Reviews Gym Equipment Rowers

7 Best Rowing Machines for Beginners in 2024

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy (21 years of Oly Lifting experience)

Rowing is a versatile and effective exercise with many applications. The best rowing machine for beginners provides a near full-body workout that can be tailored for weight loss, endurance, strength, and more simply by adjusting your routine and machine settings.

If you’re interested in starting rowing, the article will also cover how to use a rowing machine for beginners. But first, a rundown of the best entry level rowing machine options for your home or garage gym.

best rowing machine for beginners

Top 7 Rowing Machines For Beginners Reviewed

  1. KingSmith WR1 Foldable Water Rowing Machine – Top Pick
  2. ProForm Pro 750R Rower – Runner-Up
  3. Sunny Health & Fitness Programmable Rowing Machine – Budget Pick
  4. CONCEPT2 Black Rowerg Rower PM5 – Premium Pick
  5. Sunny Health & Fitness Hydro+ – Best Water Rower
  6. Stamina ATS Air Resistance Rower – Best Air Rower
  7. YOSUDA Magnetic/Water Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Rower
Sunny Programmable Rower57.58.59.510109.510
Sunny Hydro+579.59.5910910
Stamina ATS55.59.59.599910

1. KingSmith WR1 Foldable Water Rowing Machine  – Top Pick

kingsmith rower

Our #1 best entry level rowing machine spot goes to the KingSmith WR1. The brand has an impressive roster of compact exercise machines fit for home and garage gyms. Check out the specs:

  • Item dimensions: 76.3 L x 19.6 W x 22 H inches
  • Item weight: 63.93 lbs
  • Resistance system: Water
  • Display: LCD
  • Weight capacity: 265 lbs
  • Compatibility: KS Fit app
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Additional features: Foldable, wooden finish

The rower uses a water resistance mechanism equipped with a quality glass fiber paddle that makes a subtle and satisfying splash sound. The carry wheels are covered in hard rubber, significantly reducing exercise friction and removing the metal screeching sound made by cheap rowers. Combined, these features make the WR1 quiet enough to use in a house or apartment.

The machine has a built-in LCD that measures basic metrics like time and distance. Moreover, it features a smart device holder and is compatible with the KS Fit phone or tablet app. Simply scan the QR code on the machine using the app, and your phone or tablet will automatically start recording workout data when you pull the handles.

kingsmith rower instagram
photo by @walkingpad

Using a patented 3-fold design, the rower can be packed up when not in use and easily moved via the transportation wheels. When fully folded, it takes up just 26.7 x 22.8 x 19.6 inches of space, roughly the size and bulk of a bed table.

Unlike your typical metal exercise rower, the wooden frame on the KingSmith WR1 gives it a premium look that fits into living spaces without spoiling the aesthetic of a well-furnished home. Plus, products like this typically carry a marked-up price, so we were surprised to learn it costs the same as the average beginner rowing machine.


The KingSmith WR1 Foldable Water Rowing Machine features a unique 3-fold design for easy storage, a stylish wooden frame that enhances home aesthetics, and delivers quality rowing at an affordable price point.



  • Long-lasting and quiet glass fiber paddle
  • Reduced exercise friction on the rails thanks to rubber-covered wheels
  • Patented 3-fold design takes up very little space when not in use
  • Compatible with the KS Fit app

Could be better:

  • One size fits all, not adjustable in the seat, handles, or footpads
  • Disappointing 1-year warranty

2. ProForm Pro 750R Rower – Runner-Up


Our runner-up best rower for beginners is the ProForm Pro 750R. ProForm is an industry leader when it comes to bringing fitness into the living space, making compact-sized machines without cutting down on features.

  • Item dimensions: 86.5 L x 22 W x 45.5 H inches
  • Item weight: 116 lbs
  • Resistance system: Magnetic
  • Display: LCD
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs
  • Compatibility: iFit app
  • Warranty: 5-year frame, 1-year parts and labor
  • Additional features: Bluetooth connectivity, dual speakers, foldable

The Pro 750R features an SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance flywheel. It adjusts automatically based on your workout settings and is surprisingly quiet and home-friendly. The steel seat rail will last a long time and has smooth and durable back-and-forth motion. The handlebars can be pulled up to 90 inches to avoid stopping short.

proform 750r
photo by @funsizesonya

With ProForm's SpaceSaver® Design, the rower can easily fold up and save space. It features a high-contrast multi-color LCD, Bluetooth connectivity, and is compatible with the iFit app. The smart device holder can hold your tablet or phone while you watch your trainer-led workouts, while the dual speakers provide audio instructions and play motivating music.


