Best rowing machine: 6 top-rated rowers for home workouts

The best rowing machine for a full-body workout to put you through your paces

Best rowing machines: two machines in use
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Looking for the best rowing machine to suit your at-home workout schedule? Then you're in the right place, as we have a range of top-rated machines based on factors from price to resistance. A rowing machine is an ideal pick for anyone who wants to tone or build muscle but also wants a lower-impact workout to preserve their health, way into the future. 

With the best rowing machine in your home gym, garage, or spare room, you can get your head down and burn those all-important calories. Different rowing machines run on various types of resistance; air, water, or manual and will also have a range of resistance levels to sweat your way through. Don't worry if you're just getting started with rowing, as we've also included excellent options for beginners too. 

The best rowing machine for you will be the one that meets all your needs, including your budget. It's also worth considering how easy your favourite option is to store away so that you can factor in how easy it'll be to get your home looking great again after a workout. 

For more on how to get your fitness levels peaking, check out our guide to the best home gym equipment picks in our buyer's guide.


The best rowing machines

Best rowing machine: image of concept rower

(Image credit: Concept)

1. Concept 2 Model D

The best rowing machine you can buy

Specifications

Resistance: Air
Levels: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
 Very smooth to use 
+
 Easy to tailor to different users 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Takes up a lot of space 

If you’re looking for a rower the whole family can use, consider this Concept2 model: the footrests are easy to adjust to each new user’s height, and after watching their metrics tick along on the LCD display, they can pop a USB stick into the port and upload their individual workout data to a computer. More than that, it’s easy to see how the world’s best-selling indoor rower has earned that accolade, offering a supremely smooth ride and a handle comfortable enough to hold through even the longest workouts. If you’re not seduced by the unusual looks of the Oxbridge (or are, but can’t quite stretch to it), this is a very worthy runner-up. 

Best rowing machine: image of JLL rower

(Image credit: JLL)

2. JLL R200

The best rowing machine for home use

Specifications

Resistance: Magnetic
Levels: 10

Reasons to buy

+
Very inexpensive 
+
Sturdy and comfortable 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Not many features (understandably) 

Coming in at just under £200, the JLL R200 is a great budget model. It’s sturdier and considerably more solid than most machines at this end of the price range, but is still easy to fold down or move using the wheels at the base if space is too limited to have it out permanently, and the pedals and foam-filled padded seat are comfortable enough to use for long periods of time. The ten levels of magnetic resistance may not be enough for more experienced rowers — for that matter, if you are an experienced rower, you’ll wish to go for something with more frills — but if you’re just starting out or won’t be in your home gym all day every day, it’s a superb buy. The best rowing machine for beginners, we think.

Best rowing machine: Image of Echelon rower

(Image credit: Ecehlon)

3. Echelon Smart Rower

The best rowing machine in 2021

Specifications

Resistance: Magnetic
Levels: 32

Reasons to buy

+
Equipped with smart technology
+
Efficient to store 

Reasons to avoid

-
Extremely pricey

The Echelon Row is a high-quality smart home rowing machine that will change your exercise routine forever, pushing you to work harder every time you use it. It's designed to make a minimal fuss in your home too, with a space-saving foldable design and built-in wheels. Choose from 32 levels of resistance while tuning into the Echelon app that allows you to challenge other users. Purchasing an Echelon Smart Rower is worth it for anyone who wants the motivation of group workouts which you can access with a membership, with the only downside being that this comes with an extra fee. 

Best rowing machine: Image of ProForm rowing machine

(Image credit: ProForm)

4. PROFORM R600

The best rowing machine on a budget

Specifications

Resistance: Adjustable air
Levels: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
LCD console to track workout
+
Comfortable
+
Transport wheels

Reasons to avoid

-
 Would benefit with more functions

If you're on a budget but still want to ensure the rowing machine you opt for is high quality, then the PROFORM R600 is the one for you. Built to last with its sleek, stylish design, you can power through your workouts with the adjustable resistance, and track how you're getting on with the LCD display. As well as ensuring a full-body workout, this rower is designed to be comfortable with a moulded seat and ergonomic handle. For less than £500, you'll have a machine that allows you to do it all within the comfort of your home and be sure that you're investing in a quality-made product that you can trust. 

