Top 8 Best CrossFit Rowing Machines (2020 Review)

Looking for the best ​CrossFit rowing machine? ​

​You're in the right spot!

In this Athletic Muscle guide, I'll be covering:

  • What are rowing machines specifically made for CrossFit?
  • What are the benefits of using rowing machines?
  • What are  the different types of rowing machines...
  • And my top 7 CrossFit rowing machines!

Click here to skip to our top pick 

best crossfit rowing machines
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​MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine
  • 16 level magnetic tension resistance
  • Full body workout
  • Multifunction LCD monitor
  • 16 level magnetic tension resistance
  • Full body workout
  • Multifunction LCD monitor
View on Amazon
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​Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
  • Self-calibrating performance monitor
  • Disassembles easily into two pieces
  • 500 pound user capacity
  • Self-calibrating performance monitor
  • Disassembles easily into two pieces
  • 500 pound user capacity
View on Amazon
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​Water Rower Club Rowing Machine
  • Hand crafted rowing machine
  • Self-regulated resistance
  • Smooth quiet operation
  • Hand crafted rowing machine
  • Self-regulated resistance
  • Smooth quiet operation
View on Amazon
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​Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower
  • Drum magnetic control resistance system
  • large PU molded saddle
  • Anodized aluminum profile
  • Drum magnetic control resistance system
  • large PU molded saddle
  • Anodized aluminum profile
View on Amazon
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​Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine
  • Noise minimizing flywheel design
  • Comfortable seat height
  • 500 pound weight capacity
  • Noise minimizing flywheel design
  • Comfortable seat height
  • 500 pound weight capacity
View on Amazon
digital-business-prep-table__image
​Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower
  • 8 levels of resistance
  • Extra padded and upholstered seat
  • 15 degree angled seat
  • 8 levels of resistance
  • Extra padded and upholstered seat
  • 15 degree angled seat
View on Amazon
digital-business-prep-table__image
​Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine
  • Top quality aluminum beam construction
  • 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Large LCD performance screen
  • Top quality aluminum beam construction
  • 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Large LCD performance screen
View on Amazon

Overall #1 Pick

Updated As of 1/19/20

​MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine

  • ​16 level magnetic tension resistance
  • ​Full body workout
  • ​Multifunctional LCD monitor

When considering a full body low-impact workout, my #1 pick went to the MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine.

Why?

Because it​ helps you enjoy a full body low-impact workout particularly targeting your forearms, biceps, triceps, shoulders, legs, thighs, and many other group muscles while ensure utmost comfort all throughout your workout routine.

​It comes geared with a lot of interesting features that help ensure efficiency for your WOD machine. It has its own multifunctional LCD monitor delivering critical data such as number of row counts, time, total number of row counts, and calories burned as you row away to a fitter you.

​The base is geared with transportation wheels for portability. It also offers fully foam padded handles, cushioned seat, and textured footplates with straps for stability. On top of that, the rower offers 16 different levels of tension.

Keep reading to learn everything there is know about ​CrossFit rowers!

Check out our below list for a summary of our results. Keep on reading to learn more about your CrossFit rowing machine options!

In this article, I'll be taking a look at the various types of ​CrossFit rowing machines on the market, what to look for before purchasing, and the benefits of using ​indoor rowers in your training regiment.

Read Also: What are the best hand grips for Crossfit?

What Is a CrossFit Rowing Machine?

If you have been to your local box or visited CrossFit.com, then you know rowing is a big component in the sport.

As you go about your CrossFit workout sessions, whether you are hoping to burn fat, build muscle, or really take your fitness to the next level, one piece of equipment that you should definitely be considering that is far too often overlooked by many is the rowing machine.

Choosing the best rowing machine will enable you to build up all muscles in your body as unlike other cardio machines such as the treadmill or bicycle, it’ll work both the upper as well as the lower body.

Depending on the resistance you use as well, you can really focus on strength enhancement or work on speed and power.

With so many options and the fact that it is a non-impact activity, it’s a great choice for just about any CrossFit WOD enthusiast. It’s a great functional movement pattern as well, so will fit right into the principles of CrossFit.

To help you better get an idea of the rowing machine benefits as well as which are the top rated rowing machines, let’s get you the information you need to know.

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The following video will teach you how to do the routine properly:

​What are the Benefits of Rowing Machine Exercise

When it comes to physical benefits, you really can’t beat rowing. First, this form of exercise is going to work the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, back, biceps, and shoulders, giving you a very complete workout all in one.

Because so many muscle groups are being utilized, this also means your calorie burn is going to be very high, which means this form of exercise is excellent for fat burning results.

