Best Rower for Crossfit

by Gary Patterson | Last Updated: June 14, 2021

Rower for Crossfit

Rowing is becoming an increasingly popular exercise, especially in Crossfit. What makes rowing popular with elite athletes and CrossFitters is exactly what many in the general fitness population dislike about it: your weaknesses cannot be hidden on the rowing machine, wrote Angela Hart in The Crossfit Journal Articles. Since the rowing machine exercises your entire body, each stroke reveals the weak spots in between your performance, technique, and physical capabilities. However, choosing the best rower for CrossFit for yourself can be difficult; there are so many models to choose from! 

This review will look at 5 different rowers for CrossFit with different resistances and designs that will all give you a full-body workout, but with their unique aspects that set them apart. If you are looking to purchase a rowers for CrossFit, read this review to see if 5 of the most popular models would suit your needs. 

Best Rower for Crossfit

Crossfit Rower

The first CrossFit rower we will look at is The Hydrow. It is a high-end machine designed to give a stimulating rowing experience with a 22-inch touch screen and front-facing speakers. This rower also has a special electromagnetic and computer-controlled drag mechanism, bringing the river to your home. 

Another high-end rower for CrossFit is the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine. While this rower is mainly for gyms and clinics, it has scuff-preventing rails that can be used anywhere. A key feature of this component is the rosewood material made from sustainably sourced American Ash, providing a different look compared to the other steel frames. 

Next, we have the mid-tier Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399. It has a wind-resistance design, and when you row faster and harder, the machine will also increase in resistance. 

We will also look at the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine, an air-resistance rowing machine with two leg options: standard (the seat is 14 inches from the floor), or tall (the seat is 20 inches from the floor). 

The last rowing machine for this review is the NordicTrack RW900, another high-end rower. NordicTrack emphasizes its iFit Family Membership included for the first year of purchase and the automatic trainer control that adjusts the resistance based on the virtual program. 

#1: Hydrow

Best Rower for Crossfit

First, we have The Hydrow, a unique high-end rower for Crossfit designed to provide you with a stimulating rowing experience. With a 22 inch, 1920 x 1080 full HD touchscreen display and front-facing speakers, it brings the river to you. The Hydrow also has a special electromagnetic and computer-controlled drag mechanism, giving you the feel of the river. 

Right now, Hydrow has a special Hydrow Father’s Day Package for $2,245 when it is usually $2,565. It includes the Hydrow, a workout mat, yoga blocks, and resistance bands. There is also the Hydrow Starter Package for $2,520 with a Hydrow, machine mat, heart rate monitor, and headphones. If you are a more intense athlete, you can buy the Hydrow Pro Package for $2,705, which includes the Hydrow, a machine mat, heart rate monitor, headphones, workout mat, yoga blocks, a foam roller, and resistance bands. You cannot purchase a singular Hydrow machine on their website; you must purchase one of the packages. As well, Hydrow recommends to also buy a membership application for an additional $38/month

With an industrial-grade webbed strap, each stroke is smooth and quiet. The rowing machine also has a 10-roller system and an ergonomically designed seat. In addition, Hydrow includes a wheel system and it can be tilted into the upright position for space-saving storage. However, you would need to purchase the Hydrow Upright Storage Kit for an extra $69.99 to safely and securely store the Hydrow in the upright position. 

The Hydrow stands at 86 x 25 x 47 inches and it weighs 145 lbs. It can also hold up to 375 lbs.  



#2: WaterRower Club Rowing Machine

Best Rower for Crossfit

Next is the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine. This equipment is designed for commercial gyms, studios and rehabilitation clinics with rails to prevent scuffing and a more aesthetically appealing design with rosewood components complementing the black frame. At $1,295.00, the WaterRower Club Rowing Machine is one of the higher-end models in this review. 

WaterRower emphasizes its choice of American Ash wood for its ability to absorb sound and vibration, resulting in a quiet and smooth rower for CrossFit. As well, the wood is sourced from replenishable forests. This rowing machine’s key feature is the wooden components, but it also includes an S4 performance monitor to help you track your workout. However, the heart rate monitor is sold separately as an additional kit. 

