Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: June 14, 2021
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Do you want to burn fat, improve fitness, and build lean muscles from the comfort of your home? If yes, getting the best compact rowing machine will do the trick. The compact size of these machines makes them ideal for home fitness workouts. That said, not all top-rated compact rowing machines perform as well as they claim to.
Rowing machines are ideal for complex muscle toning through full-body workout at the pace that is entirely comfortable for you. This guide has reviewed the best compact rowing machines based on dimensions, durability, resistance type, and warranty. All the rowing machines included on this list are not only compact (under 80-inches full length) but also highly portable. As such, you can easily store them behind a couch or under bed We have also included a buying guide to ensure you choose a machine that will suit your needs, so let’s read on.
If you are looking for a rowing machine that occupies less space, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 will be an excellent option. One of the best things about this machine is the foldable design, making it easy to store.
Transportation is also easy as the SF-RW5622 is equipped with wheels for convenient movement. It is well-built and sturdy enough to accommodate a maximum weight of 275 pounds.
Whether you are working out for thirty minutes or four hours, you will experience maximum comfort and support thanks to the padded seat with a non-slip grip handlebar. Then there are the footplates that allow you to work out while standing and sitting without leaving the machine.
Another impressive feature is the LCD monitor that lets you keep track of the time, calories, and distance. This feature helps you to stay focused on the fineness goal you want to achieve. Assembling the machine is easy and should take just a few minutes. You don’t need to worry about this device sliding across the floor since a stabilizer keeps it stable and makes it safe to use.
Why did it make our list? The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 is designed to offer maximum comfort, versatility, and easy storage. It is also highly portable and is ideal for both small and large spaces.
What is not ideal about it? The strap for the footrest could have been a bit bigger.
Being a magnetic rowing machine, the Schwinn Crewmaster has adjustable resistance. With up to resistance levels, you can adjust the resistance level to your preference, making the rowing machine ideal for both beginners and advanced rowers.
Moreover, the moving parts on this machine do not come into contact, making it less noisy than other models. As such, you can continue with your workout while your family members are watching TV or even sleeping.
In terms of construction, Crewmaster is made from a high-quality steel frame, which makes it sturdy and long-lasting. Also, the well-sized LCD display screen makes it easy to keep track of your workout progress. You can even adjust the screen to a more comfortable viewing position during a workout.
Let’s talk about comfort; this small-sized rowing machine is fitted with a large, padded, and contoured seat that ensures you remain as comfortable as possible. For extra comfort and convenience, the foot pedals are adjustable and large.
The last thing you want is your feet constantly sliding around while working out. With this equipment, you don’t need to worry about this as it ensures your feet remain stable at all times. Lastly, the foldable design and built-in wheels make the rowing machine easy to transport and store.
What are our favorite features? The Schwinn Crewmaster is a quiet rowing machine that has a lot to offer in the comfort department. Assembling the machine is pretty easy since it comes with easy to follow instructions.
What could be better? It would have been better if the LCD monitor had Bluetooth capabilities and other advanced workout programs.
Sunny Health & Fitness is popular for manufacturing high-quality and durable rowing machines, and the SF-RW5801 is no different. With a weight limit of 265 pounds and a measurement of 77 x, 23 x 22 inches is a great rowing machine for those with small apartments and houses and are worried about space.
It will easily fit in a compact space, and storing it will not be an issue thanks to the foldable design. Despite its small design, the heavy-duty frame construction makes it highly durable.
Besides that, this workout device is equipped with ergonomic foot pedals that provide maximum comfort.
The pedals are also larger than other models, which provides a powerful push leading to an effective workout session. Regarding ergonomics, the large and sweat-resistant seat ensures you stay as comfortable as possible. Moving this machine from one place to another should be easy thanks to the built-in wheels.
However, the most impressive thing about the SF-RW5801 is that you can adjust the resistance to 16 different levels. The tension knob allows you to set the machine to a resistance level that will suit your needs.
Overall, we liked the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 is among the most compact rowing machines in the market today. It is easy to transport, has anti-slip foot pedals, and is equipped with a monitor that shows the scan, calories, and total count.
What cons did we manage to find? The machine could have been a bit higher from the ground.
Compact, sturdy, durable, and convenient are the best words to describe the Stamina ATS. It features a steel frame construction that makes it an ideal rowing machine for personal use at home. The steel frame is also fitted with two stabilizers that prevent the machine from moving while you are working out.
