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

Best rowing machines: Woman using a rowing machine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You can get a great full-body workout on one of the best rowing machines. These machines challenge muscles in both your upper and lower body, along with your core and back. They also offer a fairly low-impact workout, so you’re putting less stress on your joints when you use them.

Coupled with all of the above, rowing machines are cheaper to run and easier to maintain than something like one of the best treadmills, which is why they are our cardio machine of choice. The only slight drawback with a rowing machine is that it takes up a lot of room—around 8’ x 2’—so you’ll need a fairly big space to accommodate it.

What the experts says

"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." 

Before buying one of these rowers, you should consider what type of mechanism you want in your machine, as they all work slightly differently. There are three different types to look out for in this guide: air, magnetic, and water-based mechanisms. 

Machines that feature air and water mechanisms are similar in that the resistance increases the harder you pull, although you can sometimes add resistance on air-based machines via a damper setting. On magnetic machines, you usually program and set the resistance that you prefer, and it will remain steady however hard you go in your session.

On top of this, consider what noise levels you can tolerate (air-based machines can be aggressively loud) and how important it is to have a clear, interactive screen on your rower. Some of the best rowing machines come with large interactive displays, but a few of our favorites feature tiny screens that only display the bare-bones information you need.

Best rowing machines

Best rowing machines 2021: Concept 2 Model D (RowErg)

(Image credit: Amazon)

The best rowing machine for value for money

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 

The Concept2 RowErg delivers where it matters most with consistent performance paired with as much data as the geekiest user could wish for, tracking pace, watts, stroke rate and calories. No wonder this solid workhorse is loved by fitness enthusiasts (including rowers and gym-goers) all over the world, who are more impressed with comfort, performance and quality build than stylish appearance and sophisticated software.

What users say

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". 

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.


Best rowing machines 2021: Hydrow rowing machine

(Image credit: Hydrow)

Hydrow

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
+
Superb graphics 
+
Immersive experience and comprehensive program 
+
Quiet 
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive 
-
Membership not included 

This high spec beast is often described as the Peloton of rowing machines, and it’s important to understand from the start that you’re not just buying a rowing machine but a whole membership. 

What users say

The Hydrow is rated 5 out of 5 on Amazon (albeit with only 20 global ratings so far). Users love the interactive online aspect that the touchscreen brings and many mention the quality of the machine, "I could not have imagined what a high quality rower the Hydrow brand provides. It's super heavy, and the rowing is smooth… Highly highly recommend this rower". 

The Hydrow is all about interactivity, and as with Peloton you are encouraged to subscribe to an ongoing membership with live classes as well as hundreds of pre-recorded online sessions. The machine will function without the membership but you would not get access to the main features.

The Hydrow is a sleek, attractive, ultra-modern machine. It features a 22” touchscreen with a high-definition display and gorgeous graphics. The library includes sessions where you watch a video of real waterways as you row, complete with wildlife, passing boats and beautiful surroundings, and you can join both live and recorded classes led by top class coaches. To support your rowing training there’s also a program of yoga, pilates and strength training.

The resistance on a Hydrow is computer-controlled electromagnetic resistance, which is quiet enough to let you follow the classes without needing headphones. Hydrow claims that the experience is as close to rowing on the water as you can get on a rowing machine, although not all rowers agree with this. Either way, the action is smooth. 

For storage, you stand it up on its end, but to do this you need to buy a storage kit, which has to be purchased separately.

The main drawback is the price, both of the machine itself and of the membership subscription. If you love the idea of a community and get a kick out of the graphics, then it might be worth the investment, but you can get a good workout for less.

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: NordicTrack RW900

(Image credit: Best Buy)

NordicTrack RW900

The best rowing machine with a comprehensive training program

Specifications
Resistance: dual air and silent magnetic
Display: 22” touch screen
Dimensions: L 86.5” (220cm); W 22” (56cm); H 47.1” (120cm)
Storage: folds up
Heart rate monitor: compatible with most bluetooth-enabled HRMs plus the iFit bluetooth chest strap
Reasons to buy
+
Folds up for easy storage 
+
Hybrid resistance 
+
Comprehensive program including cross-training 
Reasons to avoid
-
Not very attractive design 
-
Membership not included 

Like the Hydrow, the NordicTrack RW900 involves a membership program. 

What users say

This rower scores 4.2 out of 5 on Amazon, with 622 global ratings to draw from. Reviews are a little mixed, with 11% of the ratings being 1 star. Fans of the machine call it a "nice piece of equipment [and] great addition to my home gym". Meanwhile, others complain about defective products arriving and poor customer service. 

Although a decent machine in its own right with 26 resistance levels as well as manual resistance, the main benefit of this rowing machine is its integration with the iFit app.

The membership brings an interactive program that isn’t confined to rowing - you get access to everything from yoga to strength training as well as indoor rowing sessions led by elite rowers. 

Unusually, it features a hybrid resistance system, with both magnetic resistance (great if you want to keep the noise down) plus added air resistance if you want to pump it up. A fun added extra is the capacity for the resistance to be adjusted remotely by the instructor during live classes.

The machine itself is pretty good value but the membership subscription isn’t cheap unless you’re participating in several classes a week. During the classes the screen will feed back data like calories and watts. As with the Hydrow, you can also enjoy rowing against a backdrop of waterways from around the world.

For such a high tech machine it’s disappointingly functional in appearance, apart from the screen which is nicely designed and rotates and tilts for complete comfort and to enable you to follow along when you’re doing mat work. It’s quite heavy, although it does have the advantage of folding for easy storage.

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


ProForm 750R

(Image credit: ProForm)

ProForm 750R Rower

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 

This is a great all-rounder of a machine, offering the benefits of a membership program without the hefty price tag. 

What users say

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. 

It comes with a month’s free membership of iFit, so you get access to an extensive program of classes, from yoga to strength training, but it still works well without iFit if you decide not to continue with the membership after your month elapses - it includes a number of pre-set workouts .

The monitor isn’t as attractive as the Hydrow or NordicTrack but it does incorporate a tablet holder and the monitor’s height can be adjusted which is a useful feature, especially if you’re above or below average height. The machine itself is fairly workmanlike in design, though the splashes of red give it a touch of va-va-voom. Usefully, it folds away for easy storage and can be wheeled into position.

The resistance is magnetic, so the machine is quiet - great for home use - and can be adjusted. There’s also the option for the resistance to be adjusted by the instructor if you’re doing a class via iFit.

This isn’t a machine for the serious rower - the emphasis is more on all-round fitness than on standard metrics - but for anyone looking for a rowing machine that provides a total fitness program for a reasonable price, it’s an excellent choice.

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: Stamina ATS Air Rower

(Image credit: Amazon)

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. 

What users say

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. 

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.

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)

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. 

What users say

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. 

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.

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)

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. 

What users say

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. 

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.

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)

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.

What users say

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. 

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.

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 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.

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, 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.