Thinking about investing in a CrossFit rower?
Why Crossfit Uses Rowing Machines?
Rowing machines are one of the only piece of gym equipment that can work all of your body.
Using a rower, you can work out over 80% of your muscles while still gaining significant cardiovascular benefits.
Most other cardio exercices, such as running and cycling, focus only on your legs and ignore the rest of your body.
Rowing activates these muscles through a long range of motion, which is ideal for CrossFit!
Concept2 Model D – The Best Crossfit Rowing Machine
For most CrossFitters, the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor, Black is the best choice for incorporating indoor rowing into a WOD. It has a smooth glide, it’s been designed to minimize noises and it’s built to last.
A rower doesn’t (usually) come cheap, but it’s a wonderful gadget to have at your box or as part of your home gym setup.
Rowing for calories or meters comes up in many different types of CrossFit workouts. It’s also been used in basically every competitive CrossFit event, be it the Open, Sanctionals, or the CrossFit games.
In this guide, we’ll break down our review of the best rower for CrossFit to help you make the right choice for your fitness goals and budget.
Why Rowing is such a staple in Crossfit?
- Rowing is a low-impact, low-stress exercise that is great for the joints. It’s a nice change of pace from jogging and some other Crossfit activities.
- This is the feedback that you receive after each workout. It tells you how close or far you are from your goal for the session, whether it’s a personal best or a standard for your level. You can compare this to previous workouts and other Crossfitters to get quantitative results to measure against.
- When compared to high-end treadmills and ellipticals, rowing machines are reasonably priced (Bicycles are about the same).
- The more strokes you complete in a minute, the more resistance you provide – no buttons to press to speed up; just row harder!
What Should you look for when buying a Rower for Crossfit?
We’ll go over what it takes to make a Crossfit rowing machine perform well and last a long time, now that we’ve discussed why CrossFit uses rowers.
Durability: You’ll beat your rower quite a bit during workouts, so you need a sturdy machine to keep up with you.
Standard Monitors and calorie counting: In Crossfit, everything is calculated so you need a standardized way of counting calories and distance.
The Top Crossfit Rowers Compared
|Product's name||More Info|
Concept 2 Model D Rower
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|Best Runner Up|
Xebex Air Rower 2.0
|View Latest Price|
|Best Budget Option|
Murtisol Air Resistance Rowing Machine
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XTERRA Fitness ERG500 Rowing Machine
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|Limited Space Machine|
Marcy Foldable Rowing Machine NS-6050RE
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|Something DifferentWaterrower Rowing machine Ash||Check Price|
What To Look For in a CrossFit Rowing Machine
There are some key things to look for when buying a rower. Consider them when weighing the pros and cons of each rowing machine we reviewed below.
- Durability. A new rowing machine for CrossFit is going to be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment for your home gym or box. Saving a buck is always nice, but make sure you get something that’s going to last. Otherwise you’ll end up spending more than what you could potentially save.
- Built for CrossFit. Keep in mind, rowing is it’s own sport outside of CrossFit. Not all rowers are designed with CrossFit in mind. Some rowers are specifically built for beginners or people with movement limitations.
- A product that will match your needs. How you’ll use your rower may change what you need. If you’re using it only for warmups, active recovery, or steady-state cardio, you might be able to spend a little less than if you need it for high-intensity CrossFit WODs.
- Size. Rowers aren’t usually that heavy, but can take up a lot of space. While some products are big, many companies sell cheap wall mount devices to help preserve space.
- Price. Rowing machines range between a couple hundred and a couple thousand dollars. Look for value and shop for what you need!
Benefits of the Rower for Crossfit
The benefits of rowing for CrossFit include:
- Improved cardio. Rowing elevates the heart rate, helping to burn calories and fat!
- Improved muscular endurance. Rowing builds up the number of mitochondria in your cells, giving you more power in other aspects of CrossFit.
- Improved power. Max-output rowing workouts like the 2K row build serious power and strength in your legs!
- Low intensity. Rowing is a safe and effective way to get your heart rate up without pounding your joints. It’s great if you have limitations or preexisting injuries!
- Easy sub for other cardio movements. Rowing can easily be subbed for running, biking, and swimming, which comes in handy. If you live in a cold climate, for example, having a rowing machine can save you from running in sub-zero temperatures during winter.
- Good glute activator. Many fitness enthusiasts and athletes are quad-dominant, meaning their glutes are sleeping and their quads do most of the work. You can work on proper mechanics and activate your glutes during a rowing workout. (To do this, study rowing mechanics and focus on pushing through your heels.)
- Good recovery tool. Rowing is a great way to increase blood flow to muscles, which can alleviate soreness or loosen you up after a few days of inactivity.
- Efficient workout. You can get a killer full-body workout on the rower in less than 10 minutes.
#1- Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor, BlackCheck Price
Concept 2 rowers have been a staple of CrossFit boxes since the earliest days of the sport.
The Concept 2 Model D is the latest and greatest option that’s come from C2. And as far as rowers go, it’s the best investment you can make for the money.
Made with the finest quality of gear, the Model D will hold up during any type of CrossFit workout. It’s bluetooth compatible, comes with an advanced performance monitor that’s recognizable to CrossFit athletes, and has a holder for your smartphone.
