best indoor rowing machine

Indoor Rowing Machine: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

Since the invention of the water rower, many rowing machines with water tanks have come onto the market, and they are becoming cheaper and cheaper. The rippling of the water inspires both external testers and many buyers. However, rowers mostly still rely on the Concept2 professional device, on which competitions are also rowed. Concept2 still offers the best training computer and allows resistance to be regulated more easily. Our team with 70 employees also looked around in the lower price range. Those who are not too ambitious will also make a good choice with our award winner.

Table of Contents

Best Indoor Rowing Machines

Questions to Consider Before Buying A Indoor Rowing Machine

What is a Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine is a fitness and sports device that simulates movement in a rowing boat. This allows the physical activity to be measured in terms of performance. The first devices have been around since the late 1970s. These were brought into being by the Concept2 company. Using rowing machines, the endurance performance of athletes can be assessed with the help of various performance tests. In addition to individual stage tests, the 2000 meter maximum test has become the standard in competitive sports.

In the meantime, the so-called rowing ergometers from this rowing machine test can also be found in popular sports and in fitness studios. You will find further important information on the various models below.

Conventional rowing machines have a sturdy steel frame, which ensures a high level of stability with extended feet at the front and back. In the front area there is usually a so-called air wheel. This is a kind of flywheel with a T-handle pull mechanism. There is a moving seat on the elongated central strut. This is intended to bring the buttocks and upper body forwards and backwards when rowing. To measure physical performance and ensure a certain training resistance, there are rowing ergometers with friction and air resistance. Nevertheless, models with magnetism and water-braked resistance systems are offered. The respective training data, such as

  • Impact frequency,
  • Heart rate,
  • Power consumption,
  • Training course or
  • Force curve

are shown on a digital display. The integrated computer can also be used to show performance-motivating games, such as smaller rowing races, on the display.

The best-known rowing machine manufacturers include Concept2, WaterRower and RowPerfect.

The braking system

In numerous, external rowing machine tests, great attention is paid to the braking system used. Very inexpensive rowing machines are equipped with hydraulic cylinders that do not have a very long life expectancy. They usually also damage the joints and tendons because of the lack of flowing movement. You should rather use other braking systems, such as a magnetic brake or an eddy current brake. The braking is effected by an electric or permanent magnet.

A highlight is the drag brake. Here a wind turbine provides the resistance, which turns due to the movement. A combination of air and magnetic resistance is even more effective. With this procedure, the integrated wind turbine enables a more intensive training intensity.

Finally, there are rowing machines with a water braking system. These are commonly known as WaterFlywheel models. Similar to real rowing on the water, the resistance for rowing machines increases with an increase in the pulling speed. The harder you pull, the greater the rowing resistance. This can be done through the water braking system. In addition, this variant is very easy on the joints and has a very calming effect during training with the real water background noise.

Various rowing machines online comparison test winners are equipped with magnetic, air or water resistance braking systems.

What types of Rowing Machines are available?

The rowing machines from the rowing machine test can be divided into different categories. They are based on the one hand on the technical structure and on the other hand on the type of resistor used. In principle, rowing machines are divided into the following groups:

  • Rowing machine with outriggers
  • Rowing machine with cable
  • Rowing machine with hydraulic cylinder
  • Rowing machine with magnetic braking system
  • Rowing machine with air resistance
  • Rowing machine with water resistance

In the following, we will explain the special features and advantages of the individual types of home trainers.

Rowing machine with outriggers

Rowing machines with side arms are rather rare and are only offered by a few manufacturers. They come very close to the real rowing boat and are therefore perfect for rowers who are looking for a good alternative for the winter months. They mostly work with hydraulic brakes. This type of rowing machine requires a high degree of coordination.

Both arms must be brought into harmony so that you can pull evenly. Beginners therefore often have very great problems using a rowing machine with side arms correctly. We recommend this type of rowing machine only for advanced users and professionals or beginners who have no problem with having a professional show them the sequence of movements.

Rowing machine with cable

The most common are rowing machines with a rope pull. They almost always work with a magnetic braking system. It copes without friction and allows you to pull harmoniously and evenly. In contrast to rowing machines with outriggers, the sequence of movements can be learned intuitively, which is why such models are also ideal for beginners.

Rowing machine with hydraulic cylinder

Rowing machines with hydraulic cylinders are best known. The resistance is generated by a hydraulic cylinder, which creates a counter pressure when moving forwards and backwards. Setting the resistance is often tedious in these devices. In addition, the service life is limited. For this reason, rowing machines that work with this resistance system are often particularly inexpensive.

