Which Rowing Machine is Best For YouDetermining which rowing machine is best is a difficult question to answer because the answer is different for everyone!

People have different preferences, budgets, experience levels, etc..

Choosing which rowing machine is best is such a personal experience.

It’s the reason why some people give a rowing machine a 5-star rating and others give it 1-star!

There is no “one size fits all” rowing machine.

The more appropriate question to ask is “which rowing machine is best for you”.  

There are hundreds of different rowing machines to choose from made by over a dozen different manufacturers so you’ll need to narrow down the long list by asking yourself a few questions.

What Is Your Budget?

There are a lot of different machines to choose from ranging from ~$100 – $2,000+.

Figuring out how much you have to spend on a rower can narrow down the list of machines dramatically (of course this won’t be the case if you don’t have a budget).

If you don’t have a budget but you’re interested in saving money (who doesn’t like saving money), think about what you need versus what you want. This could mean the difference between spending a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.

Here are some things to think about:

Fitness Monitor

  • Fitness monitors are a major factor in price. The more expensive the rower the better the monitor.
  • Basic monitors will track time, calories burned, number of rowing strokes, speed, and power.
  • As you get more advanced the data because more detailed and features like games begin to appear.


  • Do you plan to use the rower a few times a week or everyday?
  • Lower-priced hydraulic piston rowers might be good for a few times a week.
  • Higher priced water and air rowers are best for everyday use.

Resistance Type

  • There are 4 resistance types: air, water, magnetic, hydraulic-piston. (Read more about the 4 different resistance types).
  • Resistance has a tendency to be grouped in price ranges.
  • Water and air are usually higher priced
  • Magnetic is mid-range
  • Hydraulic-piston are low-range

What Do You Plan To Use The Machine For?

Besides the obvious (that you’re going to use it to workout) there are a few more things to think about:

Will it be used for home or commercial use?

  • All machines for sale can be used in the home but not all machines can be used for commercial use.
  • If you need a commercial grade rower there are only a handful that can take this kind of abuse.
  • You may not think you need a commercial grade rower but even 2-3 people using the same rowing machine can justify needing commercial grade.

How many people are going to use the rower?

  • If you’re going to be the only person using it – no problem.
  • If other people are going to use it then things like adjustable resistance, height and weight capacity, and resistance strength will need to be considered.

Are you using it for general exercise or for off-season rowing?

  • If you’re planning on using it for off-season rowing, you want a rower that best simulates rowing on water.
  • Out of the 4 resistance types available, air and water rowers mimic the feel of rowing in a shell the best.
  • The two best options are the Concept2 Model D and any WaterRower Model.

How Much Space Do You Have for Rowing?

Rowers typically have a footprint of a basic love-seat sofa, but size varies depending on resistance type.

Hydraulic rowers are compact making them ideal for people with minimal workout space.

Air and Magnetic rowers are about the same. Both are long and can fold up for storage.

Water rowers are long, heavy, and can usually stand upright for storage.

Make sure you have sufficient space before buying a rower including space for your arms to stretch out and leaning backwards during the stroke.

Believe it or not – I’ve read reviews from people who bought machines that didn’t fit in their designated workout areas so they had to return them – don’t let this happen to you!

Now Which Rowing Machine is Best For You?

Now that you answered the above questions, you should have a fairly good idea of what you’re looking for.

At this point you know:

  • How much you’re willing to spend
  • What kind of fitness monitor you need (basic or advanced)
  • Your preferred resistance type
  • If you will use it for home or commercial use
  • If you will use it for general exercise or off-season rowing
  • How many people will be using the rower

The next thing to do is to research the rowers to find out which rowing machine is best for you.

Since you already did a lot of the work of filtering out what you don’t need, this step is much easier compared to just blindly reading reviews without thinking about what you need first.

There are two options to search for a rowing machine:

  1. Visit my rowing machine comparison chart and find rowers by price, resistance, rating, etc.
  2. Let me help you find which rowing machine is best for you through my Rowing Machine Concierge Service.

Remember to leave a comment with any questions and I will do my best to help find the right answer!

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