Best Rowing Machines

Rowing machine buyers guide

A top quality rowing machine is arguably the best cardio equipment that you can own. Not only do they give you an excellent cardiovascular workout, they also deliver a full-body workout to improve your overall strength and stamina whilst burning fat and building muscle.

Studies have shown that you can burn more calories in the same amount of time on a rowing machine than you could from running on a treadmill or riding an exercise bike. The best rowing machines can see you burn up to 400 calories in half-an-hour!

If you have limited space in your home, then you would certainly want to consider a rowing machine to help you reach your fitness goals. You don’t need an expensive gym membership as there are many budget friendly rowing machines that are compact and can bring the rowing experience into the comfort of your own home.

It doesn’t matter if you are new to rowing or if you have an abundance of experience, there are rowing machines to suit all different fitness levels and goals. With so many to choose from, it can seem like a daunting task to find the best rowing machine for your particular needs.

Thankfully, we have complied this handy rowing machine guide to help you understand some of the key rower features to look for and presented you with a list of our best rowing machines from our many hours of research.

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What are the best rowing machines?

Here we will take a look at our best rowing machines from the hundreds of rowing machine reviews that we have researched and analysed in great detail.

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How to choose the best rowing machine for you

Now that we have gone through our best rowing machines, we will take a look at some of the most important rowing machine features that you can look out for during your search.

Rowers come in all shapes and sizes, with different features and functionalities to suit individual user requirements. It is therefore important to consider what matters the most to you and anyone else who will be using the rowing machine.

Do you need a basic but reliable budget rower? Do you want a rower that can be connected to a third-party fitness app or device? Do you want a foldable rowing machine that you can easily store away? Read on to find out how to narrow down your choices and make finding that perfect rowing machine a lot more of an enjoyable process!

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Think about where you will put the rowing machine and make sure that you take measurements to ensure that it will fit within this space. You can have the best rowing machine in the world, but that doesn’t really matter if you haven’t got anywhere to put it!

Some rowers are more compact than others. There are plenty of foldable rowing machines that can easily be moved and stored away when not in use. Keep an eye out for rowers that have wheels underneath as this will make them easier to move around.

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Weight Capacity

Make sure you check the weight limit the rowing machine is capable of holding. Generally speaking, the more weight that the rower can hold, the more stable it will be whilst working out. This is especially important for the larger users amongst you and those who expect to be smashing out intense cardio sessions.

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Height Range

The rowing machines height range is an important factor, especially for the taller or shorter users. Reason being, you want to be able to easily reach the handles and read the display. You also want to make sure that if you have long legs, the rower will support a full range of motion without damaging your knees and other joints.

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Physical Limitations

There are rowing machines that have been developed specifically to support users who have some physical limitations. Perhaps you have an existing injury, are in rehabilitation or disabled. In this instance, you will want to shop around for a specialist rowing machine that can cater to your needs.

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You will certainly want to make sure that you are buying a comfortable rowing machine. It is no good having a rower that you dread using because it causes you discomfort. The more comfortable the rower is, the more inclined you will be to use it.

Things to consider when it comes to the comfort of a rowing machine are the seat size, seat materials, handlebar, pedal size and pedal grip. The best rowing machines should be fully adjustable to set in a position that is ergonomic to each individual user.

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The rowing machines resistance will determine how easy or difficult the workout sessions it can deliver are. If you are a beginner that is just looking to get in shape, then any amount of resistance is likely to suffice. However, if you are a fitness enthusiast who really needs a challenge, you may want to look for a high resistance rowing machine. The more levels of resistance the rower has, the more diverse a workout it can deliver.

You will also want to check where the resistance is adjusted. The majority of home rowing machines will have manual resistance that is adjusted via a knob at the front of the rower. On the other hand, the premium rowing machines may have resistance that can be adjusted electronically. Either way, make sure it can be adjusted in a safe manner and will not cause any strain when doing so. It can be a pain having to stop to adjust resistance, especially after you have built up momentum and are “in the zone”.

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Display Monitor

Most rowing machines will have some form of digital display where you can keep track of your exercise performance. It should include all of the data that is important to you. The statistics on display can include; calories burned, distance, speed, heart rate and time elapsed.

If you are an advanced rower, you may need to check if the machine has Bluetooth or wireless functionality and is compatible with any third-party fitness apps or devices that you may use.

It is important to track your workout as you can identify and reach your fitness goals. This way you can push yourself that little bit more and feel good when you achieve your targets.

The layout and location of the monitor display should also be considered. You will want to be able to clearly read the screen whilst rowing away. It should have a user-friendly interface and pre-programmed workouts for you to choose from.

