Rowing Machine Reviews: 8 Factors to Know Before Row

Welcome to visit our blog of all-in-one rowing machine reviews! We’re pleased to help you find the perfect rowing machine.

My mission is to simplify the searching of a rowing machine by recommending exactly what you want and fast!

Now, let’s get started.

Table of contents

  • How do I investigate?
  • Comparisons between rowing machines and other common aerobic exercise machines
  • How to choose a rowing machine?
  • Most frequently-read reviews and articles

How do I investigate rowing machine reviews?

a commuter, a cell phone, books and etc on a white desk

To investigate, I read the instruction manual, visit the manufacturer’s website and all online product reviews, examine feedback in discussion forums, watch videos, and demo the product when it’s available.

After those work, I have written rowing machine reviews by categories, including price tags, resistance and compactness.

Following are the all-in-one reviews that come in handy when buying a rowing machine. Happy reading and rowing!

What’s the difference between rowing machines and other common aerobic exercise machines?

Before buying a rowing machine, you might be curious about the difference between rowing machines and other common aerobic machines.

You might wonder Is rowing machine worth the money?

Following are the comparisons between rowing machines and other common aerobic exercise machines. Comparison is made in terms of two important goals–muscle tone and weight loss.

1.1 rowing machines vs elliptical trainers

a person wearing a red shirt grips the handlebars of an elliptical trainer

In terms of muscle gain and muscle tone

Rowing machine’s intensity comes from repetitively alternating an exertion of strength with a brief moment of recovery.

The movement used on a rowing machine is 2 dimensional, with a distinct pushing of the legs and a pulling of the core and arms.

And the correct stroke on the rowing machine comprises of four phases: catch, drive, finish, recovery. The rowing stroke is made up of 65-75 percent leg work and 25-35 percent upper body work

Therefore, by using a rowing machine, you will fire up muscles in back, arms, legs and core. The rowing machine is a recipe for all-round exercise.

The movement on an elliptical trainer, meanwhile, is more circular. The continuous stepping movements don’t ever start, stop and reverse.

An elliptical machine with handles, like a rowing machine, can also provide you with both an upper and lower-body workout.

The key to maximizing the upper-body benefits is to distribute your weight and resistance evenly.

In other words, pump your arms just as fast as you’re moving your legs. By doing so, the elliptical can target your glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and core muscles.

In terms of weight loss

According to the study by the Harvard School of Public Health, an elliptical is more effective in burning calories than a rowing machine.

The researchers compared that for a person weighing 155 lbs, an elliptical could burn 670 calories per hour whereas a rowing machine could burn 520 calories per hour.

1.2 rowing machines vs treadmills

a woman rowing on a indoor rower and a man run on a treadmill

In terms of muscle gain and muscle tone

Rowing machines work the whole body – upper, lower and core.This is backed up by a test.

According to an experiment of muscle activation — to prove the effectiveness of the workout, rowing activates more muscle groups. You can work up to 85% muscle during rowing exercise.

Running on a treadmill,however, is centered around your legs.

Running means that you’re making explosive muscle contractions in your legs to drive you forward at speed. It’s the big hitters in your leg that are generating the driving force behind you.

As your legs are working hard to generate this force, you’re building up a lot of muscle in your lower body. Your quads, hamstrings, glues and calfs will feel the burn.

In terms of muscle gain there is no question about it, rowing machine is the winner.

In terms of weight loss

When you run on a treadmill, however, burning calories is simply difficult to beat. You would burn between 600 and 1,200 calories per hour.

You will be able to burn calories on a rower as well, but unless you are rowing at the highest levels of resistance, you probably won’t burn as many as you would on a treadmill.

So a rowing machine has the advantage of giving you a full-body workout, but a treadmill is better for burning the maximum number of calories per hour.

1.3 rowing machines vs stationary bikes

In terms of muscle gain and muscle tone

The exercise bike and the rower are both cardio fitness machines, i. e. they work out the body’s most important muscle, the heart! They both help you to strengthen your legs, your thighs and your buttocks muscles.

