10 Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Picking The Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

10 Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as being out on a lake, rowing casually as you gaze up at a cloudless sky. But that’s not the type of rowing we’re talking about doing here. The best rowing machine for beginners will help you get in shape, burn calories, and the best part, it can be used in the comfort of your own home.

Targeting your abs, legs, and arms, rowing uses 86% of the muscles in your body—including both small and large. Increasing your heart rate and toning, the piece of indoor equipment became commercially patented in 1872, though its creation came much earlier in the 4th century BC. 

From improving oar stroke for rowing team members to burning calories without hurting joints, rowing machines are one of the most favored pieces of equipment in the gym. This list will help you find the best rowing machines for beginners by revealing our top 10 picks.

The 10 Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

What makes a rowing machine good for beginners? For us, it’s about ease of use, convenience, quality, and price. We’ve included a range of brands for all budgets ahead. Ready to start? Hop on, strap in, and let’s get to it.

1. Hydrow

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

The Hydrow Rower is one of the most talked about rowing machines available today. Offering two different models, they trump every other rower on this list in terms of technology, design, and features. We also love how smooth each stroke is on a Hydrow.

Using a patented electromagnetic drag mechanism, the Hydrow Rower is super quiet too—something that comes in handy when you’re following along to their Live Outdoor Reality workout programs through a monthly or annual membership. Though membership isn’t required in order to use their rowers, it’s one of the main reasons so many choose this brand.

We’ve referred to Hydrow as the Peloton of the rowing world before because though the machine itself is impressive, you’ll get the most out of your experience when you subscribe.

What’s in a subscription? Since Hydrow’s whole MO is to give you a real life rowing experience, when you turn on one of their live or on-demand workouts, you’ll be led through a video class filmed out on waterways around the world from Scotland to Norway to Alaska, by a world-class athlete. 

Thanks to the 22” rotatable touchscreen, you’ll feel like you really are there. Since the Hydrow Rower has ergonomic padded seats and comfortable handles, all you’ll have to focus on is the challenge ahead.

Of course, Hydrow doesn’t limit their classes to just rowing. When you’re done, hop off your machine and take pilates, yoga, strength or circuit training. Once you’re all done with your workout, tip the rower upright and store it out of the way.

You can get the Hydrow Rower for $2,495. If you want a similar experience but are looking for a lower-cost option, choose the Hydrow Wave for $1,895. 33% smaller, it’s designed for smaller spaces and it’s lighter and quieter.  It also comes with 100% of the content that comes with the Hydrow Rower. Add a monthly or annual subscription to get the full experience.


  • Mimics real-life rowing experience
  • Live & on-demand classes with world-class athletes on waterways around the world
  • 4,000+ workouts from rowing to pilates, yoga, and circuit training
  • Ergonomic, padded seat
  • Quiet & smooth operation
  • 22” rotatable screen

2. Doufit

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

We’re going from a super premium option to a budget pick in this best rowing machine for beginners list, but that doesn’t mean Doufit isn’t good value! In fact, though it’s the most affordable option here, it’s surprisingly durable. 

Doufit is a floating brand—it doesn’t actually have its own website. You can find its rowing machine at Walmart or on Amazon, and if you really are a beginner, you’ll love the chance to try out the activity without breaking the bank. That said, you will miss out on more premium features like live classes and a larger screen.

For those not fussy about features, check out the Doufit Magnetic Rowing Machine for $234.


  • Basic LCD screen
  • Very affordable
  • Comfortable, large seat
  • Accommodates up to 265lbs
  • Weighs 61lbs
  • Folds & stores upright

3. ProForm

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

We love ProForm for beginners. Why? Because the ProR10 Rower combines the best of both worlds: simplicity and technology. It’s a mid-range magnetic rowing machine that’s quiet and offers a great range of resistance levels (24), but it’s also compatible with iFit. 

