If cardio is your goal, a rowing machine can be a great choice. It offers a low to no-impact workout and is easy to use.
A good rowing machine can be expensive, but you can find several great choices for less than you think.
Our list will help you find the best budget rowing machines for your home gym. Let’s get going!
In a Hurry? Here is our top pick:
Quick Answer – The Best Budget Rowing Machines
- Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Rowing Machine – Best Overall
- Marcy ME-1018RE Foldable Rowing Machine – Best For Bodybuilders
- Marcy NS-40503RW Rowing Machine – Best For Beginners
- MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best For Tall Users
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine – Best For Long Legs
- EFITMENT RW025 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Compact Budget Rowing Machine
- Stamina 1050 Body Trac Glider Rowing Machine – Best Oar-Like Rowing Motion
- XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Rowing Machine – Best For Fitness Enthusiasts
- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Price Point
- Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best For Seniors
Reviews – The Best Budget Rowing Machines
1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Rowing Machine – Best Overall
The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Rowing Machine features instant savings that will bring the price of this machine down to an affordable level.
It’s the only rower that allows the user to do additional arm and shoulder exercises, regardless of price. The no-slip grip handle can be used for these exercises, and the user stands on special stabilizer footpads in front of the machine.
This machine has 14 levels of magnetic resistance and a user weight capacity of 250lbs.
Plus, it has a free My Cloud Fitness app and has 3 workout goal settings. You can pay a monthly fee and get unlimited workouts as well as track your performance.
There’s also an LCD monitor that displays your exercise stats.
The 1000 Plus has a well-padded seat and no-slip foot plates with adjustable straps, and it folds for easy storage.
- Features Exclusive Additional Upper Body Exercises For A Full Body Workout
- Bluetooth Connectivity & Free Fitness App
- Folds For Easy Storage
- Some Users Feel The Exercise Stats Are Not Accurate
2. Marcy ME-1018RE Foldable Rowing Machine – Best For Bodybuilders
The Marcy ME-1018RE Foldable Rowing Machine has 8 levels of magnetic resistance and a user weight capacity of 300lbs.
It has a large LCD that tracks your performance and a device holder for your smartphone or iPad.
It features a large padded seat, large textured footplates with straps, and padded handles.
This is not a compact machine but it folds and has transport wheels so it can be easily moved and stored.
This rower is a good choice if you want to strengthen and develop your upper and lower body muscles.
For that reason, The Marcy ME-1018RE is the best budget rowing machine for bodybuilders.
- 300lbs User Weight
- Folds & Moves Easily
- 8 Magnetic Resistance Levels
- May Be Hard To Assemble For Some Users
3. Marcy NS-40503RW Rowing Machine – Best For Beginners
The Marcy NS-40503RW Rowing Machine is a well-built machine that has a user weight capacity of 300lbs.
It features 8 levels of magnetic resistance.
There are two non-slip footplates with customizable foot straps, the row handles are foam-covered, and there’s a contoured foam seat pad.
The easy to read LCD monitor tracks exercise performance as well as tilts forward and backward.
This rower features a foldable design with a quick-release pin and a foldable monitor. It also has two built-in transport wheels for easy moving and storage.
This is an easy machine to get started with. The Marcy NS-40503RW is the best budget rowing machine for beginners.
- Foldable For Easy Storage
- 8 Resistance Levels
- Adjustable Monitor
- Noisy Operation
4. MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best For Tall Users
The MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine has 16 levels of magnetic resistance and is designed for users as tall as 6’5”.
It has a user weight capacity of 243 lbs. There’s a large LCD console that tracks exercise performance.
The MaxKare has a non-slip foam grip handlebar and there’s a large padded seat. The large textured footplates feature a no-slip design with high-quality safety straps.
This rower is foldable and has transportation wheels for easy storage.
These features and the height capacity make the MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine the best budget machine for tall users.
