Best Rowing Machines for Home Gym Cardio Workouts

Best Rowing Machines for Home Gym Cardio Workouts

Rowing machines are first-class power-endurance devices. Using an indoor rowing home exercise machine is a great and safe activity if you want to stay in shape. It is working all your major muscles and also being an great cardio-vascular workout. It is also low impact making it safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness.

Rowing Machine Buyers Guide


Choosing the correct rowing machine for your needs maybe one of the most daunting tasks in getting a head start on your New Year’s resolution. In fact, the idea of selecting and taking out the perfect unit may actually be one of the largest deterrents to beginning a workout that involves a home rowing machine.

Luckily, grasping the concept of just two specific features of home rowers will leave you infinitely better equipped to select the perfect product for your needs and this short briefing will shed light on some of the most important considerations that potential home rowing machine customer.


Hand’s down, the most important advantage of any rowing machine is that they are, after core, a resistance based activity. The efficacy of rowing as a means to build muscle mass, losing weight, and meeting your health goals is solely dependent of this one primary feature.

In general degree the greater the resistance, the greater the opportunity to build muscle mass and reduced fat. It is essential to understand the basic mechanics of the different types of resistance machines before selecting your perfect growing equipment.

Luckily, understanding the basic dynamics of the resistance types is also the most important thing your need to understand about purchasing your rower.

Resistance Settings

There are four basic types of resistance systems used for modern rowing machines.
Resistance is generally provided by either;

• Air
• Magnets
• Water
• Hydraulics

Grasping the basics of how these resistance types function is your most important tool in selecting your ideal product.

It is essential to purchase the correct right machine for your ultimate goals if your wish to meet them. You can expect lower resistance machines to provide you a better cardiovascular workout, with the ultimate goal in moving the rowing orders faster rather than harder.

If you are looking for an anaerobic activity to build muscle mass, you will want to select a machine with higher resistance values and operate the handles at a slower rate to build muscle.

Most machines offer at least five or six customizable resistance settings and you should ensure your selection offers at least 5. Other models, in particular the higher-end machines, may offer as many as sixteen distinct resistance settings.

In general, you can assume that the greater the range of resistance, the greater the flexibility and adaptability your machine will have in assisting you in progressively building your muscle mass.

Hydraulic Rowers

Hydraulic rowers use pistons, not unlike you would find in the car. As you pull the handles back, the mechanism pulls against the air or hydraulic fluid contained inside the cylinder. You pull back and increase the pressure.

Hydraulic rowers tend to have a lower price point, be smaller in size, and quieter than the air flywheel models, but not as quiet as the hydraulic magnetic resistance unit.

These systems are very competitively priced because they do not offer the smooth rowing action of their competitors, occasionally they heat up within the cylinder and the model does require regular maintenance. Hydraulic pistons are generally snubbed by modern rowers.

Magnetic Rowers

Magnet rowing machines are the quietest of the resistance mechanisms.
In the market, these machines provide resistance by creating a variable distance between at set of strong magnets and a spinning wheel.

The spinning wheel is attached to the handle chain and as the handle is pulled the levels are altered in one of two ways. They either utilize mechanical sliders or are controlled digitally.

These Rowers offer smooth rowing action, they’re nearly silent. Often you will experience a wider range of resistance level. They tend to be more compact then other rowers and are relatively easy to maintain.

You won’t have the feeling that you’re moving through water, but the other advantages of the magnetic system outweigh this loss. Many of the rowers of this class are incredibly space efficient and fold up for compact storage.

Air Resistance Rowers

Air resistance machines are by far the most common choice for in-home rowing machines. Air rowing machines create effective resistance by pushing airflow through an internal flywheel. The flywheel is connected to the chain and as you row, you turn the flywheel. The faster you row the more rigorous your cardiovascular workout will be. These systems are like Fords, simple in design, hard to break, and easy to fix.