The rowing machine stands at 82.25 x 22.25 x 20 inches, and it weighs 66.5 lbs dry and 103.5 lbs with 17 L of water. It cannot be stored vertically nor be folded, so it is also stored at this size. 



#3: Stamina ATS Air Rower

Best Rower for Crossfit

The Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399 is the first mid-tier rowing machine in this review. With a wind-resistance design, this rowing machine would give you a strength-building, cardio workout at a more affordable cost than the previous models. When you row faster and harder, the machine will also increase in resistance; the resistance response is all intuitive. It is listed for $399.99 on Stamina’s website. 

However, the Stamina ATS Air Rower has fewer unique features. Although it does have an oversized seat rail, a multi-function monitor, large footplates and nylon foot straps, and a sturdy steel frame, its main unique feature is wind resistance. However, the frame is foldable, saving space. It also includes floor protectors to protect your workout area. 

Once assembled, this rower for CrossFit is 77 x 18 x 22 inches, but when folded, it is 48 x 18 x 28 inches, weighing 54 lbs. It can withstand up to a maximum of 250 lbs. 



#4: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Best Rower for Crossfit

Another higher-end rowing machine is the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine. Concept2 boasts that their air-resistance rowing machine is used by Olympic and elite-level athletes too. It includes two leg options: standard (the seat is 14 inches from the floor) or tall (the seat is 20 inches from the floor). However, both versions fit inseams up to 38 inches, so a higher seat is not necessary for taller users. The price reflects the different leg options: standard costs $900.00 while the tall version costs $1050.00

Additionally, the rowing machine includes a PM5 performance monitor to track pace, watts, stroke rate, and calories burned. It is also automatically stored in the internal memory or a USB drive, which you can transfer to the free online logbook. TheConcept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine also has a smartphone cradle for you to connect your device via Bluetooth to the PM5. Moreover, this rower for CrossFit has a flywheel and damper, allowing you to adjust your resistance at all times. The flywheel’s design also minimizes noise. Furthermore, the RowErg can be wheeled around and dismantled into two parts, without tools, for compact storage. 

This machine stands at 96 x 24 x 14 or 20 inches with a 54-inch monorail. The standard leg model weighs 57 lbs, while the tall legs weigh 68 lbs. It can withstand a maximum of 500 lbs as tested by Concept2 and 300 lbs as tested per European Stationary Fitness Equipment Testing Standards. 



#5: NordicTrack RW900

Best Rower for Crossfit

Finally, we will look at another high-end rowing machine, the NordicTrack RW900. It costs $1,599 with an additional $199 for threshold delivery, but you can finance it for $47/month. This price includes a 1-year iFit Family Membership that will also automatically renew unless cancelled in advance. NordicTrack emphasizes their additional virtual programs with streamed workouts and automatic trainer control. 

The NordicTrack RW900 has a list of impressive features. Similar to our first rowing machine, the Hydrow, this rower for CrossFit also includes a 22 inch HD touchscreen, but this one also rotates 360 degrees. The screen can connect to the iFit rowing workout features and Automatic Trainer Controll, which would adjust the rower’s digital resistance. In addition, it has two types of resistance: 26 digital resistance levels and manual air resistance. The rowing machine also has quick-adjust pedals and a space-saving design: folding for easy storage. 

Standing at 86.5 x 22.0 x 50.4 inches, the NordicTrack RW900 weighs 131 lb in the box. It can withstand up to 250 lbs, which is on the lower side compared to the other rowing machines. 



Rowers for Crossfit Summary?

At $399.99, the Stamina ATS Air Rower is the best rowing machine for affordability. It includes all the necessary features for a solid air resistance rower, allowing for full-body workouts. 

Since the Hydrow must be purchased in a package, it is the most expensive rower. Just the starter package costs $2,520, which can increase to $2,705 for the pro package. 

Not only does the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine come in two leg sizes, but it also includes features to ensure smooth and efficient rowing. At $900.00 for standard and $1050.00 for tall, iConcept2 delivers a solid rowing machine without unnecessary add-ons. In addition, this machine design saves space, letting you exercise without taking up your home space. 

Are Crossfit Rowing Machines Worth it?

