Whether you want to gamify your endurance sessions or get a regular cardio fix, these are the best rowing machines you can buy.

Until recently rowing machines were seen as the reserve of the commercial gym or fitness studio. But advances in tech have made them lighter, (a little) more compact and (almost) affordable. Those serious about upping their cardio game at home can now realistically consider investing in one of the best rowing machines. That way they can get their rowing fix whenever they like.

We’ve tested and reviewed the best rowing machines on the market to help find the right rower for you.

How we test the best rowing machines

Our experienced product testers tested each rowing machine in their own homes for at least a month. They tested each machine as a standalone rowing experience throughout its entire damper setting range and explored each machine’s connectivity and media options and subscription and app offerings. Our testers were also making notes on durability, ease of use and storage. They marked each rowing machine for its design, features and suitability for a home gym setup before giving them an overall score to rank them in our best rowing machine buyers guide.

These are the best rowing machines for 2024

  1. NordicTrack RW900 Rower, nordictrack.com
  2. Aviron Strong Series Rower, avironactive.com
  3. WaterRower Original Series, waterrower.com
  4. Hydrow Wave Rower, hydrow.com
Nordic Track RW900 rower review

1. NordicTrack RW900 Rower

Men’s Fitness verdict

The smooth and comfortable ride of the NordicTrack makes for an enjoyable rowing simulation. It’s a great low-impact cardio choice if you have the space and will make the most of the subscription.
Pros
  • Exquisite design and quiet running
  • Large touchscreen with great speakers
  • Huge library of trainer-led workouts
  • Workouts geared to your progression
Cons
  • Premium price with extra monthly membership
  • Very large and bulky
Display22in touchscreen
Dimensions82 x 22 x 52in / 208 x 55.8 x 132.1cm
ConnectivityBluetooth
Warranty10-year frame, 2-year parts

You’ll see the RW900 in plenty of commercial fitness spaces, due to its premium design and ultra-quiet running. Its impressive 10-year frame guarantee means it’s a worthwhile home investment too, if you can find the cash – it’s $1,999 / £1,999 (plus $39 / £34 per month membership) –and the space.

We liked the tilting touchscreen, which gives you access to loads of premium membership content, and SmartAdjust machine learning technology means every workout is tailored to suit you. With the RW900, smart training just got a whole lot smarter.

Product shot of an Aviron Strong Series rowing machine

2. Aviron Strong Series Rower

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Aviron is great at gamifying your sweat sessions and with access to a host of streaming services on its bright 22in touchscreen, your workouts will be anything but boring.
Pros
  • Great for beginners
  • Easy to stand and store
  • Low-decibel resistance mechanisms
  • Membership includes Amazon Prime, YouTube, Netflix, Disney+, Hulu and YouTube access 
Cons
  • Expensive with optional membership fees
  • Bulky and requires tall ceilings
Display22in touchscreen
Dimensions84 x 27 x 48in / 213.4 x 68.6 x 121.9cm
ConnectivityBluetooth
Warranty10-year frame, 1-year parts

The Aviron Strong’s dual air and magnetic resistance gives plenty of scope for fine tuning your workout and offers an authentic rowing experience. Plus, we found that its Whisper nylon belt keeps noise to a minimum too.

At $24 per month, membership is reasonably priced and gives you access not only to coached, guided and structured programmes on multiple profiles but to Netflix, Disney+ and Spotify streaming platforms, among others, which kept us entertained as we rowed.

waterrower original series

3. WaterRower Original Series

Men’s Fitness verdict

We instantly loved the WaterRower’s unique design, and its operation is a smooth and fluid as it looks. There’s no large display or touchscreen though – but the experience is as authentic as it gets.
Pros
  • Unique design
  • Natural, fluid movement
  • Easy to store
  • Choice of wood finishes
Cons
  • Low seat and steep angled foot position
  • High price with costly additions
DisplayS4 Performance Monitor
Dimensions82.3 x 20.9 x 22in / 209 x 53 x 56cm
ConnectivityOptional Bluetooth Commodule
Warranty5-year frame, 3-year parts

The WaterRower is a rowing machine unlike any other, using a unique water flywheel to provide a smooth, realistic and immersive rowing experience. While testing, we found the standard monitor to be fairly basic but there are plenty of upgrades available to give you Bluetooth connectivity or to allow you to use your own tablet or laptop to enjoy third-party rowing apps.

It has a stunning design that wouldn’t look out of place in a stately home or swanky penthouse and there are a number of high-end wooden finishes to choose from.

Product shot of Hydrow Wave rowing machine

4. Hydrow Wave Rower

Men’s Fitness verdict

It’s a smooth, sleek and compact rower bursting with features, but the screen and audio don’t quite match up to the original Hydrow. As the company just makes rowers the subscription seems pricey too.
Pros
  • Cheaper than the original
  • Compact design
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Engaging classes and instructors
Cons
  • Screen can be tricky to operate
  • Built-in speakers could be better
  • Bluetooth audio delay
Display16in touchscreen
Dimensions80.3 x 19.3 x 43.3in / 204 x 49 x 110cm
ConnectivityBluetooth
Warranty1 year

Smaller and cheaper than the OG Hydrow, the new Wave has a sleek, stylish and minimal brushed aluminium design. There are a number of custom colours available too, so it can make a design statement in any living room.

The Hydrow Wave features a 16in touchscreen which gives you access to plenty of engaging live classes and on-demand content for a completely connected fitness experience. Overall, for us, this is one of the most realistic and authentic rowing experiences on the market.

What to look for when buying a rowing machine

If you’re in the market for a rower, there’s now a surprisingly wide range of options to chose from. From top-of-the-range $2K / £2K-plus machines with large touchscreens with gamification and virtual rowing options to simple sub-$1K / £1K models that look less like spaceships and offer a more streamlined experience, there’s a rowing machine for most budgets.

Most use air or magnetic resistance from an adjustable flywheel for you to pull against. Others, like the WaterRower Original, use water as a resistance medium. They tend to have chain or belt-drive mechanisms attached to the ‘oar’ handle, and a movable seat on wheels or rails.

Those with larger displays or digital touchscreens will often require a membership subscription to unlock on-demand classes, games and virtual rowing options, so make sure you factor that monthly expense in when making your decision.

Benefits of using rowing machines

Indoor rowing, like indoor cycling, has a major advantage over treadmills in that it provides a zero-impact cardio workout. It can burn a serious amount of calories too, allowing you to torch more than 300 in just 30 minutes – once you’re clued up on how to use rowing machines effectively.

It offers a higher oxygen consumption and at a lower heart rate than treadmill workouts. Oh, and it’s also one of the few forms of cardio that packs on serious muscle.

If you have the room and the budget, the best rowing machines provide an effective endurance workout to improve heart and lung function while working every major muscle in your body. The drive phase engages your leg muscles, then your core and finally your upper body.

Other benefits include improving joint health, mobility and flexibility and core strength. With all their available metrics, rowing machines are great tools for goal-setting too.