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Total body workouts are all the rage, especially since so many people are pressed for time. Still, finding a piece of exercise equipment that hits every major muscle group is next to impossible — unless you have a rowing machine.

Case in point: To complete one full rowing stroke, you’ll need assistance from numerous muscles, including your quadriceps, glutes, calves, hamstrings, upper back, arms, chest, and core muscles.

Plus, to make it through an entire workout, you’ll need to rely on your cardiovascular system, too.

In other words, exercising on a rowing machine requires both strength and stamina. But don’t worry if you’re just starting a fitness program. Rowing is low impact, so it’s appropriate for all fitness levels.

We’ve researched several top picks and considered the type of tension, resistance levels, cost, and extra features like touch screens. The rowing machines in this roundup were chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Customer reviews. We looked at online customer reviews and the 5 star-rating system from Amazon. We also reviewed product websites. The rowing machines on this list all have at least a 4-star rating.
  • Resistance tension. We looked at rowing machines with magnetic, air, water, and hydraulic tension. Hydraulic is the most affordable, but magnetic and water seem to be the best for a smooth and quiet ride.
  • Features. Our criteria included features like touch screens, multiple resistance levels, size, seat and pedal quality, on-demand classes, and storage.
  • Affordability. Rowing machines can range in price from $150 to well over $3,000. Although some of the pricier models are packed with amazing features, in general, we chose to stick with rowers that were moderately priced, with just a few picks on the higher end.

Here are the 9 best rowing machines in 2021.

Best overall rowing machine

Concept2 RowErg

Price: $$

The Concept2 shows up on practically every list of top rowing machines, and for good reason — it’s built by rowers. It’s also a top pick for gyms and health clubs.

The digital monitor tracks your pace, watts, stroke rate, calories, and more. This information is automatically stored on a USB drive or internal memory after every workout.

The RowErg uses air resistance, which minimizes noise and provides a smooth ride, and it’s Bluetooth-enabled so you can connect wirelessly to a variety of apps. What’s more, the RowErg comes in both standard and elevated seat heights.

Plus, if you purchase directly from the company, you’re eligible for a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best budget rowing machine


Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/LCD Monitor

Price: $

Looking for a budget-friendly rowing machine? Sunny’s magnetic rower delivers a good workout and is easy on your wallet.

With high ratings from users of all levels, this no-frills rower is ideal for anyone new to rowing, as well as experienced rowers looking for a low cost option.

The Sunny rower comes with an LCD monitor that displays variables like your workout duration and calories burned, as well as an easy-to-use adjustable dial that offers 8 levels of magnetic resistance.

Plus, it’s made with extra-long slide rails, so it can accommodate a variety of heights.

Best rowing machine with adjustable resistance levels

Echelon Row S Smart Rower

Price: $$$

If you need a machine that can handle multiple fitness levels, consider the Echelon Smart Rower. This rower can be set to 32 levels of magnetic resistance, making it the ideal pick for a home with multiple users.

Plus, the resistance controls are easy to access — they’re located on the handlebars.

The Echelon comes with a 21.5-inch (54.6-cm) touch screen that flips 180 degrees. You’ll need a monthly membership to access the rowing workouts and other on-demand classes like yoga, strength training, and Pilates.

Best rowing machine for small spaces

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

Price: $

Exercise equipment takes up a lot of room, but this compact rower from Stamina is our top pick for small spaces.

Measuring 58 inches (147 cm) long and 48 inches (122 cm) wide, this machine is ideal for apartments, and it only weighs 39 pounds (17.7 kg).

Plus, it has foldable arms for compact storage and a multifunctional LCD display to track your metrics. It uses hydraulic cylinder resistance, so the rowing motion isn’t as smooth, but it offers a wide range of motion when rowing.

Note that because this rower is small, it has a weight limit of 250 pounds (113 kg).

Best rowing machine for beginners

MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine

Price: $

New to rowing? No problem. This rowing machine from MaxKare is affordable, reliable, and easy to operate.

Designed with a magnetic control flywheel and offering 16-levels of resistance, this rower is appropriate for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Another feature users like are the extra-long slide rails, making it ideal for taller people. The LCD console tracks your workout duration, stroke rate, row count, and calories burned. And it’s foldable for easy storage.

