WaterRower vs Concept 2 Rower: Which Is The Best?

Main Differences Between Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower

The main differences between Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower are:

  • WaterRower has a smoother and quieter ride, whereas Concept 2 Rower offers more resistance control.
  • WaterRower offers dolly wheels and slim storage, whereas Concept 2 Rower stores upright with foldable arms.
  • WaterRower sticks with a simple workout tracker, whereas Concept 2 Rower includes Bluetooth connectivity.
  • WaterRower tilts slightly backward, whereas Concept 2 Rower leans slightly forward.

Crossfit took the fitness world in a storm; by 2016, there were 13,000 gyms in over 120 countries offering CrossFit programs. CNBC even declared it the fitness trend of the world, especially at a time where gym locations exceeded the number of Starbucks.

There are some signs that CrossFit is not as hot, or at least growing, quickly as it once was, but many are still looking to get in exciting, high-intensity workouts—and now turning to home rowing machines like the Waterrower and Concept 2.

With gyms only just partially opening and potentially closing again, rowing machines like Waterrower and Concept 2 Rower provide potentially the same powerful exciting workouts, while keeping social distancing in mind–or do they?

In this article, I’ll tell you what you need to know about the CrossFit movement, rowing workouts, and when compared, if the Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower is more worth your money.

Most Affordable
Concept2 Rowing Machine | Amazon

The dependable performance of the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower has made it the best-selling rowing machine in the world for over 40 years. Used by elite athletes for competitive training, the versatile Model D fits in as well in fitness facilities and home gyms as it does in boathouses around the world. 

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

What is CrossFit?

I’ve heard about CrossFit for a number of years–it certainly would be hard to not have. But what people think CrossFit is vs what it actually is sometimes is a bit different.

CrossFit actually corresponds to a specific fitness and workout program, which was launched by Greg Glassman in 2000 and later exploded into a popular chain of workout programs and CrossFit gyms promising explosive, intense workouts.

CrossFit combines high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, powerlifting, plyometrics, and even gymnastics for a full-body workout. The emphasis is on explosive movements and working everything from your upper body to your lower body, abs, glutes, and getting in strength and cardio training in a single session.

Pros of CrossFit

CrossFit, whether you visit a gym or buy your own equipment to do at home, does typically burn notable calories in a short term. It also is a true full-body workout, and, because it involves so many different movements, it’s unlikely you’ll get bored.

Cons of CrossFit

There’s a reason why the CrossFit crazy quieted a little, however–it simply is not suited for everyone. CrossFit has a documented higher risk of injury; it’s best for people who are already in decent physical condition, likely younger, and without joint issues. I also highly recommend doing CrossFit workouts only a few times a week and cycling it with rest days and other types of exercises.

What do rowing machines like Watterrower and Concept Power 2 have to do with CrossFit?

Because of its popularity, some try to recreate such workouts at their home, though it does involve multiple pieces of gym equipment. Dumbbells, barbells, resistance bands, and lifting machines are combined with multifunctional rowing machines like the Watterrower and Concept 2 Rower for a powerful combination of exercises. Rowing machines provide the aerobic end of the workout and also help build endurance.

However rowing machine use goes far beyond just CrossFit.

What are the (other) benefits of rowing machines like WaterRower and Concept 2 Rower?

Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower

Rowing machines are quite popular and for good reason. In fact, in many ways, I think a rowing machine is one of the best investments you can make for home gym equipment.

From toning muscles to building cardiovascular endurance and toning, rowing machines do more than simply provide your standard aerobic workout, and are even an alternative if you don’t have the money for a home gym machine.

Resistance Training

You’ll get your resistance training from a rowing machine, which at the same time improves your cardiovascular capacity. Typically, the resistance on a rowing machine in some ways mimics resistance bands.

Upper and Lower Body

I love that rowing machines provide both an upper and lower body workout by working your shoulders, back, quads, glutes, and thighs. While you do get more of a lower body workout, many people forget that you’re using your shoulder strength, too.

Cardio/ Aerobic Training

The irony of rowing machines being used for CrossFit is that, in of themselves, rowing machines are actually an excellent way to get low impact, steady cardio. While you won’t be burning the same calories as you would with something intense like running, rowing machines are a great way to improve overall fitness while staying gentle to your joints, and thus are useful for a variety of ages and fitness levels.

