Rowing machines are ideal for low-impact exercises. They are suited to beginners and people undergoing rehabilitation but can be useful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Rowing machines help you lose weight, improve your cardiac endurance and resilience, and tone your muscles.
In the following sections, we review the best rowing machines in Australia, provide a useful buying guide, and include other helpful tips to find which rower best suits your fitness needs. Ready? We'll begin with our top picks.
Our Top Picks
Here are our top three rowing machine picks in Australia:
Concept 2 Model D Rower
Best home rowing machine with 16 resistance levels, an adjustable footrest, a PM5 monitor, and an ergonomic handle for comfort.
NordicTrack RW900 Rower
Best smart rowing machine with a 22-inch HD touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and two resistance mechanisms: magnetic and air.
SHF SF-RW5801 Rower
Best cheap rowing machine for beginners with large anti-slip pedals, an LCD monitor, grip straps, and a 16-level adjustable resistance electric cord.
Top 6 Rowing Machines in Australia: In-Depth Review and Comparisons
In our detailed review of Australia's top 6 home rowing machines, we considered each rower's cost, size, and performance. We also evaluated their design and features, including preset programs and any unique technologies.
1. Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine
Best Home Rowing Machine
Resistance levels: 16
Weight capacity: 227 kg
Dimensions: 244 x 61 x 36 cm
The concept2 RowERG, formerly known as the Model D, is a best-selling rower worldwide. Though an air resistance model, the Model D is designed to minimise noise and maximise smooth operation. It features 16 resistance levels, an adjustable footrest, and an ergonomic handle. The machine runs via two D-cell batteries powered by the flywheel's spin. And the quantity of air passing to the flywheel can be controlled by dampers at 1-10 levels.
The rowing machine has a PM5 monitor that tracks your calories, distance covered, and speed. It can connect with fitness devices and heart rate monitors via Bluetooth. For ergonomics, its contoured 14-inch high seat supports long workout sessions comfortably. However, it's a bit low, and users with knee problems might face some issues.
Concept 2's robust frame with aluminium front and steel rear legs can withstand up to 227 kg of user weight thanks to its commercial-grade quality. It is portable due to its low weight, front foot wheels, and construction, allowing you to separate it into two parts for easy storage.
- Good portability
- 1-10 damper levels
- 16 resistance levels
- Efficient performance monitor
- Great for the cardiovascular workout
- A little noisy
2. NordicTrack RW900 Smart Rower
Best Smart Rowing Machine
Resistance levels: 20
Weight capacity: 115 kg
Dimensions: 60 x 220 x 128 cm
NordicTrack RW900 is a full-body workout machine with two resistance mechanisms; magnetic and air. The magnetic resistance can be adjusted with a button click, while the air resistance is modified manually. NordicTrack's magnetic resistance offers enough resistance to build stamina, while its air resistance can create even more fast-paced resistance for high-intensity workouts.
For resistance levels, the RW900 has 2. It comes with an ergonomically designed seat, handlebar, and foot pedals for ultimate comfort. The pedals are oversized for secure footing and include Velcro straps for quick adjustment. It can also hold people who weigh up to 115 kg. NordicTrack's rower has high mobility due to transport wheels. The smart rowing machine can be easily folded and stored because of its SpaceSaver design.
The home rowing machine features a 22-inch HD touchscreen with an adjustable console. On purchase, you get a 1-year membership of iFit to partake in workout classes by experienced trainers. This boosts your workout drive and offers tailored workout plans for your fitness goals in the comfort of your home. Plus, it’s not compulsory to renew your membership after it expires. The rowing machine comes with 2-year parts and a 10-year frame warranty.
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- Adjustable screen arm height
- Two resistance mechanisms
- Portable and foldable
- Interactive personal training
- Smooth and quiet workout
- Quite expensive
- No native Bluetooth support
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Rower
Best Cheap Rower for Beginners
Resistance levels: 16
Weight capacity: 130 kg
Dimensions: 58.4 × 195.6 × 57.2 cm
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Rower is ideal for beginners trying out rowing and looking for an affordable option. Despite its low price, this rowing machine delivers good performance. It is built with top-grade steel and features large anti-slip pedals, grip straps, and a 16-level adjustable resistance elastic cord. The foldable design adds convenience, allowing easy storage and portability with transportation wheels.
The SF-RW5801 rower also features an LCD monitor that displays essential stats like calories burned, total count, and time. It offers a comfortable workout with non-slip handlebars, a cushioned seat, and adjustable floor stabilizers. The compact rowing machine also has a weight limit of 130 kg, making it suitable for larger or taller users.
We have our reservations about the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Rower, like its outdated monitor and potential long-term cord durability concerns. But being a budget-friendly and portable option for beginners, there's very little to complain about.
