8 Best Affordable Rowing Machines For Cardio On A Budget!

Home rowing machines are very similar to those found in standard gyms, with the main differences being that they are generally smaller, lighter and more affordable.

You don’t need an expensive rowing machine to complete your home gym. Instead, you just need one of these 8 home rowers.

Not only do these residential rowing machines provide a workout that can help you get into even better shape, but they are also considered the best cheap rowing machines on the market today.

In our opinion, a home rowing machine is the most underrated piece of gym equipment.


So let’s jump right in to find out what each of these rowing machines can bring to your home gym, even while sticking to a budget. 

How We Chose These Budget Rowers

gym products icon

36

Products Considered

research icon

115

Hours of Research

reviews icon

72

Reviews Examined

experts icon

2

Experts Interviewed

So, what exactly do we mean by the best budget rowing machine?

Well, we consider the best budget rowing machine to be anywhere between $150 to $400, and all the rowing machines on this list are within that range. 

We know how many folks would love a rowing machine at home but can't afford to pay so much money.

We think everyone deserves to experience this underrated and low-impact form of cardio, so we decided to get to work finding the best options. 

The team at Garage Gym Pro compiled a list of the best budget rowing machines, and we narrowed that down to 10.

We bought and tested all 10 rowing machines and came up with our final list of 8 affordable options for home gyms. 

8 Best Budget Rowing Machines For Home Gyms

We have selected the top cheap rowers for home use below and reviewed each model.

Read more or watch our YouTube video to find the best budget rowing machine for your home workout needs.

1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus - Our Top Pick!

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

9.5

Value For Money

10.0

Ease Of Use

9.5

Ease Of Assembly

9.0

Materials & Durability

9.5


Overall Rating

9.5

Specifications

Resistance Type 

Magnetic 

Dimensions (LxWxH) 

88.5 x 21.5 x 21.5 inches  

Folded Dimensions (LxWxH) 

39.5 x 21.5 x 53.5 inches 

Tension Levels 

14 

Max User Weight 

250 lbs 

Machine Weight 

63.6 lbs 

Warranty  

Yes, 1-year limited warranty 

Fitness Reality is one of the top brands in the home gym equipment industry and as it turns out, they also make the best budget rowing machine – the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth.

As the name suggests, this magnetic resistance budget rowing machine uses Bluetooth that can be synced with My Cloud Fitness App to track your results online and on your cell phone.

You can also set goal settings (time, calories burned, and distance) via the app. I love tracking my workouts and found this Fitness Reality budget rowing machine allowed me to do this with ease.

It uses extra-wide 21.5-inch foam handlebar to provide a comfortable grip.

It's designed with front stabilizer foot pads so that you can add in additional upper body exercises, like curls or tricep extensions. I found the foot pads on this rowing machine to feel extremely stable, even while rowing at a high intensity. 

One of the best features of the Fitness Reality 1000 is its 14 tension levels of dual-transmission magnetic resistance.

Very few magnetic rowers at this price point come with this many magnetic resistance levels, and I love that this machine gives me so much control over my workout intensity. 

The equipped LCD monitor provides you with all the information you need to gauge your workout, like time, distance, speed, calories burned, total count, stokes per minute, and scan.

Even when I choose not to use the My Fitness App, it was extremely easy to track my workout thanks to the machine's comprehensive monitor. 

Unfortunately, the maximum weight support is just 250 pounds, which is a low capacity compared to most rowers on this list.

That is definitely the main con of choosing the Fitness Reality 1000, so if your current weight is less than 250 pounds, this is easily one of the best budget rowing machines on the market.

Who Is This Rowing Machine Best For?

This model is perfect for anyone who wants a low-impact cardio machine with enough features to keep you challenged and engaged and all for an awesome price. 

Pros

  • Bluetooth app synchronization for easy fitness tracking
  • Easy assembly 
  • Simple and easy-to-read LCD
  • Sturdy cable made of thick nylon cord
  • 14 resistance levels - more than any other rower on our list!

Cons

  • 250 lbs weight support is not much

2. XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness - Best Folding Rower

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

9.0

Value For Money

10.0

Ease Of Use

9.5

Ease Of Assembly

9.0

Materials & Durability

9.5


Overall Rating

9.4

Specifications

Resistance Type 

Magnetic 

Dimensions (LxWxH) 

80.3 x 19.1 x 29 inches  

Folded Dimensions (LxWxH) 

47.2 x 19.1 x 56.9 inches  

Tension Levels 

8 

Max User Weight 

300 lbs 

Machine Weight 

62 lbs 

Warranty  

Yes, 1-year limited warranty 

The XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness Rower is one of the best cheap rowing machines thanks to its smooth magnetic resistance system.

I also love the easy to read LCD monitor, which makes it easy to track every rowing session and keep up with my current fitness goals. 

Some of the best budget rowing machines come with all of the bell and whistles.

The XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness Rower IS that machine, especially in terms of durability.

It includes a 3.7 inch LCD monitor as well as dual extruded aluminum seat side rails. This rower is equipped with a steel frame, and it has a simple dial magnetic resistance knob that adjusts to 8 levels of tension.

Speaking of resistance, the magnetic resistance system is designed to be quiet and low maintenance, as well as smooth.

As you row, the machine counts your strokes, workout time, calories burned, and gives an overall scan of your fitness level. Like I said before, it's really easy to track your goals with this machine.

Another great feature of the ERG 220 rower is its foldable design. It is built with a space-saving folding frame and transportation wheels for easy moving and storage, which is especially helpful for home-gymers who are short on space.

