Best Rowing Machine Under $500 2021 – Reviews & Buying Guide

So why are you looking to buy best rowing machine under $500? Is there any specific reason?

Well, it’s proven that rowing is one of the most complete exercises. It works on most of the muscles and strengthens bones and joints. It’s also a low impact exercise, which means it keeps you safe from injury.

Thanks to advances in technology, you no longer have to get on a rowing boat. Now you can do it in the comfort of your home with a rowing machine. They’re compact, easy to store and very cheap.

If you want to have a perfect beach body, you should buy one of these. It’s true that most new models are quite expensive, but by following some tips you’ll get one for less money than you think.

Best Rowing Machine Under $500 2021

Cheap Rowing Machine Reviews

Today you’ll know the 10 best rowing machines under $500 that you can’t miss this 2021. If you aren’t an expert in the matter, you’ll also get a buying guide to make the best decision following some basic criteria.

What is Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine is a device that serves to strengthen and define muscles. It works mainly on the following parts of the body:

  • Arms
  • Back
  • Abdomen
  • Glutes
  • Legs

The resistance level varies with the change in intensity of the training routine. You can also adjust the resistance manually. Most cheap models are lightweight, foldable and easy to transport.

Why You Will Use a Rowing Machine?

A rowing machine helps you lose weight and gain muscle mass to have a defined body. Rowing is a very complete exercise and acts on the main muscle groups.

With a rowing machine, you no longer need to board a boat to row through the water. The water rowing machines can emulate the same experience without leaving the comfort of your home.

Easy Steps to Use Rowing Machine

Using a rowing machine is very easy. You just have to follow the following procedure:

  • Sit with your back straight on the seat.
  • Hold the handles with both hands.
  • Place your feet on the pedals, keeping both knees bent.
  • Stretch your legs, forcing your glutes to move the seat back. At the same time pull the handle hard, bending your back backwards.
  • Then, flex your knees again. Let the handle pull bring you to the original position.
  • Repeat steps 4 and 5, doing 10-15 repetitions. Then rest.

Top 10 Rowing Machine Under $500 Reviews

Finding a rowing machine under $500 is difficult but not impossible. If you don’t want to waste your time on long and tedious searches, check out the unsurpassed features of the rowing machines in this top 10.

1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515

Foldable and easy to adjust. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine has all the features you need to enjoy a demanding but at the same time pleasant rowing routine.

With 8 different resistance levels to vary the requirement of your training routine. With this machine you can grow your muscles at your own pace. You just need to spin a wheel to do it.

It’s compact and foldable. You can store it in a small space, where it won’t bother anyone. So its digital monitor screen allows you to know the count, training time and the approximate amount of burned calories.

With anti-slip coatings on the handles and pedals to avoid accidents during training. If you’re a fitness lover, this is a mandatory must-have machine for you.

We Love
  • Adjustable resistance level.
  • Foldable and easy to store.
  • It includes digital monitor screen.
We Don't Love
  • Handle can break over time.
  • Warranty only covers defects in the frame.

2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205

Very simple but practical at the same time. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine is compact, lightweight and easy to store. The best folding rowing machine you can find.

This machine is so light and compact that you can take it with you on your next vacation. You’ll no longer have excuses to stop training. Its hydraulic cylinder has 12 adjustable resistance levels.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205’s handles and pedals are wide and covered with anti-slip foam. This provides greater stability to ensure zero interruptions during your rowing routine. Its LCD monitor shows you the count, time and number of burned calories.

Its cushioned seat provides the best support for maximum comfort. So its frame is made of the highest strength steel for durability.

We Love
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Adjustable resistance level.
  • LCD monitor included.
We Don't Love
  • Limited range of motion.
  • Not enough resistance.

3. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050

Ideal for training in tight spaces. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is convenient, compact and easy to store. The perfect machine to sculpt arms, legs, back, glutes and abs at the same time.

You can adjust the resistance level of your hydraulic cylinder easily. It allows a full-range movement for a more natural rowing training. Most machines on the market limit free movement, preventing the strengthening of some muscles.

So its multi-function electronic monitor allows you to track your progress while focusing on achieving your goals. If you use it properly, this machine guarantees results in a short time.

Its handles and pedals are anti-slip for greater stability. In addition, its frame is made of steel.

We Love
  • Durable and resistant.
  • Lightweight and easy to store.
  • It includes electronic monitor.
We Don't Love
  • Its shock can break easily.

4. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5720 Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5720

It allows full-range movement and is also very easy to transport. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5720 Rowing Machine is a powerful, yet light and compact machine.

