Rowing machines can help you increase your endurance, tone your body, and help you lose weight from the comfort of your own home. If you’re sold on the Concept2 brand but aren’t sure where to start, this review will help you make a decision.
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|Model E (Goat)||Model D (Budget)||Dynamic|
|Bottom line||Higher quality material and space efficient.||Model D is the best for the price and will get the job the done day after day.||Designed to simulate rowing on water.|
|Who’s it for?||Rowers seaking comfort for knees and aesthetics.||Beginners looking to add rowing into their routine.||Specific for training athletes.|
|Cons||Adjusting the damper can disrupt workout sessions.||The display options are minimal and seat could use more cushion.||Pricey and not beginner friendly.|
Why Row Anyways?
Full Body Workout
Indoor rowing is a low-impact, full body workout that can be completed in just about any space, during any season. This exercise machine also wins bonus convenience points compared to treadmills, stair steppers, and conventional walking or running because you gain a full body workout in one session with one piece of equipment.
All of your major muscle groups engage in rowing and this pumps your heart rate and respiration up. You can improve your muscle tone and cardiovascular system when you practice rowing correctly and consistently.
Target These Muscles
Push: Deltoids, Gastrocnemius, Glutes, Pectoralis Major, Quadriceps, Soleus, Triceps
Pull: Hamstrings, Latissimus Dorsi, Rhomboids, Trapezius, Teres Major and Minor, Biceps, Forearm muscles
Core: Erector Spinae, Internal and External Obliques, Rectus Abdominis, Serratus Anterior
See the full list here
How to Row 101
The row or stroke technique can be summed up in 4 words – catch, drive, finish, and recovery. You start the rowing motion in the catch position with your knees bent, shins vertical, chest close to your thighs, arms extended on the handle.
The drive is the power portion of the exercise and is powered by your legs. You should connect the push or drive through your back and arms, making a smooth transition of resistance from the legs to the arms.
At the end of the drive is the finish. Your spine is tall, slightly reclined, with the arms drawn into the lower ribs (elbows behind the torso), and legs extended.
The recovery reverses your drive movement by first extending the arms, then hinging at the waist bringing your spine forward, followed by a bend in the knees to allow you to slide forward to the starting position.
What to Look For In a Rowing Machine
Comfort and Adjustability
To be upfront, rowing certainly requires some grip strength. If you lift weights often, you know that lots of gripping can be hard on the hands. Weight lifting gloves can be an extra layer of comfort when you start rowing to avoid painful or troublesome blisters. However, these will fade with rowing practice.
Outside of the necessary grip conditioning, these machines are designed to support your joints and provide flexibility where you need it most.
The handle features a 10 degree bend to allow you to row with a “natural” arm and hand position where the wrists remain straight.
Each machine has an adjustable footrest that can accommodate a variety of shoe sizes to help keep your foot secure in the right position with the strap over the ball of your foot. These footrests also accomodate bare feet if you prefer.
Since your legs power the initial stroke, the sliding seat provides you as much or little movement as you need to complete the exercise at your pace. You can row slow, fast, and it will only go as far as your knees will bend and extend.
Don’t be fooled by the terms “fan cage” or “flywheel”. These machines are designed for indoor use, therefore noise levels were certainly taken into consideration during initial design.
All the Concept2 machines have a unique flywheel design that minimizes fan and air flow noises. Additionally, the chain housing is either partially or fully enclosed which also helps to minimize other mechanical noise as well.
But, just like any other large piece of cardio equipment, you can expect some noise to come with use and movement over time. Maintaining and cleaning your equipment is important to maximize its featured qualities like noise minimization and smooth chain flow.
The simplicity of the Concept2 machines is beautiful. They come equipped with one performance monitor (PM). The monitor can track every ride and offers features like “Just Row” or quickstart and allows you to design a variety of workouts. These features save you time and help you get the workout you need for your goals. No fiddling around to start the machine and focused workouts that deliver you results.
The monitor also collects data on pace, watts, stroke rate (spm) and calories burned. All of this is stored automatically in either its internal memory or an optional USB flash drive if you choose to use one.
The PM is powered by the flywheel during your exercise and 2 D-Cell batteries between workouts. Last and most exciting the latest PM version (PM5) features Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity to display the PM screen on your phone or other Bluetooth capable devices. It’s so convenient to use one device wirelessly to track, watch, and store your progress during and after your workout – handsfree!
Why Choose Concept 2 Rowers?
As we’ve discussed so far, these machines offer a low-impact full body workout with a simple, efficient design and the technology to track all of your relative fitness data. In fact, Concept2 states 76% of the rowing medalists in the 2016 summer Olympics used Concept2 products so let’s look at the various models and the reasons why they are the best.
The Concept2 rowing machines feature a very simple resistance system – wind.
Each indoor rower is fashioned with a fan cage that is housed on the front of the machine in a round dome. The air flow into the fan cage is funneled by a damper which is attached to the exterior of the fan cage. Adjusting the damper, adjusts how much air flow is allowed into the fan with each stroke.
More airflow means you work harder to spin the flywheel and less air means you exert less effort to spin the flywheel with each stroke.
But, to be perfectly clear, the drag of the fan cage does not determine your workout resistance or intensity. These are determined by your leg, back, and arm power with each stroke.
The Model D Indoor Rower has the reputation of the the “best selling indoor rower” in the world. The practical design makes it ideal to withstand frequent use day after day. It’s low frame sitting at 14 inches also makes it space efficient for your home.
