Best Rowing Machines 2024 – Forbes Vetted

The best rowing machines are durable enough to stand up against the demands of rigorous training, comfortable to sit in and quiet during use. To find which machines excel in these areas, our fitness experts, some of whom have been using rowing machines for over 14 years, analyzed dozens of options. We named the Concept2 RowErg the best rowing machine overall because it’s easy to use and assemble and has held up considerably well for over three years of consistent use.

After hours of research, we found seven other machines that cater to different budgets and skill levels. All of our recommendations have been reviewed by our team of fitness and rowing experts, including ACE-certified personal trainer Leoni Jesner and former colligate rower Bailey Berg. No matter your fitness goals or the size of your home gym, we tracked down rowing machines that meet a variety of needs—budget, space and technical capabilities included. We also tracked down the best rowing machines under $1,000 if you’re looking for a more affordable option.

  • Best Rowing Machine Overall: Concept2 RowErg
  • Best Budget Rowing Machine: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic
  • Best Runner-Up Rowing Machine: NordicTrack RW900
  • Best Rowing Machine Under $1,000: Echelon Row
  • Best Rowing Machine For Beginners: NordicTrack RW600
  • Best Water Rowing Machine: The Ergatta Rower
  • Best Magnetic Rowing Machine: Hydrow Rower
  • Best Rowing Machine For Virtual Classes: Aviron Strong Rower

Dimensions: 24 x 96 x 20 inches | Weight: 64 pounds | Resistance: Air | Display: PM5 LCD

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Max weight capacity of 500 pounds
  • Onboard games improve the experience

Cons:

  • Some users cite an uncomfortable seat
  • Screen is outdated compared to newer models

There are many reasons competitive rowing coaches favor this particular rower, but chief among them is the ease of use. While many collegiate-level rowers have previous experience, schools also have a high percentage of walk-on athletes. This machine is good for both learners and pros. In addition, it’s relatively affordable (particularly compared to other options) and incredibly durable—which it needs to be to stand up to the demand of rigorous training day after day. Resistance is delivered via a flywheel and damper, and a nickel-plated chain requires occasional oiling.

The RowErg’s performance monitor tracks speed, strokes per minute, kilometers rowed and more. It can also connect via Bluetooth to a multitude of apps (including Concept2’s own free app, ErgData). Conveniently, it has a device holder for your phone or tablet, which means you can catch up on shows while you get your workout in. And while it lacks a large, vibrant display, we don’t consider that a disincentive given the rower’s positive performance when you’re in the midst of a workout.

What our writers say: “I’ve been rowing for 14 years and have tried tons of different rowing machines, but when it came time to buy one for my home, I knew I wanted the Concept2 RowErg,” says Forbes Vetted contributor Bailey Berg. “It’s easy to use and durable—I’ve used mine almost daily for three years and have had no issues.”


Dimensions: 89 x 18.9 x 23.6 inches | Weight: 60.9 pounds | Resistance: Magnetic | Display: LCD

Pros:

  • More affordable than many other models
  • Extra-long 48-inch slide rail to benefit taller rowers
  • Transportation wheels

Cons:

  • Some reviewers found the folding process finicky

Although it’s not the most advanced piece of gym equipment on the market, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rower offers a slew of functions for a steal. The quiet magnetic system has eight adjustable resistance levels to alter the intensity as you progress. And an LCD console tracks your workouts by displaying time, calories, total reps and other key stats.

Comfort elements include a padded seat, anti-slip handlebars and foot pedals, as well as a heavy-duty steel frame that helps keep the machine stable. Plus, the 48-inch slide rail length means taller rowers can benefit from this machine, too. When your workout is finished, built-in wheels make for easy maneuvering if you want to hide the rower away.

What our writers say: “I’ve had the chance to try this rower a few times and though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of other machines, it’ll get the job done,” Berg says. “And you can’t beat the price.”


MOST POPULAR

NordicTrack RW900

Dimensions: 86.5 x 22 x 50.4 inches | Weight: 130.6 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: HD touchscreen

Pros:

  • Powerful 30-watt sound system
  • 26 resistance levels
  • Automatic trainer control
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

Cons:

  • Users report that some trainers don’t mirror intended workout

Rowing machines have become increasingly high-tech in the last few years, but NordicTrack’s RW900 balances tech with talent to create an engaging workout environment. With resistance delivered by magnets across a wide 26 levels, it’s among the most adjustable magnetic rowers on the market. And not only can you stream classes on-demand with personal trainers, but your trainer can adjust your resistance automatically so you can focus on your technique (and getting your workout in).

