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Total Gym Incline Rower Review 2020: Should You Buy It?

If you are looking to build your core muscles while also doing a full-body workout, rowing machines are the best for this job and are highly recommended.

Incline Row Machine

Total Gym Row Trainer Review

Total Gym’s row trainer is one such machine, and it combines strength plus cardio training into an effective, low-impact workout that is very joint-friendly.

Additionally, the unit is designed to offer multi-planar movement so as to exercise different parts of the body such as the torso and biceps, making it very versatile.

To understand all the features and benefits that this rowing machine has to offer, here is a detailed review that starts off with the pros and cons you need to know.

Total Gym is always running different discounts and promotions, so visit their official website for the latest deals.

Row Trainer Pros and Cons


  • Easy to assemble: All the parts of this machine are easy to piece together and there is a step-by-step video guide for this.
  • Offers a full-body workout: Rowing itself recruits your body’s core muscles but this equipment supports a wide variety of exercises that isolate various muscles on the upper and lower back for a full-body workout.
  • Performance stats: You get to see various performance data such as stroke rate, burned calories and distance, which will help you track your progress.
  • Sturdy frame: A strong steel frame supports the entire structure while steel-reinforced aluminum rails enable smooth gliding.
  • Suitable for almost everyone: With a max weight capacity of 400 pounds, this unit can handle almost everyone.
  • Easy to store: Despite having a tough steel construction, this trainer only weighs 98 pounds, which makes it a bit easy to lift. This is especially important because the unit is stored upright, with its incline legs folding inwards for compact storage.
  • Innovatively designed: This product utilizes your own bodyweight to create resistance, as opposed to the regular hydraulic cylinders, air resistance, magnetic or water tank design in other rowing machines. This helps to simplify its design.
  • Joint Friendly: Most rowing machines are designed to be easy on your joints and this unit is no different. All your joints, including the spine, will be subjected to very little pressure as you work out.


  • Heart rate monitor not included: This would be a good performance statistic to measure and show you on the screen.
  • No built-in training programs: With this unit, you have to direct yourself on every workout. However, there are various fitness training videos that you can get online to help you in your sessions.
  • Large size: If you have limited floor space, this row trainer might reduce the size of your room because it measures 98 x 23.5 inches, with a 30-inch height. However, it can be folded after use to free up most of this space.

Who Is The Total Gym Row Trainer Suitable For?

As stated earlier, Total Gym’s row trainer is built with a tough steel frame, which can comfortably accommodate up to 400 pounds in body weight.

This, practically, covers a wide array of individuals and also, the unit can accommodate users with almost any height, especially considering that it has a 31-inch glide board motion range.

How Effective is the Total Gym Row Trainer

1. Resistance

Even from the looks, you will spot certain differences between this row trainer and other rowing machines. For instance, there is no hydraulic cylinder, flywheel/damper or water tank for housing the resistance mechanism.

Instead, this machine runs on bodyweight resistance and this explains the lack of these other mechanisms that are explained above. As you use it, you literally use your own body to work on your body. Because of this simplicity in design, the unit is very quiet and smooth.

However, this does not mean that you pull your whole body weight. That would be a very heavy load for your hands. Total Gym Row Trainer offers two levels of resistance, which are capped at 17% and 20% of your body weight, leaving you with just the right amount of weight to work with.

2. Multi-planar movement

With this design, the rowing trainer is built for multi-planar movement, in which you can pull the handle straight towards you, to your sides, to the top and many other movements, enabling you to work on various muscle groups in your body.

3. Incline

Another unique feature of this product is its incline design. While traditional rowing machines have a leveled design to purely imitate the rowing action on a boat, Total Gym’s row trainer is inclined so as to create an intense workout that will help tone your body quicker.

However, since this can be a bit tough, especially as a beginner, the incline angle is adjustable. Sliding the rear legs inwards elevates the bench on one side for a steeper incline while sliding them outwards lowers it for a reduced incline, which is easier to work with.

4. Optional Weight Addition

If you are pulling 20% of your body weight and still feel as if it’s not enough, this machine gives you the option of including 0 – 15 pounds more in the form of variable band resistance.

This additional “weight” combines with your body weight resistance to form a bigger load, which means a heavier pull and consequently, a tougher, more intense workout.

5. Low Impact Design

Lastly, you wouldn’t want to exercise then end up getting injuries in the process. Total gym row trainer is ergonomically designed to enable the perfect rowing action, which is joint-friendly and will not leave you feeling pain in your knees, spine and other areas.

Other unique features include having a foot platform for single foot positions, which lets you work out with one foot in position, thereby enabling you to carry out a wider variety of exercises. There is really nothing like this rowing machine that you will get in the market.

How The Total Gym Row Trainer Works

With its sliding incline plane, Total Gym’s row trainer utilizes the gravity from your own bodyweight to create the resistance required for a rowing workout.

