Did you know that according to the latest studies, people with a pear-shaped body who accumulate fat deposits predominantly in their arms and hips benefit from total body training the most? But for everyone who’s interested in maximising their workouts, total body workouts are incredibly useful. And getting the best rowing machine allows you to do exactly that.
There are many great benefits of using a rowing machine. A reliable rower is very efficient for low impact workouts that combine toning, mass building, and cardio in different proportions. It exercises your legs, upper body, and core simultaneously, offering you a similar experience to the actual rowing movements.
IN A HURRY? HERE’S OUR TOP PICKS
If you can afford it – go with the Concept 2 line. It’s hassle free and you simply can’t go wrong with them – it’ll last you for ages. If you’re not convinced, take a look at their tremendous number of 5-star reviews.
- Indoor rowing is an effective full-body, low-impact workout....
- Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving you accurate,...
- 35.5cm seat height, nickel-plated chain, adjustable...
And a few alternatives for those of us without nearly £1000 to spend on a rower:
- 10 levels of Magnetic Resistance.
- LCD Monitor Display: Total Count, Calorie, Count / Min...
- Advanced belt driving system provides rapid engagement for...
- 7kg (15.4lbs) Flywheel; 10 Levels of Silent Friction-Free...
- Feedback: Time Distance Calories Count Strokes Per Minute;...
- Ergonomic Comfort Seat; Large Pedals With Foot Straps;...
- Functional console and easy storage design: simple yet...
- 8-level magnetic voltage system:The resistance on this...
- Ergonomic Construction: The PU saddle seat is solidly...
What’s A Rowing Machine Good For?
A rowing machine is suitable for full-body training, toning, and cardiovascular health. Your heart rate improves quickly when working out your entire body. That’s how you can improve heart and lung function, plus burn more calories.
Besides, you’ll be working against your strength when you push the rower. That means you will tone and shape your body, provided you’re challenging yourself.
How Long Should I Row?
Your workout’s duration depends on your purpose and fitness level. For example, you can row for as little as five minutes as a warm-up before your strength training session. Plus, five minutes is enough to get some activity during your day or to relieve some stress.
If you want to burn more calories and build up your strength, consider 30-50 minute sessions. Adjust your resistance according to your power, and you can kick your butt in as little as 30 minutes.
Don’t row every day, though, because your muscles need time to recover. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down either.
How Many Calories Does A Rowing Machine Burn?
According to Healthline, light rowing burns about 250 kcal/ hour; moderate rowing burns 500 kcal/ hour, while an hour of vigorous rowing can use up to 750 kcal/ hour. Of course, the harder you row, and the heavier you are, you can burn more calories.
These numbers shouldn’t define your training. Set long-term goals, such as toning and shaping your body. If you can increase your muscle mass, your body will burn more calories even when you’re resting because your metabolism works faster. So, even 100 calories now can make a huge difference later.
Best rowers that the UK market currently has to offer
We’ll discuss and analyse the top rowing machines below in terms of their specifications and purpose. We’ll also list some pros and cons at the end of each review, and hopefully, that will help you make a more informed choice.
Concept 2 Model D Review: Our pick as the best overall rowing machine
Weight: 25.9 kg
Dimensions: 243.8 x 61 x 113 cm
Specifications: Performance Monitor 5; 35.5 cm seat height; adjustable footrests; ergonomic handle; nickel-plated chain; spiral damper; two-piece construction; quick-release frame lock; caster wheels
Main purpose: Gym-like workouts
The Model D rower is definitely a piece of equipment for gym enthusiasts who don’t have time to get there. It is the best-selling rowing machine worldwide. You can see that reflected in its high-end price, so you can take our word for it that it’s one of the best indoor rowing machines. You can use it to train your whole body, and you’ll get very precise info about how you’re training thanks to the Performance Monitor 5.
In fact, this monitor can get you accurate readings of calories burnt, your pace, your heart rate, and it’s even USB compatible as well as Bluetooth-smart, not to mention it has an easy-to-read backlit display. The low-impact workouts you’ll have courtesy of this rower will challenge and relax you at the same time, especially since the flywheel is designed to reduce noise. That means your movements will flow very smoothly, so you can concentrate on your workout.
