The Best Rowing Machines of 2017

Best Rowing Machines 2017

The popularity of rowing machines has increased over the last few years. I have a hunch that it might have something to do with Frank Underwood’s use on House of Cards.

When buying one of these kinds of machines, it can be a significant investment. It's crucial to know whether you're getting the best value for your money.

In this article, I’m going to discuss all of the things you need to know to use a rowing machine properly. Then I’m going to review a few of the best models of this year.

Types of Rowing Machines

Water Rowing Machines

Water rowing machines are expensive products that use an actual tank of water to create resistance. Some say that they provide a superior workout to all of the other models. If you're someone that's looking to train for a competition, real water might be a point of preference. 

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

Hydraulic rowers also use water, but in the cylinders connected to the handles. These are called pistons. Because of the simple design, these machines take up less space. One disadvantage to these rowers are the fixed hand positions. When you use these handles, your arms will move in repetitive arcs. There also isn't as much pressure on your legs. So if you're looking for a better workout, hydraulic rowers are possibly the weakest choice.

Magnetic Rowing Machine

If you have family members that would be disturbed by loud noise while you work out, a magnetic rower is probably your best option. Not only does it provide substantial resistance, but it's also relatively silent.

Air Rowing Machine

Air resistance is some of the best value you can get at a moderate price point. If you can't afford a water model, an air machine might be the next best thing.

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Some of the benefits of rowing machines include that are among the best for cardiovascular fitness, toning your muscles, and weight loss. They're low impact, so they aren't torturous on your knees and joints. They're perfect for improving your stamina and motivation to continue exercising.

Some of the disadvantages include the possibility that you can easily injure yourself if you're not careful. So be careful!

So which muscle groups are most positively affected by rowing machines? After you read the following passages, you will understand why rowing machines provide such an excellent workout.


Your biceps, the big muscles in your upper arms, flex whenever you complete a stroke. Your triceps extend on the back of your arms when you reach forward. As you row, the motion continues to employ both sides of your limbs for superior exertion.


Using a rower is much like doing squats. It works your quadriceps, your hamstrings, and your gluts. Working your legs in this manner for an extended duration increases stamina while burning calories.


The rowing motion also exerts the muscles in your upper back and shoulders.

When you catch on a rower, you also exercise your:

  • Deltoids
  • Trapezoids

When you dive on a rowing machine, you use your:

  • Calves
  • Quadriceps
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezoids
  • Pectorals
  • Abdominals

So, now you can see why rowing machines have become such popular items. But finding the right product for you and your budget might not be so easy. Let's talk about some of your options when it comes time to buy.

Best Rowing Machines of 2017

Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Rowing Machine

In the following paragraphs, I will describe some of the things you need to think about when shopping for these kinds of fitness options:


There are lots of things that are nice to have on an exercise machine, but whether these kinds of bells and whistles are worth the money is up to you. I would recommend that you at least find a machine with a monitor for tracking your progress and some necessary programs to keep you engaged. If you can't see how much work you're doing and don't know what your goals are, that might lead to an unsatisfying workout experience.

You also want your monitor to provide accurate information. Most modern row machines should track your speed, time, distance and calories burned. Just remember, what gets measured gets managed.

Be honest with yourself when reviewing the features offered by each machine. Ask yourself, “Am I going to use all of these things?”

If not, it may be time to look at more basic options. 


If you don't have a lot of room in your home, a rowing machine might make life even less convenient. Depending on your situation, it might be helpful to select a model that you can take apart and store. Not all rowing machine designs are static after assembly. Some models can be easily folded and moved into a closet. If your housing situation is cramped, look for a foldable rower.


Instead of trying to avoid the most expensive models, I recommend looking for a model that provides the best value for your money spent. If you go for the models released the year before, you can sometimes get a substantial discount.


Depending on your weight, you'll want to check the weight capacity of the machine you're planning to purchase. These specs can usually be found on the vendor's website (if not here on this site). These stats help you make a determination on durability. You wouldn't want the machine to break under your weight. Don't ignore the specs.


Some rowing machines make noise when used. If you're someone that lives alone, that might not be much of an issue. But if you want to avoid irritating the people you live with, it would probably be in your best interest to look for a quiet machine. Having silent rower will enable you to get the workouts you need without the ability to make excuses. If you buy a loud one, you might tell yourself that you shouldn't work out as not to disturb anyone. Don't let yourself make these excuses.

Ease of Assembly

My husband may enjoy it, but I don't. I'm not a fan of squinting at complicated diagrams and playing with little baggies full of screws. So when I want to buy a fitness machine, I usually check to see how difficult it is to put together, even if I'm not the one building it.

Some companies may provide you with prebuilt models upon request. So, if it's feasible, you may ask for this kind of arrangement instead. If you're a busy professional or have kids to watch, this option might be best for you.


I take warranties very seriously. I find it suspicious when sellers only offer one or two years of service. With some kinds of machines, I understand that it would be impractical offering a lifetime guarantee. But it does put my mind at ease when I'm confident I can replace my expensive machine if it has any defects.


If you're going to be using a machine for an extended duration, of course, you'll want it to be comfortable. Working out should never be more painful than the exertion you're putting your body through. Unfortunately, these kinds of things can be difficult to gauge in advance before purchasing the machine. I recommend taking a look at some reviews from buyers before committing. 


