8 Best Affordable Rowing Machines For Cardio On a Budget

Have you ever considered purchasing a rowing machine for your home gym?

Residential rowing machines are very similar to the ones that you see in standard gyms, only they are generally smaller and lighter.

Plus, they are much more affordable than what you'll find in commercial gym settings.

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

Not only do these 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, home rowing machines are 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. 

What To Expect From Budget Rowers 

There are numerous differences between budget rowers and high-end rowers. Budget rowers typically compromise on quality, materials, features, durability, and design.

They don’t compromise so much that the machines aren’t worth the money, but they lack the workmanship of expensive rowers.

Their main advantage is affordability, and they’re aimed at buyers prioritizing price.  

More specifically, cheaper rowers focus on pure functionality, lacking extras like hardwood frames.

They tend to be hydraulic rowers instead of magnetic resistance or air rowers, which cost more. But some magnetic and air rowers are affordable.

Water resistance rowing machines are even more expensive, so they won’t be found at budget prices.

Padded or adjustable seats are also more common on high-end rowers than affordable ones. 

Because of the compromises on features and quality, you may notice that some budget rowers have poorer feedback from customers.

This is unsurprising, but you can find suitable rowers on a budget if you focus on reputable brands.

You should also remember that warranties on cheaper rowers tend to be shorter because the parts aren’t built to last. 

Now, are you ready to check out the list of the best cheap rowing machines? Read on below.


8 Best Affordable 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 option for your home workout needs.

1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rowing Machine

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 one of the best affordable rowers – the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth.

As the name suggests, the 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 rower 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 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 rowers at this price point come with this many 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 affordable rowing machines on the market. 

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 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 affordable 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 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. 

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

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 rower 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 the Merax is 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. 

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 Rower

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”.

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 Air Rower

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

Specifications

Resistance Type 

Air 

Dimensions (LxWxH) 

77 x 18 x 22 inches  

Folded Dimensions (LxWxH) 

48 x 18 x 28 inches  

Tension Levels 

N/A 

Max User Weight 

250 lbs 

Machine Weight 

53 lbs 

Warranty  

Yes, 3-year limited warranty for the frame, 90 days for the parts 

The Stamina ATS Air Rower is a rowing machine using air resistance to tone your muscles and improve heart health.

It enables a smooth and efficient rowing stroke because of the air resistance, and it comes with a multi-function model displaying essential statistics. These include time, calories burned, distance, and speed. 

You’ll also gain access to the müüv app for audio coaching, and the seat is padded and upholstered for added comfort. This is a bonus for a budget rowing machine and makes it stand out. 

It’s also made from steel which increases its durability compared to rowing machines made from other materials.  

The Stamina ATS Air Rower also features large footplates to ensure anyone can use it so long as they’re within the weight limit.

The texture of the grip and adjustable nylon straps provide increased stability. The frame also folds up so it can be stored easily.   

Related Article: Stamina ATS Air Rower Vs Concept 2 Model D: Which Is Better?

Pros

  • Looks decent when it’s assembled 
  • Affordable for the features included  
  • Has plenty of space for leg extensions 

Cons

  • Difficult to assemble correctly  
  • It slowly slides forward during use  

6. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 

Our Rating

Workout Versatility

9.5

Value For Money

9.0