You can vary its 5 inclination levels to increase or decrease the difficulty. This machine allows a full-range of movement to work more muscle groups at the same time.

Its digital monitor allows you to control the count, time and number of burned calories. That’s the reason its comfortable seat not interferes with blood circulation of your glutes.

It’s also foldable and includes wheels on the front to transport it more easily from one place to another. Made of steel with handles and pedals covered with foam.

We Love
  • Portable and easy to move.
  • Adjustable inclination.
  • Includes digital monitor.
We Don't Love
  • Unnaturally rowing motion.
  • Very loud.

5. MaxKare 16 Level Magnetic Rowing Machine

MaxKare 16 Level

MaxKare 16 Level Magnetic Rowing Machine guarantees effective training with little impact. Its innovative magnetic adjustment system allows you to easily vary the resistance level of your rowing routine. The best rowing machine under 200.

With 16 different resistance levels. You can vary the level of demand as you gain more muscular endurance. That’s why its design reduces high impacts to protect your muscles and joints, guaranteeing the best results in the short term.

Its LCD monitor allows you to control the amount of burned calories, the number of repetitions and training time. In case of any manufacturing defect, you have a 24 month warranty.

Made of steel for maximum durability. Handles and pedals are anti-slip to keep you always in control.

We Love
  • 16 Resistance adjustment levels.
  • Durable and resistant.
  • LCD monitor included.
We Don't Love
  • Seat level too close to the floor.
  • LCD monitor can damage in short time.

6. Stamina ATS 1403 Rowing Machine

Stamina ATS 1403

Stamina ATS 1403 Rowing Machine activates 86% of your muscles during training. It’s compact, lightweight and easy to store.

Its dynamic air resistance allows you to adjust the difficulty level. From a gentle routine for newbies to a high-demanding training for experts. Although small in size, it’s as powerful as those huge gym machines.

Its angled rail is wider than other models, for better support and seat stability. You can also adjust the inclination of the pedals to make your feet more comfortable.

Easy to assemble and store. With front wheels for better displacement and coated supports to avoid scratches on the floor. It also includes a digital monitor to check the time, count and burned calories.

We Love
  • Easy assembly and storage.
  • Wider angled rail.
  • Dynamic air resistance adjustment.
We Don't Love
  • Weak spring return mechanism.
  • Very short warranty time.

7. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5713 Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5713

Emulates the dynamic movements of competitive rowing. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5713 Rowing Machine varies the difficulty level with the intensity changes. The perfect machine to become a professional rower.

Its wheel-shaped obsidian container includes high-density hydro blades submerged in water. When you increase the frequency of each rowing movement, the resistance level increases. As you get faster, your muscles get stronger.

Its new R2 Fitness Meter can track time, number of repetitions, burned calories, ambient temperature and heart rate (buying an additional pulse belt). So its pedals include Velcro straps to ensure that your feet won’t move.

Its front wheels make it easy to transport and store. It’s a very durable and resistant machine, made of the highest quality steel.

We Love
  • More natural rowing experience.
  • Digital monitor with multiple features.
  • Durable and resistant.
We Don't Love
  • Very heavy.
  • Pedals can break easily.

8. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine

Fitness Reality 1000 Plus

With this machine, you can check the results of your training on your smartphone. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine is ideal for technology lovers who want to stay fit. The best rowing machine under 300.

Its magnetic adjustment system allows you to vary between 14 different resistance levels. So its cushioned seat is larger for more comfort. Its foam-coated handles and pedals provide greater stability.

Its LCD display allows you to control the count, time and amount of burned calories. Using the MyCloudFitness app, you can store all your data and access it at any time through your smartphone. It’s also a very resistant and durable machine.

We Love
  • You can access your training data through your smartphone.
  • 14 Different resistance levels.
  • Durable and resistant.
We Don't Love
  • Reported problems with the app.
  • Difference between resistance levels almost imperceptible.

9. XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Magnetic Resistance Rower

XTERRA Fitness ERG200

By simply turning a wheel, you can adjust the resistance level of the machine. XTERRA Fitness ERG200 Magnetic Resistance Rower provides extra comfort and sufficient resistance for best results.

You can vary between 8 different resistance levels with its practical magnetic adjustment system. Its aluminum track rail makes it lighter but strong enough to withstand wear and high impacts.

That’s why its handles and pedals covered with foam provide a better grip. Its Velcro straps prevent your feet from getting out of place when rowing. In addition, it’s foldable and easy to transport.

Its LCD monitor allows you to control the time, count and amount of burned calories.

