Best Budget Rowing Machines (Under $400)

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Introduction 

A rowing machine, aka an ergometer, is a piece of equipment that mimics watercraft rowing action.

Rowers are a magical piece of equipment. Not only can they help you build muscle and lose weight, but you can keep one in your home without it taking up an entire room.

Best Bang for the Buck

You may be asking, “if this is such an amazing piece of equipment, can I really buy a high-quality budget option?”

To that, I answer with an enthusiastic YES!

Budget rowers are well worth the money you spend on them, and you will receive a quality product.

Will these machines have all of the bells and whistles you’d find on, say, a $1,200 plus model? Probably not. However, you’ll still reap the many benefits of rowers and not break the bank.

Take a look at the list below, and you’ll have plenty of inexpensive yet quality rowers to choose from without emptying your pockets!

Best Budget Rowing Machines

Top Picks in US & Canada

Below is a list of the top 6 cheap rowers:

  • Fitness Reality 1000 Magnetic Rower
  • XTERRA Fitness ERG220 Magnetic Rower
  • ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower
  • MaxKare Water Rowing Machine
  • MARNUR Water Rowing Machine
  • Fitness Reality Dual Transmission Fan (Air) Rower

Let’s now jump into a more detailed approach of every model, the pros and cons of each, concluding with a detailed guide for your indulgence.

1

Pros

  • Extremely quiet
  • Easy to assemble
  • Various resistance settings for different strength levels
  • Very stable

Cons

  • Not the greatest app or Bluetooth connectivity
  • Difficult to move around – the “wheels” don’t act as wheels

Detailed Review

Fitness Reality is close to the top when it comes to home exercise equipment, and the Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetite Rower is no exception.

The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetite Rower is a powerful but easy to use magnetic rower. It’s barely audible, so you won’t wake anyone while using it, so if you live in an apartment or have a family, this could be an excellent option for you.

A friendly model for all ages, the resistance settings change for different various strength levels. Still, because it’s purely a magnetic rower, the resistance does have a cap.

This rower is compact, which makes storage options easy as well. It’s also effortless to move around, so you won’t break your back putting it away.

Most users agree that this rower is silent, high-quality, and can still pack quite the punch! If you’re looking for a small and easy to store rower, check this one out!

Suitable for: Max Height = 6’6’’ & Max Weight = 250lbs


2
Runner-Up
MaxKare Water Rowing Machine

Specially designed to approach the real stroke on water, making your rowing experience more real and challenging. Its steel frame makes the rowing machine very sturdy.

Alternative: Merax Water Rowing Machine

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Pros

  • Sturdy and durable steel frame
  • The water resembles real-life rowing
  • Padded handle for extra comfort
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Loud seat movement
  • Water maintenance

Detailed Review

The MaxKare Water Rowing Machine brings the enjoyment of water rowing to the comfort of your home! A lovely design with sturdy parts, you’ll be on this thing for years before it needs any maintenance.

The large LCD monitor will give you all the information you need during your workout. At the same time, the water provides a comfortable resistance that you can increase with effort alone.

It’s straightforward to assemble, but make sure you maintain the water inside the rower to ensure you don’t get any mold. When storing, make sure the water level is appropriate, so no spills happen!

This MaxKare Water Rowing Machine is a fantastic product with an incredible price tag. Most reviews of this machine are very positive, with the negative reviews being about minor inconveniences.

Suitable for: Max Height = N/A Max Weight = 264lbs


3
XTERRA Fitness ERG220 Rower

With a quality build and simple but effective design, this rower is great for all fitness levels.

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Pros

  • Magnetic resistance
  • Foldable frame for easy storage
  • Large, comfortable molded seat
  • Lightweight making it easy to move around

Cons

  • Inaccurate display
  • Not many resistance levels

Detailed Review

For a budget rower, the Xterra Fitness Erg220 Magnetic Rower is near the top of the list. With a quality build and simple but effective design, this rower is great for all fitness levels. The Xterra Fitness Erg220 Magnetic Rower has the look and feel of a top-of-the-line rower. It boasts all of the qualities you would look for in a rower: quiet, compact, comfortable, and pivoting foot pedals.

Being a magnetic rower, you have complete control over the resistance levels, giving you the ability to change from cardio to a strength workout with the simple adjustment of a knob. However, there are only eight resistance levels, so if you’re looking for a more challenging workout, you may want to look elsewhere.

