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Top 10 Rowing Machines Reviewed and Rated

last updated Dec 03, 2019

A rowing machine is an essential piece of home gym cardio equipment. It will fast track weight loss, build stamina and build muscle. But rowers can be expensive. Often cheap rowers are very low quality. Fortunately, we’ve gone in deep to bring you the best budget rowing machine that will deliver a great workout without breaking the bank.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 211 hrs of research

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First Degree Fitness Newport
94/100 our score
Features
98
Ease of Use
97
Portability
90
Use
90
Comfort
95
First Degree Fitness Newport
Why is it better?

Mooth water/air rowing action

3 hydro blades

Molded padded seat

High spec monitor

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
First Degree Fitness Newport
Test Winner: First Degree Fitness Newport
Amazon Link
Interviewed Experts
5
Interviewed Experts
Researched Sources
22
Researched Sources
Total Readers
9k
Total Readers
Reviews Considered
11k
Reviews Considered
Hours Researching
211
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
15
Products Evaluated
Sorting Options
Features Ease of Use Portability Use Comfort By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Features
98 %
Ease of Use
97 %
Portability
90 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
95 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$899.00
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.6
Features
95 %
Ease of Use
95 %
Portability
89 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$199.00
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Features
90 %
Ease of Use
95 %
Portability
87 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
90 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$149.00
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Features
90 %
Ease of Use
90 %
Portability
87 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
87 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$111.99
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.2
Features
85 %
Ease of Use
90 %
Portability
86 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$199.00
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$249.99
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$199.00
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.8
Features
80 %
Ease of Use
82 %
Portability
85 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
82 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$569.99
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$199.99
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.2
Features
80 %
Ease of Use
81 %
Portability
85 %
Use
90 %
Comfort
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (12.12.19)
Amazon Link
$177.04

10 Best Rowing Machines

1. First Degree Fitness Newport

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
First Degree Fitness Newport affordable rowing machine
Amazon Link
Features
98
Ease of Use
97
Portability
90
Use
90
Comfort
95
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$899.00
Pros:

Mooth water/air rowing action

3 hydro blades

Molded padded seat

High spec monitor

Cons:

Not foldable

The First Degree Fitness Newport AR Rower Water Rower is a water rower that comes in at a great price. It provides you with an extremely realistic rowing motion that perfectly simulates the experience that you get on the water.

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The tank of this rowing machine is made of a tough polycarbonate shell with a triple-bladed stainless steel paddle. It comes with a variable water volume of between 9 and 17 liters. The high spec LCD timer provides you with time, distance, 500-meter split, strokes per minute, calories per hour, watts, interval training, and optional heart rate reception.

The First Degree Water Rower provides you with ergonomic handles, a durable belt drive and is extremely quiet for a water rower.

2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92.6
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 budget rowing machine
Amazon Link
Features
95
Ease of Use
95
Portability
89
Use
90
Comfort
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$199.00
Pros:

Compact

Great price

12 levels of adjustable resistance

Cons:

Rail doesn’t completely fold for storage

The Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5639 is a quality compact hydraulic rower. This best rowing machine under $500 is a dual function affordable machine that will give you a great rowing workout as well as doubling as a resistance training machine for the muscles of your upper body. You get a hydraulic tension system with 12 levels of adjustable resistance. The movement of the cable is very smooth, allowing for a jerk-free motion.

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This Sunny Health and Fitness SF-RW5639 has a seat that is extra wide and thickly padded for comfort. The footplates are dual function, providing an ideal rowing platform and then adjusting to hold you secure while performing resistance movements.

This rowing machine has a healthy weight capacity of 350 pounds so you can reach your goals no matter where you are starting. It also has a full range of motion for your arms for good shoulder exercise. The non-slip handlebars give you excellent comfort and support and the foot pedals which adjustable foot straps. The digital display will keep track of your count, calorie burn and time.

