TOP 10 Best Heavy Duty Rowing Machines (2020 Reviews)

You might be wondering … Why are rowing machines becoming more and more popular?

Unlike most cardio machines (stationary bikes or treadmills ), rowing machines work your entire body, not just your lower torso. In addition to this, you work both cardio and strength, something difficult to find in most gym equipment.

As if that were not enough, rowing is an exercise with minimal impact on the joints compared to running activities. Some studies conclude that rowing contributes to improving joint health.

All this has meant that rowing machines have become one of the most used equipment in recent years. If you are already clear that you want a rowing machine but do not know which one to choose, in this article, we will see:

  • What criteria to take into account to choose the best one for you.
  • The five best heavy-duty rowing machines.
  • Pros and cons of each of them.
  • And much more!
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TOP 10 Best Heavy Duty Rowing Machines (2020)

After analyzing all the models and contrasting information from all types of users, this is selecting the five best rowing machines. 

Rank #1: Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine

The Marcy Foldable 8-Level Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine is for you if you want to exercise sporadically, you do not need to train at high intensity, you are not a very tall person (> 180 cm), and your budget is very limited.

 

It is a very basic rowing machine, recommended for beginners or people who will not give it a lot of cane. Hence, it is such an inexpensive machine, one of the cheapest on the market.

The resistance is varied through a system of elastic bands that allows three levels of tension. To adjust the level, you have to change a carabiner position to use another rubber.

The resistance levels are sufficient if you don’t want to work very hard, more aerobically than strength.

It’s a fairly compact machine, which you can fold up when you’re done using it. If you have enough space at home, you will be interested to know that its folded dimensions are: 94 x 43.5 x 128 cm (lake x width x height).

It supports about 110 kg of maximum user weight, but I would not recommend it if you weigh more than 100 kg. The maximum user height is not intended for tall people (> 180 cm).

Something that could be improved is that it is not exactly a silent machine. If you are interested in training in somewhat delicate hours, keep this in mind.

It comes with a computer that measures the typical: calories, number of strokes, training time, etc. However, don’t expect much precision from her …

Finally, I recommend you buy a non-slip mat underneath, as it tends to move slightly forward.

Here I leave you with a short video for you to see in action.

 

Pros

  • Very low price
  • Takes up little space when folded
  • Simple assembly
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Cons

  • Fair work resistance if you want to work strength
  • It isn’t quiet
  • Inaccurate control panel
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Rank #2: Fitness Reality 3000WR Rower Rowing Machine

The WaterRower is for you if you want a rowing sensation very similar to rowing in water, you don’t have space problems at home, and you have the budget to invest in it.

They say there is nothing quite like paddling a WaterRower. Well yes, rowing in real water

The sensation of fluidity is incomparable and, also, the little sound that the water makes is even pleasant.

Water-resistance increases with higher paddling intensity (as in real rowing). That is, the stronger you want to row, the more resistance the machine will put up. Unlike rowing machines with magnetic resistance, which have a little more resistance at the beginning of the course, the resistance is perceived the same throughout the entire row in WaterRower.

If you want to increase or decrease the resistance, you can fill/empty the water tank—the greater the amount of water, the greater the resistance. If you want to vary the resistance very often, it can be cumbersome.

One of its disadvantages is its size. With its 209 x 57 x 51 cm, you need a considerable space to use it. Of course, once you finish, it is ready to be left upright and disturbed as little as possible.

It is one of the most stylish rowing machines. In addition to this light wood model, you have other water rowers made of elegant materials that can even be a decorative element at home.

Note: if the WaterRower has managed to captivate you and you want to know more about them, in this article, I analyze the five bestsellers.

Something to improve is that they could have put the seat a little lower than the shooter because, if you are very tall (> 185), your knees could touch your chest at the beginning of the journey. It is not a big problem, but it is something to consider.

I leave you with a short video to give you an idea of how it goes:

 

Pros

  • Water-based paddling sensation emulating real paddling
  • Stable resistance all the way
  • Very stylish design
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Cons

  • Price not suitable for all pockets
  • It would help if you had a lot of space at home to use it
  • Somewhat uncomfortable if you want to vary resistance levels often

Rank #3: XTERRA Fitness ERG700 Rower

The SportsPlus rowing machine is for you if you want to train both cardio and some strength, you need it to be quiet, and you want to train sporadically (3-4 times a week).

 

The Sport plus stands out for its magnetic resistance, configurable from the digital panel. You can choose between 8 different resistance levels, perfect for both light and more intense workouts (higher level of strength).

