8 Best Rowing Machines Under $500: Popular Options Reviewed

An indoor rowing machine can prove an incredible investment and a must-have for a home gym. It not only provides you with an intense cardio workout but also builds and tones your muscles.

In this article, we'll go over the best rowing machines under $500 in detail and get you one step closer to achieving the body of your dreams - on a budget.

Rowing Machines Under $500 Compared

Preview

Product Name

Length

Max Seat Height

Max User Weight

Check Price

Merax Rowing Machine Indoor Home Rower...

80.3 inches

31.5 inches

340 lbs

Stamina ATS Air Rower | Rowing Machine | LCD...

77 inches

22 inches

250 lbs

Merax Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine Indoor...

81.5 inches

20 inches

220 lbs

MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower with...

44 inches

35.4 inches

264 lbs

SereneLife Smart Rowing Machine-Home Rowing...

83.5 inches

34.8 inches

250 lbs

CIRCUIT FITNESS Circuit Fitness Deluxe...

91 inches

20.5 inches

300 lbs

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with...

48 inches

27.75 inches

350 lbs

Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Magnetic...

73 inches

42 inches

265 lbs


What to Expect from Rowing Machines Under $500

Commercial gyms see a large footfall and opt for higher-end models because they're easier to repair and can take a lot of abuse. But that's not something you need to be worried about when getting a rowing machine for your home gym.

High-end rowing machines can cost upwards of $4000, which can put a large dent in your savings.

Thankfully, there are many more affordable options on the market. You can pick up a basic hydraulic rower or a magnetic resistance rower for as little as $500.

Obviously, at such a low price, you should expect to make some trade-offs.

Here's what that means:

  • Some models may have a fixed seat, which won't give your legs the workout you were hoping they'd get.
  • Budget machines are bulkier, but get the job done. Some even come with a display that helps you keep track of your workout.
  • High-end models are usually air rowers or water-resistance rowers and feature a sleeker design.
  • Expensive models have premium upholstery and fancy features like a smartphone app that lets you connect to your machine and saves your workout information on your phone.

Buying a Quality Affordable Rowing Machine Under $500

Size vs. Workout Space in the Home

Before buying a rowing machine for your home, you should make sure you have enough room to store it. Some rowing machines are easy to fold and store, others not so much.

If you don't have a dedicated home gym, you need to check the machine's length and weight to make sure it's easy for you to store and take out as needed.

Resistance System

  • Air Rowing Machine:
    These machines are lightweight, portable, and easy to assemble. As the name suggests, this machine uses air to generate resistance.
  • Power Rowing Machine:
    Power rowing machines are very popular and efficient. These use magnetic resistance and offer variable levels of intensity depending on your strength.
  • Water Rowing Machine: 
    These feel the most authentic, thanks to the water resistance. The machines allow for smooth strokes and are easy on your joints.
  • Elastic Rowing Machine:
    Elastic rowers work on flexible tension and give you a low-impact workout. These are the right choice if you have joint issues.
  • Hydraulic Rowing Machine:
    These machines are heavier, but get the job done. They're also the cheapest options available on the marking, making them perfect for a dedicated home gym.

Comfort & Adjustability

You're going to spend a lot of time on your rowing machine. If it isn't comfortable for you to use, it'll only gather dust and be used as a storage space to store random household items!

Investing in a comfortable, rowing machine is a fantastic idea. You should prioritize for the following:

  • Comfortable seat
  • Adjustable straps
  • Comfortable footrests
  • Easy to grip handle
  • Ergonomic design
  • Recommended height
  • Weight limit

By picking the right machine from the outset, you will leave yourself with little excuse not to work out.

If you're planning on sharing the rowing machine with your family members, you should go for a one that can be adjusted easily according to the user's needs.

Max User Weight

Make sure to keep an eye on the maximum user weight capacity. The higher the capacity, the sturdier and more durable the construction of the rowing machine.

