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Best rowing machines 2022: Top picks from NordicTrack, ProForm, Hydrow and more

Young man on one of the best rowing machines in home
(Image credit: Getty)

There’s a strong case for saying the best rowing machines are the ultimate piece of home training equipment.

Where the best treadmills (opens in new tab) and best exercise bikes (opens in new tab) can leave your legs feeling well and truly worked out, rowing machines offer a more comprehensive full-body workout; an English Institute Of Sport Study published in the journal Medical Science in Sports & Exercise (opens in new tab) found each stroke engages an impressive 86 percent of muscles, including those in your arms, core, legs and more. 

And the positive impacts of regular rowing workouts don’t end there. There’s a lessened risk of injury as it’s a low impact activity, and it’s a great calorie burner that’s accessible for all ability levels. 

What the experts say

"Rowing machines cost next to nothing to run, because you don’t plug them in like you would a treadmill," says Personal Trainer and gym owner Steve Hoyle. "Unlike some machines, you’ll never outgrow a rowing machine, they’re suitable for all fitness levels - from complete beginner to a professional athlete." 

With this impressive portfolio behind them, we decided to see what all the fuss is about by tasking our in-house testers with reviewing a selection of the top rowing machines on the market - from top-end models to quality budget options. 

We’ve taken each one for a spin, trying every feature and function they have to offer before delivering detailed verdicts. So, if you’re ready to add a rowing machine to your at-home training arsenal, read on to find the right tried and tested machine for you. 

Best rowing machines

Concept 2 Model D (RowErg)

(Image credit: Patricia Carswell)
The best rowing machine overall

Specifications

Resistance: air
Display: PM5 performance monitor
Dimensions: Length: 96” (244cm); Width 24” (61cm); Height (to top of monitor): 50” (127cm); Seat height: standard legs - 14” (35cm) / tall legs -20” (51cm)
Storage: Can be separated into two parts and stood on its end
Heart rate monitor: Bluetooth and wireless ANT+ connectivity so PM5 monitor can be synced with your heart rate monitor

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money 
+
Industry standard model used in competitions 
+
Reliable and robust with readily-available replacement parts 

Reasons to avoid

-
No in-built apps, fancy graphics or live workouts 
-
Not the most aesthetically attractive 

This top-end model is beloved by rowers, thanks to its unbeatable performance and data-tracking prowess. It's the model you'll find used in most indoor rowing competitions and installed in gyms across the country. When we tested it out, we found it delivered a smooth, comfortable workout and we were happily surprised at how quiet it was, too. 

Keeping track of how much you've rowed (and being rewarded when you reach landmarks) is simple with the Concept2 logbook. All that data is synced, which means you can also enter competitions and pit yourself against other users over set distances.

The flywheel is common to all air-resistance machines and produces a white noise that is certainly louder than a magnetic rowing machine, and less appealing than the swoosh of the water rower, but the Concept2 RowErg's noise levels aren't excessive.

The rowing machine's monitor is compatible with the free ErgData app, which allows you to monitor all your performance statistics; it stores and displays your workout results; and it uploads everything to the Concept2 online logbook. The app also works with Android and iOS devices. The monitor also connects to a suite of other apps so you can take advantage of online classes, coaching and training programs. You can even sync up to virtual racing. 

The advantage of the machine's simple design and tech is that there's very little to go wrong, and people tend to keep their Concept2 RowErg for many years, replacing parts as they wear out and taking advantage of the extremely helpful customer support.

User reviews

Boasting an impressive 4.9 out of 5 on Amazon (out of over 8,000 ratings globally), it's clear that the Concept2 Model D rower has impressed users, "this machine rides like a Cadillac". However, one user did complain that it wasn't suitable for building muscle, "This is a 95% a cardio only machine". 


