Best Rowing Machine of 2018 – Top Reviews & Comparisons!

best rowing machine

Rowing machines are some of the best exercise equipment on the market today. This is because they combine cardio and strength to provide the ultimate workout. To use a rowing machine, you sit on the seat and pull backwards on the handle.

You use a combination of leg and arm strength to do this. This can be done slowly, at a high resistance for strength work or quickly at a lower resistance for cardio.

These machines have many excellent features for those who are seeing a challenging workout. The most popular workout feature is the programmable option. These programs often create a workout which varies in resistance.

However, many of the rowers also allow the user to program their very own workout. Other features which must be considered when buying a rower are the types of resistance, the comfort, and the warranty options.

10 Top Rowing Machines on the Market

Resistance Type
Weight Limit

​Our Rating


Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Air Rower (Flywheel)

500 pounds

WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine

Water Flywheel

1000 pounds

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower


275 pounds

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Magnetic Drum

275 pounds

Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399

Dynamic Air (Flywheel)

250 pounds

Proform 440R Rower


250 pounds

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms


250 pounds

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

Gas Shock

250 pounds

Kettler Home Exercise


285 pounds

Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine

Air Rower (Flywheel)

600 pounds

Top 10 Rowing Machines in 2018

1. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

First, this rowing machine has a 5 year frame warranty. This means that if the frame should break or wear out before 5 years, it will be replaced.

This rowing machine is a flywheel model. A flywheel is a wheel which is spun and then stores the energy--it allows for an intense build-up of that energy, to give you the best possible rotation.

The seat height for this rower is 14 inches, giving you a comfortable height for your legs. It also has adjustable footrests, which allow you to make sure that your legs fit appropriately.

The handle is ergonomic. Ergonomic handles are handles which prevent any sort of pressure being applied to specific joints. This means your hand will not be cramped or hurt from using the handle on this rower.

The weight capacity on this rower is a whopping 500 pounds. This 500 pound weight capacity allows anyone to comfortable use this rower, even those who are just starting out on their weight loss journey.


  • 5 year warranty
  • Seat is 14 inches
  • Monitor is adjustable
  • 500 pound weight capacity
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Ergonomic seat


  • Seat is not adjustable in height

This rower is very unique, and is definitely considered one of the most highly rated rowing machines.

This is a water flywheel. The flywheel is enclosed in a water tank. This provides a quiet resistance, but also increases the smoothness of the flywheel.

Because this flywheel is encased in water, you do not have to purchase any lubricant to keep it safe. However, you may have to do other work to the flywheel.

You need to ensure that the flywheel is regularly supplied with fresh water, and you must make sure that the water never leaks, as this can cause rust.

The monitor tracks multiple features. It includes the intensity, rate of your strokes, your heart rate, and the resistance. Due to the lower number of features, this monitor does not need to be changed while working out. This monitor is also adjustable, in terms of height, which make it ideal for

Finally, this rowing machine has a 1000 pound weight capacity. This means that even though there is no warranty on the rower, it can withstand quite a bit of use and will last a long time.


  • Monitor tracks multiple features
  • Water flywheel
  • No lubricant needed
  • 1000 pound weight capacity
  • Adjustable foot pedals


  • No warranty

The Avari rower is a programmable magnetic rower. This means that, like the Water Rower listed above, it has several unique features.

First, it is programmable. This means it comes with distinct programs which vary the resistance while you are working out.

There are 12 total programs, 6 of which are designed for cardio users. You can also designed 4 programs of your own, 1 for heart rate, and build 1 as you go.

The monitor on this rower tracks time, distance, number of rows, strokes per minute, and pulse. It also allows you to adjust the amount of time you will workout and the resistance.

The resistance on the Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower is, as can be assumed, magnetic. The magnets work against each other to create the best possible resistance for you. This also creates a smoother pull for you.

The weight capacity on this rower is only 275 pounds. For most rowers, this will be a high enough weight. However, if you are just starting a workout program, this may not be the rower for you.


  • Magnetic Rower
  • 12 Programs
  • Monitor has excellent tracking features
  • Programmable
  • Smooth resistance


  • Only 275 pound weight capacity
  • No warranty

Another magnetic rower, but this one by Velocity, has several additional features.

This model has a molded saddle, which allows the rower maximum comfort. It prevents any sore spots from forming, as it fits perfectly with your bottom.

It also comes with a strap which measures your heart rate. This means that when you are completing a cardio circuit, you can track your heart rate on the monitor.

This is an excellent feature as it helps you ensure exactly how many calories you are burning. Additionally, this heart rate monitor allows you to ensure your improvement over time.

