• Home  / 
  • Best Rowing Machines

Best Rowing Machines

best rowing machine

In this article we will show you the best rowing machines that are currently available in the UK market.

Suffice to say there are any number of choices available. That can make it difficult to figure out which are the best models for you.

Using a rowing machine to keep fit is one of the many different pieces of exercise equipment available. Indoor rowing is one of the most effective ways to get a full body, low impact level of fitness through an all over body workout.

The really big question that you have to ask yourself, is it the right one for you?

If you don't have time to read our full article and simply want to know what the best rowing machine on the UK market is right now, then it is the Concept 2 Model D.

It is an expensive option, but in our opinion, the best rowing machine that money can buy.

Is a Rowing Machine the Right Choice of Fitness Equipment for You?

​If you plan on buying and using a rowing machine in your home, then there are a number of things that you need to understand, and then give serious consideration to.

Many people opt for this type of equipment because they either do not want to go to a gym, or simply prefer to do their exercise in the comfort of their own home. I am like that myself and it is why I choose to exercise at home.

It is simply more convenient for me to do that, and although I have the expense of buying the equipment initially, it is not long before I get that paid back. That is achieved by avoiding expensive monthly gym fees.​

I also work and trying to develop any kind of consistent fitness routine was difficult. At least having my own rowing machine, allowed me the flexibility to work out when I could.

A rowing machine is an investment in your health and fitness. The better machines are certainly not cheap. It is better to do your research first before buying and on this site we believe we have covered all the bases.

What Are Your Expectations from Using a Rowing Machine?

The reality is that a rowing machine is just not the right piece of equipment for everyone.

Rather than waste your money, and have it end up in your garage, it is worthwhile considering what a rowing machine can actually do for you and your level  of fitness. Here are the key benefits of what they can help with:

  • It does do a full body workout from head to toe
  • Especially designed to help with fat burning and body building workouts
  • They are especially good for increasing stamina and strength
  • They do help you lose weight as part of a bigger program and a better diet
  • They really help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes
  • It is good for your overall general health and fitness levels
  • Also very good for toning arm, tummy, back, the bottom and leg muscles
  • Like most equipment exercising it does help you be less stressful
  • Good for body flexibility
  • Very good for people of all ages and levels of fitness

Benefits of a Rowing Machine

​Unfortunately, people tend to buy these, use them for a while, and then simply get bored. We would encourage you, before you spend a dime, to make 100% certain that you really want one of these.

"An Exercise Machine That Won't Become A Clothing Rack."

The table below shows what rowing machines are good for, in terms of weight loss, strength building and full body workouts.

ACTIVITY

TYPE OF MACHINE

For Weight Loss

All you really need is a low cost rowing machine with light resistance

Building Strength or Rehab

You need ranges of resistance and all the way up to high

Solid Training

You want a full range of resistance methods and also a variety of body workout programs 

First and foremost these have been around for a very long time. In the early days these were basic machines, but the manufacturers have gone on to make great improvements.

Now they are quite different to those that were made several years ago. These days they are good for toning up, building up your strength and staying supple as you get older. They are not stressful on the joints and as such are considered to be low impact fitness equipment.

​People stop using rowing machines because they get bored. Now I find that surprising because when you kick backwards and watch that large flywheel spin, you just know that you are achieving something really great. The key to doing this on a regular basis is to vary your routine.

Try mixing those up with longer rows, short fast rows and also track your improvement...you will not get bored that way!

Many pieces of gym and fitness equipment are boring if used constantly so watching or listening to something will also help.There are many benefits for different people in using one of these on a regular basis. First up, they are ideal for maintaining good levels of fitness and a great cardio.

So as part of a home gym, or as a stand alone machine, or part of a bigger training program, these offer a good all body workout.They will work your arms, shoulders, back, tummy, and legs with one simple stroke.

As you build up your strength, they can then start to work out your cardio, and most importantly of all, your overall stamina. They are much more exhausting than a treadmill, a cross trainer or even doing weights, so a great workout is guaranteed.

Cost of Rowing Machines

Please be aware that these machines vary a lot in price. You can get a very good basic one for under £100​. If you want something at the higher end with all the bells and whistles, then you can get those too. Just be aware that for those you can pay anything between £300-600. Below I have done a quick buying guide for rowing machines and underneath I have picked out 3 of the best currently available on the UK market.

Best Rowing Machines Under £100

Body Sculpture BR3010 Rower and Gym

Body Sculpture BR3010 Rower and Gym

Doubles as a rower and a home gym

Folds up for easy storage

On board computer with time, stroke count, calorie count and scan

DVD instructions included​

Maximum weight is 17 stones​

Average Price £95

Body Sculpture BR1000 Rower

Body Sculpture BR1000 Rower

12 Resistance Levels

On board computer with scan, time, speed, calories used, strokes per minute

Adjustable incline​ and foot plates

Maximum weight allowed 100 Kg​, 222 lbs or 15.8 stones

​Average Price £63

V-fit Fit-Start Hydraulic Rowing Machine

V-fit Fit-Start Single Hydraulic Rowing Machine

12 hydraulic resistance levels

Padded seat with bearing rollers​

5 function exercise monitor

Adjustable foot plates

Maximum weight 100 Kg, 15.8 stones​

Average Price £60

How Do Rowing Machines Work?

