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 fact, some publications have called rowing machines “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.
Table of Contents
- Cheapest Rowing Machines Compared
- Buyer's Guide for Choosing Cheap Home Rowers
- Benefits of Rowing at Home
- 8 Best Affordable Rowing Machines Reviewed
- 1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rowing Machine
- 2. XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness Rower
- 3. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower
- 4. Progear 750 Rower
- 5. Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
- 6. Sunny Health and Fitness Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine
- 7. Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine
- 8. EFITMENT Total Motion Rowing Machine
- Bonus: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
- Comparing with other Cardio Equipment
- People Also Ask (FAQs)
Cheapest Rowing Machines Compared
Folded Length (Inches)
Buyer's Guide for Choosing Cheap Home Rowers
There are several types of rowers to choose from, specifically when it comes to the type of resistance used to create tension. There are currently 4 types of rowing resistance: air, hydraulic-piston, magnetic, and water.
Each form of resistance has pros and cons. Air rowers, for example, are great if you want infinite levels of tension, but air rowers tend to be noisy and distracting. Magnetic rowing machines are the most popular type of rower, mainly because they make very little noise and create a smooth rowing motion.
Water rowers have also become very popular in recent years as the varied resistance provides a thorough workout and splashing water slightly simulates the sounds of being on a lake.
Size & Dimensions
Since this rowing machine is going in your home gym, available space is definitely something to consider. Measure out your space available and compare it with the dimensions of each rowing machine you're considering. The good news is that home rowers have a smaller footprint on average compared to commercial rowers. Check out some quality compact models here.
Living in the 21st century means that home gym equipment now comes packed with cool features, like Bluetooth and advanced fitness goal tracking. Just keep in mind that rowers with more added features generally come with a higher the price tag.
Value for Money
Even the most affordable rowing machines can offer great value for money. Always try to compare a rower's price with its performance and features. Ask yourself, "does the price make sense based on how the rower performs?"
Mid range rowers around the $500 mark offer a good price to value ratio.
Benefits of Rowing at Home
There are a number of benefits to using a rowing machine. The most obvious one is that your arms and back muscles get in quite a workout. You’ll even tone up your legs since your lower body is targeted while using the machine. Rowing comes with some cardio benefits as well, so in addition to building muscle, it's also a great aerobic exercise.
The motion of rowing is considered to be low-impact; rowers don’t put a lot of strain on your legs or back. This means that if you have joint problems, rowing is one of the best workouts you can do. On top of this, you’ll see your endurance go up, you’ll lose weight, and you’ll have a lot of fun getting into the workout. That's right, rowing is fun!
Now, are you ready to check out the list of the best cheap rowing machines? Read on below.
Note: The rowers are sorted by our personal rating (bonus rower excluded).
8 Best Affordable Rowing Machines Reviewed
1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Rowing Machine
- Enjoy free forever basic workout data...
- Revolutionize your workout with on water and...
- 14 Level DUAL TRANSMISSION magnetic tension...
- Patent pending front stabilizer foot pads...
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.
2. XTERRA Fitness ERG 220 Fitness Rower
- Magnetic resistance The ERG220 includes 8...
- Rowing is more accessible and more...
- The ERG220 is built with a space-saving...
- Padded handles and pivoting footplates the...
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 250 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.
3. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower
- 【Various Workout Equipment-Multiple...
- 【 Extra Padding & Rotary Design-Fully...
- 【Track Your Workout-Large LCD Display...
- 【Comfortable and Silence-15 Degree Angled...
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.
4. Progear 750 Rower
- 2 independent hydraulic cylinders for tension...
- 3 adjustable rowing positions accommodate...
- 3 adjustable incline rowing angles. LCD...
- Large pivoting textured anti-slip foot pedals...
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”.
5. Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine
- MADE TO LEVEL UP WORKOUTS AT HOME - Use this...
- 8-LEVEL MAGNETIC TENSION RESISTANCE - The...
- EASY-TO-READ LCD FITNESS MONITOR - Displays...
- OPTIMUM SEATING, SECURE FOOTING, and NYLON...
I placed the Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine on this list because it is one of the best cheap rowing machines, but still manages to offer great value for money. Thanks to its small footprint, it fits neatly into any home gym space. This machine can support up to 265 pounds of weight, which is impressing considering it weighs less than 40 pounds.
The Harvil Hydraulic Rowing Machine has adjustable hydraulic resistance (hence the name) that can be manually adjusted via a control knob. The design features unique arm bar angles to customize each workout with the option to exercise your chest, shoulders, and arm muscles.
I love that I can easily track my progress with the Harvil's LCD monitor. One of the coolest things about the LCD is that the scan function scrolls through workout metrics every 6 seconds, so you'll always know where you stand for each and every workout.
The Harvil is all about comfort. Even when rowing at full speed on the highest resistance setting, I'm always comfortable thanks to the molded seat and pivoting footplates. I don't necessarily love that resistance and tension have to be manually adjusted, but this is fairly standard for a rowing machine at this price point.
6. Sunny Health and Fitness Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine
- INCLINE FEATURE: While rowing the sleek and...
- FULL MOTION ARMS: Unlike traditional rowers,...
- 5 LEVELS OF INCLINE: Compact and lightweight...
- DIGITAL CONSOLE: Sit comfortably on the fully...
The Sunny Health and Fitness Incline Full Motion Rowing Machine is on our list of the best rowing machines because it has a number of useful features that make it a great addition to any home gym.
