Rowing machines have load limits just like almost anything else in the world. What is a common weight limit for an indoor rower and should you care about it? Let’s find out.
The average user weight limit of indoor rowing machines is 344 lbs./156 kg. The vast majority of rowers have weight limits of 250 to 350 lbs. (113 to 158.7 kg). It’s not advisable to exceed the user weight limit for your own safety and the longevity of the machine.
Below you can find a long list of rowers and their user weight limits, why you should care and what your best options are if you’re looking for a rowing machine with high limit.
What’s the user weight limit of indoor rowers?
Indoor rowing machines have user weight limits just like pretty much all other pieces of gym equipment. Here’s a long list of the most common models on the market today and what their manufacturer
|Brand||Model||Resistance type||Weight limit|
|LifeSpan||RW7000||Air + Magnetic||300|
|Life Fitness||Row GX||Liquid||330|
|Life Fitness||Row HX||Liquid||330|
|BodyCraft||VR200||Air + Magnetic||300|
|BodyCraft||VR400||Air + Magnetic||350|
|BodyCraft||VR500||Air + Magnetic||350|
|Fitness Reality||Dual Transmission||Magnetic+air||250|
|NordicTrack||RW 600||Air + Magnetic||250|
|NordicTrack||RW 700||Air + Magnetic||250|
|NordicTrack||RW 900||Air + Magnetic||250|
|Xterra||ERG400||Air + Magnetic||250|
|Octane||Ro||Air + Magnetic||350|
The average user weight limit of indoor rowing machines is 344 lbs./156 kg. The majority of rowers have weight limits of 250 to 350 lbs. (113 to 158.7 kg.) The highest user weight limit of any rower is 700 lbs. (317.5 kg) while the lowest is a common 250 lbs.
Does indoor rower user weight limit matter?
Ok, so there we have all the user weight limits as listed by the manufacturer. Do they actually matter? Well, yes they do for two reasons;
- If something were to go wrong and you’re within the weight limit, the manufacturer is likely responsible.
- A higher load limit often indicated better construction and the use of tougher materials. This often results in a longer lasting rower.
Can you exceed the load limit of a rowing machine? For legal reasons I’m obviously not going to recommend that. Sure, most user weight limits will have a safety margin built in. But how big is that margin? There’s no way of knowing without actually testing it.
However, because user weight limit is one of the numbers people look at when shopping for a rower, you can be sure manufacturers won’t leave too much on the table. If they could safely advertise a higher limit, they probably would since it helps sales.
Are you going to break it if you exceed the quoted limit by 5 lbs.? Probably not but you never know. If you want to try, use some common sense. Put the weight on slowly. Check if the machine is as stable as with a lighter person on it. Listen for any strange creaks, pops bangs and knocks and stop immediately if you hear anything. Also, check the machine carefully after finishing a workout. Not every potential damage is immediately clear from just using the machine.
On top of that, we don’t really know how the manufacturer actually got to the number.
All the manufacturer given figures are good and well but how did they get there? Well, that’s a big question mark for most of the available rowers (and other gym equipment). It could be tested in-house by the manufacturer or it could be tested by a third party.
In the EU, rowing equipment will have to comply with certain ISO regulations. That means that if a machine is for sale in the EU, check the weight rating in a shop there since it’ll likely be lower than the manufacturers number. If it’s the same, great.
Most manufacturers won’t give you their methodology though so it’s a bit tough to find out how they exactly got to their weight limit.
Concept2 does show the following on their site;
Props to Concept2 for giving you a much better idea of what’s going on. Does that mean the ISO rating has a bigger safety margin? Probably, but sadly they aren’t very forthcoming with what the quality guidelines actually are unless you’re willing to pay a pretty hefty price which I’m not, sorry.
So in the end, the best thing we can do is to follow the user weight limit given by the manufacturer unless you’re willing to put your rower and safety on the line to actually test it yourself.
Getting a higher load limit is often a sign of higher quality and usually comes with a pretty hefty price tag. If you’re looking for a high quality machine, the user weight limit is one of the indicators you can look for.
8 Indoor rowing machines with highest weight limits (400 lbs.+)
Have you come to the conclusion you want/need an indoor rower with a significantly higher than average weight limit?
Here are the rowing machines with user weight limits above 400 lbs. as quoted by the manufacturer.
1. WaterRower Club/Classic/M1/S1
WaterRower is the king of load limits for indoor rowing machines. Many of their models (except the A1) have 700 lbs. load limits. That basically means 99.9% of the world’s population can safely use these rowers.
Just taking a look at the pictures will explain why these beasts can handle so much. The frames are made from thick beams (usually wood but they’ve got a few metal versions). There are two slide rails instead of one on most other models. Two beams isn’t only much stronger but also much more stable so if you would lose your balance, these rowers are going to be very secure.
On top of that they are just pieces you want to show off. No utilitarian function over form here. These rowing machines are beautiful and you could have one in your living room and let it be a conversation piece instead of an eyesore.
2. Concept2 Model D/E
Simply the most well-known, popular and well regarded rowing machines in the world. And yes, they’ve got a pretty good weight rating that’s well above the average. Both the Concept2 Model D and E have a 500 lbs. user weight limit rating.
As we’ve seen before, that’s as rated by the manufacturer. However, these rowers are so popular all over the world, if they couldn’t handle the 500 lbs., it would have been very well known by now.
While these rowing machines aren’t cheap, they are the cheapest you can get with a load limit over 400 lbs. Other than that, they are just very functional rowers. The air resistance of the Model D/E is just as tough as the water resistance of the other two. Many athletes and gyms use these rowers for a reason.
No, the design isn’t showcase worthy but while they might look simple, they just work so well and keep doing so for a very, very long time.
Cheap? No, but a great deal for the quality you’re getting. There is a reason why these are the most popular rowers. They just do everything they have to do for a reasonable price.
Here we have a very high end rowing machine that’s both beautiful and strong. On the surface it looks very similar to the WaterRower ones. The design is roughly the same at first look. The Ergatta is on another level again though (and the WaterRower models are not too shabby in the first place).
The similarities in construction between the two mean that they both have pretty high load limits although the Ergatta is rated for 500 lbs.
The biggest difference with the other two is that you get a large, 17.3” HD touchscreen on the Ergatta. The other two have simple LCD performance monitors. The touchscreen doesn’t only look great, it also has a video game-like interface that is built to gamify your workout so you will work out more often. Does that work? I’m not sure but it sounds good.
There is also an online component that allows you to follow online classes and compete against other users, all to keep you motivated and help you reach your fitness goals.
While the fit and finish are also beautiful and it’s actually designed to put in your living room, you pay a price for this. It’s by far the most expensive in this list and this is not a budget oriented list of rowers.
As a rower, the Ergatta does a good job. It’s smooth, stable, feels natural and provides as tough a workout as you need. If you want the screen, this is the rower to go for. However, if it’s not that necessary, you’re paying a lot extra for something that’s not going to influence the weight limit or how the rower works.
If you just want a rower that does a great job but isn’t necessarily a piece of art, go for the Concept2 and save almost 50% of your money. If you’ve got the money and like the look, you can’t go wrong with the Ergatta however, in that case, the WaterRowers are probably better value for money with an even higher load limit.
The thing you will miss out on with the other models is the large screen. Yes, that is very nice and allows for pretty immersive rowing workouts. However, if you want online coaching you can also just grab a smartphone or tablet.