The ProForm Pro 750R is a compact and quiet rower ideal for beginners, offering durable construction, extended handlebars, Bluetooth connectivity, and iFit compatibility for an efficient and enjoyable workout.



  • Original SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance flywheel
  • Smooth steel seat rail
  • 90-inch handlebar pull length
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Built-in speakers

Could be better:

  • Reliant on the iFit app, which requires a monthly subscription (additional post-purchase cost)

3. Sunny Health & Fitness Programmable Rowing Machine – Budget Pick

sunny programmable rower

If you’re shopping with limited funds, you can count on Sunny Health & Fitness. The brand boasts a high reputation in the affordable home fitness category.

  • Item dimensions: 92 L x 20.5 W x 32 H inches
  • Item weight: 78.5 lbs
  • Resistance system: Magnetic
  • Display: Digital
  • Slide Rail Length: 46.5
  • Weight capacity: 300 lbs
  • Compatibility: Foldable
  • Warranty: 3-year frame, 180 days parts & components
  • Additional features: Foldable

The main frame is made of aluminum, providing a light yet robust machine with a 300 lbs weight capacity. The comfort factor is decent thanks to the non-slip foot pads, padded handlebar, and oversized seat. Additionally, a large 46.5-inch slide rail accommodates athletes of all sizes.

The digital monitor may not be cutting-edge, but it offers good visibility with high contrast and tracks essential stats, including calories, distance, time, strokes per minute, and pulse. It has decent workout diversity, with 16 resistance levels, 7 presets, 4 custom workout slots, and 2 challenge modes.


Sunny Health & Fitness provides a budget-friendly option with their aluminum-framed rower, accommodating various sizes, offering comfort features, a clear digital monitor, and versatile workout options for limited-budget shoppers.



  • Affordable
  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Non-slip texture footpads
  • Padded handlebars
  • Long slide rail for efficient strokes

Could be better:

  • Basic display, a little underwhelming but understandable for the price

4. Concept2 BLACK ROWERG ROWER PM5 – Premium Pick

concept2 rowerg

The Concept2 RowERG is the golden standard among rowing machines. Manufactured in the U.S.A. from high-quality materials, this is the sort of rower you expect to see in the top fitness centers. It comes in two models, standard or high legs, differing only in height based on the seat position.

  • Item dimensions: 96 L x 24 W x 14/20 H (depending on model) inches
  • Item weight: 57 lbs/68 lbs
  • Resistance system: Air
  • Display: Digital
  • Slide rail length: 54 inches
  • Weight capacity: 500 lbs
  • Compatibility: ErgData app
  • Warranty: 5-year frame, 2-year parts
  • Additional features: ANT+ & Bluetooth connectivity (heart rate devices), USB flash drive compatibility (data import/export), machine-to-machine racing mode

The Concept2 rower provides the closest feeling to outdoor rowing with its air resistance system. It sports a premium build, including steel back legs, a nickel-plated steel handlebar chain, and a powder-coated structural frame, and more. It requires minimal out-of-box assembly, with tools and instructions included.

concept2 skierg instagram
photo by @hannes_ocik

The MP5 monitor looks simple on the outside but is a powerful tool for dedicated rowers. It tracks distance, speed, pace, calories burned, and watts, and you can transfer data to the ErgData app or PC/MAC via the USB Flash Drive.


The Concept2 RowERG is a top-tier rowing machine crafted in the U.S.A. with air resistance for an outdoor-like feel, featuring a robust build, user-friendly assembly, and an advanced MP5 monitor for comprehensive performance tracking.



