Best Budget Rowing Machine: 9 Picks for high-intensity strength and aerobic training

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You can call me the Fitness & Health GEEK. I've been involved in the fitness industry since 2015. Exercise and Nutrition are my bread and butter.

Improving your aerobic fitness is a challenging goal and needs to be done effectively. When we talk about improving our aerobic fitness, We must bring rowing machines in the discussion.

The rowing machine is an awesome tool and is used by many people around the globe. We are going to breakdown the best budget rowing machines with every little piece of information about them.

Why is rowing good for you?

As we said, Rowing in any kind is very useful to your cardiovascular system. Meaning your heart, lunges, and your aerobic fitness. Rowing will decrease heart disease risk which is so dangerous because as humans, we love to eat junk food that is bad for our health.

Also, Rowing moves your whole body! If you are in a hurry and want to get a total body workout in, Rowing machines are your way to go. As a rower, The main muscles you target are the chest, arms, back, legs, and core muscles. On top of that, If you have a goal of losing weight, Rowing will help you achieve your goal faster!

It burns up a lot of calories because basically you move your whole body and that is what drives weight loss, Burning Calories. Moreover, Rowing machines are smooth on our body, it has a low-impact on our joints.

So it allows our muscles to recover and rebuild. Also, if you have an injury and you want to rehab rowing is a good choice. I see many people get bored with treadmills and ellipticals. That’s why the rowing machine is good for you. It’s a new thing, convenient, and so fun.

How to incorporate rowing into a workout

As we said, If you want to improve your health and fitness levels, aerobic levels, and increase your endurance you should incorporate rowing into your workout routine.

Generally, Rowing can be used as a warm-up routine before starting your workout, or as a cardio workout. As rowing machines work up your whole body, it is so effective when it comes to warming up to an intense workout.

Basically, 5 to 10 minutes in a low to moderate intensity on the rowing machine is effective enough to warm you up and get you ready for the actual workout.

Also, it is a great equipment to be your actual full body workout not only your warm-up. Depending on your goal, If you are a bodybuilder, powerlifter, or someone that cares about gaining muscle, Incorporate the rowing machine in the end of your workout for 15 to 45 minutes.

Start from the least and increase gradually till you can do 45 minutes of rowing straight with no to little rest. If you are someone that cares about their health and fitness only and not competing, then you can do your rowing workout in the morning about 3 to 4 times a week.

Each time can be somewhere from 10 to 30 minutes depending on your current fitness levels.

Best Budget Rowing Machine: Inexpensive Picks

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

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine Rower w/ LCD Monitor

Sunny Health & Fitness is a big company that has a lot of rowing machines. The Model SF-RW5515 is our first pick because it is the most convenient, budget, and reviewed tool.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 is a rowing machine that uses a magnetic resistance which is a big A for the model. It gives you the mood of out-door rowing at an affordable price. This rowing machine model is ranked #2 in the best rowing machines and has nearly 4k of positive reviews.

Pros

  • 8 Levels of difficulty (which you can control depending on your current fitness levels).
  • Magnetic resistance (Quieter than water resistance, and smoother than hydraulics).

Cons

  • Doesn’t display distance. (which means you will be able to track time only).
  • Warranty: it has a short warranty of 90 days.

Who it’s good for:

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is good for everyone who is on a low budget. Nearly everyone wants to buy the most affordable and convenient equipment. It gives you the decent functionalities of the normal rowing machine with the lowest cost possible.

Who it’s not good for

This rowing machine model is not good for anyone who is looking for luxury-type equipment. Also, If you have high fitness levels and use the machine so frequently and your training is hard, you might break it. Everything has a cost, right?

2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine Rower w/ 12 Level Adjustable Resistance, Digital Monitor and 220 LB Max Weight

This Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine is a model that will bring your workout into your home. It is a light, low-cost piece of equipment that gives you an awesome quality for the price.

It has 12 levels of hydraulic resistance which makes it adjustable for everyone, costs, and weighs less. It also comes with an LCD monitor that tracks time, calories burned, and count strokes.

Pros

  • It has 12 levels of difficulty to adjust from.
  • Light-weight, can be moved easily.
  • Smooth and affordable.

