Fitness Tips

Heavy Duty Rowing Machines – Our Top Rowers with High Weight Capacity

If you’re looking for an intense workout that’ll burn calories, build your aerobic fitness, and sculpt your glutes, hamstrings, and back, then look no further than indoor rowing. The machines implement the principles of rowing on a real boat and apply them at home, without the need for any water, obviously.

They offer you a chance to try something other than the typical treadmill, elliptical, while also helping you work many parts of your body that a running workout won’t. That’s just one reason among many for why getting a rowing machine is definitely worth it.

Most of them are also compact machines, which means they can be a great addition to a home gym if you have one. If you don’t like using a treadmill or a bike or just want something different, then rowing machines are a great alternative.

Concept 2D Indoor Heavy Duty Rower

Best Overall By Far - I Bought This One

our top rated rowing machine with high weight capacity

Editors Choice

  • Best Bang for Buck Option
  • Most Popular & Highest Rated
  • After 4 weeks of research this is the one that I bought for my home gym
  • Best For Home Use - Compact, Easy to Store and Easy to Move
  • High Weight Capacity Rower
  • Built Like a Tank
  • Affordable

My Search for a Heavy Duty Rower

4 Weeks of Research

Yeah 4 weeks... I spent 4 entire weeks trying to find a rowing machine that would not only be be capable and able to withstand and handle my weight but I also wanted one that was not going to cost me an arm and a leg. 

Thing is, I am frugal. I'm not made of money so when I got to buy a piece of equipment that is going to cost me a pretty penny I tend to overthink and over-research and in turn take a long time before I actually buy one. Well that is exactly what I did here. 

I'm not overweight, well actually I am by most standards, but I am not obese. I am tall standing at 6'3, and weigh about 265 lbs. Because of this I needed a heavy duty rower. 

Down below I compacted my research, notes, and personal opinions after testing each rower and made it digestable for you to read. If you enjoy this, please leave a comment and let me know. This took me quite some time and the time i spent going around to different stores testing.. etc.. knowing it helped you will make my day.

Benefits of Rowing Machines for Heavy & Overweight People

Here are just a few benefits and the reasons why I ended up getting a rower for my home gym setup I have in my basement.

Low Impact

It’s a known fact that high-impact workouts can be quite risky for people who are overweight, seniors or have joint problems. That's why they resort to low impact alternatives such as ellipticals, stationary bikes and treadmills(which most of them come with an incline feature nowadays).

Rowing machines, on the other hand, are based on a low impact, smooth and natural motion. This makes them a great alternative for anyone who’s not comfortable with performing weight-bearing exercises such as hiking, running, and such.

Rowers are also great for conditioning and strengthening your knees after injury or surgery. One thing that you might have to worry about is back strain, but it’s easy to avoid if you keep a good posture.

Easy to Use

If your journey to get in shape began recently, then you most likely have had some trouble operating some of the workout machines at the gym.

Worry not! 

Rowing machines are exceptionally easy to learn and operate regardless of your ability, weight, or age.

One thing that I personally insist that you keep in mind is making sure that you properly use the machine for two simple reasons: avoiding injuries and getting the most out of your workout.

You should securely fasten your feet in the stirrups and keep your shins at a 90-degree angle to the floor.

Additionally, to get the best out of your workout, make sure to keep your core engaged and to straighten your back and row in a smooth, fluid motion. This might seem like a lot to do, but trust me, you’ll get the hang of it all in little to no time.

Complete Workout

One common misconception that I always heard is the idea that rowing only works the arms. In actuality, a rowing workout uses more than 80% of your body muscles not 100% like other machines, but that technically makes it a full-body workout machine since it works most of your body.

The American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA) categorizes the rowing stroke as a 65 percent leg and 35 percent upper body workout.

Here’s a list of the major muscle groups that it tackles:

  • Pecs
  • Arms
  • Upper back
  • Abs

It’s also known to build many of the leg muscles, including quadriceps, calves, and glutes. These muscles are the ones that are primarily engaged during most of the exercise. 