- 16 Resistance Levels
- Designed For Users As Tall AS 6’5”
- Foldable Design
- Some Users Claim The LCD Monitor Malfunctions
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Rowing Machine – Best For Long Legs
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 features an extra-long slide rail to accommodate those users that have long legs.
Despite the length, it folds up and has wheels for easy storage.
There are 8 levels of magnetic resistance and a 250lb user weight capacity.
The seat is padded and extra-large for comfort.
There are a no-slip handle and large no-slip footplates with adjustable straps.
Also, there’s a digital monitor to track exercise stats and floor stabilizers for secure floor placement.
With the extra-long rail design, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is the best budget rowing machine for users with long legs.
- Designed For Taller Users
- 8 Resistance Levels
- Holds 250lbs User Weight
- May Be Too Long For Some Exercise Spaces
6. EFITMENT RW025 Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best Compact Budget Rowing Machine
The EFITMENT RW025 Magnetic Rowing Machine features a steel slide rail that has a low profile so you are exercising closer to the ground. This helps avoid injury.
The RW025 uses a nylon cord, magnetic resistance, and has a user weight capacity of 250lbs.
This rower is a space-saving design so it can fit easily in small exercise spaces. It also has transportation wheels for easy moving and storage.
The no-slip foot plates feature velcro straps for a secure fit.
These features and the space-saving size make the EFITMENT RW025 the best compact budget rowing machine.
- Compact Design Ideal For Small Apartments Or Rooms
- Moves Easily For Storage
- Sturdy Steel Slide Rail
- May Not Be Ideal For Taller Users
7. Stamina 1050 Body Trac Glider Rowing Machine – Best Oar-Like Rowing Motion
The Stamina 1050 Body Trac Glider Rowing Machine stimulates the actual motion of rowing a real boat. It features adjustable hydraulic resistance for a smooth stroke and has a user weight capacity of 250lbs.
This machine has steel frame construction, a molded seat, and padded foam handles. The footplates have adjustable straps and the LCD monitors exercise performance.
The Stamina 1050 is a compact design and the rowing arms fold to save space.
The design of the Stamina 1050 Body Trac Glider makes it the best natural motion budget rowing machine.
- Stimulates Rowing In Water
- Sturdy Steel Frame
- Adjustable Hydraulic Resistance
- Does Not Monitor Heart Rate
8. XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Rowing Machine – Best For Fitness Enthusiasts
The XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Folding Rowing Machine features dual aluminum seat slide rails that are mounted to a steel frame.
It has 8 levels of magnetic resistance and a user weight capacity of 250lbs.
There’s an adjustable easy to read LCD monitor that tracks exercise performance.
The pivoting footplates have extra-large straps for a secure fit.
The XTERRA ERG200 folds for easy moving and storage. It’s designed to provide a smooth workout for all fitness levels. That makes the XTERRA Fitness ERG200 the best budget rowing machine for fitness enthusiasts.
- Sturdy Steel Frame
- User Capacity 0f 250lbs
- 8 Resistance Levels
- Noisy Operation
9. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine – Best Price Point
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine features 12 levels of hydraulic resistance and has a user weight capacity of 220lbs.
There’s a digital monitor that tracks exercise performance. There’s also a wide padded seat, cushioned handlebars, and no-slip footplates with large adjustable straps.
The SF-RW 1205 is a compact machine designed for small spaces.
- 12 Resistance Levels
- Budget Price Point
- Holds Up To 220lbs User Weight
- Does Not Fold, Has To Be Carried To Be Moved
10. Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine – Best For Seniors
The Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine features 10 levels of resistance and holds users up to 265lbs.
It’s constructed using iron material for durability and strength. There’s a large LCD monitor that tracks your exercise performance.
This is a machine that’s designed for seniors that want to exercise, support their joint health, and improve their flexibility.
The seat is well padded, the pivoting foot plates are large, and use adjustable straps.
The Goplus is easy to use and features a simple single pull handle.
It folds for storage and moves easily.
These features make the Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine the best budget rower for seniors.