Best Rower for Crossfit 1

If you are looking to bolster your Crossfit routine, then this review finds that: yes, investing in a rowing machine is worth it! Regardless of which rowers for CrossFit you choose to buy, they all promise a full-body workout for your lower body, upper body, and core muscles all at once. You can exercise your quadriceps, glutes, deltoids, lats, and abdominal muscles simultaneously without worrying about joint strain. There is also a wide range of rowing machines. This review looked at rowing machines with 22-inch screens to give you an immersive rowing experience, as well as basic mid-tier machines for those who want to just get the job done. 

Our Conclusion

Rowing machines are essential for CrossFit training, and rowing is an excellent low-impact but high-yield exercise, burning abundant calories and working all your muscles. All the rowing machines examined in this review have positive customer feedback, but they also suit different customers. The WaterRower Club Rowing Machine, for one, is primarily designed for commercial gyms and rehabilitation clinics, so it cannot be folded nor stored upright. The NordicTrack RW900 and The Hydrow have large screens for you to easily follow along with their workouts, but this might not be needed by everyone. While the Stamina ATS Air Rower provides all you need for a rowing workout, it is not as quiet nor variable as the Concept2 Model D Rowing Machine. However, the prices also reflect the additional features. In the end, which rowing machine you should purchase depends entirely on your needs and budget, but rowing machines are a worthy investment for a home gym.  

Things to consider when purchasing a rower for CrossFit

When you are purchasing rowers for CrossFit, there are several key points to keep in mind. Besides reading customer reviews, it is important to consider how the rowing machine would fit into both your workout and your life. 

What is your budget? Rowing machines are not cheap; even the lowest-tier equipment costs hundreds of dollars. While the price indicates quality, as we saw in this review, the price often entails additional features too. If you just began to row and you are unsure if it will become a fixed part of your workout routine, consider less expensive options and those with money-back guarantees. As well, check your warranty information carefully. While some machines seem to have longer warranties, there may be more restrictions. 

How would the machine fit into your workout routine? How intensive are your workouts? Some rowers for CrossFit are designed to give you a unique and authentic rowing experience, but this comes at a higher cost. Others include special features like a touchscreen to give you a more immersive experience, but this is also at a higher cost. If you are planning on seriously rowing and incorporating the rowing machine into your CrossFit workout, it would be worth the money to invest in a machine with more features. 

Finally, think about how the rowing machine would fit into your life. Do you want a space-saving design? If you live in a smaller space, you might want to invest in a rowing machine that can be folded or placed upright. If space is not a concern, then you have more options. Ultimately, the rowing machine is a large market, and there are many different models to cater to your needs. 

What is a CrossFit rowing machine?

Crossfit rowing machines are designed for rowing exercises, which are full-body workouts. Since rowers for CrossFit are the only gym equipment that can give you a full-body workout, they are one of the only machines used in Crossfit games. You can use free weights and weight machines for strength training, treadmills and bikes for cardio, but rowing machines can do both. 

By engaging your upper and lower body for a full rowing stroke, you will get a solid workout. However, you must use your entire body to complete each full stroke, so rowers for CrossFit will immediately reveal your weaknesses. Rowing is also wonderful cardio or aerobic exercise, simulating and strengthening your heart and lungs. You will feel the burn in your muscles, but you will also burn lots of calories! 

Not only is rowing a real workout, but it is also low-impact and non-weight bearing. When you row, you are sitting down on the rowing machine, minimizing possible joint strain. For this reason, rowing is a recommended exercise for individuals with weaker joints. Given that rowing is a great exercise, rowing machines are a core part of CrossFit since they provide full-body workouts, engage in both strength and cardio training, and preserve your joints. 

How to use a CrossFit rowing machine

As Melody Davi, manager of instructor operations at SLT said, It’s about power, not speed. Rowing must engage the full body, so if you finish an exercise with a sore back, your position is likely incorrect. Focus on engaging your lower-body muscles, like your glutes, hamstrings, and quads, to push yourself out. When you’re using a CrossFit rowing machine, remember to focus on strokes per minute and controlling your movement. Ideally, you should keep your strokes per minute at 30 or less. To increase your pace, you should push out with more power. It is about strength and control, not fast pumping. 