C2 recommends users oil the steel chain on this device every 40 hours of use. That’s probably once or twice a year, which isn’t bad at all!
Best Runner Up
#2 – Xebex Air Rower 2.0
To be honest, Concept 2 sort of has a stranglehold on the top spot.
Many CrossFitters want the exact gear Games athletes train on and compete with. In this case, that’s the Model D. Some don’t want to risk getting another device and having it mess with their workout performances.
That’s why the Xebex 2.0 is our runner up. Most users report that there is little, if any, difference for calorie and meter counting between the Xebex 2.0 and the Concept 2 Model. In fact, many gyms use this model.
If you’re on a budget and don’t care about brand names, this is the rowing machine to go with!
Best Budget Option
#3- Murtisol Air Resistance Rowing Machine Air Rower 10 Level Adjustable Resistance with Smart MonitorCheck Price
If you’re looking to save even more money, the Murtisol is a solid option. It’s built and even looks just like the Model D and Xebex 2.0, but costs less.
This rower is good for those on a budget who don’t anticipate beating their rower into the ground week after week. If you’re using it for warm-ups and for the occasional WOD, it should perform just fine.
Outside of our top three, we reviewed other CrossFit rowing machines too. They didn’t make it on the podium, but here are a few other options to consider before making your purchase.
XTERRA Fitness ERG500 Air Turbine RowerCheck Price
The XTERRA Rower is a solid budget pick for beginner to intermediate CrossFit athletes.
It comes with a fully equipped performance monitor that measures all the things you need to do metcons. And it also has a solid warranty for the price, so you can get things fixed if they break down.
Why it didn’t make the cut: While it’s cheaper, you’ll definitely get what you pay for. It’s a middle of the pack rower that you may need to eventually replace as you build strength or your CrossFit ambitions grow. It also only has a weight limit of 300lbs, meaning it might not work for newer fitness enthusiasts or those with lots of pulling power.
Solid CrossFit Rowing Machine: AssaultRower Elite
Aptly named, the AssaultRower Elite is a high-tech, heavy duty rowing machine for intermediate and advanced level CrossFitters. It’ll meet and even exceed the requirements of any CrossFit WOD as well as the Concept 2 or Xebex models.
Assault also offers their own comprehensive rowing fitness workouts. You can sign up if you want and follow along or do your own programming.
It also comes with a 5-year warranty. And while it’s pricey, their 0% down financing options could make paying this rowing machine off over time fit your budget.
Why it didn’t make the cut: Price. This beast of a machine will get the job done for any CrossFitter at any level, but you’ll pay much more than you would by simply opting for our top pick, the Model D.
Limited Space Machine
Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine Rower with 8 Resistance Setting and Transport Wheels...Check Price
Space is important for the small home gym owner.
This device folds and can easily be stored in a closet or off to the side to make room for barbells or other equipment.
Marcy’s adjustable line of rowers is also interesting. The NS-6050RE model is their middle option, with two cheaper and two more expensive models. A little research will help you find which model is right for you!
Why it didn’t make the cut: This device is best for long-and-low-intensity endurance row workouts, which may limit your ability to use it in a sprint/metcon style workout. It’s another model that may need to be upgraded after 1 to 2 years of CrossFit experience.
Something Different – WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine
Sleekly designed and made with gorgeous ash wood, the WaterRower rowing machine looks as good as it performs in your home gym or facility.
With a 700lb weight rating, the WaterRower is as sturdy as you’re going to find. And it comes with their S4 Performance monitor, the best product WaterRower offers.
It’s 3 year/5 year frame warranty is in line with the others on this list.
Why it didn’t make the cut: Mimicking water is nice, and definitely a perk if you rowed crew in college or high school. But water resistance doesn’t matter so much in CrossFit, as your goal is primarily to row for calories or meters in a workout.
CrossFit Rowing Machine WODs
Once you line up the right machine for you, try one (or all) of these CrossFit workouts!
1. 2K Row
The gold-standard of CrossFit rowing workouts, the 2k row is akin to a mile run. It’s an endurance test and benchmark WOD as much as it is a workout.
Anything around the 6:00 minute mark is considered world-class. As a beginner, a score under 10 minutes is pretty solid.
2. Ascending Ladder Row WOD
This workout calls for 156 total “reps” (counting calories). Be sure to pace the early rounds. The halfway point is in the round of 9!
Burpees over rower
3. Tailpipe Partner WOD
This is a surprisingly brutal partner workout. No one ever said they enjoyed 250m row sprints, but you might be thinking it while you’re holding the kettlebells.
3 Rounds (Each)
Partner holds 2 Kettlebells(1.5,2) in the front rack position
You may not start rowing until your partner has established the rack position. If your partner drops the KBs before row is complete, you must discontinue rowing until the static hold is reestablished.
4. EMOM Rowing Workout
A great EMOM workout for practicing transitions on and off the rower. Better suited for more advanced CrossFitters.
Every other minute on the minute for 24 minutes (12 rounds)
2 muscle ups
3 Power cleans, 185lbs
5. Bodyweight Rowing Workout
Don’t have access to weights? No problem. This is the perfect minimalist/hotel gym rowing workout that’ll blast your whole body.
5 Rounds for time:
50 Double unders
25 Air squats