Water Rowers

Water resistance machines are newer to the market in the traditional air flywheel base designs. They function very similarly to the air design, except they use a water flywheel that is set within a tank of water rather than simply left in the air.

As you operate the oar mechanism, the movement will power the interior paddle, the paddle actually spins inside the water contained within the reservoir.

This model is a favorite of serious rowers as it does an excellent job of replicating both feel and the body mechanics of water rowing.

A water rowing resistance machine is also significantly quieter then the air resistance rower. The water is reminiscent of the actual sport of rowing. This rower requires very little maintenance. However, these units tend to be severely larger than other types resistance machines and sometimes not foldable or easily stored.

Performance monitors

After you select the perfect type of resistance for your rowing needs. The next decision that you’ll have to make is to determine what type of performance monitor you would like on your unit.

Like just about everything these days, rowing machines are equipped with the staggering number of options and configurations. They are plenty of gizmos and gadgets to meet your every technological need.

Determining what types of capabilities, you would like a unit to have, and selecting the rowing machine with the metrics that you require will be a huge factor in determining budget and choice selection.

Keep in mind, using an inexpensive rowing machine without any added, enhanced technological features will be your best action if you’re on a budget. Machines commonly come with a minimum of a row counter, timer, and possibly a calorie burn measurement.

Other fairly standard metrics that you’re likely to see on home rowing machine include Digital controls, LED digital display, heart rate monitor, and other types of analytics that you expected see in the professional gym.

For the truly savvy buyer who wants all the bells and whistles, you can even find rowing machines featuring built-in television screens and iPad docs, some rowers such as the Concept2, allow you to compete online with other Concept2 owners.

If you have discretionary income to support these bells and whistles, it might be a fun option for you. The best recommendation for the rest of us is to select whichever options are most important before you begin the buying process.

It is best to decide this before beginning the buying process. In your excitement, it’s easier to think that we need gadgets and gizmos that we may well do without and they will at substantial cost to your alternate price point.


This is the stage that is most people’s least favorite. Now that you have considered what resistance types might be best for your particular machine, it might be the ideal time to pursue various pricing options among the rowers that are commercially available.

The two biggest factors in determining your price point on rowing machines are going to be the type of resistance that you have selected and any additional performance features that you want on the unit you end up buying.

Obviously, the more features you add into a performance monitor, the higher end to alternate cost would be.

Deciding what elements are absolutely necessary is best done before you actually start looking for units but keep in mind, the more toys the more bucks.

Best Rowing Machine in UK 2021

1. Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower with PM5 Monitor

Best Rowing Machine in UK

Concept 2 is widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, manufacturers of home indoor rowing machines. The concept Model D is beloved by fitness buffs and professional rowers alike, as you are likely to find it in nearly every hometown gym. The Concept2 machines started with the A model and is currently up to the E model. The model D was first released in 2003.

It is a premium grade machine and is the most widely-used rowing machines for health clubs, schools and professional sporting organisations and institutions. In saying that, numerous people that can afford to pay the price do invest in a Concept rowing machine for home use knowing that they are getting a top-line product.

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine differs from other home rowers in that is designed around a very slick sliding system that is very smooth and easy to adjust. By allowing you a greater range of sliding motion you get a full extension on your legs. This helps to promote and increase not only the strength in your legs but also your flexibility.


  • Includes a monitor that keeps track of calories expended, pace, distance and speed
  • Options for varying tensions are available, for user’s different preference of workout
  • The flywheel does not produce a lot of noise, simulating an easier and more authentic rowing experience without annoying the neighbors
  • Can handle a total of 496 lbs weight
  • The seat slides backward and forwards, offering a better workout experience than most cheap indoor rowing machines


Resistance type: Air, which is one of our suggested forms of resistance.

Rower length: At 242 centimetres (95 inches), this is one of the longest rowing machines on the market and allows a full stroke range for even the tallest of individuals.