Best Heavy-Duty Rowing Machines with High Weight Capacity

Now here is where my research and notes start. These are my top picks and quite frankly the only ones that are worth it. There are a ton of others out there but from my research and unless you are made of money none of them are as good the ones below.

1. Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine - Editors Choice

500 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Bang For Buck - I Bought This One

Best Features

  • Best Bang For Buck Option By Far
  • This is the one that I bought for myself
  • Very Popular & Highest Rated
  • Affordable
  • Simple to Use
  • Built Like a Tank
  • Compact - Easy to Move and Store
  • Dimensions: 96 x 24 x 14 inches
  • Weight: 57.32 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism: Air
  • Ten levels of air resistance

Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine Review

The Concept2 Model D is an indoor rowing machine that brings the many benefits of the gym to your house. It features solid aluminum legs on the front, rear legs that are made out of steel, an air-resistant flywheel, and a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds. These reasons alone make it my top pick for the best heavy-duty rowing machine.

I mean just take a look at the users reviews here, they are insanely positive and highly rated.

compact heavy duty rowing machine

You can adjust the flywheel’s air resistance by messing around with its damper to whatever setting suits best. It works in a perfect circle. The faster and harder you row, the more wind it’ll generate, and consequently, the more drag you’ll feel.

best heavy duty rower machine

While most rowing machines that are based on air resistance usually have a bit of noise to them, this isn’t the case for the Model D. It’s quiet enough for you to watch TV or listen to music while working out without having to blast high volumes.

Live in an apartment and need your rowing machine to be quiet as possible? This is the one for you.

Moreover, the Concept2 Model D comes with an easy-to-follow performance monitor that tracks distance, an estimate of calories expended, stroke rate, pace, and more.

It comes with numerous programmed workouts and games which perfectly motivate you to workout. You can also program your own custom workouts.

Model D is also very easy to disassemble and assemble back, allowing you to easily take it apart and store it whenever needed.

All in all, the Concept2 Model D is one of the smartest choices for a rowing machine for your home, hence why it’s the best-selling rower in many parts of the world.

Although it might come as a bit pricey for some, it still provides great value for your money through its durable build and thoughtful engineering decisions.

It's surely up there with other high-end rowers, I previously pitched it against the RW200 in this Nordictrack RW200 vs Concept 2 review, and I wasn't disappointed with either.

And to be honest, as far as rowing machine that are built with a high weight capacity this rower is actually comparatively cheaper than most, as we discussed this thoroughly in our comprehensive comparison between the Concept2 models D and E and the NordicTrack RW900.

2. WaterRower Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor

1000 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Rated Water Rower

Best Features

  • Extremely Highly Rated
  • Most Comfortable Rowing Machine
  • Best Rowing Experience - Resembles real life rowing
  • Can Be Stored in an Upright Position to save room
  • Built Like a Tank
  • Dimensions: 83 x 24 x 21 inches
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 700 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism: Water
  • Impressive weight capacity
  • Stylish design
  • Easy to assemble

WaterRower Rowing Machine with S4 Monitor Review

The WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine is an indoor machine that utilizes water resistance to give you the closest experience you can have to rowing in open waters.

For starters, it features a flywheel which pushes through water that’s stored in a heavy-duty tank. The overall experience feels more authentic due to the swooshing sounds of water that this machine has when you’re going at it.

heavy duty water rowing machine

Moreover, similar to the Model D, this machine’s flywheel functions in a way where the harder and faster you row, the more drag you’ll feel. If you wish to increase the machine’s overall resistance, add more water to the tank. It’s quite a simple system; the more water there is in the tank, the heavier the drag will be, the harder the workout you’ll have.

There is absolutely no need to empty the water tank, even when storing it. If you wish to clean the machine, simply drop a chlorine tablet in there every six months or so, and you’ll be good. Even though the machine isn’t foldable, you can easily store it in an upright position.