Once you’ve completed your row, you get access to workout stats on the 22-inch rotating Smart HD touchscreen and tips on what you can do to improve. NordicTrack also has a patented SpaceSaver Design, meaning it folds for easy storage.

So why is this rowing machine the runner-up? Well, it’s a bit more expensive than the Concept2 RowErg (when it’s not on sale), and at 130 pounds, it’s twice as heavy, which makes it difficult to maneuver. If you prioritize workout classes and entertainment over portability and price, this is the rowing machine to get. But if you don’t need a flashy screen and live in a small space, you might consider the overall winner instead.

What our writers say: “The NordicTrack RW900 is a really solid piece of workout, especially if you’re looking for something that offers workout classes,” Berg says.


Dimensions: 84.65 x 20.47 X 43.7 inches | Weight: 120 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: None

Pros:

  • Folds in half to save space
  • Bluetooth resistance controller built into the handles
  • Suite of live and on-demand classes

Cons:

  • Doesn’t feature a built-in screen
  • Limited functionality without membership

If you’re interested in rowing but don’t want to drop an entire paycheck on a model with all the bells and whistles, you might consider the Echelon Row. Like other high-end offerings on this list, it relies on a magnetic resistance system to deliver a quiet workout, and it’s one of the few rowers on the market that truly folds (most other rowing machines are simply designed to store upright or disassemble).

Beyond its origami-like capabilities, what sets this rower apart is the resistance buttons built into the handlebar, so you can toggle the intensity up or down without interrupting your stroke. Another cool design element is the device holder, where you can place a phone or tablet to watch a show, follow a class or keep track of your stats. While it retails for exactly $1,000 through Echelon when not on sale, you can often find it discounted at retailers like Amazon, where it’s currently 45% off at the time of writing.

What our editors say: “The Echelon Row checks a lot of boxes for a machine that costs under $1,000,” says Vigliotta. “If you can get by without a built-in screen (or don’t mind using your own tablet), you’ll be treated to a whisper-quiet experience that’s smooth and reliable. And the fact that this rower often goes on sale only sweetens the deal.”


NordicTrack RW600

Dimensions: 87 x 22.0 x 47.2 inches | Weight: 117 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: HD touchscreen

Pros:

  • Approachable price point
  • iFit subscription provides access to workout library
  • HD touchscreen and two-speaker sound system

Cons:

  • Some reviews suggest even the easiest resistance level is still difficult

In many ways, NordicTrack’s RW600 rowing machine looks and functions like its bigger sibling, the previously mentioned RW900. But while the RW900 is a bit more complex, the RW600 simplifies the entire setup from top to bottom in a manner that makes it perfect for beginners.

The HD touchscreen display, for example, is a bit smaller at 10 inches from corner to corner, but it’s still large enough to see stats or follow guided workouts. So too is the sound system made simpler with a pair of two-inch speakers, and Bluetooth connectivity still allows you to pair your earbuds or headphones with the rower to hear workouts or music. While the RW600 is a bit longer than the RW900 (5 inches longer, to be exact), it’s a whopping 46 pounds lighter, which makes it easier to maneuver, especially if you live in a small, compact space. And it still features 26 resistance levels for robust workouts from start to finish.

Suffice to say, the RW600 is a great entry-level rower. It adopts the best of NordicTrack’s top rower features and passes up the ones you don’t need if you’re new to the sport. And it still ships with a 10-year frame warranty, 2-year parts warranty and 1-year labor warranty, so you can pick one up, save a little money and sweat over a workout instead of the sticker price.

What our editors say: “When we refer to the RW600 as a “beginner” rowing machine, we’re not saying it’s cheap or lacking in features,” explains Vigliotta. “Rather, we’re noting that this powerful device comes packed with features that beginner rowers will love, such as online workouts, Bluetooth connectivity, speakers and plenty of resistance levels. If you’re new to rowing or only intend to workout a few times a week, this is a great option with plenty of noteworthy features, and best of all, it doesn’t break the bank.”


