You’ve definitely explored treadmills and ellipticals if you’re looking for full-body workout equipment for your home gym.

While such devices are iconic for a reason, the best rowing machines are also worth considering because they assist increase strength while exercising your arms, legs, core, and back — all while providing you with a stimulating, fresh training experience.

However, options for numerous compact rowing machines are available, each with its unique set of functions and resistance levels. A rower with hydraulic, magnetic, or customizable resistance technology is all options. 

You can acquire a smart rower or a folding rowing machine if you don’t have much space or your workout equipment preferences will determine which rowing machine features are most important to you.
In this article, we’ll go over the best compact rowing machine available, starting with our top pick, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, and then moves on to a Buyer’s Guide and FAQs about the finest compact rowers, how much room they cover, and more.

Best Compact Rowing Machines at a Glance

BEST FOLDABLE
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine
9.7
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine

It's a strong and dependable entry-level rowing machine that's ideal for anyone just starting out in fitness or looking to add light rowing to their cross-training routine. It's also a good-looking, durable, foldable, and quiet rowing machine for your home gym. It's likely to satisfy even the most ardent fitness fan. After all, this machine is extremely popular for a reason.

BEST OVERALL
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine
9.5
Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is one of the most advanced and dependable machines available. It's built-in such a manner that it forces you to execute a natural, low-impact, and safe workout that won't overwork specific muscles or put you in danger. This rower's architecture promotes natural movements and may provide you with an intense training session that will have your muscles screaming in long sessions.

BEST BUDGET
Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine
9.1
Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine

With a size of only 32.5" x 48" and a weight of 47 pounds, the rowing machine is a tiny and portable home gym equipment that is well-made for years of endurance and strength training. The Stamina Orbital Rower's multi-functional fitness monitor keeps you inspired and on course to meet your fitness goals by telling you your distance, speed, calories burnt, time, and stroke count during your workout.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine – Best Overall

What we like

  • High-quality, long-lasting structure
  • Simple and quick to assemble
  • A little pricey, but decent value for money.
  • 10 levels of air resistance with minimal noise and smooth operation
  • The rowing action is realistic and fluid.
  • Monitor with high performance connects wirelessly to heart rate belt
  • Supports Bluetooth connectivity
  • Simple to fold and store

What we don’t like

  • Quite expensive
  • Noise can be improved.

Even if you’re a beginner to indoor rowing as a low-impact workout or have been doing it in the gym, you need the best compact rowing machine for your home gym. 

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine measures 8′ long by 24″ wide at its widest point, requiring a space of 9′ by 4′ to operate. With a PM5 Monitor, it offers all you need for a seamless and strong full-body workout.

Its flywheel construction of air resistance assures a quiet rowing experience, and its frame is designed to be easily separated into two halves for ease of storage or transport.

This rowing machine’s design is suitable for practically any home environment and allows the user to select from several training regimens. Its ergonomic design ensures convenience and protection, and its overall construction promotes a natural arm and hand posture during rowing. It also boasts impressive weight support of up to 500 lbs.

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine – Best Budget

What we like

  • Affordable
  • Made of strong aluminum and alloy frames that support up to 250 lbs.
  • Takes up minimal space and folds neatly for easy storage.
  • Supported by müüv smart coaching app
  • Displayed in scan mode.
  • Cushioned seat and handles and adjustable food plate strap for comfort

What we don’t like

  • Rollers under the seat are not durable enough.
  • Some people will dislike the orbital activity.
  • At a fast stroke rate, it is difficult to use.
  • With excessive use, hydraulic pistons will need to be replaced over time.

The Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine is a hydraulic-resistance, small, budget-friendly indoor rowing equipment with free-moving oars that aims to replicate the sensation of rowing on real water; hence, being one of the best compact rowing machines.

It’s 48 inches in length, 32.5 inches in width, and 27.8 in height when it’s fully assembled. But you can store this equipment in tight spaces as it’s only 48 inches in length, 45.5 inches in width, and 10 inches in height when it’s all folded up.

