The 3 Best Budget Rowing Machines

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by Anne Loreto Cruz

At-home rowing machines are perfect for low-impact workouts that don't take up a ton of space, but they can be expensive. The best budget rowing machines have an adjustable range of resistance and an easy-to-read LCD display so you can have a great workout without spending a fortune.

Like with any home exercise equipment, you’ll have to consider how much space you can spare for your rowing machine. Some models have wheels that allow you to move them easily, while others can fold up when not in use. Most rowing machines have a single handlebar attached to the front of the machine, which also helps save space. However, if you want a more realistic rowing experience, you can choose a model with handles on either side of the sliding rail for more freedom of movement.

You'll also want to consider what type of resistance your rowing machine uses. Hydraulic and magnetic resistance are the most common, and both have their benefits. Rowers with magnetic resistance are ideal for those living in apartments because they’re super quiet but still produce a motion that’s similar to rowing on water. Hydraulic rowers use a piston to regulate the resistance and are also extremely quiet, but some people find that the pistons can overheat with strenuous use. Adjustable resistance makes it easier to customize your workout: more strokes per minute at a lower resistance is useful for cardio, while higher resistance at a slower pace can help improve strength.

Ready to crush some at-home rowing workouts? Here are three of the best rowing machines you can buy on Amazon — including one that's just $90.

1. The Best Overall

  • Size: 76.4 x 19.7 inches expanded (37.4 x 19.7 inches folded)
  • Weight: 57.3 pounds
  • Resistance type: magnetic

This rowing machine with magnetic resistance has tons of great features for something in the under-$300 category. The machine features a long sliding rail that can accommodate users up to 6 feet 5 inches tall, and it has a weight limit of 243 pounds. The padded seat and nonslip handles will keep you comfortable during your workout and help prevent sweaty hands from slipping. You can easily adjust the 16 levels of resistance with an ergonomic dial just below the easy-to-read LCD monitor. If your at-home workout space is limited, this rowing machine folds to half its length to preserve valuable floor space.

One reviewer wrote: “Love the rower. We've had it for a week and it works great. The assembly took about an hour, and was easy to do if you can follow the booklet. Have nothing to complain about except that if you're on the heavier side, i notice the bar can sometimes look like it lowers, but i just put a few books underneath it in case and its fine and has not broken or moved. I'm not worried about this at all. Update: still going strong. Great buy!”

2. The Best Under $100

  • Size: 54 x 20 x 23 inches
  • Weight: 20.9 pounds
  • Resistance type: hydraulic

This lightweight rowing machine is an excellent option for those with limited space for workout equipment, but don’t let its diminutive stature fool you. It has over 4,800 perfect five-star ratings on Amazon, and at just $90, it's an amazing deal. The machine has 12 levels of adjustable resistance to cater to a wide variety of workouts. The steel frame can support up to 220 pounds and it's durable enough for consistent daily use. The included LCD display is great for tracking metrics like your time and stroke count, while the resistance level is manually adjusted with a dial on the front of the machine.

One reviewer wrote: “I never used a rowing machine before, and I thought it would be super hard. It's great! I'm 5'0, and it works perfectly fine for me. I felt exercised, but not super sore. And, it's quiet! I've been looking for something like this for a long time! Great price, great workout:) And, it's not heavy and can be put up vertically. My only recommendation; if you have an apartment, either do only during daytime or make sure it is somewhere that wouldn't disturb a sleeping person. You can hear the gliding, but not loudly”

3. The Best With Two Handles

  • Size: 58.25 x 42.5 x 18.13 inches
  • Weight: 39 pounds
  • Resistance type: hydraulic

If you want full range of motion with your arms while rowing, this rowing machine from Stamina Body packs a ton of performance in a compact package. Rather a small, centered handlebar, it features two handles on either side of the sliding rail, allowing users to row with a full range of motion just like they would with a row boat or while sculling. Since your arms sweep around the rail instead of simply pulling back, this rowing machine works a wide variety of muscle groups with each stroke. The Body Trac Glider 1050 works for rowers from 4 feet 9 inches to 6 feet 4 inches in height, and it has a weight limit of 250 pounds. The resistance can be manually adjusted with a dial near the front of the machine.

One reviewer wrote: “This is actually my second time purchasing this machine. I originally bought it about five years ago but had to leave it behind when I moved because it didn’t fit in the van. I’m glad I decided to purchase it again. It doesn’t take up too much space and works like a dream. I considered other, newer models but they didn’t have the range of motion I was looking for. This machine is solid, then and now. I highly recommend it!”