How to Choose the Best Home Rowing Machine

Rowing machines or rowers are designed to simulate the action of rowing a boat. They provide one of the best fat-burning and body-building workouts - they stress the biggest muscle groups in the body, like the back and legs.

Rowing machines provide low-impact cardio workouts by putting minimal stress on hips, knees, and ankle joints.

stamina 1215 orbital rowing machine 1

On the other hand, rowers tend to emphasize pulling upper-body movements and pushing lower-body movements - something to consider in order to avoid imbalances.

When buying rowing machines, consider a few things:

  • price - as usual with other exercise machines, price varies greatly from model to model. Pricier models often last longer, have more realistic rowing experience, have better control panels, etc. Read the details and if you are satisfied with a cheaper model, why buy a more expensive one when you really don't need it?
  • resistance system - air resistance, magnetic brake system, hydraulic brake system, water break system - each brake system has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, the magnetic brake system offers the best options for preset programs, while the water brake system offers the most realistic rowing experience.
  • size - some models can be folded and stored away - just be careful, out of sight, out of mind; on the other hand, larger models do require much more space to store and use.
  • control panel - provide information about rowed distance, time, calories burned, heart rate, rowing program (magnetic brake system), etc.
  • features can be numerous like heart rate monitors, wireless, USB ports, etc.
  • warranty - for rowers or just part of them. More expensive rowers have longer warranties for most important parts or entire rowers, while cheaper rowers have shorter warranties, often only for some parts.

Of course, there are many other little details that one must consider when buying a new rower, and those details are often very personal.

Personally, if You are looking for a home rower to supplement your rowing on the boat, go for a water rower or perhaps a magnetic rower.

If You are looking for a quiet rower with many numerous functions, go for a magnetic rower. People looking for a relatively cheap unit that will help them burn plenty of calories, but people with no desire to sit in the actual boat and row should go for an air rower, or perhaps a magnetic one.

Note: rowing machines are becoming increasingly popular cardio exercise machines, so one can find all three main rower types (magnetic, water, air) practically in all price classes.

Is Rowing Good For Your Back?

Rowing is often celebrated for being a low-impact, full-body workout that's suitable for all fitness levels. But is it beneficial for your back?

Pros of Rowing for Your Back

Strengthens Back Muscles: Rowing uses virtually every major muscle group in your body, but it has a particular emphasis on the back. It targets both the upper and lower back muscles, including the lats, traps, and erector spinae. Regular rowing can help strengthen these muscles, improving overall back strength.

  • Improves Posture: Rowing, when done correctly, requires maintaining good form and posture. This promotes increased awareness of your body's alignment, which can translate into better posture even when you're not rowing.
  • Aids in Weight Loss: As a full-body, high-intensity exercise, rowing can significantly help with weight loss, which in turn reduces the strain on your back. Less weight means your spine and muscles don't need to work as hard, leading to decreased back pain.

Cons and Dangers of Rowing for Your Back

Risk of Injury from Poor Form: The beneficial aspects of rowing hinge heavily on correct form. Poor rowing technique can lead to unnecessary strain on the back, potentially causing injuries such as strains, sprains, and even disc injuries.

  • Pre-existing Conditions: If you already have a back condition like a herniated disc or spinal stenosis, the rowing motion might exacerbate your symptoms. It's crucial to seek medical advice before beginning any new workout regimen if you have a pre-existing condition.
  • Overuse Injuries: While rowing is a low-impact exercise, repetitive motions can lead to overuse injuries, including lower back pain or shoulder impingement. To mitigate this risk, it's important to incorporate rest days and cross-training (treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals, weights, etc.) into your workout routine.

stamina x air rower 1

Tips for Safe and Effective Rowing

Rowing can be a fantastic way to improve back health and overall fitness, but it's vital to approach it correctly. Always warm up before your rowing session and cool down afterward. Pay close attention to form, and consider getting a trainer or physical therapist to assess and correct your technique if needed.