Its Free Motion Arms allow the user to target nearly all major upper body muscles like the arms, shoulders, abs, and back, while the cushioned seat glides on a ball-bearing rolling rail to train the lower body.

However, one of the machine’s most appealing qualities is its small size and storage profile, hence, being one of the best compact rowing machines. With a length of about 4 feet, this rowing machine is suitable for practically everybody with even the tiniest training areas.

Furthermore, the equipment only weighs 52 pounds and folds up to about 10 inches tall, making it easy to transport and store, making it ideal for small flats and businesses.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 – Best Foldable

What we like

  • Extra-long slide rail assures that your height will not be an issue.
  • The mobility wheels make it simple to transport.
  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance with a digital console for your metrics
  • It features quiet operation to be used in an apartment.
  • It takes up little space and folds easily for easy storage.
  • Steel alloy frame and supports up to 250 lbs.

What we don’t like

  • Not ideal for robust and high-performance workouts.
  • Wear and tear might cause it to be noisy.

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is a compact rowing machine that has all you need for a fantastic cardiovascular exercise as well as everything any at-home fitness enthusiast might want.

As considered being of the best compact rowing machine with dimensions of 78 x 19 x 23.2 inches, this equipment has eight levels of magnetic tension for easily adjusting the intensity of your workout. 

With a simple twist, you can adjust the magnetic resistance to keep your workout challenging and efficient throughout your program.

This rower has big, textured pedals with safety straps to give a non-slip surface and protection to the operator. Also, the steadiness of this foldable rowing machine will never be compromised, no matter how severe your level of performance is.

Stamina DT Pro Rower – Best In Air & Magnetic Resistance

What we like

  • The sturdy structure can support users weighing up to 300 pounds.
  • Foldable with transfer wheels for convenience.
  • The seat is contoured and cushioned.
  • Footrests are fixed and have adjustable straps.
  • For a dynamic reaction, air resistance is used.
  • There are ten levels of magnetic resistance for total tension adjustment.
  • Time, SPM, total strokes, wattage, distance, calories, and pulse are all displayed on the advanced console.
  • Included is a wireless HR chest strap.
  • Smooth and quiet operations and a simple assembly process.

What we don’t like

  • Only imperial units are used for distance reading.
  • There is no time/500m function.

Stamina Products’ best compact rowing machine is the silver and black Stamina DT Pro Rower, and it measures 89.75 x 20 x 40.5 inches. It provides full-body exercises by combining smooth air resistance with magnets.

The Stamina DT Pro Rower features both air and magnetic resistance with a strong frame and a thick aluminum rail, as well as a panel with 12 exercise programs. Its magnetic brake provides ten resistance levels, and the fan provides a dynamic reaction when rowing.

It’s a great trainer for full-body cardio, muscular toning, endurance development, and weight loss. Furthermore, it’s a decent and less expensive alternative to a commercial-grade rower.

Xterra Fitness ERG 200 Magnetic Folding Rower – Best Magnetic Rower

What we like

  • Affordably priced, strong, and stable.
  • A maximum user weight capacity of 250 lbs.
  • Portable, foldable, and lightweight.
  • The operation is silent and smooth.
  • For ultimate comfort, the seat is broad, curved, and cushioned.
  • The magnetic resistance system offers eight distinct degrees of difficulty.
  • Aluminum alloy steel construction

What we don’t like

  • There is no water bottle or tablet holder.
  • The monitor has no backlight.

The Xterra Fitness ERG200 rower is one of the most effective full-body training equipment available that measures 72 inches in length, 20.7 inches in width, and 31.5 inches in height. The constant rowing motion engages your entire body, increasing your heart rate, muscular activation, and calorie burn.

The intensity of this impact-free rowing is completely adjustable by the user. Furthermore, t The Xterra fitness ERG200 rower features a twin aluminum track rail system with a console angle that is easily adjusted.

The ERG200 is one of the best compact rowing machines if you’re on a budget; it features a comfortable seat, broad and well-positioned footrests, and a strong handle with a decent grip. It is quite pleasant to sit on and operate, unlike some other machines in this price category.