Of course, keep in mind that rowing machines with a higher maximum user weight capacity are heavier. So, they may not be safe to use on tile or hardwood floors.

Storage Features

If you're short on square footage at your apartment, you know how important every inch of space can be. This, however, should not hinder your fitness goals!

Make sure the rowing machine you get is easy to store and put away after use. Rowers with wheels are ideal since you don't have to do a lot of heavy lifting. You may even consider rowers that can be stored upright.

Noise Level

Noise isn't a factor you need to worry about if you live alone. However, it matters a lot when you live with your family - especially small children! Silent rowers ensure you don't wake your family up while you're working out.

That being said, silent rowers aren't the cheapest option. These tend to be an excellent investment if you like working out in the morning or at night.

Ease of Assembly

An easy to assemble rowing machine is an excellent choice if you don't want to spend an entire day building your rower. After all, it could take a lot of time and elbow grease to complete. For some, it may even be a frustrating reminder of your poor DIY skills. Of course, this shouldn't be an issue if you are handy around the home.

Price

A good rowing machine doesn't need to break the bank. While it may be tempting to go for the best model on the market, be realistic with your budget. It is entirely possible to get a decent machine, even if you aren't working with the most cash.

Spend some time figuring out what features are the most important for you.

Warranty

What would you do if the machine breaks down?

People often choose a lesser-known (and cheaper) brand to save money. While some of these brands do offer decent products, they may not offer a warranty at all! So, in our opinion, it's best to shell out a little more money and go for a brand that offers at least a one-year warranty on the machine.

Additional Features

There are some other 'nice to have' features that you may like to think about. These include the following:

  • Console
    The rowing machine console features quick keys that allow you to choose your training goals like setting the timer, workout intensity, etc. You can also create custom challenges such as distance, interval training, etc.
  • Display Monitor 
    Rowing machines come with different display monitors. Some feature the old-school black and white digital monitors while others come with colored options.
  • Bluetooth or App Compatibility 
    You can now connect your rowing machine to your smartphone or wearable using Bluetooth or an app to monitor and track your workouts.

8 Best Rowing Machines Under $500 Reviewed

1. Merax

Merax Rowing Machine Indoor Home Rower...
  • 【8-Level Adjustable Tension...
  • 【Reliable Ergonomic Construction】12.2”...
  • 【Silent Fitness Equipment for Home Gym】...
  • 【Traceable Workout Results】The adjustable...

Best Magnetic Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

80.3 inches

Max Seat height

31.5 inches

Weight of machine

59 lbs

Resistance Levels

8

Max User Weight

340 lbs

According to our research, the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine is the best magnetic rowing machine under $500. Merax is based in Los Angeles and aims to create innovative products to enhance your life. This rowing machine does just that.

This rower comes with 8 levels of adjustable tension resistance. This means you can choose your workout's intensity by manually adjusting the rower's resistance through a selection knob. The rower features a 2.2-pound CNC flywheel that offers eight different levels of resistance. This is an excellent feature if you're looking to improve your endurance, as you can simply crank up the intensity to match your performance.

When it comes to construction, this rowing machine was designed to keep the user's needs in mind. The seat is ergonomically molded to your body and is extra comfortable – super important when working out.

The adjustable foot pedals are slip-resistant and comfortably hold your feet, even during the most intense workouts!

One of the reasons this rowing machine is excellent for home gyms is that it doesn't make a lot of noise. The rowing machine comes with a commercial-grade plastic sliding mount that glides silently and doesn't disturb those around you. This is great if you prefer to work out late at night or early in the morning.

Merax offers a one-year warranty on this rowing machine, an excellent addition for added peace of mind.

Pros

  • Durable aluminum rail
  • Space-saving design
  • Silent function
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • The display isn't too bright, which can make visibility an issue

2. Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina ATS Air Rower | Rowing Machine | LCD...
1,656 Reviews
Stamina ATS Air Rower | Rowing Machine | LCD...
  • Rowing on the Stamina ATS Air Rower 1399...
  • Product dimensions – 18” W x 77” L x...
  • During your routine, track speed, distance,...
  • Air resistance always matches your pace | Row...

