CrossFit Rowing Machine – Introduction
What is the best rowing machine for CrossFit home workouts?
CrossFit has been testing and developing fitness since 2000.
What was initially viewed as a fitness fad quickly became a global phenomenon.
There are now CrossFit gyms, called boxes, in every major city of the world, and a lot of people practice CrossFit at home.
Going to a box means you’ll have access to all the cool tools that CrossFit workouts involve, such as slam balls, climbing ropes, Olympic barbells, plyo boxes, and gymnastic rings.
However, if you are a home CrossFitter, you may have to forgo some of the workouts or adapt them based on the equipment you have available.
One item of equipment that often features in CrossFit workouts is the rowing machine.
They’re used for warm-ups, intervals, and steady-state training.
Not having a rower means that there are several CrossFit workouts you will not be able to do.
That’s a shame because rowing is a VERY effective exercise.
The good news is that rowing machines are widely available and ideal for home use.
They’re light, compact, and require little or no maintenance.
Most can be used indoors or out.
In this article, we take a look at what makes rowing such a great workout, what to look for in a CrossFit rowing machine, and our five best picks!
So, What’s So Good About Rowing, Anyway?
CrossFit is the epitome of functional, effective fitness training.
The workouts, called WODs, are designed to develop a high level of all-around fitness and strength.
In short, CrossFit will turn you into an athlete.
So, how does rowing fit into this fitness model?
A full-body workout
Unlike so many fitness routines, CrossFit doesn’t think in terms of body parts or muscle groups.
Instead, it trains your entire body each and every workout.
The rower is the PERFECT way to do this, as rowing works virtually every muscle in your body.
In fact, it’s such a comprehensive workout that all you really need to do is a few sets of push-ups after your row to train all your major muscles in a single session.
When you run, your feet hit the floor with a force roughly equal to eight times your body weight.
Needless to say, all that impact can really add up and could lead to injury if you include running in all your workouts.
Rowing is a low-impact activity, so it’s much more joint-friendly than running.
As such, you can row hard and often with less risk of injury.
Rowing can be adapted for all levels of fitness.
You can adjust the resistance you have to pull against, or, as with fan and water rowers, the harder you pull, the more intense your workout becomes.
As such, most CrossFit rowing workouts can be scaled to match your needs and abilities.
So, whether you are a beginner or an experienced CrossFitter, you can use a rower to challenge and improve your current level of fitness.
Easy to set up
A lot of CrossFit workouts involve quick transitions between exercises.
Time spent setting up equipment is time wasted!
Rowers are very quick and easy to get started.
Just jump on, strap in your feet, and get to work.
This means no sneaky rests between exercises and a more time-efficient workout.
CrossFit workouts are very varied, and that includes the rowing WODs.
Some involve rowing for a set number of calories, while others are for distance or time.
There are stand-alone rowing workouts and workouts that combine rowing with other exercises, such as burpees or kettlebell swings.
This all goes to show just how versatile rowing machines can be as they’re used for all these types of workouts and more.
One thing is for sure – CrossFit rowing workouts are never boring!
What to Look for in a Home CrossFit Rowing Machine
So, you’re thinking of adding a rower to your home CrossFit gym – good for you!
Before you go out and buy the first rower you see, consider these factors so don’t mistakenly buy a machine that’s more of a hindrance than a help.
Some CrossFit rowing workouts are quite long, such as rowing 5,000 meters, which can take anywhere from 20-30 minutes or more.
With that in mind, make sure your rower is comfortable for long workouts.
That means it should come with a cushioned, contoured seat, and the handle should be ergonomic and padded, too.
#2. Adjustable resistance
You’ll generally need a high level of resistance for short, hard workouts and a lower level for longer, slower-paced workouts.
This is not unlike using the gears on a bike.
However, some rowers offer no such adjustments and, as such, are less suitable for CrossFit.
Resistance adjustments should be easy to make, so you can make changes on the fly.
#3. A programmable performance monitor
CrossFit workouts are very prescriptive and specify exactly how much rowing you need to do.
This might be expressed in time, distance, calories, or even watts.
Make sure your rower has a programmable computer, called a performance monitor, so you can set the parameters of your workout quickly and easily.
Otherwise, you may find yourself having to estimate how far you need to row for your chosen WOD.
#4. Strong and reliable
CrossFit workouts not only test the exerciser but the equipment you are using, too.
As such, you should make sure your rower is sturdy enough to cope with the demands of your WODs.
The last thing you want is an unreliable rower that breaks down mid-WOD.
Your rower should also be easy to maintain, and spare parts should be widely available.
Rowers are available to suit all budgets.
A good CrossFit rower can be expensive, but there are cheaper options available, too.
Set your budget and then stick to it, especially if you are in the process of setting up your entire home CrossFit gym.
Don’t blow all your money on one piece of equipment.
The 5 Best Rowing Machines for CrossFit
Here are five of the best rowing machines for CrossFit, all tried and tested just for you!
- Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine
- WaterRower A1
- Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine
- NordicTrack Smart Rower
- Stamina X Air Rower
Best CrossFit Row Machine Description
#1. Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine
- Reliable Workout Data : The powerful PM5 Performance Monitor, standard with...
