Best Rowing Machine Reviews

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine in Use

Why a Rowing Machine is the right choice

Simply put, rowing machines are the best all-round exercise equipment you can possibly own.

Want to get stronger, fitter and improve your cardiovascular health?

Rowing machines work out your entire body. Really. You’re entire body.

Forget having to do loads of different exercises to complete a day’s workout, with a rowing machine you’ll be getting the most intensive workout of your life in the most efficient manner.

But rowing doesn’t just make you stronger, it also improves your internal health from your heart to your lungs.

But won’t your body adjust to the exercise and plateau quickly?

Nope, not even close. Repetitive exercises like endless dumbbell curls can certainly cause your body to adapt and you’ll soon see the effects plateau. But with loads of different rowing machine workouts and adjustable resistance settings, this high intensity, low-impact exercise will always challenge your body and always give an effective workout.

Do you need to know how to row first?

There are no requirements before you start rowing on a rowing machine (although it’s always advised to chat to your GP before undertaking a radically different exercise regime). You don’t need to ever have rowed before.

You don’t even need to be a gym bunny or an exercise fiend.

Any regular joe from the street can take up rowing on a rowing machine!

In fact, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your stamina grows and your fitness increases!

Since rowing machines are full body workouts, you don’t even need a whole home gym to keep fit. Just one rowing machine! This means you can complete your weekly exercise from the comfort of your own home. Hell, you can even do it in front of your favourite Netflix show!

Seriously, you’ll never want to put off exercise ever again.

And you can quit paying for that gym membership.

The Benefit of Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are pure benefits, that’s why thousands of people use them, own them and even compete on them.

There are rowing machine clubs!

Let’s take a look at the two main benefits of rowing machines:

●Cost Effective:

  • We all want to be fit and healthy but let’s face it, money is a big priority. Rowing machines can be hundreds or thousands depending on the type, the quality and the brand. But with a rowing machine you simply don’t need that expensive gym membership a month or any other equipment.
  • You don’t need a personal trainer either because the best rowing machines come with in built computers that’ll keep you on track.
  • Love the social side of the gym? With your own rowing machine, you’ll be part of a global family of rowers who love to compete, discuss and meet up.
  • Rowing machines are built well. Fact. The best rowing machine, the Concept 2 for instance, will last you for decades and so that initial cost is going to be spread a seriously long way.
  • No excuses required: It’s easy to put off the gym when it’s raining, it’s cold or you just don’t fancy driving all the way there. With a rowing machine you don’t have to leave the house! What does that mean? No wasted gym memberships and no wasted petrol.

●Full Body Workout:

  • Rowing is a full body workout. It uses your upper body and lower body at the same time and there is no moment when you’re at rest until you finish. That means that your muscles are continually being used throughout your workout.
  • As an intense, aerobic cardiovascular exercise, your lungs and heart will get an epic workout on the rowing machine. This will improve their health and strength and what could be more important than healthy lungs and heart?
  • Workout your body without straining your joints. Rowing machine workouts are low impact and non weight bearing. While running shocks your joints, rowing offers an all-round workout without impacting joints at all!
  • Burn a ton of calories. Rowing is an extremely intensive and efficient all over workout and you’ll start burning calories from the word go. And you know what? You can feel them burn. That makes rowing great for weight loss as well as increasing your health and strength.

Rowing Machine Buyers Guide

Keep reading down for the best rowing machine and some quick rowing machine reviews.

Required Space & Storage

  • Rowing machines take up space. That’s a given. What’s really good about them though is that you really only need a rowing machine for you home workout equipment, nothing else is required!
  • If you have a space where you can keep your rowing machine full time, that’s great. It’ll give you lots of flexibility when choosing your machine. If you’re going to need to store your rowing machine while not in use, you’ll need to be looking for a foldable machine or one that you can stand vertically.


  • Rowing machines can weigh quite a bit, which isn’t so much of an issue if you’ve got a place to keep it all the time. If you will need to move your rowing machine around, it’s a good idea to choose a lighter weight one or one with wheels. Foldable machines tend to be considerably easier to move around.

Noise Level

Noise level might not be the first thing you think about when you’re investing in a rower but actually it can play a big part in your decision. If you live in a small house with thin walls, you might be looking for a quiet rowing machine, especially if you’ll be rowing while the neighbours are in! However, air and water resistance machines are usually significantly better than hydraulic and magnetic.

