10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building {2021}

Over the last year, the top rowing machines have been in extremely high demand. Because many gyms have closed as a result of the worldwide health crisis, anyone with a spare space in their garage, front room, or any other part of their house or flat has been buying rowers like crazy. With good reason: rowing machines are among the best exercise machines available, thanks to their ability to tone muscle while also providing a cardiovascular workout.

They’re low-impact, so persons with weak joints or muscles can use them without risking injury to their knees and hips, and they’re customizable. A low-resistance workout, a high-resistance muscle-building regimen, or a fast-and-furious HIIT cardio blitz are all options. Most of them don’t even take up much room: many rowers now fold up or roll away for simpler storage, making them some of the greatest home training equipment available.

Few single pieces of fitness equipment can match a rowing machine’s full-body workout and serious cardio fix. The greatest rowing machines, if you can get your hands on one, may be simple to set up and provide a variety of workouts, depending on your fitness objectives (keep an eye on our Prime Day fitness bargains hub for big discounts on rowers and other exercise equipment!).

Our Top Selection -10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building

Top 10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building {2021}

Professional rowers used to use the cardiac row machine exclusively. But that is no longer the case.

Rowing is having a moment these days, thanks in part to CrossFit. Rowing studios are growing, and rowing equipment can be found in almost every gym. Rowing contests are becoming increasingly popular, and Concept2 rowers can be found in every CrossFit box.

According to Lisa Niren, a group fitness instructor and CITYROW trainer, “it’s a total-body workout that engages most of the muscles in your body throughout every stroke with little to no impact.” “It burns fat while delivering amazing physical endurance and high cardiovascular fitness.”

Rowing builds greater strength and power than other full-body cardio sports like swimming and cross-country skiing, according to Eric Von Frohlich, CrossFit Level 1 certified trainer and founder of EVF Performance and Row House NYC. “Rowers are more muscular than other endurance athletes, with thicker and stronger backs, shoulders, and arms. Because you must engage your core to transfer the power from your legs to the handle, a good, powerful row stroke is akin to a kettlebell swing or a deadlift.”

Rowing is a strength exercise by definition, as it is a combination of a deadlift and a barbell row. That’s an excellent combo for everyone to practice, as it targets all of the posterior-chain muscles, which can easily be weakened by the amount of sitting that occurs in today’s society.

Rowing is also simple to include into any workout since you can get a lot of oomph from a 10- to 15-minute rowing session, and you can easily incorporate additional tools, such as kettlebell swings or other activities, to create well-rounded, full-body workouts. Do you require some examples? Take a look at the workouts listed below.

Rank #1: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 Elastic Cord Rowing Machine

This version of Sunny Health is easy to install, disassemble, and of course, easy to use

We cannot deny that several aspects of this machine catch our attention, so let’s go for it!

The resistance of the SF-RW5720 is a hydraulic piston and will allow you to train each arm separately.

 If you think that this element adds more realism to the exercise, you are correct! Thanks to these blades, you can make complete movements. 

Also, the machine’s arms have a good grip, and the toeboards are non-slip, something that is standard in this type of equipment.

The console is a bit basic. What does shine at first glance are its five levels of incline

This completely changes the training because it gives it a touch of dynamism by raising the user’s level of difficulty, something that will not only be felt in the chest, biceps, triceps, and other upper muscles, but also in the glutes, legs, and abs.

The weight and measurements of the machine will not be a problem. It barely weighs 17 kg and can be folded up for storage under the bed. Of course: even if it has non-slip rubbers, it is recommended to mount it on a protective mat.



  • It allows us to work each arm separately.
  • It has five different levels of incline.
  • It is well suited for strength and endurance training.


  • It is recommended to use it with a protective mat.
  • The console only displays training time, calories, and repetitions per minute.

Rank #2: gorowingo Water Rowing Machine Rower

If we had to define the WaterRower Classic Rowing Machine  in one sentence, it would be “an ergometer that goes beyond the basics.

” Why do we say it? In principle, because it works with a magnetic resistance -which will allow you to adjust your training levels with total precision- and it includes its chest heart rate monitor.

Also, it allows you to do both strength and resistance training. Of course: the structure and constitution of the machine are not designed for daily use. 

So we recommend it if you only want to exercise 3-5 days a week.

Like all – until now – it has its console. The LCD screen will show you certain metrics of your training – like duration, strokes per minute, calories expended, and heart rate – but the data is not as accurate as of that of professional machines.

 The console’s good part is that it does not need an electrical connection, since it works with batteries.

The most compact machine does not win the prize in terms of measurements, but this is an aspect that goes unnoticed because it can be folded

What does not fascinate us is that it should be used on top of a protective mat to avoid stability problems.