We Love
  • Lightweight and easy to transport.
  • 8 Different resistance levels.
  • LCD monitor included.
We Don't Love
  • Track rail angle too low.
  • Awkward position of the pedals.

10. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639

Simple but effective. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Rowing Machine doesn’t have as many features as superior models, but it does its job better than none.

Its hydraulic cylinder allows 12 different resistance adjustment levels. So its full motion arms provide a more natural movement, ideal for activating more muscle groups at the same time.

You can check the number of repetitions, time and burned calories on its digital monitor. Its handles and pedals are anti-slip for better control. It’s compact, lightweight and easy to store. In addition, it’s one of the cheapest models in the market.

We Love
  • Very cheap.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Includes digital monitor.
We Don't Love
  • Seat support rollers wear out very fast.
  • It exerts very little resistance.

Rowing Machine Under $500 Buying Guide

In general there’s no perfect rowing machine. It all depends on the personal tastes of each person. Therefore, it’s common to see so many top 10 with different rowing machine models.

Most of those articles base on the previous experiences and personal tastes of the writer. It’s possible that several of the models presented in this article aren’t the most convenient for you, considering your height, weight and physical condition.

Some models focus on the general public and others on experienced rowers. Surely if you’ve rowed a boat before and hope to recreate that feeling with your new machine, most cheap models won’t help you with that purpose.

Importance of A Rowing Machine

If you want a rowing machine to strengthen your back, abs and glutes muscles, you only need a machine with enough strength to make you sweat.

On the other hand, if you suffer from any condition or disease such as arthritis, and you’re looking for a machine that helps you delay the unwanted effects of age, you need a small machine with a moderate level of resistance.

Anyway, there’s always an ideal rowing machine for each person. And the best way to find the most appropriate for you is to compare the features of several models. The only one that offers each and every one of the advantages you need will be the right for you.

If you have never rowed a boat, visited a gym or used one of these machines before, you have nothing to worry about. Those who today are experts in rowing machines once felt like you.

If you don’t want to take the risk of making a bad decision, you should pay attention to the tips in this article. Today you’ll learn how to choose the best rowing machines under $500 that best suits you.

At the end of this article, you’ll feel better prepared to make a decision based on valid criteria and not mere speculation.


Maybe you never thought that the size of your rowing machine is perhaps the first feature you should analyze. It would be a serious mistake to getting convinced by the incredible features of a product, then buy it and when you get home, you realize that it doesn’t fit anywhere.

This is the worst thing that could happen to you, especially if the return policy doesn’t apply when the product is free from defects. First of all, evaluate the space available at home for your new machine.

Then check the dimensions of the machine on its official website to see if the available space is sufficient. If not, unfortunately you’ll have to opt for a smaller model.

People who live in apartments, who don’t have outdoor space to train should pay attention to this advice.

Type of Use

Before choosing any model, you should know before how many people will use it. If you’re going to buy a rowing machine for personal use, you’re free to choose the model that suits you best.

However, if several people in home are going to use it, it’s preferable that you buy a bigger model. Those models under $100 dollars can break even when only one person uses them. Now imagine if your whole family used something like that.

You would be lucky if at least it survives the first week of use. For these cases, choose models with a more robust frame. Also make sure that moving parts, such as bearings, resist high impacts and wear.

It’s also convenient that the digital monitor of the machine can store the data of different users. That way, each person using the machine can maintain better control over the progress of their training.

If there’s a heavy-weight member in your family, it’s convenient that you know the maximum weight that the machine can support before buying it. Cheap models could break into pieces if you exceed the maximum allowable weight.

If you’re going to use your machine at home, it shouldn’t be too big or too sturdy. However, if you intend to give it a commercial use, for example in a gym, you’ll necessarily need to buy an expensive model.

You shouldn’t accept fragile materials for commercial use. Always choose steel or more resistant materials. The higher the thickness, the better. Preferably made with profiles for structural use.

Over time, acid sweat tends to weaken the metal. If the walls of the profiles are too thin, the machine will fail.

Novice vs. Expert

If you consider yourself an expert in rowing machines, you’ll surely not settle for any model. If that’s your case, cheap and compact models should be out of your priority list.

Some seek more resistance and others a more natural experience. Magnetic, air and water rowing machines are best suited for these purposes. A hydraulic piston model might not be able to give you the resistance levels you require.

If you’re a newbie and have never tried a rowing machine before, buying a model that is too big and expensive wouldn’t be the wisest decision.

