As a certified personal trainer, I have been seeking for a reliable magnetic rowing machine designed to provide a smooth, challenging at-home rowing experience without requiring much maintenance.
I obviously don’t want to end up spending a fortune on an indoor rowing machine that’ll break after a few months. I mean, who does?!
Not only can the wrong choice be detrimental to your budget, but also your health.
Luckily, we’ve taken the time to test and weigh the pros and cons of the best magnetic rowing machines to help you choose the ideal magnetic rower within your budget and avoid a waste of money on uninformed purchases.
The Best Magnetic Rowing Machines
- Best Overall Magnetic Rowing Machine: Fitness Reality 1000 Plus
- Cheapest Magnetic Rowing Machine: Circuit Fitness Deluxe
- Best Quiet Magnetic Rowing Machine: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
- Best Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine: NordicTrack RW900 Rower
- Best Magnetic Rowing Machine With Large Screen: NordicTrack RW900 Rower
- Best Weight Capacity Magnetic Rowing Machine: Circuit Fitness Deluxe
- Best Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine: Fitness Reality 1000 Plus
- Best Magnetic Rowing Machine for Beginners: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515
Our Top Product Recommendations (December 2023)
1 - Fitness Reality 1000 Plus (Best Overall & Folding)
Fitness Reality 1000 Plus, one of the best magnetic rowing machines for home gyms, is the only magnetic rower on the market with innovative front stabilizer foot pads.
They allow for additional exercises like shoulder presses, biceps curls, front raises, and many more for a full-body workout.
Paired with its extra-wide, non-slip, foam-padded handlebar, and large, ergonomic, padded seat with anti-slip pivot foot pedals, it provides a comfy, high-intensity, low-impact indoor rowing experience, helping you burn tons of calories.
Our tests indicate that it’s the only magnetic rower with Bluetooth connectivity to set your fitness goals and track results via the free My Cloud Fitness app available on iOS and Android.
- Resistance levels: 14
- Max weight capacity: 250lbs
- Sturdy construction with extra-long 39-inch slide rail and a large, clear 3.5-inch LCD display
- Broad range of easily adjustable magnetic resistance, providing dead-silent, challenging, and fun workouts
- Foldable with a compact footprint and transport wheels for easy storage
- Great price-quality ratio
- Magnetic resistance might not feel strong enough for pro rowers
2 - Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 (Best Quiet & for Beginners)
Although lightweight, this magnetic rowing machine from Sunny Health & Fitness is stable and feels robust.
With a heavy-duty steel frame and super-long slide rail (48in) built to suit many tall rowers (up to 6ft 5in) and withstand time - it’s certainly of high quality.
Unlike other similar entry-level magnetic rowing machines, this model from Sunny Health and Fitness offers a strong, smooth resistance.
Based on our tests, it enables even advanced users to comfortably strengthen their lower and upper body and track their progress on the large LCD display screen (not showing distance or heart rate).
Its decent built quality combined with a low price point and many positive user reviews makes this one of the best-selling at-home magnetic rowers.
- Resistance levels: 8
- Max weight capacity: 250lbs
- Well-built, quiet, comfy magnetic rower
- Foldable, angled design, with built-in wheels and tools for convenient assembly, storage, and transportation
- Short warranty, no built-in workout programs
3 - NordicTrack RW900 Rower (Best Premium & With Large Screen)
What sets the NordicTrack RW900 rowing machine, at least according to our testing team, apart from Sunny Health & Fitness or other similar magnetic rowers is NOT its space-saving design, frame quality, or smooth, quiet operation that most of the best magnetic rowers share.
This high-end magnetic rowing machine stands out for its innovative features, making it feel like working with a personal trainer.
A real expert coach brings fun and challenging live or pre-recorded group fitness sessions (cardio workouts, yoga classes, CrossFit, endurance, and strength training) straight to your home.
Your iFit trainer automatically adjusts your digital magnetic resistance to deliver optimized workouts based on your stats and goals, but you can also manually adjust the air resistance.