Think about what kind of dynamic you want for your row machine. Whether it’s Water, Air, Magnetic, or Hydraulic resistance, each has their pros and cons.

Best Rowing Machine of 2017

Tips for Rowing Properly

When you row, you'll want to make sure you use the proper form. Here are some of the things you should consider before sitting down for your workout:

Check the damper

Depending on what kind of rowing machine you’re using, you’ll want to make sure that the resistance isn’t too high. If it is, you’re going to have a difficult time getting a good workout. The damper is similar to the gears on a bicycle. Adjust it to a medium resistance level before you start your strokes.

Use your legs

Sometimes inexperienced rowers pull the handle with their arms. Putting too much pressure on your arms and shoulders is a bad idea. Always use the power of your legs to push out against the foot panels.

Implement each stroke correctly

First push back with your legs. Then, pivot back with your shoulders passing over your pelvis. Finally, while leaning back, use your arms to draw the handles to your chest, below your ribs. Then reverse your order and go back to starting position.

Engage your core

Make sure not to hunch your back. Try to relax your shoulders and use your abdominals in the exercise.

Best Rowing Machines of 2017

Stamina Air Rower

This machine has a sturdy steel frame and an upholstered, padded seat. With adjustable straps, your feet will be kept securely in place while working out. The computer monitor provides information about covered distance, calories burned, speed, and tracking progress.


  • Wide Console 
  • Foldable - Easy Storage
  • Sturdy Construction
  • Textured handle bars


  • Loud Flywheel
  • No Resistance Adjustment
  • Steeply inclined
  • Weak Leg Workout

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

This machine uses a gas shock under the molded seat. Similar to other hydraulic-piston models, this machine is quieter. But it doesn’t provide a very realistic rowing motion by design.

Some experienced users have complained that the Body Trac didn't provide enough resistance. Perhaps they weren't using the machine correctly, or the piston leaked. It's difficult to say.


  • Compact
  • Sturdy Design
  • Easy to Strore
  • Easy Assembly


  • Difficult to Adjust
  • Inaccurate Data

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Some of the bonus features on the Velocity include a heart rate monitor with simple controls. The manual resistance knob is one of the more expensive additions.

If you're tall, this machine will work for you, the track is long enough to accommodate all leg lengths. The padded handles will keep your hands insulated from wear.


  • Smooth Rowing
  • 8 Resistance Levels
  • Backlit Monitor
  • Durable
  • Foldable Model


  • Short Warranty
  • Fragile Components

Concept2 Model D

One of the things that make the Model D stand out is the PM5 Monitor, which not only provides useful information about your workout, it also can be used to play games. While the Model D isn't the most inexpensive item on the market, you get very decent value for the price.

For a more detailed breakdown of the Model D, click here.


  • Solid Frame
  • PM5 Monitor
  • Easy Assembly
  • One of the Best


  • Large Footprint
  • Uncomfortable Seat

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515

Assembly is quick and easy. The foot petals are anti-slip, allowing proper ergonomics. The handlebars are padded. But perhaps the best part of this rowing machine is the price. It's nowhere near as exorbitant as the Concept 2. With a sturdy frame that can withstand over 250 pounds of weight, this machine will work for you no matter your size. 

The value that you get for the cost is almost unmatched.


  • Decent Price
  • Quiet
  • Foldable Model
  • Strong Resistance


  • Simple Monitor
  • Large Footprint
  • Short Warranty

Marcy NS-40503RW Rowing Machine

The Marcy provides resistance via a magnetic fly wheel. The machine is quiet most of the time, but it can squeak a bit. The monitor is very simple, as it should be for such an inexpensive model. The only disadvantage is that it doesn't track your progress as well as other machines in higher price ranges. So while this is a pretty decent budget rower, if you plan to share it with family, you might want to spend a little more money.


  • Comfortable
  • Foldable Model
  • High Weight Capacity


  • Noisy
  • Low to the Ground

Stamina Avari Magnetic Rower

This less-expensive row machine has a decent computer with a chest strap for measuring your heart rate while you work out. The In-Touch Fitness Monitor includes 12 pre-programmed workouts. Most people that own the machine compliment it, though there are some that say the seat could be a little more comfortable.


  • Quiet
  • Strong Resistance
  • Easy Assembly
  • Foldable Model


  • Uncomfortable 
  • Short Warranty

Stamina X Air Rower

Best Rower Machines of 2017

The Stamina X Air Rower is not an easy machine to build! There are many pieces, and it can take longer than an hour to get everything together.

The Stamina X has wider footrests than its previous model. While sturdy, this particular machine can be quite noisy to use. If you want to watch television or listen to a podcast while you work out, the sound of the rowing might disturb you or others. While this machine is considered a folding model, you can't store it upright, and it does have a relatively large footprint.


  • Strong Frame
  • Good Value
  • Easy Storage
  • Large LCD Monitor


  • Chain Quality
  • Basic Monitor


I hope this guide helps you make the very best decision possible when it comes to buying your rowing machine. For a full body, cardio workout, these machines are some of the best options on the market. 

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