●Quietest rowing machines types:

  • Hydraulic
  • Magnetic


  • Water

●Not very quiet:

  • Air

Resistance Type

Air Resistance

Rowing machines with air resistance feature a flywheel that spins as you row. This flywheel whizzes around and creates air resistance. The harder you pull, the faster the flywheel spins and the more resistance you create.

In this way, you control the amount of resistance by how hard you pull. This is particularly good if you’re doing HIIT workouts using rowing machines as you don’t need to fiddle with the settings each time. Downside? Air resistance is pretty noisy.

  • Tip: Air resistance is the type favoured by professional rowers thanks to the smooth, realistic movement.

Air Resistance Rowing Machines:

  • Full size – great for tall people. They take up room but some models are foldable.
  • Used by Olympians, athletes and are general all-round favourites. They have very similar movements to ‘real’ in-water rowing and are very smooth to use.
  • Adjustable resistance controlled by the user. You simply don’t pull as hard for less resistance. This means no fiddling around with settings.
  • Can be very affordable and come in a large price range. You’ll always find one suitable for your budget and needs.
  • Can be noisy so not ideal for thin walls and neighbours. On the plus side, it’s not a bad noise.
  • Ideal for all levels of fitness. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro athlete, air resistance rowing machines are a fantastic purchase.

Water Resistance:

Similar to air resistance rowers, water resistance rowers have higher resistance the harder you pull. As you pull, paddles spin in the water tank and the faster the paddles spin, the harder it is! You can further control the resistance by changing the water level in the tank. Water rowers are heavy but quieter than air rowers. They can also be very expensive but they are arguably the most attractive of all rowing machines!

Water Resistance Rowing Machines:

  • Full size – suitable for any height person. The length gives a great, smooth rowing motion.
  • Water paddles create resistance giving a very similar sensation to rowing in actual water. Very popular with water rowers.
  • Adjustable resistance is user controlled, simply pull harder for greater resistance or softer for less!
  • Quieter sound than air resistance and it makes a relaxing watery noise.
  • Looks the most attractive of all rowing machines meaning you can make it into a feature of a room rather than an eyesore.
  • Pricier than other rowing machines but possibly the smoothest and best feeling.

Hydraulic Resistance

Using hydraulic pistons to create resistance, these hydraulic rowing machines are far more compact than water and air resistance machines. With independent arm use and a much smaller footprint, these are small-space friendly machines. Considerably cheaper than many other rowing machines, hydraulic rowers are also very quiet so you can watch TV while you row.

  • Tip: Best for casual, beginners and elderly rowers. Athletes and tall people will be better suited to air or water resistance rowing machines

Hydraulic Resistance Rowing Machines:

  • Much smaller than other machines. These are suited to small spaces and for people who need to move it around. Lightweight and easy to move.
  • Adjustable resistance levels on the hydraulic pistons. Changing your resistance levels gives you a constant challenge or a gentler workout depending on what you need.
  • Great for beginners and intermediates as well as older people who are looking for a good all-round workout.
  • The most affordable of all rowing machine types. This makes it great for a first-timer’s rowing machine.
  • Noise level is minimal so no need to worry about sound travelling far. Great for using while watching tv or listening to the radio.
  • Not ideal for taller people or advanced users as it doesn’t have the length or smoothness of the more expensive types of machine.

Magnetic Resistance

With a long seat rail like the air and water resistance rowers, magnetic rowing machines are full size and take up quite a bit of room. However, virtually silent, these smooth rowing machines offer excellent workouts and adjustable resistance is created by a magnet near the flywheel.

Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines:

  • Resistance is created using a metal flywheel and a magnet that can be moved closer or further. While the resistance doesn’t seem to go up as high as air and water, it still gives an intense and adjustable workout.
  • Very quiet but still super smooth, magnetic rowing machines feel great and you don’t have to worry about noise levels.
  • Affordable and comes in a large price range. This means there’s something for everyone’s budget.
  • Full length means it takes up room but many can be folded or taken apart for easy storage.
  • Suits any height person and any fitness level. Win!

Quick Rowing Machines Reviews:

Best Budget Rowing Machine: JLL R200

A great magnetic rowing machine, this JLL R200 has ten levels of resistance which means you can continually change your workout for continuous results. The best way to stay motivated while exercising is to keep detailed notes on how you’re doing and with this rowing machine you don’t even have to do it yourself.

The LCD screen keeps tracks of everything for you, from distance and time to calories burnt. You’ll easily be able to track your gains and see your fitness levels shoot up.