Dimensions: 86 x 23 x 40 inches | Weight: 106 pounds | Resistance: Water | Display: FHD touchscreen

Pros:

  • Vibrant touchscreen display
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Beautiful, quality craftsmanship
  • Supports up to 500 pounds and a 40-inch inseam

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Foot straps may become loose over time

If you’d like your rowing machine to challenge you in both the literal and figurative sense, then the Ergatta is a good choice. While it has the same functionality as other rowers—you can do free, steady-state rows and workouts of your own design—it also has a game-based workout platform wherein you can virtually race other rowers, bang out training sessions, compete in challenges and more with the 17.3-inch FHD monitor. A horizontally mounted water tank delivers the adjustable resistance.

Like the Hydrow (another top pick on this list), the Ergatta charges a monthly membership fee, though it’s more affordable at $29 per month for the additional features. And it’s definitely worth noting that with a cherry wood frame, this Ergatta is visually stunning. While you could store it vertically, we’d understand if you wanted to leave it out all the time for guests to admire.

What our editors say: “The Ergatta Rower is perhaps one of the nicest pieces of at-home fitness equipment I’ve ever used,” Vigliotta says. “After loaning it from a friend, I’ve fallen in love with its blend of natural materials and high-tech features that elevate any mundane workout.”


Dimensions: 86 x 25 x 47 inches | Weight: 145 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet | Display: HD touchscreen

Pros:

  • Large, colorful display
  • Built-in speakers pump up the tunes
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity

Cons:

  • More expensive than other options
  • Limited activity options without a paid subscription

What makes rowing such a challenging workout is the resistance. In some machines, that resistance comes courtesy of water, like the Ergatta; in others, it’s moving air. In magnetic rowing machines, that resistance happens when two strong magnets move past each other, which translates to a quieter and more compact machine.

While there are myriad magnetic rowers, Hydrow is arguably the best. It has a 22-inch mounted HD touchscreen (that can pivot 25 degrees in each direction) with more than 500 pre-recorded rowing sessions.

If you jump into one of the river sessions, it actually feels like you’re on the water, thanks to the smooth-as-silk ten-roller seat that glides back and forth. It’s worth noting, however, that if you want to experience the full capabilities of the machine (by which I mean all the live and on-demand classes), you’ll need to pay an additional $38 per month for a subscription to the online classes.

What our writers say: “I’m always excited to see a Hydrow in gyms and hotels when I travel—it’s such a fun machine,” Berg says. “It’s whisper quiet, comfortable to sit on, and there are tons of features to keep me entertained and motivated.”


Dimensions: 84 x 27 x 48 inches | Weight: 114 pounds | Resistance: Electronic magnet and air | Display: HD touchscreen

Pros:

  • Great build quality
  • Impressive display and sound system
  • Vast library of courses

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Heavy at over 100 pounds

Sometimes the most challenging aspect of fitness isn’t the actual exercise; it’s mustering the motivation to start working out in the first place. If that’s your biggest hurdle, then Aviron’s immersive classes should make it easier to jump in the saddle and work up a sweat.

Complete with a 22-inch HD touchscreen display that swivels and offers studio-quality sound, every workout on the Aviron is simply captivating. And because Aviron has such a robust library of more than 1,000 classes, you’re free to take part in warm-ups, intervals, scenic rows, form classes or traditional workouts at your own pace (there are also oodles of lessons tailor made for newbie rowers). There are also myriad games, live competitions and a “Pros vs. Joes” setting where you can compare yourself against Olympians while training. If that weren’t enough, you can link your Netflix, Hulu or any other streaming service to the rower and watch your favorite shows and movies. An all-access family membership will run you $29 a month (or $24 a month, if billed annually), but if you can stomach the subscription, you’ll never get bored. Though if you don’t want the membership, you don’t have to have it. The rower offers a suite of free features, like the ability to track your metrics, chart your performance and follow your friends’ workouts.

And after a productive workout, the rower folds upright against a wall to save space.

It’s one of the priciest rowers on this list (especially when you consider the additional monthly fees), but for those who can’t live without engaging workouts, this is as good as it gets.

What our writers say: “I’m obsessed with the Aviron rower—it and the Concept2 are the two I have at home,” says Berg. “I think it’s a really good choice for beginners, because it offers both comprehensive lessons and games to keep things interesting. Also great for advanced rowers, thanks to all the built in competitions.”


Why Trust Forbes Vetted

The Forbes Vetted team has researched and written their way through hundreds of gear guides, including a plethora of fitness equipment stories like the best treadmills and elliptical machines.