- Made Using Durable Iron Material
- Easy To Use
- Easy To Fold And Store
- 10 Levels Of Resistance
- Does Not Monitor Heart Rate
Buying Guide – How To Choose The Best Rowing Machine?
A rowing machine is a low impact exercise that can burn a lot of calories. Typically speaking, you can burn between 600-800 calories per hour on a rowing machine.
It’s a reasonably versatile piece of equipment that can involve the entire body, so you lose weight, and you can build a degree of muscle too.
Many users may think of a rower as a machine that targets the back, but it also involves your core and leg muscles.
Our best overall, the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth, has the unique feature of being able to perform direct arm and shoulder work. It does this by positioning footpads on the front of the machine. The user stands on these pads and can use the single pull handle for various upper body exercises. This is an innovative concept.
Types Of Rowing Machines
There are two basic types of rowing machines:
Single Pull – This is the most common type of rowing machine and the kind you’ll find in a gym. You simply pull the handle towards you. They will have a band, strap, or chain that connects to the resistance.
Oar – This type has two handles that mimic the motion of rowing a boat. Since the motion is in an arc, it’s a larger range of movement than a single handle. It typically uses hydraulic resistance.
Types Of Resistance
There are four main types of resistance used on rowing machines:
Water – This type uses a water-filled flywheel to increase the resistance and uses a single pull handle. There are paddles in the water tank that go around in a circle as you pull. The harder you pull, the higher the resistance. This style gives you the most authentic experience.
Magnetic – This type of resistance uses magnetic brakes that provide a smooth motion as you pull. They use a single handle and the resistance is easily adjustable.
Air Flywheel – In this case, a flywheel with fan blades spins as you pull the single handle. The wind creates the resistance, the harder you pull, the more resistance you get.
Hydraulic – This type uses hydraulic pistons attached to pulling arms. As noted above, this is the only type of resistance that uses pulling arms.
In this case, all of the rowers in this guide are priced with budget in mind. Still, there’s a reasonable range of price points in this guide. You will find some outstanding options among the choices presented. There’s no reason to compromise features and accessories because of budget.
The rower you’re considering should be well-built and designed for use by all types of users. No matter how tall you are or how much you weigh, you want a machine that performs well and feels sturdy during use.
Some rowers are noisy to the point of it being difficult to use if you are trying to exercise at a time when the rest of the house is quiet. The level of noise a rower makes should be a consideration if you exercise when everyone else is asleep. As well, some users do not want a noisy machine, regardless of when it’s being used.
Handle And Seat
The pull handle and seat should be well-padded for a comfortable rowing experience. In many cases, the seat is over-sized for a secure feeling while you exercise. The handle will either be a single bar or two separate handles. In either case, it will attach to a single band that attaches to the resistance mechanism.
You should have a display that provides the data you are looking for in an exercise machine. Not all rowers track the same things, make sure the one you want does. Along with the display monitor, some rowers may include a media rack for your smartphone.
You’ll want to be sure the footplates are non-slip and have adjustable straps so your feet remain securely attached. Many rowers have footplates that pivot, so this makes a big difference in how well you can perform the exercise.
Size & Portability
If you exercise in a small area, look for a rower that folds and has wheels so you can move it and store it easily. Some rowers are bigger to allow for taller users, and not all rowers fold. Make sure you choose a rower that works well with the space you have available.
Levels Of Resistance
Most of the rowers on this list have 8 levels of resistance, and some have more. Do not settle for less resistance than your experience demands.
Despite the price point of these machines, you should consider the warranty offered when making your decision.
Our best overall is the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Rowing Machine. This machine comes in at a great price point and has 14 levels of resistance. It also has the unique feature of offering an upper body exercise station in the front part of the machine. That means you can get a complete workout with this rower.
If you want a more oar-like rowing motion, the Stamina 1050 Body Trac Glider Rowing Machine is the way to go. The long arms give the feel of rowing a real boat and fold for storage.
There’s no doubt, the best budget rowing machine is the one that meets your goals the best.