Other Benefits

I love rowing machines, overall, because they’re a good value; at the least the very best rowing machines are. Rowing machines allow you to cut back on some gym equipment, provide a well-rounded workout no matter where you are, and usually are not quite as expensive or bulky as home gym sets. Plus, they can be helpful for maintaining a healthy weight.

What should I look for in a rowing machine?

In order to find the best rowing machine, and the criteria I’ll be using to see how Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower fare when compared, I try to keep in mind what I’m looking for even before I start shopping.


Price of course is on most of our minds–and while I do try to set a budget, it’s always important to look at the price in terms of overall value. Occasionally you’ll pay more simply for a brand name but cheaper models also do tend to have fewer features.

Rowing machines range from around $300 for every budget bare-bones options, up to $3500 for the most expensive. I typically try to go for something near the $1000 mark, give or take.


The flywheel determines a great deal about how a rowing machine works and the type of rowing machine. Typically, the flywheel is powered by air (fan); water; or is magnetic. Water Rowers are similar to rowing in water, great for muscle definition, smooth, and quiet, but also more expensive. Air flywheels provide the most resistance control but also tend to be the noisiest option and may also not run as smoothly over time.

Material/ Construction

I like a rowing machine that feels steady and also works well with the overall design. My preference is something like steel, which tends to be more durable than wood. I also prefer rubber or something like that on the feet. That serves two purposes: it keeps the floor from being damaged and also reduces noise.

Smart Tech

While not my number one consideration, it’s nice to have rowing machines with some tech elements to motivate, track, and even entertain. My favorite features include BlueTooth connectivity to use with apps; an interface for tracking calories/ distance/ time, and, for upgraded models, options for different workouts.


This criterion is especially important. I check to see if seats and handles are adjustable; if there’s cushioning; if there’s an element of an ergonomic design or related features. Bonus points go to rowing machines with fans for ventilation features. I’m rather short, but if you’re tall you need to make sure you have ample room to stretch your arms and legs.


How much room do you have for your rowing machine? I tend to like medium-sized ones so I can move the machine if I want, but it’s not so small it seems unsubstantial. Too small, lightweight machines tend to be less sturdy, but they are also more versatile. If you have quite a small frame, you may find that bulky machines are overwhelming.

How does WaterRower vs Concept 2 Rower compare?

water rower

Now let’s use my criteria and hop into a direct comparison of the WaterRower vs Concept 2 Rower; I’ll help you decide which rowing machine is more worth your money.


While I’ve mentioned that price is not my first priority, the fact is that price can also be prohibitive, and when you compare the WaterRower vs Concept 2 Rower, there is a notable difference.


WaterRower offers several design options, with the baseline starting at $895 and going up to around $2,500. For the purposes of this review, I’ll be focusing on the average model.

Concept Power 2

Concept Power 2 retails for $900 to $1,250, and you can select from three different models.


Overall, both are fairly evenly priced; the WaterRower does have higher-end options, but considering the fact that rowers using water, by nature, tend to be more expensive, I was impressed by the price points.


The flywheel determines so many things from how the rowing machine operates, to how the workouts run. While I personally love the smoothness and quiet of a water rowing machine, some may have a different preference.


The WaterRower of course operates with a flywheel that runs on water. The water resistance is something I truly love, without jerking motions you can get with other flywheels. At its best, it performs more smoothly, with quiet even resistance.

Concept 2 Rower

The Concept 2 Rower is fan-based, a traditional air-based rower. I appreciate the ability to adjust resistance levels, though it definitely is not as smooth or quiet as the WaterRower. The fan itself can run a little loud with some models.

My Takeaway

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the Concept 2 Rower flywheel, I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re worried about noise. Overall, the Waterrower runs more smoothly though you’ll have less control over resistance.

Material/ Construction

concept 2 rower

Whenever I invest in any form of exercise equipment, it’s important that I’m buying something that I feel confident will last.


The WaterRower immediately struck me as both well built and durable. Bolts, a dual rail, and careful design make it feel surprisingly sturdy, though many of their models are made from solid wood. I prefer the aluminum model.

WaterRower Club Rowing Machine | Amazon

The WaterRower Club is handcrafted from solid Ash wood, finished with a black and rose stain and danish oil. The WaterRower's patented WaterFlywheel has been specifically designed to emulate the dynamics of a boat moving though water and is unsurpassed in its simulation of the physical and physiological benefits of rowing.

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.
09/26/2022 07:41 am GMT

Concept 2 Rower

Concept 2 Rower also has a steady, durable feel to its design. It’s made with stainless steel and aluminum and includes caster wheels.