Dripex Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best In Adjustable Resistance

What we like

  • Affordable and with a sleek and smooth finish
  • Durable aluminum construction that supports up to 265 lbs.
  • Workouts are extremely smooth and silent, with no swaying or vibration.
  • There is no need for a power outlet.
  • It has a large weight capacity for a rower in this price range.
  • It has a total of 16 magnetic resistance levels.
  • A simple to read monitor display.

What we don’t like

  • There are no built-in programs, nor is there a heart rate monitor.
  • It does not support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
  • The distance measures are in KMH rather than MPH.

With rear triangle support and adjustable metal floor cushions, the Dripex compact rowing machine is a piece of durable equipment that will sit securely on most surfaces for a smooth ride.

When assembled, its dimensions are 70.47 x 20.87 x 30.04 inches. The double sliding rail, aluminum frame, and suspension system ensure that the machine remains silent no matter how hard you work out.

This magnetic rowing machine boasts a 15-level magnetic resistance system that you can alter with a twist of the knob, allowing you to amp up your workouts. The LCD panel provides all the information you need to ensure you’re on track.

The best aspect about this equipment is that after you’re done working out, you can keep the rower upright in a vertical position and fold away the LCD monitor, allowing you to store it safely without having to look at it in your living room.

Nordic Track RW 900 – Best Splurge

What we like

  • 22’ HD interactive touchscreen for iFit workout screening and other entertainment shows
  • Rev up from smooth magnetic resistance to a challenging air resistance with 26 tension levels
  • Outdoor, studio and map-based exercises are all available on-screen programs.
  • The functioning is smooth and silent.
  • SpaceSaver design that folds up easily.
  • It is compatible with heart rate monitors.
  • Generous 15-year frame warranty

What we don’t like

  • It’s extremely pricey.
  • iFit membership is only free in the first year

NordicTrack’s top-of-the-line compact rowing machine is the RW900 Rower. It has a footprint of 82 x 22 x 54 inches, and it employs magnetic resistance and is almost silent when in use, making it ideal for all home gyms.

The belt drive contributes to the rower’s quietness, and the touch screen tilts and swivels so it can be utilized both on and off the rower for a well-rounded training experience.

The screen is also iFit-enabled, giving you access to hundreds of programs led by skilled, engaging teachers for fitness advice. Furthermore, because it does not fold, the RW900 may be kept upright and moved, and it has wheels on the front.

Overall, the NordicTrack RW900 is a great compact rower that’s ideal for beginners and intermediate users and those looking for guided training.

Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rower – Best In Wireless Connectivity

What we like

  • Ultra-quiet magnetic resistance can be adjusted to 14 different levels.
  • Bluetooth connectivity.
  • MyCloud Fitness App compatible to measure workout stats for free.
  • High build quality of alloy steel with 250 lbs. weight capacity.
  • Very simple to assemble.
  • Excellent quality for its price.
  • Intended for extra exercises.
  • Affordable

What we don’t like

  • The “Free App” isn’t amazing and doesn’t provide many benefits.
  • Additional workouts are ineffective, and acquiring free weights is preferable.
  • Bluetooth connections can occasionally fail.
  • On some surfaces, transportation wheels might be troublesome.
  • The warranty term is limited.

The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus measures 88.5 x 21.5 x 21.5 inches, and it’s a full-magnetic compact rowing machine with 14 resistance settings. It features a robust and collapsible frame structure that can handle individuals weighing up to 250 pounds and is made of durable steel that is covered with a corrosion-resistant paint finish.

It’s an excellent compact rowing machine for muscular toning, endurance, and weight reduction. It also features an integrated Bluetooth connection and works with the MyCloudFitness app.

Even though it is not a professional rowing machine, it can give a fairly consistent full-body aerobic workout as well as a variety of other workouts outside rowing, such as bicep curls, stand-up rows, front raises, and so on.

