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What Is The Best Water Rowing Machine to Buy in 2020

Rowing machines with a water reservoir provide the most natural exercise. Read our article for the best water rowers you can buy.

Water rowing machines deliver a unique, natural, and realistic rowing experience. Invented in 1972 by W.B. Curtis to help rowing athletes get the best training in the off-season, they are now very popular as home workout machines.

And for good reason. Magnetic rowers and air rowers have their own advantages but the feel of a water rower is still unmatched.

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We have used many rowers over the years and these are top choices. We have selected these because of their reliability, ergnomics, and features.

Top 6 Water Rowing Machines Reviews

Best Overall: Life Fitness Row HX Trainer


  • Comes with an LCD monitor
  • It has a compact design with an upright storage and transportation wheels
  • Features an adjustable resistance switch
  • Great commercial-grade performance


  • Not cheap

If you have spent time in a commercial gym, then you must be familiar with the Life Fitness brand. They are known for producing high-quality fitness products, and they didn't disappoint with this one. This water rowing machine is a combination of elegance and quality that befit its price tag.

Its design is pretty sleek, but don't let that fool you. Its frame is solid. The structure of this rowing machine is made from tempered steel and natural wood and features surprisingly compact dimensions- it measures only seven feet long.

Its water tank can be adjusted to different levels of resistance, thus eliminating the need to remove or add water manually.

The machine also comes with an LCD computer that displays information such as your speed, time, distance, and even your heart rate. On the downside, heart rate readings are taken by a wireless chest strap that, unfortunately, does not come with the pack. It is quite expensive to buy it separately, but if you are a serious rower, it is an excellent accessory to your water rowing machine. Buy it here

Best For Small Spaces 1: WaterRower A1


  • It is made of an aluminum frame and elegant American ash wood.
  • Smooth performance with a natural feel
  • Slim and compact design that supports upward storage thus saving on space
  • Comes with a built-in LCD monitor


  • In some places, the finish on this model is a little scrappy.

The WaterRowerA1 water rowing machine comes with lots of incredible features to give you an excellent rowing experience indoors. It has an elegant design and an impressively strong frame. The wooden/metal hybrid frame is compact enough to fit in tight spaces without much effort.

With an overall length of less than 7ft and upright storage ability, it is perfect for both small and large apartments. Despite its compact size, it doesn't compromise in terms of performance.

It has a large water tank, and a single rail design for a smooth and natural feel when rowing. It also comes with an LCD monitor that displays a wide range of workout feedback, including intensity, time, and speed. If you are looking of a high-perfomance rower with minimal space requirements, this is the one. Buy it here

Best For Small Spaces 2: Stamina X Water Rower


  • It offers a smooth and natural water rowing feel
  • Comes equipped with a media shelf and an LCD monitor
  • Made of a sturdy red steel frame
  • Comes with a wireless heart rate monitor
  • Compact design


  • Its footpads and nylon straps tend to wear
  • Large devices on the media shelf can block the LCD monitor

One of the fascinating things about the Stamina X Water Rower is its unique design. Its frame is made of pure steel, and unlike other water rowers, its water tank is placed underneath the slide rail.

This design makes it even more compact than convectional rowers, thus making it a perfect fit for someone with limited storage space. The change in design might make you question its performance, but on the contrary, it does not affect it at all. Like the previous water rowers we have discussed, this one also provides you with a smooth, natural feel while rowing.

The unit also comes with transportation wheels that come in handy when moving it around. The LCD monitor on this model is pretty basic, but it still displays all the relevant workout information you need. It also comes with a wireless heart rate monitor that connects to the LCD monitor. This feature on a midrange water rower machine is pretty impressive. Buy it here

Best Value 1: XTERRA Fitness ERG60W


  • Sturdy steel frame with a weight capacity of up to 300lbs
  • Comes loaded with a wide range of workout programs
  • It has a large 5.5” LCD screen, with adjustable height for a comfortable viewing experience
  • Its water resistance is adjustable offering a natural water rowing feel


  • Its LCD does not have a backlight
  • Its foot panels feel a little flimsy.

If you are in the market for an affordable water rowing machine with outstanding premium features, then this might be the product for you.

The design is pretty impressive, with a steel frame and a beautiful water tank set at its front. The steel frame is very robust, with a weight capacity of up to 300lbs. The water tank is manually adjustable, and it offers a natural and smooth rowing experience.

The design also features some creative features like a raised seat that makes getting on and off effortless. It also has a 5.5" LCD console whose height is adjustable, thus making it easy for you to get the best view of your workout programs regardless of your position. Buy it here.

Best Value 2: Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian SF RW5713


  • The adjustable-level water tank that offers authentic resistance
  • Comes with a large LCD screen
  • Compatible with ANT+ heart rate sensor units
  • Its sturdy steel frame can accommodate a user of up to 250lbs


  • Its foot paddles might feel a bit awkward for some
  • The chest strap heart rate monitor is sold separately

Although it doesn’t come with an elegant wooden frame design like most high-end water rowers, its steel frame provides all your fitness needs at a pretty affordable price.