Assembling the frame of the machine for the first time can easily be done without the need for any tools. If you bump into any trouble doing it, I recommend you check the included instructions DVD.
You’ll also find yourself tightening the bolts from time to time due to the fact that wood expands and contracts overtime.

Last but not least, the S4 monitor will help you keep track of time, distance, calories burned, and more.
You’ll also get a three-year warranty on the machine’s parts as well as a five-year warranty on the frame.

All in all, this machine is a great choice for anyone who’s looking to have an experience that is similar to that of actual outdoor rowing with numerous additional features.

Best Features

  • Dimensions:58 x 24 x 36 inches
  • Weight: 96 pounds
  • Weight Capacity:600 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Magnetic
  • Smooth operation
  • Maintenance-free
  • Solid build

Lifecore R100 Commercial Rowing Machine Review

This rowing machine implements a combination of air and magnetic resistance, which provides greater control of pace than that found in regular air resistance models. This translates to more power, making the R100 an excellent choice for someone who’s looking for maximum strength building.

You’ll have access to 16 different levels of resistance, which provide you with more than enough challenge for a long period of time. The more strength and endurance you manage to have, the more challenging this machine can get.

Additionally, the Lifecore R100 comes with 15 preset workout programs out of the box, which you can go through using the monitor. Speaking of which, this model’s monitor allows you to keep track of the progress of four separate users if needed.

Once you’re done with your exercise, you can easily fold up the R100 and store it. However, it is important to know that in its most compact state, the Lifecore R100 is a very compact rower.

In addition, this rowing machine can handle up to 600 pounds of weight and comes with a very ergonomic seat for maximum comfort, especially during long sessions.

Another advantage that this magnetic-based machine has over other models is how quiet it can be in comparison. And while it’s not totally silent, this model is way less noisy than air resistance models or even water ones for that matter.

The pedals aren’t really fixed. Instead, they pivot a bit, which may prove to be helpful and comfortable for people with less ankle flexibility.

The one complaint that I’ve personally heard in regard to this machine is the issue of the ball bearings in the seat. Some people have reported that these bearings give a gritty feeling when they slide back and forth on the rail.

So, if having the smoothest ride possible is a high priority for you, then this issue might be a dealbreaker for you. But if you don’t really mind the feeling that the seat might have, then I highly recommend this machine. I personally didn't feel it, but from my research some people say the feeling of the seat is not the best.

4. XTERRA Fitness ERG700

350 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Features

  • So Highly Reviewed
  • Excellent Warranty
  • Very Affordable
  • Excellent For People who need a rower with a 350 lb weight capacity
  • Dimensions: 97 x 18 x 38 inches
  • Weight: 80 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism: Air, Magnetic
  • Has 16 levels of resistance
  • Plenty of workout programs
  • Sturdy and solid construction

XTERRA Fitness ERG700 Review

This model from XTERRA Fitness is a magnetic and air resistance hybrid that combines the best of both worlds, offering a great experience for a fair price.

There is also the combination of the aluminum slide rail and steel frame, which offers a sturdy and stable experience, with a 350 pounds weight capacity. It also folds really easily, allowing for instantaneous storage.

Additionally, you have 16 different preset workout programs that you can easily access through the 5.5” blue backlit LCD screen. The latter also offers numerous handy bits of information about your workout, including your distance, time, calories burned, etc.

There is also the most common advantage of having a hybrid operation, which is the quietness of this machine in comparison to other models.

All in all, the XTERRA Fitness ERG700 is an excellent choice for anyone who’s looking for a midrange rowing machine that’ll accomplish everything they’ll need.

5. ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine

350 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Features

  • Dimensions: 39 x 25 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 65 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 350 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Water
  • Ergonomic design
  • Convenient display panel
  • Innovative Hydro-Power Drive system

ProRower H2O RX-750 Home Series Rowing Machine Review

ProRower’s RX-750 is a sturdy, well-built machine with numerous great features such as a nice ergonomic seat, a great design, and much more.