A total bargain, this JLL R200 won’t even take up much room. Full length for smooth use, this rowing machine actually folds up for storage. It’s lightweight and easy to move around so you’ll never put off your workout!

Cheap and effective, the JLL R200 is one of the best rowing machines for those on a budget:

  • Full length AND foldable – easy storage and lightweight.
  • 10 resistance levels – one to suit any day and any type of workout. The resistance doesn’t go up as high as air and water resistance though, so this isn’t suitable for athletes.
  • Super quiet magnetic resistance – no need to disturb anyone else.
  • Detailed LCD monitor to track your workouts – keeps all your results and counts calories burnt and time taken for distance.
  • Supports user weight up to 100kg – not as sturdy as many rowing machines, but great for lighter people.

Very Close Second Best Overall: WaterRower

WaterRower is the top brand for water resistance rowing machines and you know what? They produce some of the best rowing machines around. Not only do they almost perfectly mimic the feeling and workout of actually rowing on the water, they are incredibly adjustable.

Changing the speed of your rowing alters the resistance as does changing the water level in the tank. Nifty eh? They’re so smooth, easy to adjust and give some of the best workouts possible.

WaterRowers can be expensive but they’re also winning in the design stakes. These machines look simply incredible just hanging around your house! Solidly built, a WaterRower is going to last your for decades.

That’s right guys, decades.

If you’re serious about getting fit from the comfort of your own home or want one of the coolest rowing machines for your gym, a WaterRower is a fantastic choice. WaterRowers:

  • These are quiet and smooth. WaterRowers churn up the water so as long as you don’t need to pee, you’ll find it pretty nice.
  • Fantastic adjustment via two means. The harder you pull, the higher the resistance is and you can also alter the amount of water in the tank. More water makes the ‘boat’ heavier and harder to row, less water make it lighter and easier. Just close your eyes and imagine you’re on the Thames!
  • Excellent monitor included that tracks, fitness, calories, time, distance, stroke rate and heart rate.

Best Rowing Machine: Concept 2 Model D

Even if you’re never rowed before, chances are you’ve heard of a Concept 2. You may not have known what it was, but you’ve probably heard the term somewhere.


Because Concept 2 rowing machines are THE best rowing machines on the market. Full stop.

Sure lots of people prefer WaterRowers or other machines, but objectively, Concept 2s kick ass. And it’s not just about their build and style. But their community too.

People often get better results when they’re training with a buddy, a PT or in a group. This is because we’re all a little competitive but also because we like to have the support of other people and to be answerable to other people.

But similarly, training in our own homes is cheaper than at gyms and a lot more convenient. But not very social.

Concept 2 rowing machines have found a way around this. On their website you can see global rankings from thousands of other rowers just like you! Literally actually, considering you can break rankings down by age and gender. Plus you can add your own workouts and see where you fall in the rankings.

This is a real motivator and a realtime way of seeing your results. There are even Concept 2 competitions, clubs and meets, it’s a real family of thousands who all want to see each other succeed.

Let’s look at the specs of the kick ass Concept 2 Model D rowing machine:

  • The most popular rowing machine for professionals. The Concept 2 Model D isn’t just an at-home rowing machine, it’s used all over the world in gyms, studios, competitions, clubs and for training Olympians.
  • It’s very robust. You’ll only ever need to buy one of these because, frankly, it ain’t gonna break. You could probably drop it down a staircase and it wouldn’t even blink an eye.
  • It’s the king of rowing machine reviews. It’s really interesting to read lots of rowing machine reviews because at the end of the day, everybody is different. Reading lots of reviews mean you get a better overall impression. But we can say here and now that the Concept 2 smashes the competition every time.
  • It’s air resistant. For athletes, competitors and those serious about getting fit on a rowing machine, air resistance machines are the best. They’re very smooth, user adjustable and give the best all round workout. Simply put, you can train on the Concept 2 and win an in-water race without ever having been on the water before.
  • Yes, it’s noisy. Air resistance rowing machines are by far the loudest but if you have thick walls or don’t share the wall in your workout area, it simply doesn’t matter. Workouts are far more effective if you’re concentrating on your motion and muscle groups rather than watching tv too – fact!
  • Excellent display and monitoring system. The Concept 2 Model D has a professional level monitoring system that’s easy to use and retains accurate data. It tracks everything you could need and you can upload your data to the Concept 2 website and compare with others.

I meant to keep this short and sweet, but as you can tell, I get pretty excited about Concept 2s. They’re the shizz guys, honestly.