Most people associate low pricing to low-quality, but with this water rowing machine, things are different. Sunny Health did not compromise on quality and functionality when making the Obsidian. Therefore, you get to enjoy premium functionality at a low price.

It features a 16-blade fan wheel, which is submerged in a tank with an adjustable water level. It provides a pretty natural water rowing feel when in use and can accommodate users of up to 250lbs.

Although the Obsidian is pretty long, it supports upright storage and comes with wheels for easier portability. It also comes with a perfectly functioning LCD screen that displays all relevant workout metrics like time, distance, strokes per minute, and also is also compatible with wireless heart rate sensor units. Buy it here

Best Value 2: MaxKare Water Rowing Machine


  • Affordable
  • Sturdy frame with a weight capacity of up to 264lbs
  • Comes with a height-adjustable LCD screen
  • Quite easy to assemble


  • Its LCD screen does not have a backlight.

Many people have that underlying assumption that quality equals price, but what if I told you that there is a product that's just the opposite. The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine has everything you need in a water rowing machine at a reasonable price.

If you are a rowing enthusiast looking for a high-quality budget rower, then this is is the best machine for you. It has a sturdy steel frame, a comfortable padded seat, a large water tank, and also supports upright storage, heck! It even has a water bottle holder.

For its price, you'll be impressed by its height-adjustable LCD monitor that displays a wide variety of workout metrics like distance, time, even calories per minute. Although it lacks the elegant design and finish of high-end models, it’s a pretty good fit. Buy it here

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Water Rowing Machine

1. Resistance

Unlike other types of rowers, water rowers use water as their source of resistance. A water rower features a water tank with a fan wheel immersed in it. As you row, the blades of the fan move across the water, thus creating an authentic water rowing feel.

The best water rowing machines have water tanks with adjustable levels so you can change the level of resistance with ease.

2. Console

Unlike other high-end gym equipment, even the most premium water rowing machine does not come with big HD and color touchscreen monitors. Instead, they come with LCD screens.

The data provided by the LCD monitor on a rowing machine depends on its price range and manufacturer. Some of the metrics displayed include distance, time, and strokes per minute.

Some screens are also compatible with heart rate sensors and display this information. Some higher-end rowers come with monitors that enable you to operate built-in workout programs. Most of these programs are meant to help you keep time, lose weight, and even interval training workouts.

You should also check to see whether the screen has a backlight. Most high-end rowers screens have a backlight, but most low-budget rowers don't. If you like working out in a poorly lit room, you should go for one with a backlight.

3. Extra Features

Unlike other gym equipment, rowing machines rarely come with extra features. However, you may still get some that come loaded with a few additional features to make your rowing sessions more enjoyable.

The essential features to consider are the seat, handles, and paddles. These are the parts that you will come in contact with whenever you are exercising. You should, therefore, make sure they are comfortable and of high quality before making a purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a water rowing machine?

A water rower machine is a type of rowing machine that uses water as its source of resistance. It consists of a water tank with a fan immersed in it. As one rows, the fan blades move against the water, thus generating resistance and creating a natural water rowing feel.

Are water rowing machines better?

Water rowing machines rely on the water, which is placed in a tank to generate resistance. The level of resistance can be changed by adjusting the level of water, i.e., more water stimulates a more massive boat. They are also reasonably quiet hence suitable for a home setting. They also come in various designs that facilitate pretty convenient storage options. Although they come loaded with lots of cool features, designs and even poses a few advantages over other types of rowers, the question regarding whether they are better can only be answered at an individual level based on preference.

Does rowing help you lose fat?

Yes, rowing, like any other exercise, burns calories, and helps you lose a few pounds. However, the amount of fat you lose depends on the amount of resistance you set and how much time you spend rowing. The more you row, the more fat you stand to lose. However, losing fat also depends on your diet; hence to effectively lose fat, you'll need to watch what you eat.

Is rowing bad for your knees?

Rowing machines are excellent workout aids. They help to exercise both the upper and lower body. The repetitive movement around the knees as one row can help build muscles around the knees. However, this movement might be counter-productive for some people. People with certain health conditions might develop pain in the knees due to the constant repetitive movement. It is therefore advisable to seek your doctor's advice before climbing on a rowing machine.


Whether you are a watersports enthusiast or just interested in regular exercise, a water rowing machine will provide you with all the exercise you need. They offer many cardiovascular and fitness benefits that appeal to almost everyone, except those with underlying medical conditions that prevent them from rowing.

If you are looking for the best overall water rowing machine you can't go wrong with the Life Fitness Row HX Trainer.

Enjoy your workouts!

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