Table Of Content
- Best Budget Rowing Machines Overview
- How We Chose
- Benefits of Budget Rowing Machines
- How To Use A Rowing Machine
- Rowing Machine Warm-Up Drills
- Common Rowing Errors
- What To Look For In A Budget Rowing Machine
When it comes to home fitness equipment, rowing machines are an excellent choice for a full-body workout.
If you’re on the hunt for a cardio machine that delivers quality without breaking the bank, the market has some great options to consider. The best budget rowing machines offer a blend of durability, functionality, and user-friendly features, ensuring you get a solid workout experience without a hefty price tag.
Whether you’re new to rowing or looking to add a cost-effective machine to your home gym, there’s a rower out there to meet your needs and help you achieve your fitness goals.
Best Budget Rowing Machines – Overview:
- Best High-End Budget Rowing Machine For Athletes (Under $1,000) – Concept2 RowErg
- Best Value Budget Rowing Machine – ProForm 750R Rower
- Best Budget Smart Rowing Machine – NordicTrack RW600 Smart Rower
- Best Magnetic Budget Rowing Machine Under $300 – Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rower
- Best Compact Budget Rowing Machine Under $250 – YOSUDA Rowing Machine
- Best Budget Water Rowing Machine Under $500 – Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
- Best Budget Air Rowing Machine Under $500 – Fitness Reality Air & Magnetic Rowing Machine
Best High-End Budget Rowing Machine for Athletes: Concept2 RowErg
Ideal for dedicated rowers, the Concept2 RowErg provides exceptional value for athletes, ensuring longevity and top-notch performance.
- Approximately $1,000 price range
- Air resistance with adjustable fanned flywheel
- Advanced PM5 Performance Monitor included
- Full-body, low-impact workout machine
- Lightweight and portable design
- Can be disassembled into two pieces or hung for storage
- Top-selling rowing machine worldwide
- Simple assembly process
- Accommodates users up to 6.6 feet tall and weighing up to 500 pounds
- Comfortable seat and handlebar design
- 14-inch seat height
- 10-degree angle on handle for a natural grip
- Adjustable airflow to control resistance
- PM5 monitor tracks various workout metrics
- Nickel-plated steel chain for durability
- Adjustable footrests for user comfort
- Easy storage options
- 5-year limited warranty on the frame
- Priced around $1,000, making it more expensive than other options
- Limited number of built-in workout programs
The Concept2 RowErg (formerly the Concept2 Model D Rower) is an exceptional and reliable rowing machine that delivers an unmatched performance. Its durability, high-quality construction, and efficient design make it a favorite among gym enthusiasts and fitness professionals.
Although it is on the higher end of the price spectrum, the longevity and quality of the Concept2 RowErg justify its cost.
Featuring a wind-resistance flywheel with ten damper settings and an advanced PM5 Performance Monitor, the RowErg offers a customizable and versatile workout experience. Moreover, it provides maximum user comfort through its ergonomic seat, handlebar, and footrest designs.
Although the machine has a relatively large footprint, it offers flexible storage options, such as disassembling into two parts or vertical storage with its front-mounted transport wheels.
In conclusion, the Concept2 RowErg is a top choice for individuals seeking a high-quality, efficient rowing machine that offers lasting value.
|Approximately 57 lbs
|96” L x 24” H x 14” W
|5 preset programs
Best Value Budget Rowing Machine: ProForm 750R Rower
- Ideal for those seeking a smart rower under $1,000
- Enhances workout with smart features
- Magnetic resistance mechanism
- Quiet yet powerful flywheel
- Robust aluminum and steel frame
- Holder for devices, enabling live and on-demand rowing sessions with iFIT
- Folds easily for space-saving storage
- Compatible with iFIT technology
- Straightforward assembly process
- Priced under $1,000
- Lacks built-in display (requires own device usage)
- Limited to 250-lb weight capacity
- Considerably heavy, weighing at 116 lbs
The ProForm 750R Rower is an intermediate-tier magnetic rowing machine with a small display and holder for devices to stream workout sessions. It is an affordable option with remarkable tech features, making it genuinely cost-effective for those seeking a competent and modern rowing machine that doesn’t break the bank.