Rowing machine with magnetic braking system

With this technology, a flywheel is driven by the handle of the rowing machine. Braking is done with the magnetic force of several permanent magnets or with an electromagnet. These systems work evenly and enable comfortable training. It is only important that the centrifugal mass is large enough, otherwise no smooth movement can be achieved.

Rowing machine with air resistance

A rowing machine with air resistance gives you a real rowing feeling. The resistance is generated by an air wheel. It continues to stretch as you row, so you pull into the motion of the spinning air wheel when you start your next pull. Rowers know exactly this feeling from real rowing boats, because the boat moves forward when rowing. Here, too, the movements are very fluid.

Rowing machine with water resistance

So far, few companies have manufactured rowing machines with water resistance. Thanks to this technology, the rowing machines come closest to real rowing. As in rowing, you not only pull against the water resistance, but you can also hear the splashing of the water.

How does a rowing machine work?

You sit on the rowing machine similar to a rowboat. During the training, the sequence of movements of a rower is imitated. First straighten your legs, then straighten your upper body and pull your arms towards your body. Depending on the resistance set, this leg and arm movement will be difficult for you.

Most rowing machines consist of a sturdy frame made of steel. There are high-quality feet on the front and back of the device, which give the rowing machine the necessary support. An air wheel is attached in the front area. This is a flywheel, which is equipped with a T-handle pulling mechanism. The moving seat is mounted on the central strut and moves evenly back and forth with the rowing movement.

Depending on the rowing ergometer, the resistance is realized via a friction or air resistance, with the help of magnets or a water-braked resistor. The digital display shows various training-relevant data, such as the stroke frequency, the calorie consumption, the heart rate, the training distance or the force profile.

Advantages & areas of application of rowing machines

Many home athletes are very skeptical about the rowing machine. Steppers, ergometers or treadmills are often more popular. Wrong, as our rowing machine showed. The rowing machine is one of the few home trainers that improve your endurance, stimulate fat burning and build muscle at the same time. In addition, there is hardly any other fitness machine that trains so many muscle groups at once. The main advantages of the rowing machine include:

  • The entire body is stressed and trained
  • 60 percent of the kinetic energy comes from the legs
  • 40 percent of the kinetic energy is provided by the upper body
  • The back muscles are strengthened
  • Perfect to avoid bad posture
  • High calorie consumption of around 500 calories per hour
  • Simple and intuitive to use, training that is gentle on the joints

Due to its numerous advantages, the rowing machine should not be missing in the gym. But it is also being used more and more frequently in private households. As the joints are spared during training, the rowing machine is also extremely appreciated by the elderly, overweight and people with joint problems.

The rowing machine guide

In the following we have some aspects from external rowing machine test reports, comparisons, different technologies in use. According to various product tests and evaluations of numerous studies, the modern training devices work with air resistance caused by a ribbed flywheel. Just give these devices a try!

Analyzes, studies, examinations, practical tests and surveys about the purchase of a rowing machine with magnetic brake prepared for you. If you keep these test criteria in mind, you will find the best rowing machine that bears a lot in common with your personal sports goals and wishes! Start a test run and get an overview in our comparison table!


In order to achieve the desired resistance for the training, come in the individual comparison winners

This sucks in air during the retraction process and creates the characteristic whirring sound that emanates from many rowing machines. With the help of a flywheel, the resistance can be infinitely adjusted and there is almost no limit to the top.

Because: the faster the pulling movement, the more air is sucked in and the greater the resistance.

Especially with rowing machines in the low-priced segment, manufacturers often use a different technology after checking evaluations. Hydraulic rowing machines use a pressure-operated piston to create the desired pulling force. The resistances are usually not adjusted continuously, but adjusted by a type of clamp or lever. Test and compare these products yourself in a test run!

The disadvantage compared to air resistance with this variant is, after weighing it up, the lack of feeling of rowing. Accordingly, when exercising, there can be comparatively out-of-round, jerky movements instead of even pulling.

A third variant of the resistance are products with a flywheel that works with magnetically operated brakes. Dealers now offer both options: rowing machines with stepless resistance adjustment and rowing machines with a limited number of setting options.

The special thing about this type of rowing machine with air resistance is that there are also mixed forms that use a combination of air and magnetic resistance. In the professional sector or for ambitious athletes, according to an external control, there is usually only one type of rowing machine that comes very close to rowing on the lake or at sea.

So-called water rowing machines with magnetic brakes convey an authentic feeling of real outdoor rowing!
A paddle in a container filled with water is used for this. The intensity of the training can be varied steplessly, similar to rowing machines, which are based on air resistance: by setting the appropriate water level.

