The 11 Best Rowing Machines of 2021

Row your way to better health with these picks

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Our Top Picks
"Since the machine gets its resistance from actual water, your workouts will feel surprisingly life-like."
"While many rowing machines are built around a pulley, this one relies on two handlebars, putting the emphasis on your upper body."
Best Splurge:
Hydrow Rower at Hydrow
"The high-tech rower offers live and on-demand rowing classes that you can stream from the comfort of your home."
"The rower boasts 26 different resistance levels, which you can use to scale the intensity of your workout up or down."
"If minimal noise is a priority, this pick gives exactly that while keeping your workouts sturdy and stable."
Best for Total-Body Workouts:
Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine at Amazon
"Since the machine gets its tension from hydraulic cylinder resistance, it will mimic the feeling of rowing outdoors."
"Comfort-conscious rowers will appreciate the comfortable, full seat and recumbent design that is particularly suited to beginners."
"Those lacking in space can find relief in this pick's compact design, which folds in half when not in use."
"Its durable frame will stay stable as you row, while its 16 magnetic resistance levels ensure you stay challenged."
Best Wind Resistance:
Stamina ATS Air Rower at Amazon
"A solid option that will keep you balanced as you build strength, it's designed to gain resistance as you gain speed."

Rowing machines can be a great way to get a full-body workout. Each row requires you to push off with your legs, to pull back with your arms, and to maintain your balance by engaging your core. The result is a workout that will leave you sweating—and building strength from head-to-toe.

Of course, rowing machines can get a little bulky. But if you’re low on space, there are options designed with convenience and portability in mind. Many rowing machines come equipped with transport wheels, which you can use to roll the machine into other rooms. And some even fold in half—allowing you to tackle an intense workout and to clear the space when finished.

If you’re hoping to add a rowing machine to your at-home fitness routine, rest assured knowing there is a model for every need.

Here are the best rowing machines on the market.

Best Overall: XtremepowerUS Water Rowing Machine

The XtremepowerUS Water Rowing Machine is a classic rowing machine that would look great in any home gym. Since the machine gets its resistance from actual water, your workouts will feel surprisingly life-like. And the resistance will automatically increase as your rowing speed does, meaning you’ll stay challenged as you build strength. That said, you can always reduce the resistance by decreasing the amount of water in the tank. 

A cushioned seat will keep you comfortable as you smoothly glide forward and back. And adjustable safety straps will keep your feet firmly in place as you row. A large, built-in console will help you keep track of metrics, like your distance rowed and your strokes per minute. And when you’re finished using the machine, you can take advantage of its built-in transport wheels to tilt it and roll it away.  

The XtremepowerUS Water Rowing Machine’s weight capacity is 550 pounds.

Best Budget: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine

The Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine is a budget-friendly trainer that will give you a great workout—without taking up too much space. While many rowing machines are built around a pulley, this one relies on two large handlebars. This puts the emphasis on your upper body—instead of using your legs to glide forward and back, you’ll be using your arms, chest, and back. 

You’ll also notice this machine doesn’t come with a water tank. That’s because it relies on hydraulic cylinder resistance. Not only does this make the machine incredibly small space-friendly, but it also puts you in control of your workouts. Simply turn the built-in dial to kick the resistance up a notch, and scale it back whenever you need to. 

The Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Rowing Machine’s weight capacity is 350 pounds. 

Best Splurge: Hydrow Rower

hydrow-rower

If you want your rowing workouts to feel like the real thing, the Hydrow Starter Package is worth the splurge. The rower uses electromagnetic and computer-controlled resistance to mimic the feel of real water, giving you workouts that are both dynamic and challenging. And if you really want to feel transported, you can take advantage of the rower’s large touchscreen and built-in speakers—both of which promise a truly immersive experience.

The rowing machine was designed with performance in mind, and it doesn’t skimp on comfort. Its ergonomic seat will offer all the cushion you need to make it through long workouts, and its industrial-grade glider will keep your strokes smooth and quiet.

