Home rowing machines are a great tool for helping you achieve your fitness goals. Here we guide you through some of the features you need to consider and list the best home rowing machines for any budget.
Quick list: Best home rowing machines 2018
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Best home rowing machines 2018: Buying guide
Home rowers come in different shapes and sizes. The cheaper machines use your body weight or a hydraulic pump for resistance, whereas the more professional (and expensive) machines use chains connected to flywheels. More modern rowing machines use small paddles in a water tank to mimic the real thing. However, this isn’t always a good thing (see below).
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Air or water?
There are two main types of resistance for home rowing machines. Air and Water. Air machines let you alter the drag resistance, meaning you can increase/decrease the intensity of your workout. Water rowers are fixed, but simulate actual rowing as the drag/resistance increases the harder you pull. The downside is that the circular tank creates a mini current, meaning you’re pulling with water that’s moving in the same direction as your paddles. However the principle ‘the harder you pull, the more resistance you face’ still applies. See also: Concept 2 vs WaterRower: We pitch the Model D against the Natural Rowing Machine.
Rowing machines are stuck in the dark ages when it comes to the monitors they offer. Most come with monochrome displays that only show raw data; several workout modes; and a little extra. Stokes per minute and distance rowed are the only two non-negotiable features we suggest you insist on.
Rowing machines are generally sturdy pieces of equipment. The Concept 2 rower, for example, has a maximum weight of 227kg (which is 35.7stone or 500lbs). All machines list their maximum weight, so checking is easy if you’re concerned.
If you have space, we recommend leaving your rowing machine unfolded and ready for action at all times. Getting motivated to workout is sometimes hard enough. Having to assemble a workout machine too is just another hurdle to jump.
However, most home rowing machines are designed with storage in mind. If this is an important feature for you, look for rowers that can be folded and/or stored vertically.
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8 BEST Home Rowing Machines 2018
1. Concept 2 Model D with PM5 Monitor
Amazon price: [amazon_link asins=’B00NH9WEUA’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’7d182f6c-c9b5-11e7-a49a-d52b56e1dd16′]
- Air Flywheel
- 10 different resistance settings
- Quick-release design for easy storage
- Comes with free Concept2 app (for additional data)
- Used by Olympic- and elite-level athletes
- 2-year warranty (on moving parts); 5-year frame warranty
The Concept2 Model D is the rowing machine of choice. This applies for gyms all across the world and with Olympic, and amateur, rowers alike. The reason for this is because it’s built to last a lifetime and is the smoothest, and quietest, rowing machine on the market. It’s collapsible (for upright storage) and has two wheels at the front to aid with movement.
The model above comes with the newest PM5 monitor that’s fixed to an adjustable arm. The PM5 isn’t the most advanced of monitors, but it displays all the key metrics you need for an indoor rowing session as well as multiple different workout modes. You can connect to this using your iOS or Android phone via the free Concept2 app. This app provides additional feedback and automatically stores all your workouts.
Read our full Concept 2 Model D Review.
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2. WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Amazon price: [amazon_link asins=’B004NNVSVK’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’2d3c195c-c9bb-11e7-a588-35ef5819db3f’]
- Water Flywheel
- Verticle storage
- S4 Performance Monitor
- Dual seat supporting rails allow for a smooth, stable stroke
- 3-year parts warranty; 5-year frame warranty
- The monitor displays stroke rate, total strokes, duration, distance (in metres, kilometres and miles), intensity (in m/s, mph, time/500m, time/2km, watts and calories per hour). Heart rate monitor compatible
Easily the best-looking rowing machine on the market right now (and you can choose from multiple different wood finishes, to guarantee it’ll fit in with your home’s interior). How is it from a performance PoV? Excellent. This is also the best water-based home rowing machine money can buy. It’s smooth and provides a great workout.
As we explain above, there are no resistance settings, but this machine mimics actual rowing – the harder you pull, the more drag you create. The circular design does create the tiniest of currents inside the water tank, but this really doesn’t affect your overall workout.
The seat action is as smooth as any of the metal-based rowers too. Its built-in monitor is easy-to-use and displays all the relevant data to improve your rowing, and overall, fitness. It can be stored upright and comes with two wheels at the foot of the machine for easy movement. A great option.
Read our full WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine review.
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3. JTX Freedom Air Rower
Amazon price: [amazon_link asins=’B00ZXG21TE’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’65cec895-fa69-11e7-882d-016f53bb0e26′]
- Smooth (electromagnetic & air-based) resistance
- 18-levels of resistance
- Free heart-rate strap
The JTX Freedom Air Rower is a fantastic rowing machine that’s really well priced. It’s probably a little behind the Concept 2 Model D in terms of build quality and overall design. But it’s a lot cheaper. And it’s action is fantastic for rowers of all abilities.