In contrast to conventional models, this type of rowing machine enables, according to external proficiency tests, investigations and experiments, an absolutely calm and even movement, surrounded by the rush of water instead of the whirring of the flywheel. Comfort-oriented athletes in particular often value this ease of use.


The price of rowing machines and fitness equipment can vary enormously, depending on style, quality, features and ease of use. While there are models on the market that start at around US$80, you can pay up to US$2,000 for a professional athlete device.

As with almost all machines, the same applies to rowing machines: You get what you pay for after testing the test results of product tests, product tests and practical tests.

If you choose a cheaper variant instead of the comparison winner, you will unfortunately have to accept some compromises – as external rowing machine tests have shown – In case of doubt, the so-called price / performance winners are also in demand here: rowing machines from online tests that have a good Offering quality at a reasonable price.


The size of aerodynamic rowing machines is increasing, especially with more expensive models. More generously dimensioned seat rails are often used here. Especially for tall people with long legs, a rowing machine or a rowing machine with a seat that is not too tightly calculated provides pleasant comfort. This looks different in contrast to the more compact rowing machine models.

Before you decide on a rowing machine in accordance with your wishes, please make sure to measure the corresponding room in which the training machine is to be positioned later during the personal aptitude test. It is better to calculate with a little more space, so that you do not have to row in the corner or between the table and the wall during regular training.

Control panel

Unlike many treadmills or modern exercise bikes, rowing machines do not offer such extensive training programs and setting options. According to an experiment, the speed and resistance of the rowing machines are mostly dependent on how much force and vigor you use the machines.

Technology of rowing machines

Most of the rowing machines with the test grade “Very good” as a test result are operated by means of a cable pull. A few sports equipment are equipped with side oar arms. With the cable pull method, the athlete operates the cable pull while rowing by pulling the handle attached to it with both hands lying next to each other. With the two-pull procedure, the user operates the oars on the right and left with one hand each.

The rowing machines and fitness machines equipped with a cable are mostly controlled by a magnetic brake system, which is also responsible for the pull resistance. This braking system is wear and maintenance free. A harmonious sequence of movements is thus guaranteed.

Hydraulic braking systems are mainly used in rowing machines with rudder arms. A high level of coordination is required in order to achieve a harmonious sequence of movements. The air resistance system is also very popular. With this system, the air resistance increases automatically as soon as the rowing speed increases. This variant also enables a very flowing sequence of movements.

The rowing machine with water resistance comes closest to real rowing. The principle is similar to the air resistance system. Accordingly, the resistance increases with increasing speed. The seat of the rowing machine moves by means of rollers on the rail.

When the athlete starts his rowing activity, he moves the roller slide back and forth on the rail with the cable. Every rowing machine has a training computer. This enables the user to save the training-relevant data, which differ depending on the equipment and price of the rowing machine.
The computer displays data such as time, number of strokes, distance, speed, etc. Computers of high quality devices can also offer additional training programs, USB connections for the PC and many other gadgets.

Muscle building on the rowing machine

A rowing machine or similar fitness equipment can also be called a full-body exercise machine. The main muscle groups shoulders, arms, abdomen, back, buttocks and legs can be trained with a rowing machine. In addition, training on the rowing machine is beneficial for the entire cardiovascular system.

Anyone who works with a rowing machine therefore not only wants to improve their fitness, but also usually want to build muscle. Rowing primarily strengthens the back muscles. Ergo, users can counteract back problems. Burning fat is a positive side effect of rowing. With targeted training, the calorie consumption with such a piece of sports equipment can be as high as 600 kcal.

Experts pay attention to this!

For external practical tests, fitness experts have selected rowing machines from all price categories and from various manufacturers.

In order to test delivery times, packaging and delivery to the installation site, the devices were ordered from different dealers. In the end, an online comparison winner always emerged.

Delivery and packaging

First of all, it was important to us that the providers kept the promised delivery times and that the fitness rowing machines arrived undamaged. It was also important to us that the freight forwarder actually transported the goods to the apartment, as the exercise bikes are known to be very heavy.

Setup and start-up

A fitness rowing machine usually arrives at the consumer in disassembled form. This is also not a problem as long as the individual parts can be assembled without difficulty. Our rowing machine test 2020 showed that the wheat is separated from the chaff here: In the case of inferior products, it was possible that screws or nuts were missing. The instructions were partly incomplete or very clumsy, so that the assembly caused problems. Not so with our rowing machine comparison winners: They convinced with illustrated and intuitively understandable instructions and, thanks to clever solutions, were often child’s play to set up.

