8 Best Rowing Machines in 2024 That Will Give You a Full-Body Workout

With its handsome cherry wood body, it looks a helluva lot more sleek than a hulking metal indoor rower, plus it stows away vertically when it’s not in use. But with a price that’s even more steep than the RP3 T below, an Olympic-caliber machine, you’re really paying for looks and design over actual game-changing features. It also uses a traditional water tank to dial up the water resistance similar to an actual oar moving through the waves, which can be a lot louder than a magnetic rower like the Hydrow Wave. It’s a solid, lightweight machine, though, with a cool gaming component that’ll help your morning workouts feel a little more enjoyable. (If you’re a cyclist who loves the gamification of Zwift, you’ll love the virtual regattas on Ergatta.) And if you’re still unsure, the machine comes with a 30-day trial period so you can test it out in your home and get a feel for it.

The Best Hardcore Rowing Machine: RP3 Original

“The best of the best, if you’re looking for one that the Olympic teams and elite Ivy League schools are training on, is the RP3,” Kamphuis says. That’s because the RP3 actually moves underneath you for a unique boat-like sensation, he explains, that really simulates the experience of being out on the water. It combines an aluminum body with a dynamic wobble seat and a tablet or phone monitor that connects to the RP3’s free app to pull up your stats. Kamphuis calls out the fact that the RP3 feeds you a lot more metrics and live feedback than the average machine on your dig force, joules, and your power curve—not only your watts or speed—which is ideal if you’re trying to maximize your performance.

If you’re training with a team, you can also connect one RP3 to another to pull up the power curve of your teammate, which can help you optimize your technique. The RP3 can be used in dynamic or static mode, which allows rowers to have more flexibility with how they train, and the machine itself is designed to help improve a rower’s posture and go easy on the body during training, which can help prevent any injuries down the line. It’s a hefty investment for the average rower, and probably overkill for anyone who wants a basic machine, but a really bang-up machine for serious rowers.

Another Great Machine For Serious Rowers: Oartec DX

For something slightly less expensive than the RP3 but still high-powered enough for a more experienced rower, Mog recommends the Oartec line. “The dynamic slide can mimic how your body moves within a boat and prepare you for more effective strokes,” he says, caveating that these are probably still too expensive for anyone who’s not actively training for competitive rowing. Oartec is a brand created by Australian national team rower Matt Roach that specializes in streamlined rowing machines with ergonomic seats for a more comfortable ride. It also has a similar small footprint compared to the Concept 2 and RP3 models.

2 Other Comparable Rowing Machines

And though we haven’t tested out the following models (nor have they been recommended by our experts thus far), we think they offer similar perks to the above if you’re looking to dabble.

The fitness junkies over at Peloton branched out into the rowing space a few years ago with the launch of the Peloton Row. It’s got a sleek, compact frame at just 8′ x 2′, and magnetic resistance that allows you to get a sweat session in without waking up your partner. It also dials in on metrics that help you improve your form and stroke rate, with a padded seat to help you stay planted for a while without your glutes going numb. The swiveling touchscreen is a nice feature that the Hydrow Wave doesn’t have, and it borrows from the folks at Hydrow with some scenic features that make it look like you’re out on the water in pretty, far-flung locales. If you want the experience of working out with actual rowing experts versus Peloton instructors, we’d still recommend the Hydrow Wave over the Peloton. But for Peloton devotees, the siren song of a new Peloton machine that can help them gamify their rowing workouts (and build a community with other Peloton folks on the leaderboard) might be too compelling to resist.

You might recognize the Echelon name from the treadmill space, where the brand has made a name for itself in affordable machines around $1,000 that pack in many of the same perks as pricier peers. This one has a foldable design for packing it away when it’s not in use, though it does take up a fair amount of space when it’s all set up. It can also be synced with an Echelon membership for access to over 3,000 live classes streamed via its LCD screen, along with personalized stats on your pace and stroke rate. Shoppers note that the frame is sturdy, but the magnetic resistance is still silent enough to workout without pissing off roommates and neighbors. On sale right now, it’s just north of $500 if you’re looking for a budget model to keep you in shape at home without the smart features of the best in the biz.

How Does Using an Indoor Machine Compare to Rowing in a Boat?

Kamphuis explains that a workout with a rowing machine can actually be more effective than hopping in a boat: “There’s a reason a lot of rowers use these machines. You can see your numbers and the power you put in, whereas with the boat, you can feel it but you can’t see it.” Using an indoor machine is also an all-season kind of rowing experience that isn’t dictated by the weather. “Every program for schools and college has rowers on these seven days a week during the winter time,” Kamphuis adds.

What Should You Look for in an Indoor Rowing Machine?

One of the biggest factors when shopping for an indoor rower, besides the price tag, is the square footage your indoor rowing machine will take up in your space. Kamphuis warns against caving on a cheap foldable machine, as he explains that the most high-quality rowers ones will be sturdier machines that can help simulate the feel of being out on the water. Plus, he notes that a solid model like the Concept 2 comes apart in two pieces to pack away (while others, like the Ergatta, can stack up against the wall when they’re not in use).

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