With most of the best rowing machine options, you can also really change up the resistance level that you work against, which means they can accommodate all skill levels.

Using a higher resistance is going to mean you focus more on power and strength development, while using a lower resistance level and rowing at a faster pace will have you focusing more on speed.

Rowing is going to help to boost your cardiovascular fitness level as it’ll help to elevate your heart rate and keep it there, so you get both strength and endurance benefits all in one.

Plus, it’s non-impact, so this form of exercise is not going to put you at risk for back or knee pain provided you are using good form as you go about your workout session.

Now let’s talk a little further about the different types of rowing machines to know for your WOD.

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crossfit rowing facts

​What Are The Types of Rowing Machines?

​When looking at the top rated rowing machines, it becomes clear that not all are alike.

Not only will they vary in terms of the quality of their make, but they also will vary in terms of the system they use for resistance. By understanding the differences, you can make the best choice for you.

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​Hydraulic

The very first type of rowing machine is the hydraulic system machine. This system is going to use a set of shocks to create the resistance level that you will then be working against, which would appear to be very similar to that of which you’d see used in a car.

The nice thing about hydraulic rowing machines is they tend to take up less space overall and are easily adjustable.

These models also tend to be lower priced, so good for those on a budget. The drawback however is that you’ll find they don’t always give as smooth of a movement pattern, so in terms of comfort of using the machine, it does fall short.

It can also suffer from leakage over time with prolonged, ongoing use, so these can be more likely to break down. Granted, as they are lower cost, they are also more easily replaceable as well.

​Magnetic

The next type of rowing machine you might encounter is a magnetic machine, which is going to use a magnetic as the main type of resistance.

The key benefit that you’ll get with this model is the fact that it’s going to be virtually silent to use. If you plan on using the rowing machine at home and are concerned about the sound that it’s making, this is the model to go with.

It’s also a relatively small sized machine in most cases, again, making it an ideal option for those seeking the best home rowing machine. These models will require very little in terms of maintenance, so for a low-key beginner option, they tend to be good choices.

Finally, they also offer quite a smooth movement pattern as well – much better than you’re going to see with the hydraulic system mentioned above.

​Air

The next option that you’ll find and one of the more common choices for use in commercial gyms is the air rower.

Since the equipment relies on air resistance, these are going to be self-propelled by you, requiring the initial pull to get them started and from there, you’ll keep the movement pattern going.

One thing that many users of this model note that often gets overlooked as a key advantage is that you’ll get a nice breeze generated from the air wheel, cooling you down as you do your workout.

Of course you could always just use a separate fan if you’re too warm, but it is a nice benefit that saves you from having to worry about that.

With these models, the faster you begin rowing, the greater the resistance level will be, so they work to help develop strength and speed at the same time.

The drawbacks with this model is that they do create more noise and they are also higher priced than some other models on the market.

​Water

Finally, the last model that you’ll come across is the water resistance type equipment, which are going to most simulate a real water rowing machine. Since you’ll be using water as a resistance means, these are the models chosen most often by real rowers for training purposes.

As you might imagine, you’ll definitely be hearing more noise with this machine and on top of that, these models do run much higher priced. For those on a budget, chances are they will be out of reach.

They also can require more routine maintenance on an ongoing basis, so will be a higher commitment as far as that is concerned as well.

They do, however, provide a very smooth action, so in terms of enjoyment of use, they tend to rank as the top model to choose.

​These models are also much heavier, so not a model you’ll just transport around the room either.

So there you have some of the main types of rowing machines that you should know about and consider as you reach through various rowing machine reviews.

It’s a good idea to first choose the type of machine you will consider so that way you won’t waste time on other varieties that won’t meet your needs and preferences.

Now let’s move forward and go over some of rowing machine reviews for you to use.

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​Top 7 CrossFit Rowing Machine Reviews

​MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine

  • ​16 level magnetic tension resistance
  • ​Full body workout
  • ​Multifunction LCD monitor

Now here's a rowing machine designed to help you enjoy daily cardio workout while ensuring total comfort and protection on all vital parts of your body. 

MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine is a one of a kind low impact indoor rowing equipment.

This fine addition to your home gym arsenal can help relieve spinal pressure, protect knees, alleviate shoulder and back pain, and prevent lumbar muscle strain.

MaxKare indoor rower has handles that are fully foam padded and are designed to provide freedom of motion for a more efficient upper body rowing workout. 

Another reason why it's considered as one of the best rowers for crossfitters in the market today is that this exercise machine is geared with a lot of perks that can help ensure optimal and comfortable full body workout.

The padded handles are paired with a cushioned seat that can help you stay comfortably balanced all throughout each set.