Space required: The company recommends 2.75 metres of space, which is only a small amount of space behind the machine and this is because the machine is so long that even at full stroke length and leaning right back after the out-phase of the stroke, most people’s heads are barely reach the level of the back of the machine!

Weight limit:
225kgs / 496lbs makes this one of the most sturdy pieces of equipment on the market.
Durability: Exceptional durability that you would expect from a Concept 2 rower.

Warranty: 2 years parts and 5 years on the frame is one of the best warranties available.

Console: Your choice of PM3 or PM4 Performance Monitor displays all the basics that you would expect (time, distance, calories, strokes per minute, watts, speed). It also comes with 5 different screen settings and the ability to set a pace boat to race against.


I could list the pros of this machine all day, but we’ll stick with the basics here: the Model D is extremely well-made. It has an aluminum monorail frame that’s capped with high grade stainless steel – this design and materials ensures the smooth, gliding motion that makes this unit famous. The flywheel design also provides a smooth motion while minimizing noise during your workout; the rower really is quiet when in use, which is nice when you’re trying to watch a game or TV show while you’re working out. Another nice touch is the spiral damper which allows adjustment of the airflow to the flywheel, helping to easily find the right setting for any session.

The Model D ships with a “performance monitor” screen that’s bolted to the machine; the monitor provides easy to see, accurate data during every second of your time spent rowing. And then there’s the seat: a 14 inch low profile seat that’s both extremely comfortable and quite stable while exercising, and which our testers singled out as one of their favorite design features on the machine.

With this machine, you can expect to lose up to 1,000 calories per hour, depending on your fitness level, age, gender, and a couple of other factors. So it’s a fun workout that you can do in the comfort of your own home – while watching TV – while burning a ton of calories and working nearly every muscle in your body.

Next, the Model D is known for its ease of use, and it does not disappoint. You can adjust the cord resistance to whichever level you feel comfortable, and the machine will provide the necessary amount of friction to work nearly every muscle in the body. Another thing to mention is the seat – a part of the machine this is often overlooked – because the seat on the Model D is shaped to enhance your comfort as you sit on the machine, and is perfectly positioned so that you can watch TV if you like during your workouts.


The Model D is a terrific machine, but it’s not without its flaws. There were some consumers on Amazon who reported this unit taking up more space within their home than expected, so be sure you measured out your space where you plan on putting it before you actually buy it. Other customers also expressed a desire for better instructions for assembling the product, and we tend to agree. While it wasn’t difficult per se to assemble, it was a bit of a chore, and it would have been made easier with more detailed, clearer instructions And of course, depending on your budget, this machine simply could be too expensive.

2. JLL® Ventus 2 Air Resistance Home Rowing Machine

Best Rowing Machine UK 2021
The JLL Ventus 2 air rower is one of the best-value air resistance indoor rowing machines you can buy. You’ll get a smooth ride with minimal noise, plus adjustable footrests and an ergonomic handle for maximum comfort. This rowing machine is also reasonably priced with outstanding features that let users train almost like a pro from their home gyms.

The V-shaped base unit makes this stable enough to stand with a small footprint. Once you’ve finished your rowing workout, it separates into two pieces for easy storage. The Ventus 2 is made from sterner stuff than the budget offerings and each part feels weighty, well made and of good quality, with a maximum user weight of 120kgs.

The machine is well designed with maximum comfort in mind. The handlebars come with ergonomic, non slip plastic that ensures optimum ease and irritation-free workout experience. The Ventus 2’s console also shows multiple stats on-screen at the same time. The LCD monitor sticks up a little, which brings it nicely to eye level while you row. It measures time per 500 meters, strokes, pulse total strokes, calories burned, overall distance, clock, calendar and temperature.

Lastly, this machine is very easy to assemble. All the parts are in the package, instructions are easy to follow. All the bolts and screws come loosely attached to the parts. All in all, it’s what you’d expect from a mid-priced rowing machine and does a good job of tracking your stats.