For those unfamiliar with iFit, it’s an online training platform you can subscribe to for $25 per month. It will give you access to on-demand fitness classes, but you will need your own smartphone or tablet to follow along. 

The Pro R10 has its own LCD screen that displays your basic stats, but you won’t be able to cast workouts on it, however, the machine does sync with iFit and auto adjusts your resistance. Pretty cool. You can get the Pro R10 for $800 or sign up for 3 years of iFit and get it for free. 


  • Magnetic resistance
  • Compatible with iFit
  • 24 levels of resistance
  • 20 built-in workouts
  • Compact & lightweight

4. Echelon 

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Echelon has two magnetic rowing machines in its inventory. The main difference between them is that one has a 22” screen. Since Echelon offers live and on-demand classes through their streaming service, the screen does come in handy.

With a foldable design, Echelon’s Row S Smart Rower has 32 levels of resistance and a Bluetooth controller. In other words, it’s super user-friendly, quiet, and smooth. Want to switch things up? Echelon’s app offers strength training classes too. The S Smart Rower is $1,232 and the Echelon Fit membership plan is $35/month. 


  • Comfortable seat & secure footrest
  • 22” touchscreen 
  • Rotating screen
  • 32 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Bluetooth compatible

5. Marcy

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Not looking to spend a fortune on a rowing machine? Marcy is a great option for beginners. They have a range of magnetic, air, and water rowers in their collection, and if you like to keep things simple, you’ll love that all of them are pretty easy to operate. All you need to do is hop on and start rowing. 

All include a small LCD display screen that reports your stats like calories burned and distance. Another reason Marcy makes the best rowing machine for beginners? Their rowers are compact and easy to store upright. If you’re short on space and have a small budget, you can get one of their rowers for as low as $329.


  • Range of magnetic, air & water rowers
  • Simple to operate
  • LCD display screens
  • Compact models
  • Ergonomic features
  • Very affordable

6. Horizon

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Small space? Avoiding confusing tech? The Horizon Oxford 3 is a no-nonsense machine. With a weight capacity of up to 350lbs, it beats out others on the search for the best rowing machine for beginners. 

Though it has a tiny 5.4” LCD screen, this quiet machine means business. Swap it into race mode to make a PR or just go for a casual row without the fussy workout videos. Features like an ergonomic seat and wheels make it comfortable and easy to store. You can get the Oxford 3 for $1,399.


  • Ergonomic seat
  • Magnetic resistance
  • Quiet operation
  • 5.4” LCD backlit screen
  • Front wheels for easy transport
  • Stores upright
  • 350lb weight capacity

7. Schwinn

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

No matter who you ask, the Schwinn Crewmaster is a must for beginners. Though the company has been around since 1895 and is known for their bikes, their magnetic resistance rowing machine has a great reputation too.

To be honest, the Crewmaster is a super simple machine. But that’s exactly what makes it such the best rowing machine for beginners. The seat is pretty basic but can be swapped out and the adjustable foot pedals ensure you get a comfortable fit. 

One of the most notable features of this rower is its construction. It ensures you stay stable while going at top speed. Swap through 10 levels of magnetic resistance and enjoy a smooth ride along the way. Get yours for $499.


  • Wheels for easy storage
  • Sturdy construction
  • Affordable
  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance
  • LCD screen

8. Sunny Health & Fitness

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Sunny has the largest selection of all on this list. Their collections are split up into magnetic, air, water, and hydraulic rowers. Founded in 2002, Sunny has a great reputation in the fitness community for its commercial and residential rowing machines sold for excellent prices. 

While Sunny Health & Fitness doesn’t have the cheapest best rowing machine for beginners, their models do come pretty close. What makes them a good choice for beginners? Their machines are pretty light, they have foldable designs, padded seats, and a nice range of resistance levels (for magnetic). 

They are pretty compact though, so if you’re tall or weigh over 250lbs, you might want to check out another brand. Sale prices start at $259 ($299 reg).