Although it doesn’t possess a touchscreen display, it is Bluetooth-enabled, allowing users to connect their tablet to stream workouts with iFIT, a popular workout programming app. With hundreds of rowing workout options, it offers strength training, yoga, and other exercises.
The magnetic resistance ensures a virtually noiseless operation, so users can easily hear the workout instructors.
Additionally, the 750R supports iFIT’s AutoAdjust functionality, enabling trainers to change the resistance remotely during exercise automatically. This feature allows users to concentrate on their workout rather than leaning forward and making adjustments manually.
Measuring around 86 inches in length, the ProForm 750R is designed with a space-saving folding feature for easy storage. A less desirable aspect is the pivoting foot pedals, which may only suit some. However, it could be beneficial for those with limited ankle mobility.
Overall, the ProForm 750R Rower presents a viable option for a budget-friendly smart rower.
|86.5” L x 22” W x 45.5” H
|5” LCD screen + device holder
Best Budget Smart Rowing Machine: NordicTrack RW600 Smart Rower
Ideal for trainees seeking a smart rowing experience without breaking the bank, the NordicTrack RW600 ranks high in overall performance and affordability.
- Interactive rowing experience
- 10-inch smart HD display
- 26 levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) and dual air resistance
- Two 2-inch digitally amplified speakers
- iFit compatibility with a 30-day free family membership
- Oversized adjustable foot pedals
- Auxiliary audio port, Bluetooth audio connectivity
- 250-pound maximum weight capacity
- Foldable vertical design for space-saving
- Two front-mounted transport wheels
- Hybrid resistance system (air and magnetic)
- Space-saving, folding design
- Interactive programming via iFit
- 30-day free iFit family membership
- Comfortable foot setup
- Adjustable pedals
- iFit membership required after the 30-day trial
- Supports up to only 250 lbs
- Small touchscreen
The NordicTrack RW600 rowing machine provides an engaging and interactive rowing experience with a high-quality build at a reasonable price. While many smart rowing machines are priced around $2,000, the NordicTrack RW600 offers most sought-after smart features at under $1,000.
The RW600 is sturdy, similar to the more expensive NordicTrack RW900, with a slide rail featuring a slight angle to support proper rowing technique. It is primarily constructed from aluminum and steel, with some plastic parts.
The machine uses silent magnetic resistance and a flywheel for dual resistance, offering smooth transitions between different resistance levels.
The 10-inch touchscreen enables users to access live and on-demand workouts from iFit. A standout feature of NordicTrack rowers is the AutoAdjust capability, so the resistance levels change automatically during iFit workouts, providing a seamless experience.
Compared with other smart rowing machines in the market, the NordicTrack RW600 rowing machine is relatively affordable and offers exceptional value.
|87″ L x 22″ W x 47″ H
|Dual air and magnetic
Best Magnetic Budget Rowing Machine Under $300 – Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rower
Ideal for compact home gyms, this affordable magnetic rower offers a silent magnetic resistance system for a smooth, quiet workout experience.
- Affordable, under $300
- Lightweight at 50 lbs
- Convenient for storage
- Ideal for those new to rowing workouts
- Lightweight and easy to store
- Foldable for storage
- Limited seat rail length
- Lack of preset workouts
- Predominant use of plastic components
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Magnetic Rower is an affordable option for those seeking an entry-level rowing machine to determine if it suits their exercise preferences. Sunny Health & Fitness is known for producing budget-friendly fitness equipment, making the SF-RW5801 an attractive choice for beginners.
The machine offers 16 levels of magnetic resistance, providing a sufficient challenge for novices. It scores well in footprint and portability, but it has a relatively short 43-inch slide rail, which may be an issue for taller individuals. Full-sized rowers typically have a slide rail between 50 and 56 inches.
Weighing only 50 lbs and having a 285-pound weight capacity, the SF-RW5801 features a wide padded seat and angled handles for comfort during extended workouts. However, its tech capabilities are limited due to the absence of pre-programmed workouts and a basic LCD display.