- Very affordable
- Foldable frame for easy storage
- Non-slip or padded handlebars
- Adjustable floor stabilisers
- Outdated monitor
- Prone to cord breakage over the long term
4. Everfit Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine
Best Foldable Rowing Machine
Resistance levels: 10
Weight capacity: 150 kg
Dimensions: 208.5 × 48 × 58.5 cm
Everfit Magnetic Rower is a simple but useful foldable rowing machine. It's ideal if you want an easily foldable rower for compact reasons. Its space-saving design makes it extremely handy if you have a small room space or travel with your rowing machine often.
Everfit's rowing machine uses a magnetic resistance mechanism to tone your muscles, which is manually adjustable between 1 and 10. It is also quiet and smooth during operation. The home rowing machine also features a large LCD to monitor the progress of your workout. You can track the total count, time, scan, and burned calories here.
The steel-made frame of the portable rowing machine is sturdy enough to handle a weight of up to 150 kg. The moulded seat also provides good comfort while burning calories during strenuous workouts. It has anti-slip footrests featuring adjustable straps to secure your feet and a 1-year warranty.
- Easy and compact storage
- Heavy-duty wheels for mobility
- Large LCD screen
- Easy to set up
- Resistance is a bit weak
- Not ideal for tall individuals
- Machine moves while rowing
5. Genki Water Rower Machine
Best Water Rowing Machine
Weight capacity: 120 kg
Dimensions: 207 × 50 × 56 cm
Water rowing machines are made to simulate a true rowing experience on the water, making the workout more challenging and realistic. The Genki Rower Machine ensures a smooth experience and steady water rowing with its built-in hydro blades. It's made from alloy steel with a polycarbonate tank and has exceptional performance and a long lifespan.
For a safe and comfortable rowing experience, the water-resistant rowing machine has two large pedals with a slip-resistant surface and adjustable straps for adjusting straps based on your shoe size. The rower is also foldable and features built-in wheels, making it simple and convenient to store.
Genki's water rower machine has an LCD monitor that displays your vitals and important metrics during rowing.
- Space-saving design
- Adjustable foot straps
- Built-in wheels make it easy to move
- Polycarbonate water tank
- High-quality makeup
- Less weight capacity
6. Lifespan Fitness 750 Rower
Best Rower With Wooden Frame
Weight capacity: 200 kg
Dimensions: 216 x 56 x 57 cm
This Lifespan rowing machine has a progressive and natural resistance system that allows no delay in the resistance and a smooth, consistent rowing experience from start to finish. It features an LCD screen that shows the speed, distance, and calories burned during a workout and can hold a user weight of 200 kg.
While Lifespan provides a 1-year warranty for parts, constant repairs are the least of your worries with this rowing machine. The frame is made of Timber wood with latex cord and heavy-duty polypropylene fibre. This robust structure provides an excellent workout session and the closest experience to on-water rowing.
However, it requires water replacement and unit cleaning after six months to prevent it from potential damage. On purchase, the machine is partially assembled; you only need to fit a few parts to get it done. You can easily assemble the machine via on-site assistance tutorials.
- Beautiful oak wood frame
- Ergonomic and contoured seat
- High-quality construction material
- Smooth rowing experience without jerkiness
- Easy-to-read display screen
- Prone to algae growth
- Bulky unit, requiring large gym space
- Regular maintenance required
Why Buy a Rowing Machine?
Apart from the obvious advantage of exercising in the comfort of your own home, there are many reasons to buy a rowing machine. They include:
- Full body workout: Rowing targets your back, legs, core muscles, and arms, making a rowing machine a great alternative to spending all your time in the gym.
- Low-impact exercise: Rowing machines are fantastic if you have joint problems, are recovering from an injury, or are just looking for an alternative to heavy-impact exercise.
- Cardiovascular health: Rowing helps to increase your heart rate and lung capacity, improving heart health.
- Convenience: Many rowing machines have the fold-up storage option, making them easy to store. They also offer the convenience of exercising in the comfort of your home.
- Weight loss: Rowing machines target muscles using the rower's resistance, enabling you to burn many calories. With a proper workout, a rowing machine can help with weight loss.
Rowing is ideal for people with any fitness level, whether you are a beginner just starting out or whether you are a professional looking for a challenge and everyday training. Rhythmic exercises like rowing can help reduce stress and anxiety and help boost your mental well-being.
How to Choose the Best Rowing Machine?
Every model has characteristic features that make them unique and comparable. You should be aware of all the important comparable features to make an informed decision before buying. Here are what to consider while purchasing a home rowing machine in Australia.