- Resistance levels: 26 magnetic + 10 air
- Max weight capacity: 250lbs
- Premium build quality with dual magnetic resistance system - magnetic and air - suitable for beginners and pros, backed by a generous warranty
- Huge 22-inch HD touchscreen display for tracking performance and accessing workouts via the interactive iFit platform (but no YouTube or Netflix, sorry)
- Offers indoor rowing with Olympian rowers in real locations worldwide (via Google street view)
- Users don’t find it worth its hefty price tag (the free one-year iFit family membership code is tricky to get, hard, uncomfortable seat, no power button, poor customer service)
4 - Ativafit Magnetic Rower
This well-constructed magnetic rower features the basics necessary for a silent, effective workout.
It has an easily adjustable workout intensity with a simple twist of a resistance knob for a smooth, challenging customized workout plan.
Additionally, it has a multi-function LCD screen that displays key stats for tracking progress and staying motivated.
Based on my testing phase, I concluded that my favorite features are the large ergonomic seat, foam-padded handlebars, and textured, non-slip, adjustable footplates with straps, ensuring safety and comfort during long workouts.
- Resistance levels: 8
- Max weight capacity: 220lbs
- Solid steel frame construction
- Foldable, with transportation wheels for easy storage and portability
- Not ideal for advanced rowers, no available preset programs
5 - Stamina Avari A350-700 Magnetic Rower
Stamina Avari provides sufficient magnetic resistance options automatically adjustable with preset programs and easily controlled by pushing up/down arrows on its advanced LCD backlit monitor.
Our tests indicate that this magnetic rower offers versatile preset workout modes (interval, mountain, valley, fat burn, target heart rate, etc.), plus a few user-defined modes fantastic for customizing your rowing strength and cardio workouts.
Besides the programmable personalized user profiles, it features the Pulse Recovery System, showing how fast you return to your resting heart rate after training. Studies claim that exercising within your target heart rate zone enhances your heart health and fat-burning ability.
Its angled folding design helps you save space and further activate your calves and quads, while the steel construction and long extruded aluminum beam ensure stability and full leg extension for users not taller than 6ft4in.
- Resistance levels: 8-10
- Max weight capacity: 275lbs
- Strong, quiet magnetic resistance, 12 automatically adjustable workout programs (preset and customizable)
- Heart rate monitor and bonus heart rate strap included
- Great user weight limit and height capacity
- Short warranty period, not for serious athletes, seat could be more comfortable
6 - Circuit Fitness Deluxe Magnetic Rower (Cheapest Option & Best Weight Capacity)
Circuit Fitness Deluxe is one of the home magnetic rowing machines that offers a quiet, manual magnetic resistance rowing workout best suited for beginner to mid-level rowers seeking reliable and safe fitness equipment.
According to our tests, the foam-covered handlebar (possibly too short for a 6-feet-tall person), durable injection-molded seat, adjustable foot straps, and transport wheels make this foldable magnetic rower functional, comfortable, and easy to use.
- Resistance levels: 8
- Max weight capacity: 300lbs
- Stable heavy-duty steel and aluminum construction
- LCD screen panel for convenient progress tracking (also displaying date and room temperature)
- Amazing maximum user weight capacity
- The battery-operated LCD display has no on/off switch button, seat wheels wear out fast
7 - Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine
Merax's great price-quality ratio and quietness, not louder than heavy breathing, exceeded most users’ expectations.
Our tests also indicate that its slide rail steepness is another feature that makes this magnetic rower special because the 15-degree seat angle adds extra resistance, helping you tone up your lower body muscles more efficiently.
Offering average resistance and very basic data (inaccurately tracking calories burned), it’s best-suited for not-so-strong newbies who aren’t taller than 6ft, obsessed with performance tracking, and can’t afford a higher-end magnetic rower.
