The Best Indoor Cardio Rowing Machines to Buy In 2022

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Top Pick

Rowing is the sort of sport that makes your arms hurt just by watching it. It’s become a favorite in fitness, and for good reason. The benefits of it are numerous, it’s fun, and it’s effective for building muscle.

Did you know that you could do it at home? Let’s take a look at the best indoor rowing machines for private use.

Here are the top picks of rowing machines. Below, I’ll expand on the pros and cons of each one in detail.

What’s the Best Indoor Rowing Machine?

There’s not much more to it. Rowing machines are a fantastic way to stay fit, and you can choose which features best suit your needs. On that note, here are our recommendations for the best indoor rowing machines.

1. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

Another one by Sunny Health & Fitness, there is little wrong with this magnetic machine. It’s got some cool features, like an LCD monitor, non-slip grips, and a fully padded seat for extra comfort.

This is perhaps the most affordable magnetic machine you can find, and it’s made of quality materials. It takes up a lot of space when it’s not stowed though, and it’s a bit basic compared to others in its class.

  • Eight levels of resistance.
  • Quiet and efficient.
  • Excellent comfort.
  • Dimensions are great for tall people.
  • Good value for money.
  • Collapsable.
  • Quite basic
  • Takes up too much room when it’s not stowed.

2. Sunny Health & Fitness Water Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness is another popular brand that has few complaints about quality and efficiency. The resistance is smooth and strong for a good workout, and the sound of the water makes it just that little bit more enjoyable.

Setup and maintenance is a hassle, though, particularly with the water tank. You’ll have to siphon it every time you add or remove water. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s tedious. Regardless, this is a comfortable machine that deserves a chance if you don’t mind the extra effort.

  • Provides strong resistance for intense workouts.
  • Comfortable.
  • A popular and trusted brand.
  • Water level can be adjusted.
  • Easy to stow.
  • Relatively inexpensive compared to others.
  • Siphoning water is inconvenient and a hassle.
  • The monitor doesn’t measure heart rate.

3. Stamina Conversion II

Stamina is another popular brand that has few complaints about quality and efficiency. The resistance is smooth and strong for a good workout. The rowing cable is flexible and can serve for a bicep workout. 

It also combines a recumbent bike for a lower body workout.

  • Combining rowing machine and recumbent exercise bike for total body workouts.
  • Rowing cable works for upper body training.
  • Works great for tall and short users
  • The strap might break quickly.
  • customer service needs improvement.

4. Efitment Magnetic Rowing Machine

The Efitment RW025 might not be revered, but it’s a good place to start. It’s considered entry level, but most of its specs equal others on this list. It might not be the most sophisticated or professional machine, but it covers your bases. It could be the best indoor rowing machine for beginners.

Since it’s magnetic, you’ll have a quiet workout. Enjoy the silence to focus, or watch some TV while you exercise. It can be set to eight resistance levels and can hold up to 250 pounds.

  • Durable, yet lightweight machine.
  • Quiet.
  • Eight levels of resistance.
  • Comfortable.
  • Easy assembly.
  • Inexpensive.
  • The monitor is basic.
  • Can’t be folded.
  • Not as sophisticated as more professional machines.

5. WaterRower Club Rowing Machine

WaterRower is a well-known brand that never disappoints. This locally produced water resistance machine is said to perfectly replicate actual rowing resistance. The Club is designed for commercial use, meaning it’s heavy duty and should last for years.

The handcrafted wood finish is stylish and absorbs sounds and vibrations. Plus, the handy monitor tracks all the essentials.

  • Heavy duty, commercial grade.
  • Comfortable.
  • Monitor has extra features when connected to a computer.
  • No design flaws.
  • Attractive.
  • Equipment is heavy.
  • Reports of inaccuracy in the monitor.
  • Set up is difficult.

A Buying guide to Indoor rowing machines

The Advantages of an Indoor Rowing Machine

Rowing machines may seem like a modern, trendy invention but they actually date back to 4th century BC Greece. Although they weren’t nearly as efficient as they are now, their function was the same then—to simulate rowing for practice.