For those with pre-existing back conditions, remember to consult with your healthcare provider before starting a rowing regimen. And remember, listening to your body is crucial. If you feel any discomfort or pain while rowing, stop and seek professional advice.

Rowing can be a highly beneficial exercise for your back, given its ability to build strength, aid weight loss, and improve posture. However, potential risks like injury from poor form or overuse injuries make it essential to approach rowing with caution - just like with any other exercise.

For more information about rowing and rowing machines, feel free to check our articles (links open in the new windows):

 Rowers Reviews and Recommendations

Rowers reviews and recommendations provide you with information and our opinions about rowing machines. You can agree with us or not, but we have really tried to provide as objective reviews as possible - after all, opinions differ.

Each article has at least one Amazon link - it is fair to say that we participate in Amazon's affiliate program and if you do buy something on Amazon following our link, we get commission.

However, this doesn't influence our reviews because the reasons why we might like a specific rower could be the reasons why you don't like it and vice versa :)


Stamina InMotion Rower - Model 35-0123

stamina inmotion rower 1mStamina InMotion Rower is an entry-level, basic, home rowing machine. It is cheap, relatively strong, and durable and provides a trainee an option for a rather good rowing exercise.

If you like or need good cardio exercise at home, but you don't need 'water-like' rowing exercise, don't need all the advanced features that larger and more expensive rowers have, consider Stamina InMotion Rower as your home rower.

Updated: March 30, 2023.

ECHANFIT Classic R49 Magnetic Rowing Machine

echanfit classic r49 mECHANFIT Classic R49 Magnetic Rowing Machine is a well-balanced home rowing machine intended for beginner and advanced athletes who want to increase their strength and stamina and burn tons of calories.

A magnetic resistance system ensures quiet operation, while steel construction, although a little bit heavier, ensures a tough and durable rower able to support even heavier people.

Published: January 13, 2023.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower

sunny sf rw5639 mSunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 is a lightweight and simplistic hydraulic rowing machine with a full rowing motion, suitable for warmups and light cardio sessions at home.

When folded, Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 is a compact rower, not requiring much storage space. Nonetheless, it supports users up to 350 pounds (~158 kg) despite a rather affordable price.

Published: March 24, 2022.

SereneLife SLRWMC18 Rowing Machine Review

serenelife slrwmc18 mThe SereneLife SLRWMC18 Rowing Machine is designed for home use and is capable of offering a full-body workout.

Being a rowing machine, it offers an all-weather low-impact non-weight bearing workout, ideal for strength training as well as recovery training. It’s foldable and has magnetic and air resistance. Having a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs. it’s suitable for users of most sizes.

Published: October 30, 2021.

Snode WR100 Water Rowing Machine Review

snode wr100 mThe Snode WR100 Water Rowing Machine is a promising rowing machine and offers a full-body workout without impacting joints. Since it involves a water-resistance system, it offers an adequate challenge to develop cardiac and overall strength and develop and tone muscles all over the body.

It has a great build quality for the price, and is an excellent machine for home use to keep oneself fit overall and during situations like snowfall and coronavirus pandemic when going outside of the home for a workout is impossible.

Published: October 9, 2021.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 Elastic Cord Rowing Machine Review

sunny sf rw5606 mThe Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 Elastic Cord Rowing Machine is very affordable, entry level home rowing machine. Its resistance system is based on an elastic cord, providing very specific rowing experience. Although it doesn't 'feel' as rowing on the water, 'bungee cord' resistance system acts both ways, helping the user to burn even more calories than other resistance systems.

WaterRower Club Rowing Machine in Ash Wood with S4 Monitor

waterrower ash wood s4 monitor mThe WaterRower club rowing machine is a striking and effective handcrafted rowing machine by WaterRower, made from solid American ash wood and finished with black and rose stains with a Danish oil finish, giving it an attractive, natural and premium look. The solid ash wood construction doesn’t only make it look better, but more importantly, it absorbs almost all vibration and sound during the workout, giving the user a quiet and ultra-smooth exercise session and making itself as durable as a rowing machine can and should be.