Nonetheless, it includes a device holder that allows users to stream online workouts or follow exercises from YouTube.
|77” L x 23” W x 22.5” H
|LCD screen + device holder
Best Compact Budget Rowing Machine Under $250 – YOSUDA Rowing Machine
- Ergonomic Seat: Designed for comfort during long workouts.
- Non-Slip Pedals: Ensures feet stay secure during use.
- Magnetic Resistance: Offers 16 levels for a smooth and adjustable workout.
- Quiet Operation: High-density steel rail keeps noise under 25 dB.
- LCD Monitor: 3.45-inch display for tracking performance metrics.
- Bluetooth & App Compatibility: Works with Kinomap for interactive training sessions.
- Foldable Design: Space-saving with easy storage options.
- Transportation Wheels: For easy movement around your living space.
- Weight Capacity: Can support up to 350 lb.
- Warranty: 3 years on frame, 180 days on parts, and 12 months on labor.
- Affordability: Competitively priced as a budget-friendly option.
- Ease of Use: Simple to get started for beginners.
- Interactive Programming: Enhances the workout experience.
- Compact Footprint: Suitable for smaller spaces.
- Solid Build: Despite the low price, it has a durable construction.
- Quiet Operation: Ideal for shared living spaces or for those who prefer a quiet workout environment.
- Resistance: While suitable for most, advanced rowers may outgrow the resistance levels.
- Monitor: Basic LCD monitor might lack advanced features found in higher-end models.
- Assembly: Some users may find assembly a bit challenging.
- Warranty: Parts warranty is relatively short compared to some competitors.
The YOSUDA Rowing Machine 90 is a standout option for those looking for a compact rowing machine under $250. As a bestselling rower on Amazon, it has garnered praise for its user-friendly design, smooth maneuverability, and quiet operation.
This machine’s ergonomic seat makes it particularly appealing, which users have noted provides a comfortable workout experience, reducing the strain and discomfort that can sometimes accompany longer rowing sessions. Additionally, the non-slip pedals enhance safety, ensuring your feet stay secure no matter the intensity of your workout.
With dimensions of 37″D x 20.3″ W x 8.07″H and a weight of 58 pounds, this compact machine doesn’t demand significant space, making it a viable option for those with limited room. Despite its size, it boasts a robust magnetic resistance system, which contributes to a smooth and consistent rowing stroke and allows for near-silent operation—its high-density 5mm-thick steel rail ensures noise levels remain under 25 dB even during vigorous workouts.
The YOSUDA Rowing Machine 90 has a 3.45-inch LCD monitor that displays key performance metrics, allowing you to track your progress easily. The machine’s compatibility with Bluetooth and the Kinomap application adds an interactive dimension to your training, offering a variety of rowing racing sessions and other engaging content to keep your workouts fresh and motivating.
Users will appreciate the 16 levels of magnetic resistance, paired with a 10 lb flywheel, which provides sufficient tension for a range of fitness levels, from moderate to above-average. The machine’s 45.2-inch slide rail length and impressive 350 lb weight capacity accommodate a broad spectrum of body types and sizes.
Convenience is also a vital feature of the YOSUDA Rowing Machine 90. It’s designed to occupy just 2.22 ft² of floor space and can be folded and stored upright to save space when not in use. Transportation wheels facilitate easy movement, allowing you to reposition or stow away the machine with minimal effort.
Regarding durability and customer assurance, the machine has a generous warranty package, offering three years for the frame, 180 days for the parts, and 12 months for labor.
Overall, the YOSUDA Rowing Machine 90 is a solid choice for those seeking an affordable, feature-rich rowing machine that provides a great workout experience while being considerate of space and noise constraints. Whether new to rowing or looking to maintain your fitness at home, this machine is a worthy investment for achieving your health and fitness goals.
|37” L x 20.3” W x 8.07” H
|Bluetooth compatibility, Kinomap application
|3.45″ LCD monitor
Best Budget Water Rowing Machine Under $500 – Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge
Ideal for home gym enthusiasts seeking a cost-effective and visually appealing water rowing machine.