The seat height is a very comfortable 35.5 cm, and the footrests are adjustable for extra comfort, but the handle is probably the feature that wins our ergonomic first prize. The nickel-plated chain is quite resistant, and the spiral damper is great for making your workouts harder or easier.
With its two-piece construction, you can store the Model D quite easily, particularly since the frame lock is the quick-release type, and its caster wheels turn this machinery into a very mobile device. There’s also some assembly required, but this doesn’t take very long and the instructions are really detailed.
So what can possibly be the downsides of such a durable, stylish, high-performing machine? Well, apart from the spicy price, it’s also quite bulky. So even if it’s easy to store, it still won’t fit narrow places such as under your bed.
JTX Freedom Air Rowing machine V2: best folding rower
Dimensions: 230 x 55 x 88 cm
Specifications: Air and magnetic resistance; 8 levels of resistance; 7-point adjustable pedals; 120 cm monorail length; foldable; iron monorail; iron & stainless steel frame
Main purpose: Endurance training
The JTX Freedom Air Rowing Machine V2 is the updated model for JTX Freedom Air Rower. This model is more massive, but it has fewer resistance levels.
The best part about the JTX Freedom V2 is its dual magnetic and air resistance. This type of resistance is more challenging, although you have just eight resistance levels.
That means JTX most likely devised this model for endurance training.
Here’s another hint for that:
JTX Freedom includes among its programmes a “compete against the computer” option so you can challenge yourself.
In fact, the whole array of built-in programs is built with this challenge-yourself mindset. You can set your workout goals based on caloric output, speed, or heart rate. Just remember to purchase a separate heart-rate monitor.
You’ll also like the JTX Freedom’s construction.
This machine is heavy, but it’s sturdy because the frame is made from top materials like iron and steel. Besides, the 120-cm monorail length ensures that you can use it even if you’re tall. According to the JTX website, their rower works for people up to 6’4”.
You can also adjust the footrests so that you can rest in an ergonomic position and row for longer. Plus, the padded seat doesn’t hurt your bum either.
And here’s the best reason to give the JTX Air Freedom Rowing Machine a try: it’s free. The 28-day money-back guarantee gives you lots of time to try it and see if it fits.
Alternatively, you can read our in-depth JTX Freedom air rowing machine review here.
JLL® Ventus 2 Air Resistance Rowing Machine: comfortable for long workouts
- 8 Levels of magnetic resistance combined with air resistance
- LCD Monitor: Time (mins:secs), Time 500M (mins:secs),...
- Compact, lightweight and foldable. The inbuilt wheels on the...
Weight: 34.7 kg
Dimensions: 214 x 54 x 115 cm
Specifications: 8 levels of magnetic resistance; advanced driving belt system; super smooth slideway; alloy-steel build; 12-month warranty
Main purpose: Prolonged workouts
JLL Ventus 2 Rowing Machine is a comfortable, premium rower. It’s evident from the quality aluminium frame that’s both durable and sleek. Besides, the solid frame features three points of contact with the floor to increase stability.
We also like the foot platform because it’s sturdy and adjustable. Thus, you’ll get reliable foot support while exercising.
The blend of air and magnetic resistance is another advantage.
Air resistance increases when you row harder. Basically, JLL Ventus 2 is a scalable rowing machine that grows alongside your strength. Besides, the magnetic resistance allows you to adjust the intensity on eight levels manually. This sort of resistance is smooth, offering you a streamlined rowing experience.
We also like JLL Ventus for its comfortable design, with ergonomic, sweat-resistant handlebars, padded foam seat, and air vents.
JLL Ventus 2 is all about ergonomics:
You can adjust the rear feet height to ensure optimum performance and a full range of motion.
The 11-function LCD Monitor is another plus because it’s a premium and accurate device. Best of all, you can adjust its tilt to see your stats better during your workout.
If you consider the features above – stability, comfort, durability – you understand that JLL Ventus 2 is best for prolonged workouts. Thus, this rower supports a correct posture that facilitates a full range of motion and decreases post-workout soreness.
JLL® R200 Home Rowing Machine: best budget
- 10 levels of Magnetic Resistance.
- LCD Monitor Display: Total Count, Calorie, Count / Min...