Cons

  • Difficulty could be not enough for advanced rowers.
  • Simple monitor, doesn’t show distance.

Who it’s good for

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW1205 Rowing Machine suits best for novice and intermediate rowers. Also, It is affordable, and low-cost of high-quality so it suits people on low-budget.

Who it’s not good for

This rowing machine is not the best machine for tall and advanced rowers. As an advanced rower, you need to get a rowing machine that is heavy enough, and of high-intensity.

3. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine

FITNESS REALITY 1000 PLUS Bluetooth Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine with Extended Optional Full Body Exercises and Free App

The Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of a kind. It has the feature of Bluetooth, connecting to apps and programs with the least amount of money. It comes with a magnetic rower that is so quiet and smooth and consists of 14 levels of resistance.

Pros

  • Bluetooth Connection: Connecting to IOS/Android Applications is a great option offered in this model
  • 4 Level of resistance: Adjustable for beginners, intermediates, and advanced rowers.
  • Monitor: The Big A here is that it counts distance with the other counters like strokes, time, and calories burned.

Cons

  • No heart rate counter.

4. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 Full Motion Rowing Machine Rower w/ 350 lb Weight Capacity and LCD Monitor

This model of Sunny Health & Fitness row machines is one of a kind. It is classified as a “real rowing” machine. Instead of a single bar handle, it uses one handle for each arm meaning more range of motion. It comes with 12 adjustable resistance levels, and 350 lbs weight capacity. Which is a big benefit to this model.

Pros

  • High Weight Capacity (350lbs): It allows obese people to use the rowing machine with comfort, and not being afraid of breaking.
  • Full Range of Motion: Due to the double handles, it has a full range of motion that feels like real rowing and will give your back more stimulus.
  • 12 adjustable levels of resistance.

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit people taller than 5’10”
  • If you’re an intermediate or advanced rower, it isn’t the best model for you.
  • Basic Monitor (Time, Stroke Count, Rough estimate of calories burned only).

Who it’s good for:

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 is good for beginners as it has 12 adjustable levels of resistance to overload progressively.

Also, it has a high weight capacity so if you are obese or of high weight, it would be best for you. Moreover, if you have stiffness in your upper back or your back in general, This model would be good for you because it allows a full range of motion.

Who it’s not good for:

This model comes with a short platform. Because of that, tall people won’t be able to perform rowing properly.

Also, it has low-intensity levels. Meaning that if you are a good athlete and have been training for a decent amount of time, it won’t fit you and it will be light for you.

5. MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower

MaxKare Water Rowing Machine Water Rower with Water Resistance & Large LCD Monitor for Home Use

This model is the first in this list to be using water resistance. As seen, The best rowing machines and most affordable ones have either magnetic or hydraulic resistance.

MaxKare Water Rowing Machine is from the best and cheapest water-resistant machines out there. Water-resistance is basically a resistance created by a fan, in a tank full of water.

Most people prefer to buy a water-resistant home rowing machine. Because of the sound it makes when you row, It feels meditative.

Pros

  • Good Monitor: It calculates time, strokes per minute, calories burned, and have different modes.
  • Quiet, Smooth, and has a natural feeling.
  • Good value to cost ratio.
  • Can be stored vertically without removing the water.

Cons

  • You need to add or remove water to change the resistance.
  •  Basic seat

Who it’s good for:

It’s good for people who prefer home rowing. As most rowing machines are heavy, can’t be stored vertically. Also, It’s good for people who love the sound of water moving. In other words, Meditation.

Who it’s not good for:

MaxKare water rowing machine is not best for busy people. Someone who has only limited time to workout won’t have the time to add or remove water to change resistance. other than that, This rowers machine suits best everyone and every workout.

6. MaxKare Rowing Machine Air Rower Resistance

MaxKare Rowing Machine Air Rower Resistance Adjustable 51 Inch Long Rail Length with LCD Display Panel for Home Use

The MaxKare Air rower is the first machine to use air resistance on our list. It has been released in 2019. At the time, it was the most recent air rower to be the best alternative to the Concept2 Model at an affordable price. It uses air and dual belt resistance. Meaning that the harder you pull, the more resistance it creates.