Reliability test

Of course, the experts wanted to know how reliable the providers are when it comes to meeting delivery times. Areas relating to the transport of goods and deliveries to the door also received attention.

Compliance with delivery times and bringing the goods into the apartment should be a prerequisite for such a “heavy” order. Tip: Compensation must be provided for transport damage.


The next test criterion was the assembly of the individual parts supplied. Here, rowing machine test participants from the Internet particularly checked the completeness of the screws and nuts. Very few have a suitable replacement in the do-it-yourself cellar. Another test criterion in the rowing machine test related to the tool supplied. Screwdrivers and the like should work at least until the assembly is done.

An important test criterion in the context of an external rowing machine test continued to be the assembly instructions. The focus here was particularly on the sketches and illustrations. The intelligibility of the individual passages was just as important. Some manufacturers had found really ingenious solutions for a light structure.

Technology and function

In this context, the usability of the devices, computers and the smooth functioning of the technology were put through their paces. The training computers received special attention. These were tested in terms of power connection, data transmission, usability, display size, legibility and operating instructions.

Furthermore, the reliability, times with the stopwatch and the number of strokes were checked. In terms of technology, experts primarily paid attention to the processing. These devices are usually not cheap and should last as long as possible.

Various rowing machine tests continue to report on the pulling devices and where possible friction points arise, which could accelerate wear. The material of the pull cords and the fastening of the pull handles play an important role here.

The inspection of the rolling seats and running rails mainly focused on evenness and smoothness. With the braking systems, it was important how demanding the individual levels of load resistance are. The durability of such a device can only be estimated with the eye in a rowing machine test. In external rowing machine tests, the main focus was always on the quality of the materials used. Special controls also showed how robust the devices were in the test. Some devices had multiple functions.

In various rowing machine tests on the Internet, experts wanted to find out how quickly the machines can be converted to the additional functions. This division is not insignificant as to whether the effort and benefit are in a good relationship to one another. Ultimately, the customer reviews from the relevant dealers also came into play.

All comparison test winners from our rowing machines comparison convince with a high-quality workmanship. It guarantees that the devices have a long shelf life and that you can enjoy them for many years to come. We took a very close look at the pulling devices to determine whether there were any points of friction that would encourage premature wear.

We also checked the running rails and the roller seats for smoothness and evenness. It was also important to us that the different load resistances can be set easily and that a difference can actually be felt between the different levels.

What types of rowing machines are available?

A rowing machine as an hometrainer has to be well chosen. They differ in several categories, which are determined by their technical structure. Everyone has to decide individually what they want to train, how they want to train and how much the rowing machine can cost. Because above all, the devices differ in price.

Rowing machines with outrigger

A few manufacturers sell rowing machines with side arms, which are in no way inferior to a real rowing boat. In most cases, these are equipped with a hydraulic brake system. An outrigger rowing machine requires a high degree of coordination from athletes, as they have to bring both arms in harmony to pull evenly.

Anyone who has ever been on the water in a rowing boat knows how difficult it is to row straight ahead. One arm works more and more actively and mostly stronger. Even rowing with a boom is a challenge for a beginner.

Rowing machines with rope pull and double handle

Cable-controlled devices are the most common. These are generally equipped with a magnetic braking system that works without friction and enables even and harmonious pulling. The pulling resistance is generated with the magnetic brake.

Rowing machine with air resistance control

This type of resistance control is said to be closest to real rowing because it pulls against the air resistance. The higher the number of strokes, the more the air resistance increases. Even with this device, a uniform and fluid drawing is guaranteed.

Rowing machine with water resistance

So far, only the manufacturer of the online comparison winner has dared to use this construction method. The company is convinced of its product and is of the opinion: This model gives the user a true rowing feeling. In addition to the pull against the water resistance, the rippling of the water can also be heard. The ergopaddle embedded in the water tank can also be pulled evenly through the water with harmonious pulls.

Rowing machines with multiple functions

Some manufacturers have turned their rowing machines into multifunctional machines for sports enthusiasts. If you want to do more besides the rowing training test for your stomach, back, shoulders, arms, legs and buttocks, you can order a rowing machine with an integrated biceps trainer.

Another manufacturer, on the other hand, offers a 3 in 1 device which, in addition to the rowing machine, is also a recumbent exercise bike and training device. When looking for and choosing a rowing machine, it should be noted that expensive does not always mean high quality. Sports can be performed easily and practically with many devices. The comparison is possible at any time.