The structure of the machines are fairly basic. There is a frame that all the parts attach to.​ On to that will be attached a flywheel and it is this part that creates the resistance for your workout.

Then there is a bar and a handle that attach, via a cable to the main frame. It is this that you pull to create the rowing action. Then you have the seat or saddle that moves backwards as you pull the bar towards you, and moves forwards as you release the stroke. That is what creates the rowing action.

Skill and Coordination for Rowing Technique

​What many people don't realise about a rowing machine, is that it does require a level of skill to use. You want to develop a safe posture, a steady and consistent stroke and perfect the stroke itself. I see far too many people, especially at gyms, get this completely wrong.

People tend to lean too far back and also tend to really pull the bar back to high up the chest. They also get the arm/leg driving action the wrong way round. You should not be lifting the bar over your bent knees.With a little practise though the perfect stroke is not difficult to achieve. It does take a little practise though.

Rowing Machine Quick Buying Guide

Storage

If you are buying one of these machines always think of what happens to it when it is not being used. If you have the room to have it sitting around then of course this will not be a concern.

Most people do not, so you should consider how easy it it to store, and how much room it will take up. Can you fold it up? What weight is it? Is it awkward to store?

​If very tight for room, then you should probably consider a folding machine. As the name would suggest, you can fold this one up and store it away easily when it is not being used.

Price

Always consider your budget and how much you want to spend. If this is just for general exercise there is no need to break the bank.​ There are plenty of these for around £70-150 that will give you a good general workout.

If you want a better quality machine then it will cost £300+ but at that stage you are moving into very high quality machines for the ultimate style of workout.

Resistance Systems​

In simple terms, this means how hard it is to row the machine. You should have the choice of different levels. That way you can start out as easy as you want. As you get stronger and fitter, you can then increase the resistance level.

There are three types of general resistance methods available in these:​

  • Magnetic - This gives the closest feel as if you were rowing across a lake - smooth
  • Hydraulic - These will be the cheaper option but feel the least like a normal rowing action
  • Sculling - Uses levers rather than a bar and cable - easiest to use but also a bit dull to use

You will sometimes see these referred to as water resistance, air resistance using a flywheel, hydraulic or magnetic resistance. They all provide the same purpose of offering resistance, they just do it in different ways.

Features

LCD screens can be very useful. They will show important measurements like rowing speed, distance covered and other measurements. Knowing these and watching themmay be important to help motivate you and keep you going. These will be found on the main console of your machine.

Adjustable Rowing Positions - This is an important feature as it can help reduce injuries and avoid backache. You should be able to easily adjust the distance between the bars and the seat to allow you to find your perfect stroke length.​

Do you know the name for an indoor rower? They are called "ergometers." It does of course come from the old Latin word "ergo" which is the amount of energy used.

Best Wooden Style Rowing Machines

If you like to stick with tradition or simply prefer the high end wooden style of rowing machine, then those are of course available. That is if you can afford them. These are not a cheap option but they are very high quality.​ They are designed for those who want what is referred to as the "authentic rowing experience."

authentic wooden rowing machines

As you can see from the image above these most certainly look the part. They are precision made and come with a very natural and motivating wave sound. These type of machines can also be attached to your PC via a simple USB connection, so as you can set various programs for your desired workouts.

WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine

This is the name of the one pictured above and seems to be a popular choice with rowing enthusiasts.​ From just one single stroke of this machine 84% of the muscles in your body are used. It can help burn calories at a rate of up to 1,000 calories per hour. Unlike the metal versions these use a water flywheel for resistance, and along with the sound gives a true feeling of rowing in a boat.

If you have ever watched "House of Cards," you will have seen this one in action, be it somewhat reluctantly at the start.​ This one pretty much has everything going for it. It has a full heart rate monitoring system, is polar compatible and is fitted with an LCD monitor. 

It has been made by hand from solid American black walnut wood. It is also available in ash wood.

The LCD console has a quick start feature and displays the important measurements like stroke rate, number of total strokes, heart rate, duration, and distance. These along with a padded seat, foam-coated handles, and footplates make the rowing experience complete, and a great deal more comfortable. This rowing machine can be connected to your PC via USB. It can also be folded up for easier storage.

Full Body Workouts with a Rowing Machine

One of the most complete cardiovascular exercises around has to be rowing. A well put together workout on a rowing machine will tone all of the major muscle groups such as your legs, back and arms.

All you have to do is set it up in an adequately spacious area and away you go. As you can see there are lots of different machines available on the market. Although as we have explained they generally fall into 2 categories:

These are 

  1. Water rowers
  2. Air Rowers


The water rower, uses enclosed water and paddles for resistance as opposed to air. These rowers tend to be quieter than air rowers and are just as much works of art as they are exercise machines. As you can see they are also expensive.

Then we have rowing machines such as the Concept 2 air rower. There are many other brands available but this piece of machinery is commonly accepted to be one of the best, if not the best.

The alternative is an air rower and no matter which one you decide on, they both give a great cardio workout. The information on the display monitors allow you to see that information and also help you plan the improvements in your workouts.