In addition to this, it comes with six pre-programmed training programs, in which the machine itself sets the intensity and duration of the session, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

The maximum user weight that it supports is 150 Kg, so you should not have any restrictions in this regard. One thing to keep in mind: to prevent machine slipping, it is recommended to use a protective mat.

The values shown on the LCD are training time, distance, strokes per minute, calorie consumption (not very reliable), and heart rate approx. One detail regarding the heart rate is that the machine comes with a wireless chest heart rate monitor.

Note: Some believe that it must be connected to the electrical current, but this is not the case. Its LCD screen works with batteries.

The machine is foldable. Although it is true, it is not one of the most compacts on the market. In case you want to know the space you need at home, its folded dimensions are 95 x 51 x 122 cm (length x width x height).

 

Pros

  • Good variety of magnetic resistance levels
  • Silent
  • Supports heavy user weight (150 Kg)
  • Easy to assemble
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Cons

  • Unreliable calorie counter
  • It is recommended to use a protective mat
  • Resistance levels not excessively high

Rank #4: Total Gym XLS Rowing Machine

If you want a rowing machine to train very often, you are a tall person, and you have no budget problems, the Total Gym XLS Rowing Machine  is a very interesting machine.

 

The RSX500 is not a professional machine, but it comes close. Shortly after using it, you immediately realize that it is a quality machine (like a good German machine).

If you are interested in training in a wide range of force levels and you are concerned about not making excessive noise during your workouts, the RSX500 stands out for its magnetic brake system with 16 resistance levels and its low noise pulley.

It is designed for all types of users but, if you are someone of a large size, you will not have problems: thanks to its long rowing cable and its long-distance rail, the maximum user height allowed is 2 meters and 120 Kg of weight.

It comes with 12 pre-installed training programs. You can select different goals: training time, number of strokes, calories, etc. The good news is that the resistance varies automatically depending on the program you choose, the total programmed time, and the initial resistance.

Although it is not the most compact machine, it is foldable. If you are interested in knowing the space you need at home, these are its folded dimensions: 79 x 57 x 154.5 cm (length x width x height).

It comes with a wireless chest band heart rate monitor included, which is appreciated.

One of its strengths is the connection with Apps like Kinomap, with which it is impossible to get bored (so you are more likely to train).

What does it consist of? During training, you can watch a rowing video (with a smart TV) and compete with other players in real-time. Also, you can store the training data to monitor your progress. One downside is that the app’s distance is not the actual paddling distance, but the rope travel distance. That is, the machine will tell you that you have traveled more distance than what the App shows.

Finally, it has very good user ratings. Of course, the quality is paid. Although it is competitively priced, it is not suitable for all budgets.

 

Pros

  • You can work strength and aerobic thanks to its 16 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Suitable for tall people (up to 2 meters)
  • Bluetooth connection to train with Apps
  • The pedals adapt to the movement of the rudder
  • Very quiet
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Cons

  • Price not suitable for all pockets
  • Less intuitive LCD interface than expected

Rank #5: Concept2 Model D

If you want a high-end, professional-quality rowing machine to give you a lot of power and don’t mind paying the price, the Conecept2 is for you.

They say it is used by professional rowers to train at home in the off-season. And, when you delve into its features and benefits, you understand why.

First of all, the manufacturer offers a 5-year warranty on the structure. And everyone who has tried it agrees: the machine withstands intense daily use.

One of its strengths is its fan-based air-based resistance regulator. The fan is a good way to generate resistance, although it is not as quiet as the magnetic resistance.

In this case, you can vary the air intake using a 10-position wheel (the more air intake, the more resistance you generate). In addition to this, at each level, you can also vary the resistance: the greater the pulling force, the greater the resistance, thus simulating a real rowing environment.

It is one of the machines that generate greater resistance, not in vain they use Crossfit training.

It is designed for all types of users, both men and women, without weight restrictions (supports up to 227 Kg) or height. If you are going to share the machine with more people, it is something to consider.

One of the drawbacks is that you have to have a large space at home because the machine is large (274 cm long x 122 cm wide). The good thing is that when you stop using it, you can easily disassemble it into two parts. Once you do, the storage measurements are: 63.5 x 83.8 x 137.2 cm (length x width x height).

For its part, the aluminum sliding rail is covered with a stainless steel plate to ensure smooth sliding of the seat. These are the details that make the difference.

As for the toeboards, they are adjustable and are positioned at a 10-degree incline, to paddle in as natural a position as possible.