It mimics the Concept 2 by using a combination of electromagnetic and air-based resistance. This gives the machine a smooth action during use that comes close the replicating the feel of oars through water. The machine comes with 18-levels of resistance, meaning rowers of all abilities can use the JTX Freedom Air Rower to find a level that challenging for them.
JTX includes a free heart-rate monitor with the Freedom Air Rower. This wirelessly syncs up with the machine’s monitor and will display your beats per minute (BPM). It’s a real plus point for users as it lets you know exactly how hard you’re working and which training zone you’re in.
Read our full JTX Freedom Air Rower review.
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4. Sportstech RSX600
Amazon price: [amazon_link asins=’B01MDJ07J3′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’63dcaa60-c9bc-11e7-8f0e-0b84827555d8′]
- Excellent smartphone/tablet app (& built-in tablet/smartphone holder)
- High-quality aluminium rail
- 12 preprogrammed workouts
- 4 heart-rate based challenges
- Up to five user profiles
- Transportation wheel for simple movement
- Anti-slip pedals with adjustable webbing
- 5-year warranty
The Sportstech RSX600 offers you an affordable home rowing machine that boasts quality design and the best use of technology from any rowing machine we’ve seen. Let’s start off with the tech. It comes with a built-in 5.5″ monitor that’s easy to use and displays all the important data. This display comes with 12 preprogrammed training modes and 4 heart-rate based training challenges. Where it really excels is its compatible app and tablet/smartphone holder.
With this, you can see additional information such as training history and your heart-rate (if you buy a heart-rate strap). It has a competition mode where you can race against simulated boat displayed on your tablet or smartphone. The machine uses a double-break resistance system that combines magnetic braking with air resistance for a realistic rowing experience.
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5. SportPlus Indoor Rower
Amazon: [amazon_link asins=’B009TNXNSA’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’0073a0f2-ffe9-11e7-8213-d576f38f39c9′]
- LCD Display: Time; Distance; Strokes per min; Total strokes; Calories; HR
- 10-levels of magnetic resistance
- Compact and foldable. Inbuilt wheels allow this item to be easily transported
The SportPlus Indoor Rower is a lot of rowing machine for the price tag. It’s not quite up to the same levels of performance as the Concept 2, WaterRower, or even the JTX Freedom Air Rower, but it’s still competitive. It has a great rowing action, 8-levels of resistance and does everything an average rower needs. If you’re on a budget, this is the rowing machine we recommend.
Click here to read our full SportPlus Indoor Rower review.
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6. JLL R200
Price: [amazon_link asins=’3251464140′ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’e4a9e1fa-c9bd-11e7-9167-23cf14439066′]
- Advanced belt driving system provides rapid engagement for an excellent training result
- LCD Display: Total stroke count; Calorie count; Distance; Scan; Time
- 10-levels of magnetic resistance
- Compact and foldable. Inbuilt wheels allow this item to be easily transported
If you’re on a budget, but still want the convenience of using a rowing machine in your own home, the JLL R200 is a great option. It’s a sturdily build magnetic-resistance rowing machine that’s foldable, or wheelable, for easy storage when you’re done. It features 10-different resistance settings and comes with a built-in monitor that displays all your vital workout information, including total stokes; Calories burned; Strokes per minute; Distance rowed; And time.
Read our full JLL R200 review.
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7. Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine
Price: [amazon_link asins=’B0153NKCZG’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’6f730b75-de2b-11e7-a0a1-f5a4e037d857′]
- 10-levels of resistance
- Ergonomic design
- Smooth action
This Viavito uses a combination of a 7kg flywheel and high-powered magnetics to create 10-levels of resistance. This gives it an action that is really smooth while remaining quieter than a lot of high-end rowing machine. Users who keep a steady pace will be happy with the feel of the Viavito Sumi.
This machine is great a delivering the basics of a home rowing machine. It’s easy to assemble and has enough resistance to put rowers of all levels through their paces. It’s comfortable to use and easy to store too. A good choice for those looking to spend less than £200 on a home rowing machine.
Read our full Viavito Sumi Folding Rowing Machine review.
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8. Bodymax R50
Price: [amazon_link asins=’B00ARHXOWM’ template=’PriceLink’ store=’techt06-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’fa5a4ae9-c9be-11e7-aa8c-4d1a37e1f01b’]
- Elastic rope resistance system with variable tension control
- 4-way adjustable resistance
- Console displays: Time; Scan; Count; Total count; And Calories burned
The Bodymax R50 is well priced and sturdy to row on. However, it’s let down by its low resistance. If you’re serious about rowing or want a serious workout, then we suggest picking one of the other four rowing machines featured here. If you’re looking for a machine for a gentle workout that doesn’t cost a fortune, then this is a fine option. But be warned, the lack of genuine resistance when you pull is a real issue.
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