- Resistance levels: 8
- Max weight capacity: 264lbs
- Sturdy build with stabilization bracket
- Compact, simplistic, lightweight design
- Basic monitor without preset workout programs, low-quality foot pedals and straps, no warranty
8 - Goplus Folding Magnetic Rowing Machine
Don’t want to break a bank, but strive for a good rowing experience? This option might be for you.
With a U-shaped padded seat, ergonomic hand grips, and large, textured footplates with straps, the Goplus entry-level electromagnetic resistance rowing machine is surprisingly comfortable, allowing you to stay focused on the rowing for a long time.
After using this product, I realized it’s high-quality build with tear-resistant nylon rowing strap and hardened, thickened aluminum beam makes it stable without wobbling, even during vigorous rowing.
- Resistance levels: 8
- Max weight capacity: 220lbs
- Well-built, easy-to-operate, super-silent indoor rower suitable for people up to 6ft tall
- Compact, foldable, angled design for easier storage and increased leg muscle activation
- Easy on your wallet
- LCD monitor without backlight, showing limited information
9 - HouseFit Rowing Machine
According to user reviews, this HouseFit rowing machine with the rock-solid build, fabulous top weight limit, and powerful manually adjustable magnetic resistance options is one of the highest-rated best-buy home magnetic rowers under $500.
Like most top-graded magnetic rowing machines, it features a durable belt, silent flywheel, an aluminum alloy rowing beam, a wide padded seat, large textured pedals, and a non-slip handlebar for maximum comfort.
Although it can provide enough force to give men and women a challenging cardio workout, our tests indicate that it’s not for users who seriously practice for rowing competitions.
- Resistance levels: 15
- Max weight capacity: 300lbs
- Convenient upright storage (frame not foldable)
- Built-in transport wheels, floor stabilizers, and protectors
- Low price, one-year free part replacement warranty
- No monitor backlight for visibility under low lights, wireless connection to a chest strap for tracking your pulse, or distance tracking
10 - MaxKare
MaxKare isn’t jam-packed with bells and whistles like Fitness Reality, but it may be a good alternative to it.
It offers wide resistance range to provide beginners and more advanced rowers with wholesome rowing sessions.
Its padded seat and handles ensures comfort while an LCD monitor clearly displaying basic metrics needed to track your progress (although the calorie count might be inaccurate).
Unlike the two previous models, our tests showed that it has a handy storage box you can use as a bottle holder to help you stay hydrated while rowing.
You can also use it as a smartphone, iPad, or tablet holder to listen to music or watch videos, making your workouts more interesting.
- Durable steel frame, quiet, smooth, extra-long slide rail suitable for taller rowers
- Foldable, space-saving design
- Hard, not-so-comfy, low-positioned seat making it difficult for individuals with knee or back problems to get on/off the machine
How We Tested Best Budget Rowing Machines
As a certified personal trainer with a keen interest in rowing machines, particularly for clients looking for budget-friendly options, I've incorporated a comprehensive testing approach to ensure the machines I recommend meet various crucial criteria.
The following elaborates on the seven criteria used to test the best budget rowing machines.
The rowing machine's construction and material quality are paramount. I look for a robust frame, secure connections, and a history of longevity. Machines that can withstand daily usage and support a higher weight capacity indicate better durability.
Budget-friendly doesn't mean cheaply made. I identify machines that offer the best value for money, staying under $1,500 and ensuring they do not compromise on essential features or quality despite the lower price point.
The variety of tension levels is important for accommodating different fitness levels and progression over time. The ability to adjust resistance easily and the smoothness of the resistance mechanism are key factors I evaluate.
Testing for muscular power involves evaluating the rowing machine's ability to offer resistance that can simulate the power required in rowing. This is crucial for building strength and speed.
A rowing machine should be able to provide consistent resistance for prolonged periods, simulating the endurance aspect of rowing. This is tested through long-duration rows to check for any loss of resistance quality over time.
The maximum force exertion capabilities of a machine are gauged to ensure it can withstand powerful strokes and does not show signs of strain or wear with heavy use.
