

The quality of water rower exercise machines for home use varies greatly. Discover the best waterrower rowing machines that are on the 2018 market with our comprehensive guide - it’s an eye opener!

Stamina Rowing Machines

Stamina Rowing machines are among the most respected on the market. Stamina provide a range of top quality rowers that give you every rowing option that you need.

Check out the best that’s out there with our Stamina rowing machines review 2018 - it will give you the knowledge you need to make smart buying decision.

Affordable Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are great form of cardio that also hits your back and legs. Having one in your home gym is a great idea. The problem is that they can become extremely expensive. However, there are cheap rowing machines for the home that are also very high quality.

Discover the best 11 affordable rowing machines that won’t break the bank - you’ll save money and get a great piece of home cardio equipment.

Compact Rowing Machines

You want a rowing machine for your home gym, but you just don’t have the space. Portable, fold up rowing machines are available but a lot of them are so low quality that they’re unsafe. However, top quality, portable rowing machines do exist.

Discover the 9 best compact and portable rowing machines for small spaces with our in depth review.

Conclusion

The best home rowing machine we found is the Concept 2 Model D, which features an extremely smooth, natural riding experience, a superior level of comfort and ergonomics and a very reasonable price. We were also very impressed with the GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rower, with it’s rugged yet extremely compact foldable design, extra comfy seat and high res display.

The best budget rower that we came across was the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5515 magnetic rowing machine, which provides 8 levels of magnetic resistance, a very comfortable seat and a sturdy body.

lose weight rowing machine
Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower Review

Our #1. Recommendation

Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower Review

jim roose

My name is Jim Roose. I'm a former competitive power lifter and gym owner. I've bought millions of dollars of fitness equipment over the last 20 years. This site is my way of giving back to the fitness community that's done so much for me. Every article on here is carefully researched and written by me. Leave a comment if you have any questions.

Rowing Machine Reviews, Benefits and Techniques 2018
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