Best Air Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

77 inches

Max Seat height

22 inches

Weight of machine

54 lbs

Resistance Levels

NA

Max User Weight

250 lbs

The Stamina ATS Air Rower has a minimalist design and is the best air rowing machine under $500. Stamina Products, Inc. has been around since 1987 and created innovative yet affordable solutions for its customers.

This rowing machine features dynamic air resistance. To increase the resistance, you'll need to row harder. Slowing down, obviously, will decrease the resistance. This is a fantastic feature as you don't have to manually change the level of resistance, which can interrupt the flow of your workout.

The rowing handle features a textured surface for a comfortable grip while the nylon rowing strap helps improve stability. The machine comes with textured footplates and an adjustable strap for comfortable alignment. All these features make your workout much more comfortable and increases the chance of you working out longer – and harder!

For extra comfort, the sliding seat is soft and padded, providing extra cushion for your bottom.

If you're low on space, this rowing machine is an excellent option for you. The device features an easy folding design, so you can store it easily once you're done.

The LCD monitor helps you keep track of your workout and measures calories, time, distance, and speed. Using the screen, you can see a visual representation of your workout, giving you added motivation.

Stamina offers an industry-leading three-year frame warranty on this rowing machine.

Pros

  • Comfortable to use
  • Supports a smooth rowing action
  • Space-saving design
  • Sliding seat
  • Easy assembly

Cons

  • The angled ramp doesn't engage the hamstrings

3. Merax Water Rowing

Merax Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine Indoor...
  • 【Full Body Cardio】Merax offer this...
  • 【Smooth&Adjustable】Merax magnetic rower...
  • 【Visual Display&Non-Slip Pedals】Track...
  • 【Ultimate Fitness Machine】Wide foam...

Best Water Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

81.5 inches

Max Seat height

20 inches

Weight of machine

72 lbs

Resistance Levels

6

Max User Weight

220 lbs

Merax is a reputable brand based in Los Angeles, California. They've been greeting high-quality fitness equipment for years and bring them to you at great prices. The Merax Water Rowing Machine is an excellent pick if you're looking for a smooth, high-quality machine.

This rowing machine is a fantastic choice if you're short on space. The device features a built-in folding design along with base wheels for easy transport and storage. Merax made sure that the design was ergonomic to enable you to achieve an effective workout. The machine helps to engage 85% of your muscles, ensuring an efficient exercise session.

The LCD display panel supports the tracking of workouts, helping you to monitor your performance over time. The machine tracks your heart rate as well, helping to ensure you get into the fat-burning zone!

The machine features an ergonomic design, enhancing your comfort while you're using it. It ensures a smooth rowing experience and offers six resistance levels, helping you match the intensity to meet your goals.

The 12.2-inch angled footrest comes in handy during intense sessions, providing support for your legs, while the contoured seat is exceptionally comfortable. The 19" handle allows you the freedom to choose a comfortable grip position, which can sometimes be lacking in other models.

A one-year limited manufacturer warranty covers this rowing machine.

Pros

  • Ergonomic and comfortable to use
  • Engages 85% of your muscles
  • Comfortable grip
  • Easy to assemble and store

Cons

  • No color display

4. MaxKare

MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower with...
853 Reviews
MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower with...
  • 【WATER RESISTANCE】MaxKare water rowing...
  • 【ERGONOMIC DESIGN】Full use of Ergonomic...
  • 【STURDY & DURABLE】Steel Main Frame makes...
  • 【LARGE LCD MONITOR】The large LCD monitor...

Best Value Water Rower Under $500

Length

44 inches

Max Seat height

35.4 inches

Weight of machine

86 lbs

Resistance Levels

NA

Max User Weight

264 lbs

This MaxKare rowing machine is the best water rower in its class. The rower features an ergonomic design and is durable while being super easy to transport and store.