Another amazing thing about the device is that you can easily adjust the resistance level, making it ideal for CrossFit training and high-intensity training. So, basically instead of stopping your workout session, this modal allows you to adjust the workout pace by slowing or speeding up the level of resistance.
Furthermore, the computer LCD monitor displays the distance covered, speed, and resistance while you continue with your full body workout and cardio. Putting the Stamina ATS should be easy since the machine comes with a manual list and necessary tools. Most users will assemble it for between 15 and 30 minutes.
This stunner comes with an upholstered and padded seat for extra comfort during your training sessions. In addition, the handles feature a foam-padding that ensures you don’t get blisters, especially when working out for a long time.
With a weight capacity of 250 pounds, this equipment can be used by tall workout enthusiasts measuring up to ft 4 ”.
What are its best features? Overall, the Stamina ATS is portable, easy to assemble, features solid construction, and has a foldable design for easy storage.
What could be improved? It would have been better if the monitor also monitored the heart rate properly.
For anyone looking for a rowing machine with a digital monitor, you will not go wrong with the Merax Water Rowing Machine. The monitor displays all the information you need to know about your workout session.
Unlike most models, this one will even show your heart rate and how long you have been working out. When it comes to construction, this device features a solid steel construction that ensures it stays stable and supports a maximum weight of 330 pounds.
The inclined water tanks in this machine provide better resistance and make your workout more effective than models with flat-positioned tanks. To adjust the resistance, all you need to do is fill the tank to the preferred level. You will feel like you are rowing across actual water, making your workout experience more relaxing and enjoyable.
Another thing that stood out for us is the gorgeous blue color that gives it a stunning and elegant design. Also, the built-in wheels and compact design makes the machine an excellent option for users with smaller apartments.
The 20-inch anti-slip handle is fully padded for optimum comfort and to prevent blisters. Moreover, the oversized seat provides extra comfort, while the adjustable Velcro straps keep your feet secure.
What are our favorite features? The Merax Water Rowing Machine is arguably one of the smallest rowing machines out there. Despite its compact design, it is sturdy, offers excellent resistance, and comes with a one-year warranty.
What could be better? A more convenient way of adjusting the resistance level would be better.
Another compact yet effective rower is the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine. This model uses a hydraulic resistance and manual control knob making it easy to customize to your fitness goals and needs.
The equipment has a compact and portable design meaning it will easily fit into your space. It will also support a full-body workout by targeting all the main muscles such as abs, shoulders, thighs, back, and so on.
In addition, the LCD monitor displays the total rows, time, calories, and row count. We also liked that this model allows you to check out all your workout data after every six seconds. You can exercise all you need without experiencing any discomfort or pain due to the machine’s ergonomic design.
The molded seat glides smoothly to ensure you have a more comfortable experience while the footplates promote a more natural movement. What’s more, the steel construction makes the small rowing machine durable and strong enough to accommodate a maximum of 250 pounds.
What makes it special? If you are on a budget, the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine will be a great option. It has a perfect combination of durability, lightweight, and ergonomics.
What cons did we find? Assembly could have been easier.
If you want to recreate the real sound of a lake or any other water body in your house, then you should consider picking the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine. With this machine, you can relax and enjoy the thrill of rowing through water from each stroke.
The workout device offers many health benefits, including alleviating back and shoulder pain, protecting knees, preventing muscle strain, relieving spinal pressure, and more. Moreover, the rigid construction makes it suitable for anyone weighing below 264 pounds. Also worth noting is that this small-sized rowing machine’s ergonomic design will encourage you to work out for a long period.
It is equipped with stabilizers to ensure it stays in place no matter the floor or how intense the workout session gets. We also like the adjustable footplates, which ensures the legs stay in the right position.
More to that, the large padded seat ensures your workout session is as comfortable as possible. For extra comfort, the handles have a foam padding that prevents soreness and blisters. Also included is a large LCD monitor that displays your workout progress. It keeps track of strokes per minute, calories burned, and time traveled.
Since this is a water resistance rowing machine, you can always add water to adjust your home’s difficult level. The wheels and pulleys ensure you have an easy time moving this machine from one place to another.
