With home fitness growing in necessity and popularity, rowing machines are a hugely attractive option for fitness enthusiasts who want a comprehensive full-body workout at home. The best rowing machines will allow you to burn calories in order to lose body fat as well as improve muscle tone and strength in your legs and upper body. If you are looking for one piece of equipment that can improve your overall fitness, then a rowing machine is the way to go.
Although rowing machines are an expensive piece of equipment there are loads of options on the market to choose from. Whether you are looking for a budget option, a machine that will fit in your space, or the best rowing machine money can buy, you can find it all here with our reviews of the best rowing machines for 2020.
For the best overall, it’s impossible to look past the Concept2 Indoor Rowing Machine. It will set you back close to $1000 but for good reason, with features that cater to any from recreational fitness enthusiasts to ambitious rowers. You’ll get different workouts as well as games to keep you motivated as you progress. For keen rowers, the Concept2 is also compatible with other popular apps so you can continue to track your progress with a new product. You’ll also have an opportunity to access online challenges so you can keep your workouts social.
Mechanically, the Concept2 Model D provides a smooth feel as you row, as well keeping noise to a minimum. This rowing machine is easy to assemble with just 8 screws needed to put it together before you get started. Once it’s assembled it’s easy to move around with caster wheels at one end. No matter what size space you are working with, the Concept2 will give you the opportunity to store your rowing machine neatly when you aren’t using it. If required, the rowing machine separates into two storage pieces so you can really maximize your space.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine for just $150 gives budget conscious fitness enthusiasts a solid product for a rowing workout. As you’d expect, you don’t get the same number of features as the high-end models, but you will get the basics so you can get a solid workout. With a basic LCD display you’ll be able to monitor the time of your workout and some fitness statistics. You’ll get a modest 4 levels of tension but for the right suitor that shouldn’t be a problem.
With a maximum user weight of 220lbs, the frame does have limitations, although it can be easily stored by folding up into a manageable size. For those who have a limited or angled space to work with, this product is perfect. The floor stabilizers allow users to adjust the height of each end of the rowing machine to level out the machine on floors that aren’t quite flat. The non-slip handles make the machine easy to use and maximize comfort during your workout.
Best Runner Up
The WaterRower isn’t to everyone’s taste but its style and quality makes it our runner up. It’s a bit different from most rowing machines, utilising a water tank and flywheel to provide the resistance for your workouts. What it lacks in features it makes up for in style. If you are looking for a rowing machine with a particular aesthetic, then this classic wooden WaterRower may well be to your taste. This natural rowing machine still comes with a performance monitor for you to track your workouts as well as offering adjustable resistance. One great advantage of the water rower is the sound; instead of a dull mechanical drone you’ll get the soothing swish of bubbling water.
The quality of the materials is excellent, with ash hardwood creating a solid frame to cater for a range of weights. Some find it a little difficult to assemble, but once it’s up you are ready to go. We believe the extra assembly effort is worth it for the classy style you get. The pair of wheels make it easy to manoeuvre, although it is somewhat difficult to store. Unlike other models, this rowing machine doesn’t fold up or separate, so make sure you have enough room in your home gym.
Best Under 500
When it comes to rowing machines it’s important not to sacrifice quality even when you are operating on a budget. This rowing machine from SereneLife combines the best of both worlds as a high-quality product at a fraction of the price. You won’t get the same range of features as with the Concept2 but you’ll still get an LCD display to choose a number of workouts from the touch of a button. The display is able to record time, distance, strides, and calories burned so you can log and track your progress as your fitness improves. With 8 levels of resistance, you’ll also be able to cover a wide range of experience levels so your family or housemates can use it too. As with most home cardio equipment these days, you’ll gain access to a handy app. The FitShow app will allow you to observe and analyse the progress you’ve made while on the move.
For under $500, the SereneLife rowing machine boasts excellent durability from quality materials and guarantees it can support users up to 250lbs. On top of durability, this rowing machine champions comfort with a padded seat and ergonomic handle. Finally, you don’t need to worry if you struggle with DIY as this machine is incredibly easy to assemble in around 30 minutes. You can be up and running on a comfortable and high-quality piece of equipment in no time and start progressing with a comprehensive workout.
Best for Small Spaces
Despite being compact and easy to store, the Marcy Foldable rowing machine doesn’t skimp on features. Its biggest advantage is its foldable design which makes storage in small spaces possible. On top of that, you’ll get 8 resistance settings for you to progress through as you improve your strength and endurance. This rowing machine also supports your tech with an LCD screen that indicates a number of metrics and a device holder so you can easily watch your favorite shows or stream some motivational music as you work out.