These functions are to be considered when purchasing a rowing machine

The trend continues towards home training. A favorite among exercise bikes is the rowing machine. But which rowing machine from the wide range is best for those interested to buy? Everyone has to decide individually what, how and how much they want to train.


Many people orientate themselves on the price of the goods offered. The rowing machines category offers products in every price category. Here, however, as in any other category, expensive is not always good and cheap is not always bad.

The comparison results of the rowing machines have shown that even machines from the lowest price segment can be sufficient for home training. Again, devices from well-known manufacturers have been literally torn apart in various tests from the Internet as well as in customer reviews, although they are quite expensive.


The desirable functions for an exercise bike can not be generalized. An athlete who has already trained on a rowing machine in a fitness club has different demands than a newcomer. It is important to pay attention to the type of braking system in a good rowing machine.

Cable pull devices with a magnetic brake system require far less coordination skills than a boom device with a hydraulic brake system.

Furthermore, the question arises about the general physical condition, the existing muscle strength and the project (muscle building or fitness training). Then buyers should decide what number of resistance levels the device should offer.

For the pull resistance it is also important to know the centrifugal mass of the device. If this is too low, the resistance is too weak.

Functions of the training computer

The rowing machines from different manufacturers can differ enormously in the complexity of the training computer programs.
This again raises the question of what the athlete would like to achieve with the rowing machine.

For normal home training, the computer does not need to have 10 different training simulations. In principle, all you need for fitness training at home is a computer that is able to display time, distance, strokes and the number of strokes.

If you prefer targeted training or cardiovascular training, you have to look around for a device with integrated pulse measurement and training programs. Therefore, you should think about which test criteria are important for you before you buy.

Combine rowing machine with Apple Watch

The Apple Watch automatically recognizes that you are sitting on the rowing machine and asks you whether the training should be recorded. The app that goes with it is called “Rowing Coach”. “With the beat detection it shows the SPM (the beat number), as well as the pace, calorie consumption and the pulse. The recordings are stored long-term so that you can understand your training development. If you want, you can then upload the training units to a fitness platform such as “Rowsandall” or “Mapmyfitness”. Since the newer models are waterproof, this is also suitable for real rowing on the water. If you want to use another display in addition to the display on the rowing machine, you can follow the display of the Apple Watch on the iPhone at the same time.

Compare price and benefit

Good doesn’t always have to mean expensive. A good rowing machine can also be located in the middle or even cheap price category compared to other fitness machines. That always depends on the expectations that such a device should meet in accordance with them. If you want to buy a rowing machine, compare the products in congruence with your ideas and you will soon find your personal comparison winner.

A rowing machine for example US $ 180 can of course be a good machine if it meets the expectations.

However, you do not get a rowing machine with a really complex training computer on favorable terms. On the other hand, according to product reports and customer reviews, such a device meets all the requirements of a beginner who does not want to train 5 hours a day. The middle price range with devices between US $ 300 and US $ 600 is a bit more comfortable. An excellent on-board computer is often standard. These models display a lot of data, offer various training programs and are suitable for cardiovascular training. In addition, when you try out the device, you can look forward to a chest strap that records heart rates. Of course, one can assume that a device from this price range is better made and made of higher quality material. Both components normally stand for a longer service life, even with higher loads and use. Have a try after inspecting various rowing machine tests!

However, devices in the price range of around US $ 500 also completely failed in the tests and customer reviews. A good manufacturer name does not always mean quality goods. At least various test results have led to this finding.

Optimal training with the rowing machine

As explained above, the rowing technique with a rowing ergometer corresponds to almost the same movement as when using a real rowing boat. For example, in the starting position, the hip, knee and ankle joints are flexed. The lower legs should be vertical and the upper body almost lying on the thighs. The arms are naturally stretched. The draft begins with the stretching of the legs.

The shoulders and upper body are braced. You move backwards into the supine position during the leg strike. Do not bend your arms until your hands are at knee level. Now the legs are stretched in the supine position, without the knees being pushed through. Finally, stabilize your upper body in a slight supine position.

Pull the pull handle all the way to your lower costal arch, bringing your elbows close to your torso. After the pull, straighten your arms again and bring your hands to your knees. Now the upper body follows the movement of both hands. Then rise again from the reserve. After standing upright, roll forward with the seat in a relaxed and even manner.

