Rowing machine workouts are one of the best forms of low-impact cardio in terms of endurance training and boosting your heart health. Yet, they tend to take a backseat to the treadmill and stationary bike when it comes to hopping on a cardio machine or buying at-home gym equipment. Or, at least, they did.
You see, there’s an indoor rowing renaissance happening. Thousands of people are investing in Ergs (another name for indoor rowers, by the way) and sharing their love for the sport on social media, as well as in the comments sections of sites like Amazon. (This list of the best rowing machines is based on users hyper-enthusiastic and thorough feedback, in fact.)
Every entry has a top rating and dozens of positive reviews. From there, we added a second step of distinction by highlighting for what, by general consensus, each machine best suited. Are you looking for one with a small footprint for your apartment? You’ll find it here. What about a rowing machine the makes you feel like you’re out on a lake, oars in hand. Yep, it’s here too.
Stroke for stroke, these indoor rowing machines are the best of the bunch to buy online at the moment. But don’t take our word for it. Here’ you’ll find our intel, plus a review from someone who felt it deserved five stars–or more. Like one reviewer who gushes: “This thing is amazing and worth every penny.”
Meet your new favorite piece of home workout equipment…at least that’s the feedback you’ll get from reviews. With 26 (!) resistance levels, this is by far the most advanced rower on this list, making it A-okay for all fitness levels. Use its built-in, 22-inch tablet to access on-demand workouts using the accompanying iFit app. And if you’re someone who misses the push from an IRL instructor, you’ll appreciate the interactive technology NordicTrack uses to digitally adjust your resistance and ensure you’re always getting stronger.
Reviewer rave:“The NordicTrack rowing machine is my new favorite way to work out. I feel like rowing is one of the few low-impact cardio options (after two babies running is not an option) that gets my heart-rate up, and also feels like a full-body strength workout. I always enjoyed the rowing machine at the gym, but now I can use the iFit classes. The trainers go through the proper form for rowing, which makes a big difference. It also fits perfectly in a corner of our kids toy room when not in use.”
This rower can actually double as a cable machine making it two pieces of home gym equipment in one. Not bad, right? Its glide bar also folds up for easier storage and the 14-level magnetic tension system it uses allows you to program increasingly challenging workouts as you progress.
Reviewer rave: “I, like most of you reading this, finally bought this after researching the heck out of rowing machines. I’ve used it a few times since getting it and the workouts are just as good as any I’ve ever had on other rowers in a gym. I think it’s a great machine for home use and it won’t break the bank. I definitely recommend and will update this review as time goes on if anything changes. But for now I definitely love it. Money well spent.”
You’ll be hard pressed to find a rowing machine with a smaller footprint than this one. It’s got a digital monitor that’ll make it easy to keep track of strokes, but 12 levels of resistance, so it’s good for both beginners and advanced rowers.
Reviewer rave: “This may be my best bargain purchase on Amazon for the last two years. I replaced a more expensive rower with many moving parts after it kept breaking. This rower is much quieter (nearly silent), has few moving parts, is easy to assemble, and provides an excellent workout for me, a reasonably fit person. I can easily use it and listen to podcasts, watch television or videos on my iPad. Two years after purchase, after not-quite-daily use (3-4x/week), it is still nearly silent and shows no signs of wear. A great bargain at the price, highly recommended!”
Yup, we’re stepping up our fitness equipment game! Our rower is simple and sleek with a zero-lag-time resistance system to keep your strokes smooth, never jerky. This rower has 14 resistance levels, making it ideal for beginners and intermediate rowers, but still powerful enough to put an advanced athlete through a serious sweat test.
Reviewer rave: “I’ve only had this rower for 4 days and used it 3x with the MYCloudFit app and I love it so far. It’s a great complement to the BowFlex SelectTech 52 dumbbells I also ordered from Amazon. Between these 2 items my home gym is set, especially now with many gyms not open or restricted. As a fitness trainer and athlete I highly recommend this rower and try the MyCloudFitness app workouts which are free for the first month and also provide additional workouts beyond rowing. Thank you. 5 stars in my book.”
Tiny home and apartment dwellers, this rower refutes the idea that you need a lot of real estate in order to own a cardio machine. The rail on this rower folds up making it incredibly compact. What you’ll really love about it, though, is that you’ll get a super smooth glide thanks to its magnetic resistance system, which features 10 resistance levels.
Reviewer Rave: “I purchased this rower in 2012 because I’m very lazy and hate working out anywhere outside my house. I can’t believe I’ve had this rower for nearly 6 years now and it’s still going as strong as the day I bought it! I row fairly consistently at 3-4x a week for probably 1/2 an hour and it’s pretty much in the same condition as I bought it, with some minor squeaking here and there. The machine itself is very heavy and durable, easy to assemble and move (it’s come with me via the backseat of my car to several small rooms in various apartments), space-efficient, quiet, and it gives you a great workout. This doesn’t look like one of those huge concept machines, but it fits me in just fine. I’m pretty short and small (5’2” and maybe 110lbs), but my tall (6’2” 190lbs) boyfriend is able to work out and extend his giant legs without any problem, and the machine remains stable. I bought a floor mat to protect our carpet from the weight and that’s worked out just fine. I love knowing I can work out pretty much any time of the day without traveling anywhere or making too much noise. I really don’t have any complaints and would recommend it to anyone looking for an efficient way to exercise :]”
You’ll be hard pressed to find a rowing machine with a smaller footprint than this one. Its basic design lacks all the bells and whistles of more modern rowers, but it’ll get the job done just fine. You can adjust the resistance on the machine manually–kind of like you would an exercise bike, and it’s frame is made of steel so it’s extra durable.