3. Harvil Magnetic Rowing Machine

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.4
Harvil Magnetic Rowing Machine
Amazon Link
Features
90
Ease of Use
95
Portability
87
Use
90
Comfort
90
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$149.00
Pros:

Large, easy to read monitor

Large, padded upholstered seat

Smooth wind resistance

Cons:

Band resistance doesn’t kick in during first third of the movement

The Harvil Magnetic Rowing Machine is a compact, lightweight, and one of the best rowing machines under $500 that comes with a durable aluminum beam that is rust free and comes with a front stabilizer with wheels for easy transport and storage. This unit will fit into the smallest of spaces with storage dimensions of 28 inches in length, 20 inches in width and 63 inches in height.

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The Harvil magnetic rowing machine provides you with eight levels of magnetic tension resistance. The tension level can be set from one, being the lowest, to eight being the highest. It comes with an easy to read LCD monitor that provides you with an ongoing readout of your training time, row count, distance and calories.

The maximum weight capacity of the Harvil magnetic rower is 264 pounds.

4. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Machine

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing Machine
Amazon Link
Features
90
Ease of Use
90
Portability
87
Use
90
Comfort
87
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$111.99
Pros:

Very realistic rowing experience

Two-piece rowing arms

Max user weight 250 pounds

Cons:

Noisy

The Stamina Body Trac Glider will keep you motivated with its clear electronic display and how easily it copies the actual movement of rowing on the water. The textured footplates have nice straps that keep your feet secure and the foam handlebars keep your hands comfortable.

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The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 is a hydraulic piston controlled compact rower that provides you with two-piece arms to provide a full range of rowing motion. The adjustable hydraulic resistance allows for a smooth rowing stroke, while the textured footplate with secure straps allows you to securely lock your lower body in place while exercising.

The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 rowing machine has a sturdy steel frame. It also has a molded seat for comfort and ball-bearing rollers for smooth seat gliding. The multi-function monitor gives you instant feedback on your workout. Foam padded handgrips provide extra comfort while rowing.

5. Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87.2
Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine
Amazon Link
Features
85
Ease of Use
90
Portability
86
Use
90
Comfort
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$199.00
Pros:

Cheapest value machine on the market

12 levels of adjustable resistance

Foot plates pivot

Cons:

Piston pin rubs on the frame

The Sunny is an economical machine with a comfortable seat and smooth action. It features 12 different levels of resistance so it will give you a good workout for a decent price.

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The Sunny Health and Fitness rowing machine is the best cheap rowing machine that we reviewed. It is the best machine that you’ll find for under $100. This hydraulic piston driven rower gives you 12 levels of adjustable resistance. The rowing motion is relatively smooth and jerks free. The seat glides smoothly and is comfortable to sit on. The footplates pivot to position your legs better and add comfort.

A simple electronic monitor displays all of the workout data that you need to know. The unit is solid and compact and folds easily for storage. It is a reliable rower that will give you a decent workout at an unbeatable price.

6. GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rower Machine

GoPlus Magnetic Folding Rower Machine
Amazon Link
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$249.99
Pros:

10 levels of magnetic resistance

Smooth rowing action

Large, anti-slip foot pedals

Large LCD screen

Cons:

Max weight limited to 220 pounds

The GoPlus is a durable rowing machine with six wheels to help it move smoothly. The magnetic resistance system gives you adjustable resistance. This machine is easy to use and when you are done exercising it is easy to put away and store.

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The GoPlus Magnetic Folding rowing machine provides ten levels of magnetic resistance with n elastic cord. While not as smooth as air or flywheel-based system, this rower does provide you with a full extension on each row and a relatively smooth rowing action. The sturdy beam on this unit is made from aluminum, providing a solid base to work from. Large, anti-slip foot pedals with adjustable straps give you a secure footing while you are exercising. Non-slip grip handles also ensure that you get a secure hold and the ergonomically designed seat has extra padding for comfort.

You get a functional monitor on this rower, with a large LCD screen that gives you readouts of your total calories, count per minute, count, scan and time. This is a simple, functional rower that gives you a smooth, fluid workout every time. It has built-in wheels for ease of transportation and folds for convenient storage. The maximum user weight on this machine is 220 pounds.