1. Build Quality
A good rowing machine should be well-built to last longer. A high-quality machine will be more durable and safer to use. This is the first to consider when buying a rower to get the most out of it. With stronger build material, there is less chance of malfunctions.
Inspect the following specific parts when looking for a quiet, comfortable, yet stylish rowing machine.
- Flywheel: Choose the machine with a heavier flywheel to get the best experience. Weight should not be too much that it would affect the portability. But still heavy enough to ensure smoother strokes while working out.
- Handlebars: The size must be enough to accommodate the hand grip comfortably. It should be easy to adjust.
- Seat: Padded seats are more comfortable than straight ones. They provide optimum comfort to your bottom.
- Footplates: Choose footplates that are made of metal, as plastic ones can’t bear high pressure. Also, ensure they come with straps to secure your feet while rowing.
- Frame or Rail: Always check the material strength of the frame to assess its sturdiness. The machine made of steel or Aluminium will be able to support enough weight for most users. Compare the maximum user weight of each option and select the one with the higher max user weight value.
- Drive: Two types of drives are available: chains and belts. Chains are robust but noisier and require regular lubrication, while belts need less maintenance and are quieter to use. If you prefer a less noisy workout, then go for a belt; otherwise, pick the one with a chain.
2. Weight-Bearing Capacity
Different build materials allow different weight capacity rowers in the market. Make sure to buy a rower that can easily bear your weight. The machine may break if your weight exceeds the maximum user weight specification. Always ensure a good margin between the weight capacity and your weight for the safety of your rowing machine.
3. Resistance Type
The main characteristic of a rowing machine is the type of resistance it offers for rowing the rope. These include magnetic, air, water, and hydraulic. Pick one with more level options for resistance. Let’s discuss the resistance mechanisms in brief.
- Water Resistance: You get a realistic rowing experience with water-resistant rowing machines. The paddles in the water spin when you pull the handlebar, offering consistent exercise intensity per your pull. The water rowing machine can be noisy but not more than air rowers. Due to zero friction, they face very rare wear and tear situations. This longevity gives it a higher price than other rowers.
- Magnetic Resistance: These home rowing machines use a spinning flywheel attached to a magnetic brake system. You can adjust different levels of resistance by adjusting the magnetic power. No friction is generated; thus, it works smoothly and quietly. Rowers with a magnetic resistance system are compact and fit into small spaces. And though you can set different resistance levels, their resistance power is less than air and water resistance machines.
- Air Resistance: Air resistance rowers bear a spinning fan that builds wind while spinning. This wind is responsible for the resistance. The harder you pull the bars, the more resistance they generate. You can not set resistance levels with air resistance home rowers as they lack knobs. Comparably, they are harder to row and are suitable for high-intensity and cross-fit workouts. These rowing machines are the most expensive and noisy among all forms of resistance rowers.
- Hydraulic piston resistance: Rowers in this category have one or two pistons on each handlebar. Their resistance is created by the fluid filled in the piston. You can set different levels by adjusting the knob on the piston. They are difficult to use and the cheapest of all. They are also unsuitable for long workouts as the piston tends to heat up over time. If you want rehabilitation of your arm, then this machine will prove to be the ideal one.
4. Monitor or Console
The console is the display screen facing toward you. It benefits regular users who want to track their workout progress daily. Some home rowing machines show a few parameters, while some can show more, depending upon the cost and design of your rower machine. The parameters include heart rate, speed, distance covered, strokes, calories burned, etc.
The console is useful for people who need to monitor certain health conditions. Some rowers have more advanced features like a Wi-Fi connection, pre-programmed workouts, and Bluetooth functions. A few expensive rowing machines offer a multi-angle LCD for your ease. Choose according to your need and pocket capacity.
5. Size Capacity
The size of the rower depends upon the size of your home gym or the relevant area where you’ll place this machine. Always compare your space and the dimensions of the rower before purchasing. You can opt for foldable machines to save space after use. Another factor to consider is your height. A tall person might feel it stressful to do the workout on shorter frames or rails.
The price of a home rowing machine may vary from as low as $250 to as high as $2,000. There are several options in between, depending on the brand, model, usage, and features. Low-cost rowers lack important features but are good for occasional users. The high-end ones suit athletes and fitness enthusiasts with specific health needs and precise goals. The more robust and feature-rich rowers are, the more costly they are.
You should always pick a machine with a warranty to cover the cost of repair or damage if it breaks within the stated duration. All warranties are not the same. Some cover frame only, some cover the resistance mechanism, and some only cover the labour to repair. A good warranty gives good confidence about the durability of your device. Make sure to read it fully before buying.
How to Use a Rowing Machine?
