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Rowing Machine Reviews

Rowing machines, although they take up a significant amount of floorspace, are one of the best machines for low-impact cardio, muscle stamina building, and muscle strength building. They work your upper body, your lower body, and your core. If you invest in a rowing machine, not only do you get a cardio workout, but you also get the added benefit of knocking out almost every major muscle group in terms of strength training.

House Method aims to provide the best rowing machine reviews in the business to help you choose the right one for your home gym. We’ve considered everything—from cost to features, shipping, installation, returns, warranty, and more.

Check out our FAQs below to learn more about how to read a House Method rowing machine review.

Data and ratings accurate as of January 2018

Compare rowing machine reviews at a glance

What are the benefits of a rowing machine?

Investing in an ergometer can yield improved anaerobic and aerobic fitness and increased endurance capacity and strength, particularly for those who have been diagnosed with heart disease. Furthermore, regular use of a rowing machine improves joint movement and muscle strength by more than 30%.

Rowing machines require use of muscles throughout the body, making rowing a highly effective total-body workout. Additionally, rowing workouts are low impact, meaning that there is little to no stress placed on joints during movement. Rowing is thus an excellent training option for those who have experienced injury while running, jogging, or other high impact exercises.

There are several additional benefits of adding an ergometer to your home, including:

  • Convenience—In your house, you can use your rowing machine on your own schedule. You won’t have to plan when or how to get to a gym or worry about a machine being available when you arrive.
  • Effectiveness—Rowing machines provide excellent cardiorespiratory benefits. They can help you burn 300–400 calories during a half-hour workout and are effective for increasing oxygen uptake rate and assisting weight loss. Ergometers are designed and calibrated to measure the amount of energy used during a training session, making it easy to track workouts and measure effectiveness.
  • Affordability—Compared to other exercise machines, rowers are affordable. You can buy a simple and effective ergometer for as little as $200. Many top-line models range between $900–$1,300.
  • Minimal space required—Many ergometers are designed to store vertically, allowing you to utilize the space for other workouts when the rower is not in use. You won’t need to plan for open space on all sides of your rower like you would with a treadmill or elliptical.
  • Privacy—When you exercise in your own home, you can do so privately. Your space is set up for you and your needs.

How do I choose a rowing machine?

Rowing machines can be an investment, though some models are quite affordable. But price isn’t the only factor in selecting a rowing machine that will be effective in helping you reach your fitness goals. There are four important factors to consider when selecting an ergometer for your home:

  1. Size and storage plan—Rowing machines vary in length, width, and height and can be up to eight feet long. Some models are designed to provide a compact folding storage option or a vertical storage option when the machine is not in use, whereas others aren’t. This means that you’ll need to look for a machine that fits your planned home gym space the best.
  2. Fit—Before buying a rower, check the seat and ensure it’s not too narrow. Test out the machine to ensure that there’s ample room along the glide track—this is an important factor for those more than six feet tall. Finally, test the foot straps and foot pads to ensure they’re large enough for your feet.
  3. Type of resistance—There are four primary types of resistance on rowing machines: air, water, magnetic, and hydraulic. Test a few different machines that use different types of resistance to determine which product is best for you.
  4. Features and programs—Pre-set programs like intervals, heart rate targeting, gaming mechanisms, and custom programming can provide additional benefit to those seeking to follow a specific training plan. Additionally, added technological features that connect a machine to your phone or fitness tracker may be useful to you. Determine what’s important to you—and find a machine that offers just that. Don’t pay for more features than you’ll reasonably use.

When selecting an elliptical machine, you’ll also need to consider these three factors for home delivery and installation:

  1. Home delivery and pricing—Rowing machines are fairly simple to assemble, but home delivery can be a challenge due to their size. When you find the machine that fits you best, ask about home delivery and setup and additional costs associated with this option.
  2. Return policy—It’s critical that you have the chance to complete a full workout on the machine. If for some reason you can’t do this, make sure you ask about the return policy, including how return shipping is handled, any fees that you would be responsible for, and how long you’d have to return the equipment to the vendor.
  3. Warranty and guarantee information—Are there any warranties that come with the purchase of your machine? Look for a warranty that provides at least one year of labor and three years for parts.

