Best Rowing Machine for Exercise

Couple on rowing machines

Rowing machines are a great way to get some low-impact cardio while building your upper body strength. If you're looking to purchase a rowing machine for your home, your best bet is to figure out what type of machine you want, then choose from among the best of those.

Rowing Machines With Pistons

The least expensive and easiest machine to store is a rowing machine which uses hydraulic pistons as resistance. The pistons are attached to the arms of the machine, which can make the rowing motion slightly choppy but fairly quiet. The following model are among the best piston-based rowing machines.

HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger Scull Rowing Machine

The HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger Scull was voted Best Budget Rowing Machine by Bestcovery, for its ability to offer competitive rowing options at a less expensive price. HCI Fitness' Sprint Outrigger is a piston-based rower that offers 12 different levels of resistance. An LCD display lets you keep track of strokes, distance and calories, while the cylinders themselves are made of commercial grade materials for durability. The machine costs between $300 and $600, depending on where it is sold.

Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine

Rowing Machine Reviews has called the Kettler Favorit, "worth checking out", as it offers more than twice the features of other piston rowers. The Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine is a sleek, tough piston-based rower that can hold users up to 285 pounds. It includes a heart rate monitor at no extra cost and has a seat built on a slight incline that gives you a better workout when pulling and a smoother trip back and forth. Costs start at around $375.

Magnetic Rowing Machines

Magnetic rowers are silent; electromagnets control the amount of resistance on the wheel at the machine's front and make for an adjustable workout. Magnetic rowers are larger and bulkier than pistons. The best magnetic rowers include the following models.

Lifecore R100

Fit Prof Reviews has voted the Lifecore R100 Head of the Class Best Buy rower for six straight years. The Lifecore R100 is a magnetic rower with 16 different levels of resistance and 15 preset programs for an almost endlessly customizable workout. The Lifecore R100 has a 600-pound weight capacity and includes four different heart rate control programs. Pricing starts around $1300.

Velocity Fitness Programmable Magnetic Rower

Rowing Machine Review gave the Velocity Fitness rower high points, saying that it delivers a high quality workout. The Velocity Fitness Programmable Magnetic Rower has 12 different customizable programs with an LCD display for varying workouts. It has a 275-pound weight limit and folds up easily for storage. Pricing starts around $700.

Air Rowers

The air resistance rowing machine is the one most often used by professional rowers in off seasons. The resistance becomes harder the faster you work, accurately duplicating the effect of rowing a boat through water. These machines can be very noisy. Some of the top models of air rowers include the following.

Stamina Air Power

The Stamina Air Power rower is a wind resistance rower with multiple options. It monitors speed, distance, time and calories burned, while large footplates and an over-sized seat make for a comfortable ride. The rower folds easily for storage and can hold users up to 250 pounds. Rowing Machine Reviews calls it one of the best starter rowers in its price class.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept 2D rower got a very high reviews from dualFIT, scoring high marks in every area tested, especially ease of assembly and quite operation. The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is a compact, ergonomic rower that has a self-calibrating performance monitor. The rower separates into two pieces for storage and can hold users up to 500 pounds. Pricing begins around $900.

Water Rowers

Similar to the air resistance rowing machine, a water rower's resistance increases the faster you pull. You also have the added ability with a water rower to further customize your workout by adding or removing water from the reservoir. The result is an endlessly customizable workout perfect for multiple users of all fitness levels. Top models include the following.

WaterRower Oxbridge Rowing Machine with Series 4 Monitor

Rowing Machine Reviews says the WaterRower, "... offers superior rowing experience perfect for both professionals and novice rowing enthusiast..." and it calls it one of the best rowers on the market. The WaterRower Oxbridge Rowing Machine with Series 4 Monitor features water flywheel technology to give you the smoothest, most realistic row. The performance monitor offers more than 10 different features, including advanced features such as projected duration and distance. The frame is made of cherry wood, which will darken and patina with age, and the frame will hold users over 2,000 pounds. The rower starts at around $1300.

Start Rowing

No matter what type of rower you end up using or purchasing, you'll be sure to get a great resistance, cardio and strength training workout in one. Give any of these rowing machines a shot the next time you're looking for a low impact exercise, and experience it for yourself.

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Best Rowing Machine for Exercise