My Takeaway

Both the Waterrower and Concept 2 Rower are steady machines, but I like the addition of caster wheels from Concept 2 as well as options away from natural wood construction a bit more.

Smart Tech

Smart tech is pretty much anything that makes workouts more enjoyable, but in the case of Waterrower vs Concept 2 Rower, it’s a bit simpler.


Waterrower offers a simple but handy activity monitor. You can track time/distance; speed/intensity, heart rate, and self program workouts and pace goals for more expensive models.

Concept 2 Rower

Concept 2 Rower does not go way above and beyond, but it does offer several perks vs Waterrower. In addition to a standard activity monitor (which includes all of the features I just mentioned for Waterrower, you’ll also get wireless heart rate monitors, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB drive, and a complementary app if you choose.

My Takeaway

Here, the clear winner for me is Concept 2 Rower. Compared with the Waterrower, Concept 2 Rower simply provides more features and feels more modern and updated. With app capability, you can expand your workouts and get more support, something I really appreciate.


concept 2 rowing machine

I love getting a great work out in–but if I can be comfortable while doing it, I’m more likely to enjoy my workouts and perform better. For comfort with a rowing machine, I’m typically concerned with the seat itself, but also handles and overall design.


The Waterrower is no doubt one of the more comfortable seating experiences, with a soft, well-cushioned seat, paired with a handle that’s both ergonomic and easy and comfortable to grip.

While I was comfortable and the design is suited for those with joint issues, the lean to the backseat may not be the best for those with back issues. I will say one downside are the footrests while a good concept, I’d rather see them made out of something like rubber vs plastic.

Concept 2 Rower

Concept 2 Rower may have a less comfortable seat but it does still come with a well designed ergonomic handle, and it applies less pressure on your back.

My Takeaway

In terms of comfort, I have to give the win to Concept 2 Rower though both are reasonable choices.


I have limited space to work with, but even if you don’t, you might want to consider size and storage and how important it is to you.


WaterRower stores easily, with a narrow upright position that you can easily tuck away into a tight space. Neither exceptionally large nor small, I find the size versatile. Dolly wheels also make for easy transportation.

Concept 2 Rower

Concept 2 Rower also has a nice storage option. I like the easy assembly, but especially appreciate the monitor arm that you can easily adjust, paired with castor wheels.

My Takeaway

Both allow for easy storage and transport; the Waterrower may store just slightly better in terms of space taken, but it really isn’t a noticeable difference.


Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Both the Waterrower and the Concept 2 Rower offer ways to get in shape, from building muscles to toning, sculpting, and proving an aerobic workout. While you can lose weight, it’s a myth that a single exercise or activity will target belly fat. Instead, you should aim to get in a variety of workouts and follow a healthy diet for slow, steady weight loss. Rowing machines certainly can help you reach fitness goals.

Is a magnetic rower better than a water rower?

There are pros and cons to a magnetic rower vs a water rower. Water rowers tend to be fairly smooth, quiet, and easy to use. They especially appeal to those who want an indoor alternative to outdoor rowing. Magnetic rowers, however, tend to be more affordable, sometimes lighter weight, and also provide more control in terms of adjusting resistance levels.

Can you finance a Concept Rower 2?

Depending on where you buy the Concept Rower 2, financing options are available. Amazon, when it stocks it, has a reasonable financing program.

What muscles does the Concept Rower 2 work?

A great aspect of the best rowing machines is that they provide a full range of body workouts in one. The main muscles a Concept Rower 2 works include glutes, thighs, and hamstrings, though you’ll also get some toning for your shoulders and back.

Final Buying Decision:

Concept Rower 2 is the best buy. Make no mistake: there were features I admired from both the Waterrower and Concept Power 2. That said, there were several factors that tilted my decision towards Concept Rower 2 vs Waterrower.

While I do still have a slight preference for water-based flywheels, Concept Rower 2 is a bit more affordable, a sturdier construction, with smart tech capability and overall a more comfortable ride.

Most Affordable
Concept2 Rowing Machine | Amazon

The dependable performance of the Concept2 Model D Indoor Rower has made it the best-selling rowing machine in the world for over 40 years. Used by elite athletes for competitive training, the versatile Model D fits in as well in fitness facilities and home gyms as it does in boathouses around the world. 

Buy at Amazon.com
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

Scroll to Top