Live Science fitness writer, harry Bullmore, tests out the Hydrow rowing machine

(Image credit: Future)
The best rowing machine for interactivity

Specifications

Resistance : Electromagnetic
Display: 22” touch screen
Dimensions: L 86” (218cm); W 25” (63.5cm); H 47” (119cm)
Storage: can be placed upright but requires storage kit, purchased separately
Heart rate monitor: Pairs with basic heart rate monitors with ANT+ connectivity. Tends not to work with smart watches with HR function

Reasons to buy

+
Cinematic touchscreen
+
Engaging virtual workouts
+
Knowledgeable coaches share nuggets of wisdom 

Reasons to avoid

-
No ‘just row’ option 
-
Expensive  

The Hydrow Rower is often considered the Peloton of the rowing machine world thanks to its cinematic 22in touchscreen and on-demand follow-along workouts. But, having put one to the test, we think that description does it a disservice.

See, where Peloton focuses on studio classes with bright lights and Duracell bunny-like instructors, the Hydrow provides a more immersive, on-water experience that we think rowing newbies and veterans alike will love.

Sessions bring you aboard a boat to row on scenic lakes and waterways such as Scotland’s Loch Lomond – much more entertaining than staring at a wall or monochrome screen as you work up a sweat. There are detailed introductory videos to give first-timers a comprehensive rowing 101, and classes are led by pedigree coaches (including former team USA Olympic rower Aquil Abdullah) who provide helpful technique tips while sprinkling in entertaining anecdotes to keep you engaged.

We loved the sport-specific focus, finding the twin goals of improving both our fitness and performance kept us more engaged than an aimless trudge on a treadmill. The inclusion of virtual leaderboards to compete with fellow Hydrow owners’ scores meant we were less likely to take our foot off the gas during workouts too.

It’s a big piece of kit and can’t be disassembled or folded like some of its competitors. There’s no easy “just row” option either, unless you pause or cancel your active membership, and the monthly subscription fee does add up. However, if you’ve got the space to accommodate it, we think the Hydrow Rower is one of the best pieces of home workout equipment on the market.

User reviews

The Hydrow averages an impressive 4.6 out of five possible stars on Amazon, from more than 40 reviews. Buyers praise it for “making rowing fun” through its interactive virtual workouts and say the electromagnetic resistance feels super smooth. One said they had been struggling with injury but found the Hydrow offered a “great workout” that is “easy on my knees”. 


Echelon Smart Rower being tested in home

(Image credit: James Frew)
The best foldable rowing machine

Specifications

Resistance: Magnetic
Display: None
Dimensions: L 84in (213.4cm); W 21in (53.3cm); H 45in (114.3cm)
Storage: Foldable
Heart rate monitor: Echelon Fit app supports Bluetooth heart rate monitors

Reasons to buy

+
Foldable design 
+
Echelon Fit app for virtual workouts 
+
Quiet magnetic resistance system 

Reasons to avoid

-
No integrated display for workout metrics 
-
Echelon Fit app requires monthly subscription 

Slickly designed and easy to fold away, the Echelon Smart Rower is a stylish and convenient bit of kit for home rowers. We tested it out for several weeks and enjoyed the vast range of classes – available via the app – and the whisper quiet magnetic resistance on the machine.

There’s a lot to like about this particular rower. We were really impressed with how easy it was to set-up (although it was heavy to move around) and the foldable mechanism is very straightforward to operate. And despite the folding hinge, the machine felt solid and sturdy throughout our rowing sessions. 

There’s no screen, which is a shame as you need to view the Echelon app to track your metrics. Instead, there’s an ‘arm’ that can hold your tablet or phone (we'd recommend sticking with a tablet, as phone screens are too small.)

At $1299, this is a fairly mid-range option, but prices can soon rack up when you calculate the additional cost of the Echelon app subscription ($39.99 per month.) Without the app, you don’t get any feedback on things like resistance levels or your speed – which means you can’t really track your progression. 

There are a wealth of classes available on the app though, so if you need a little extra motivation to get going then this could be a great option. It will certainly look the part in anyone’s home gym, thanks to its sleek design.

User reviews

The Echelon Smart Rower has netted 4.5 out of five stars on Amazon, with users lavishing praise on its near-silent operation, straightforward assembly and sturdy design. Negative reviews focus on the costs of the app along with its clunky design. 