You know you'll get an effective workout with the MaxKare Water Rowing Machine as it uses water resistance. Water-resistance provides a more authentic rowing experience, replicating the feel of rowing on water. The rower is also ergonomically designed, supporting your body through the workout and is simple to operate.

The machine also features sixteen resistance levels, making it an excellent choice for all levels – from beginner to pro.

This rowing machine is an excellent long-term investment due to its high-quality construction. The machine's frame is sturdy and durable, meaning it will last for a very long time.

The device comes with a cushioned seat, adjustable footplates, a padded handle, and a bottle holder. These features make the whole experience of working out much more comfortable for the user. This is incredibly important as humans are far less likely to build effective habits when something is uncomfortable or inconvenient.

One thing we love about this rower is the large inbuilt screen. Not only does this help you to keep track of your workouts, but there's also a competitive mode where you can race against the computer.

To top it off, the machine is easy to transport and store, thanks to the pulleys and moving wheels.

Pros

  • Durable and solid build
  • Connects to your smartphone
  • 16 resistance levels
  • Smart PMS system

Cons

  • Assembly isn't the easiest

5. SereneLife

On Sale Today
SereneLife Smart Rowing Machine-Home Rowing...
  • SMART ROWING MACHINE WITH PMS SYSTEM – lose...
  • COMPLETE BODY WORKOUT – using a T Bar...
  • INCLUDES FITSHOW APP – Connect the workout...
  • PREMIUM QUALITY SMART ROWING MACHINE – the...

Best Home Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

83.5 inches

Max Seat height

34.8 inches

Weight of machine

82 lbs

Resistance Levels

16

Max User Weight

250 lbs

SereneLife creates high-quality and durable exercise equipment for consumers. The SereneLife Smart Rowing Machine features an alloy steel frame and is an excellent pick for your home gym.

One of the unique things about this machine is that you can connect it to your smartphone using the FitShow app. The app supports the tracking of workouts to monitor your progress and help keep you accountable. The FitShow App is available on Android and iOS devices, and all your stats sync with your phone on pairing.

This T-bar rowing machine ensures you get a full-body workout by engaging all major muscle groups for the ultimate calorie-burning exercise. What's more is the onboard LCD system provides immediate feedback on heart rate, speed, and calories burned.

The SereneLife rowing machine comes with a one-year warranty, so you know it's high-quality and provides that added peace of mind. It offers 16 resistance levels and solid construction, making it an excellent investment for your home gym.

Pros

  • Durable and solid build
  • Connects to your smartphone
  • 16 resistance levels
  • Smart PMS system

Cons

  • Assembly isn't the easiest

6. Circuit Fitness Deluxe

CIRCUIT FITNESS Circuit Fitness Deluxe...
  • HARD-WEARING CONSTRUCTION - Made from...
  • VARIABLE RESISTANCE SETTINGS - This practical...
  • COMFORTABLE WORKOUT GEAR - Reinforced with a...
  • DIGITAL SCREEN DISPLAY - Completed with an...

Best Foldable Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

91 inches

Max Seat height

20.5 inches

Weight of machine

90 lbs

Resistance Levels

8

Max User Weight

300 lbs

Circuit Fitness is a part of the Life Fitness Family. As Life Fitness is one of the most recognizable fitness brands globally, famous for creating high-quality commercial gym equipment, you know you can rely on them for superior products.

One of the best things about the Circuit Fitness Deluxe Foldable Magnetic Rowing Machine is compact and easy to move & store. The manual magnetic resistance system on this machine offers multiple intensity, so you'll get an effective workout every time you're on it.

What's more, is that Circuit Fitness engineered this machine to ensure it's reliable and stable. It features a heavy-duty steel and aluminum build. The intelligent design allows you to save space at your apartment while getting an effective daily workout.