What muscles does a rowing machine work?

Rowing offers cardiovascular and respiratory advantages. Beyond these health benefits, rowing provides a total-body workout for exercisers.

With proper form, rowing works:

  • The lower extremities—quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes
  • The upper extremities—biceps, deltoids, and pecs
  • The muscles of the upper back—scalenes, teres major, and lats
  • The muscles of the core—internal and external obliques, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominis

How safe is a rowing machine?

When using a rower, the most common injuries occur in the lower back. This is often due to improper rowing form—beginners tend to overuse their upper body due to improper lower body mechanics placing significant strain on the lower back. Proper form requires understanding the mechanics of rowing:

  • The catch—This is the starting position. Knees should be bent and the shins should be perpendicular to the rower. The back is roughly parallel to the thighs—without leaning too far forward. Arms are extended forward, level and parallel with the rowing track.
  • The drive—Pushing against the foot straps, extend the legs to push the seat back on the rowing track. Engage the core musculature to begin backward motion. Once legs are nearly flat, row the handle toward the chest while keeping arms straight.
  • The finish—Contract the arms. Bend the elbows back and aim for the center of the ribcage with the backs of your hands. Keep the back in an upright posture and the wrists flat.
  • The recovery—Slide back to the beginning position, reversing the motion. Extend the arms and engage the torso as it moves back over the pelvis. Transfer weight from the back of the seat to the front and when the hands come over the knees, contract the legs until the body has fully returned to the starting position—the catch.

Is a rowing machine good for weight loss?

When paired with the proper nutritional plan, a cardiorespiratory fitness program designed for the ergometer can be effective in weight loss or weight management.

When the primary goal of a training program is weight loss, the focus of exercise should be on consistency and duration. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity in at least 10-minute episodes. For maximum weight loss, strive to reach 30–40 minutes of moderate-intensity activity 3–5 times per week and 15–20 minutes of cardiorespiratory interval training 2–4 times per week. All of this cardiorespiratory exercise can be completed on a rowing machine.

Adults can increase their cardiorespiratory exercise load to as much as 300 minutes per week. For those beginning an exercise program or for those who are new to rowing, this is not recommended.

Weight loss will only occur when there is a caloric deficit—those seeking to lose weight must expend more calories through exercise and regular daily activity than they consume through eating and drinking. That is why nutrition plays a critical role in weight loss. Exercise can complement and accelerate weight loss goals, but will not deliver results unless a caloric deficit is created.

Is a rowing machine better than running?

There’s no easy answer to this question, because it likely depends on your fitness goals and your budget, as well as your medical history and preferences.

Rowing machines provide a low impact full-body workout. Running is a high-impact exercise, which puts additional stress on joints along the kinetic chain, particularly in the lower extremities. If you have a history of joint problems at the ankles or knees, a rower might be the preferred option.

Both running and rowing can provide excellent cardiorespiratory benefits. Studies have shown that there are significant health benefits of interval training—regardless of exercise modality or length of training program. Those that complete training programs on rowing machines have been found to have a larger oxygen pulse rate—a higher maximum heart rate—than those completing a similar program running. Scientists believe that the involvement of additional musculature in rowing, in addition to the required body positioning throughout the rowing motion, helps facilitate ventilation.

Rowing machines are stationary, so for runners that enjoy the thrill of heading out on the trail or the road, rowing on a machine might feel more difficult, even if the cardiorespiratory benefits are similar. Rowing machines will provide a more thorough upper body workout than running, as more force is required to operate the rowing machine handle than to conduct the arm pump motion experienced while running.