Proform 750R collage image, showing the body of the rower and close up of the screen

(Image credit: Patricia Carswell)
The best rowing machine for value

Specifications

Resistance: magnetic, digital
Display: digital display with tablet holder
Dimensions: L 85.8” (218 cm); W 21.7” (55 cm); H 45.7” (116 cm)
Storage: folds up
Heart rate monitor: Syncs with bluetooth enabled heart rate monitors

Reasons to buy

+
Good value 
+
Optional membership program 
+
Folds up for storage 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one month’s iFit subscription included in price 
-
Design not the most attractive 
-
Fairly basic digital display

The Proform 750R is solid, quiet and comfortable. It’s not flashy – there’s no touchscreen display here and it’s not built from aesthetically-pleasing wood. But it performs well, offering consistent, magnetic-based resistance and a whisper-quiet workout.

Like other Proform and NordicTrack models, this rower comes with a free trial to the iFit app, which contains plenty of workouts for you to follow – some led by famous Olympians. During classes, the resistance on your machine will be adjusted by your instructor’s prompts, which is a neat little extra.

However, to access this feature – and to be able to clearly see the workout – you’ll need to secure a tablet to the front of your machine. There is a basic digital display included with the rower, which will show you metrics such as calories, distance, speed, time and strokes per minute, but you won’t be able to see the iFit classes on this.

Despite the lack of screen, we think you’d be hard pressed to find a better option at this mid-range price. The machine comes with 24 different resistance levels – we found the top-end of this to be suitably challenging. It’s also incredibly easy to fold away, making it a good option for those with limited floor space.

Be warned that the set-up process is quite tricky for this rower. The machine is incredibly heavy to move around – make sure you have a friend to help you with the installation process – and the screws come vacuum packed, which make them difficult to access. Once installed, the machine is solid and sturdy, but be prepared to sink some time into the set-up.

User reviews

Reviews give this rowing machine 3.6 out of 5 on Amazon, according to just 7 global ratings. Positive reviews say that the rower is "great value" and "very good quality", while negative reviews discuss problems accessing the free period of iFit that comes with the machine. 


Best rowing machines 2021: Stamina ATS Air Rower

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Stamina ATS Air Rower

The best rowing machine for a budget-friendly price

Specifications

Resistance: air
Display: Digital monitor
Dimensions: L 77” (198.1 cm) x W 18” (45.7 cm) x H 22” (55.9cm)
Storage: folds up
Heart rate monitor: No

Reasons to buy

+
Cheaper than most 
+
Folds up for storage 

Reasons to avoid

-
Monitor very basic 
-
Can’t adjust air flow 
-
Less durable than others 

With many rowing machines costing more than $1,000, it’s always good to find one at the budget end of the market at under $500. 

This is an air rower without any bells and whistles, but if you just want to get a sweat on without spending a fortune it could be a decent choice.

The design is fairly basic, though it does come in a range of colourways which makes a nice change from most rowing machines. It folds up for easy storage, so is suitable for home use. You can’t adjust the air flow - the resistance comes entirely from the amount of effort you put in - and some users report that the resistance is quite high.

The monitor is extremely simple and not the easiest to read, but it does provide most of the metrics you’d want - speed, distance, time and calories burned. In common with all air rowers, it’s not as quiet as a magnetic rowing machine.

The main drawback is its sturdiness - or lack of it. There are complaints from some users about the spring breaking and the strap fraying, often soon after purchase, and some grumbles about customer service when they reported the problems, but overall most customers find it provides excellent value for money.

User reviews

With a rating of 4.1 out of 5 on Amazon (with over 1,800 global ratings), this rower has quite a few fans with positive comment such as "This is a well built machine, nothing feels cheap or delicate and the resistance is good". However, other reviewers complain about a "complicated set up" and the spring return mechanism breaking. 

Note: This rowing machine is currently being tested and reviewed and this buying guide will be updated once the review is complete.


