These rowing machines deliver a great cardio workout and strengthen your upper body at the same time
Peloton has made quite the name for itself over the past few years with its exercise bikes and interactive classes, but they’re not the only game in town for home workout equipment. So if you’re disappointed over the cancellation of Peloton’s previously announced rower, there’s no shortage of rowing machines to help you meet your fitness goals.
A rower makes an excellent addition to any home gym because it offers a full-body workout. It increases your heart rate for some intense cardio, but it also puts your biceps, pecs, lats and other upper body muscles to the test.
If you’re in the market for a rower, check out these top-rated rowing machines that can take your home workouts to the next level.
What to look for in a rowing machine
Types of rowing machines
While all rowing machines work similarly, they use different types of resistance to drive your workout. The resistance they use also determines how realistic your indoor rowing experience is.
Air or flywheel rowers have a flywheel with fan blades that produce resistance based on how hard you pull. They do a pretty good job of mimicking the outdoor rowing experience. Water rowing machines are similar, but their flywheel is filled with water. That’s why the workout they offer is most like outdoor rowing.
Magnetic resistance rowers use magnetic brakes to generate resistance, so they let you adjust the resistance and offer a smooth rowing experience. Hydraulic rowing machines have hydraulic pistons connected to the handle and create resistance due to the air or fluid inside the cylinders that the pistons move through. While magnetic resistance and hydraulic rowers can give you a good workout, they don’t mimic on-water rowing as well as air or water rowers.
Rowing machine features
Before shopping for a rowing machine, always measure the space you plan to keep it to ensure it will fit. Most models have a fixed design, so they don’t fold up for storage when not in use. But other rowers are foldable, making it easier to get them out of the way when you’re not working out.
To ensure a rowing machine is comfortable, look for a model with a large, contoured seat. Extra padding in the seat helps, too. You also want handlebars with comfortable, padded grips and adjustable footrests that can fit your feet comfortably. Foot straps also come in handy because they keep your feet from slipping when rowing.
When customizing and tracking your workouts, opt for a rower with adjustable resistance levels and a console that can track your time, speed, distance and calories burned. Some consoles even monitor your heart rate to help determine the intensity of your workout.
Best rowing machines
$500 and under
This magnetic rower offers 12 resistance levels to let you customize your workout. It has a digital monitor to track your time, calories burned and more. The adjustable pedal straps, foam handlebars and cushioned seat provide a comfortable workout, too.
This rowing machine uses water resistance to recreate an outdoor rowing experience. It has a weight capacity of 330 pounds and offers six levels of resistance for beginners and experienced rowers alike. It also has a large tablet support so that you can watch your tablet or smartphone or read a book during your workout.
Sold by Amazon
With an easy-to-read LCD console, this rower lets you monitor your progress during workouts. It has an extra-long slide rail that can accommodate users of nearly any height and offers eight magnetic resistance levels. It also has wheels on the bottom that make it easy to move.
This rowing machine has a space-saving design that lets you fold and store it out of the way when not in use. It offers 20 onboard workouts and 24 digital resistance levels to help you reach your fitness goals. The auxiliary audio port also makes it easier to enjoy your favorite music.
Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Made of premium hardwood and aluminum, this rower offers excellent durability and a striking appearance. It mimics the outdoor rowing experience and even makes a soothing sound that makes you feel like you’re on the water. It has a smaller footprint than many other rowers, too.
Sold by Amazon
This water rower provides smooth nearly-silent operation. It has adjustable pedals, foot straps for different foot sizes and a U-shaped seat cushion that’s more comfortable for longer workouts. It also has an LCD monitor to track your time, distance, calories burned and more.
Sold by Amazon
With 24 digital resistance levels, this rowing machine lets you take control of your workouts. It has an ergonomic molded seat and pivoting pedals to help you maintain proper form. It boasts a 10-inch smart HD touchscreen, too.
This folding rower offers 26 digital levels of magnetic resistance and a 250-pound weight capacity. It has an interactive HD touchscreen that can stream live and on-demand workouts. It even comes with 30-day iFIT Family Membership, so you can try out studio classes and other elite training.
$1000 and up
This versatile rowing machine features a 14-inch seat height, adjustable footrests and ergonomic handle, so it can work for most users. It has a monitor that tracks your progress and can wirelessly connect to many heart rate monitors. It also separates into two pieces for storage.
Sold by Amazon
Using unique electromagnetic drag technology, this rowing machine captures the on-water rowing experience in your home. It has a 22-inch full HD screen that can stream workouts and powerful speakers for your favorite music. The ergonomically designed 10-roller seat makes workouts more comfortable, too.
Sold by Hydrow
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Jennifer Blair writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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