Although some reviewers have complained about the LCD screen’s lag, that won’t stop you from getting a great workout in! The rower is very comfortable, though. The padded handles will prevent calluses, and the pivoting foot pedals will allow for more range of motion. This added comfort will be a big plus for some people.

Suitable for: Max Height = 6’4’’ Max Weight = 300lbs


4
ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower CRW-4901

A quality machine at an extremely affordable price. Users mention, also, the excellent customer service that will go out of their way to assist you in any way they can.

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Pros

  • Sturdy design
  • Easy assembly
  • Excellent customer service
  • Water bottle holder

Cons

  • Phone/tablet holder is not that reliable
  • Uncomfortable seating

Detailed Review

The ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower is a quality machine at an extremely affordable price. ECHANFIT has excellent customer service that will go out of their way to assist you in any way they can.

This rower still has everything you’re looking for: different resistance levels, a quiet and sturdy design, and a compact size that makes storage easy. This rower has 16 levels of resistance, and their LCD monitor will provide all of the relevant information you need to get a great workout.

Although not a seemingly huge detail but the ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower comes with a water bottle holder that many reviewers were glad to see.

Their product doesn’t list their max height, but a few reviewers have noted that at 6’3”, they are comfortable and still able to row. Few people have anything negative to say about this machine because there isn’t much wrong with it!

Suitable for: Max Height = N/A Max Weight = 265lbs


5
MARNUR Water Rowing Machine

With its sturdy and elegant design, the MARNUR Water Rowing Machine will look good in any room

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Pros

  • Large water tank allowing for more resistance
  • Comes with a water pipe to clean and replace water
  • Sturdy frame and parts
  • Longer frame for taller individuals

Cons

  • Difficult to follow instructions
  • Can’t be folded for upright storage

Detailed Review

The MARNUR Water Rowing Machine is another high-quality water rower. Although not as quiet as a magnetic rower, a water rower will give you the feeling of being on the water.

With its sturdy and elegant design, the MARNUR Water Rowing Machine will look good in any room and allow you to work as hard as you’d like without the risk of injury or damage.

MARNUR provides you with a pipe with which you can easily clean and replace the water, which is an excellent addition, and the parts are sturdy and durable. This rower is easy to move around but is not foldable, making upright storage difficult since it’s about 7 ft long.

The reviews are mostly positive, with a few people complaining about things outside of the rower’s design, efficiency, and build. For this price, you get an excellent rower that will provide you with a great workout!

Suitable for: Max Height = N/A Max Weight = 300lbs


6
Fitness Reality Dual Transmission Fan Rower

It comes with the bonus of dual resistances of air and magnetic and is lightweight, making it easy to move and store.

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Pros

  • Compact design makes it easy to move and store
  • Easy to assemble
  • Different resistance levels
  • Combination of air and magnetic resistance

Cons

  • Lightweight, which can be nice, but it will move around for powerful rowers
  • Bluetooth and App connectivity issues

Detailed Review

Another great rower model from Fitness Reality. The Fitness Reality Dual Transmission Fan (Air) Rower is great for all ages and fitness levels. It comes with the bonus of dual resistances of air and magnetic and is lightweight, making it easy to move and store.

A few people have complained about the Bluetooth connectivity. However, if you’re looking for an affordable rower that will give you a killer workout, this is still a great option.

The benefit of the dual fan and magnetic resistance is you can control how challenging the workout is. The magnetic resistance lets you cycle through various levels, while the fan allows you to control resistance through effort.

Suitable for: Max Height = N/A Max Weight = 250lbs


Budget Rower Buying Guide

Now that you’ve had the opportunity to compare six different excellent budget rowers, how do you choose??

Below we’ve put together a comprehensive buying guide which will provide you with information on the type of rower and a few things to consider before buying!

There are a few things you should consider before buying yourself a rower. 

Rower Type: Magnetic, Water, and Air 

Based on your goals and preference, you’ll want to decide on a magnetic, water, or air rower.

Magnetic rowers are easy to use and don’t require much hands-on maintenance. A knob on the center console usually controls the intensity of your workout. This lets you vary the resistance based on your experience, fitness, and workout choice.

Magnetic rowers are a great option for all, but they will hit a cap on their resistance. Unlike air and water rowers that use your effort to gauge difficulty, you won’t be able to go higher once you hit the highest resistance level.

The bright side of magnetic rowers is they are barely audible. Unlike the air models you’ll see at your gym, magnetic rowers hardly make a noise. This is great if you have a family or live in an apartment complex.