Best rowing machine: OPTI Manual Rowing Machine

(Image credit: OPTI)

5. Opti Manual Rowing Machine

The best rowing machine under £100

Specifications

Resistance: Manual
Levels: 12

Reasons to buy

+
Folds for easy storing
+
On wheels
+
Console feedback
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Only really great for beginners

This manual rower from Opti is definitely the best affordable option, should you be after something budget-friendly. It boasts 12 levels of tension control, and it even has console feedback to tell you how many strokes you've done, how many minutes you've spent, how many calories you've burned and more. Boasting a faux leather seat and adjustable feet straps, it's suitable for everyone, no matter your height. Though it does have a maximum user weight of 100kg. Work your arms, legs and abs, and then fold it away after use. It's even on wheels to make storing easier job.

Best rowing machine: Image of JTX rower

(Image credit: JTX)

6. JTX Freedom Air Rower

The best compact rowing machine

Specifications

Resistance: Air
Levels: 16

Reasons to buy

+
Small and light to move 
+
Great value versatility 

Reasons to avoid

-
 Doesn’t have the most functions 

The JTX Freedom’s name is a big giveaway – it has a small footprint and a light, foldable frame, giving you the freedom to move around, and an impressive eight different training programmes for the freedom to own your own workout, no PT required. The display offers lots of options for tracking your exercise, including speed, stroke, revolutions, and even, thanks to the included chest strap, heart rate. Hundreds of pounds cheaper than the WaterRower Oxbridge or Concept2 Model D, it understandably doesn’t boast quite as much functionality as a higher-end rower, but for a great value, smooth and versatile machine, the Air Rower can’t be beat.


How to buy the best rowing machine

Resistance type
The main difference between machines that may not be immediately obvious (excluding things like size and weight which will be dependent on your own space) is the type of resistance they utilise. Air resistance rowing machines are the most common – they generate resistance using the onboard flywheel, and while they feel authentic and are good for all fitness levels, they can be noisier than other types; magnetic resistance gives a similar feel, but tends to be much quieter. There's also water resistance types and bungee cord.

For tight budgets and small spaces, we recommend a hydraulic machine that uses pistons for its resistance, as these tend to be more affordable and compact. Finally – and a bit of a wildcard – there’s water. While offering the most realistic rowing experience, these machines are noisy and usually very expensive, but by far the best for experienced rowers. 

Levels
The more resistance levels your new rowing machine has, the longer you'll be able to use it for. Beginners needn't worry about having a huge range, but if you are experienced, you may want to opt for something that can offer a variety of levels so you can switch it up every now and then.

What is the best rowing machine?

In our opinion, the best rowing machine you can buy is the Concept 2 Model D – it ticks all the boxes and more as it can be used by the whole family and it offers an incredibly smooth workout.

 Click to shop the Concept 2 Model D now, at the best price on the web.

Annie is our Deputy Ecommerce Editor at Real Homes, with her particular area of expertise being home fragrance (there isn't a candle out there that she hasn't lit in her home). She's our guru when it comes to what to buy, when — and also where. She has years of experience when it comes to finding deals — Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday or not — and she particularly loves finding a bargain. With some of her favorite homeware pieces coming from Amazon, she's always looking for budget-friendly alternatives and dupes, as well as eco-friendly products to help her on her recent journey to being more sustainable at home. There's nothing she loves more than her Pug, Doug, and a bargain thrift shop find (yes, she once thrifted a brand new Le Creuset pan). Next up on her to-do list at home: DIY crittall-style doors...

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