Kettler Favorit Rowing Machine

kettler favorit rowing machine 1mKettler Favorit Rowing Machine is very good home indoor rower that comes at great price. It provides good rowing exercise using hydraulic pistons resistance system. For hydraulic pistons rower it is little bit pricey, but it is very well built and it comes with several features that similar rowers don't have.

Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

velocity fitness magnetic rower 1mVelocity Fitness Magnetic Rower is one of the best buy rowers. It doesn't have many features much more expensive rovers have, but it gets it's job done. Solid and durable, with aluminum beam, it is not too heavy nor it requires much space for storage.

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

stamina body trac glider 1050 rowing machine 1mStamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is sturdy, compact, affordable home rower. Resistance system is based on adjustable gas-shock absorber - rower doesn't provide the most realistic rowing experience, but in this price range, it provides excellent workout for legs, back and arms. Since rowing is mostly pulling exercise, combine it with some push-ups and you will get great fully body workout. It is not gym class machine, but, for home use, it is one of the best buy entry-level rowers.

Stamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms

stamina 1215 orbital rowing machine 1mStamina 1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with Free Motion Arms is compact, durable and affordable home rowing machine. It provides smooth and quiet operation and when not in use, it is easily stored away. It has very good 5 year warranty on the frame, but warranty of 30 days on parts could be better.

LifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine

lifespan fitness rw1000 rowing machine 1mLifeSpan Fitness RW1000 Rowing Machine is solid home use only rowing exercise machine. It is well built, but it has some characteristics that some people don't like. It is much cheaper than some high-end rowers and it will provide you with great rowing exercise.

Stamina Air Rower Rowing Machine - Model 1399

stamina air rower model 1399 1mStamina Air Rower Rowing Machine is excellent entry-level, home rower that comes at acceptable price. It is lightweight, foldable rower which is stored easily due to transport wheels, not requiring much space. Maximum user weight of 250 lbs (113 kg) is very good for foldable rowers in this price range.

Concept2 Model D and Model E Indoor Rowing Machines with PM5

concept2 model d and eConcept2 Models D and E Indoor Rowing Machines are large, sturdy and expensive rowers. And they are worth every (euro)cent. They are suitable for both home and gym use. They can be folded for easier storage, but still, they are large pieces of exercise equipment. If you are serious about indoor rowing and want to increase your fitness level and tone your physique, you should consider these rowers.

ProForm Dual Trainer Bike/Rower

proform dual trainer bike rower mProForm Dual Trainer Bike/Rower is combination of recumbent bike and rower machine in a singe exercise machine. It is big, sturdy and rather heavy machine with excellent maximum user weight of 350 pounds and life time warranty on the frame itself.

ProForm Dual Trainer Bike/Rower is designed for home indoor use as both rower and recumbent bike. As such, it provides two different types of workouts which complement each other and help burn more calories and increase strength and stamina.

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine

sunny sf rw1205 1mSunny Health and Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine is entry level, home rowing machine. It is compact and lightweight rower, which comes at great price and provides the user with low impact aerobic exercise. However, with great price, comes limitations and few drawbacks.

Stamina X Air Rower - 35-1412 Model

stamina x air rower 1mStamina X Air Rower is big and sturdy air rower which comes with nice list of features and acceptable price tag. Although rather large machine, it is relatively light for its size, but it also has relative low maximum user weight of 'only' 250 pounds (113 kg).

ProForm 440R Rower

proform 440r rower 1mProForm 440R Rower is good medium-range magnetic rower. It comes at not-so-cheap price and it lacks some features one might expect in $350-$400 range rowing machines, but it also has many useful features justifying its price.

Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower

stamina avari programmable magnetic exercise rowerStamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Exercise Rower is mid-range, foldable, home rower. It comes with several preset and heart rate programs, chest strap for monitoring heart rate and the user manual. Although it is strong and robust, its maximum allowed user weight is somewhat low.