So you’ve decided to buy yourself a rowing machine so that you can get some machine time at home without having to go to the gym. Well I think that’s a great decision. We all know that rowing machines are great for a complete body cardiovascular fitness and also easy on your joints. The issue is finding time to put in the hours.
When I bought my rowing machine it made a huge difference to my fitness and health. I’d always wanted to consistently log 4 or 5 kms per day to build up a baseline of cardio fitness and then try to do a few other things on top when I had time. Needless to say I never stuck at it, mainly because it meant going to the gym everyday which was a 10 minute walk from home. Having the machine at home meant I could do a quick 20 minutes whenever I wanted rather than it taking the best part of an hour by the time I’d walked to the gym and back.
So now you’ve decided to take the plunge you need to figure out which would be the best rowing machine for you. They’re not cheap so you’re sensibly taking a few minutes to do some research and figure out which one will work best.
Rowing Machine Buying Guide:
For me the key things that you’re looking for in a rowing machine are the following:
Price: Obviously you’re looking for a good deal. Rowing machines can cost from $250 up to $1,500 so you need to decide what you budget is and then find the right one for you.
Adjustable Resistance: You want a machine that has plenty of resistance settings so that you can optimise your workout. Also as you’ll hopefully be putting in a few hours over the coming months you’re going to get stronger. To keep up your progress you’re going to want to be able to tweet your resistance to keep up the intensity of your sessions.
Size: Rowing machines aren’t small. Assuming you don’t have a huge house it’s great if you can get one that can easily be stored out of the way. They come as fixed and folding rowing machines. Obviously fixed rowing machines are bigger but don’t have to compromise so much. Again this depends on how much space you have but is an important consideration.
Ease Of Use: You want one that is going to be reliable and also is easy to assemble when it arrives. There’s no point in buying a machine if you spend ages looking after it or assembling it.
Data Logger / Display: If you’re anything like me you’ll be logging your performance to monitor your progress over time. A good display and data logger makes all of that easy and means that you can keep a good feel for your progress and also how much time your logging on the machine and how many calories you’re burning in the process.
So with that all said lets take a look at my three favourite models of rowing machine:
Best Rowing Machines 2016
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
‘The Gold Standard’
This is the standard all rowing machines aspire to. Used by the pros it’s not cheap but you wouldn’t expect it to be as its a very high quality rowing machine. The best price that I found on the internet when writing this article was $900 + taxes and shipping.
It has very easily variable resistance and a top quality display that easily adjusts between units and shows you speed, calories burnt and power output.
The seat is comfortable and slides well. The handle is comfortable to use even during longer sessions. It comes with a 5 year warranty which is more than most machines. Its a low hassle, low maintenance machine and the manufacturer backs that up with a long warranty.
The only downsides are that it’s expensive, it can be a little noisy and vibrate a bit (not good if you live in an apartment) and although it does come apart it’s not that easily done. You probably wouldn’t want to disassemble it every day as it would be quite time consuming. This is the machine for the serious rower.
Lifespan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine
‘The Sensible Choice’
I’ve described this as ‘The Sensible Choice’. It’s not a budget buster but equally not a bargain choice. There are obviously trade offs that come with it but for someone who is not going to put in a lot of hours I think it’s probably a great one to go for.
When I wrote this article the best price I could find it for on the web was $499 + taxes and shipping. It is an air resistance rower that offers good variability of resistance and it comfortable and easy to use. It probably doesn’t mimic the action of being on a real boat in the same way as the concept2 above does. For most people this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t feel as sturdy as the concept2 but is quieter and vibrates less which is a big plus if you live in an apartment.
Again it has a good display showing you all the data for your workout. A big benefit of this is that, as the picture above shows, it folds away very simply and quickly so it doesn’t take up much space. Finally it folds up very simply and so is a great space saver.
If you’re confident you’ll use a rowing machine a fair bit but not daily then this is a good choice. It offers everything you need but isn’t over-engineered for the amount of use you’ll get from it.
ProForm 440R Rower
‘The Budget Choice’
Per dollar I think that the ProForm 440R delivers more than any of the other machines. I found it for $225 + taxes and shipping when writing this article.
It is comfortable, easy to use and works well. It packs away nicely so it doesn’t take up much space. It also offers the additional benefit of being able to be used for standing strength work You can stand on the flat pads at the front of the machine to secure it and do standing curls, deadlifts and curls using the resistance of the machine.
Inevitably at this price there are some compromises. It doesn’t feel as well put together as the other two machines and although the display is easy to use it is not as easy to read or comprehensive as those offered by the other machines. The handle is also less comfortable than that offered by other machines. This could obviously become a big issue if you are planning to log a lot of time on your machine. It comes with a 90 day warranty which shows that the manufacturer doesn’t put their weight behind it’s construction in the same way as concept2.
All that said you get a lot of machine for the money with this rowing machine. Especially if you think you’ll either be an infrequent user or are trying a rowing machine for the first time and so don’t want to spend much until you’re sure you’ll get the use from it then this is the one for you.
So there you have it. My favourite rowing machine in each price category. I think that each of these offers great value for money and a very good experience overall for the price and so I would recommend them wholeheartedly.