For starters, it comes with a size-able LCD window that displays anything from time to calories, heart rate, etc. The RX-750 doesn’t include an option to adjust resistance. It all comes down to how you interact with the water in the tank. Rowing faster than usual will simply grant you a harder workout, but if you wish for something easier, just row slower. This straightforward design choice is preferred by many out there for a good reason.

Additionally, you’ll get a built-in heart rate receiver, which works perfectly with a chest strap. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to grab one separately since it’s not sold with the machine. You also have a great ergonomic seat with adjustable, pivoting footrests.

Despite having a decently sized water tank, this rower is still a pretty light machine and quite easy to move around. If you wish to store it, then I recommend you do it in an upright position since it only occupies 21” x 20” of space when folded up.

The polycarbonate tank can hold between 2.5 and 4.5 gallons of water, and obviously, the more water you have, the more resistance there will be. ProRower’s proprietary Hydro-Power system grants you smooth pulling accompanied by the soothing sound of water inside the tank.

To conclude, the ProRower H2O RX-750 rowing machine is the most convenient option for light rowers who will be exercising a few times a week.

However, if you consider yourself to be on a more advanced level, then I recommend that you add an extra $100 on top and get the Concept2 Model D instead.

6. Merax Water Rower

330 Lb Weight Capacity

Most Compact Heavy Duty Option

Best Features

  • Most Affordable water rower with a high weight capacity
  • Extremely compact and easy to move
  • Perfect for users under 330 lb
  • Highly Rated
  • Dimensions: 46.06 x 25.98 x 22.99 inches
  • Weight: 72 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 330 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism: Water
  • Sturdy steel frame
  • Comfortable seat
  • Easy to put together

Merax Water Rowing Machine Review

The main reason why this rowing machine made to this list is how compact it is. In addition to that, it’s based on a polycarbonate water tank that comes with a multi-blade impeller on the inside, giving you amazingly high levels of resistance.

Additionally, the Merax rower comes with a console that gives you a choice between two main programs, manual mode and race mode. The former allows you to simply start rowing, and your stats will appear before you on the screen. The latter, however, gives you the ability to set target strokes or rates, which gives a competitive edge to things.

Another unique thing about the Merax is that it comes partially preassembled, with the tank already attached. The only parts that you’ll have to attach by yourself are the seat and the rail using a simple tool kit that’s included in the box.

The machine’s construction is made of durable steel, but that doesn’t stop it from being lightweight and very compact. There is also the inclusion of built-in-wheels where is a great option to have, especially with how compact this unit is.

7. Mr Captain Vintage Oak Water Rower

320 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Features

  • Highly Rated & Reviewed
  • Affordable Option for those under 350 lb
  • Compact easy to move
  • Provides a real like rowing experience
  • Dimensions: 83 x 22 x 21 inches
  • Weight: 58.5 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 320 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Water
  • Sturdy construction
  • Can be stored vertically
  • Comfortable padded seat

Mr Captain Vintage Oak Water Rower Review

Next on my list for the top indoor rowing machines is the Mr Captain Vintage Oak Water Rower, a machine worthy of anyone’s attention for a number of reasons.

First off, it comes with an ergonomic seat, footplates with height-adjustable straps, an ergonomic handle, and an active recoil system. These features, combined with the machine’s sturdy construction, mean that you can have a quiet, smooth, and most importantly, comfortable workout with plenty of resistance.

Secondly, you get three modes out of the box, manual, interval custom, and target. These modes allow you to manage your time and achieve any fitness goals that you might have in mind faster than ever. The monitor provides you with all the necessary information about your workout, such as the calories burned, time spent, stroke per minute rate, etc. And it’s also Bluetooth compatible.