With a user weight limit of 250lbs, this machine will be suitable for a wide range of people. It’s also relatively easy to assemble, so you can spend more time on exercise as opposed to DIY. Once it’s up you’ll benefit from a comfortable seat and pivoting pedals that exemplify the supreme versatility that this machine offers. You’ll get many years of use out of this product as it’s constructed with durable materials.
Best for Beginners
Beginners need a rowing machine that is easy to set up and use and that also offers opportunity for progression. The XTERRA Fitness Rower does just that, as well as providing some excellent features that mean the machine is useful even as you gain experience. With 8 levels of resistance you can start easy and work your way up to more challenging workouts. Magnetic resistance is controlled by a dial making it very easy to swap between resistance levels during exercise.
Comfort is also important for beginners who are getting used to the movements involved with rowing. The cushioned seat, adjustable pedals, and padded handle ensure that users are comfortable during workouts.
Health Benefits of the Rowing Machine
Now we’ve established the best rowing machines for home use and all the different kinds of products that suit different budgets and experience levels, let’s take a look at how and why rowing machines are such powerful fitness machines. Rowing machines are low impact but high-performance machines that can be used for both calorie burning and strength training. Without placing stress on your joints, the movement involved in rowing challenges your muscles and tests your flexibility without putting you in jeopardy of injury.
What muscles do rowing machines work?
Rowing machines are able to target your upper and lower body simultaneously. As you push off from the foot pedals your hamstrings and quadriceps tense to push your body backwards. At the same time, you use your back, bicep, and forearm muscles to pull the handle towards your chest. Through a number of repetitions these muscles are challenged significantly and over time you will observe increased strength and muscle tone in these areas.
In addition to the muscles noted above, you’ll also improve your core stability as you maintain the upright positions and angle your body to get a full range of motion. A strong core has a multitude of lifestyle as well as fitness benefits. A strong core improves your posture which reduces the chance of back pain. For individuals who spend a lot of time at a desk or sat down, a stable core is crucially important to maintain posture and help you stay pain free in your back.
Compared to similarly low impact cardiovascular machines such as a cross trainer, you’ll get a more intense muscular workout. With a rowing machine, slight alterations in your technique can allow you to target specific muscles by increasing or decreasing the role of your legs in the movement.
Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?
Yes, you definitely can. Rowing is a primarily cardiovascular activity that burns a significant amount of calories. Belly fat is lost through a calorie deficit, which is when you burn more calories than you consume. There are a number of factors that contribute to a calorie deficit, and calorie burning activities such as rowing are very effective.
Regular rowing will allow you to consistently be in a calorie deficit and over time this will allow you to lose body fat. Belly fat can’t be targeted directly, however rowing will tighten your core so once you shift that body fat you’ve already got definition in your abdominal muscles.
Rowing will also allow you to reduce body fat through an increased metabolism. More muscle mass causes our body to process the food we consume more efficiently. More calories are used to maintain muscle cells as opposed to fat cells, so the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism will be. Over time, with a commitment to regular exercise and strength training via a rowing machine, your metabolism will speed up which will allow you to lose body and belly fat more quickly.
Rowing Machine Workouts
Now let’s take a look at some specific workouts that will allow you to target different muscles or your cardiovascular system specifically.
Interval workouts will allow you to develop both strength and endurance by using repetitions of periods of work followed by periods of rest. Start off with a 30 second all-out effort followed by 30 seconds of rest and repeat as many times as you can. By the end you’ll have worked your muscles as well as challenged your cardiovascular system. You’ll gain explosive strength and improve your anaerobic fitness. For beginners, change the length of your work and rest periods depending on your experience level. Perhaps start with 20 seconds of work and 60 seconds of rest and alter this accordingly as you improve.
If you are looking for a workout that improves your aerobic fitness and endurance, then try a longer effort at a lower resistance. Find a comfortable pace that you can keep up for around 30/40 minutes. A longer workout will improve your body’s ability to process oxygen effectively during exercise, improving your overall fitness. You’ll also improve your mental resilience and concentration as you will yourself to keep going despite fatigue setting in.
Fat burner workout
An interval workout is an excellent way to burn fat but if you need some variation in your routine then why not try incorporating a rowing machine workout into a circuit. Choose 3 fat burning exercises to make up part of your circuit. At the end of your circuit do a 60 seconds all-out effort on the rowing machine. Alongside the other exercises you’ll be able to burn a number of calories and as a result reduce body fat.
Now we’ve discussed which rowing machine products suit you and the best exercises to help you achieve your fitness goals, you can buy and workout in confidence with a high quality and versatile piece of equipment.