- Advanced belt driving system provides rapid engagement for...
Weight: 23 kg
Dimensions: 180 x 52 x 49 cm
Specifications: Adjustable resistance, advanced driving belt system, 12-month warranty; plastic; 100 kg max weight
Main purpose: Tight budgets
JLL R200 is one of the best rowers if you’re working on a budget. Although it’s plastic-made and has a no-bells-and-whistles design, this rower is practical and effective.
For example, you can change the smooth magnetic resistance effortlessly on ten levels. The LCD monitor displays all the standard stats that help you evaluate your workout.
Plus, the advanced belt driving system increases your muscle performance because you can effortlessly engage your muscles. Thus, you’ll reach your fitness goals faster.
Unfortunately, this piece of equipment has a maximum weight recommendation of 100 kg.
Dripex Magnetic Rowing Machine: best for low-impact workouts
➽【Original & Ergonomic Design】: Dripex...
➽【15 Magnetic Resistance Adjustment】: Using...
➽【Super Silent Aluminum Sliding Frame】:...
Weight: 27.5 kg
Dimensions: 179 x 52.85 x 76.30 cm
Specifications: 15-level magnetic resistance; double aluminium sliding rail; LCD monitor; 120 kg max weight; steel and aluminium frame; 3 kg flywheel
Main purpose: Cardio and toning
Dripex Magnetic Rowing Machine is best for a mix of cardio and toning because it has a 3-kg flywheel and sports a 15-level magnetic resistance.
Let’s break this down:
The 3-kg flywheel is light, so you don’t need a lot of force to activate it. Conversely, you can adjust the resistance from very little to enough to feel a muscle burn. Thus, you can use Dripex Magnetic Rowing Machine for fast motions – precisely the definition of cardio.
Once you increase the resistance, you can also get some significant toning benefits.
On the downside, this rower accommodates people below 120 kg and 6’2”.
If that’s you, you’ll like the durable steel and aluminium construction, with a PU-leather-covered seat. While we’re on the seat topic, we appreciate the 3D padded design that ensures the correct posture throughout your workout. Besides, this sort of construction is best for people with chronic pain, including sciatica.
Otherwise, the whole machine is comfortable for long periods and ergonomic. For example, the handlebars are grippy and textured, plus you can make all sorts of adjustments. Some of these include fixing the length of your straps and pedals, the sturdy rear stabiliser, and the monitor.
Warning: some customers complain about this monitor. Many of these detractors claim the monitor is inaccurate, flimsy, and lacks functionality. However, you can get in touch with Dripex to change your monitor. Remember that even a faulty monitor doesn’t affect your rower’s overall performance.
Another advantage is the shock absorber.
This feature reduces pressure on your joints and distributes the impact to your muscles and bones. As an extra, it renders this Dripex Rower very quiet too.
LZ Leisure Zone BTM Rowing Machine: best resistance
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Weight: 27 kg
Dimensions: 190 x 51 x 122 cm
Specifications: 8 magnetic resistance levels; wide and thick aluminium monorail; padded seat; non-slip pedals; padded handlebars; digital LCD; device support; foldable; transport wheels; 120 kg max weight
Main purpose: Improved endurance and toning
Leisure Zone BTM is a reliable machine for full-body workouts to increase your overall strength and burn more calories. You can adjust the eight magnetic resistance levels to challenge yourself appropriately. This rower is silent and fluid so that you can work out for longer.
For example, the first three levels of resistance will diminish your stress and improve your cardiovascular health. These levels are also the lowest impact on your joints.
Levels four to six increase calorie burn and tone your entire body.
Levels seven and eight improve muscle strength, endurance and help you shape your body.
Although this rower features just eight resistance levels, don’t imagine you’ll get away with hardly any effort. The resistance is strong even on the first few levels and doesn’t decrease with time.
The aluminium monorail is well built because it’s broader and thicker than in other rowers. Thus, it lasts longer and resists better at faster motions.
The padded seat is contouring and ergonomic, helping you maintain an anatomically correct posture. You’ll also notice plenty of padding in the grippy handlebars.