Stamina X Air Rower – Best Air Rower

What we like

  • Steel frame and strong structure that can withstand 250 pounds.
  • Dynamic resistance simulates the sensation of rowing on a real rower.
  • Users up to 6’5″ tall can enjoy the long rail.
  • While working out, you can easily see your exercise information on the large display.
  • High-quality rollers and ball bearings that are exceptionally smooth.
  • The chain drive mechanism is long-lasting and should endure a lifetime of usage.
  • Supported by müüv
  • Simple to install.

What we don’t like

  • Because it’s an air rower, it’s quite noisy.
  • No heart rate monitor
  • Console has no backlight

The attractive Stamina X is one of Stamina’s best compact rowing machines and one of our favorites in this price range. The Stamina X measures 78.5 x 18 x 29 inches, and it accommodates practically anyone weighing up to 250 pounds, and its resistance adapts to match the rider’s effort.

It’s a compact rower that competes effectively with more expensive fitness equipment of its class by producing smooth resistance using a fan flywheel. This model has no speakers, fitness programs, or heart rate monitors.

However, the basis of this equipment is superior to any other budget rower with additional bells and whistles. It features a sturdy metal chain and a steel frame, and the chair glides on metal bearings rather than plastic wheels.

Echantfit Magnetic Rower Machine – Best Quiet

What we like

  • Very reasonably priced.
  • Alloy steel construction with a 264 lb. max weight capacity
  • Super quiet 16 levels of magnetic resistance 
  • Real-time metrics display on the console
  • Simple to build and fold for storage.
  • The seat and handle are well-padded and have wide pedals with adjustable straps.
  • Narrow dimensions, ideal for tight spaces

What we don’t like

  • Construction and build can be improved
  • Basic design

The steel frame of the ECHANFIT magnetic rowing machine is reinforced with ABS components. The covers of the drive and resistance parts, as well as the footrests, are constructed of sturdy ABS plastic.

All steel sections in the machine’s structure are powder-coated with a long-lasting, corrosion-resistant paint finish. Furthermore, the ECHANFIT magnetic rower has 16 stages of resistance, a spacious, comfy seat, and a collapsible frame.

It measures 64.6 x 16.3 x 26.8 inches, and it features a sturdy build with a weight capacity of 265 pounds. It also has a console with goal-setting options for time, count, and calories.

It’s a wonderful compact rowing machine for your home gym in doing a full-body aerobic exercise, recovery training, increasing stamina, toning muscles, and losing weight.

Final Verdict

Rowing isn’t simply for the open water. Rowing machines, also known as an ergometer, allows you to gain the advantages of a rowing workout indoors. Rowing offers several advantages, including increasing endurance and strengthening your body.

It has even been shown in studies to promote heart health. When compared to other workout equipment like a treadmill or elliptical, the rower packs a powerful punch. If you’re new to rowing or any workout regimen, consult with a healthcare practitioner before you begin.

However, looking for the best compact rowing machine for small places just provides you with a few choices. Given this, our Top Pick, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, fits the bill as its PM5 Monitor provides everything you need for a smooth and powerful whole-body exercise.

However, if you have a small home gym and can’t afford to be extravagant with your rowing machines, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is the clear winner as it’s one of the best foldable rowing machines available.

Buying Guide

Comfort

When looking for a comfortable, high-quality rowing machine, you should take a look at its mobility and ease of movement, which both adds to the machine’s comfort. Working out in rowing machines is a repeated activity that requires comfort, especially during long sessions.

Other factors to consider when choosing the best compact rowing machines include the smooth movement of the rail, the cushioning on the seat, and the ergonomics of the hand bar.

A smooth rail is essential for achieving that continuous action and consistent repetition throughout the strokes, as it might throw people off their stride if it is uneven or sticks.

The cushioning on the seat is also crucial as there are some that are more cushioned and contoured than others. The hold on the bar comes next, and it must not dig into the user’s fingertips or become excessively slippery.

Size

Rowers don’t come in as many different sizes as other forms of gym equipment. In fact, most compact rowing machines have quite comparable proportions as they’re long, skinny, and have a different weight capacity.