This indoor gym equipment also comes with a storage box to keep your keys, phone, or water bottle well within your arm's reach as you row away all those calories. The foot plates are strategically textured and are matched with adjustable straps for increased stability as you pump up those major muscle groups.

Lastly, MaxKare Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine has a 16 level adjustable resistance system for an easy customizable health & fitness workout.

Pros

  • ​16 resistance tension options
  • ​243 lbs weight capacity
  • ​Multifunctional LCD monitor
  • Cushioned seat, padded handles, and strapped footrests
  • Comes with storage box

Cons

  • ​Not equipped with distance tracking option
  • ​Monitor may not work immediately

​Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

  • ​Self calibrating performance monitor
  • ​Disassembles easily into two pieces
  • ​500 pound user capacity

If you want a top level air model that’s used by many of the competitive rowers out there, the Concept2 Model D machine may be one for you to consider.

It’s a well-built machine that’s designed or ongoing, heavy-duty use, so if you plan on using it daily, it’ll stand up to that wear and tear.

It’ll provide you with a performance monitor, which will give you the stats of your session so you can make sure that you are seeing constant improvements over time.

In addition to that, you can easily adjust the airflow to the wheel, changing how the stroke feels as you go about the movement. This helps you get a very smooth feel as you do your workout.

It’s also well-designed for storage as it’ll fold right up so you can put it into smaller spaces when not in use.

If you want to convert this model into one that feels more like you’re on the real water, they also have come up with a Concept2 Slide that you can purchase and use for this purpose.

With a 30 day money back guarantee, you can try this model out and see how well it suits your needs. It is higher priced however, coming in at $900 or more depending on where you purchase it.

Pros

  • ​Self-calibrating performance monitor
  • ​500 pound user capacity
  • ​Can be easily disassembled for storage

Cons

  • ​Quite loud to work on
  • ​Wheels don't work well on carpet
  • Cardio only machine

​Water Rower Club Rowing Machine

  • ​Handcrafted rowing machine
  • ​Self-regulated resistance
  • ​Smooth quiet operation

Here's a rowing machine option that’s a great choice whether you are just looking to get into shape or you are seeking a Crossfit Rowing machine, is the WaterRower Club rowing machine.

Given that it’s a completely natural made rower, it falls more in line with the Crossfit philosophies while still allowing you to maintain an excellent workout.

One of the key benefits you’ll notice with this model is the fact that the wood absorbs much of the sound and vibration that you may encounter with other models that aren’t designed to combat this problem.

In addition to that, this machine tends to stand up to greater wear and tear due to its all-natural and very sturdy build, so can work great for even the most intense of the trainees.

It is a water rowing machine, so unlike the two models listed above both of which are using air, you’ll get that very real life-like feel as if you were actually on water.

This water resistance indoor rower is a much heavier machine, so not one you’ll just fold up for easy storage like the two above, so you will need to have more space available if this is your rower of choice.

The flywheel itself sits very close to the tank on this model, giving you a very smooth feel as you go about the movement pattern. In addition to that, you’ll also have a performance monitor option that can track your heart rate as well as your stroke rate.

With excellent reviews and a price range of just over $1000 depending on where you purchase it, it’s a great option for those who really want to feel like they’re out on a lake.

Pros

  • ​Monitors heart rate and other performance data
  • ​Water flywheel replicates actual rowing feel
  • ​Ash construction absorbs sound and vibration

Cons

  • ​So much heavier compared to other models
  • ​Quite challenging to assemble
  • Tank is vulnerable to leaks

​Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower

  • ​Drum magnetic control resistance system
  • ​Large PU molded saddle
  • ​Anodized aluminum profile

Here's another equipment that can help you ramp up your water rowing skills - the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower.

The Velocity CHR-2001 is geared with drum magnetic control and electronic tension control which deliver the needed friction to ensure optimal development of your muscle strength, stamina, and endurance. 

It's a rowing machine built to help you enjoy your everyday rowing routine. Designed with magnetic type of resistance operation, the Velocity Exercise Magnetic Rower is a foldable equipment that can help you polish your rowing skills at the comfort of your own home.

Your lower back muscles remain stress-free thanks to its ergonomically designed molded foam, padded seat.

On top of that, it comes with a set of non-slip foot pedals that are reliable in helping you secure optimal balance for a position that's perfect for an intensified rowing routine.

This magnetic resistance indoor rowing machine comes with its own LCD display performance monitor providing you with all critical data such as pulse rate, calories burnt, time taken, and your progress in terms of sets as you row your way towards achieving optimal cardio workout.

The package comes with its own equipment mat and its anodized aluminum profile can support up to 275 lbs of body weight.