How do I read House Method rowing machine reviews?

The House Method editorial team provides objective ratings on the products and services our readers care about. We want to offer quick, digestible facts about rowing machine providers to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a rowing machine.

Our rowing machine reviews include a summary of the individual manufacturer, a rowing machine provider comparison chart, and details about pricing, white glove services, shipping and installation, returns, and warranty information.

1. Summary

Within each rowing machine review summary, we provide a brief history of the rowing machine provider, information on the types of rowers offered by the company, and details of each product.

2. Rowing machine provider comparison chart

The rowing machine comparison chart comprises a House Method rowing machine review rating, a House Method price rating, the cost of the provider’s white glove services, and a link to the rowing machine company’s complete review page.

3. House Method rowing machine rating

House Method rowing machine review ratings are awarded based on a weighted 10-point scale that scores indidvidual providers on free delivery, availability of white glove services, the opportunity to include add-ons with your rower, the promise of a money-back guarantee, free information or consultation about the product, easily discoverable warranty terms (on the website), and whether or not extended protection plans are offered.

We score rowing machine companies on these items because we believe these are most valuable to the consumer and give a clear review of the overall quality of a brand.

4. House Method price rating

A House Method price rating is a relative score that compares the price of a brand’s products or services to its peers that we’ve reviewed. The prices of products and services are based on our independent research. Each dollar sign represents an objective tiered amount of money, depending on the category of the product or service being reviewed.

In addition to a House Method price rating, we also include pricing of individual rowers in each rowing machine provider review.

5. White glove services

All of the rowing machine providers listed provide white glove services and will set up your rowing machine at an additional cost. In our comparison chart, we outline the pricing of these services for each provider.

6. Shipping and installation

Shipping and installation information is provided to inform the consumer about additional costs when buying a rowing machine. We also include expected shipping and installation times to give a clear picture of what to expect during the ordering process.

7. Returns

Return information is provided to inform the consumer of the return process and additional costs associated with a return. This information also helps answer questions consumers may have about getting their money back from the rowing machine provider and how long they can expect the return to take.

8. Warranty information

Our House Method rowing machine reviews provide information about a rowing machine provider’s warranty term and length to let the consumer decide if a particular rowing machine brand stands by the quality of their workmanship. We also include information about extended protection plans, if offered by the provider.

House Method rating methodology

Our ratings are based on information found through our independent research, including information found on the website of the company being reviewed as of the date of most recent review or through contacting the subject company as an anonymous prospective customer. We aim to update our ratings on a systematic and periodic basis and to disclose the date of most recent review on pages where the rating appears. Please read our rating methodology for additional information.


Life Fitness

$ $ $ $ $

Life Fitness rowers provide low-impact, total-body workouts and come with different resistance levels and a fluid technology resistance system for smoother motions.

Add-Ons Available
In-Home Setup
Warranty Included
Visit Site

LifeSpan Fitness

$ $ $ $ $

The LifeSpan Fitness rower offers foldable features for compact storage, five levels of ultra-quiet resistance, and a simplified console to track distance, time, and calories.

Add-Ons Available
Free Shipping
In-Home Setup
Warranty Included
Visit Site


$ $ $ $ $

NordicTrack offers one rower with an inertia-enhanced flywheel, ergonomic seating, and adjustable air resistance.

Free Shipping
In-Home Setup
Warranty Included
Visit Site


$ $ $ $ $

ProForm rowers all come with varying resistance levels, soft touch ergonomic handles to cut down on fatigue, and a large LCD backlit display that tracks and monitors your workout progress.

Free Shipping
In-Home Setup
Warranty Included
Visit Site

Sole Fitness

$ $ $ $ $

The Sole Fitness rower comes with an innovated resistance adjustment feature powered by wireless technology that allows users the benefit of maintaining the workout without letting go of the handlebar.

Free Shipping
In-Home Setup
Warranty Included
Visit Site

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