If your muscles aren’t in the best conditions, you can hardly stand a training routine at the highest resistance level of the large models. It’s convenient that you start training with something smaller to strengthen your muscles little by little.

Perhaps a single or double hydraulic piston system can help you with this purpose. When your muscles are stronger and training at the highest level of resistance is a breeze for you, it’s time to change to something bigger.

Resistance Types

Each model in the market has a different resistance type. The most common are:

  • Hydraulic piston
  • Magnetic
  • Air
  • Water

Here are few more details about these resistance of types:

Hydraulic Piston

Hydraulic piston rowers use a cylinder filled with hydraulic fluid to generate resistance. They generate no noise and the resistance adjusts by varying the useful volume of the piston. They generally have a limited range of motion, especially when the piston is small.

The cheapest and compact models use single or double piston.


Magnetic rowers use magnetic force to generate resistance. They usually use a small wheel as an adjustment mechanism. So they don’t generate noise and move smoothly. They can generate enough resistance regardless of intensity.

In simple words, the resistance is the same if you move fast or slow. Magnetic rowers are durable, resistant and require little maintenance.


Air rowers use an air fan to generate resistance. The more air you move, the more resistance they generate. For that reason, the resistance level varies with intensity. They move smoothly but generate too much noise.

Usually this is the type of rowing machine that you’ll commonly find in gyms.


Water rowers use paddles submerged in water to generate resistance. They provide the closest feeling to rowing a boat, making it the favorite of professionals. It also generates a noise similar to rowing on water.

Resistance varies with intensity. Usually these are the best and most expensive models. You need to have enough strength to endure a workout with one of these.

Digital Monitor

If you need to lose weight, it’s important to maintain strict control of your calories. Some digital monitors calculate the approximate value of calories you burn in each routine.

Knowing these data, you can compare with your calorie intake to know if you’re losing weight or need to increase the intensity to achieve it. If you suffer from tachycardia or have a weak heart, it’s convenient to control your pulsations.

Some models allow you to adapt pulse belts to check pulsations. That way, you know better when it’s convenient to stop your training. This feature is very useful for older people who want to take care of their health.

Some digital monitors have an internal memory that stores the advances of each user. Very convenient when several members of your family use the machine.

The most advanced models share their data via bluetooth with your smartphone. Using an application, you can know other data that a common digital monitor doesn’t give you.


Currently you can find rowing machines of different materials. The most common are:

  • Wood
  • Aluminum
  • Steel


Wooden models are very resistant and combine well with the decoration of your home. They aren’t exactly the best to resist moisture. However, all of them receive a protective varnish for maximum durability.

In general, they’re quite stable, but over time, their joints can fail. In addition, they can break easily if the user is too heavy.


Aluminum models are the lightest and cheapest. The frame is made of a solid aluminum bar. Over time, constantly rubbing parts tend to wear out.

For example, when the bearings under the seat are made of steel, they tend to scratch the aluminum frame. With each use, you’ll notice small traces of aluminum on the floor. If you’re looking for a durable product, these aren’t the most appropriate.


Steel models are the toughest. They support more weight when the thickness is greater. In addition, they’re lighter than wood models and their durability is greater.

Mobility and Storage

Most cheap models are compact and foldable. This makes them perfect to take everywhere, even when you go on vacation.

These models are also a good option when you can’t visit the gym for a while but don’t want to stop training to maintain your muscular condition.

Unfortunately, some larger models aren’t foldable, which makes storage difficult. If the available space is a problem, it’s convenient to opt for folding models.

Some models include small wheels on the front brackets for better mobility. If you want to prevent a backache every time you try to move your machine, choose one of these rowing machines.


Pedals are your main point of support. It’s perhaps the point that receives the most effort in the entire machine. Make sure the pedal support bar is made of steel of a suitable gauge.

Some cheap models use steel tubes with too thin walls. Over time, the tube begins to bend until it finally breaks. For some brands, broken pedals are out of the warranty.

If something like this happens to you, you’ll have to pay someone else to repair it. In those cases, the most convenient thing would be to replace the entire support tube with a stronger one.

Although you’ll spend more money, you’ll be sure that the tube won’t break again. To avoid such situations, verify that other buyers don’t complain about the pedals in their reviews.

The pedals must have an anti-slip surface to ensure better control. If the grooves in the pattern are too shallow, your feet may slip more than once. It would be convenient to visit a physical store and verify this feature on the product.


As stated before, the frame must be of a resistant material for durability. However, its inclination and its distance to the floor greatly influence user comfort.

A frame with little inclination hinders free movement, generating exaggerated efforts on your legs and knees. With prolonged use, the pains will begin to appear.