Pros

  • ​Smooth magnetic resistance operation
  • ​Saves lower back muscles from stress
  • ​Tracks pulse rate, calories burnt, and many others

Cons

  • ​Pulley is mounted a little too high
  • ​Doesn't come with assembly instructions

​Concept2 Model E Indoor Rowing Machine

  • ​Noise minimizing flywheel design
  • ​Comfortable seat height
  • ​500 pound weight capacity

Complete with a 2 year warranty, this machine has everything you could possibly need from a rower.

It has a 20 inch frame, so is going to provide good durability as you go about your intense workout sessions and can also help to ease anyone who commonly suffers from knee pain during their workouts.

This model of Concept 2 rowing machine comes with a performance monitor as well that is wire-free for ease of use and also comes with a flywheel and damper so you can customize the feel of this machine to meet your needs.

You’ll also has a greater range of seat height options as well, which makes it ideal for those who are shorter, taller, or just aren’t as flexible as they used to be.

The Concept2 Model E has a quick-release fold up option for easy storage when not in use and comes with a nickel plated chain that will allow for a smooth stride and a longer operating time between maintenance.

It also has an adjustable foot rest along with an ergonomic handle, so if you are looking for comfort, this is the machine for you.

Just like with the model above, you’ll also be able to use the Concept2 Slide with this machine if you want to mimic a more ‘real life’ water feel and you’ll also receive a 30 day money back guarantee as well.

It is higher priced than the model above coming in at over $1200, but if you want a top of the line model that will withstand any intensity of exercise, it’s a great choice.

Pros

  • ​Smooth and quiet operation
  • ​Comfortable 20 inch seat height
  • ​Includes chest belt HR transmitter

Cons

  • ​Seat is not that comfortable to use

​Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower

  • ​8 levels of resistance
  • ​Extra padded and upholstered seat
  • ​15 degree angled seat

Another fine crossfit rower to consider is the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower. It's a foldable cardio rowing machine designed with built-in wheels for easy storage and portability.

The equipment's seat rail is positioned at a strategic 15 degree angle providing extra tension and more effcient indoor rowing. 

The equipment's magnetic resistance works hand in hand with its magnetic flywheel system that is meant to effectively minimize noise for quiet operation while maximizing your workout routine on those major muscle groups.

It comes equipped with a large LCD display providing real-time data on the length of time of your routine, current number of row counts, total number of row counts, as well as the estimated number of calories burned.

Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower offers eight different tension levels that can be easily adjusted with its tension control knob located just below the LCD display.

The extra padded and upholstered seat is paired by strapped footplates to secure stability without affecting the proper blood flow in the glutes as you row those calories away. 

Pros

  • ​Easy switch 8 level resistance
  • ​Extra padded and upholstered seat
  • ​Quiet operation
  • 15 degree angled seat

Cons

  • Product contains cancer causing substance
  • ​Battery easily falls off

​Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine

  • ​Top quality aluminum beam construction
  • ​8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • ​Large LCD performance screen

Here's another magnetic indoor rowing machine you might want to consider - the Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine.

It's practically built to withstand the punishment of everyday wear and tear especially with those who have much enthusiasm with their WOD crossfit exercise routines.

This magnetic rower is comprised of top quality aluminum beam with extra width and thickness for added stability.

Like most resistance rowers, its beam is positioned at a 15 degree angle that helps achieve a full blown low-impact full body workout. 

The molded U-shaped seat is secured by six flywheels that help ensure smooth and quiet operation. The equipment's footrests are slip-resistant with straps to provide steadiness no matter how intense your WOD becomes. 

On top of that, the machine's handles offer non-slip grip secured with a top of the line tear-resistant nylon rowing strap. Its LCD performance monitor let's you know the number of row counts per minute you've had, the total number of counts, time, and calories burned. 

Goplus offers eight different levels of magnetic tension that can be easily adjusted with its resistance knob. Lastly, Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine is foldable so moving it and tucking it away is a breeze and a sure space-saver.

Pros

  • ​Harder and thicker construction
  • ​Anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable straps
  • ​Large LCD display
  • Easy to use and move

Cons

  • ​Heavy and expensive
  • ​Not quite strong enough for intense leg work

​Wrapping It Up

So there you have some of the main information to know about choosing a rowing machine.

If you’re tired of slugging it out on cardio machines or using the elliptical trainer, this machine could just provide you with the excellent change of pace that you’re looking for.

Always try and use a rowing machine in a store – even if you are going to purchase online – before buying so that you can get the real feel of it and make sure it fits your body well.

Ben Kissam

Ben Kissam

I help college athletes maximize their 4-year sports window and succeed after graduation.

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