Reviewer Rave:“I just got my Lanos Rowing Machine and it didn’t take long at all to assemble. Most of it is already assembled. I tried it out immediately and loved it! It rows smoothly and I love the electronic tracker. A great bonus is that it folds up and you can stand it in the corner when your not using it! Great product!”
Craving cranking out a few hundred meters on open water? Well, this rower is the next best thing. Its arms are designed to take you through your full-range of motion–just like pulling an oar–which is great for shoulder mobility and muscle endurance.
Reviewer rave:“For the price, this is a great machine. I row in a regular shell on the local lake in good weather, and use this to keep in practice during the winter. The oars are set up so that they mimic the natural action on the water, which allows me to keep my form in a way that many machines don’t. It also allows for a great range of motion to change up workouts by varying your hold on the oars. Putting it together was a bit of a hassle but not terrible; I probably spent 90 minutes getting it all together. The footprint is a little larger than I’d like, but it stands up on the front feet for storage, which makes it easy to tuck into a closet when I need the floor space. It’s quiet enough to use while watching TV or holding a conversation.”
This rowing machine is so aesthetically pleasing that the Museum of Modern Art actually sells it in its gift shop–seriously! But it’s not just pretty to look at. It’s built for performance thanks to its “water flywheel,” which mimics the feel of actually rowing a boat.
Reviewer rave:“I love my WaterRower! We found it back in 2015 and made the plunge to get healthy with an aesthetically pleasing piece of equipment! I have no background in rowing but did lift weights in college so I was familiar with ‘rowing’ as an exercise. Three years later, our machine is still going strong and has had no issues or squeaks or leaks! I utilized it to lose my 30 pounds of pregnancy weight last year and it was an awesome experience! I really looked forward to rowing each day and trying to meet or beat my personal times. The swishing sounds of the water is very quiet, soothing, and actually satisfying!”
If you’re hard on your home-gym equipment, you might want to consider opting for this rowing machine from Merax because it’s made from solid steel so it’s built to last.
Reviewer rave:“Nice addition to my home gym, VERY EASY to assemble, very fast shipping! I love using my rower every day; I have used it less than a month and can already see results. Not so much about losing weight but my legs, butt, arms and back are becoming better defined. I like that it can be stood up and moves easily, nice for tucking it away when you need the extra space.”
According to users, this air rower is a solid dupe for the more expensive Concept2 Rowing Machine favored by CrossFitters. It relies on wind resistance, rather than magnetic or water, to challenge your strength and stamina.
Reviewer Rave: “For the home gym, this rower is great! It may not have some bells and whistles as some of the more expensive ones but it still gets the job done. I was a bit nervous about setting it up ourselves but it was very easy and took us about 30 minutes. Great purchase!”
Orangetheory stans, this one’s for you! Not only can you get a boutique fitness-level rowing workout with this machine–which is made from solid ash wood–it’s also one of the easiest options to stand and stow once your sweat sesh is over. Plus, it comes with a performance monitor to help you keep track of your strokes and progress.
Reviewer rave:“I was introduced to this rower when I joined Orangetheory Fitness four months ago. Since I started using the rower during my OTF sessions I have grown to love the overall workout this thing gives me. In fact, I loved it so much that I purchased the WaterRower Club for my home gym. The overall quality and construction is superb and I’m very satisfied with my purchase. I would highly recommend over any other home-gym equipment available. One of the best features is how it’s so easy to stand up and move out of the way for storage. You can’t do that with any treadmill or elliptical. This thing is amazing and worth every penny. Assembly was straightforward and took about 30-45 minutes. Solid, quality construction.”
This interactive rowing machine allows you to follow along to workouts filmed on actual water rather than in studios, making it the most immersive experience you can have next to actually hopping into a boat.
Reviewer Rave: “Quieter than most rowers and so far seems durable and well built. Easy to set up yourself but heavy to move. You do need to have the monthly membership to use which is worth it. Some of the videos provide different views as you are rowing which keeps you engaged. Live classes, on demand classes or just yourself rowing down a body of water to keep you motivated. Overall glad I made the purchase!”
Gamers, this erg is for you. You’ll get a chance to go stroke for stroke against other rowers in races that allow you to engage in a little friendly competition as you complete your cardio training.
Reviewer Rave: “This is the first piece of exercise equipment that I’ve ever purchased. And I’m glad I did! Rowing is such a great form of exercise. Better than treadmills or StairMasters. I really feel like I’m getting a full body workout, maximizing my time on the machine. I love the short workouts that I can sneak in during a lunch break. Having the dashboard is really motivating as well, so I can track my progress and challenge myself. I have to say I’m generally a pretty lazy person and have always found it so hard to get myself to exercise. But the Ergatta really helps. (Also a mid-century modern-style machine? It looks great in my guest room.)”