Thirdly and finally, this rower’s oak construction allows it to absorb any potential sounds or vibrations that might become a source of annoyance when working out. Looking at this from a professional’s point of view, this rower utilizes almost every trick in the book to ensure that you get a quiet, smooth, and durable workout. In my opinion, at this price point, this rower is the most logical choice.

Best Features

  • Dimensions: 80 x 22 x 34 inches
  • Weight: 92 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Water
  • Relatively affordable
  • Easy to assemble and store
  • Premium quality

Sunny Health Obsidian Surge Water Rower Review

Coming in cheaper than just about any other heavy duty rower ever made, this rower from Sunny Health is one of the most affordable rowing machines on the market right now. Still, don’t let this lower than usual price tag fool you into thinking that the company has cut a lot of corners because they haven’t. You’ll get a quality water resistance rower with a good warranty to back it up.

The build of the machine is quite solid; however, it only supports 250 pounds max, which isn’t really that great considering the context of this list.

Within the water tank are three steel fan blades for generating resistance. You also get a funnel and a few anti-algae tablets out of the box to help you keep the water fresh and clean. As I’ve mentioned before, the best way to handle this is to throw in a tablet every six months or so; however, if you’re noticing that the tank is getting cloudy sooner than it’s supposed to, pop a tablet in there.

You can choose between 6 different water levels, and your choice should obviously be based on how much resistance you really want. There is also an included siphon pump to help you remove any extra water from the tank or all of it if necessary.

Moreover, the Sunny Healthy Obsidian Surge is equipped with a large LCD monitor named “R2 Fitness Meter”, and it displays all the necessary information about your workouts such as strokes, time, pace, distance, calories, and more.

There are also three modes that you can choose from, which are manual, race, or recovery. You also get a pair of rather comfortable and large footpads, which are also adjustable.

All in all, if you’re someone who’s under 250 lbs, you are looking for a water resistance rower and you’re not looking forward to spending a fortune on getting one, then I highly recommend the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge.

At this price point, this rowing machine will give you a performance that is well comparable with pricier models, with the inclusion of all the extra features that one might need.

9. Stamina Avari Magnetic Exercise Rower

275 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Features

  • Dimensions:81 x 20 x 24.5 inches
  • Weight: 75 pounds
  • Weight Capacity:275 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Magnetic
  • Includes 12 workout programs
  • Sturdy construction for durability
  • Backlit InTouch® Fitness LCD monitor

Stamina Avari Magnetic Exercise Rower Review

Going back to magnetic rowers, it is simply impossible to talk about them without mentioning one of the best models in the market, the Stamina Avari. As I’ve mentioned above, the key selling point of magnetic resistance rowers is how quiet they are.

In fact, they’re so quiet to the point where you can do a complete workout with a sleeping baby in the house without having to worry about waking it up.

The footplates provide a seamlessly natural pivoting motioning but instantly become stationary the time you need to drive your legs. This is all to ease up any unnecessary strain that might be applied to your joints and muscles. This is further helped by the slightly inclined, molded and padded, rail.

A simple press of a button on the digital monitor will adjust the resistance for you. The monitor also tracks anything from time to stroke count. You also get a heart rate strap included in the box, which is a rare occurrence in models at this price range.

This rowing machine is also foldable and comes with wheels that allow for easy transport and storage whenever needed. It can support the weight of up to 275 pounds and comes with a heavy-duty nylon chain that won’t fray nor tear over time.

One drawback that I can think of, which is common amongst most magnetic rowers, is the fact that the resistance can become less consistent after a while, something that you usually don’t see in an air resistance rower, for example.

And while this model is very well-built and probably won’t have this issue anytime soon after you buy it, you still have to keep it in mind.

In conclusion, the Stamina Avari Magnetic Exercise Rower is one of the best models that one can get their hands on in the “mid-range” price category. It offers numerous great features such as a very useful display, an ergonomic design, and a large number of programmable workouts.