- Water-based resistance using a flywheel and 16 hydro blades for an authentic rowing experience
- Sturdy frame with a 42-inch slide rail length and 300-pound maximum user weight
- Sweat-resistant handlebar and high-profile molded padded seat for comfort and functionality
- Rubber transport wheels for easy movement and upright storage
- Smooth gliding motion
- Budget-friendly purchase
- Quiet operation
- Suitable for tall individuals
- Supports up to 300 pounds
- Compatible with ANT+ heart rate monitors
- Adjustable floor stabilizers
- Swivel-designed footplates may affect stability and form
- Possible water leakage issues for some users
The Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine is a good value option, providing users with a water-based rowing experience on a sturdy frame. Unlike many water rowing machines that are bulky, heavy, and expensive, the Obsidian Surge 500 is a more affordable choice.
This machine features a large water tank with a 16-blade fan for resistance, where faster paddling increases the difficulty. For a budget product, it tracks various metrics such as calories, time, distance, strokes per minute, total strokes, and 500-meter split time. However, some experienced rowers have reported inaccuracies in meter tracking.
The Obsidian Surge 500 also has a smart version (model SF-RW5713SMART), which costs around $100 more and offers Bluetooth connectivity, guided workout programs via the SunnyFit app, and heart rate monitor compatibility.
|80” L x 22” W x 34” H
|15 preset workouts
Best Budget Air Rowing Machine Under $500 – Fitness Reality Air & Magnetic Rowing Machine
Ideal for Amazon Prime members seeking a budget-friendly alternative to the Concept2 RowErg, the Fitness Reality Air & Magnetic Rowing Machine excels in providing both air and magnetic resistance.
- Magnetic and air resistance provide a challenging workout
- Compatible with Bluetooth and MyCloudFitness app
- Lightweight, foldable design for easy storage
- Quick assembly with included tools
- Monitors time, distance, and calories burned
- 14 resistance levels adjustable by a dial
- High weight capacity (300 lbs)
- Easy adjustments
- Quiet and smooth operation
- Lightweight and portable
- Bluetooth compatibility
- Great value for the price
- Soft and comfortable handle
- Inability to personalize tracking info
- App service requires subscription
- Possible durability concerns
The Fitness Reality Dual Transmission Fan Rower is an affordable, high-quality option for home gym enthusiasts. While an app subscription is needed to maximize its benefits, the rower can still be an effective workout tool. Its air and magnetic resistance combination caters to fitness enthusiasts of all levels.
For those seeking an alternative to the Concept2 RowErg but unwilling to pay its higher price, the Fitness Reality Air & Magnetic Rowing Machine is a budget-friendly option; it costs around $250 with an Amazon Prime account. However, the price may vary, so look for deals during the holiday season.
The Fitness Reality Air & Magnetic Rowing Machine shares many similarities with the Concept2 RowErg, such as a 300-pound weight capacity and a primary LCD screen. It is also lightweight (under 50 pounds) and easily portable.
With built-in workout options, Fitness Reality’s display is user-friendly, though the ‘average user’ needs to be more well-defined in the manual. Connecting to My Cloud Fitness allows for a more personalized experience.
Regarding footprint and portability, the Fitness Reality Dual Transmission Fan Rower can be folded for easy storage.
|About $250 (with Amazon Prime, when on sale)
|About 44.2 lbs (in box)
|23″D x 70″W x 26″H
|Air & magnetic
|Some preset workouts
How We Chose The Best Budget Rowing Machines
To bring you the best budget rowing machines, we rated each rowing machine based on a set of criteria, including:
Affordability And Worth
Primarily focusing on rowing machines that cost around or less than $1,000. Considering whether financing options were available and whether shipping fees were included.
Rowing machines with quality construction. This includes a solid metal slide rail, a sturdy chain or belt, and a reliable resistance system.
