The Best Rowing Machines

The Best Rowing Machines

By Stefan Mitrovic
You need to have a rowing machine that can truly help you tone your complete body with the right technique. Moreover, the machine you choose should offer a robust and tactical design for easy use and to ensure the user’s safety. For that, our researching team found the JLL R200 Adjustable Magnetic Rowing Machine to be top-grade equipment for domestic use. 

Rowing machines are great for providing a full-body workout without the need of going outdoors. This machine surely has revolutionized the way exercising is done to keep the body fit and healthy. In fact, the ability to offer toning benefits for the complete body is the primary reason for this machine’s rise in fame. It requires the use of not only the upper body but also the lower body to complete the workout. So, there is more than 80% involvement of the muscles in the body to accomplish the rowing movement.

Some fitness trainers suggest that a rowing machine can be the right way to improve your physique. But the technique needs to be done properly to produce effective results. Unlike other machines, this equipment needs to be used with the upper and lower body parts working together. It means that you cannot skip either range of motion in order to rest. You have to synchronize your complete body while performing a rowing move completely, or you might injure yourself. Nevertheless, if you follow this exercise religiously then you are guaranteed to get outstanding results.

Types of Rowing Machines

Several types of rowing machines are available and each has its own unique benefits. Some are designed to offer the same feel and vigor of the real rowing activity carried out by athletes. Other types of rowing equipment are designed with the area available for the setup in mind. Then there is also a type based on the components that make up the mechanism of the equipment. All these machines are going to give you the results you need, but they each possess a unique benefit that it will be discussed later in the rowing machine buying guide.

We want our readers to be free from the confusion of getting a rowing setup, which is why we researched all the types of rigs available nowadays and evaluated the best ones among them. As usual, we will be choosing the products that are not only top sellers but also the ones with the best overall quality. Now, let us start with the various types and see how their unique attributes are able to help you tone your body. 

Hydraulic Rowing Machines

If your concern is limited space in your house, then a hydraulic rowing machine could be a prudent option for you. Hydraulic rowers are so portable and compact that you can easily move them from one position in the house to another. Unlike other heavy duty rowing setups, this one uses a piston or cylinder-based mechanism for creating back pressure for the user. As the system is quite minimalistic, the price is also much more affordable compared to other rower types.


The way these are designed is that they have a unique rowing motion. It may not let you pull the handle of the machine in a linear motion, making the exercise feel unlike a natural rowing stance. So it might not be comfortable in the beginning but, eventually, you can get used to the movement and let your body feel the stress build up in your muscles. You may have to comprise your comfort while using this type of rower. But, if you are able to adjust to the uneven synchronization of your legs and arms while using the device, then a piston-based hydraulic rowing machine might become your best friend.

Bodyfit Hydraulic Cylinder Rowing Machine

With hydraulic rowing equipment, you are promised a setup that will give you the rowing motion right at home. BodyFit ensures a high-end and versatile setup for people who love to row but need to do it indoors. The machine features a simple design that ensures impressive results for the entire body. While it sticks as close as possible to a traditional rowing motion, it still possesses advanced attributes for adding more challenge for the user.

The Body Fit Hydraulic rowing machine uses a piston cylinder for creating 12 levels of tension to enable the rower to progress in developing his or her body muscles. It is certainly a prudent addition to your home gym and is also available at an affordable price. You can enjoy using one of these without the need for a lot of setting up.

Features of the BodyFit Cylinder Hydraulic Rowing Machine

This machine offers a setup that is worth the investment with its easy accessibility, comfortable grip, adjustable foot straps, and minimalistic design. As the complete unit is small and lightweight in size, it does have a user weight limit of 100 kg only. While this machine is a fixed type, with its overall length of about 139 cm it takes up less space. BodyFit has also added a Dial-A-Tension cylinder to the impressive hydraulic capacity in this unit. This lets the user choose from 12 different levels of force.

Piston-based rowing machines are infamous for their unnatural rowing motion. But, the BodyFit hydraulic rower uses a carriage system incorporating six wheels below the saddle of the rowing equipment; this helps keep the movement as natural as possible. Furthermore, this unit is equipped with adjustable footplates. As for the monitor screen, you just need one AAA battery to display the readings and track your daily rowing progress.