10. Stamina ATS Air Rower

250 Lb Weight Capacity

Best Features

  • Dimensions:78.5 x 19.75 x 31.5 inches
  • Weight: 73 pounds
  • Weight Capacity:250 pounds
  • Resistance Mechanism:Air
  • Versatile rowing machine
  • Fairly affordable
  • Comfortable and easy to use

Stamina ATS Air Rower

Next up on the list is the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399, an affordable air resistance rowing machine that provides a quality, solid workout. It has a straightforward resistance system, the faster you row, the harder it’ll be, and the opposite is true.

You also get an angled seat rail, which allows for an easy return to start position of the seat. Then there are the large footplates, equipped with nylon straps that can fit any user.

Additionally, you get some textured grips on the handle, a durable steel frame, and wheels for easy transport and storage.

A simple search on the internet will show you how positive user reviews are in regard to this rowing machine.

It’s an all-around great piece of machinery for well under 500, providing a perfect mix of sturdy construction and smooth, comfortable motion.

Top Rowing Machine Brands


Concept2 is a very well-known brand when it comes to manufacturing workout and exercise equipment such as Heavy-Duty Rowing Machines

Visit any nearby health club or gym, and you’ll find that they’re filled with Concept2 machines.

This is mainly due to their solid and reliable construction and the rare need for maintenance. Concept2 is also a leading name in the industry due to how much they invest technology-wise in their monitors.


WaterRower is a famous American fitness brand that is known for making great heavt-duty rowing machines

WaterRower has cemented themselves in the market for rowing machines with their original rower, a beautifully made air resistance machine made from wood. It’s an instantly recognizable machine and brand in any workout circle, for a good reason.


Stamina is great brand when it comes to making heavt-duty rowing machines

The expression “you get what you pay for” is usually true, however, we all know that it’s usually defined by that one brand that offers you a “quality” experience for a way less hefty price tag than others.

And this is where Stamina comes to play with their huge arsenal of under $500 rowers (and even less than $250).

They had been a fan-favorite in the market for affordable rowers since their foundation back in 1987.

How to Choose the Best Heavy Duty Rowing Machine

Resistance Types

Most users will rush towards the most affordable rowing machine without thinking twice, which is a totally wrong move. And as is the case with almost every product out there, cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Pricing aside, a user should also focus on a number of factors before buying a rowing machine, including which type it belongs to.

Air Resistance

The Avari 695 rowing machine uses air resistance

This is the most common type for a number of reasons. First, it’s an excellent choice for newbie users because the level of resistance automatically adjusts to the pace and stroke intensity that you’re working at.

These machines are usually equipped with numerous fan blades that provide a seamless, smooth rowing experience. One drawback that I can think of in regard to air resistance machines is the fact that they produce a decent amount of noise when compared to some of the other types.

This can be problematic for apartment home gyms or people who love to listen to music during training, which is the majority nowadays.

 Magnetic Resistance

The ATIVAFIT Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine uses Magnetic Resistance

Probably the most affordable among all the four types - magnetic machines are often found in health centers and gyms.

Their whole operation is based on a braking system which provides manual or automatic resistance, depending on which model you get.

They’re also known for having an extremely durable construction and requiring little to no maintenance at all. Last but not least, they provide an extremely smooth workout, similar to that of air resistance rowers.

Some rowers offer a combination of both air resistance and magnetic resistance we have reviewed and compared two of these rowers; the Nordictrack RW500 and the RW900.

You can find our comparison of the two here.


The Merax Water Rowing Machine uses water resistance

According to numerous experts, water-resistant rowing machines are the most efficient and effective models on the market. They operate through a number of blades contained within a water tank, which provides an extremely close to reality, rowing experience.

These machines are also super quiet, and the only noises you’ll hear are those of the water, which further add to the whole authenticity aspect of it rather than ruining it.