The LCD console displays all the basic stats, but it can also show you heart rate measurements. However, you’ll have to purchase the pulse belt separately,
Use the device support for your phone or tablet if you want entertainment during your workout. Alternatively, you can select a workout video.
Leisure Zone BTM Rower also sports a space-saving design because it’s easy to fold and to move. Conversely, the setup may take a while because you’ll have to assemble lots of pieces.
JTX Ignite Air Review: best bells and whistles
Weight: 40 kg
Dimensions: 230 x 55 x 88 cm
Specifications: 135 kg max user weight; air and magnetic resistance; 8 levels of resistance; 7 point adjustable footholds; ergonomic handlebar; wide padded seat; flexible screen angle; performance monitor; 8 workout modes; heart rate training; nickel-plated steel chain; transportation wheels; smartphone holder; 3-year warranty
Main purpose: Versatile workouts
JTX Ignite Air is best for low to intense rowing sessions. JTX is a famous fitness brand, so you can rely on this rower’s quality.
The self-powered design is an excellent feature if you don’t have a wall socket nearby. Also, it means you can move the Ignite Air anywhere in a room. People with children living in a one-room apartment will understand that sometimes, you’re not in the mood to pick up your kid’s toys before starting your workout.
We also like the ergonomic design with plenty of adjustable features. For example, the footholds are 7-point adjustable, and you can also fix the screen however you want.
The padded seat and curved handlebars are ergonomic too because they contour your shape. Thus, you can work out for longer, avoiding any strain on your body. You can also execute correct motions on a full range of motion.
The performance monitor is one of the most accurate we’ve seen for home rowing machines. Plus, you can benefit from heart-rate training that ensures you get in your fat-burning mode effectively.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to purchase a Polar-compatible heart rate monitor separately.
And here’s another advantage if you crave versatile workouts:
You can browse the eight preprogrammed modes to train according to your purpose. For example, many customers who want to burn calories quickly choose the HIIT modes.
The resistance is excellent too. Ignite Air features dual air and magnetic resistance so that you’ll feel like rowing on a real boat. Warning: it’s a big and heavy one!
Unlike other rowers that feature air resistance, JTX Ignite features a 9-point damper. This thingamajig adjusts the airflow so that each one of your strokes feels different. Thus, you’ll work out your muscles more comprehensively.
Plus, you can adjust the magnetic resistance on eight levels to get a more intense workout.
Of course, JTX is durable because it has a commercial quality build. You can see that reflected in the 3-year warranty. It’s also easy enough to move on the transport wheels, although not as much at an upstairs level because it weighs 40 kg.
Entertainment wise, JTX Ignite Air features smartphone support to enjoy music or a podcast. While you can’t connect to an app, you can take a photo of your monitor after each session and upload it on an app. That way, you can monitor your progress effortlessly.
WaterRower Review: Best water rowing machine
Weight: 28 kg
Dimensions: 210.8 x 61 x 53.3 cm
Specifications: LCD S4 monitor; 350 max user weight; chest strap; Polar compatibility; PC cable included; Walnut wood manufacturing; water-resistant flywheel; dual seat supporting rails; adjustable foot height; guide wheels; 3 – 5 years warranty
Main purpose: Mass building
So from the middle of the price pool, we hop beyond it completely because this WaterRower machine is the most expensive in our rowing machine reviews, though with a set of amazing particular characteristics. For instance, it goes beyond the whole concept of resistance levels, seeing as it has a self-regulating resistance, which is just like what happens in reality when you’re out rowing, and which is amazing for muscle building.
The assembly is fast and easy, just like the Concept 2 Model D, but this machine has some included tools. The LCD S4 monitor is on par with the Performance Monitor 5 featured by the Model D, so you’ll get stellar accuracy with all the measurements, including the heart rate. We love that this product comes with its own chest strap, but remember you still need the heart rate receiver and transmitter.
The max user weight of 350 kg is another plus here, and that can be explained by the Black American Walnut wood manufacturing. Besides, you have to admit, it looks incredibly stylish in a vintage sort of way. And the flywheel is water-resistant, how about that?
We love the smoothness of this machine too, thanks to the dual seat supporting rails. And you can actually adjust the foot height for increased comfort and a better grip while you’re rowing.