Overall, the movement sequences on a Cardiostrong rowing machine are relatively easy to learn. With a rowing ergometer you can train regardless of the weather and at any time of the day. Many well-known endurance sports only place one-sided stress on certain parts of the body. With the rowing machine you can strengthen the entire body and especially the core muscles. This helps against possible back problems in everyday working life. When training with a rowing machine, it is particularly important to have the right intensity level, which you can easily determine via your pulse rate. Measure your resting heart rate in the morning before you get up. It’s best to use an ordinary heart rate monitor here. Some devices are designed in such a way that you can set specific upper and lower limits. This gives you a much more accurate exercise intensity. If the intensity is set too high, the sporting exercise quickly leads to premature termination. At a properly set intensity, you can easily go on the rowing machine for at least 45 minutes. You should exercise at least twice a week.

Overall, the rowing movement takes place in two phases. On the one hand, there is the so-called recovery phase, in which you cannot fully rest, but instead loosen the tension in your body a little. With your arms and upper body, move forward while bending your knees.

This is followed by the pull phase. Here you straighten your legs and give your body the necessary support. The upper body is leaned back and the arms are drawn towards the handle. Rest phase and pull phase alternate continuously. The typical rowing movements arise.

Rowing machine vs. Treadmill

Since very few people have enough space for several exercise bikes, they usually limit themselves to one device. It is therefore important to choose this fitness device carefully. Sooner or later, the athletes will ask themselves the question: which home trainer is best suited?

We took a closer look at two of the most popular fitness machines for home use: the rowing machine and the treadmill. In the following, we will tell you when you should choose a treadmill and when you are better advised to use a rowing machine.


The treadmill offers a wide range of uses. You can use it for walking as well as for professional jogging. The calorie consumption is about as high as with normal walking or jogging. However, training on the treadmill is gentler on your body, because the cushioning of the treadmill does not put as much stress on your joints as when running on asphalt. You can regulate the load individually by changing the angle of inclination. A treadmill is also an option for people who are overweight or have physical limitations such as knee problems. You don’t have to use it for jogging, you can just walk on it or walk with an additional arm insert.

When choosing, you should make sure that your treadmill has a motor of at least 2.0 HP if you want to use it for jogging. Devices with 1.75 hp are also suitable for slow running or walking. A running belt with a length of at least 130 centimeters and a width of at least 45 centimeters is suitable for walkers and beginners. In principle, the faster you run, the longer you take and the larger the tread must be.

Rowing Machine

Rowing machines are particularly suitable for training the core, leg and arm muscles. If you use the rowing machine correctly, it is possible in a short time to register an increase in muscle strength and muscle size. At the same time you train your endurance on a rowing machine and burn a lot of calories. For this reason, this fitness device is suitable for people who want to reduce their weight, as well as for people who want to train the muscle groups mentioned.

There are two different rowing systems. One device uses two side arms, so you have a handle for each hand. The sequence of movements on such a device is similar to that of a real rowboat. It therefore depends on coordination and strength. The other rowing system works with a single cable pull that you move towards you with both hands using a handle.

The movement sequences can be learned more quickly with such models, which is why they are good for beginners who have never rowed. The resistance is generated either by a magnetic, a pneumatic or a hydraulic technique.

In terms of price, rowing machines are cheaper than treadmills. Variants with hydraulic cylinders are available for less than 400 euros. If you want to buy a model with a magnetic brake where the flywheel is driven by the cable, you will need to pay at least US $ 500 if you want a heart rate measurement. Professional rowing machines with a water resistance system only start at US $ 1100.


Whether you buy a treadmill or a rowing machine as a home trainer depends in particular on your individual ideas. In the following, we have compared the most important advantages of the two home trainers again to make your purchase decision easier.

Benefits of the treadmill

High calorie consumption, improves your stamina, perfect for rapid weight loss, wide range of use: suitable for slow walking and walking or jogging, also for people with overweight or physical limitations, load individually adjustable

Advantages of the rowing machine

Combines strength and cardio training, devices with rope pull and T-piece are well suited for beginners, specifically trains the muscles of the arms, legs and trunk, perfect as a balance for people who have a sedentary activity, suitable for building muscles, weight reduction also possible, cheaper to buy than a treadmill


If you want to lose weight as quickly and gently as possible, you are well advised to use a treadmill. This is especially true if you are not looking to build muscle. Overweight people or people with knee problems can also do their training on a treadmill. If you want to shape and define your body, want more arm and leg muscles or want to compensate for postural damage caused by sitting activities, a rowing machine is ideal for you. It specifically trains the arms, legs and also the back muscles. At the same time, it improves your stamina and stamina and burns numerous calories, so it is also suitable for fat burning and weight loss. In terms of price, the rowing machine has the edge, because high-quality rowing machines are usually significantly cheaper than similarly professional treadmills.