These models tend to be more expensive than the three other types, but they’re usually wellworth the price since most of them are very durable and can last for decades of use, if not a lifetime.

Residential vs. Commercial Use

Technically speaking, all indoor rowing machines can be used at home, but not all of them are instantly useable in a commercial context (gyms, boathouses, health clubs, etc.).

In other words, if you’re looking for a rower to use at home, then any model you consider will do the job just fine.

However, if you plan to use it commercially, then make sure to choose a model that’s built for consistent, heavy-use, usually branded as “commercial-grade”.

The Concept 2D (my #1 pick) is actually a home rower but is one that is also commercially rated. Yeah it's that good - which is why I got it.

Even if you’re at home, but you have a large family, the majority of which will be using the rower, then you might consider getting a semi-commercial model instead of a full-on residential one.

Related Reading; Concept 2 Rower vs. Skierg – Which Rowing Machine is Best?

Other Features


The machine should be in the middle size-wise. What I mean by middle is that it’s big enough for you to straighten your legs every time without losing proper form but also small enough to fit in whatever space you left for it at your home or commercial center.


Hydraulic and magnetic resistance machines are usually the best when it comes to foldability, while air or water resistance ones are often the worst. However, keep in mind that there are exceptions, but nevertheless, if you want compactness then you should consider foldability when buying a rower.

Weight Capacity

Models vary a lot when it comes to how much user weight they can support, but most regular models are usually in the range of 220 to 265 pounds. The heavy duty rowers in my list above obviously have a much higher weight capacity.


This is important because it keeps track of important information about your workout, such as duration, distance, speed, calories burned, etc.

Ease of Assembly

In many cases, you’ll find yourself having to assemble the machine all by yourself. And obviously, you don’t want to find yourself spending a lot of extra time on something like this.

So, whatever model you plan to buy, do make sure that it’s easy to assemble from the get-go, or it comes with detailed instructions on how to do so.


An incline function on the rails is a necessary option since it allows you to shift the focus from one muscle group to another. And while I highly recommend that you look for a model with such adjustability, I still respect the choice of some people who prefer a simple rowing workout over an adjustable, complex one.


The price tags on rowing machines can be anywhere from $300 to well over $3000. Figuring out your budget range will greatly help you to narrow down the number of options that you’ll eventually to choose from.

However, you have to keep in mind that we live in a world where you, more often than not, get what you pay for, and this is no different when it comes to rowing machines. You might notice a lot of negative reviews on a cheap model; this is mainly due to the number of people who bought this model, expecting it to have the latest, greatest features and quality.

If you’re not sure about which range your budget belongs to, here’s a rough estimate that I made:

  • Under $400: Low-End - Junk - off brand - not worth even buying in the first place
  • $600 à $950: Mid-Range
  • $950-1500: Mid Level Higher-End
  • Over $1500: High End

You have to keep in mind that this is merely a general idea about the relation between price and quality in rowing machines. What I mean to say is that you can find “quality” rowing machines in the mid-range and even low-end categories.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What’s the Difference Between a Water Rower and An air Rower? and Which One Is Better?

The Benefits of a Water Rower

Water-resistance usually means that you get to create your own resistance by simply digging deeper each time. In other words, you can easily adjust each rowing session as you see fit, and you’ll get to work the entirety of your body due to the very natural motion that these rowers have.

There is also the element of realism, which is further backed up by the different water noises that these rowers make when you’re in the middle of a workout.

The top choice when it comes to water-resistant machines is Fluid Rowers simply because they provide you with a constant resistance throughout the session. They also feature a highly adjustable resistance and give you amazing control over their pace.

Particular water rowing models enable you to store them vertically, without having to empty or detach the water tank.

All in all, water rowers are an excellent but premium option with a few cons, hence why they’re a very common choice for passionate people.

The Benefits of an Air Rower

Air rowers are similar to water ones in several different ways, hence why they’re as popular of a choice. Instead of a tank that’s filled with water, you get a fan or flywheel to create all the needed resistance.