When you’re using rowing machines operated by rods and pistons, a frame too close to the floor would force you to keep your arms stretched all the time. After a few minutes, the tiredness in your arms will be evident and you won’t be able to continue your routine.

User Height

You already know that not all rower machines are appropriate for all users. The user should always think of their own height before choosing any model.

For example, a person with too long legs wouldn’t achieve full range of motion in a too small machine.

Instead, persons with very short legs would feel uncomfortable in a too large machine. When stretching their legs they wouldn’t be able to extend the wire sufficiently in an air, water or magnetic model. That way, they’ll never get the level of resistance they require.

Before buying, imagine how you would look like on the machine of your choice. If you suspect that you wouldn’t feel comfortable, it’s better not to take risks.


What’s the best way to know if a machine is good or bad? Reading as many reviews as you can. It’s almost a universal law, that when a consumer isn’t happy with their product, they’ll issue negative comments about it.

Many times, reading best rowing machine reviews can save you from making the worst mistake of your life. It’s true that many sellers pay third parties to write good reviews about their products. Therefore, you can’t trust everything you read.

Check Reviews

Check the reviews of the same product on different websites with different sellers. The greater amount of information you get will help you have a clearer idea about the quality of a product.

You can’t trust anyone today. Even manufacturing companies omit certain details about their products on their official websites, such as the quality of materials and the maneuverability.

If you find it convenient, contact other buyers on an Internet forum and let them know your questions. They’ll give you the best answer because they already know the product. Also ask them to recommend a responsible seller.

Most sellers don’t answer your messages when you try to get your money back. Therefore, be sure to buy your machine from someone truly reliable.


Obviously, if you’re looking for the best inexpensive rowing machine, you should start comparing prices. Internet is the best place to start searching. Visit the official product website and compare prices with some shopping websites.

If you already have a rowing machine in mind but its price far exceeds $500, you still have a chance to find a better price. In the most popular shopping websites you’ll find used models at less than half the price.

Many people believe that when they buy a used product, they’ll receive a dirty, smelly and sweat-covered product. But they’re wrong. Usually, used gym machines receive a deep treatment before sale.

This greatly increases their value and makes them more striking for buyers. Many receive new paint, seats and foam coatings. It would be the closest thing to receiving a new product without its original box.

Opting for obsolete models is also a good option. Over time, manufacturing companies renew their stock of products and stop producing some models.

Why Price Depends?

In several shopping websites you’ll find some of these totally new models at very low prices. If you compare them with superior models, perhaps the only difference is an aesthetic matter. But the main features remain the same.

If you find a model that meets all the features you require, has good materials, has a score greater than four stars and costs less than $500, you’re ready to buy.

Now you know all the variables you should take into count before buying the best budget rowing machine. As you can see, there are many things you should think about before making a decision.

In the world of rowing machines there’s a golden rule: the more expensive the model, the better its quality. Therefore, opting for machines in the range of $400- $500 is always the wisest decision.

Paying too little for a rowing machine could eventually generate a big disappointment.

Rowing Machine Under $500 FAQs

If after reading this complete buying guide you still have doubts, don’t worry. These FAQs and their answers are all you need to know to clear your mind.

Q1. What’s the best type of rowing machine?

By far, water resistance rowing machines is the best of all.

Q2. How to adjust the resistance in an air or water rowing machine?

You can’t work at a certain resistance level. It varies with the intensity of the training.

Q3. Which are the best rowing machines for beginners?

Hydraulic piston rowing machines are perfect for beginners, because their resistance level isn’t too high.

Q4. Do all models include digital monitor?

No. Some cheaper models don’t include this feature.

Q5. Can all digital monitors check your heart pulse?

No. You must verify if this feature is available in the product.

Q6. What’s the best material for a rowing machine?

Steel is the best material.

Q7. Are all rowing machines foldable?

No. You can’t fold larger and heavier models.

Q8. Which are the easiest models to transport?

Those that include wheels in their front supports.

Q9. Which models provide a more real rowing sensation?

Air and water rowing machines emulate best a real rowing sensation.

Q10. Which is the loudest rowing machine type?

Air rowing machines are the loudest.


Not all rowing machines adapt well to each user. You must know key aspects of your own body, such as weight, height and physical condition, to choose the best machine for you. Remember also that there’s always a risk in buying too cheap models.

Take into count the opinion of other buyers to assess the level of satisfaction of the product. If you follow the tips in this article, you’ll surely make a wise decision and save some extra bucks in the future.

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