A rowing machine has to demonstrate minimal movement or instability during use. Also, a weight capacity of at least 250 pounds was essential to score a higher rating in this guide.
Space Requirements And Mobility
Higher ratings were given to rowing machines that can be easily stored in smaller spaces and are simple for one person to move. Additional points were awarded to folding models that can be stored vertically.
User Comfort And Design
Factors such as the rowing machine’s ability to accommodate users between 5’2″ and 6’4″, as well as adjustable foot holders. The highest ratings that were suitable for most users were given to rowers.
Rowing machines with basic built-in workouts, such as 500-meter or 2,000-meter rows. Higher scores were given to machines that offered more dynamic programming, including interactive workouts displayed on touchscreens.
Rowers featuring a basic console displaying data such as time, distance, calories, and splits. Higher rankings were awarded to machines with Bluetooth connectivity, large touchscreens, and heart rate monitoring capabilities.
Shipping And Assembly
Rowers that were delivered curbside and had an assembly process that took one hour or less.
Customer reviews from the brand’s website or third-party retailers for additional product performance perspectives.
Warranty And Return Policies
Rowing machines with a 5-year warranty on the frame, a few years on parts, and reasonable return policies received better ratings.
Considering all these factors, a comprehensive list of the best budget rowing machines was compiled to help you make an informed decision for your home gym.
Benefits Of Budget Rowing Machines
Provides A Full-Body Workout
Rowing machines provide an extensive full-body workout, engaging nearly 85% of the body’s muscles during use. The initial push of the rowing stroke primarily works the quads, glutes, calves, and hamstrings, while the later pull engages the upper-body muscles such as the back, arms, and shoulders.
Core muscles, including the abdominals, are responsible for stabilization throughout the rowing motion. As a result, integrating a rowing machine into a regular fitness routine can aid in improved cardiovascular health, increased endurance, and enhanced musculoskeletal health.
Rowing machines are generally more affordable than home gym equipment, like high-quality exercise bikes or treadmills. Their ability to target multiple muscle groups also means that a cost-effective rowing machine can offer a greater return on investment, providing both cardio and strength training benefits in a single piece of equipment.
This makes a budget rowing machine a valuable addition to your fitness journey without breaking the bank.
Rowing is particularly beneficial for those with joint concerns or recovering from injury. The seated nature of rowing means minimal impact on the knees and ankles, making it a safer option for high-intensity training without the risk associated with high-impact activities like running or jumping.
Strengthens The Core And Back
Rowing is effective in strengthening the core and back muscles, which can contribute to better posture.
Muscle Strength And Endurance
The resistance provided by the rowing machine means that each stroke works your muscles against tension, leading to increased muscle strength. With adjustable resistance levels on most rowing machines, you can continue challenging your muscles as your strength improves, contributing to muscle endurance.
Mental Health Benefits
Engaging in regular physical activity like rowing can help manage stress and anxiety. The repetitive nature of rowing can also be meditative, providing mental clarity and focus. The endorphin release triggered by exercise is known to improve mood and even help with depression.
Rowing workouts can vary in intensity and duration to suit different fitness goals, whether interval training for performance improvement, steady-state cardio for endurance, or high-intensity bursts for calorie burn.
Suitable For All Fitness Levels
Rowing machines often come with adjustable resistance, making them suitable for beginners and advanced athletes. They can be used for gentle rehabilitation exercises or intense workouts, depending on the individual’s fitness level and goals.
How To Use A Rowing Machine
To effectively use your rowing machine in your home gym, familiarize yourself with the proper rowing form. There are four essential steps: legs, lean, pull, and reverse. These are also called the catch, drive, finish, and recovery. Mastering your technique is crucial for a good workout and minimizing the risk of injury.
Rowing Machine Warm-Up Drills
Here are three warm-up techniques that can be used before your rowing workout.
Legs Only Rowing
Some legs-only rowing can challenge you to focus on the legs in the initial movement of the drive. You should be able to row stronger if you engage the legs before using the back and arms.
Arms And Back
To help practice the proper stroke sequence, practice rowing with just your arms and back. Keep your legs extended. Feel the back initiate work before the arms bend.