  • Wide range of rowing machines
  • Lightweight & compact
  • Foldable designs 
  • Affordable
  • LCD screens

9. Concept2

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

The Concept2 RowErg bridges simplicity with convenience. Featuring a PM5 monitor to display stats like speed, distance, and calories burned, it comes with a device holder if you prefer to watch shows or follow workout programs. However, the monitor is actually Bluetooth compatible and can connect with your fitness apps. 

The RowErg uses wind resistance and has 10 damper settings to help you get a challenging workout. Choose from one of the 5 present works or just do your own thing. This machine is a bit larger than others on this list at 96”, but despite its light weight of 57lbs, it can hold weights up to 500lbs. Get it for $990.


  • Bluetooth compatible monitor
  • Device holder included
  • Lightweight
  • Holds up to 500lbs
  • Air resistance

10. NordicTrack

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

NordicTrack is a trusted name in fitness. It offers two rowing machines, both operating through magnetic resistance. The RW900 is their newer model, and it comes complete with a 22” smart screen that plays live and on-demand workouts through the Nordictrack iFit subscription. 

Their RW700 has a similarly sleek design, just a smaller 10” screen. Enjoy 26 levels of resistance, ergonomic features like a padded seat, soft touch handles, and oversized footrests. NordicTrack is a reliable, well-known brand that’s loved for its durable, long-lasting machines. Its rowers go for $1,499-$1,999.


  • Smart screens
  • IFit compatible
  • Magnetic resistance
  • 25 resistance levels
  • Wheels for easy storage

What is a Rowing Machine?

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

You’ve just read about the best rowing machine for beginners, but since (and I’m just guessing here) you’re a beginner, you might not fully understand what a rowing machine is or how it works. To start, there are three types of rowing machines:

  1. Air
  2. Water
  3. Magnetic

These are the types of elements they use to create resistance. It’s also possible to have air and magnetic resistance in one machine. But you won’t ever see water resistance mixed with magnetic, and it doesn’t make much sense to pair it with air because they offer similar styles of resistance. 

Rowing machines have long been used for training purposes for actual rowing. They help rowers build strength and improve their stroke form and speed. Indoor rowing machines are now used by many who don’t actually row on the water, but who seek a low-impact cardio exercise. 

While using a rowing machine, you will sit down, strap your feet into the pedals and grab the handle. You’ll use your feet to push your body back while using your arms to pull the handle as you go. This movement targets a great number of muscles throughout your body. 

Rowing Machine Benefits

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

The benefits of using a rowing machine are great, but choosing one that’s right for your fitness level means you might have an easier time sticking to your fitness plan. How? Because if you choose a machine that’s too high-tech, not techy enough, or isn’t user-friendly, you’ll be less inclined to use it. 

In general, using a rowing machine has health benefits like aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise can contribute to a healthy heart and may even help with conditions like depression and anxiety. 

Rowing is a full body working and activates 86% of your body’s muscles. Running doesn’t do that. This exercise can help strengthen your legs, arms, and abs, including smaller muscles like your obliques and calves. While it’s true you’re using your lower body for the most part while rowing, your arms will activate while pulling, and you’ll need your core to stabilize your body. 

As an effect of performing cardio, rowing may also lead to weight loss when used in tandem with a healthy diet. Weight loss isn’t always as simple as creating a calorie deficit, but as you create more muscle mass, your body will naturally burn more calories. 

Who is a Rowing Machine For?

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Rowing machines can be used by adults looking for a challenging, low impact cardio workout. They target more muscles than running and cycling do, so if you have joint issues or want a full-body workout, they are a great pick.

Rowing machines take up less space than a treadmill and more space than a stationary bike, but unlike a bike, some rowers can be folded and stored. If you have a small apartment or workout area, a foldable rowing machine is a great option.