Best rowing machines 2021: Product image of Sunny Health and Fitness

(Image credit: Sunny Health and Fitness)

6. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

Another great option for the best rowing machine on a budget

Specifications

Resistance: magnetic
Display: digital monitor
Dimensions: L 78” (198cm); W 19.1” (48.5cm); H 23.2”(59cm)
Storage: folds up

Reasons to buy

+
Good value for money 
+
Quiet and smooth 
+
Adjustable resistance 

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited data on performance monitor 
-
Not as robust as more expensive machines 

This magnetic rowing machine would be a good choice if all you want is a no-frills machine for a basic workout to get and stay fit. 

Because of the magnetic resistance, it provides a smooth action and is quiet. Some users complain that the resistance doesn’t go high enough, despite many levels of resistance which you adjust via a dial.

It’s deliberately designed for use in the home. Although it’s not designed with looks in mind, it does fold up for storage and you won’t bother the neighbors with the noise. It’s not as sturdy as some higher-end machines, and some users report that it moves across the floor when in vigorous use.

If you like feedback and data, this won’t be the machine for you, as there is only limited data on the digital monitor (which isn’t particularly easy to read). Although it tracks stroke rate, time and calories, it doesn’t show the distance rowed, which many people regard as a basic piece of data.

There are no apps and unlike the Concept2 RowErg it doesn’t have a smartphone holder. But if it’s a budget option you’re after, it still gives you a solid workout and plenty of sweat for your buck.

User reviews

With 4.1 out of 5 on Amazon (based on 76 global ratings), this rowing machine has a variety of positive reviews that mention aspects such as the "reasonable price" and how easy it is to assemble. However, negative reviews discuss a lack of resistance and issues viewing the LCD display properly. 

Note: This rowing machine is currently being tested and reviewed and this buying guide will be updated once the review is complete.


Best rowing machines 2021: Ergatta Rower

(Image credit: Ergatta)

7. Ergatta Rower

The best rowing machine for fun and varied workouts

Specifications

Resistance: water
Display: 17.3” touchscreen
Dimensions: L 86” (218.4 cm); W 23” (58.4 cm); H (with screen arm extended):
Storage: can be placed upright
Heart rate monitor: syncs with Bluetooth-compatible heart rate monitors

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design and great graphics  
+
Gaming inspired program with constant updates 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive 
-
No instructor classes 

“At Ergatta we believe that working out should feel like playing a sport, not taking a class,” says Ergatta’s promotional video. 

Like some of the other subscription-based rowing machines, it involves a program, only this one isn’t class-based. Inspired by gaming technology, instead of following instructors you can participate in competitions and challenges such as interval workouts, with real-time feedback and personalised targets that adjust as you get fitter. 

Competition is a big element of the program and you can pit yourself against other users in global rankings. To keep things fresh, Ergatta releases at least five new workouts each week, has a Race of the Week and a new program and community challenge each month.

The rowing machine itself is a specially-designed machine made by WaterRower (see below). The main difference is that it is made from American cherry wood (making it probably the best-looking rowing machine out there), plus it has a 17.2” touchscreen (instead of the S4 monitor) with impressive HD graphics. It will sync with Bluetooth-enabled heart rate monitors.

As with all models of the WaterRower it has that distinctive hiss-and-swish sound and a smooth action. The resistance isn’t adjustable without removing water from the drum.

The main drawback is the price. The machine itself is significantly more expensive than any of the wooden WaterRowers outside the Ergatta program. The cost of the membership, which is sold separately, is on a par with Hydrow and NordicTrack.

If you like the idea of a membership program but hate the fist-pumping vibe of instructor-led group sessions, this could be a great program for you, especially if you’re motivated by competition. If, on the other hand, you are spurred on by an instructor teaching and encouraging you, a rower with a group class program would work better. And if it’s just the beautiful wooden water rower you’re after without the program, go straight to WaterRower.

User reviews

Reddit reviews of the Ergatta Rower are generally positive, with one commenter saying "I think it's absolutely worth it. Without the 'gamification' I think my workouts would be 3-4x per week and would not last nearly as long or [be] as fun". However, another commenter mentioned a two month delay and issues sourcing a technician to assemble the rower. 