But there are some differences.

By now we know that rowing allows almost all of your muscles to shine. The advantage of the rowing machine over the stationary bike is that it works the muscles of the arms, shoulders, back and abdomen, while the exercise bike mainly works the muscles of the lower body.

In terms of weight loss

Calories burned on rowing machines and exercise bikes depend on your intensity.

A study published in a 2001 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Medicine” compared calories burned while using different cardio machines.

The research found that for a 155-pound person, a moderate-intensity cycling or rowing session burns 260 calories.

But when it comes to a vigorous pace, cycling racking up greater numbers per same time spent on the machine. In high intensity, cycling burns 391 calories in 30 minutes while rowing burns 316.

But because a rowing machine uses more resistance during your workout, you are likely to experience fat-burning even after your workout.


So how good is a rowing machine workout for your body?

According to Women’s Health Magazine, ‘The major muscles in your legs, arms, back and core all must activate, providing a total body workout that will increase your body strength as well as your cardiovascular capacity.’ ‘With a rowing machine you can work at the highest intensity you like, with the lowest impact on your body,’

Rowing machines are suitable for time-starved people. Short on time? A quarter of an hour is all you need. ‘Make sure you are working consistently at about 80% of you maximum intensity over the course of those 15 minutes for fat burning results.’

According to Healthline, rowing is meditative. There’s a mind-body connection with rowing. While you might find the most calming benefits by rowing outside on the water, you can still achieve some level of this indoors. This comes from the smooth, gliding motion on the rowing machines, and the repetitive movements that allow the mind to go on autopilot.

Rowing is also great for the heart and lungs. As a cardio exercise, rowing strengthens the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, blood vessels, and blood. It’s responsible for transporting important materials, such as nutrients and oxygen, throughout the body.

According to Concept 2, the full body nature of rowing makes it a huge Calorie burner: in a few minutes a day, you’ll burn more Calories on the indoor rower than you would on a machine that doesn’t engage as many muscle groups.

Those are some of the rowing benefits. Interested in knowing more rowing benefits? This article of 15 rowing machine benefits might be what you need.

How to choose a rowing machine?

After comparison, you might fall in love with rowing machines.

Rowing machines are now gaining popular among gym lovers. One amazing fact is that, according to, around 1.3 million people are rowing at home in 2020. Come and join us!

But when you are considering buying rowing machines, you might have some worries. Does the rowing machine cost too much? Will it take too much room space?

Having such questions is quite common. So here comes a list that you need to take into consideration when choosing a rowing machine.

one person looks at the monitor screen in a living room and another person in the screen rows on a lake

(a) Budget

Rowing machines range in price from under $100 to over $3,000! With such a large price range on the market, first of all, you need to figure out how much you are gonna investing on the rowing machine or how good a rowing machine you would like to get?

here’s a quick estimate of quality and price:

It may seem a lot to pay initially but if you consider you’ll get years of trouble-free usage that will help keep you fit and healthy for around $1 a day – it suddenly doesn’t sound too bad. If more than one family member is going to use it, they will provide even more value for money.

Quality rowing machines will cost more because they are constructed from superior materials and often contain the latest technology.

(b) Room space

Topiom rowing machine tilted upright against a white curtain in a bedroom

If you have searched about rowing machines by now, you might notice that rowing machines generally take much space when in use.

To prevent from buying a too-much-larger rowing machine, it’s always good to pay attention to the dimension when you are browsing rowing machines.

Generally, hydraulic-piston machines have the smallest footprint. Although water and air resistance machines have the largest in use, most of them are still spacesavers when not in use since they can be stored upright.

