Examples of two of the best cheap rowing machines: the Merax Water Rowing Machine and the Sunny Health & Fitness Assist Row-and-Ride trainerShare on Pinterest

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Does your workout routine need a switch-up? Are you preparing for a race and need to do some cross-training? Or do you just love rowing?

Rowing machines allow you to enjoy the full-body burn of rowing outside in the comfort of your living room. Plus, depending on the type of rowing machine you choose, you might even be able to hear the sound of water while you exercise.

An overwhelming number of rowing machines are available to choose from, varying in size, resistance type, special features, and price.

For those working with a tighter budget, we compiled a list of the 5 best rowing machines priced under $600. Keep reading to see which ones made the cut.

Not sure where to start? Here are the key factors to consider when shopping for a cheap rowing machine:

  • Budget. Knowing how much you’re willing to spend will greatly help narrow down your options. When deciding on a rower, also be sure to factor in additional costs such as shipping and assembly.
  • Resistance type. You’ll need to decide which type of resistance you want your rower to use. The primary types are water, magnetic, air, and hydraulic piston.
  • Desired features. When shopping on a budget, you’ll need to decide which features you can and cannot live without.
  • Comfort. Whether you try out a rower in person or read reviews online, look for a rower with a comfortable seat and handle grip. Especially if you’re tall, be sure to choose a rower that adjusts to your height.

As mentioned above, you’ll come across four main types of resistance when shopping for a rower. Here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of each:

  • Water. Water rowers are designed to more closely mimic the sound and feel of outdoor rowing. While some allow you to adjust the resistance level using a switch, others require manually adding or removing water from the tank, which isn’t ideal for changing your resistance mid-workout.
  • Magnetic. Popular for a reason, magnetic resistance rowers offer a quiet, smooth experience that many home exercisers prefer. However, they also tend to be more expensive.
  • Air. Using a flywheel, air resistance allows you the most control over the resistance level. However, these machines tend to be quite noisy.
  • Hydraulic piston. This type allows you to have different levels of resistance for each arm. While it’s great for short workouts, it can get uncomfortable for longer rowing sessions.

How we chose

When deciding which cheap rowing machines to include on our list, we considered:

  • Price. All the rowers on our list are priced under $600.
  • Resistance. We included a variety of resistance styles.
  • Handle design. Some rowing machines have one handle, while others have two. Some users consider having two bars to be an advantage, as it allows for a fuller range of upper body motion during your workout. We included options for both.
  • Storage. Because floor real estate is worth its weight in gold, we looked for machines that are easy to move and store between workouts.
  • Customer reviews. There are some things only a user can know. We paid attention to positive and negative feedback from real customers when determining which machines to include.
  • Vetting. All the products included have been vetted to ensure that they meet Healthline’s business standards.

Best cheap water rowing machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine

Price: $$$

Priced just under $600, the Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 is one of the best affordable water rowing machines.

Despite its lower price tag, the machine allows you to experience the dynamic of competitive rowing thanks to 16 hydro-blades on the flywheel.

The machine also features a molded, padded high profile seat and sweat-resistant handlebars to make your experience more comfortable.

Your total time, 500 meter time, total strokes, calories, ambient temperature, and more are recorded by the R2 fitness meter and displayed on the LCD screen.

As a bonus, the rower can be stored upright and includes high density, non-marking rubber wheels for easy transportation.

Best cheap rowing machine for beginners

Merax Water Rowing Machine

Price: $$

If you’re new to rowing and not quite ready for a high end machine, this Merax water rower is a great place to start.

Priced under $500, it offers an impressive number of features, including an LCD screen for monitoring workout stats such as calories burned, strokes, distance, duration, and heart rate.

The rower also comes with quick start and stop buttons and a competitive race mode for an extra challenge.

Additional features include a contoured padded seat, Velcro straps on the foot pedals, built-in transport wheels, and a straight handlebar with rubberized grips for comfort.

Unique to this rower, the water tank is positioned at an angle to provide added resistance. However, you’ll need to manually adjust the water level if you want to change your resistance mid-workout.

Quietest cheap rowing machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

Price: $$

If you’re looking to keep noise to a minimum, you’ll want to go with a magnetic rower.

While magnetic rowers can get expensive, this machine from Sunny Health & Fitness provides the benefits of magnetic resistance for less than $500.

Specifically, the machine offers eight levels of resistance and an LCD monitor for displaying your stroke count, calories burned, and workout duration.

It’s also a good option for taller rowers because it has an extra-long slide rail.

Other notable features include nonslip foot pedals, anti-slip handlebars, a wide padded seat, and transport wheels.

Best cheap rower with Bluetooth

Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetic Rowing Machine

Price: $$

While a lower price often means fewer high tech options, that isn’t the case with this magnetic rower from Fitness Reality.

Offering Bluetooth connectivity and a tablet holder, the rower allows you to view workout performance reports and track your stats over time using the MyCloudFitness app.

You can also stream trainer-led classes using your favorite fitness app.

Additional features include 14 levels of magnetic resistance, an extra-wide-grip handlebar, and an LCD monitor. It can also be folded for easy storage between workouts.

However, what makes this rower truly unique is that its handlebar can also be used to perform a variety of upper body exercises, such as triceps extensions, side raises, and reverse-grip curls.

Best cheap upright rowing machine

Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer

Price: $

While it’s far from a traditional rowing experience, the Sunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer allows you to get a good squat workout while still working your upper body.

The trainer comes with three resistance bands that you can attach to it for an added challenge.

You can also adjust the squat depth by changing the saddle angle to 30, 60, or 90 degrees.

While this machine does have a digital monitor that can show distance and time, it doesn’t offer the same level of performance tracking as other options on our list.

Here’s a quick look at how our top pics compare:

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing MachineMerax Water Rowing Machine Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing MachineFitness Reality 1000 Plus Magnetic Rowing MachineSunny Health & Fitness Squat Assist Row-N-Ride Trainer
Price (MSRP)$599.98$459.99$458$349$278
Dimensions80 × 22 × 34 inches (203.2 × 55.9 × 86.4 cm)78 × 20 × 25.5 inches (198.1 × 50.8 × 64.8 cm)78 × 19 × 23.2 inches (198.1 × 48.3 × 58.9 cm)88.5 × 21.5 × 21.5 inches (224.8 × 54.6 × 54.6 cm)46.5 × 19.3 × 47.8 inches (118.1 × 49 × 121.4 cm)
Maximum user weight300 pounds (136.1 kg)330 pounds (149.7 kg)250 pounds (113.4 kg)250 pounds (113.4 kg)220 pounds (99.8 kg)
Resistance typewaterwatermagneticmagneticbands
Special features• 16 hydro-blades on flywheel
• LCD monitor
• LCD monitor
• competitive race mode
• Velcro straps on pedals
• LCD monitor
• extra-long slide rail
• nonslip pedals
• Bluetooth
• data tracking using MyCloudFitness App
• cable handle for upper body workouts
• folding design
• tablet holder
upright design for upper and lower body workout

Keep in mind that the prices listed above reflect the current listing price (MSRP) and may vary by retailer.

Adding a rowing machine to your home gym doesn’t have to break the bank.

When shopping for a cheap rower, be sure to consider factors such as resistance type, size, weight capacity, and performance tracking.