Note: This rowing machine is currently being tested and reviewed and this buying guide will be updated once the review is complete.


Best rowing machines 2021: Waterrower Rowing machine Ash

(Image credit: Amazon)

8. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

The best rowing machine for stylish homes

Specifications

Resistance : water
Display: digital performance monitor
Dimensions: L 83.5” (212cm); W 22.25” (57cm); H 20” (51cm)
Storage: can be placed upright

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth action 
+
Attractive sound 
+
Stylish design 

Reasons to avoid

-
No variable resistance
-
Basic tech 

Handcrafted in solid ash, this is one of the best-looking rowers on the market. Although it can be placed upright for storage, you’re just as likely to want it on display.

It’s not just the design that makes the WaterRower a popular choice - it sounds fabulous, too, with a distinctive, soothing whooshing noise. WaterRower says it recreates the experience of rowing on the water, and it certainly does deliver a smooth, comfortable row, but it’s telling that most serious rowers favor the Concept2 RowErg over the WaterRower.

One of the reasons rowers don’t tend to go for the WaterRower is that you don’t get as much data as on the RowErg. Although the S4 monitor is a big improvement on the previous design (and can be retrofitted on older machines), it’s still pretty basic, is hard to read and misses some key functions. It shows time, distance (in metres, miles, km and number of strokes), speed/intensity (in metres per second, mph, 500m split, 2K split and calories per hour), stroke rate and heart rate. It’s a bit fiddly to program and, importantly for some, there’s no option to set time intervals, unlike the Concept2 PM5 monitor. The 2K split is a nice touch for anyone planning to compete, though.

The downside of the water resistance is that you can’t adjust the resistance. Upkeep isn’t too arduous, though you do need to pop a tablet in from time to time.

User reviews

WaterRower receives a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, based on almost 2,000 reviews. One commenter says that they've had their WaterRower "for over 25 years. It's great to be able to get replacement parts to keep it going". However, there are a few reviews that mention shipping delays. 

Note: This rowing machine is currently being tested and reviewed and this buying guide will be updated once the review is complete.

How we test rowing machines

Even the cheapest rowing machines represent a considerable investment, so you’ll want to be able to ‘add to basket’ confident in the knowledge you’re purchasing a quality bit of kit. 

That’s where we come in. We’ve tried and tested some of the best rowing machines on the market – from the ever-popular Concept 2 RowErg to the pioneering Hydrow Rower – to find out whether they sink or swim when it comes to giving you a great workout. 

Our exercise experts judged every aspect of each machine, including how easy they were to set up, the features that set them apart from their rivals and their functionality – for providing both a lung-busting workout and a realistic rowing experience. To do this, they rowed a range of distances from short sprints to longer endurance pieces, as well as trying the preset programs and follow-along sessions available on some machines. 

After testing, all feedback was collated to award rowing machines a final star rating, with a maximum score of five.

Why should you buy the best rowing machine?

Rowing machines are a great investment, as they offer great low-impact fitness benefits and they're easy to use. The best rowing machines are built to last as Personal Trainer Stephen Hoyle explained to Live Science: "A good rowing machine will last you a very long time, with minimal upkeep. There’s no complicated machinery, just a chain that needs occasional oiling and a computer that will require the odd battery change."

Still undecided about making the switch from a treadmill to a rowing machine? To help you, we've summarized our thoughts on the rowing machine versus treadmill (opens in new tab) debate; give it a read to determine what machine is best for you! We've also put together some advice on how to use a rowing machine to lose weight (opens in new tab).

Patricia Carswell is a freelance journalist specializing in health and fitness. She has written for a huge variety of national newspapers, magazines and websites, including Healthy, Top Santé, Women's Fitness and fitandwell.com (opens in new tab), and writes a monthly column for British Rowing's content hub. She's the founder and host of rowing blog and podcast, Girl on the River, where guests have included Sir Matthew Pinsent and multiple Olympian Frances Houghton MBE. She keeps fit by rowing, walking, and wild swimming, and is at her happiest when on or in the water.

With contributions from