  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Mostly steel construction
  • Does not require a power source or batteries
  • Incredible 500 lbs user capacity
  • Moderate price for a premium machine

Could be better:

  • Long, not exactly space-friendly
  • No compact features, requires a permanent place to put it

5. Sunny Health & Fitness Hydro+ – Best Water Rower

sunny hydro rower

Another Sunny Health & Fitness rower worth mentioning is the Hydro+. This model is unique due to having the perks of both water and magnetic resistance.

  • Item dimensions: 77.2 L x 18.9 W x 44.1 H inches
  • Item weight: 73.6
  • Resistance system: Water + magnetic
  • Display: LCD
  • Slide rail length: 46.9 inches
  • Weight capacity: 275 lbs
  • Compatibility: Heart rate strap
  • Warranty: 3-year frame, 180 days parts and components
  • Additional features: Foldable, dual resistance mechanism

As mentioned above, this rower offers a fantastic workout variety with its combination of water and magnetic resistance. The water system is positioned at 60 degrees to simulate pushback felt on open water, while your physical input sets exercise intensity. Meanwhile, the magnetic resistance offers 16 levels for manual customization.

The main console boasts a large screen with an intuitive interface, along with a smart device shelf. With 15 built-in racing programs, it provides ample workout options and tracks essential stats like calories, distance, pulse, strokes, and time. When you're done, simply fold the machine vertically to save space.


The Sunny Health & Fitness Hydro+ rower offers a distinctive blend of water and magnetic resistance, simulating open-water rowing at an angle, with adjustable magnetic resistance, built-in programs, and convenient vertical folding.



  • Angled water tank provides an open-water rowing experience
  • 16 levels of added magnetic resistance
  • Intuitive console
  • 15 built-in race programs

Could be better:

  • Quite tall when folded up, may limit where you can store it

6. Stamina ATS Air Resistance Rower – Best Air Rower

Stamina ATS Air Resistance Rower

Next up we have the Stamina ATS air resistance rower. It’s worth considering as a simpler and more budget-friendly beginner rowing machine alternative to the Concept2 mentioned above.

  • Item dimensions: 77 L x 18 W x 22 H inches
  • Item weight: 54 lbs
  • Resistance system: Air
  • Display: LCD
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs
  • Compatibility: Müüv coaching app
  • Warranty: 3-year frame, 90-day parts
  • Additional features: Air resistance, folding frame

The rower's main frame is constructed from carbon steel, offering excellent quality for this price range. It features a comfortable foam seat and pivoting foot plates that can be adjusted to accommodate different athletic shapes. The main display may be on the smaller side and slightly harder to see, but it’s compatible with the müüv audio coaching app, which can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the workout.


The Stamina ATS air resistance rower offers budget-friendly affordability, boasting a sturdy carbon steel frame, comfortable foam seat, adjustable foot plates, and müüv audio coaching app compatibility, making it an attractive choice for beginners.



  • Durable carbon steel frame
  • Comfortable padded seat
  • Adjustable pivoting footplates
  • Lightweight
  • Budget alternative to Concept2

Could be better:

  • Small display, hard to see

7. YOSUDA Magnetic/Water Rowing Machine – Best Magnetic Rower

yosuda rowing machine

Finally, we have an affordable magnetic rower made by YOSUDA. It holds the lowest base price point on this list with decent build quality, with reassurance with a fair warranty length.

  • Item dimensions: ‎56.7 L x 19.3 W x 25.4 H inches
  • Item weight: Around 58 lbs
  • Resistance system: Magnetic
  • Display: LCD
  • Slide rail length: 45.2 inches
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs
  • Compatibility: KINOMAP app
  • Warranty: 3-year frame, 1-year labor, 180 days parts
  • Additional features: Bluetooth connectivity

The frame is made from 5mm thick alloy steel, providing a sturdy and durable build with an impressive 350 lbs weight capacity. It’s recommended for athletes from 4’5” to 6'2” feet tall. When folded up, it occupies just 2.22 square feet of floor space, making it a space-saving choice.

The small LCD is adequate for tracking your essentials, and there’s also a smart device holder. By connecting your device to the rower via Bluetooth, you can use the KINOMAP app to track your stats and explore a variety of workouts.