  • Forbes Vetted contributors Leoni Jesner and Bailey Berg are both fitness experts in their own right; Jesner is an ACE-certified personal trainer, pilates instructor and nutrition coach, while Berg is a former collegiate rower who’s tried over a dozen different rowing machines.
  • This guide and its updates are overseen by gear editor Cam Vigliotta, who holds a degree in kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts.
  • We relied on insights from our team for each of our recommendations, including the Ergatta Rower, which Vigliotta recently took for a spin.
  • To keep this guide current and accurate, we update it frequently. It was last updated in May 2024 by gear updates writer Alexandra Garrett and senior strategy editor Katie Simpson, who is also an ACE-certified personal trainer.

How We Chose The Best Rowing Machines

To curate this list of the best rowing machines, we sought out highly-rated models from reputable brands.

  • We considered how easy it would be to assemble the machine, taking into account whether you could do so alone, or if you’d need a second set of hands. We also noted whether or not a brand would install your rower for an additional fee.
  • We considered how easy it would be to turn on the machine and work up a sweat, no questions asked.
  • We made note of additional features that helped improve the rowing experience, such as a vibrant display, a folding base, cupholders and other comforts.
  • We checked each machine’s noise level to understand how it might impact your life and the lives of those around you, be it people who live under the same roof or share a wall with you in an apartment.
  • We looked at how easy it would be to store a machine when it’s not in use, taking note of whether or not it could fold in half, and how its footprint might impact your space once folded away.
  • We pored over customer reviews, making sure to exclude any machines that didn’t earn at least a 4 out of 5 star rating.

What To Look For In The Best Rowing Machines

When the time comes to invest in a rowing machine, you’ll want to keep a few important variables in mind as you weigh your options against your needs and goals. These include:

Size And Space

Consider where you’d like to install your rowing machine in your home or apartment before buying one. Are you looking to install one in your home office that folds away when it’s not in use? Or would you prefer a bigger, more comfortable model for your home gym? Rowing machines vary in size, so it pays to pick one that fits comfortably in your designated space.

Resistance

The ability to adjust a rower’s resistance allows you to make a workout easier or harder. Some rowing machines rely on natural substances like air or water while others use magnets or hydraulic systems. Each type offers a different feel and level of resistance, though most high-end rowing machines employ magnetic resistance systems that are incredibly precise and quiet.

Metrics Monitoring

Many rowing machines come equipped with monitors that track metrics like time, distance, strokes, heart rate and calories burned. Consider whether these features are important to you and if the monitor is user-friendly and provides the data you need. Even budget-friendly models provide basic metrics, but high-end models can dive deeper into the numbers to deliver additional insights.

Noise

Consider the noise level of the rowing machine. Some resistance types, like air and water, can be noisier than magnetic or hydraulic models. If noise is a concern in your home or apartment, opt for a quieter machine.

Storage

Maybe you’re working with limited space, in which case, you should look for a rowing machine that can be easily folded and stored away when it’s not in use. Most rowing machines are designed to fold away, but some of the larger models still take up a lot of space once collapsed. Pay attention not only to the floor dimensions when the rower is ready for use, but the collapsed dimensions when it’s folded, too.


What Type Of Rowing Machine Is Best Overall?

The best type of rowing machine is one that’s durable and easy to use regardless of your skill level, which is why we recommend the Concept2 RowErg as the best option overall. It features a sturdy construction that can support up to 500 pounds, plus it’s easy to use and assemble.


What Type Of Rowing Machine Is Best For Beginners?

After reviewing dozens of machines, we named the NordicTrack RW600 the best rowing machine for beginners because it has some Goldilocks features for novices, including a magnetic resistance and an HD touchscreen. The magnetic resistance allows for a quieter workout and easier adjustability, meaning you can start with lower resistance and increase the difficulty as your fitness levels improve. Additionally, an HD screen lends you the ability to take virtual classes, so you can learn the proper form as you train.


Is Rowing A Good Way To Lose Weight?

Rowing is an effective way to lose weight because it offers a full-body workout that engages both upper and lower body muscles, which helps you burn more calories. One study among 20 participants found that a 6-week indoor rowing program decreased both fat mass and total body fat percentage. This is due in part to the cardio element, which helps elevate your heart rate and torch calories. It’s also an excellent machine for boosting your lean muscle as rowing recruits around 86% of the total muscles in your body. Combining cardio and strength training exercises is especially effective at boosting and maintaining your weight loss efforts.

However, using a rowing machine to lose weight is only effective if you’re in a caloric deficit. If you’re eating in a surplus, a rowing machine (or any other cardio machine) will not help you lose weight, so make sure to consider your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) if your goal is to lose weight.


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