  • Combine strength and endurance.
  • It is foldable and easy to assemble.
  • Supports users up to 150 kg.


  • The console is not that accurate.
  • It would help if you had a floor mat.
  • It is not challenging for semi-professionals.

Rank #3: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

To train at home, it is unnecessary to invest hundreds of euros, and, as an example, we have the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine from Concept2 . 

This is a low-cost ergometer for home use with what any user under 1.90 m in height looks for in a home machine: compact measurements, folding system, magnetic brake resistor, and an included console.

Of course, it’s nowhere near a machine for commercial or professional use, but it’s fine for exercising multiple muscle groups at home. 

What do we like? That works with a magnetic system and has good glide. However, being a domestic machine, some things could be improved.

For example, the seat is a good size, but it is not as soft as for a prolonged exercise session, and although the console can be seen from any angle, it does not display as much data as professional ergometers.



  • It has ten levels of resistance.
  • The seat is an appropriate size.
  • It is cheap, compact, quiet, and easy to use.


  • The resistance levels are not that demanding.
  • It is not designed for a long training session.

Rank #4: Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

We couldn’t stop including a the best rowing machine for muscle building  on the list. 

And this is where the Bluefin Blade 2.0 comes in because it offers more than necessary despite being for “amateur” athletes.

As it is of magnetic resistance, neither movements – nor noise – will be a problem. When doing the paddles, you will not feel limitations because the 10 ° incline, which is not usually seen in the initial machines, softens the movements and simulates rowing in the water.

One factor that we like – and that makes workouts more fun – is that it connects to Kinomap

Thus, you can put a video and immerse yourself in a realistic experience. 

What is missing?

 It is not foldable, but -in its favor- you can store it in a corner in a vertical position.

As for resistance levels, it could offer more – it only has eight – but perhaps it is more than enough to start.



  • The incline is a nice bonus.
  • It’s comfortable, ergonomic, and has the basics


  • It does not represent a challenge for professionals.
  • Some users report problems using the application.

Rank #5: Fitness Reality 4000MR

Those looking for  the best rowing machine for muscle building with good performance are thinking about the Fitness Reality 4000MR, at least as long as its square meters allow it. 

The reason is not in the magnetic resistance or its silent operation but the oars.

 And yes, we speak in the plural because this ergometer works with two completely independent paddles and – believe it or not – this makes a difference.

Let’s take a closer look at it. With this machine, you can do complete strokes, no linear movements.

 Also, his oars are at the perfect level. Something to improve? The grip: not bad, but we have seen better.

As for the size, it is large and heavy. But if you consider the realism of the training – and that the design is perfect for exercising the upper muscles – the measurements end up being the least.

We love something about this machine, and that is that the demand varies when you increase the resistance levels.



  • It comes with ten training programs.
  • Perfect for users up to 2 m tall.
  • The seat is large, ergonomic, and comfortable.


  • The console is not compatible with the computer.
  • It may take a little time to adjust to the oars.

Rank #6: Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

At first glance, the futuristic design of the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower  reminds us of German racing cars. 

The first thing to highlight -and perhaps the most important- is that it works with a dual system that combines the best of magnetic resistance with air. 

And yes, it is a little heavier than we would like -41 kg- but its durability and half-folding make up for it.

One of the features that captured our attention is the non-slip seat, which is very useful when facing a long training session or venturing into one of the last six resistance levels

When it comes to adaptability, you couldn’t ask for more! 

Cable and rail measurements are perfect for users up to 2m tall.

An extra? The machine is quite quiet and is compatible with Kinomap.



  • Work with 16 levels of resistance.
  • It has no height restrictions (2 m).
  • Ideal for strength and endurance training.


  • The console needs an electrical connection.
  • For the price, it could include the heart band.

Rank #7: ProForm 440R Rower

We start with the ProForm 440R Rower , one of the favorites of athletes. Its low profile, combined with the air resistance and 10 ° tilt steering wheel – conveys a realistic feel with every movement. 

Since the seat is padded and glides smoothly on the rail, you can train smoothly. If you need a slightly more challenging exercise, don’t forget to raise the air intake.

The console is very accurate and will even show you information about your heart rate. The best part? 

It is wireless, you can put it wherever you want, and it does not need batteries or cables, since it gets the energy from your movements.

 Also, the machine is easy to maintain, since, unlike others, its nickel-plated chain does not require frequent lubrication or adjustment.

When you finish using it, you have to fold it – without any tools or strange tricks – and put it in any corner or, if you prefer, transport it with the help of the front wheels.



  • Supports a weight of up to 227 kg.
  • The structure is guaranteed for five years.
  • Folded, it’s super compact! (63.5 x 83.5 x 137.2 cm).