Like the Stamina Avari, the Velocity machine has 12 programs on it. This allows you to choose the perfect workout for anyone who uses this rower.

The 275 pound weight capacity should be high enough for most rowers. However, for some this is simply not high enough. Be aware of your weight capacity needs.


  • 12 Programs
  • Strap to measure heart rate
  • Molded saddle
  • Magnetic Rower
  • Folds


  • 275 pound weight capacity
  • No warranty

This rower, also designed by Stamina, is actually an air rower. AIr rowers use air to fight against the flywheel.

This air creates a stronger tension, often allowing the air rower to be a better workout for you.

The monitor displays only speed, distance, time, and calories burned. Unfortunately, this monitor does not have as many features as the other monitors on this list.

However, as the monitor does not have as many features, it also means that users do not need to change any settings or screens while they are rowing. This can be a major advantage for rowers.

Since the weight capacity is only 250 pounds, many rowers will not fit on this machine. Be careful choosing this one if you weigh much more than 200 pounds.

The warranty on this machine covers 3 years for the frame and 90 days for the rest of the parts.


  • 3 year warranty for frame
  • 90 day warranty for parts
  • Air resistance
  • Monitor
  • Better cardio workout


  • Monitor has limited display
  • 250 pound weight capacity

The Proform 440R rower is another magnetic rower. This particular model can have a few issues with aligning the magnets properly, so check this when you set up your rower at home.

There are only 8 different resistance levels, but this machine allows for extra workout options. You can change the pulley system and enjoy the ability to do exercises like tricep extensions, etc.

The monitor on this machine tracks stroke rate, total strokes, distance, calories burned, and time spent rowing.

On this rower, the weight capacity is only 250 pounds. This is often not high enough for rowers, so be careful if you are already above this weight limit.

Additionally, this machine has an ergonomic seat and handle. This means that there will be no pressure on your joints.


  • Pulley system can be altered
  • Excellent monitor
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Ergonomic seat
  • 8 resistance levels
  • Magnetic resistance


  • 250 pound weight capacity

As can be seen, Stamina is one of the top rated rowing machine companies. This particular machine has free motion arms, which means the arms move however you feel comfortable, allowing for an even better rowing experience.

The resistance is a hydraulic cylinder. Instead of pulling a flywheel, the cylinder lifts up and down creating resistance. This is an incredibly smooth resistance, and can build more resistance than a flywheel or an airwheel.

This rower is very small and light, which means you can use it in a small space. It also folds up easily, meaning it is an excellent purchase for small homes.

Keep in mind, this is another rower with a weight capacity of 250 pounds. If the weight capacity is too low for you, do not purchase this rower. It could be dangerous to you.

As for the warranty, there is a five year warranty on the frame and a 90 day warranty on the parts. This means the frame is protected from manufacturing flaws for many years.


  • 5 year frame warranty
  • 90 day parts warranty
  • Hydraulic resistance
  • Free motion arms
  • Foldable
  • Resistance options


  • 250 pound weight capacity

This is another rowing machine which is foldable. Again, this means that if you own a small home with little storage, you can easily purchase and keep this machine.

The resistance is gas-shock, which creates a resistance similar to hydraulic resistance. The fluid is forced through tubes and it creates a hydraulic pressure, which creates resistance for the rower.

The monitor is fairly limited and only shows time, stroke count, and calories burned. While this is limited, it also means that the rower does not have to switch between screens or features shown.

There is also no warranty, but frame is made of steel. Though this makes this a heavier rower, it also means that it is incredibly durable and will last a long time.

For this machine, the rower cannot exceed a 250 pound weight capacity. This may be too low for many rowers, so be cautious.


  • Steel frame
  • LImited monitor
  • Gas Shock resistance
  • FOldable
  • 250 pound weight capacity


  • No warranty

This machine boasts 50 resistance levels and an incredible monitor with multiple options.

The 50 resistance levels use the hydraulic pistons to create many tension options. These can easily be adjusted by adjusting the knobs on the pistons.

The screen is an LCD, which means it is not a touchscreen like some of the others. However, it displays time, distance, energy consumed, strokes, pulse, and frequency at the same time--which means no fiddling.

The machine also has biomechanical footrests. These footrests create a natural pivoting motion, preventing any strain on joints. This is especially important as it provides rowers with maximum comfort and excellent technique.

The weight capacity is only 285 pounds, which is often too low for many rowers. Keep this in mind if you are considering purchasing this rowing machine.


  • 50 resistance levels
  • 285 pound weight capacity
  • Biomechanical footrests
  • LCD screen
  • Screen displays 6 stats
  • Footrests are adjustable
  • Hydraulic resistance


  • No warranty

The Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine is another machine which is strictly a flywheel. This means that the pulley system operates over a spinning flywheel to provide the rower with resistance.

