10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building {2021}

Here is an analysis to avoid dying trying when choosing your rowing machine FOR ATHLETE

We review the features that stand out, highlighting the benefits, and finally, a buying guide and a comparison table for you to choose the best rowing machine for muscle building.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising – at least – four days a week is the perfect formula to look and feel good.

Fortunately, you won’t have to join the gym to enjoy these benefits. Even without leaving the house, you can have a full session of cardio, strength, and endurance.

We have not lost our minds.

And, with a rowing machine or ergometer, you will be able to sculpt your body, burn calories and strengthen different muscle groups without recharging your joints and, of course, without having to face inclement weather.

Even professional rowers use machines like these to keep fit in the off-season.

Now, before buying a model for the home, think about what you want. Ergometers have different characteristics such as independent paddles, simulators, or advanced consoles. They also differ from each other due to the challenge they represent.

Therefore, you should take a look at certain factors, such as the type of resistance, the measurements, the weight, and the durability of the device before “jumping into the water.”

If you are confused, don’t worry! We have prepared a small guide to equip yourself with the the best rowing machine for muscle building  on the market.


Our Top Selection -10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building

Top 10 Best Rowing Machines For Muscle Building {2020}

As with other devices – such as electric scooters or computers – there is the best rowing machine for muscle building  for every lifestyle

That is why we want to present you with a fairly diverse account of the the best rowing machine for muscle building  of 2020.

 In this way, you can familiarize yourself with certain characteristics and choose the one that best suits your needs:


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: how to choose the perfect model?

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.

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