(c) Noise level

One of the frequently asked questions is ‘Is this rowing machine too noisy? If I row in the morning, will I disturb neighbors?’ So if you are worried about causing trouble to your family or neighbors, the noise level shouldn’t be ignored. Of four resistance types, air resistance rowing machines are generally the loudest.

a form comparing noise levels of rowing machines of five resistance types

Read the quietest rowing machine review if you are noise-conscious.

(d) Rowing machine resistance

Rowing machines on the market can be mainly available in to 5 kinds of resistance: Water resistance, air resistance, magnetic resistance, and hydraulic resistance and the combination of air and magnetic resistance. Different resistance type translates to different rowing experience.

four rowing machines of four resistance types

Therefore, you need to do some research.

Or, simply, you can read full comparision of rowing machine resistance types to learn resistance types and choose the one that you are mostly attracted to.

(e) Rowing machine design

Different rowing machines may boast different features even on the same parts.

Here are some examples. On some rowing machines, frame is foldable while on others, it’s not.

Some seats are cushioned while some are padded.

Some rowing machines feature inclined rails instead of horizontal ones.

Different rowing machine designs will contribute to different rowing experience.

However, on the market, there are some flawed designed rowing machines, which can’t allow the correct form, let alone providing the full rowing benefits to you.

Read the buyer beware article to avoid such rowing machines.

(f) Monitor functions

Most exercise equipment today allows you to keep track of your workout routine.

With a basic monitor, you are able to keep track of data like distance, strokes, calories burned, time, and more. By tracking your power, speed and other detailed data about your performance on the water or on the erg, you can spot problems, and track changes over time.

Some monitors are well-functioned, letting you cycle through various workout modes or games to spice up your day-to-day routine.

Advanced functions on monitors include PC connectivity, preset programs, games and bluetooth connectivity, which enables you to connect wirelessly to fitness apps. Some advanced monitors also provide videos. Video is a great tool to help improve your rowing.

Additionally, some even feature backlit, which makes reading easy on your eyes.

But, those rowing machines with well-functioned monitors do cost more.

(g) Physical features and health condition

When buying a rowing machine, you might also need to take note of some features in order to better suit your physical features.

If you are tall, you might need to take note of the rail of rowing machine, the position of the handle, etc..Here is an article that describes rowing machines suitable for tall people.

If you have big legs, you might need to pay attention to the space between footplates. If the space is too narrow, you will feel uncomfortable. Rowing machines with monorail might be more suitable than those with dual rail. The article that compares the monorail and dual rail is quite informative.

a doctor reading medical records

For seniors, it’s always advisable to consult doctors before jumping onto the exercise journey. Some doctors suggest them do mild workout on rowing machine since it’s low-impact. Here is an article that reviews best rowing machines suitable for seniors.

If you have some flexibility issues, rowing machines that feature pivoting footplates might be a good choice for you because such design relieve some of the impact on your ankles. The article comparing fixed footplates and pivoting footplates is of great uses.

Following video may also be great help to you before buying a rowing machine.

(h) Start reading detailed rowing machine reviews

Above-mentioned information might give you a general idea of rowing machines. In need of more specific and detailed comparisons? Start reading detailed rowing machine reviews and articles.

Rowing machine buying guide lists everything you need to know before purchase.

Here are 6 questions to ask yourself before buying rowing machines.

Prefer meditative workout? Water rowing machine reviews will be of great help to you.

Wondering which rowing machines offer whisper silent exercise? Magnetic rowing machines reviews might be an answer.

Wanna bring the on-the-water experience to your house? Find your favourite in the air rowing machine review.

Let’s sweat on dual resistance rowing machines with more intensive rowing.

It’s time to get smart rowing on rowing machines with advanced monitor.

Storage is not a problem. There are compact rowing machines on the world for small spaces.

Spend $500 and jump on a well-designed rowing machine.

Invest your life with a rowing machine around $1000 to get high-level rowing experience.

Make full use of your rowing machine and add some accessories to upgrade rowing experience.

A kind advice: read this rowing machine terminology to spare you from confusion encountered during reading reviews.

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