First of all, this rowing machine has a digital console that's conveniently located between a user's feet. The display notes things like reps per minute, calories burned, total workout time, and even the total count of your rows.
More good news is that this machine doesn’t take up much space with small dimensions of just 55 by 22 by 18 inches. It even features wheels that “pop out” when you tilt the rower. This makes it very easy to move around the home and store when not in use.
I love that it can support up to 350 pounds of weight. Even though this high weight limit isn't necessary for everyone, it definitely creates a sturdy frame that's great for high-intensity rowing sessions. I'm not a huge fan of the fact that the seat doesn't incline when placed at the lowest setting, and in my opinion, the seat could be larger, especially for large-bodied individuals.
7. Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine
- 8 RESISTANCE SETTINGS – The Marcy Turbine...
- INCLUDES COMPUTER DISPLAY PANEL – This...
- DURABLE INJECTION MOLDED SEAT – The Marcy...
- ADJUSTABLE FOOT STRAPS – This exercise...
If you’re looking for a great value for money rower, then you need to check out the Marcy Foldable Turbine Rowing Machine. It’s a bit more expensive than some of the others on this list, but it has a number of interesting features that make it unique - and worth considering.
The Marcy Foldable Rower has a computer-like display panel that makes tracking your workouts easy. It has eight different resistance levels, a solid steel frame, and even an ergonomically-designed seat.
What really makes this the best value for money rowing machine, though, is its turbine wheel. The unique wheel design makes the rowing process extremely smooth and comfortable, and I personally feel that the smoothness makes the higher price tag worth it.
To top it all off, the Marcy rower folds up when it’s not in use and it even has wheels for easy portability. The turbine wheel is quite large, so even when folded up, the rower takes up a decent amount of space. You'll definitely want to check the dimensions with your available space before buying this rower.
8. EFITMENT Total Motion Rowing Machine
The EFITMENT Total Motion Rowing Machine has made the list thanks to its ergonomic design. It also has a number of advanced features that are packed within a reasonably priced fitness machine.
Everyone wants a rowing machine that they can customize to make it compatible with their personal fitness level. The EFITMENT Rowing Machine does exactly that. It has 12 different levels of resistance, meaning you can start at the lowest setting for an easy workout before moving your way up to a tougher setting.
This machine offers full-motion rowing to target the upper body exactly how you want to, and it even has ergonomic foot pedals that make your workout as comfortable as possible. I love that it weighs only 28 pounds and has a small footprint - it fits well in my small home gym, and will fit in yours, too!
I don't, however, love that there are no transport wheels on the EFITMENT. Sure, it's lightweight and ultra-portable, but 28 pounds is still a decent amount of weight to move on your own. Another downside is the length of the slide rail - 38 inches. Smaller individuals may find it challenging to slide along this longer rail distance, so keep that in mind if you're on the shorter side.
Bonus: Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5
- Your purchase includes One Concept2 Indoor...
- Rowing machine dimensions: Assembled: 8 ft x...
- Designed to fit most users: 14-inch seat...
- Separates easily into two pieces for storage;...
I know this list is all about the affordable rowers. Even so, I felt the need to include at least one high-quality commercially-graded rowing machine.
The Model D Rower by Concept2 is possibly the best rated indoor rowing machine in the world. The machine is made of durable steel rear legs and aluminum front legs – both commercial grade materials. Thanks to the durable frame, the Concept2 can support a whopping 500 lbs of weight.
This version includes a PM5 performance monitor, which can be pivoted to different positions to provide the user with stats like pace, speed, distance, watts and calories burned. You can connect it to wireless heart rate monitors and use Bluetooth to connect to the ErgData app for more detailed fitness tracking.
Even though the Concept2 Model D rower is very close to perfection, nothing is perfect. The main con of this rower is that the included nickel-plated steel chain has to be oiled every 40 hours of use, which isn't ideal if you're looking for a low-maintenance machine.
Comparing with other Cardio Equipment
We have separate articles covering how the rowers stack up on the cardio and muscle building front. You can check these out below.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What are the main differences between cheap vs expensive rowing machines?
The biggest difference between a cheap rowing machine and a more expensive model generally has to do with the resistance type. Cheaper machines often use hydraulic resistance - this is the most basic - while pricier models tend to use magnetic or air resistance.
Another thing to keep in mind when comparing models is that more expensive machines usually come with all the bells and whistles, while cheap rowers are just focused on the basics. As long as you're OK not having fancy features like Bluetooth or a large display, you can still get a top-performing rower that fits your budget.
Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?
Rowing is an amazing way to burn calories, which ultimately leads to weight loss and getting rid of stubborn belly fat. Plus, it's a great workout for building and toning muscles.
If losing belly fat is your goal, be sure to keep your core engaged while you row - this will not only help to shed pounds, but also lead to more defined abs.
Can you get in shape by just rowing?
Technically, yes. Rowing is great for both cardio and strength building. However, it's important that you keep a regular fitness regimen and pair it with healthy eating habits if you want to see the best results.
That means you can't expect to get in shape just by rowing if you're also eating fast food every day. To maintain healthy eating habits, follow these tips on healthy eating from the NHS.
As you can see, all of the machines on this list of the best cheap rowing machines have their own set of pros and cons. None of them are perfect, but they're all still great additions to any home gym or beginner rowing enthusiast.
In order to choose the one that's best for you, you’ll need to weigh those pros and cons and examine all of the features. In our opinion, the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus offers excellent value for money, ease of use, and quality performance, making it an great choice for anyone looking for a budget-friendly rowing solution.