Best Rowing Machines of 2020

A rowing machine builds strength without putting unnecessary pressure or strain on your lower body's joints and muscles. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best rowing machine to enhance your workout routine.

Inside Crew: Your Guide to the Best Rowing Machines

A rowing machine builds strength without putting unnecessary pressure or strain on your lower body's joints and muscles. If you find the impact of running too much, a rowing machine is an ideal alternative for your home gym.

Rowing machines are an investment, however, so you'll need to know just what to look for to find the right one for you. With so many on the market, how do you find the rowing machine that best meets your exercise needs?

At BestReviews, we specialize in answering all your shopping questions. We compile our reviews through in-depth research, testing in our labs and the field, grilling the experts, and analyzing feedback from real-life customers. Because we never accept free products from manufacturers, what we have to say is always honest and unbiased.

If you're ready to purchase a rowing machine, scroll up for BestReviews' top three picks. For everything you need to know about rowing machines before you buy, you've come to the right place.


Rowing Machines Are an Excellent Alternative for Joint-Pain Sufferers

You don't have to worry about your joints when training on a rowing machine. If you have joint pain, low-impact rowing is a great way to add cardio to your workout routine.

What Can a Rowing Machine Do?

You already have a treadmill and exercise bike in your home gym, so why buy a rowing machine? Let's take a look at a few great reasons.

  • A rowing machine provides a low-impact cardio workout. Since it won't strain your joints, a rowing machine is an excellent option if you have any joint pain or injuries.
  • Rowing machines also provide an effective upper-body strength workout.
  • Indoor rowing machines are a convenient alternative to outdoor training for athletes.
  • A rowing machine is a fun way to get a total-body workout and shake up your routine.

If you're tall, look for a rowing machine with an adjustable seat and a track long enough to accommodate long legs.

Choose Your Resistance: Types of Rowing Machines

Flywheel Rowing Machines
Flywheel rowing machines use wind resistance created by the flywheel. A flywheel rowing machine closely simulates outdoor rowing. The harder you row, the tougher your workout will be on a flywheel rowing machine. Flywheel rowing machines are more affordable than other options.

Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
With a magnetic resistance rowing machine, magnets provide the resistance and a smooth rowing experience. The resistance on these rowing machines is adjustable. However, the feel of a magnetic resistance rowing machine isn't as realistic as water resistance or flywheel rowing machines.

Water Resistance Rowing Machines
The flywheel is filled with water on a water resistance rowing machine. This makes for a more realistic simulation of outdoor rowing. Water resistance rowing machines are best for outdoor rowers who want to train inside. These rowing machines tend to be pricey.

Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machines
Hydraulic resistance rowing machines are the most affordable. While hydraulic resistance rowing machines don't provide extremely realistic rowing, you can still work up a lot of sweat when using this type of rower.

If you're on a budget, consider a hydraulic resistance rowing machine. Hydraulic resistance rowing machines usually fold for easy storage, too.

Pre-Workout: What to Look for When Buying a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines are bulky pieces of fitness equipment. Make sure the rowing machine you're considering will fit into your home gym without crowding the area. Some rowing machines have wheels, so you can easily move them around a room, and some can be folded up for storage.

A rowing machine's track should be solid, and rowing should feel smooth and comfortable. When you're sitting on the rowing machine, you should feel stable and supported. A rowing machine should feel durable and like it will stand up to your hardest workouts.

When using a rowing machine, you sit on a small seat that moves along a track as you "row" with cables. A rowing machine's seat should be comfortable enough that you can work out for as long as you like without having to take a break. Check that there are footrests on the rowing machine. Some rowing machines also have handlebars in addition to the rowing cables.

Not every rowing machine has a display. If a display is important to you, look for a rowing machine that has a screen that can show you your stats. LCD displays are the sharpest.

Rowing machines aren't as noisy as treadmills, for instance. But if noise is a concern, opt for a rowing machine that uses magnetic or water resistance. Hydraulic resistance rowing machines are also quiet.

Basic rowing machines are less durable, may have lower weight limits, and offer fewer features, but they are perfectly suitable for most home gyms. Hydraulic resistance rowing machines tend to be less expensive, but they don't mimic the resistance of real rowing as well as other rowing machines.

Going up in price, you'll find rowing machines with sturdier builds and more features, such as adjustable resistance and LCD displays. More expensive rowing machines feel more like outdoor rowing. Don't forget to check what kind of warranty a rowing machine comes with before you buy.


Keep Track of Your Heart Rate for Best Results

Some rowing machines come with heart rate straps and have built-in heart rate monitors, so you can better gauge your effort level.


Q. What is the best form when using a rowing machine?
A. Plant your feet on the rowing machine's footrests. With bent knees, grip the handles of the rowing cables, and pull in a fluid motion until your hands reach your chest, elbows down. Do not lock your knees even when you've pulled the cables to their max and the seat has slid to the end of the track.

Q. I'm not an outdoor rower. Is a rowing machine something I should consider adding to my home gym?
A. Absolutely. A rowing machine provides a total-body workout and is a great way to strengthen the arms and shoulders. It's a low-impact workout, so if you're looking for a cross-training activity that won't put too much strain on the body, a rowing machine is an ideal option.

Q. Does a rowing machine require an electrical outlet?
A. You do not need electricity to use a rowing machine. Rowing machines with built-in computers are powered by batteries.

You don't necessarily need a rowing machine with a computer and display. Just use a timer or stopwatch to guide your workout.

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