What's great about this rower is that it's incredibly easy to assemble. As long as you have a little DIY know-how, you'll be able to put the rower together in less than 30 minutes.

The machine comes with an LCD screen panel that allows you to track distance, speed, time, calories burned, and more.

This rower is also incredibly affordable, and for the price, this is one of the best rowers you can buy.

Pros

  • Compact and easy to store
  • Intelligent design and durable construction
  • 11-lb flywheel panel and magnetic resistance
  • Adjustable foot straps

Cons

  • Pedals rotate on the axel

7. Stamina 35-1215 Orbital

Stamina 35-1215 Orbital Rowing Machine with...
  • Compact rowing machine with full...
  • Smooth hydraulic cylinder resistance;...
  • Single button monitor shows speed, distance,...
  • Thick, padded seat; pivoting foot...

Best Hydraulic Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

48 inches

Max Seat height

27.75 inches

Weight of machine

47 lbs

Resistance Levels

5

Max User Weight

350 lbs

The Stamina 35-1215 Orbital was destined to make it onto our list. The company has earned a name for itself and has been around for decades, famed for its high-quality gym equipment. This rowing machine comes with a 5-year warranty and is an ideal choice for beginners.

At first glance, you may be a little confused as this rower doesn't look like the typical rowing machine. However, the design is specifically engineered for smaller spaces, at the same time ensuring a full-body workout.

The machine offers the same range of motion that mimics rowing on water, making the experience authentic. The hydraulic cylinder resistance on the device is impressively smooth, and you can adjust the tension according to your needs.

The thick, padded seat is comfortable so that you won't have a problem staying on the machine for longer cardio sessions.

This machine is not only smooth but also silent in function. This is great as you won't be disturbing anyone while working out! It's easy to set the tension on this machine to adjust the intensity of your workout.

One of the downsides is that this machine doesn't come with the best monitor. The single-button monitor may feel ancient but gets the job done.

Pros

  • Smooth and quiet function
  • Easy tension setting
  • Assembly doesn't take long

Cons

  • Heavy

8. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5864

On Sale Today
Sunny Health & Fitness Full Motion Magnetic...
  • Wide-range Rowing Arms: Separate rowing arms...
  • Powerful Resistance: Control the intensity of...
  • Easy Storage: Use the transportation wheels...
  • Digital Meter: Use the onboard computer to...

Best Fully Motion Rowing Machine Under $500

Length

73 inches

Max Seat height

42 inches

Weight of machine

94.8 lbs

Resistance Levels

8

Max User Weight

265 lbs

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5864 is worth every penny. The brand has been around for a number of years and is headquartered in California. They innovate and create effective solutions for their customers.

What sets this rowing machine apart from others is that it features separate rowing arms that emulate rowing on water. It also gives you the freedom to customize your workout.

The machine comes with a digital meter that computes and displays your workouts. It also allows you to create custom workouts to build your very own training program to meet your goals.

The machine offers eight levels of magnetic resistance. The oversized foot pedals give you the grip you need while the molded padded seat keeps you comfortable working out.

One thing we love is that this machine comes with a device holder, so you can watch Netflix on your iPad while working out! Now you have no excuses why you can't jump on and get rowing!

This rower can fold upright, helping you save tons of space – super convenient for a small home or apartment. When its time to workout, you can also move it quickly around your house, thanks to the wheels.

Pros

  • Comes with a device holder
  • Ergonomic molded seat
  • Non-slip pedal
  • Easy to transport and store

Cons

  • Noisy

How to Use a Rowing Machine Efficiently

A rowing machine can help you reach your fitness goals. However, you could risk injury if you aren't using the proper rowing technique. Here's what you need to keep in mind when rowing:

  • Keep the elbows close to your body
  • You should feel the movement in your hips
  • Make sure your pelvis is back and moving in sync
  • Don't round your back. You risk injury!
  • Don't lean fully forward, make slight movements
  • Use your legs and make sure the movements flow. They shouldn't feel jagged

Here's a quick video resource that'll help you.