Advantages of the BodyFit Cylinder Hydraulic Rowing Machine
  • Simple design
    The design of this unit is not bulky or complicated at all. You can easily use it without the need for intricate preparation. The lightweight body is sturdy enough to carry a maximum weight of 100 kg.
  • Multi-function monitor
    Its monitor operates on just one AAA battery, but is capable of tracking strokes, calories, and exercise time. All these readings help improve your workout regimen.
  • Adjustable footrests
    This device gives you the ease of adjusting your feet while they’re placed on the plates. This way, you can row with the machine perfectly adjusted to your height.
  • Smooth and ergonomic
    The device further adds value with its hydraulic piston that has six wheels incorporated below its saddle, providing maximum comfort and smoothness. In addition, the handle grip is quite robust, with anti-skid gripping.
Bottom Line

If you want a piece of rowing equipment that is easy to use, small in size, and cost-effective, then the BodyFit Hydraulic Rowing Machine is worth choosing for your day-to-day exercise routine. You will feel impressed by its compact size, which ensures that you have ample space to keep other equipment in your indoor gym area or room.

Flywheel Rowing Machines

With a flywheel type rower, you are guaranteed a movement quite similar to real outdoor rowing movement. When you pull the handle the machine resists your pull by spinning the flywheel blades linked to the core of the machine. The fan blades of the flywheel rotate to create resistance with the help of the wind.

So, technically, when your pulling motion is harder, the flywheel rotates faster, thus causing the resistance of the equipment to be much harder. Unlike hydraulic units, flywheel machines are much smoother and synchronized, so as you row you feel a natural movement like in outdoor rowing.

Sportplus Indoor Flywheel Air Turbine Rowing Machine

Sportplus offers an impressive rowing machine incorporated with an air turbine (flywheel system) that has eight varying stages of resistance. This equipment has a movement technique that authentically resembles an outdoor rowing stance. The comfortable and ergonomic setup ensures smoothness because of the high-end ball bearings installed in it. Further quality has been assured by the addition of a robust aluminium frame for high durability.

Sportplus has also ensured high-end functionality and versatility in this unit through the implementation of a smart app that makes it convenient to handle the data that has been recorded during your workout.

Features of the Sportplus Indoor Flywheel Air Turbine Rowing Machine

The Sportplus Air turbine rower ensures top-grade features for all levels of users. With its high-end air brake technology, it gives you ultimate performance. The company even claims that the air brake system will not require maintenance. Furthermore, the unit has 8 resistance levels that mimic a rudder-like movement similar to rowing on an actual boat. Plus, the resistance level system automatically toggles a harder setting based on the level of power you use for pulling the handle. Additionally, it boasts an LCD screen that helps keep track of your daily exercise regimen.

This monitor display keeps a record of the rowing distance, pulse rate of the user, rowing time, frequency of the strokes, and overall calories burned while working out. The design also features a smooth seat due to the inclusion of ball bearings in the unit. This does not limit its ability to withstand the weight of a person, which can be up to 150 kg. When open, the machine takes up to 217 cm of space lengthwise, and while folded it takes up about 140 cm length.

Advantages of the Sportplus Indoor Flywheel Air Turbine Rowing Machine
  • Durable air turbine
    The air brake system used on this rowing machine is so capable that it can stay maintenance-free for many years.
  • Adjustable resistance levels
    The 8 settings of resistance levels are changeable without the need of stopping in the middle of the exercise, ensuring continuous workout sessions. That way, you can increase your performance and improve your physique more quickly.
  • Smooth seating arrangement
    The use of ball bearings beneath the seat ensures a frictionless rowing movement similar to what is experienced in an outdoor rowing session.
  • Flexible foot plates with straps for safety
    This rowing rig puts the safety of the user in first place by adding a foot strap pedal. This makes sure that the user stays positioned safely on the helm while working out.
  • Flexible and multipurpose LCD display
    Adding a monitor to the machine makes it more practical to check your progress. It gives you enough data to automatically keep track of your daily workout routine. Thus, you get the privilege of keeping track of your daily exercises and comparing the data for each day.
  • Strapable heart rate monitor
    This unit can be strapped around your chest to keep track of your pulse while using the equipment.
  • Adjustable floor levelling setup
    The machine can be adjusted with the floor level for comfort and safety while keeping your feet aligned on the pedals.
  • Foldable
    You can easily fold and store it when not in use.
Bottom Line

Choosing the Sportplus Flywheel Rowing model is worth it if you are into a unit that gives you a comfortable feel when gripping the machine. Furthermore, you’ll have a unit that will make use of modern technology through the multipurpose LCD display that keeps track of several types of readings.

Magnetic Resistance Indoor Rowers

While other types of rowing machines are certainly capable, they may not be suitable for indoor places that require silence. That is where the magnetic resistance indoor rowing equipment comes to the forefront. This machine is so smooth that there is almost zero sound while in use.