Coordination and Fluidity of Motion
A good rowing machine should facilitate a fluid rowing motion, which is indicative of a well-designed pulley system and overall machine ergonomics. This is assessed by the natural feeling of the rowing action during use.
The ability of a machine to support workouts that enhance aerobic capacity, such as various intensities and durations, is also tested. This involves monitoring the ease of maintaining a steady pace and the functionality of any built-in workout programs.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Magnetic Rowing Machine?
When buying a magnetic rowing machine, you should look for its weight capacity, size, stability, design, comfort, resistance range, and other special features.
If you are on a budget, check out these affordable rowing machines.
Note that we’re talking about magnetic rowers here, not about water, hydraulic, or air rowers, although the key factors besides resistance types are the same.
1. Adequate User Weight Capacity
Always check the maximum user weight capacity of the home rowing machine first to ensure it can support your body weight.
The capacity of rowing machines varies from 220-265lbs (some models can even accommodate up to 350-500lbs) and has to do with the machine build quality and stability.
Also, consider the number of users as lighter, compact rowers often aren’t strong enough to support everyday heavy use like pricier commercial machines.
2. Rowing Machine Size and Stability
The best size for magnetic rowers mainly depends on the users’ height and place for storing their indoor rower.
The best magnetic rowing machines should be small enough to fit into your home gym space without compromising intense workouts.
Yet, it should be large enough with a longer beam or central seat rail to allow full leg extension comfortably. This allows you to maintain proper rowing technique and form when sliding, without hitting furniture or walls, e.g. a 6ft4in user (or taller) will need a beam at least 7ft (84in) long.
The heavier your magnetic rower, the more stable it will be (a decent rower weight ranging 50-100lbs). Some models come with wide stabilizing feet at the front and back, capped in rubber to prevent slippage, floor damage, and absorb vibration so that the noise doesn’t disturb your neighbors or family downstairs.
Of course, you can always put an affordable anti-slip mat under your rowing machine.
If your home space is small, get yourself a compact rowing machine.
Also Read: NordicTrack RW900 Rower Reviews
3. Your Available Space
Rowing machines are usually larger and longer than most other at-home exercise equipment pieces, so you’ll need to figure out whether you have adequate space before purchase.
Compare your home workout space measurements and the rowing machine dimensions (length, width, height + add 3-4ft around it) to make sure it will fit properly and allow for comfortable use with your hands and legs moving freely while rowing.
Midrange rowing machines for home use are 5-8 ft long, whereas foldable models are usually 2.5-3.5ft long when folded to fit into most closets.
Unlike rowers with air or water resistance, magnetic rowing machines typically fold up to allow easier storage.
If you don’t have a dedicated room for your magnetic rower but plan to move it around, you might opt for a lighter model (usually less stable and cheaper) with wheels.
4. Design and Comfort
When determining the design of the best rowing machine for your body type, I’d pay particular attention to the material, comfort, and adjustability of the seat, handles, and footrests, which differ from one manufacturer to another.
You don’t want to compromise safety or get a sore, numb butt and blisters, do you?
Seek foam-padded handles, non-slip pivoting foot pedals, and a cushioned, ergonomic seat large enough to support your back comfortably, enabling you to maintain proper rowing form.
Also, adjustability is vital if more than one person will be using the rower. It means having adjustable foot pedals for optimal form.
5. Resistance Range
Different magnetic rowing machines provide either manual or automatic resistance that’s more consistent and quieter than rowers with other resistance types.
“Rowing activates nine muscle groups and 85% of the body's musculature. It will work your upper and lower body, tone your arms, and strengthen your back.”
- Dr. Cameron Nichol, MD, former Olympic rower
The more levels of resistance, the more options for workout variety and gradual progression, but the more expensive the rower gets.
Budget rowers usually come with five to eight levels of magnetic resistance (sufficient for beginners). More advanced users will be better off getting a high-quality rower with 10-20 levels of resistance.
6. Special Features
A budget indoor rowing machine comes with basic features, while pricier magnetic rowing machines offer several advanced features.