Finally, does the rowing machine need to be plugged in or is it battery operated? If it requires a mains socket to operate, you will want to consider if there is one nearby that will be suitable and not be a potential trip hazard.

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Once you have identified what features you are looking for, you are probably going to choose a suitable rowing machine depending on your budget.

Not to worry, there are rowing machines for all budgets! Even the most basic rowing machines will allow you to perform an effective cardio and strength workout.

However, if you want to own one of the best rowing machines that will stand the test of time and has some extra features, be prepared to spend slightly more.

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Other Key Features

There are a few other things to keep an eye out for if you are in the market for a rowing machine;

  • Does it have pulse grip sensors to track your heart rate?
  • Is there a bottle holder to stay hydrated during your workout?
  • Is there somewhere to place your smart device to watch as you exercise?
  • What safety features does the rower have?
  • Is there any protection to stop the floor getting damaged?
  • Is the rower easy to assemble and are instructions included?
  • What is the warranty if any?
  • How is the customer feedback and support?
  • Is there any potential resell value?
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Types of rowing machines

There are different types of rowing machines that you will come across. One of the main differences between them will be the resistance it utilises. Typically, rowing machines either have magnetic, air or water resistance. Let’s take a quick look at the difference between the types of resistance.

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Magnetic Resistance Rowers

Magnetic rowing machines are the most popular for home use. They give consistent resistance as you are rowing. The resistance is usually set via pre-installed levels of resistance. The higher you set the resistance, the harder you will have to work and the more challenging the workout. The more resistance levels available, the greater the options of exercise intensity are.

Magnetic resistance rowers tend to be more compact and quieter when compared to water resistance rowers and air rowing machines. Magnetic rowers often give a smooth rowing motion.

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Air Resistance Rowers

Air resistance is generated as the flywheel moves. The flywheel is connected to the rowing handle and as you pull, it spins the flywheel. Therefore, the faster you row, the faster the flywheel will spin through the air and the greater the resistance will be. You will usually feel the majority of the resistance during the first half of the stroke as you build the acceleration and move the flywheel.

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Water Resistance Rowers

As the name suggests, the resistance on water rowing machines depends on the amount of water that you add to or remove from the machine. Many claim that a water rower can accurately replicate the feeling of rowing on water and is thus the most realistic option.

Water rowers utilise a water flywheel in a tank of water connected to a chain and handles. This works as the paddles. When you pull back on the handle, the paddles turn around in the water. The volume of the water that is moving then creates a drag against the paddles which in turn produces the resistance. In a similar vain to an air rowing machine, the faster that you row, the greater the water resistance is.

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Benefits of rowing machines

It goes without saying, any form of exercise is good for you. However, rowing machines are one of the best exercise machines primarily due to the fact that they give you a full-body cardio and strength workout in one.

You can burn a greater number of calories in the same amount of time when compared to some other machines. Not only do you get your cardiovascular system going, but you can also build muscles in your legs, core, arms, chest, shoulders and back.

Some of the main benefits of rowing machines include the following;

  • Burn calories
  • Lose weight
  • Build your upper and lower body muscles
  • Strengthen your abdominal core
  • Increase your stamina
  • Improve your mental health
  • Improve your co-ordination
  • Fun workout from the comfort of your own home!
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Tips for using your rowing machine

It is great that you have decided to buy a rowing machine to improve your health and fitness. You will no doubt have many workouts ahead of you and be determined to reach your exercise goals.

Here are a few useful tips in order to get the best rowing machine experience possible;

  • Take your time to setup the rower in a comfortable position
  • Practice your rowing form, watching tutorials if necessary
  • Always try to warm up and warm down for at least a few minutes
  • Make sure you are using a suitable fitness programme according to your goals
  • Try not to over exert yourself when starting out
  • Increase the difficulty as your fitness improves
  • Stay hydrated throughout your workout
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With so many pieces of fitness equipment to choose from and various ways to get in shape, not many can beat frequent use of a good rowing machine. They provide an excellent and enjoyable way to lose weight, tone muscles and make you feel good about yourself! That reason alone makes them a purchase worth serious consideration.

If you are looking for a machine to add to your home gym that will not take up much space and give you a full body workout, then a rowing machine will certainly be a great choice. There are rowers to suit all individual needs, fitness levels and goals. What’s more, you don’t need to spend a ton! There are rowing machines for all budgets that will do the job.

Hopefully this rowing machine guide will help you on your search to find the best rowing machines for your home. Whatever you choose, enjoy the journey to getting that rowing machine that you have always wanted!

Happy rowing!

Rich is an avid bodybuilder who has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the sport. He has a strong passion for health and fitness, living a clean lifestyle with a commitment to helping others educate themselves and fulfil their true potential.

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