After my workout, I was able to fold up the machine in a matter of seconds and roll it away to the corner of the room.

Even though the XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness Rower is one of the best budget-friendly options, it still has some cons.

Similar to the previous model, this one can only hold a maximum of 300 pounds, which is quite low compared to other machines.

However, it is designed to work with users from 5’1" to 6’4”, so it accommodates both short and tall individuals. 

Who Is This Rowing Machine Best For?

This model is ideal for folks who don't have a lot of space in their home gym, or maybe they don't have a home gym at all.

You can wheel it out into your living room, workout, and then fold it up and store it away.

Pros

  • Folds up for easy storage - folds away in seconds!
  • The magnetic resistance makes for a smooth, quiet workout
  • 7 inch LCD monitor is easy to see
  • Padded handles offer a comfy grip

Cons

  • Can only support 300 pounds worth of weight
  • Some assembly required - expect to spend ~1 hour assembling

3. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower - Best Value For Money

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

9.5

Value For Money

9.0

Ease Of Use

9.0

Ease Of Assembly

9.0

Materials & Durability

9.5


Overall Rating

9.2

Specifications

Resistance Type 

Magnetic 

Dimensions (LxWxH) 

73 x 16 x 21 inches

Folded Dimensions (LxWxH) 

26 x 16 x 49 inches  

Tension Levels 

14 

Max User Weight 

264 lbs 

Machine Weight 

100 lbs 

Warranty  

Yes, 1-year limited warranty 

Some of the rowers on this list of the best cheap rowing machines come with high-tech features for an enhanced workout.

This is exactly what you'll get with the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower. Even with a durable (and quiet!) magnetic flywheel system and easy-to-adjust resistance, the Merax still falls within most home-gymers budgets. 

One of the features I love most about the Merax budget magnetic rowing machine is its comfortable seat. Even with long rowing sessions, the extra padding allows me to push through to the end.

The seat rail is designed with a permanent 15-degree incline so that the seat can slide back and forth on the rail as efficiently and smoothly as possible. 

The magnetic flywheel makes the Merax quite unique, and not many other rowers use this technology.

This is why Merax magnetic rowers are respected as one of the quietest rowers on this list.

Similar to the ERG 220, this machine offers eight levels of resistance, which can easily be adjusted using the dial located on the console. 

This is another great space-saving option since it has the ability to fold up when not in use.

When it's unfolded, the rowing machine measures 76 by 16 by 21 (all in inches), and when folded, it’s a mere 26 by 16 by 49 inches. It can support up to 264 pounds, which is still considered a low weight capacity for home rowers.

Like the others on this list of the best rowing machines, the Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower has a couple of cons.

I don't love that the rowing arm is made up of a single piece of metal since it doesn't give you the option to work out each arm individually.

Another flaw is the heavy weight of the machine; it's 100 pounds, so it's definitely not the most portable rower on this list. 

Who Is This Rowing Machine Best For?

I chose this model as the best value for money option, which makes it great for people who want a simple rower that can help you lose weight. 

It won't come with all the bells and whistles, but it's durable and will work every time.

Pros

  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Magnetic wheel is very quiet
  • Eight different resistance levels
  • Large LCD for tracking workouts

Cons

  • The rowing arm is combined, making it tough to work out each arm individually
  • Weighs a whopping 100 pounds, so it isn’t very portable

4. Progear 750 - Most Compact Rowing Machine

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

10.0

Value For Money

9.0

Ease Of Use

8.5

Ease Of Assembly

9.0

Materials & Durability

9.0


Overall Rating

9.1

Specifications

Resistance Type 

Hydraulic 

Dimensions (LxWxH) 

53 x 26.5 x 36.3 inches

Folded Dimensions (LxWxH) 

45.5 x 26.5 x 7.8 inches  

Tension Levels 

3 

Max User Weight 

220 lbs 

Machine Weight 

54 lbs 

Warranty  

Yes, 1-year limited warranty for the frame, 90 days for all other components.  

The Progear 750 Rower has made the list of the best cheap rowing machines because it offers a lot of adjustability. With this rower, it's easy for anyone to completely customize each workout.

It includes two different independent hydraulic cylinders, meaning you can adjust the settings specifically for each arm. This is especially helpful for my personal workouts since my right arm is already stronger than my left.

With the Progear, I'm able to make adjustments to target my left arm more than the right.   

Another great feature of this machine is that it offers the option for 10+ additional exercises, including rows, curls, shoulder presses, pull downs, ab workouts, bent over rows, pec flies, and more.

It even features 3 adjustable incline rowing angles. This is without a doubt the most adjustable rowing machine on the list. 

The main flaw of the Progear 750 is its low weight limit. It can hold a maximum of just 220 pounds, but on the plus side, it accommodates people between the heights of 4’9” and 6’1”.

Who Is This Rowing Machine Best For?

This rower is best for folks who have VERY little space in their home gym. This machine is tiny compared to other magnetic resistance models.

Keep in mind, this one uses hydraulic resistance and will not give you exactly the same feel as rowing on the water. 

Pros

  • Accommodates a wide height range
  • Independent hydraulic cylinders allow you to customize the workout for each arm
  • Amazing adjustability
  • Lightweight machine design
  • Ergonomic design and three unique incline levels

Cons

  • Some assembly required
  • Can only support 220 pounds worth of weight

5. Stamina ATS - Best Air Rowing Machine

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

9.5

Value For Money

9.0

Ease Of Use

9.0

Ease Of Assembly

9.0

Materials & Durability

9.0


Overall Rating

9.1