It has a backlit LCD screen that shows typical values (calories, time, heart rate, the force exerted, number of strokes …). It does not include a heart band, but you can buy a compatible one (like this one ).

To highlight: One of the LCD computer functions is that it has what they call “Concept2 Online Logbook”. It is a free app that allows you to record your workouts and keep a record of your results. Without a doubt, something great to stay motivated and see your progress.

Unlike magnetic machines (such as Sportstech ) that are allowed to vary the resistance electronically, in this case, it is not possible, so it would not be compatible with Kinomap- type Apps.

I leave you with this short video in case you want to see it in action:

 

Pros

  • 5-year frame warranty
  • Perfect for high training levels of strength
  • One of the best value in the market
  • Connection with Apps to monitor your progress
  • Excellent support service
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Cons

  • Price not suitable for all pockets
  • It would help if you had a lot of space at home to use it
  • The fan can be noisy if you paddle too hard
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Frequent questions

What criteria to follow to choose the best rowing machine?

It would help if you looked at the types of resistance they have, their connectivity with Apps, their size, and how they can adapt to your height.

How much does a rowing machine cost?

You can find rowing machines from € 300 to € 1,000. Depending on the use you will give it, you will be interested in one or the other.

What is the best price-quality rowing machine?

It will depend on your particular case, but the most recommended rowing machine is …

Four things to consider before choosing your rowing machine

Space at home. Rowing machines are not small devices. Before buying your rowing machine, make sure you have space to use it at home. If you go something fair, you want it to be foldable or removable. Also, look at the dimensions of the folded machine to see if it fits where you plan.

Weight and size. Although most rowing machines support a high maximum user weight, it is worth making sure. You also have to see if it has any height restrictions. Some rowing machines are especially comfortable for tall people. Also, keep this in mind if you are going to share the machine with more people.

Simulator. Some rowing machines have a small built-in computer that allows wireless connections to other applications. You can record your workouts to see your progress and compete with other people through Apps like Kinomap (with the incentive that you row watching a real rowing simulation).

Types of resistance. Each machine has a system to vary the paddling force. The most common: rubber, air, magnetic, and hydraulic. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, but, in general, the magnetic and hydraulic ones are the quietest, the air ones are very robust, and the rubber ones are somewhat weaker. Go to the end of the article to see more details.

4 types of resistance systems

If you want to know which system is the most appropriate in your case, in this section, we are going to review the four most common types:

 Elastic bands

They are based on the tension of different elastic bands. The more elastic the rubber, the less resistance, and vice versa.

In general, machines with this system have a carabiner with which you change the different rubbers to vary the resistance level.

The machines that incorporate it are usually the cheapest because it is not as robust a system as others. That is, it deteriorates more easily. Therefore, I recommend this system if you are going to train sporadically and at a low intensity.

 Air

They consist of a fan whose blades rotate from the force you exert. To increase resistance, they have an air inlet: the greater the airflow, the greater the resistance.

The paddling sensation is similar to real paddling, as the paddling difficulty increases when we increase the intensity.

They usually have a manually adjustable opening with different positions. Although they are quieter than rubbers, they are not as quiet as water or magnetic ones. Of course, they are the most robust and durable.

 Magnetic

They are usually the quietest machines. They are based on a system of magnets that generate resistance and hardly make noise. The rowing motion is smooth, and the resistance is usually adjustable.

It is true that, in general, the resistance is less than that of air and water. However, unlike the latter, for low intensities, we can increase the resistance level.

They are usually very durable and require practically no maintenance.

 Water

They are the ones that simulate a more realistic paddling. The feeling is the most similar to paddling in the water.

Its operation is similar to air resistance because the intensity of rowing determines resistance (the higher the rowing intensity, the greater the resistance).

It has a kind of paddle that moves inside the water tank. It is not as silent as the magnetic ones, although it is true that it is a pleasant sound since it emulates a real paddle’s sound.

The worst: they tend to take up a lot of space and are usually the most expensive rowing machines.

Where to buy rowing machines?

If you want to buy a rowing machine from home, one of the best places to do it is Amazon, the largest online store in the world.

Amazon tends to do promotions very often, so it is not uncommon for you to find bargains at many times of the year (and many times with lower prices than the manufacturer itself).

If the machine is not what you expected, Amazon guarantees you a one month trial without obligation. That is, if, after one month, the machine does not convince you, you can return it.

This is all from me! If you have any questions or suggestions, I’ll wait for you in the comments.

 

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