Some models rely on the concept of retroactive resistance as in the faster you work, the harder it’ll get. However, some implement dampers to give you complete control over the intensity of your workout.

The only downside that I can think of when it comes to air rowers is the fact that they tend to be louder than other rowers, which might or might not be an issue for some people.

In conclusion, air rowers, the best at least, are usually on par with water ones, so the final choice comes down to your personal preference and nothing else.

Are Rowing Machines Suitable for Heavy People?

Most gyms, residential or commercial, have machines to handle each part of your body. However, while some of these machines are great for losing weight, not all of them are equally effective when it comes to burning calories and getting slimmer.

For example commercial elliptical machines that you find in your gym are great for getting a full body workout in because they work your legs and your arms. The same can't be said for a cardio machines such as an exercise bike.

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Regardless of their effectiveness, you should first make sure to maintain a healthy lifestyle by having a proper diet for one.

Rowing machines will help you to increase and maintain your muscle mass. They’re also super useful for increasing your body resistance and improving cardiovascular function, making them a great option for older people.

They also burn calories rather fast, making them an excellent choice if your main aim is to reduce weight. They can burn up to 380 calories per 30 minutes on average for a person weighing 190 lb.

Being a heavy person, the only thing that you have to worry about with rowing machines is weight capacity. Just make sure that whatever model you’re considering can support you.

How Long Should I Work Out on a Rower to Lose Weight?

When the main goal of your rowing workout is weight loss, consistency, and duration are key. If you wish to get the most out of it, try to complete between 30 and 50 minutes of rowing at least six times per week.

Yeah that is a lot. But needed if you are overweight.

However, don’t force it on yourself if you feel like you’re not capable of handling it. Simply start with the intensity and duration, and you feel most comfortable with then slowly work your way up.

And the same for the number of days you can start by working out every other day and increase that over time.

Here are some numbers that usually indicate that you’re doing it right if weight loss is your main concern:

  • 5000 – 7000 meters - distance is shown on rower screen.
  • 10000 meters
  • 30 minutes
  • 20 minutes of alternating between one minute of easy rowing and one minute of hard rowing

Remember to warm up before each exercise, you can always grab a set of light dumbbells to get your biceps and triceps warmed up before you start rowing full out.

Also remember to record your meters following each rowing session to keep track of your progress and plan ahead.

How Many Calories Does a Rowing Machine Burn?

Most experts nowadays agree that a rowing machine burns an estimate of around 700-1000 calories per hour. (1) This number is obviously prone to change depending on the intensity of the workout and the weight of the individual.

However, you got to keep in mind that burning calories isn’t the only factor when aiming to lose weight. There is also the building of lean muscle and increasing your metabolic rate, amongst other factors.

Are Rowing Machines Suitable for Recovering After an Injury?

Many rower machine models nowadays are very suitable for rehabilitation. In fact, using such instruments has become an essential part of treatment, recommended, and implemented by numerous fitness and sports institutions across the world.


When it comes to burning fat at home especially for over weight individuals, a rowing machine is one helluva piece of equipment. Not only is it easy to use and understand, but it’s also super effective and gives an experience that’s pretty similar to the real thing.

What are you still doing here? Go on, buy your rowing machine, and get your butt to work!

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Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 18 years now.
My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future.
I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics.
My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics.
Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward.
You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page

Ben Mayz

Hi there! I'm Ben, main author and chief editor at I have been obsessed with Strength Training and Fitness for 18 years now. My passion for living a happy fit lifestyle is what made me realize that fitness is what I wanted for my future. I went on to earn my Masters in Sports Training & Biomechanics. My passion for Strength training & fitness and my love of helping others is what made me start Fitlifefanatics. Here, myself, and a team of specialist aim to provide the most accurate, and actionable information possible in hopes to help foster the fitness community forward. You can learn more about Fitlifefanatics on our About Page