Depending on the rowing machine you choose, it may be quieter than a treadmill as well. Typically, stationary cycles are the quietest type of workout equipment, but magnetic rowers are virtually silent as well. Avoiding excess noise during a workout? Magnetic rowing machines fit the bill. To recap, a rowing machine is good for:

  • People with small apartments
  • Anyone looking for a full-body workout
  • Those with joint pain seeking low-impact workouts
  • Folks who want to limit noise during workouts (magnetic only)

How to Shop For the Best Rowing Machine For Beginners

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Not every rowing machine was made for a beginner. That’s why this list for the best rowing machine for beginners exists, but still, you might need a little extra help sorting through our top 10 picks or any others you encounter online. For that reason, we’ve put together a quick list of points to consider before you shop:

  • Size & weight: What are the measurements of the machine? Does it fold? Does it store easily? If you have a small space, measure it before buying something that might not fit. If you’ll need to move it out of the way in between uses, check in on its weight as well. Some machines don’t have wheels and can be a pain to move.
  • Price: As a beginner, you might not want to commit to a more expensive machine, but if you have the budget, more premium rowers like Hydrow might keep you more accountable. Most brands offer payment plans too, so that’s something to definitely keep in mind if you don’t want to pay for your machine all at once.
  • Technology: Not all of us are techies. If simple is more your forte, you don’t need a 22” touchscreen. For those of us planning on using a live streaming service, larger screens do tend to lead to more immersive workouts. 
  • Comfort: You’ll likely be using your rowing machine for 30+ minutes, so you’ll probably want it to be comfortable. Some of the more affordable options on this best rowing machine for beginners list don’t take ergonomics into play. Features like a padded, ergonomic seat and cushioned handle make a big difference.
  • Noise: Beginner or not, a noisy rower isn’t on the top of anyone’s wish list. Some rowing machines are quieter than others. Typically magnetic rowers are the quietest. 


Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

What kind of rowing machine is best?

That’s a very good question and one that’s based on your preferences and needs. We’ve covered air, water, and magnetic resistance rowing machines in this list of the best rowing machines for beginners, and you’ve come to know their pros and cons. 

Deciding on the best rowing machine for you depends on your preferred noise level, resistance options, tech preferences, and budget. For unlimited resistance levels, opt for air or water. For quiet operation, choose magnetic. 

Are rowing machines good for belly fat?

Rowing machines target 86% of your body, and that includes your abs. Targeting your ab muscles doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll burn belly fat. Some fitness experts suggest that fat loss in specific areas cannot be targeted. It’s up to our bodies to remove it on their own accord. 

As you lose weight, you will likely see a reduction in belly fat as well. And as you strengthen and tone your ab muscles, they will be more visible through layers of fat.

How long is a good workout on a rowing machine?

A good workout on a rowing machine varies depending on your fitness level. Health experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of cardio per day 4-6 times per week. If you’re new to rowing, be sure to take rest days. Rest helps your muscles repair and rebuild, building so you can create more muscle. 

Over time, you may decide to increase your workout time and frequency each week. Depending on your fitness level, 10-20 minutes may be a better place to start. Consult your doctor or a health expert before starting if you have questions. 

Which is better treadmill or rower?

A treadmill is an excellent form of cardio, but not everyone likes to do it. Running is a higher impact exercise than rowing is, so if you have bad joints or simply aren’t fit enough to run, you might end up getting injured. Rowing is one of the best cardio exercises available as it uses 86% of your body. 

Both running and rowing are great ways to burn calories, and there’s a chance you might burn more calories when running, however, in terms of whole-body exercises, you can’t get much better than rowing. 

Final Thoughts

Best Rowing Machines For Beginners

Since you’re all finished with this list, we hope you’ve singled out the best rowing machine for beginners like you. For rowing newcomers, the size and weight, features, and price of your machine will be very important. 

To make sure you stick to your newfound exercise, you might want to consider added features like on-demand classes. Subscriptions that offer classes other than just rowing are a great way to ensure you get the most from your experience.

Next, check out some similar reviews we’ve published:

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