What do we love it for? The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine features high-quality construction, comfortable seat, large water tanks, and comes at a budget-friendly price.
What were we disappointed with? It could have been better if the LCD monitor has a backlight.
If you are looking for a high-quality yet affordable compact rowing machine, the JOROTO Magnetic Rower is for you. With up to 10 resistance levels, this machine lets you select the intensity level of your workout.
The transportation wheels and foldable design of the machine make it easy to move and store. You can expect a silent performance from this device since the seat moves across the aluminum rail quietly and smoothly.
You will also appreciate the non-slip and adjustable foot pedals with straps that hold feet of different sizes. The padded handlebar provides an excellent grip large seat makes it comfortable even during those long workout sessions. With a weight of 53 pounds and a measurement of 71 x 21 x 36 inches, this comfortable rowing machine can hold users who weigh up to 250 pounds.
The LCD monitor has an adjustable design so both short and tall users can comfortably keep track of their workout progress. It displays the scan, calories burned, time exercised, and total count.
What are our favorite features? The JOROTO Magnetic Rower is easy to assemble, comfortable, and provides a holder for your water bottle and smartphone.
What could be better? The monitor could have been more advanced.
Things to Consider
So, you have decided to start your fitness journey. Congratulations! A high-quality rowing machine is not only effective but is also very easy to use. The difficult part is finding the right rowing machine for you.
This guide will give all the information you need to know about a rowing machine to help you select one that will improve your fitness level and health.
Pros and cons of compact rowing machines
A full-body workout
Most body workouts target a specific part of the body. For instance, squats challenge your core and lower body, and running works your legs. However, a compact rowing machine will offer a full-body workout by working on multiple muscles at once.
You can expect the equipment to focus on muscles such as the back, arms, hips, legs, glutes, and shoulders. So, when you invest in a rowing machine, you get value for your money.
There are a few factors that determine the number of calories you will burn in one exercise session. Using a compact rowing machine can help you burn more calories than other exercise equipment.
This is because, unlike most devices, a rowing machine will engage a lot of muscles in your body. All you need is to begin at a slow pace and work your way up to will feel the burn while rowing.
Like any other product, rowing machines come at different prices. They cost less than treadmills, and you will also be getting a muscle strengthening and cardiovascular machine in one product.
How safe is rowing? Unlike exercises like running, which puts extreme pressure on your joints, knees, and ankles, rowing is safer and more comfortable. Although your legs will be in full motion, they won’t hit any hard surface.
That said, you should always consult with your doctor before getting into any workout routine. If you have leg or joint issues, the doctor may recommend rowing since it is a low-impact exercise.
A lot of noise
Rowing machines, especially water and air rowers, tend to be noisy. Each time you pull them back, they make a loud noise. This can be quite aggravating for people who live in the same house or apartment.
However, this doesn’t mean you should forget about rowing. You can consider working out when other people are not at home.
Pressure on the lower back
Make sure you read the instructions carefully before using a rowing machine. Then start slow and increase the pace with time to avoid straining your lower back. If you suffer from back problems, rowing might not be an ideal exercise.
For some people, rowing can put a lot of pressure on the lower back as the machine pulls a cord and brings it back away from you. As such, it is not recommended for those with back or spine problems.
Can be tedious and boring
Rowing is a repetitive activity. You sit, pull, return, and then repeat the same exercise. You can do this for one hour or more, which can be quite boring. Doing the same things over and over again is boring.
However, you can mix it up with other cardio exercises like weight lifting or HIIT to make the workout session more enjoyable.
How to use rowing machine effectively
A rowing machine is a great tool for making your cardio routine, but it can be quite intimidating for first-time users. Although the machine is very effective, misusing it can lead to serious back injuries.
Before you start, there are a few things you need to keep in mind while using a rowing machine. Avoid wearing baggy clothes as they might be caught in the machine. Set the equipment low, especially if you are a beginner. Now, let’s look at the three main steps when using a rowing machine.
Start by strapping in your feet, then straighten up your legs. Next, ensure your palms are facing down and clutch the handle, and let it fall on your lower rib. Let your body lean back slightly. This is called a finish position.
Move your body forward and ensure your knees are slightly above your ankles. At this point, the shins need to be parallel, and the chest should be touching your thighs.
This is the most challenging part so pay attention! Straighten your legs without locking the knees. Next, pull your body backward and finish the process by pulling the handle towards your sternum.
