Fitness motivation, well, dwindling? It's time to step things up a notch...
Rowing machines are one of the most underrated pieces of equipment when it comes to working out. Why? Because they utilise more muscles than any other machine, boost heart health, and build all-important strength, too.
Obviously not everyone lives close to a river, so an at-home rowing machine, for most, is the only option. Lucky, then, that the 2022 versions of at-home rowers promise to be as good as the IRL experience.
Take the Hydrow rowing machine, for example, which uses a unique electromagnetic drag mechanism with computer-controlled resistance and ultra-smooth motion to replicate the feeling of being in the water. It’s pretty uncanny, and both a smooth and quiet ride.
Alongside the best treadmills, the best spin bikes and the best home workout equipment, a rowing machine might just be the missing puzzle piece to take your home gym(/garage) to the next level. Keep scrolling for all your unanswered questions about the underdog of the fitness world, and check out our top picks for you to shop.
Are rowing machines good exercise?
Not only do the machines make you utilise both upper and lower body strength with every stroke, they’re one of the best ways to strengthen and tone your muscles while also improving your endurance, too. In fact, one American Fitness Professionals Association study reported that the motion of rowing works your legs 65% of the time and your arms and upper body 35%. If you are wondering what main muscle groups the workout will target, think arms, obliques, glutes, calves and more.
The best news? These machines can be used by people of all different fitness requirements, as the low impact workout promises not to put added stress on your joints. Just make sure to ease into more intense sessions when you’re first starting out.
Not forgetting the mental health benefits, of course. Sure, being out on the open water will bring peace and clarity, but even rowing from home can help your mind switch off. This is all thanks to the repetitive movement of the exercise, meaning you don’t have to think too much about what you are doing. Instead, simply focus on the smooth, gliding motion and finding inner calm.
Where to buy rowing machines?
Like what you’re hearing? We’ve rounded up the best rowing machines to buy now. We’ve included everything – from the best value for money, to the most stylish designs that will look sleek in your home.
Ready, steady, row…
Best luxury rowing machine
If you're into rowing, you'll definitely have heard of Hydrow, the leading at-home rowing machine.
The Hydrow machines really are great - smooth to ride and quiet as a mouse, you really do feel like you're out on the water. Enjoy a 22" touchscreen display (a bit like Peloton, not a second of your workout will be dull) and themed rides that are anything from 5 to 45 minutes long. Truly the best you can buy - the design is super sleek.
This rowing machine doesn't fold away in the more traditional way that the other designs, however you can tilt it into an upright position for more room.
Best all rounder rowing machine
The Echelon Row has everything you need for a killer workout.
This machine is enhanced with smart technology to push you harder towards your fitness goals. It has a foldable design with built-in wheels for easy movement, 32 levels of magnetic resistance, an adjustable console that can hold your phone so you can access classes and you can even download an interactive app to compete with other rowers.
This machine does have a slightly higher price point, but for everything you get, we believe it's totally worth the money.
Best quality rowing machine
For a great quality rowing machine, look no further than the JTX Ignite Air.
This machine has been used in gyms and training facilities across the UK. The air resistance technology replicates the feel of gym rowing sessions at home. There's no need for a plug socket either, as the machine is self-powered.
For the price of this machine, we are struggling to find many cons. While it's not as smooth as the Hydrow or Echelon, it's a good budget all-rounder. The only downside could be the size, so just make sure you have enough space to store it.
Best affordable rowing machine
If you're looking for a really budget machine to get into rowing (that won't break after two months), this could be the one for you.
Apart from the incredible price, this machine has everything you need for a basic rowing workout. It comes with 12 levels of resistance variations and a commercial grade steel frame. We can't guarantee it won't break, but the reviews look good for the price point.
This is a much more basic design compared to some of the other machines, so if you are planning on rowing a lot, we would recommend another pick.
Best stylish rowing machine
This machine will blend perfectly into your neutral home decor.
Not only does this machine look good, but it does good, too. It is designed as a natural rowing simulator, giving you the same feeling as if you were gliding down a river. There is no need for artificial adjustment either, thanks to the self-regulating water flywheel.
This is definitely more of an investment piece, so we would recommend for any avid rowers out there.
Best compact rowing machine
Short on space? A compact rowing machine is the way to go.
Not only is this rowing machine great quality, but the revolutionary SpaceSaver design means you can easily store it away if you are short on room.
We are yet to find a downside to this one, but if we do, we will be sure to let you know.
Best folding rowing machine
Another great rowing machine in terms of storage is the Concept2 RowErg.
This sleek rowing machine can fold for storage and easily separates into two if needed. It also comes with the PM5 monitor, which gives accurate and comparable data for every row.
Again, the price point is a little higher, but it may be worth it for that extra space at home.
Best value for money rowing machine
If you're looking for a bargain, this machine has you covered.
This machine has a compact design, with smooth pedalling, a comfortable seat and a holder for your smartphone.
It is not as advanced as other models, but it will still give you that full-body workout you are after.