7. Sunny SF RW5515

Sunny SF RW5515 compact rower
Amazon Link
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$199.00
Pros:

8 levels of magnetic resistance

Smooth rowing action

Ergonomically designed cushioned seat

Compact design

Cons:

Max user weight limited to 250 pounds

The convenient monitor on this machine helps you focus on your goals, keep track of how you are doing and focus on your progress. The foam handlebars and textured footplates help give you a comfortable workout you will be more inspired to keep up with.

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The Sunny SF RW5515 is a magnetic tension budget rower that provides you with eight levels of magnetic resistance. The centrally located tension knob allows you to transition between resistance levels fluidly without any of the jerkiness that you often get with magnetic rowers within this price range. The cushioned seat on this model is ergonomically designed to enhance your exercising comfort, while the large sturdy pedals provide you with a non-slip surface and sturdy velcro straps to keep you securely in place when you are rowing.

The RW5515 is solidly constructed to provide a durable rowing experience. It will not shake, regardless of how intensely you work out on it. The maximum user weight on the machine is 250 pounds. Tracking your progress is easy with the digital monitor screen which shows your speed, count and time, along with a scan mode. The dimensions of this rower are 82 inches long by 19 inches high by 18 inches wide, making it an impressively compact machine and able to be used in the most compact of workout areas.

8. Merax Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.8
Merax Magnetic Folding Rowing Machine
Amazon Link
Features
80
Ease of Use
82
Portability
85
Use
90
Comfort
82
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$569.99
Pros:

Smooth operation

15-degree seat angle

Extra padded seat

Ax weight 264 pounds

Cons:

Not overly durable

Merax will help you get a little variety in your workout with eight different levels of resistance. The seat is well-formed with extra padding which will keep you comfortable while you exercise and the display monitor helps you keep track of how you are doing. This machine will keep you rowing.

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The Merax Magnetic Folding rowing machine is a compact, smooth rower that provides you with 8 levels of magnetic resistance. The 15-degree angled seat rail provides you with the ideal positioning to provide maximum comfort and allow for a smooth and efficient return. The built-in magnetic flywheel minimizes noise while maximizing a smooth feel during the rowing motion. A convenient tension knob allows you to easily and quickly adjust the intensity of your workout.

The sliding, extra padded seat on the Merax Magnetic Folding Rower provide comfort during those long training sessions. Large strapping footplates keep you securely locked n place. This machine has a built-in folding frame and transportation wheels. Floor protectors keep the machine from sliding around while also protecting your floor from damage. The maximum weight capacity of this rower is 264 pounds.

The simple LCD monitor on the Merax Magnetic rower displays your time, count, calories and total count, presented on a simple, easy to use screen. The foldable nature of this machine makes it an ideal choice for those with limited room to exercise.

9. Xterra Fitness ERG200 Rower

Xterra Fitness ERG200 Rower
Amazon Link
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$199.99
Pros:

Drum magnetic roll resistance

Electronic tension

Smooth seat glide

Cons:

The frame may start to wear after several months

The Xterra folds up for easy storage or to move where you need it. This machine is made with steel framing so it is durable and has a friction-free quiet and smooth ride. Sit back and enjoy the exercise.

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The Xterra Fitness ERG200 Rower provides a drum magnetic control resistance to give you a smoother, more natural rowing experience. It also features electronic tension to maintain the ideal strap tension at all times. There are 8 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance. The dual extruded aluminum slide rails are mounted to the steel frame to provide an impressively smooth and stable motion.

The monitor on the Xterra Fitness ERG200 Rower features a large LCD screen. It provides a rolling readout of time, count, stroke/minutes, distance, calories, watts, and pulse. The saddle is made from molded polyurethane to give an ergonomic feel that is also comfortable. It also has a space-saving, foldable design.