Whether you're a new owner of a rowing machine or considering integrating this dynamic exercise into your routine, the following 3-step process should help you confidently embark on your rowing journey:
Step #1 - Setting Up Your Rowing Machine
Upon receiving your rowing machine, carefully unpack all components and follow the manufacturer's instructions for assembly. Ensure that all parts are securely tightened to guarantee a safe and efficient workout experience.
We recommend familiarising yourself with the resistance options on your rowing machine and experimenting with different levels to find the setting that best suits your fitness level.
Likewise, adjust the foot straps to secure your feet comfortably, sit tall on the seat with a straight back, and grip the handle with an overhand grip while keeping your wrists neutral.
Step #2 - Adopting a Proper Rowing Technique
Understanding the proper rowing technique is essential for maximising your workout's benefits. The rowing stroke consists of four key phases: the catch, the drive, the finish, and the recovery.
Starting with the catch, maintain a relaxed grip on the handle and begin with your knees bent, arms extended, and back straight. During the drive, push through your legs, engaging your core and back while keeping your arms straight until your legs are almost fully extended.
As you reach the finish, lean back slightly, pulling the handle to your chest, engaging your back muscles, and keeping your core tight. Finally, during the recovery, extend your arms, lean forward from your hips, and bend your knees to slide back to the starting position.
Don't forget to breathe in during the catch phase and breathe out as you drive and finish. Consistent, mindful breathing improves contributes to a more enjoyable and effective rowing experience, ensuring you maximise the benefits of your workout.
Step #3 - Creating a Workout Routine
To optimise your rowing machine workouts, it's important to establish a well-rounded workout routine.
Begin with a 5-10 minute warm-up consisting of light cardio and dynamic stretches to prepare your muscles. For rowing intervals, start with a steady 5-minute row at a moderate pace and incorporate high-intensity rowing intervals followed by rest periods.
Aim for longer, steady-state rows to build endurance, gradually increasing the duration as your fitness improves. After your workout, cool down by rowing at a slow pace for 5 minutes to gradually lower your heart rate, and perform static stretches to improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.
Are Cheap Rowing Machines Worth Buying?
While a cheaper rowing machine might benefit your budget, the quality is affected. Most cheap rowing machines do not have strong build materials. They also do not always have the best sitting positions. Be sure to check the seat material if you're buying a budget home rowing machine. Similarly, consider the handlebars for a good grip and ensure the footplates are made of metal instead of plastic.
For features, cheaper rowing machines may be ideal for beginners since they include fewer workout programs and less advanced monitors. Most also come with less resistance which is ideal for people with low fitness levels. Pricier machines offer features such as larger LCD screens, workout tracking features, and monthly exercise subscriptions.
If you are an experienced rower with high expectations from your workouts, a cheap home rowing machine may not be the best option for you. However, for beginners and individuals with low fitness levels, a cheap rowing machine may be what you need to get a feel of rowing before investing heavily.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions on the types, uses, and benefits of using a home rowing machine in Australia.
Is rowing good for you?
Yes, rowing improves muscle tone and is also considered a perfect form of exercise to improve heart health. It helps build endurance and is also rated on its low impact standards. A study in 2015 showed that cholesterol rates have also been known to drop, which is an added benefit.
What is indoor rowing?
Indoor rowing is a type of exercise that gives you the sensation of actually rowing a boat on water while maintaining a stationary position. It is a popular form of exercise and a way to keep fit in the comfort of your own home.
Can I get stronger using a rowing machine?
Yes, rowing machines focus on building upper and lower body strength while pushing your endurance levels and core strength. With different resistance levels available, rowing machines are suitable for those looking to get stronger.
What are the most common rowing mistakes?
Beginners tend to use their arms to do most of the work. This is a mistake, as the rowing machine is an overall body workout. Rowing, when done correctly, engages 86 percent of your muscles.
To ensure good rowing exercise, do not hunch as it causes strain on your muscles, do not row too fast as it does not provide the needed resistance for a proper workout, and avoid holding your breath while exercising.
What are the different types of rowing machines?
The four main types of rowing machines are air resistance rowing machines, magnetic resistance rowing machines, water resistance rowing machines, and hydraulic resistance rowing machines. Each rowing machine has different features, enabling specific workouts for intended purposes.
Time to Go Rowing!
Home rowing machines provide a great cardio workout. They target large muscle groups like the arms, legs, abs, and back, offering big yields to your fitness goals and overall health. Likewise, rowing is a full-body workout exercise that strengthens up to 85% of all muscles in your body.
Hopefully, this guide helped you choose one that meets your needs and gives you the cardio and strength training you need. If you're building a new home gym, consider our guides on the best treadmills, balance boards, elliptical trainers, and exercise bikes available in Australia.