Can you lose weight with a rowing machine?

Overweight people striving for weight loss are often looking for the ideal sport for their needs. Often they have already tried many exercises and workouts, but quickly discarded them. People who are very overweight usually find jogging to be far too strenuous. It is also painful for the joints. A visit to the gym is also often avoided because overweight people have little desire to fight off lean and well-trained people.

This is why a large number of overweight people prefer training in their own home. The rowing machine is perfect for this purpose, although it is rarely bought compared to other fitness machines. Wrongly, as we think, because when you row you use around 80 percent of your muscles and improve your endurance at the same time.

The home trainer combines cardio and strength training in a unique way. That’s why the rowing machine is a real fat killer and perfect for losing weight.

For these reasons, weight reduction works with the rowing machine

If you want to burn fat and lose weight, it is important to eat fewer calories than you need each day. Only then does the body make use of the fat reserves. A combination of endurance and strength training is ideal for this purpose. Endurance training literally melts your pounds and improves your endurance. Strength training is used to build muscles, which is also important for weight loss. Because: Defined, pronounced muscles consume more energy – even when you are resting. This means your daily energy needs will increase, making it easier to hit a calorie deficit.

About 80 percent of all muscles are used and trained on the rowing machine. Hardly any other fitness device addresses so many muscles. At the same time, rowing is extremely easy on the joints. You perform the flowing and even rowing movements while seated, whereby there are no unpleasant bumps. Therefore your joints are optimally protected. You can start relatively slowly when rowing, so this sport is also suitable for people who have breathing problems due to being overweight. Air problems are extremely rare when rowing.

Targeted training quickly leads to success

As soon as you have overcome your weaker self and bought a suitable rowing machine for home, you should create a training plan. Only regular training can lead to success. We recommend beginners to train three days a week initially. There should be at least 48 hours between training units, as muscles only grow in the regeneration phase. Start with a slight resistance to pulling so as not to overwhelm yourself at the beginning. Even at a low level, you can burn up to 500 calories per hour with the rowing machine.

You will notice the first effects of this muscle training clearly and quickly. Do not overdo it afterwards by immediately increasing the pulling resistance, as this could lead to overload. Increase the resistance step by step to avoid muscle injuries. If you exercise regularly, after a while you will find that rowing has a positive effect on your lung function and the cardiovascular system. Overweight people can then, for example, better climb stairs and carry heavy objects without shortness of breath.

Avoid deficiency symptoms

A reduction in body weight does not only work through exercise. The diet should also be adjusted accordingly. However, we advise against strict diets, because they quickly lead to deficiency symptoms that can even prevent muscle growth. From our point of view, it makes more sense to change your diet permanently and to eat healthier in general.

Care should be taken to ensure that there is a small calorie deficit every day so that the pounds drop off. So determine your daily energy requirements and make sure you always consume a little fewer calories than you actually need. You do not have to go hungry because it is enough if you eat a balanced diet.

Also, remember to drink plenty of water. Overweight people in particular usually sweat a lot during exercise. Not only is fluid lost, but also minerals and salts. Drink enough water, especially before and after training, so as not to overload your circulation.

Is rowing easy on the joints?

People who have problems with their joints often do without exercise completely. But this is far from the right way, because joint pain can be relieved by keeping moving. But not every sport is gentle on the joints. What about rowing? Is it suitable for people with aching joints?

No sport is no solution either

The joints are not spared by only moving them a little. This is a completely wrong approach that unfortunately many people with joint problems take. Our joints live from movement. Too little movement means that the cartilage layer in the joints is not lubricated well enough. As a result, the cartilage becomes inelastic. The cartilage layer becomes brittle and there is more friction. This creates more pain. Therefore, a lack of exercise makes joint problems even worse. It is only through movement that the cartilage layer, which is located between the joints, receives the necessary nutrients.

Once attacked, the cartilage layer can no longer regenerate. With the right movement, however, you can avoid further breakdown of the layer and thus prevent worse pain. At the same time, you build muscles that relieve your joints, so that pain can even be relieved. But be careful: not every sport is suitable for people with joint problems. Jogging on hard asphalt, for example, puts too much strain on the knees. Swimming or aqua jogging, on the other hand, are possible. The rowing machine is one step ahead among exercise bikes, because the even and flowing movements are optimally gentle on the joints during training.