However, there are two levels of resistance available, which are 17% and 20% of your body weight, and the variable incline can be elevated to make the rowing more intense or lowered when you get a bit tired.

There is also the option of adding in 0 – 15 pounds of variable band resistance, which just adds to the workout intensity if you really want to do some hard work.

As you get your groove on, a computer automatically tracks various performance statistics such as distance, burned calories and split/stroke rate, with the aim of showing you how you are progressing.

All in all, the unit is designed to give you a full-body workout, with a major emphasis on your core muscles.

Total Gym Row Trainer vs Concept 2

Reviewing this total gym row trainer will not be complete without doing a comparison with the Concept 2 rowing machine (Amazon), specifically the Model D, which is very popular.

Weight capacity

As explained above, the Total Gym row trainer is designed to accommodate up to 400 pounds in body weight, which covers a wide majority of people.

However, the Model D and others such as the Model E from Concept 2 are designed to handle up to 500 pounds, meaning that they cover a much wider bracket of users. This makes a bit superior to Total Gym’s rowing machine, though the difference is quite small.

Performance monitor

Total Gym’s row trainer has a computer that tracks your time or split/stroke rate, calories burned and distance.

On the other hand, Concept 2 machines track a wider range of data, from the pace to stroke rate, calories burned and watts, then stores this in its internal memory or optional USB flash drive.

Additionally, this performance monitor in the Concept 2 has both Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity, which allows you to link it up with fitness apps, devices, and heart rate belts for additional monitoring of your workout progress.


This is where Total Gym’s row trainer excels. Its unique bodyweight resistance simplifies its design, makes it very smooth and quiet and is uniquely built to have adjustable resistance by adjusting the incline.

With this, the machine gives you multi-planar movement for exercising different muscle groups in your body.

On the other hand, Concept 2 rowing machines use a flywheel and damper system to create air resistance, in which airflow is adjustable on the spiral damper, and this is what lets you set the resistance level of the rowing action to make it more or less intense.

Air resistance systems are not as quiet as body resistance ones, but Concept 2 has capitalized on this design to draw power from the spinning flywheel in order to power the monitor, thereby extending the lifespan of the required 2 D-cell batteries.


Both rowing machines are stored upright, with Total Gym’s unit having foldable legs so as to keep it as compact as possible after use. However, Concept 2 machines have a quick-release mechanism that splits them into two pieces, making each one very compact for ideal storage.

All of them have caster wheels at the front for easy rolling in and out of storage, and also for easy rolling of the fully assembled unit into position.


Total gym row trainer is the heavier option, coming in at 98 pounds. Concept 2’s Model D weighs only 57 pounds while the more sophisticated Model E weighs only 65 pounds.


Both the Model D and E measure 96 x 24 inches, making them just slightly smaller than Total Gym’s rowing machine, which comes in at 98 x 23.5 inches. Basically, they require the same amount of floor space.

Another important thing to note is that both Concept 2 units have a monorail with a length of 54 inches while the Total unit has a 31-inch glide board motion range.


Both trainers are designed ergonomically, with the Total piece having a contoured seat and an overall ergonomic design for carrying out rowing exercises perfectly.

Concept 2 trainers have an ergonomic seat, handle (with a 10° bend) and footrests, which are wide enough to accommodate different shoe sizes.


Concept 2 machines come with a 5-year warranty on the frame and 2 years on other parts. However, Total Gym’s unit comes with a lifetime frame warranty, 2 years on parts and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.

What You’ll Get

Total gym row trainer basically comes as a self-contained unit because everything that is required is built-in.

However, there are some warranty and guarantee terms that come with this product, and these include:

  • A 30-day satisfaction guarantee. You can try the trainer for a full month risk-free. If you are not satisfied, simply return it and you shall be given a full refund or credit. However, you need to note that the 30-day period counter begins as soon as the machine is shipped.
  • Lifetime warranty on the frame.
  • 2-year warranty on all other parts.

If you are worried about what powers the computer and its display, 2 AA are required and these are also included in the set.

The Verdict: Total Gym Incline Row Trainer

There is always something for everyone and unfortunately, it is quite difficult to find a product that has it all. With the total gym row trainer, it is quite strong on its unique bodyweight resistance, which is very dynamic because if you are heavier, you will have more to pull on each row.

Coupled with its incline design and multi-planar movement exercises, this unit is very versatile because you can use it for easy or intense workout sessions for your core muscles and other muscle groups.

However, if you are more interested in tracking your performance data, then this trainer is a bit less equipped in that sector.
Though it monitors distance, calories burned and stroke rate, other important data such as heart rate is not monitored.

Additionally, connectivity is very limited to devices that can measure such. This is quite a large setback.

All in all, the machine still stands out due to its bodyweight rowing resistance mechanism, which is highly effective and will let you exercise your whole body by using your own body. It is worth buying.

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