Since the Hydrow Starter Package ships with a rowing machine, a mat, a heart rate monitor, and a pair of wireless headphones, you’ll have everything you need to start rowing. And since it tilts upright, it will be easy to store between uses.

The rowing machine's weight capacity is 375 pounds.

Best High-Tech: NordicTrack RW900 Rower

The NordicTrack RW900 Rower is a feature-packed rowing machine that will deliver a solid workout every time. The rower boasts 26 different resistance levels, which you can use to scale the intensity of your workout up or down. And since the machine relies on magnetic resistance, you can rest assured knowing your strokes will be smooth and quiet.

The rowing machine also comes with an ergonomic padded seat and large comfortable pedals. And it folds in half, making it incredibly easy to store between uses.

Naturally, the high-tech features don’t stop there. When paired with an iFit membership, the NordicTrack RW900 Rower reaches its full potential. The membership will give you access to hundreds of on-demand rowing workouts, which you can use to get started with your new machine.

You can also activate iFit’s Automatic Trainer Control feature to let a trainer virtually control your resistance level while you row, making it easy to build strength without taking your eyes off your workout.

The NordicTrack RW900 Rower’s weight capacity is 250 pounds.

Best Quiet: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

Craving a rower that won’t make too much noise? The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower does exactly that. The machine gets its tension from a magnetic resistance system. This magnetic resistance will keep your workouts challenging, but surprisingly quiet.

Of course, a quiet workout isn’t the only thing this machine has to offer. Its durable aluminum frame will keep your workouts sturdy and stable. Its padded seat will keep you cushioned during your longest, most grueling rowing sessions. And it’s non-slip pedals will keep your feet firmly in place as you row.

What’s more, The machine folds up for convenient storage between uses. The rower, which is usually 80 inches long, shrinks down to be half its size. And since it weighs a mere 75 pounds, it should be relatively easy to move around.

The Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower’s weight capacity is 275 pounds. 

Best for Total-Body Workouts: Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine

Many rowing machines offer a total-body workout, but the Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine offers a particularly dynamic one. Because the rower boasts two large handlebars—instead of a single handle on a pulley—it gives your arms a fuller range of motion. This will help you challenge more muscle groups in your upper body while strengthening your core and lower body the way any rowing machine would. The result is a killer workout from head-to-toe.

Since the machine gets its tension from hydraulic cylinder resistance, it will mimic the feeling of rowing outdoors. An adjustable tension dial will help you keep your workouts challenging, while a thick, padded seat will keep you comfortable while you row. What’s nice? The machine is also surprisingly compact. At just 49x14x7 inches, it makes a pretty easy addition to small spaces. 

The Stamina Orbital Rowing Machine’s weight capacity is 250 pounds.

Best Recumbent: Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Exercise Bike and Rower

If comfort is your priority, you may want to invest in a recumbent rowing machine, like the Stamina Conversion II Recumbent Rower. While many rowing machines boast comfortable padded seats, very few of those seats come with backrests. But this one offers a full seat for you to rest in while you work out, making it more comfortable and supportive than most. 

Even better, the rowing machine's design allows it to double as a recumbent bike. If you’re in the mood for a cycling workout, slide your seat toward the front of the machine, slip your feet into the front-most set of pedals, grip the sides of your seat, and start pedaling.

To use the machine as a rower, slide your feet into the pedals that are closer to you, grip the built-in handle, and start rowing. Both sets of pedals promise to be comfortable and secure, and you can use the same resistance dial to up the intensity for both workouts.

The bike's weight capacity is 250 pounds. 

Best for Small Spaces: Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine

If you’re really low on space, you may not have room for a traditional rowing machine. But with the Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine, you can get a dynamic workout with a much smaller footprint. The machine boasts a unique upright design. Instead of sitting down and rowing back, you’ll sit upright and row up. This will make your rowing workouts more focused on the lower body, but you’ll still get opportunities to challenge your upper body and core.