Pros

  • Air & belt resistance: This gives you more stability and resistance.
  • Can handle tall users up to 6’2″
  • Exercise meter: Tracks speed, calories burned, and time.
  • Easy to relocate.

Cons

  • Exercise meter doesn’t have heart rate readings.
  • Doesn’t have Strokes Per Minute readings.

Who it’s good for:

The MaxKare air rower machine is good for tall users. Also, it suits the ones who change their apartments frequently, As it’s easy to relocate.

Who it’s not good for:

This model of rowing machines isn’t good for someone who wants to track their heart rate during exercise or wants to know what is their Strokes Per Minute standing at.

These readings aren’t available in the existent exercise meter and would need to get an external device for the job.

7. Stamina ATS Air Rower

Stamina Air Rower Rowing Machine

Stamina ATS Air Rower is a row machine that uses air resistance. As the previous model, it uses air resistance in form of wind created by the fan.

This model is very affordable and of high-quality. It comes with a padded seat, functional monitor, and variable resistance. The faster and harder you pull, the more resistance it creates.

So clearly, the resistance levels depend on you. The variable resistance is from the best rowing styles. Because you can slow down or speed up without stopping to change the settings. Crossfit players and High-Intensity Interval Training “HIIT” lovers prefer air resistant machines for this reason.

Pros                                            

  • High quality for money: Gives you the feeling of the luxurious air resistant machines but at a more affordable price.
  • Can move around easily due to the presence of wheels.
  • Easy fold up for storage.
  • Basic but good monitor: Tracks speed, time, and calories burned.

Cons

  • A little bit louder than other air resistance rowing machines.

Who it’s good for:

This air resistance model is best for Crossfit players, HIIT lovers, and for everyone that prefers to have variable resistance to work with. It’s also suitable for somebody that loves to workout in different places at home each day.

Who it’s not good for:

It’s not good for someone that don’t like loudness or the sound of machines. As it doesn’t make a huge sound but you should consider this.

8. ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine

ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower Rowing Machine for Home Use Foldable w/16 Level of Quiet Magnetic Resistance with LCD Monitor and Adjustable Console Angle for Cardio Training (CRW 4901)

This rowing machine is a magnetic resistance based on 16 levels of magnetic resistance. When looking at this model, we see that it’s well priced as a magnetic resistance type of machine.

Also, it’s easy to fold and store. The many levels of resistance there can help you progress each week or each month to keep getting fit. Moreover, it comes with a console with goal settings functions.

Pros

  • Large, padded seat: allows nearly anyone to sit and be
  • comfortable while working out.
  • Long structure: it can fit tall people to 6’6″
  • Easy to move, fold, and store.
  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance.
  • Good monitor with goal setting for time and calories.

Cons

  • No heart rate reading function.
  • Tablet holder will cover the monitor if used.

Who it’s good for:

The ECHANFIT Magnetic Rower is good for tall people up to 6’6″. As it’s good for obese people due to the comfortable seat. It’s also suitable

Who it’s not good for:

It’s pretty good for everyone except the ones who want to track their heart rate.

9. Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower

Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine Foldable Exercise Rower Adjustable Resistance for Cardio

Merax Magnetic Exercise Rower is a magnetic resistance based rowing machine that is so smooth, quiet, and affordable. It has the credibility for being an entry-level machine and suits best for beginners. Also, it is easy to fold and store.

Pros

  • Easily folded and stored.
  • Great price for entry-level machines.
  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance.

Cons

  • Not enough resistance for advanced rowers.
  • Seat is not comfortable.

Who it’s good for:

It’s good for beginners and intermediate rowers. As it has different levels of resistance but not so heavy. It’s also best for people that travel or move houses too often.

Who it’s not good for:

This model is bad for advanced or high-level rowers as it has light-weight levels of resistance. Also, if hard seats bother you, It’s not suitable for you.

Conclusion

Finally, Finding the most suitable machine for your case isn’t hard. This list consists of low-budget machines that are affordable and most convenient.

Choose a rowing machine that you feel comfortable with, depending on your weight, height, level of fitness, and personal preferences. Achieving your goal isn’t about a single piece of equipment. But, choosing the right one will help you achieve it more effectively.

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