Benefits of Rowing Machine Workouts

You Get a Full-Body Workout

A rowing machine requires you to use your upper and lower body, so you work out all of the major muscle groups and get a more effective workout than running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.

You Build Stamina

If you wish to improve your cardiovascular stamina and heart health, a rowing machine will be a fantastic investment. Each session helps strengthen your lungs and heart and improves endurance.

You Build Muscle

Like we mentioned earlier, a rowing machine can help you build almost all major muscle groups like your hamstrings, core, arms, legs, and back! This means that you build more muscle compared to other cardio workouts.

You Lose a Few Pounds

If you're buying a rowing machine to lose a few pounds, you'll get just that! Rowing helps burn a large number of calories in a short period. So, a moderately intense rowing workout will burn 600-1000 kcals per hour.

That's what we call an effective workout.


Rowing Machine Workouts

Are you in for getting a good workout?

Awesome! Because in this section of the article, we'll share some fantastic rowing workouts that'll leave you drenched in sweat and be proud of yourself.

For Beginners

This is a low-impact workout for those who're just starting. Feel free to adjust it according to your needs. Don't forget to warm up before starting your training!

  • Start with a session 3-minute session.
  • Get off the machine and walk it off. Stretch a little if you'd like to! Break for about 60-120 seconds.
  • Start rowing again for 3-4 minutes.

Do this for 5-10 sessions to get a 15 to 20-minute workout in.

For Weight Loss

Follow this work out for weight loss:

  • Low-intensity Steady State Cardio:
    You row for 30-40 minutes at a steady pace. The aim here is to log as many minutes as you can at a constant speed. The downside is because of the monotony, it can feel like hours!
  • High-Intensity Interval Training:
    In this exercise, you row at high intensity for 3-4 minutes and then at a lower speed for 5-7 minutes. The aim is to maximize the bursts of energy.

You can also find some intense rowing workouts here!

For Endurance/Cardio

Here's what to do:

  • Start with a row of about 20 SPM for 3-5 minutes and take a break.
  • Repeat the previous step.
  • Tweak the SPM and try to increase it by 2-4 SPM per session and try to maintain it. If the first two sessions are at 20 SPM, aim for the third to be at 22, and so on.
  • Start increasing the session time from 3-5 minutes to 5-7 minutes.
  • As the session time increases, so should the rest time.

For Full Body Cross Training/HIIT

Are you looking for a full buy workout?

Check out this article!


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Let's now take a quick look at some frequently asked questions about rowing machines.

Is A Rower A Good Workout Compared To Other Cardio Machines?

That depends on the type of workout you're looking for. Rowing is superior in that it allows you to work out more muscles than any other exercise.

Will A Water Rowing Machine Tone My Stomach?

All types of rowing machines engage the core. Whether or not you'll see visible abs depends upon your body fat percentage at the given time. Check out some of these ab exercises to help you on your journey.

How Many Calories Does A Rowing Machine Burn?

A moderately intense rowing workout will burn 600-1000 kcals per hour.

Which Specific Muscles Does A Rowing Machine Work?

A rowing machine engaged many muscles that include the quadriceps, glutes, calves, hamstrings, obliques, abs, biceps, pecs, deltoids, triceps, lats, and upper back.

Is It Easy To Get These Large Machines Shipped When Buying Online?

No, in fact, it can be much easier than heading to the store and trying to get it home yourself. Sites such as Amazon include free and fast delivery, direct to your door.


Conclusion

The best rowing machine for you is one that meets all your requirements, and then some. So it's important to spend some time narrowing down exactly what you need first.

As we hope you now know, finding a rowing machine under $500 will not be too challenging, and you can get many decent options in this price bracket.

We feel that the Merax Indoor Magnetic Rowing Machine is the best in this budget range. Why? Its got a reliable warranty, has 8 resistance levels, is almost silent in function and is machine is compact to save space.