Rowing is also suitable for the elderly

When rowing on the rowing machine, you complete a perfect full-body workout. The flowing movements prevent jerky shocks so that the joints are not strained further. For this reason, a rowing machine is also an excellent option for older people, for example. The joint-friendly training ensures that there is only a very low risk of injury. The demands on the training are not particularly high, so that even beginners can quickly get the hang of it and master the correct sequence of movements.

People with physical limitations who already have problems with their knees, hips or intervertebral discs are well advised to use your rowing machine. Rowing exercises not only the muscles and tendons but also the joints, but when used correctly it avoids excessive demands.

If in doubt, you should speak to your doctor beforehand and let a professional show you how to row correctly on the rowing machine.

Rowing – also ideal for overweight people

Even overweight people often find it difficult to choose the right sport. Due to the higher weight, the joints are extremely stressed with inappropriate movements. That is of course not desirable. When jogging, many overweight people feel uncomfortable knee pain after a short time. A sport in the water would be more recommendable, but the shame of showing oneself in front of other people in swimwear is often too great for overweight people. You are therefore also making a good choice with a rowing machine that is easy on the joints. Since it combines endurance and strength training, it also helps in fast and effective weight loss.


In no case should you completely refrain from exercising if you already have problems with your joints. Instead, we recommend that you combine several joint-gentle sports in order to keep moving and relieve joint pain.

Those who completely avoid exercise and sport will sooner or later have to struggle with even more severe joint problems. Since the rowing machine is one of the fitness machines that is best for your joints, this home trainer is the perfect choice.

Indoor Rowing Machine Alternatives

There are several other training and fitness machines with the best test marks that can be used as alternatives to the rowing machine. First of all, it should not be left unmentioned that many of these sports equipment do not stress all muscle groups as intensely as a rowing machine.

The ergometer

An ergometer is often used when referring to a bicycle ergometer or home trainer. These types of motorcycles simulate natural cycling. Mechanical and electronic settings of the respective level of difficulty can be adjusted individually. You can also call up complex training programs via a training computer and at the same time record all essential health data.

With such an ergometer you can primarily train the leg muscles. A bicycle ergometer also increases the cardiovascular system and general well-being.

Crosstrainer / Elliptical Trainer

The cross trainer or elliptical trainer is an endurance exercise device that can be found both at home and in the gym. With a cross trainer you can train significantly more muscle groups than with a home trainer. As a user, you are not sitting on a bicycle, but have to pedal with both feet in an upright position. The exercises are supported by two handle bars running in opposite directions.

The training effect can be set individually, as the level of difficulty is realized through the resistance of a flywheel or a magnetic brake. Cross trainers are very easy on the joints and are also suitable for older people.


The treadmill is an interesting alternative. A distinction is made between electrically powered and manually operated models. With an electric treadmill, you can set the speed individually. Various training programs can be set using an integrated training computer.

Manual treadmills do not have their own drive. You can achieve better training effects by adjusting the angle of the belt. Although treadmills promote the overall condition very well, running puts a considerable strain on the joints. In contrast to a rowing machine, the upper body is not trained here.

Frequently Asked Questions: Indoor Rowing Machines

Which muscle groups are being trained?

A rowing machine is a real all-rounder among exercise machines and should not be missing in any fitness center.

As sports physicians have found out, around 80% of all muscles are effectively trained with this training device. Whether legs, arms or especially the biceps: You can do a very good full-body workout with a rowing machine.

What is the optimal number of strokes for rowing machines?

In order to build muscle well, a solid training plan and correct execution of the respective exercise is very important. With a rowing machine it is of course no different. No matter what level of difficulty you choose, the number of strokes should be around 24 to 30 hits per minute. In a competition, the number of strokes should not be higher than 36 beats per minute.

How Many Calories Do I Burn on a Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine is a very good and effective training device for the whole body. Depending on the degree of difficulty and the duration of the training, around 700 to 1,000 calories are consumed per hour.

However, anyone who has already familiarized themselves with this training device will confirm that a duration of 60 minutes is quite long. From a medical point of view, this training length is not recommended.

How often should I use the rowing machine?

Regular training is necessary to ensure reliable muscle building.

Experienced athletes and sports medicine professionals recommend training sessions of around 20 to 30 minutes with a rowing machine.

Daily exercises are not recommended because the muscle groups need a regeneration phase to build up muscle.

Which is better: a rowing machine or a treadmill?

In general, both training devices are very good and are very important to athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Which training device is better is difficult to answer. Each device sometimes trains different muscle groups.

Those who prefer to devote themselves to running are better advised to use a treadmill. Athletes who want to do a full-body workout tend to stick to training units with the rowing machine.

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