The guide wheels are really great for transportation purposes, but this is a big machine, just like its expensive counterpart, the Model D. And with a 5-year warranty for the frame and 3 years for the parts, you’re definitely getting a durable product.
Bodymax Infiniti R100 Review: Another great compact rowing machine
Weight: 43.6 kg
Dimensions: 237cm x 50cm x 91cm
Specifications: 42 workout programs; air magnetic resistance system; 16 levels magnetic resistance; allows 5 user profiles; full stroke design; foldable
Main purpose: Versatile workouts
Just like the JTX Freedom, the Infiniti R100 has a retail price that’s in the middle range, but it features some different specs. For instance, it has 42 workout programs, meaning it’s customisable to the max. Four of these are pulse-controlled and take into account your heart rate, while one is a race program for mad intensity lovers.
However, speaking of the computer, this is not as high-quality as that of Concept 2. For instance, the splits measurements are slower, and you’ll have to put in quite some work to row 500 m, in intervals of sub 2 minutes. Besides, it doesn’t store data from your previous workouts, so you can’t keep a mathematical track of your improvements.
The resistance system is air magnetic and auto-controlled, so it’s not quite as proficient as the DualTorque offered by the JTX Freedom, but it also offers 16 levels of resistance. And remember how you said you can’t set up a user profile for the JTX Freedom? Well, with this one you can set 5 user profiles, so even Grandma can squeeze in a workout.
The frame is very strong and stable, and we love the full stroke design for very tall people. It’s also a foldable machinery, and the whole thing is very quiet.
After reviewing all these items, you can see we’ve selected some of the best home rowing machines. There’s one for every purpose, so we’re confident you can find a great rower among our reviews. But even if you don’t, the buying guide below should give you an idea on how to choose one that’s right for you.
Things to Consider Before Buying
Among the factors that influence your choice of a reliable rower, you need to take into account:
Purpose and Budget
These things are interconnected and they also influence the importance of the characteristics below. For instance, if you want a gym-like piece of equipment that’s sturdy, durable, feature-packed and able to bring you fast results, you should be prepared to invest a bit more.
On the other hand, if your purpose is general toning, you don’t need a rower with a lot of programs or resistance levels. If you want to see results fast, you need a machine that’s easy to customise and that offers a heart-rate monitor, as well as other monitored stats. It’s even better if you can set up a user profile and see data from all your previous workouts, to make sure you train effectively and smart.
There are lots of things to consider in this category, like how durable and sturdy your machine is. So if you’re planning to use it constantly, 4 – 5 days per week and if you’re big boned, you need a resistant rower, made from steel or aluminium, and with a high maximum user weight.
Besides, if you have back issues, consider how ergonomic the machine is. If you’re tall, you need a full-stroke design. And if you want to store it away easily, check if it’s foldable and if it has wheels.
The size of your rower can be an issue depending on whether or not you have space for it. For example, if you want to store it away under your bed or in a cramped storage closet, you need a more compact rower.
However, a heavier, bigger rowing machine offers increased stability, resistance and durability because it’s likely manufactured from sturdier materials. So if you have the room for it, and if you’re more heavily built, we’d recommend getting a bigger rower.
There’s this whole debate on how many resistance levels you need and how the machine actually creates this resistance. Just to get it out of the way, even some of the less expensive products on the market feature about 10 different resistance levels.
But arguably, these preset resistance levels might interfere with your workout because you can choose one that’s too easy or one that’s too hard and then self-sabotage your progress. So a rower with a self-regulating resistance might be better from that point of view. But if you can’t get one like that, and want to exercise according to your fitness level, choose a rower with multiple resistance levels.
Besides, it’s also important if your rower uses magnetic resistance or an air flow resistance. Most have magnetic resistances, which might become inaccurate with time. But the high-end products available combine these two features for a proficient resistance and really well-adjusted workouts.
This feature is essential too, for those who have a timeline to reach their fitness goal or for those who want to be really precise about how they do that. So, in terms of customisation, you first need to make sure the rower fits your body size, in terms of weight and height.
Secondly, you want to make sure you can input your weight and age, that you can get readings of things like pace, time, distance or heart rate. If it has some pre-programmed workouts that take your pulse into account too, you’ve won the customisation jackpot.