Best Concept2 Rowing Machines

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

3 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
127 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Concept2 rowing machines

Last Updated November 2019

If you’re interested in getting a full-body workout that involves cardio, the best way to do that is with a rowing machine. In 1981, Concept2 created a rowing machine to help competitive athletes with training. Over the years, the company has made a number of technological advancements that have consistently earned its models the top slot on many “best of” lists.

Currently, Concept2 has three rowers: Model D, Model E, and Dynamic. Each of these machines features a slightly different design that is tailored to specific needs. In short, the Model D is for the average user, the Model E includes features that may help those with limited mobility, and the Dynamic model has a stationary seat to give the unit a more realistic feel when rowing.

This guide will walk you through the essential differences between the three models so you can decide which one is best for you. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about working out with a rowing machine and offer some tips on refining your rowing technique. For our favorite Concept2 rowing machine, see the matrix above.

Remember to increase your workouts gradually. You can get hurt on a rowing machine by trying to do too much too soon.

Key considerations

Concept2 currently offers three rowers: Model D, Model E, and Dynamic. To understand the differences between the models, these are the key features to compare.

Frame material

The frame of the Model D Concept2 rowing machine is constructed with both aluminum and steel, which makes this unit not quite as durable as the other two.

The Model E and Dynamic Concept2 rowing machines both have frames that are completely comprised of welded steel, making these models extremely durable.

Seat

The seat on the Model D is the lowest of the three, only 14 inches above the ground.

If your knees don’t bend the way they used to or you just prefer a little height, the Model E has a seat that is 20 inches above the ground. Additionally, the unit’s legs are reinforced to provide added support.

The seat height on the Dynamic model is 21.5 inches, but that’s not the main difference. On this unit, it’s your feet that glide, while the seat stays in place. This design is a much closer approximation of what it feels like to row on water.

Chain/cord

The chain that drives the Model D is a nickel-plated steel chain that is designed to allow for longer periods between oiling. It is partially enclosed to help keep it clean, so it runs smoothly.

The chain that drives the Model E is also a nickel-plated steel chain that is designed to allow for longer periods between oiling. However, it is fully enclosed to keep it as clean as possible, so it runs smoothly for extended periods of time.

The cord that drives the Dynamic Concept2 rowing machine is a high-tech, high-strength, lightweight synthetic cord that is designed to be more responsive to the rower’s movements.

Raised seat for better transfer

The Model E is the mid-priced, extra-rugged Concept2 rowing machine. It is purposely built with a higher profile so that it’s easier for individuals with limited mobility to use. The Model E is manufactured using welded steel, making it heavier than the Model D, and it features a fully enclosed chain to help keep the unit operating smoothly.

 

Connectivity

All three models feature the most advanced Concept2 performance monitor, which is called the PM5. The PM5 has Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity, allowing you to connect your rowing machine to most fitness devices, including a heart rate monitor.

Monitor arm

The arm that holds the monitor in place on the Model D is a pivoting plastic arm that can be adjusted for height and viewing angle.

The arm that holds the monitor in place on the Model E is a fixed aluminum arm that can only be adjusted for viewing angle.

The arm that holds the monitor in place on the Dynamic is a pivoting aluminum arm that can be adjusted for height and viewing angle.

Finish

Both the Model D and the Dynamic feature a durable powder-coated finish. The Model E features a double powder coat with a glossy finish.

Storage

Both the Model D and Model E can be separated in the middle of the unit for easier storage. The Dynamic does not come apart, making storage of this 92-pound rowing machine a bit difficult. It is best left out unless you have a partner who can help you move it each time you would like to work out.

EXPERT TIP

If you have floors that need protecting, consider investing in a synthetic rubber floor mat so your rowing machine doesn’t do any damage to your home.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

One of the best ways to stay motivated in any exercise endeavor, including rowing, is to keep a log of your workouts.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you find that you excel in rowing and you enjoy a little friendly competition, consider entering a regional indoor rowing race.


Staff  | BestReviews

Concept2 rowing machine prices

The price range for the Concept2 rowing machines is roughly $900 to $1,300.

For $900 to $1,000, you can get the Model D rowing machine. In the $1,100 to $1,200 range, you can purchase the Model E. If you would like the Dynamic rowing machine, it will cost between $1,200 and $1,300.

It is important to note that if you find these rowing machines for substantially more than listed here, it would be wise to shop around and compare prices before purchasing.

High intensity, low profile

The Model D shares many of the same features as the Model E, including a nickel-plated chain and the ability to separate the unit into two pieces for easier storage. The most noticeable physical difference is the seat, which is six inches lower. Additionally, the Model D is manufactured using both aluminum and steel, making it lighter than other Concept2 rowing machines.

Tips

A rowing machine can provide a major workout. However, you have to row properly. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your Concept2 rowing machine.

  • There are two main parts to a rowing stroke: the drive, when you are exerting yourself, and the recovery, when you are relaxing.
  • Begin the drive with your arms straight, your knees bent, your shins perpendicular, and your body leaning forward but not hunched.
  • Push with your feet, like you are trying to push the rowing machine away, until your legs are fully extended. Do not lock your knees.
  • Open your body at your hips by leaning backward, being careful to keep your back straight.
  • After your hands cross your knees, pull the rower handle into your body, just beneath your ribcage, while keeping your wrists straight.
  • For the recovery, allow your hands to travel away from your body until your arms are once again straight.
  • Lean your body forward, keeping your back straight, as you follow your hands.
  • Allow your knees to bend until you return to the starting position with your shins perpendicular to the floor.
  • Exhale during the drive. Inhale during the recovery.
  • Developing a steady breathing pattern is one of the best ways to build up your endurance.
If you’d like a more realistic rowing experience, use a slide, which can be purchased separately. This device allows your rowing machine to move back and forth, more closely mimicking what it’s like to row on water.

FAQ

Q. Why is using a rowing machine such a good workout?
A.
Rowing is one of the best overall exercises that you can perform. It gives you a full-body workout while burning a significant amount of calories. Rowing can be used for weight maintenance, toning, endurance, and more. You must take care to use proper form, however, so you don’t inadvertently injury yourself.

Q. Can a rowing machine hurt my back?
A.
Rowing is an exercise that will strengthen and tone your back muscles. However, back pain can be due to weaker abdomen muscles or an underlying condition. If you are experiencing back pain while rowing, do not continue the exercise. If the pain is muscular, it may be due to improper posture while rowing. A few quick tweaks to your position may be all it takes to solve the problem. If you have weaker abdominal muscles, focus on building them up so your back muscles are not overcompensating during your workout. Also, be sure to get that back pain checked out by a doctor to make sure you’re not aggravating a pre-existing condition.

Q. How often can I work out on my rowing machine?
A.
You can use your Concept2 rowing machine every day if you like. However, variety is what helps prevent plateauing. Doing a steady 15 minutes two to three times a week is usually  sufficient for a beginner. If you want to step up your rowing game, gradually increase the time. If you develop any pain in your back or knees, that may be a sign that you’re overdoing it. If this happens, back off to a level of intensity where there is no pain.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
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