Benefits of Rowing Machine

There are numerous benefits of a rowing machine that you may not be aware of, and they are the same reasons why they are often the most used workout equipment at gyms and health clubs around the world. You can burn up to 900 calories an hour by using one of these amazing machines?

Using a rower will be a full-body workout due to the required muscles it takes to successfully move through one repetition. Your shoulders, arms, back, abdominal, and legs will all be working simultaneously to perform a complete rowing motion, making it an inclusive exercise for the major muscle groups of your body. There are few ways to get the most of your workout, and this is one of them.

Another one of the great benefits of rowing machine workouts is its low-impact nature. People who have experienced injury, limited range of motion, or sensitivity to pressure can enjoy exercising on a machine like this, because it is less demanding than its counterparts in the gym equipment arena. There’s nothing easy about running on a treadmill when you have joint pain, spinal problems, or recovering injuries. A rower may be easier on you if this describes your situation. Of course, check with a physician first.

A rowing machine can sometimes withstand more “wear and tear” then other cardiovascular-oriented workout equipment. This is true when compared to machines like treadmills, stationary bikes, and even elliptical machines. Rowing can require fewer moving parts and less maintenance than other equipment in the fitness market.


How often do I use it?
If you are only going to use it now and than and you don’t have to much room, I would suggest a small collapsible rowing machine. Hydraulic machines are usually the smallest and if you are not going to use it on a regular basis it will still last for several years before any parts need replacing. But if you are thinking about using it everyday then a hydraulic machine is not the best idea. You will need a higher range machine that is made for heavy use.
How much space do I have?
Some machines you can fold up and they are easier to store away when not in use. Another thing to think about is the noise. If you have neighbors that are likely to be annoyed then a silent magnetic rower will be the best option.
Do I need a workout monitor with my machine?
Most times the computer is an optional extra that you can add to your rowing machine adding up to $200 to the price. Many people like this feature because it will record your distance, time and stroke rate although this may seem a lot of money. The information you can get can act as a motivator since you can set targets and measure your progress. It is important to check out this sort of feature when buying a rowing machine, it really could help with your training program.
Does the machine have variable resistance?
Most of the rowing machines will have this feature but you need to check the range. If you get a wide range you can use your machine for anaerobic workout by increasing the resistance.
Should I try the machine first?
The ideal when buying a rower is that you should try the machine for several minutes to check out the motion and the seat comfort. If you are buying the rowing machine online, a good idea is to visit a place that has the machines and try some of the models. If you cant do that, check the policy on returns from your online supplier.
Is the machine adjustable?
You need to check that you can easily adjust the position of the foot pads and the seat – this is really important, especially if you intend to share the machine with someone else.
Do I exceed the machines weight limit?
Each model will have a safe weight limit even if it something that is often neglected when buying a rowing machine. If you exceed this limit you could invalidate the warranty.
Can I justify the cost?
It can be quite expensive buying a rowing machine so be sure that you are going to use it. Getting a membership at a gym may be another thing to consider as one years fee could be far less than a rowing machine plus you will get access to all the other work out machines.
Should I consider second hand?
Another option is buying second hand but you really need to look for signs of wear such as excessive noise when using it or a worn down seat and foot pads. It is better buying second hand from a private user than a gym as the amount of use will differ dramatically. Most of the machines offered second hand will still be in very good condition due to the fact that it has not been used that much!
Where shall I put it?
You need a room with good ventilation when using the rowing machine because you will need plenty of oxygen in a good work out session. Many people like to watch TV or listen to music or the radio – but don’t let it distract you from your technique.


Preparing for your new healthy lifestyle is the single best step you can take to be successful this year. While purchasing the perfect home rower might seem overwhelming at first blush, understanding the four basic types of resistance and available performance features is the single most important thing you can understand in making educated choice. Best of luck with your new home rower and your health goals.

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