How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine | Buying Guide

Being in the market for a new indoor rowing machine can definitely be overwhelming. I have tested and reviewed dozens of different rowing machines and there are so many new models that are released each year it’s hard to stay on top of them all. As a consumer, there are several key things you should be looking for with each type of rower. Now, you could take the word of a salesman, or you can follow my advice as someone who has been reviewing rowing machines for years now. Here are my key things to look for when deciding how to choose the best rowing machine for your needs!

4 Tips to Buy the Best Rowing Machine:

Watch Rowing Machine Resistance


The first thing you will discover is that there are several different types of indoor rowing machine resistances. Well, there’s actually only three now: water, air, and magnetic. But what does resistance mean when it comes to rowers? Resistance is the mechanism for how the machine transfers energy from the rower back to the machine. Depending on which resistance type you choose, they will each have a different mechanism for creating this energy.

Water rowers will utilize a paddle system inside a water tank, to push against the water as the user rows. It is essentially creating the same motion and energy as a paddle boat or an oar pushing through water. Water resistance machines are beloved by rowing enthusiasts as they accurately replicate rowing a real boat, and even provide that calming sound of moving water.

Air rowers are also popular but are the loudest of any resistance type. These machines utilize an actual air turbine to create resistance, which can create a ton of background noise. In my opinion, air resistance rowers are the least enjoyable due to the noise, but there are those out there that are loyal to this type of resistance.

Magnetic is the smoothest and quietest form of resistance and is therefore popular amongst people who want to workout at home. The resistance is also manually adjustable on most machines, which adds another level to your workouts. Magnetic resistance rowers utilize a magnetic flywheel that is attached to your rowing mechanism.

Check The Rowing Machine Size

This is one aspect that most casual users do not take into account. Compared to other fitness equipment, rowing machines take up a lot of horizontal space on the floor. It is often difficult to picture such a large footprint without having the machine physically in front of you. Well, most machines can measure around seven feet long, and weigh upwards of 100 lbs. While most of them do come with transport wheels, it is still not something you want to move around on a regular basis. Make sure you have the space to accommodate your rower before taking the plunge.

One thing you can consider is seeking out rowers with foldable frames. These are excellent for people who have smaller living spaces like a condo or basement suite. Folding frames can help make storing your machine slightly more bearable, although be warned that water and air rowers are generally not foldable.

See the Technology on Rowers


You have probably seen connected fitness machines like Pelotons that are all the rage right now. Well, rowers also have built-in technology and internet connectivity as well. If you want to do live classes on rowing applications, one-on-one training, or just go for a leisurely row with your friends, high-tech rowing machines can certainly provide this experience.

Keep in mind that unless you plan on using the rower regularly, it may not be in your best interest to purchase such a premium machine. Not only do you have to worry about paying a higher price, but additional fees like subscriptions can surprise you once you bring the rower home. Look, I love technology and integration with my smartphone, but I don’t think that everyone needs a high-end, Bluetooth-ready, online rowing machine. The technology is cool, but keep within your budget and realistic usage habits to choose which rower is best for you.

Look For the Brand Recognition


Some people are just looking for the best deal and do not care which brand they buy. Well, for rowing machines and fitness equipment in general, I can tell you there are some things to watch out for if this is your attitude. First, there are quite a few companies that do not have websites and only sell through sites like Amazon. For these companies, customer service and returns can be difficult, especially if anything breaks after the fist month.

Next, the size and quality of the company can have a direct impact on how good of a warranty your machine has, as well as maintenance and support. I have seen some reviews of rowers where the site has next to no customer service, especially since the business is based out of China. Now, I’m not saying these machines or brands are bad, I am just saying that from my experience, you may not receive the same service as an established brand like WaterRower or Concept 2.


There are countless things to take into account for choosing the best rower for indoors, but in my opinion, these are the four most important things to sort out first. Once you have established the rowing machine resistance type, the size and foldability, the brand, and the features you want, it is easier to narrow down the best home rowing machine for your needs from the hundreds of models that are currently on the market. Good luck in your search for an indoor rower, and happy rowing!

Sayed Hamed Hosseiny
Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

Hi, my name is Sayed Hamed Hosseiny. I am a professional health and fitness trainer with nearly 20 years of experience using ellipticals, rowing machines, and spin bikes. I also have my own EU-based Rock Fitness Pro fitness brand where I design, import and sell exercise equipment such as rowing machines and spin bikes. I and writers on my team also often receive fitness equipment to review and evaluate their functionalities and performance from tens of different exercise machines manufacturers. Fitness equipment tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on this website are my opinion (and opinions of my fitness expert colleagues) based on tens of criteria. I never accept payment to write reviews of products or say positive things about fitness equipment products. If brands are interested to have me review their rowers, ellipticals, or spin bikes, they can get in touch with me via email provided on the contact page and send a sample of their product.