10. Sunny Incline Magnetic rower

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
83.2
Sunny Incline Magnetic rower
Amazon Link
Features
80
Ease of Use
81
Portability
85
Use
90
Comfort
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$177.04
Pros:

Incline feature

Compact

300-pound max user weight

​Foldable

Cons:

Slides on the floor

This best budget rowing machine has a cool incline feature which gives you an extra amount of exercise. It provides you with a full-motion arm movement so you have an authentic experience. The seat is fully padded and the digital console will keep you posted on your progress and keep you inspired towards your goal.

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The Sunny Incline Magnetic rower has a unique incline rail feature that inclines your body as you row. This provides an increased challenge and puts more workout stress on the abs and thighs. There are 5 levels of incline to suit people of all ages and fitness levels. This is a lightweight. Compact unit but it still allows for a maximum user weight of 300 pounds, which attests to its sturdy design. Unlike most magnetic rowers, this machine provides you with full motion arms in order to simulate an authentic rowing motion. When you’re done you can fold it away for easy storage.

The digital monitor screen on the Sunny Incline Magnetic rowing machine provides you with a comprehensive accounting of all of your key training statistics. Non-slip for pads with velcro nylon straps ensure that you are firmly locked into place while foot levelers at the bottom of the unit ensure that the machine is evenly placed regardless of what surface it is sitting on. This is a very impressive little rower at a great price.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Features

The rowing machines are very similar so you want in the way of features. Are you heavier in stature so you need one with a good weight capacity? Do you have a small home so you need something that is easy to put away when you are not using it? Think about your needs and find the best machine which will fit them.

Ease of Use

As with most exercise equipment, we believe if you find it easy to use you will be more likely to use it. It is that simple. You want a machine that has levels you can slowly build-up, which is comfortable and uncomplicated, and something you can easily set up and put away when you are not using it.

Portability

You want a rower that will be easy to move around whether it is so you can clean around it or if you have a small area and need to put it away when you are not using it. Having a machine that folds up and has wheels can be very helpful.

Use

You want a machine with has levels of resistance so you can start small and slowly build up your strength and endurance. The resistance and rowing should also be smooth and quiet to make a more favorable experience.

Comfort

Comfort helps with your focus. Look for machines that have nice, padded seats and foam handles that will protect your hands. The footplate should be textured with comfortable straps which will keep your feet secure and avoid any slipping. Being comfortable will help you focus on your routine and have a happy workout.

expert tips icon
Learn to use the machine correctly

When you get your machine, be sure you read the instructions carefully and learn how to use the machine correctly before you begin working out. Using the machine incorrectly can lead to back issues or other injuries so it is important to row correctly.

Build up gradually

Sometimes beginners will get excited with how fun and easy the machine is so they end up overdoing their workout. It is important to time your workout, beginning with a small amount and then gradually increasing your time little by little. This will help you prevent injury or at the very least extreme muscle soreness which will discourage you from keeping up with your fitness goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: Will the rowing machine help me lose belly fat?

a:

There is not an exercise that can work specifically on belly fat. You lose belly fat from losing fat on your body as a whole. The rowing machine will help with losing body fat in general, so it should help some with that as well.

q: How long should a beginner use a rowing machine?

a:

When you are first starting using the rowing machine you should probably start with no more than 30 minutes a day to help slowly build your conditioning. It will not be long before you see development in your legs, arms, back, and chest.

q: What muscles should I warm up before I start using the rowing machine?

a:

When you are using the rowing machine you will use major muscle groups in your hamstrings, glutes, and your back so you should probably stretch those out and warm them up before you start to avoid soreness or injury.

q: What is the damper?

a:

The damper is the small lever on the fan cage of the rowing machine. It works kinda like the gears on a bicycle. It controls the amount of air that goes in and decides how easy it is to spin the flywheel so it controls how intense your workout is.

q: How much do I use my arms in this rowing machine workout?

a:

You should use about 60% of your power on pushing with your legs. Use 20% on bracing your core and the rest on your arms. If you use your arms too much you will end up causing injury so be sure to focus on pushing with your legs when using the rowing machine.

Sources

  1. Staff, Tips for Using a Rowing Machine, Article
  2. Staff, Rowing Machine King, Article