Besides the paddings for comfort and transportation wheels for easier transportation of heavier models, the performance monitor quality is among the most important special features.
“Rowing recruits many muscle groups and can provide a total-body, cardiovascular, muscle-building workout that you should consider adding to your weekly exercise routine. Rowing is also impact-free and non-weight-bearing, which makes it even more appealing because you can work intensely without putting added stress on your joints.”
- Stephanie Thielen, ACE Fitness Instructor
Lower-end magnetic rowers usually include a basic monitor that tracks and displays the essential workout reads like strokes (per minute), speed, and time.
The best high-end magnetic rowing machines are supplied with more advanced backlit or touchscreen monitors that also track your workout data like row count, speed, distance in kilometers and miles, time elapsed, plus offer:
- Preset workout programs (e.g. fat burning, strength building, etc.)
- Heart rate trackers
- Calorie counters
- Racing games and
- Other bells and whistles to add variety and excitement to your workout routine.
The pricier magnetic rowing machines often offer a larger, more detailed central LCD console with a bigger screen, allowing you to see your stats even when rowing in dark rooms.
Integration with Fitness Trackers and Apps
To enhance the integration of fitness trackers and apps with magnetic rowing machines, it's beneficial to consider the results of a study conducted by UCLA Health. The research discovered that pairing wearable fitness devices with personalized guidance significantly improved long-term exercise habits and sleep quality.
The study indicated that just wearing the devices wasn't enough—lasting change was achieved when the data from the trackers was used to provide personalized, actionable feedback, improving both compliance and behavioral change .
Are Magnetic Rowers Quiet?
Magnetic rowers are quiet and almost noiseless when operated (unlike other indoor rowing machines) because they use magnets for resistance control without friction that causes noise.
Which Rowing Machine Is Better Air or Magnetic?
Determining whether an air or magnetic rowing machine is better depends on your requirements and preferences.
An air rower provides a more authentic water rowing machine experience, but it's noisier and doesn't offer multiple levels of magnetic resistance for more challenging training sessions.
Is a Rowing Machine Better Than a Treadmill?
A rowing machine is better than a treadmill for muscle building and providing low-impact full-body workouts regardless of your exercise intensity. A treadmill may work better for burning more calories and shedding fat. The choice depends on your specific workout goals, body weight, and health.
Which Burns More Calories Running or Rowing?
What Muscles Does Rowing Work the Most?
Rowing works the biceps, deltoids, brachioradialis, forearms, and rhomboids muscles the most. It also targets the trapezii, latissimus dorsi, abs, erector spinae, quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. 
Can You Lose Belly Fat on a Rowing Machine?
You can lose belly fat on a rowing machine if you use it consistently and pair it with a sensible diet. Indoor rowing machines can provide excellent cardio workouts to help you shed excess fat and build or define muscles.
How Far Should You Lean Back When Rowing?
You should lean back as close to the 90-degree angle with the floor as possible when rowing to reduce the risk of injury and maximize the effects of your rowing movement.
How Long Should You Workout on a Rowing Machine?
On a rowing machine, beginners should work out five minutes three times a week for the first few weeks before gradually increasing the intensity and time to 20 minutes five times a week.
Rowing for 15 minutes a day at a vigorous intensity or 30 minutes at a moderate intensity is enough to maintain general health.
For maximum weight loss results, you may need to row consistently at a moderate intensity of 30 to 50 minutes, five to six times a week.
Our Verdict on Best Magnetic Rowing Machines
I believe that the best magnetic rowing machine for home use may be the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus because it’s a durable, compact machine, long enough for taller users. Your silent, comfy rowing action with a smooth glide Fitness Reality offers won’t annoy or wake up anyone around you.
Based on our tests, its crystal clear monitor for performance tracking and an amazing magnetic resistance range ensure challenging and engaging workouts for rowing enthusiasts of all fitness levels.
Make sure you pick the best magnetic rower that delivers the rowing workout you need within your desired price range. Have you found it on our list yet?
About The Author
You May Also Like