In lieu of a more traditional resistance mechanism, this rower comes with three adjustable resistance bands. Attach these to your machine to increase the intensity of your workouts—you can reach a maximum resistance level of 22 pounds.

The rower’s textured pedals offer plenty of traction, and its non-slip handlebars are easy to grip. Adjust the height of the seat and the handlebars until the machine fits you just right, and take advantage of the fact that the machine folds in half for easy storage between uses.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Upright Rowing Machine’s weight capacity is 220 pounds. 

Best Foldable: ECHANFIT Foldable Rowing Machine w/ LCD Monitor

It’s rare to find a foldable workout machine that's also sturdy and durable, but the ECHANFIT Foldable Rowing Machine is just that. Climb onto the rower for an intense workout, and fold it away when you're done to make room for other activities. Its durable frame will stay stable as you row, while its 16 magnetic resistance levels will keep you challenged. Adjust the built-in handlebars, pedals, and console until you feel comfortable, and settle in for a solid workout.

When you’re finished using the rowing machine, you can fold it in half. This foldable design makes it easy to store against a wall, but you can also tilt it onto its transport wheels and roll it into another room.

The machine's weight capacity is 265 pounds.

Best Wind Resistance: Stamina ATS Air Rower

The Stamina ATS Air Rower is a solid rowing machine that will keep you balanced as you build strength. Whereas many rowers get their tension from magnetic, hydraulic, or water-based resistance, this one draws on dynamic wind resistance. A wheel on the front of the bike spins every time you row, adding resistance as you gain speed. This means your workouts will automatically scale up in intensity as you grow stronger. The faster you row, the harder your workouts will get—in perpetuity.

The dynamic wind resistance design isn’t the only thing that makes this machine worth the buy. Its cushioned seat, padded handlebars, and adjustable pedals will keep your workouts comfortable. Its seat will smoothly glide forward and back as you row. And since the machine’s frame folds up, it’s particularly easy to store between uses. Simply fold up the rower, tilt it onto its built-in transport wheels, and roll it away. 

The rower’s weight capacity is 250 pounds.

Best Water Resistance: MaxKare Water Rowing Machine

The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine is a classic water-based rowing machine—available at a pretty accessible price point. The machine relies on water-based resistance to mimic the feel of rowing outdoors, keeping your workouts dynamic and challenging. A durable steel frame keeps the machine sturdy and stable as you row, and a wide, ergonomically-designed seat will keep you comfortable as you work out.

When you’re finished with a workout, you can tilt the machine upright for easy storage. Simply stand it vertically against your wall, or tilt it onto its transport wheels and roll it to another room.

The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine’s weight capacity is 264 pounds. 

Final Verdict

Quiet, comfortable, and challenging, the NordicTrack RW900 Rower offers everything you’d want in a rowing machine. The feature-packed rower will keep your workouts challenging and engaging. And since it folds in half, it won’t be hard to store between uses. If you’re looking for a budget-friendlier option, though, the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine is a great pick. It’ll give you a dynamic rowing experience that mimics the outdoors. And since the machine tilts upright, it won’t demand too much space in your home.

What to Look for in a Rowing Machine

Resistance Mechanism

All rowing machines offer some amount of resistance, but the source of this resistance can vary. Some rowers come equipped with water tanks that handle the tension for you. Others rely on internal resistance mechanisms, like hydraulic or magnetic resistance. And some others come with built-in fans that provide wind resistance. These resistance mechanisms come with different strengths. Water-based rowers, for example, offer a more realistic, dynamic experience, while magnetic rowers tend to be quieter.

Handle Design

Classic rowing machines boast a single handle, which you grip with both hands to pull. But some rowers boast two handlebars, instead. These handlebars look a little like what you’d find on an elliptical, and you can use them to get a fuller range of motion in your upper body.

Storage and Portability

Rowing machines can get large and heavy, which can make them hard to transport or store. But many rowers are designed with portability and convenience in mind. Some come with built-in transport wheels that make them easy to move from place to place, some are designed to be turned on their side and propped up against your wall, and others even fold in half.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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