You might have guessed by now that the tension in this machine is achieved through magnetic force. A magnetic system ensures a silent setup due to the lack of friction. Powerful magnets are used to resist your pulling motion through the attraction and repulsion between magnets. This creates a definite challenge for users. Here are some machines that you can choose from in this category.

SportPlus Indoor Magnetic Braking System Rowing Machine

SportPlus is quite well-known for its high-end gym machinery. As high quality as its flywheel model with air resistance system is, here you get a magnetic brake system in a similar rowing machine. The difference is in the type of resistance technology used in the unit. For this model, Sportplus uses a magnetic braking technology that ensures top-grade operation. The unit is impressively silent while in use.

Unlike the model with an air turbine, the magnetic resistance model takes up less space than usual. Furthermore, this machine can also be folded up and stored away when not in use.

Features of the SportPlus Indoor Magnetic Braking System Rowing Machine

Just like the flywheel or air turbine model, Sportplus configures its magnetic braking system model with a variety of high-end features. You can be assured of almost soundproof activity as you row. The magnetic resistance levels added to this system are 8 tension settings that can be changed with the help of a knob added near the brake system.

Furthermore, the unit can be linked to a chest strap, but this is not included with the machine. You also get a LCD monitor similar to the one in the air brake model, for giving you an insight into the effectiveness of your daily rowing routine.

Advantages of the SportPlus Indoor Magnetic Braking System Rowing Machine
  • Robust and smooth
    This rower incorporates a sturdy framework with a high-end magnetic system to help you row in a smooth and controlled way. It also ensures that you do not need to use a too-vigorous movement that could injure your joints.
  • Multi-operational display
    The LCD monitor on this machine is well-equipped with several types of readings for keeping track of and evaluating your everyday progress.
  • Soundproof
    The magnetic system is so smooth that it does not emit any sound as you engage the resistance system.
Bottom Line

Sportplus has been known for its standards that give you a quality gym product. We can agree that the company’s magnetic brake technology model is equally capable of giving you high-end performance. You might prefer this model if you want a versatile product for which you are not shy about spending money.

JLL R200 Adjustable Magnetic Rowing Machine

If you are looking for robust equipment that promises performance at a budget price, then you ought to look at the JLL R200 rower. This outstanding machine incorporates a versatile design with high-end features but stays “kind” on the pocketbook as well. It is sculpted to provide a performance output for professionals and beginners alike. It has 10 varying tension levels for adding more effort during your workout.

JLL has been a trusted brand that even professional athletes use for toning their bodies and improving their performance. Thus, you too can use this machine for improving your whole physique.

Features of the JLL R200 Magnetic Rowing Machine

The JLL R200 is an immensely popular rowing machine with impressive features. With ten magnetic resistance level settings, you are promised a product that challenges you at every step. You can switch tension with the help of a knob located near the braking unit. Just like other premium rowing machines, this unit features an LCD display that keeps track of the rowing time, distance, calories burned, rowing count, etc.

Also, the R200 has a tactical driving system that encourages you to train more efficiently with the help of the belt. The belt is rolled over a wheel that is inside the magnetic system; as you pull, the belt rolls back over the wheel because of the magnetic force. JLL has not left out portability, which is why they made this unit foldable for an easy carry. It is designed to withstand a body weight of up to 100 kg. The high-end quality of this device makes it comply with the standards of the ROHS CE.

Advantages of the JLL R200 Adjustable Magnetic Resistance Rower
  • Flexible magnetic force and belt-driven technology
    This JLL R200 ensures superior quality and practicality through its challenging belt technology supported by a powerful magnetic force. With its combined power, you can adjust the level of difficulty for improving your performance as you grow stronger.
  • Ease of storage
    The R200 also ensures that you have the flexibility of storing the unit easily after you have used it. This is possible through the folding feature of the machine, which makes it stand up in a vertical position. In that stance, you can move around to store the machine in a compact place if you want to.
  • Smooth helm
    The smooth seat movement ensures that you are not hindered by unwanted and uncomfortable motions while rowing. You can easily enjoy rowing on this machine for hours without worrying about the irritating screeching sound of the seat, for which most pieces of gym equipment are infamous.
  • Ergonomic anti-skid rubber handle
    The added practical rubber grip gives you better positioning while rowing.
Bottom Line

For your ultimate satisfaction, you need a device that not only packs in premium features but is also cost-effective for you. Choose this one if you want to have a natural rowing experience. 