This last position requires minimal or less resistance. Here your arms are leaned forward, legs straightened, and your body is bent forward and ready to go back to the finish, catch and drive position again.
Features to consider while buying the best compact rowing machine
Now that we have looked at some of the best compact rowing machines available in the market today, we will also give you key factors you need to consider while looking for a high-quality machine.
There are a few things you need to consider when it comes to the product’s company. For example, the machine’s release date, the period the company has been in the market, and the popularity of the brand. The release date helps you know if the product has been well -tested.
Your size will greatly determine the type of rowing machine you select. It’s important to pick equipment that will accommodate your weight and length. If you are tall, a machine like the Stamina ATS will be a great pick.
Some compact rowing machines like hydraulic resistance and magnetic rowers have a foldable design for easy storage. A good example is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801, which is foldable and easy to store.
On the other hand, water and air machines like the Merax Water Rowing Machine do not fold up. If you have limited space, a water rower will not be an excellent option since they are quite large and heavy. So, you should consider the size of your space before buying a rowing machine.
Although price doesn’t always guarantee quality, a rowing machine with the latest technology and high-quality construction costs more than other models. Brands that make top-notch machines invest a lot in making and improving such products.
We recommend that you spend more money on a reliable rowing machine that will offer fun workout sessions instead of going for a cheap and unreliable model.
Resistance type will determine the type of workouts you will do. Water resistance rowers will offer an unmatched and intense rowing session. With these models, you will feel like water there’s water flowing around the equipment tank.
When it comes to air resistance, expect a smooth and responsive experience during the rowing session. The most outstanding thing about these machines is that they will let you record important dates like speed, strokes, etc.
Although a guarantee will not determine a machine’s performance, you will have peace of mind knowing that should your investment have a malfunction or break, you will get a replacement.
Warranties vary from product to product. However, if you invest in a rowing machine, you should look for one that comes with at least 2-5 years of warranty. A good example is the Schwinn Crewmaster, which comes with a 3-year limited on a frame, 1-year limited on parts. Lesser equipment such as the JOROTO Magnetic Rower can provide at least a one-year warranty.
In general, the rowing machine produces noise while you are working out. If you live with other people in your apartment or house, you might want to keep the sounds as low as possible. A machine like the Merax Water Rowing Machine produces very little noise.
Rowing machines are not easy to understand since they have a low-learning curve. With that said, there is more to them than just sitting down and rowing. An ideal machine should be easy to set up at home and easy to use.
Since rowing is a full-body workout that engages many muscles, the last thing you want is a machine that feels like a tedious game of tug of war. The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine has a great design that is easy and comfortable to use.
Another feature you need to consider is maintenance. Make sure the machine’s replacements parts are easy to access. Also, the seat of the rowing machine should be large enough to keep your back comfortable.
Once you are done with your workout, you need to wipe your machine using a clean cloth and disinfectant solution. You don’t want to leave sweat on the surface of your equipment. If you leave sweat for a long time, it can cause cruddy build-up, odors on the rowing machine.
Apart from the outside of your device, you also need to clean the insides to keep away debris, dust, and dirt build-up.
No, most high-quality rowing machines come with an instruction manual and necessary connecting tools to help you in the assembly process. Putting together a rowing machine is an excellent way of burning calories and understanding it better.
However, if the equipment is too complicated, you can always hire an expert to do the assembly.
While using a rowing machine can help prevent stain and support your back, those with chronic back problems should avoid using it. That said, you can always consult with your doctor, and if advised otherwise, you can slowly incorporate rowing into your workout regime.
Compact rowing machines are perfect for those with small spaces but still want to do a full-body workout from their homes. The best compact rowing machines never sacrifice durability and effectiveness for portability and compactness.
Our first pick is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622. It has a compact and foldable design that can easily fit into any space. In our opinion, this is the best compact rowing machine on this list.
Our second pick is the Schwinn Crewmaster, which is ideal for both beginners and experts. With the oversized and padded seat, you will remain as comfortable as possible even during those long workout sessions.
Our budget pick for best compact rowing machine is the Lanos Hydraulic Rowing Machine, which is most suitable for a full-body workout. The machine features steel construction, thus making it durable. The manual control knob is a unique feature of the machine. It makes it easy to customize to the user’s needs.