The Model E Indoor Rower offers durability too but has earned the reputation of the “the luxury machine” with a 20 inch frame and glossy finish. The higher frame can help your knee and hip joints ease onto the machine compared to the lower frame of the Model D.
The Dynamic model was designed specifically for sport training as it simulates rowing on water. Unlike the Models D and E, the footrest is not stationary and moves with each stroke. This reduces how much you move your overall mass and really forces the you to focus on body control. It’s a great way to train for speed on the water.
The smartphone cradle is a great accessory if you’re going to be taking advantage of the Concept2’s compatibility with apps. This accessory secures your phone to the top of PM and allows you to monitor your workout hands-free or enjoy a movie during your workout. It accommodates most phone sizes including iphone 7+ but don’t forget you’ll likely need the connection kit too!
The connector links your smartphone to your PM3 and PM4 models (PM5 is bluetooth). You can find one for both ios and Android devices.
Your butt works hard during rowing because your on it the entire time! There is nothing wrong with wanting a little more padding and this is why the the additional seat pad is a great addition to your rower. The cushion is fitted out of supportive foam and features cut-outs to ease your sit-bones. It easily installs right on top of your original seat with included adhesive.
Maintaining the cleanliness of your equipment is a good way to increase the longevity of it’s great features. The Concept2 covers for both models D and E do just that! These polyester covers velcro on easily and provide protection from dust, dirt, sun, and are even water-resistant in the event your rower is stored outside.
A floor mat is a simple addition to your rowing setup that adds another layer of security, sound reduction, and protection. The mat protects your floor, carpet, or workout surface by minimizing movement of the rower during exercise. This further stabilizes the machine and reduces noise that may transfer and travel through the floor.
Best Concept2 Rowing Machines — Reviews & Recommendations
Assembled: 8 ft x 2 ft (244 cm x 61 cm)
Active Use: 9 ft x 4 ft (274 cm x 122 cm)
Storage Space: 25 in x 33 in x 54 in (63.5 cm x 83.8 cm x 137.2 cm)
This rower comes with numerous conveniences. It’s low 14 inch frame and 2-piece disassembled storage option makes it ideal if you have limited space.. The flywheel housing conceals most of the fan noise which means you can row at any time without the worry of disturbing those around you like an early morning row before everyone is up! The entire machine is delivered almost fully assembled (requires 8 screws), so you could literally be rowing 15 minutes after the machine is delivered. The design and price make it a great rower if you’re new to rowing and looking to build your own home gym. Some luxury points are missing on this model like the seat comfort and the aesthetics. This would not be an ideal rower if you’re looking to upgrade your rowing practice. If you’re looking for a little more knee comfort you may want to consider a higher frame like the Model E.
Assembled: 8 ft x 2 ft (244 cm x 61 cm)
Active Use: 9 ft x 4 ft (274 cm x 122 cm)
Storage Space: 27 in x 47 in x 54 in (68.6 cm x 119.4 cm x 137.2 cm)
The 20 inch high seat adds a small token of comfort to achy knees and is a great model for those with knee and hip discomfort. Similar to Model D, it separates into 2 pieces for convenient storage and minimizes fan noise during use. The additional height does mean a little more assembly (10 screws) but the 1 piece leg design does add more stability. The damper is not easily adjusted from the seat, therefore this is not an ideal rower if you like to constantly adjust the wind flow during your workout.
Assembled: 6.3 ft x 2 ft (193 cm x 62 cm)
Active Use: 7.5 ft x 4 ft (229 cm x 122 cm)
Storage Space: 6.3 ft x 2 ft (193 cm x 62 cm)
This unique design simulates rowing on the water with it’s floating footrest. This machine is great if you’re training to get faster on the water. It features a lightweight synthetic cord compared to the nickel plated chain of the Models D and E. This improves the response rate of the stroke system when you are working at a high stroke rate. The floating foot rest means you have to have a strong sense of body alignment and great form, so this is not the machine you need as a beginner. The rower folds into 2 pieces like Models D and E but takes up less space in storage. The only potential setback of this product is the price so you need to be fully committed to the results you want from this specific type of training.
Rowing Machine Workouts
Light: Row 2 – 2,000 meter stretches at 26 strokes per minute, resting between with light 4 minute rows.
Moderate: Row 3 – 2,000 meter stretches with 3 minute resting, light rows.
Intense: Row 5- 2,000 meters stretches at 22 strokes per minute, resting between with 2 minute light rows.
Q: Is rowing good cardio?
A: Yes! Rowing requires both your upper and lower body to work and since that uses so many large muscles groups, your heart rate and breathing will definitely be increased and challenged during the workout.
Q: Are there any apps for rowing?
A: Yes! LiveRowing, BoatCoach, Erg IQ (Garmin compatible), Float, and Kinomap, are Concept2 compatible apps.
Q: Does Concept2 have an app?
A: Yes! Concept2 ErgData app and it’s free!
Q: How do you do HIIT on a rowing machine?
A: The intensity of your rowing workout is determined by the power of your drive and stroke. Translation: it comes from your legs.
To complete a HIIT workout, you need to set the damper at a setting that you can row both quick and slow at without having to get up and adjust.
Then, complete your HIIT intervals by pushing harder with your legs and connecting the drive faster to your back and arms for 30 seconds and then slow your row and drive for 60-seconds to recover. Repeat 3-4 times.