This resistance can then be altered by a series of magnets which increase the tensions of the flywheel.

Compared to the Kettler rowing machine, this rowing machine is weak in this area It only has 16 levels of resistance, compared to the 50 of the Kettler.

This is another LCD screen, not a touchscreen. However, it provides multiple preset programs and allows you to save date for 4 different users. This is a major benefit if you are considering purchasing this for your office or for a large family.

The seat is ergonomic, as is the handle. Both of these features keep your body safe while you enjoy your workout.

Additionally, the rowing machine can handle a massive weight capacity of 600 pounds. This means any rower who wants to use the machine should feel well-supported and comfortable.

Finally, this machine does fold. The folding ability of the machine allows for maximum storage for those with smaller homes.


  • 600 pound weight capacity
  • LCD
  • Data for 4 different users
  • Ergonomic seat
  • Ergonomic handle
  • Magnetic Flywheel


  • Only 16 preset workouts
  • No warranty

How to Buy a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines have incredible health benefits. They give you all of the cardio benefits without any of the impact of running. When purchasing one of these machines, you must consider whether or not it stores easily, what type of resistance it uses, and the comfort of the rowing machine.


There are two types of rowing machines in terms of storage. The first kind is folding, the second kind is fixed. Folding rowing machines do just what it sounds like. They fold up into a more easily stored rowing machine.

Meanwhile, fixed machines do not fold up. Fixed elliptical machines are typically best stored in one piece, although often these pieces can be taken apart.

Whether your machine is fixed or folding, you should have decent options for storage if you live in small home. The fixed machines are just more tricky to take apart and put together.

Monitor Features

Monitors can show a great number of features on them. However, most rowers seem to feel that the better the rower is, the fewer items will be available on the screen.

This is because the fewer items that can be shown on the screen, the better the viewing options will be and the less adjusting the rower will have to do.

The best monitor features to have are heart rate and strokes per minute. Both of these help the rower understand exactly what kind of workout they are enjoying.

Additionally, the monitor should show the level of resistance and allow this to be changed. If the resistance is changed, due to the manual choice of the rower or the program the rower is following, the monitor will reveal this.


Resistance is defined by the type of rowing machine it is. The type varies, based on how the resistance is created.

The first type of rowing machine is a water rowing machine. These machines are very smooth and very quiet. However, because of the addition of actual water, you may have to do more maintenance to the machine.

Another type of rowing machine is an air rowing machine. In this situation, the flywheel is used to create the resistance. This is the most standard type of rowing machine. The only major disadvantage you will find to this is the noise level, as it is much higher.

Hydraulic rowing machines use cylinders to create resistance. These cylinders are filled with liquids, such as oil. The oil creates suction as it is pushed and pulled. These rowers are still loud, but they also tend to be lighter than other rowers.

Meanwhile, magnetic rowing machines are among the most unique. The magnets can be moved, typically using the monitor, in order to adjust the tension. This machine by far provides the best resistance of any rower.


When it comes to comfort, it is important that there are several features which provide the rower this. These features are the seat, the handle, and the foot rest.

First, the seat should be an ergonomic seat. Molded seats are by far the most uncomfortable, followed by padded seats. Ergonomic seats are designed to take pressure off of joints, which allows rowers to avoid extra stress on their muscles.

The handle should also be ergonomic. If the handle chosen is just a straight handle with no padding, the handle can cause major stress on your knuckles and your wrists. The ergonomically designed handle prevents this from causing stress.

The foot rest does not need to be ergonomic, but it should be adjustable. The adjustability of the foot rest provides the rower the ability to ensure his or her legs will be completely comfortable.

Health Benefits

If you still are not sure if a rowing machine is for you or your family, consider the health benefits. First, these rowers provide incredible cardio training, without the major impact. When you run, your knees and other joints absorb much of the impact of the exercise.

However, with rowing, you do not have any impact to absorb. Instead, you use a combination of arms and legs to move your body and quickly row.

You also provide yourself the ability to strength train. Aside from using arms and legs to move the rowing machine, you also put a lot of exertion on your core, in order to complete the rowing motion. Most rowers also come with an additional feature of allowing you to complete exercises like tricep dips, etc.

Our Final Review for the Best Rowing Machines

Purchasing a rower is not an easy decision. There are many price points involved, and you can choose to purchase a rower of a price that is convenient for you. However, it is also important to make sure your rower is perfect for your needs.

Consider the volume of the rower. The comfort of the various features of the rower. It is also important to consider whether or not the rower is fit for storage and what type of resistance it uses.

Best Rowing Machine Under 500
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