Warm-Up With Pauses
Try a pause drill to improve your stroke sequence. After each stroke, extend your arms in a controlled motion and reach a comfortable position. Keep some good posture and leave the upper body engaged while pausing. Then slide back on.
Common Rowing Errors
Here are six common rowing errors to avoid.
Legs Shoot Back Without The Body Or Handle
Be careful not to let your legs shoot back without the body or handle. The handle should move at the same time you press down your knees. Engage the core to engage the upper and lower body.
Lifting With The Back
Don’t lift your shoulders or back at the catch. Press with your legs first, then use your back. This will help engage larger and more powerful muscles to help accelerate the flywheel.
Bending Arms Too Early
Don’t bend the arms too early. Keep your arms straight at the start of the drive and engage your legs instead. Save your arm pull for later.
Bending Knees Early
If you bend your knees too early, your hands will have to bounce over your knees in an arc. Allow the handle to clear the knees before they bend. Aim to keep the chain level in a horizontal motion throughout the drive.
Leaning Too Far Back
Leaning too far back at the end of a drive results in a weak position. There is no benefit to a longer stroke if it isn’t powerful. Imagine leaning back to a position of 11 o’clock on the clock face and pull the handle in the top of your ribcage.
Rowing Technique Error: Wrists
The wrists should not be bent or tense. Keep the wrists flat throughout the entire stroke.
What To Look For In A Budget Rowing Machine
When choosing a budget rowing machine, setting your price limit is vital. Make sure to find a machine that provides value without breaking the bank.
Build Quality And Longevity
An affordable rowing machine should not compromise on durability. Seek out machines with aluminum and steel construction in crucial areas, such as the slide rail and main frame.
Durable plastic can be used for components like flywheel housing and caster covers. Pay attention to the maximum user weight capacity, as inexpensive rowers might not have a full steel frame.
Types Of Resistance
Three main resistance types are available for rowing machines: air, water, and magnetic. All offer similar workouts, but choosing the right one for your needs is essential.
Magnetic rowers are quieter and have predefined resistance levels, while air and water rowers offer limitless resistance. However, air rowers can be loud, and water rowers need more maintenance.
Monitoring And Functions
At a minimum, budget rowing machines should have a basic LCD monitor displaying essential metrics like elapsed time and meters rowed. Accurate monitors may be rare among budget-friendly options, but they are not crucial for moderate exercise.
Correctly measuring the available space and checking the dimensions of your chosen rowing machine is essential, especially for small home gyms. Also, verify the folded dimensions if you plan to store the machine differently when not in use.
Customization And Comfort
Your rowing machine’s ease of use and adjustability contribute significantly to your workout experience. Consider features like slide rail length, handle angle, seat shape, foot cradle adjustments, and monitor angle.
A slide rail of at least 42 inches is recommended for most people, while taller individuals may need something around 50 inches. Adjustable foot cradles help accommodate users with varying foot sizes and shoes.
Best Budget Rowing Machine Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Rowing Machine?
The Concept2 RowErg emerges as the top-performing rowing machine. For other options, please take a look at the rest of the guide on the best budget rowing machine.
What Is The Ideal Rowing Machine Type?
Air rowers are popular, but magnetic and water rowers have advantages. I think it’s important to determine which features are most essential to you, and selecting the type that meets your requirements is crucial.
How Should I Select A Rowing Machine?
When looking for a rowing machine suitable for your home gym, consider factors such as price, build quality, warranty, flywheel type, measurement tracking, display, programming options, space requirements, and adjustability.
What Is The Best Rowing Machine For A Beginner?
- The Sunny Health & Fitness Compact Folding Magnetic Rower under $300.
- Or the YOSUDA Rowing Machine under $250.
- Also consider the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge, if you prefer a budget water rowing machine.
Are Budget Rowing Machines A Valuable Investment?
Definitely! Rowing machines effectively work almost every muscle group in your body and deliver outstanding cardiovascular workouts. They are considered one of the highest-value fitness machines available on the market.
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