  • Does not include a heart rate band.
  • If you try too hard, it can be a bit noisy

Buying guide: Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building

Buying a the best rowing machine for muscle building to stay in shape is a wise move, at least as long as you make sure to take its features into account.

Think that it would be useless to have a team that you cannot use because it is too big or falls short in terms of the levels of physical demand.

Therefore, if rowing is your passion or wants to strengthen your body without going to the gym.

We will give you some keys that you must consider to choose the perfect machine.

Type of resistance in rowing machines

No, we are not talking about the durability of the device or how robust the machine’s structure is, although that also matters.

The type of resistance or resistance wheels refers to the heart of the machine.

 Depending on the type you choose, you can enjoy certain benefits each time you pull the handlebars or the paddles.

Air resistance

It’s not one of the trendiest, but it’s still popular for two reasons: they feel very much like paddling on the water, and they work with your strength and speed.

What does this mean? The faster and stronger you “row,” the more resistance you will feel.

This has made them one of the favorite CrossFit machines.

Another factor that characterizes air resistance wheels is that the user cannot adjust the resistance manually.

As we said, it will depend on your effort and that they are usually a little louder than magnetic or hydraulic resistance wheels.


Like air resistance wheels, water-resistance adapts to your strength and speed. The difference is that it works with a built-in water tank and a kind of submerged mill or paddles. Each time you pull on the handlebar, the paddles will rotate, generating resistance.

These machines are usually much larger, heavier, and more expensive.

The feeling of naturalness when rowing is worth it, as is the smoothness and fluidity that you will feel in each movement.

Hydraulic resistance

Here the machine works with hydraulic pistons, one central or two independent, depending on the model that allows the user to train or strengthen each arm separately.

This makes them a good buy if, for example, you have an injury and cannot work one arm at the same level as the other.

On hydraulic rowing machines, the handlebar is not adjustable, but rowing benches are.

Although they are inexpensive and quiet, they have a disadvantage: they do not withstand long workouts, since the pistons tend to overheat.

Magnetic resistance

One of the most modern. The magnetic brake included in the machine that works with electromagnets is the central piece, which will generate the resistance.

The demand for rowing machines with magnetic resistance is usually so high that they are designed for athletes and experienced athletes.

A difference with the water or air resistance steering wheel? The user can adjust the resistance level manually and precisely.

A disadvantage? They are not the cheapest on the market.

Dual resistance (air / magnetic)

This type of machine works with an air resistance flywheel and a magnetic brake. Therefore, we could say that it combines the best of both worlds.

You will not feel any friction when moving, each stroke will be realistic, and you can adjust it to the level you prefer.


The determining factor in purchasing a rowing machine is not the technology, but we cannot downplay it either.

If your training is basic, a standard console will serve you without problems.

But suppose you plan to increase your physical performance or you are a professional rower.

In that case, you need a well-integrated computer that is reliable, and that shows you the calories you have burned in the session and the number of strokes and heart rate, among other data.

It would also be desirable if the console is compatible with a fitness application such as Kinomap, which allows you to enter a fairly realistic rowing simulation or that lets you keep control of your physical performance and exercise sessions, either on mobile or on the computer.


Not all rowing machines are designed for frequent use. The domestic ones barely resist short sessions of one hour about 3-4 days a week, although, to be honest, this is a limitation that is not seen in semi-professional and professional teams.

This is because the wear on an ergometer is higher than on any other exercise machine. If possible, opt for a model with a guaranteed structure, aluminum rails, steel parts, and put the plastic aside.

Realism or virtual simulation

Factors such as the flywheel’s weight in air resistance machines, which should be between 5.5 and 9.5 kg, and the type of paddle or row will directly influence training.

If you want something very realistic, be sure to get a machine with independent dual paddles because you will be able to do paddles similar to those you do in the water and not linear movements.

The inclination will also be a fundamental factor of 10 ° onwards or adjustable, more than fine, and the variation in resistance.


As incredible as it may sound, you need to determine how much of your square footage you would be willing to give up before purchasing a rowing machine. While most models are foldable, they are usually quite bulky once unfolded.

In conclusion? You should see very well the measurements of the folded and unfolded machine before selecting your favorite.

Now that you know what to look for in a rowing machine get ready to explore! We are sure that you have in your hands everything you need to find the right one.

Final Talk : Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building

There is one point to which we would like to call your attention. Many of the models on our list of the best rowing machines below may presently be out of stock due to high demand for rowing machines and other home cardio equipment (including the best treadmills and best elliptical machines) during the epidemic.

Manufacturers work around the clock to refill stock, and our simple shopping widgets update every 15 minutes, ensuring that you always see the cheapest prices as soon as they become available.

In the meantime, if you can’t wait to get rowing, we’ve listed all of the rowing machines that are currently in stock and ready to order below. Good luck with your purchasing!

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