Water Rowers

Water rowers are perfect for those who want to have a true feel of an outdoor rowing exercise. This equipment enables one to enjoy that same feeling while staying indoors. It uses a flywheel, but the resistance here is from water and not wind. Just like water needs to be pushed to row a boat forward, a water rower unit’s flywheel rotates in the water tank to create resistance for the user. Here, too, the force increases when the user pulls the handle harder.

Another reason people choose this unit is for the soundless experience it delivers. While not as silent as a magnetic rower, a water rower emits the sound of flowing water that is much more pleasant to the ears. Furthermore, the rower is built from wood, which makes it quite authentic and interesting.

Sunny Health & Fitness 500 SF-RW57 Water Rowing Machine

With the Sunny Health and Fitness Obsidian 500, you can be assured you’ll achieve your health goals. It efficiently gives you a challenging rowing routine that will make your whole body work hard. That way, you will be able to achieve maximum body toning. The water turbine system ensures that you get a complete cardio workout while giving you enough exercise through its diverse levels of resistance. It also possesses an ergonomic framework that gives you complete control over your rowing stance.

Adding a water braking system to this unit makes for a silent mechanism that will keep you dedicated to the machine for a longer workout. In addition, with this unit you will feel exceptionally comfortable during your routine. The Obsidian SF-RW57 is not that cheap an option, but the high-end features it possesses are worth it if you are ready to invest in a full-featured unit.

Features of the Sunny Health & Fitness 500 SF-RW57 Water Rowing Machine

The Obsidian Surge 500 rowing machine uses a water turbine to add the most natural feel to indoor rowing. With its fitness meter you can keep track of all the necessary metrics while performing your exercise. The seat is comfortable; a padded fitting ensures that you can stay on it for a considerable amount of time without feeling uncomfortable in your buttocks.

The framework is robust enough to handle a maximum weight of 113 kg. The Obsidian SF-RW57 unit also offers you the ability to move the machine without the needing to pick it up. This is possible because of the good-quality wheels added for portability. Its water turbine provides effective fluidity to give you a smooth but strong resistance for improving your body.

Advantages of the Sunny Health & Fitness 500 SF-RW57 Water Rowing Machine ne
  • Hydroblades for enhanced fluidity
    The water turbine has sturdy blades to create high-end resistance for you. This force provides an effect similar to a natural rowing motion in a real boat.
  • Large LCD monitor for tracking rowing metrics
    The monitor is able to keep track of all the standard readings that are provided in most rowing machines. Unlike other machines that just add monitors for the sake of including a feature, the Obsidian Surge has offered a larger display for easy viewing and recording of the data.
  • Wheel caps to avoid movement
    This model is not only flexible enough to move around when not in use, but also stable enough to stay in position during use due to the levelling caps that avoid unnecessary movement during a rowing regimen.
Bottom Line

Choosing the SF-RW57 can be worth it if you are looking for the feel of rowing as close as possible to the actual sport. It does pack a lot of features and has a sturdy frame for ensuring high-end durability. But you may have to stretch your budget to buy this one.

What to Look for in a Good rowing machine

As mentioned earlier, having multiple choices can make you feel confused about the right rowing machine for your workout. But there is a simple way of understanding how you can avoid choosing the wrong device. Selecting equipment based on the features that you want in your equipment will be your first step. This section covers a list of features that you might want to look for in the rowing equipment you’re considering.

  • Price
    First, you need to understand your budget for the machine you are going to buy. Anything that is way too expensive, and which will ruin your whole budget, may not be a suitable option. Luckily, the price range for rowing machines is quite diverse, so it can be easier to manage your budget and still find a good machine.
  • Flexibility
    You can find rowing machines based on whether they’re foldable or fixed units. Maybe you have less space in your house. For that, you might want to choose a unit that is foldable and storable without creating a congested spot in your room. Foldable machines may cost a little extra due to their flexibility. On the other hand, if you have enough space in your house, then you can choose a fixed unit. Note that the durability of fixed machines is much higher as you will not need to keep moving the unit from one place to another.
  • Sound Quality
    You might also want to focus on purchasing equipment that is not too loud during use. Some rowing machine types are much quieter to operate than others. Note that equipment that emits less sound, or a more pleasant one, may be more expensive than others. Keep in mind this feature while choosing a rowing machine.
  • Resistance Type
    You may also look for a rowing machine based on the type of resistance mechanism it uses. As discussed above, you can choose from four types that will each offer you a unique feel to your rowing. While all rowing machines offer a full-body workout, for best results try choosing the ones that will give you a natural rowing stance as you use them.

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