The rowing machine is one of the best pieces of training equipment for improving endurance, challenging your muscles (especially the posterior chain and arm muscles), and burning some body fat while also possibly learning a new skill (if you’ve never done it before).
It saves the joints from impact, not to mention, rowing isn’t a weight-bearing activity either (similar to swimming) which is good for many people who are looking to avoid this component of physical activity.
The machine simulates rowing a boat which is also pretty cool and if you’ve ever seen rowers (athletes) in action, well, you know they have to be some of the toughest and fittest individuals on Planet Earth.
Therefore, we thought a list of 10 best rowing machines would be suitable for those who desire to take their fitness to the next level.
Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine PM5
One of the best rowing machines on the market currently, the Concept 2 Model D PM5 is certainly not the cheapest option out there. But, we all know that more often than not, you get what you pay for.
This machine is operated with an air resistance flywheel and it’s equipped with a self-calibrating performance monitor to track your activity and the design is very ergonomic (it’d have to be due to its popularity).
It also has wheels for easy transport, plus it can be separated for easy storage and the machine has a 500-pound weight capacity which is easily suitable for most people.
Concept 2 Model E Rowing Machine PM5
Another amazing machine from Concept 2, the Model E is very similar to the Model D regarding the features and functionality. It’s just a high-quality piece of equipment that’ll stand up to any level of training.
Progear 750 Rower
A rather cool looking rowing machine, the Progear 750 has some really attractive features.
It’s equipped with 2 hydraulic cylinders for adjustable tension and there are three adjustable rowing positions. Plus you get a supportive backrest for comfort.
You have the option for different incline rowing angles (three adjustable angles) as well, in addition to anti-slip pedals with straps for maximum security during your rowing efforts.
The machine comes with an LCD performance monitor and you can do much more with this machine than rowing which includes curls, shoulder press, pec flies, pulldowns and more.
It’s also foldable and has a 220-pound weight capacity. User height is 4’9”- 6’1”.
WaterRower Club Ash Wood Rowing Machine
If you like looking at really cool pieces of equipment then it doesn’t get much better than this handcrafted rowing machine that comes with a water flywheel.
This flywheel sits inside of a water tank and when you row it moves the water for self-regulated resistance.
It comes with a Series 4 performance monitor for workout tracking and the Ash construction absorbs sound and vibration for quiet and smooth sessions.
Merax Water Rowing Machine
Here’s a rugged machine with an inclined blue water tank for better resistance (adjustable resistance) and a calming sound of water during your rowing workouts.
The machine comes with a large LCD monitor for performance information and it’s mobile with wheels. The weight capacity is 330 pounds.
Mr. Rudolf Water Rowing Machine
Another water rower, this machine from Mr. Rudolf is designed to feel like a real rowing experience and you also get a workout monitor. The rails are made from solid Oak wood and the machine has an overall weight capacity of 320 pounds.
Xterra Fitness ERG600W Water Rowing Machine
This water rower from XTERRA Fitness is a well-made quality piece similar to the above machines. It comes with a large LCD screen and 6 resistance levels (dependant on the amount of water in tank) and you’ll definitely enjoy your workouts with this top-notch option.
Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine
This machine is a little different from the others on our list because of the design which is very ergonomic as well but it’s a great option with 12 levels of hydraulic-operated resistance.
The SF-RW1205 also comes with a digital monitor and has a 220lb weight max.
SereneLife Rowing Machine
The SereneLife rowing machine is a top-notch piece of equipment. It’s an air and magnetic rower which is adjustable by turning a knob. But it has many of the typical useful features of most top-choice rowers.
The rower comes with a monitor and the user weight goes up to 250lbs.
WaterRower A1 Rowing Machine
This uber-cool water rower design is an effective, yet soothing option for your workouts; which is handcrafted in Ash hardwood (wood is harvested from replenishable forests) and the sleek aluminum mono-rail design is very ergonomic as well.
The machine comes with a simple monitor and wheels for easy portability.
Rowing is a very effective activity for shedding pounds, getting your heart rate up (improved cardiovascular health), building muscle and muscular endurance.
It also works the legs, back, shoulders, arms, and even core muscles too.
Rowing is obviously a great activity for healthy individuals but it’s also a good option for those who don’t have good coordination or are rehabbing. In fact, one study found it to be very beneficial for improving fitness in visually impaired individuals. (1)
But there’s no debate about the benefits of exercising on a rower.
How To Do The Rowing Stroke
There are several different types of rowing machines but the general motion and execution should still remain the same.
Now, there are actually four different phases involved in the rowing stroke which are the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. (2)
- The catch sets you up for the main, work portion of the row (the drive).
- The finish is the extension of the drive portion; which is an important component for the recovery phase.
Here are some simple steps to effectively perform the rowing stroke…
- To start, sit on the machine and slide the seat forward fastening your feet to the pedals while gripping the bars. Your arms should be extended straight out and then your torso should be leaning slightly forward at the hip crease.
- Push through your heels and midfoot so that you’ll move backward while straightening up your torso as you slide backward, and then pull your arms back for the row.
- Then lean back slightly at the 11 o’clock position and focus on contracting your core muscles to stabilize your body in prep for another rep. Make sure your legs are completely straight here and the handle height should be right below the rib area.
- Lastly, you want to extend your arms forward and then lean forward at the hips. When the hands pass the knees you can then bend your knees while sliding forward to return to the first position (the catch).
And there you have it… the rowing stroke.
It’s very important to get all four phases down by focusing solely on this aspect in the beginning before worrying about pumping out as many repetitions as you can.
Doing this will allow you to execute the movement with optimal efficiency, therefore getting the most out of it.
Beginners should start with a light resistance (about 3-5 on a 10 setting dial which is typical) before eventually going higher. It’s important to note that this is not a big strength-building exercise and using more resistance does not necessarily equate to a better workout.
But the level at which you perform a rowing session will, of course, depend on your training experience as with any exercise or activity.
A rowing workout can be measured by strokes, time, or distance so you’ll have these few different options for variety.
Alright, so we brought you some of the best rowing machines on the market currently.
Some with a water tank, others operated by air resistance, and a few with hydraulic tension.
But one thing they all have in common is that thousands of people utilize these rowing machines to improve their level of fitness, and quality is of the utmost importance.
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