The hydraulic rower is an exception to this norm because hydraulic rowing machines do not have a slide rail like conventional rowers as they do not have a sliding seat. As a result, they are often shorter, but they can, however, be a little broader.

Unless you have a very limited budget, we don’t advise a hydraulic rower for most individuals. The sensation is simply not comparable to ‘real’ rowing.

When not in use, the great majority of rowers with a sliding rail have the option of folding it up and having the rowing machine fit in tight spaces. As a result, they may be readily stored in a small area. We highly recommend the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 for its foldable feature and the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine, as it doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Portability

Rowing machines are quite simple to set up, and their portability makes them an excellent alternative for your house. This is especially true because a rower weighs less than bulkier workout options.

We recommend a rowing machine that weighs no less than what you can carry and can be moved by one person because most versions have wheels. This is useful if you want to move it around frequently.

However, rowers also take up less floor area than other types of exercise equipment since they are narrower. Stand-up versions are also an excellent alternative, adding to the space-saving and portability benefits.

Resistance Type

There are a lot of options when it comes to the best compact rowing machines, and one of them is the type of resistance it uses. Because resistance is so crucial when purchasing a rowing machine, it is frequently described as the kind of rower. There are many various sorts of resistance, and everyone has a favorite.

Many individuals like water resistance rowers because they resemble genuine rowing and adjust difficulty depending on your speed. Different resistances will also raise or lower the price of your rower. The following are the types of resistance found in all modern compact rowing machines:

Types Of Rowing Machines:

  • Magnetic resistance is a typical form of adjustable resistance in magnetic rowing machines. The velocity exercise magnetic rower will be able to row with smooth motion and better regulate your resistance with various sorts of controls. Because the intensity of these units does not rise as you row faster, they are restricted if you enhance your stamina, endurance, or strength and row faster. You’ll also find those magnetic rowers, especially the ones that use a drum magnetic control system, are more expensive but promise a quiet and smoother operation. Examples of the best-rated ones are the Nordic Track RW 900 or the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower as a more affordable alternative.
  • Air resistance is often regarded as the second-best kind of resistance as it allows you to increase resistance by rowing faster. With air rowing machines, you can typically change air resistance by using a damper, and some versions combine magnets with air to get the best of both worlds.
  • Water resistance is frequently regarded as the finest rowing machine resistance since it is both inexpensive and practical. To raise or reduce the resistance level, you could modify the amount of water in the tank, or you can just row faster and harder. The one disadvantage of water resistance is that they are bulkier and typically heavier than their equivalents. Such is the Merax Water Rowing Machine or the more affordable Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine.
  • Hydraulic resistance is the type that has two pistons mounted to the handlebars. You’ll be pulling against fluid or air pressured pistons that provide resistance to the rowing machine through hydraulic cylinders. You can modify the amount of resistance in these situations, and they are frequently less realistic in their feelings than other sorts of resistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Compact rowing machines activate all of your main muscle groups during each stroke, making it a highly effective way to develop muscle mass. Rowing has some outstanding benefits, such as combining aerobic exercise and strength training into a single effective and efficient calorie-burning routine.

Compact rowing machines that fold up are convenient, small, and easily stored. It also tones and strengthens every muscle in your body for a full-body exercise.

When it comes to compact rowing machines, there is no “one size fits all” solution; it all depends on your demands. While an air-driven machine is the most popular and all-around in terms of functionality and accessibility, a magnetic device may be a better buy if noise is a major concern for you.

Rowers aren’t ideal if you have a back problem since your lower back moves too much when you’re pushing and pulling on the rower.

Rowing is a total-body workout that works for major muscle groups in the arms, legs, and core while also increasing cardiovascular endurance. If you use the rowing machine on a regular basis, you will find that you become stronger and less out of breath.

The rowing or stroke movement activates nearly 86% of our body all at once. Some of the major muscles targeted are:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Deltoids
  • Lats
  • Triceps
  • Abs

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