The proper position is with your feet strapped in, perfect posture, and a pulling motion. Typical mistakes include hunching your back, making a scooping motion as you row, raising your arms to your chin instead of resting below your chest, and letting your knees drop to the side. You should also hold the oar with three fingers on the outside of the oar which will minimize tension in your forearms. 

A rowing stroke is made of four parts: the catch, the drive, which is the work portion, the finish, and the recovery, which is the rest position. By blending these parts, you will create a smooth rowing stroke. The catch is when your arms are straight in front of you, your shoulders are level, and the upper body is leaning forward from the hips. Your shins should be vertical, make sure they don’t bow outward. Next, you will move into the drive. First press your legs, then pull with your arms. Remember to keep your shoulders low and relaxed. After, we have the finish. Your upper body should be leaning back slightly, your legs are extended, and the handle is slightly below your chest. The final step is recovery. Your arms should be extended until they straighten, then bend your knees and gently slide the seat forward on the monorail. Your breathing rhythms are also important; try practicing relating your breath to your rowing. 

What is the best type of resistance for a CrossFit rower?

There are four main types of resistances for CrossFit rowing machines: hydraulic, magnetic, air, and water. We will take a look at the unique characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks of each type. 


Hydraulic rowing machines are becoming less and less popular. While they are typically at a lower price, smaller, and quieter than rowers with flywheels, they do not provide a smooth feeling of rowing. The resistance is provided by pistons attached to the handles. When you pull, you are working against the air or fluid inside the cylinder. The levels of resistance are adjustable by levels or clamps, but they can also unwillingly change when the oil inside heats up. As well, hydraulic rowers require regular maintenance. 


Magnetic resistance rowers are popular for home use. Since the mechanism depends on magnets, they are the quietest type of machine, and they are more compact. Magnetic rowers function by changing the distance between strong magnets and a spinning flywheel which is attached to the handle by a chain. You can adjust the resistance levels using mechanical sliders or console controls. Unfortunately, they do not provide the rowing on-water experience, unlike the air and water rowers. However, they are perfectly functional for your workout. 


Air resistance rowing machines are another one of the most popular types and the standard for indoor rowing. The air rowers produce resistance from the air flowing over the internal flywheel which is connected by a chain to the rowing handle. When you pull the handle, the flywheel spins, so the faster you row, the faster the flywheel spins, and the resistance increases. While air resistance rowing machines can be loud for indoor use, they have a wide range of resistance that will automatically adjust to your stroke rate, and they are very smooth, closely replicating rowing in the water. 


Water-resistance is a newer form of resistance for rowing machines. They are quieter and smoother than air rowers, and they also increase in resistance with your increasing strokes. They have a water flywheel, also called a paddle, in a water tank connected to a chain and handles. The mechanism is similar to air rowers, but with the water being in the tank, water rowers are quieter. However, water rowing machines are typically larger than other rowing machines, and more expensive. 

Can you lose belly fat by using a CrossFit rowing machine? 

The short answer is yes, you can lose belly fat by using CrossFit rowing machines. Since rowing effectively and efficiently burns calories, it burns fat. As an aerobic exercise, it raises your heart rate and accomplishes all that other cardio exercises, like running, can achieve. As well, rowing helps you build strong and defined muscles since it is also a strength-building exercise. This will give you a toned body. 

However, it is important to remember you cannot lose fat in specific spots. You will lose belly fat by using CrossFit rowing machines because you will lose fat from your entire body, you cannot spot-target fat loss. Rowing is, indeed, a great exercise to burn calories and fat, but it will burn fat throughout your body. In addition, it is important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise habits for consistent results. 

Is rowing better for you than running?

Yes, rowing has more benefits than running. Rowing builds a strong body, especially a strong back, while also pushing your heart rate to increase metabolism, burn calories, and fat. It includes the perks of cardio exercises, like running, and strength-building exercises, like weights. 

However, running can burn more calories than rowing. Moreover, unlike rowing, it also does not require any equipment at all. All you need are your running shoes, and you’re ready for a full running workout. On the other hand, one main advantage rowing has over running is the low impact on your joints, preventing joint strain, easily experienced when your feet repeatedly pound against the ground. With the reduced injury risks and the same, if not more, workout benefits, rowing does have several leverages over running. However, it is necessary to have a balanced workout routine!