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Total Gym Row Trainer Review

Quick Take

The Total Gym Row Trainer is not a conventional rowing machine by any stretch. Its general construction and use of bodyweight resistance it much more aligned with the design of rowing benches found on conventional weight training racks. Add a sliding seat track to the mix—as found on a rowing machine—and you’ve got a unique piece of equipment that delivers a reasonable amount more versatility to your workout routine. Two different incline settings are available to amplify the resistance load, and Total Gym encourages users to thing of the machine as more of a training bench than a rower, suggesting things like adding a bicep curl motion to your row, or other techniques using the brand’s optional multi-grip handle.

Pros

Bodyweight Resistance
Full Body Workout
Easy Folding

Cons

Size
No Heart-Rate Monitor
No Programs

Our Review

The Total Gym Row Trainer makes a compelling case for those looking to balance cardio and strength training—especially for those more comfortable with weight training already. The unique design of this rowing machine uses adjustable body weight resistance to allow versatile full body workouts. Trainees at all skill levels can benefit from this easy-to-use machine not only with traditional rowing but with dozens of other exercises. Demo videos for the Row Trainer show how it supports multi-planar movements such as side-to-side rowing and biceps curls.

 

To increase resistance, the user can adjust the incline of the bench, and/or add resistance bands to make things that much more challenging. At the steepest setting, the resistance is about 20% of the user’s body weight. Bungees can add up to roughly 15 pounds of force. This versatile trainer is best suited for home use, especially for those that are already self-motivated and don’t require the added push of interactive training or other bells and whistles. That said, it wouldn’t be a bad addition to a commercial gym either given its versatility for those more focused on lifting. It carries a commercial warranty too, which is a nice plus considering its relatively steep sticker price. The Total Gym Row Trainer can be stored vertically, and folds in a manner that reduces its footprint significantly.

 

Is this the best rower for your fitness facility or home gym? Here are positives and negatives to consider.

 

Positives

  • Assembly: The Row Trainer is easy to assemble. Prospective customers can watch a video of the quick assembly process on the Total Gym website.
  • Bodyweight resistance: The Row Trainer is the world’s first rowing machine to use bodyweight resistance. Rowing while seated on an incline, the trainee’s body weight works with gravity to simulate the smooth resistance that would come from water. Depending on the incline, the resistance ranges from 17% to 20% of the trainee’s weight. Trainees also have the option to add up to 15 pounds of variable band (bungee) resistance.
  • Full body workout: Rowing is excellent cardiovascular exercise and trains all the major muscle groups. The Total Gym Row Trainer recruits about 85% of muscles during the traditional rowing cycle, plus it supports a wide variety of exercises that isolate specific muscle groups in the upper body and/or lower body. This versatility makes the machine ideal for self-serve circuit training as well as individual rowing and group rowing classes.
  • Data: A monitor shows the time elapsed, calories burned, distance and strokes.
  • Low impact: Rowing machines are among the most joint-friendly cardio trainers. The Total Gym rower allows total body training while putting little pressure on the joints, especially the spine.
  • Fits almost anyone: The new Total Gym row machine is designed to accommodate virtually all heights. It can safely hold up to 400 pounds.
  • Strong frame: This rower has a steel frame to withstand commercial use. For smooth gliding it has an extruded aluminum beam with steel coating.
  • Folding: The Row Trainer can be stored upright. Moving the machine is easy; it weighs just under 100 pounds and has transport wheels.
  • High capacity: The Total Gym Row Trainer has a maximum user weight capacity of 400 pounds.

 

Negatives

  • Warranty: The rollers for this machine are under warranty for one year. There aren’t many other parts to be concerned about maintaining, but since this is a new product we don’t know how the pull cord and electronics will stand up over time. The steel frame has a five year warranty.
  • Size: This rower is longer than most. It measures 98” long x 23.5” wide x 30” high. However, it takes up minimal floor space when stored upright.
  • No heart rate monitor: The Total Gym Row Trainer does not have a wireless or grip heart rate receiver.
  • No training programs: This fitness machine isn’t equipped with training programs. At best you’re relegated to YouTube for any kind of video support.

 

Conclusion

The Total Gym Row Trainer can be a cost-effective addition to both home and commercial workout spaces. It’s best to consider this one as more of a hybrid of a rowing machine and a rowing bench in the gym. It’s not the best solution for either, as you don’t get any of the training metrics to track progress as you would on a conventional rower, and you don’t have the available weight stack to really build up the way you would at the gym, but if you’re looking for something that lets you build strength and endurance while shedding pounds along the way, it’s a pretty good answer. It’s also a good match for trainees of almost any size, which can be hard to find in the category.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you row on a Total Gym Row Trainer?
A: The Total Gym Row Trainer uses adjustable bodyweight resistance on an incline, allowing you to push against your bodyweight in a rowing motion.
Q: What are the resistance levels on the Total Gym Row Trainer?
A: The Total Gym Row Trainer offers 2 levels of resistance: 17% or 20% of bodyweight. You can add an additional 0-15 lbs. of variable band resistance.
Q: Does the Total Gym Row Trainer fold up?
A: The Total Gym Row Trainer folds up, stores upright, and has wheels for easy storage.
Q: How large is the Total Gym Row Trainer when folded?
A: Folded, the Total Gym Row Trainer is 24″ wide by 25″ deep by 98″ tall.

Rating: 50%

Resistance Type

Weighted Resistance

Resistance Level

2

Dimensions (inches)

98" L x 23.5" W x 30" H

Folding

Yes

Maximum User Weight Capacity

400 lbs

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