- Get Connected : One monitor, many training options! Our open-platform...
- Integrated Device Holder : Now it’s easier than ever to use ErgData, or any of...
- One Machine, Two Height Options : Our standard RowErg has a 14” seat height,...
- Flywheel and Damper : Our RowErgs use air resistance to respond to your effort...
The Concept 2 Model D rowing machine is the most common rower in CrossFit boxes all over the world.
They’re found in many commercial gyms and used by “real” rowers for indoor training.
Concept 2 rowers are also the rower of choice for indoor rowing competitions, and yes, that’s actually a thing!
The Concept 2 rower features a large fan with adjustable dampers, a programable performance monitor, and a virtually unbreakable chain drive.
If you want an authentic CrossFit rowing experience, this is the rower for you.
C2 rowers are not cheap but will provide many years of worry-free workouts.
#2. WaterRower A1
- THE ORIGINAL WATERROWER - HANDCRAFTED AND BUILT TO LAST - Designed in the mid...
- MADE IN USA - Hand-built in Rhode Island; all timber used in the manufacture of...
- SMOOTH - Water rowers use a water-filled flywheel to provide resistance as you...
- BURN CALORIES IN SHORT TIME - There are many benefits to rowing. It is a low...
- BEST WARRANTY - 1 year manufacturers warranty (upgradeable to 3-year parts while...
The WaterRower A1 is as much an object de art as it is an exercise machine.
Made from wood with a transparent water tank, this rower sounds and feels like you are rowing on a river.
The resistance is provided by a paddle moving through a sealed water drum, providing a truly unique workout experience.
The AI has a programmable performance monitor, which makes keeping track of your workouts a breeze.
#3. Sunny Health & Fitness Premium Magnetic Rowing Machine
- 【SUNNYFIT APP】 Elevate your workouts with live metrics on global maps. Get...
- 【UPPER BODY ROWS】 Isolate and target your upper body muscle groups by using...
- 【16 LEVELS OF RESISTANCE】 16 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance...
- 【SMOOTH & DURABLE】 The rowing mechanism features a distinctive Volute Spring...
- 【FOLDABLE SLIDE RAIL】 Foldable design allows for more convenience and easy...
Sunny Health & Fitness make well-priced workout equipment for home gyms.
This rowing machine uses electromagnets for near-silent resistance and is ideal for the budget-conscious home CrossFitter.
It has a programmable performance monitor and offers 16 levels of resistance.
However, even at the highest setting, the resistance is somewhat lighter than most fan and water rowers.
Fitter, stronger CrossFitters may find that this machine isn’t as challenging as other models.
#4. NordicTrack Smart Rower
- 30-Day iFIT Family Membership Included; Stream live & on-demand workouts on your...
- 22” HD Interactive Touchscreen Display streams on-demand iFIT workouts into...
- 26 Digital Resistance Levels; Your iFIT Trainer auto-adjusts your smart...
- Innovative SpaceSaver Design; Your rower folds in half after your workout for...
- 250-pound user capacity; Protected with a 10-year frame warranty, 2-year parts...
NordicTrack makes top-quality exercise equipment, and their Smart Rower is no exception.
This state-of-the-art machine has all the functions and features you’d expect plus several you probably won’t – like a large touchscreen performance monitor that also connects to the internet for an interactive workout experience.
The Smart Rower from NordicTrack uses a fan for resistance and folds neatly in half for easy storage.
#5. Stamina X Air Rower
- STAMINA AIR ROWING MACHINE - Our Air Rower provides a total body workout,...
- DYNAMIC AIR RESISTANCE - This rower is equipped with intuitive, wind-based...
- ALL-IN-ONE CARDIO EQUIPMENT - This versatile rowing machine offers different...
- FOR LASTING COMFORT - This row machine is designed with molded, cushioned seat...
- SMART WORKOUT APP - Experience connected fitness with this home gym equipment...
While Concept 2 rowers are the standard in most CrossFit gyms, there is no denying that they’re expensive.
Even used models hold their price well, so you could actually look at one as a long-term investment!
That said, you can get a similar workout from this Stamina X Air Rower, which looks and performs much like an early model Concept 2 rowing machine.
It has a programmable performance monitor, a large adjustable fan, and a chain drive.
From a technical perspective, it is very similar to the more famous C2 rower.
It has everything you need for your at-home CrossFit workouts.
While this rower is quite stripped down and basic, the lack of bells and whistles means it’s very well-priced, but you still get a lot of rower for your money.
Best Rowing Machine for CrossFit – Closing Thoughts
Home CrossFitters without rowing machines usually do high-rep sumo deadlift high-pulls instead.
While this exercise does work all the same muscles, it’s not the most exact replacement for rowing.
However, it IS better than nothing.
A preferable option would be to buy a rower for your home gym so you can do your CrossFit workouts as prescribed.
That way, you can compare your performance against that of all the thousands of other people doing the same WOD.
With models to suit all budgets, you should have no problem finding the perfect CrossFit rowing machine.
Just use the information in this article to choose the right rower for your home gym.
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