YOSUDA presents an affordable magnetic rower with a sturdy alloy steel frame, suitable for various heights, smart device holder, Bluetooth connectivity, and compatibility with the KINOMAP app for a space-saving and versatile workout option.



  • Durable alloy steel frame with above-average max capacity
  • Bluetooth pairing with smart devices (KINOMAP app)
  • Just 2.22 square feet when stood up
  • Lowest base price on this list

Could be better:

  • The straight and plastic handlebar can be a bit harder on the wrists after a while


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Differences Between Rowing Machines for Beginners and Advanced Rowers

DifferencesBeginner RowerAdvanced Rower
Resistance MechanismTypically Magnetic - easier to control settings, simpler maintenance, most commonly foundAir or Hydraulic - higher levels of variability, more challenging workout simulating outside conditions
Console functionBasic data trackingComputer with advanced data processing
Workout ProgramsNone or basic (time, distance, calories, etc.)Basic setups, custom workouts, advanced trainer-led programs (usually through a smart app), and more
Performance MetricsTime
Heart Rate
Same as beginner, plus
Stroke Length
Peak Force
Recovery Time
Stroke efficiency
Data comparison, and more
AdjustabilityResistance level, seat positionSame as beginner, plus adjustable and swappable footrests, adjustable and swappable handlebars, display position, and more
User CapacityLow to mediumHigh
Frame MaterialAluminum or Hard PlasticSteel (coated, stainless)
Life cycle2-5 years5-10 years
Price Range$$$$$ / $$$$

What to Look For in the Best Rowing Machine for Beginners?

These are the factors we considered when creating the list, which you should have in mind when making your purchase:

1. Price/Quality

Our top beginner rowing machine picks boast the best value-for-money ratio, but we take into account various price ranges. Keep in mind not everybody needs to buy the most expensive machine to have a good workout. The quality for price rating should help reassure you’re getting a good product that matches your price range.

2. Design

Rowing machines are fairly standardized when it comes to their build purpose, but extra points went to rowers that went above the basics to provide a better user experience. They might seem like minor differences, but features like smart device shelves, ergonomic handles and seats, foldability, and similar can improve exercise comfort and convenience.

3. Comfort

Rowers are not exactly the peak of comfort among exercise machines. The nature of the exercise engages as much as 85% of your body and it is especially vigorous for beginners who still don’t have the perfect technique down. For this reason, features like cushioned seats, ergonomic and padded handlebars, and adjustable footrests can go a long way to provide a more comfortable workout.

man rowing machine training

4. Portability

Fitness has started moving into homes and garages more than before, so many companies now offer home-sized and portable rowers. Most of them are built to be easy enough for one person to move using transportation wheels, and some offer additional perks like folding or easy dismantling and remounting for convenient transport.

5. Adjustability

For this category, we took a look at available workout customization (variety), as well as adjustability features beyond the basic seat adjustment (handlebar and console distance, for example).

6. Durability

While it’s generally true that more expensive machines will be built from higher-quality materials, durability also comes down to purpose. Keep in mind that professional machines that cost upwards of thousands of dollars are meant for major training facilities, where they’ll be used by hundreds of athletes of various shapes and sizes. But more affordable home exercise rowers can also last you a long time if properly used and cared for post-workout using maintenance guidelines typically found on the warranty or product sheet.

Tips From the Champ

Most of rowing machines are built to be easy enough for one person to move using transportation wheels, and some offer additional perks like folding or easy dismantling and remounting for convenient transport.

Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Olympic Weightlifting Champion

How to Use a Rowing Machine Properly

Rowing is a dynamic exercise that may take some practice to get the hang of. Here are the basic steps on how to use a rowing machine for beginners:

  1. Adjust the machine - check if the seat, pedals, handlebar, and console are in the right position for you
  2. Take your position - sit closer to the front of the seat to avoid falling off during intense strokes, if you have a backrest, use it as your safety insurance but try to avoid relying on it
  3. Set your workout - whether you’re going to use a built-in or a freestyle workout, we highly recommend beginners start pre-planned and goal-based settings before going off instinct
  4. Adjust the resistance level if (it’s not automatic)
  5. Starting position - grab the handlebars, place your feet on the footrest, and lower yourself down by bending at the knees
  6. Drive phase - use the force of your legs to push yourself off the footrest and pull the handlebars towards your lower chest or upper abdomen
  7. Stroke finish - at near full leg extension you’ll naturally start leaning back. Engage your core to avoid going too far back, aim for just over 90 degrees. Pull the handlebar closest to your body, keep your elbows close to your body, and let them pass behind you to activate the back muscles
  8. Recovery phase - same as the previously mentioned steps, but in reverse. Arms reset back first followed by legs returning to the starting bend position. It’s important to control the descent and not let the machine pull you back for exercise efficiency and safety
  9. Breathing technique - inhale during the recovery phase, exhale during the drive phase
  10. Repeat the process
athlete configures rower


Is 30 Minutes of Rowing Enough?

Whether or not 30 minutes of rowing is enough exercise depends on factors like your lifestyle and fitness goals. Generally speaking, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 150-300 minutes of moderate or 75-150 minutes of vigorous exercise per week for adults.

The great thing about rowing is that it can be easily altered for either moderate or vigorous exercise based on your input settings, meaning you can get a good amount of exercise in 30 minutes.

Is 1000m on a Rowing Machine Good?

Yes, when learning how to use a rowing machine for beginners, 1000m is a good target distance against which you can measure your performance and adjust your workouts accordingly. For advanced rowers, 1000m is considered a sprint distance, meaning all focus is put on immediate power and speed over strategic and gradual progression, making this type of exercise highly intense.

However, for novice rowers, it may be better to prioritize calories and heart rate as your workout goal and use the 1000m as a ballpark number. Eventually, you’ll be able to perform the full 1000 meters without taking a break.

What Age Is Too Late to Start Rowing?

There’s no such thing as “too old” to start any physical activity, provided you’re in proper physical condition for it. All exercise machines come with a small warning label reminding people to perform a physical checkup before exercising. This advice applies to all ages but can be especially beneficial for older adults (50+), individuals with a medical history that may warrant a checkup (previous injury, chronic illness), or those who are getting back into training after a break.


This marks the end of our beginner rowing machine guide. Rowing is an excellent exercise to pick up and we highly recommend it regardless of your athletic level. As a full-body exercise, you can use it for pretty much any fitness goal - weight loss, stamina, muscle building, etc. - and it can provide a fun challenge.

We chose the ProForm Pro 750R Rower as our best rowing machine for beginners due to its modern features, a home-friendly design, and good value for money, but we urge you to check out the other picks as well.

Now we’d like to hear from you. Let us know what got you interested in rowing, as well as your upcoming fitness goals. Leave your thoughts in the comments and remember to follow us on social media for daily fitness updates.

Also read:


  1. Omid Nabavizadeh, "Relationships Among Muscle Characteristics and Rowing Performance in Collegiate Crew Members" Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences
  2. Manuel Chavarrias "Physical activity" (accessed August 17, 2023).

Why Trust Us?

With over 20 years in Olympic Weightlifting, our team does its best to provide the audience with ultimate support and meet the needs and requirements of advanced athletes and professional lifters, as well as people who strive to open new opportunities and develop their physical capabilities with us.

All products we select are primarily approved and tested by the Olympic Weightlifting Champion Oleksii Torokhtiy. Under his guidance, we provide honest and reasonable assessments of the products we review by checking their characteristics, packaging, design, comfort and durability features, and general product rating. We select products from only high-quality and trusted sports brands, thus vouching for their quality.

The product testing process is described in more detail here

Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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Oleksiy Torokhtiy

Reviewed by: Oleksiy Torokhtiy
Olympic Weightlifting Champion

Experience: 21 years
Best ResultsSnatch – 200 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Oleksiy Torokhtiy is a professional athlete boasting 20 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting. With multiple European and World titles under his belt, he has showcased his prowess in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008 and London 2012). Upon concluding his illustrious career, Oleksiy dedicated himself to coaching. By 2022, he had conducted over 200 weightlifting seminars worldwide. He is the visionary behind an international sportswear and accessories brand known for its motto, “Warm Body Cold Mind.” Additionally, he is an esteemed author and the creator of a series of training programs and eBooks.

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