Although professionals have a practical need for indoor rowing machines, they’re not the only ones who are allowed to use them. In recent years, indoor rowing has boomed because they make an otherwise specialized sport available to everyone.

That’s just one advantage. Rowing machines are useful for so much more.

They’re Great for Cardio

Rowing machines may come across as resistance training only, but they demand the use of so many of your muscles, your heart has no choice but to work harder. This also increases your oxygen intake, which means that you get a full cardio experience.

If you’re not inclined to take up aerobics or jogging, rowing machines could be the best alternative for you.

You’ll Burn Calories

It’s been estimated that you could burn more than 700 calories an hour! As far as I know, that’s more than any other home exercise machine. This means that the best indoor rowing machines are an effective method of weight loss.

They Give You a Full Body Workout

Rowing machines are known for how intensely they can work your upper body, but the truth is that they work… well… everything, including your:

  • Shoulders.
  • Upper back.
  • Lower back.
  • Biceps.
  • Pecs.
  • Abs.
  • Wrists.
  • Hands.
  • Thighs.
  • Calves.
  • Glutes.

What more could you ask for?

It’s a Low Impact Workout

Not everyone can handle the intensity of weight-bearing exercise. Jogging, CrossFit, routines like Zumba, and even calmer workouts like yoga all place pressure on your joints. They’re often unsuitable for overweight, injured, or older people because of this.

Rowing is low impact, and won’t put your joints under pressure. There is still a risk of strain, but it’s nothing that the correct rowing form can’t prevent. Speaking of which…

They’re Suitable for Beginners

Rowing is not difficult to do or understand, so even absolute beginners can benefit from it without any hassle. While rowing machines might be intimidating to some, I promise they don’t bite.

Everyone can use them. You don’t need previous experience in rowing, and you don’t have to be in perfect shape to handle them.

Types of Indoor Rowing Machines

You’re spoiled for choice with the best indoor rowing machines so you better do your homework before you invest in one. To start, there are three kinds of resistance in rowing machines.

Fan Resistance

Sometimes called air resistance, these machines use a flywheel and fan to generate wind resistance. The more intensely you work, the more force is exerted on the flywheel, the more resistance it creates.

These are the most common rowing machines and are often found in gyms.

Magnetic Resistance

These are similar to fan resistance machines because they use a flywheel too. Magnets placed near the flywheel create drag, which can often be adjusted according to what you need.

Although the resistance is often less than in air or water machines, they’re still effective. Many people prefer them because they are silent machines that require little to no fuss or maintenance.

Water Resistance

These are, of course, the most realistic of all rowing machines and so are often the most expensive. They’re the best options if you need an indoor rowing machine for practice, or if you want your workout to be as close to the real deal as possible.

Resistance is created by pushing the flywheel through a water tank. They’re similar to fan resistance machines, because the level of resistance depends on the force you exert onto it. They require a bit of maintenance to keep your tanks clean and in working order.

Most machines these days come with monitors, but you’ll want to double check that you’re getting one. They’re handy for tracking your speed, distance, intensity, and time. Some even come with heart rate monitors.

Commercial vs Home Machines

One other consideration is the purpose of your machine. Commercial machines are heavy duty. They’re designed to withstand multiple uses within a day and are usually made with busy gyms in mind.

Having a machine that’s built to last is always a good idea. However, if you find that you won’t use your machine more than once a day, there is no need for a commercial one.

Home machines are generally more compact. The best indoor rowing machine should last you for years, regardless, but home machines aren’t as durable as commercial ones.

Neither are indestructible though, and the type won’t affect your workout.


Rowing is an awesome and effective way to stay fit and I highly recommend investing in your own machine to reap the benefits of it. These are the best indoor rowing machines I could find, but keep in mind that there are more out there for you to look into.

My favorite of the lot is the Xterra. Although it has a slight design flaw, it should go unnoticed by hobbyists. It’s one of the strongest, most effective machines you can find. It’s built to last, which doesn’t necessarily apply to other machines. On quality alone, I’d say it really is the best indoor rowing machine.