Best high tech rowing machine

NordicTrack RW900

Price: $$$

If high quality on-demand classes top your must-have list, this rower from NordicTrack has you covered.

Designed to use with iFit — an interactive personal training app — you’ll have access to live studio classes and a library of on-demand workouts for rowing, yoga, cardio, strength training, and more.

The 22-inch (56-cm) touch screen comes with an adjustable console, so you can rotate the screen when not on the rower.

What’s more, this manual air resistance rower has 26 resistance levels, which gives you endless workout variety.

Finally, if you need a boost of motivation, take advantage of the automatic trainer control, which allows your trainer to adjust the resistance.

Best rowing machine with an oversized seat

Schwinn Crewmaster Rower 100660

Price: $

Looking for a rower with a larger seat? The Schwinn Crewmaster comes with an extra-large seat designed to cushion your backside while you work out.

Additionally, it has oversized pedals and a large LCD screen that tracks your distance, workout duration, row count, stroke rate, calories burned, recovery time, and pulse.

The electronic display rests on an adjustable console that you can adjust to different heights. This rower uses magnetic resistance and comes with 10 resistance levels. Users like how quiet and easily foldable it is.

Best rowing machine with Bluetooth connectivity

Women’s Health Men’s Health Bluetooth Rowing Machine with MyCloudFitness App

Price: $

High quality Bluetooth connectivity and affordable rowing classes make this rowing machine one worth considering. The Women’s Health Men’s Health rower uses magnetic resistance and comes with 14 levels of resistance.

This rower does not come with a built-in screen, so you’ll need to provide your own. However, it has a phone holder, so you can stream classes while rowing. You get access to workout programs, including coach-led videos on the MyCloudFitness app, available on Android and iOS.

Through the app, you can also track your workouts and metrics. Plus, you can see your results in real-time while you exercise. The app comes with a free 30-day trial.

Best rowing machine for in-water simulation

Hydrow Rower

Price: $$$

Luxury meets the best in-water simulation with the Hydrow Rower. Designed to make you feel like you’re on the water, this high rated rower uses a patented drag mechanism that’s electromagnetic and computer-controlled.

It also comes with a 22-inch (56-cm) touch screen display with features that include audio, leaderboards, split timing, stroke rate, and Bluetooth connectivity for heart rate monitors.

Holding up to 375 pounds (170 kg), this rower comes with one of the most generous weight limits.

Note that you’ll need a Hydrow membership to access the live rowing workouts and on-demand classes, and membership is an additional monthly fee.

The company stresses the importance of its membership and offers a 30-day risk-free trial.

Shopping for a rowing machine can feel overwhelming. With so many features, tension types, sizes, and prices, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are some tips to help you choose a rowing machine to fit your needs.

Tension system

Rowing machines use various tension systems, such as magnetic, water-powered, hydraulic, and air-powered, to create resistance.

If you want to feel like you’re rowing in the water, opt for a water-powdered system.

Meanwhile, a magnetic tension system will provide a smooth and quiet ride, and rowers with built-in fans provide wind resistance. Rowing machines that are compact and lower in price typically rely on hydraulic tension.

Cost

Rowing machines range in price from $130 to over $3,000. While a higher price tag doesn’t always equate to better quality, it’s worth your time to consider moderately priced rowers.

Plenty of options average $350–$700 in price. If money isn’t an issue, try one of the top-of-the-line rowers that deliver quality and durability.

Special features

Most rowing machines come with an electronic display. Basic rowers tend to have a small display that tracks your workout duration, row count, stroke rate, and calories burned.

The pricier, high tech rowers have more elaborate electronic displays, and some even have adjustable touch screens.

Bluetooth compatibility is another feature to consider, along with height and weight limits, on-demand programming, live classes, and multiple resistance levels.

Storage and portability

Before purchasing a rowing machine, make sure you have adequate space. If the size of the machine is an issue or you’ll need to move it, focus your search on rowers that are easy to fold and store. Also, look for rowers with built-in transport wheels.

Rowing machines are an excellent addition to any home gym or fitness studio. Most rowers provide an intense full-body workout that strengthens your upper and lower body muscles and improves your cardiovascular system.

When choosing a rowing machine, consider factors like the tension type, design, resistance levels, and size. For a reasonable price, you can get a top-notch, low impact strength and cardio workout for your entire body.