Water rowers are similar to air models. There is a tank that you fill with water, and the water acts as the resistance. Just as you would rowing in water, the harder you row, the harder the workout!

Water rowers also give you the resemblance of actual rowing! Some people may find this more therapeutic or fun than a magnetic or air rower.

The main issue surrounding water rowers is maintenance. You need to make sure you have cleaning tablets on hand, or your rower can get moldy and be a pain in the butt to clean.

Air rowers are usually similar to the models you’ll find in gyms. Like water rowers, the resistance is gauged on your effort. Most air models will be a combination of air and magnetic, so you will be able to measure resistance and effort more accurately than water rowers.

This dual resistance allows you to train harder than you would on a magnetic or water rower alone, so for those of you that enjoy more challenging workouts, this may be the best option for you.

budget rower in-content

Size

The size will always play a factor in any home gym. Rowers are usually quite long, and some can get heavy. However, most companies realize that people won’t want to keep their rowers in their family rooms, making storing them much easier.

When it comes to your decision, take size into consideration. Do you live in a house where you have your own gym space? Or do you live in an apartment?

Does the rower fold up for easy storage? Am I able to move this rower with ease, or should it stay where it is?

These are different questions you need to ask yourself when comparing rowers. I don’t want you to get all excited about your new rower, and then it’s way too big for your home!

Noise Level

Another critical factor in deciding on your rower is the noise level.

If you have a young family and like to row in the mornings, a magnetic rower may be best because they’re quieter. This might also be the case if you have roommates or live in an apartment with neighbors above and below.

However, if you own a home and have space in the basement and garage, the noise level may not be a fact, so that you can go with the louder air and water rowers.

Be conscientious about this factor; although your family and friends want you to stay in shape and healthy, they may not care for your early morning or late-night workouts!

Benefits of Using a Rower

There are so many benefits of using a rower.

Anyone of any fitness level can use them because of their ability to change resistance levels. Rowers tend to be a lower impact option compared to running and walking. This meaning it’s easier on the knees and other joints, which some people will complain about.

Rowers are more convenient than swimming and biking. You don’t even need to leave your own home! This may not relate as much for those of you with pools, but come wintertime, you’ll want to stay inside!

Compared to other cardio options, rowing allows you to increase intensity without increasing your injury risk. If you try to run, bike and swim harder and faster, you may risk various injuries. However, rowers allow you to control this intensity more without adding extra impact on your body.

Rowing is a great full-body workout. You’ll use your back, legs, arms, butt, and abs giving you the power to crush a full-body exercise in as little as 15-20 minutes. This isn’t your typical cardio workout; you can put on some serious muscle or tone up existing muscles!

Not only will you build a great body, but you can improve your posture as well. With desk jobs increasing, our backs are beginning to hunch more. But with the motion of rowing, you start to increase your back’s strength and bring your shoulders back to their optimal location.

Unlike a bike or treadmill, with a rower, you’ll see results much faster. Since you’re putting in all of this effort, it’s nice to see that effort pay off, and with rowing, you’ll see it in no time!

Tips when Exercising on a Rower

1. Start slow! Rowing can be intense, and if your body is not used to that intensity, you may find yourself sore and worn-out. Just like anything with your fitness, start slow and build up. The great thing about rowers is you’ll be able to increase your capacity faster than running or lifting weights.

2. Form does matter with rowing. If you’re new to rowing, it may be ideal to talk with someone who has experience or watch a few videos on the techniques and form. Once you get that down, you’ll be good to go, but make sure everything feels and looks good!

3. Change up your workouts. Running, biking, and swimming can all get stagnant because you can’t vary the intensity. However, with a rower, you have a HIIT, strength, and cardio workout all in one fantastic machine! Change things up throughout the week to spice up your workouts and see results faster.

Conclusion 

Having your rowing machine used to be a luxury, but these days more and more people are buying their own.

With this buying guide, I’ve broken down seven different best budget rowers under $400 that will still give you a great workout.

These rowers are a great way to get into rowing or make rowing more convenient by having one in your very home.

Don’t let the $400 price tag push you away from any of these rowers. A budget rower doesn’t mean cheap. You may sacrifice some bells and whistles, but you will get more than your money’s worth on any of these seven rowers!

Please consult this list a few times before buying as it will help you make the best decision for your at-home budget rower!

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The article has been researched & compiled by the Editorial IF-FIT Team, a group of experienced fitness & health writers.

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