The 5 best cheap rowing machines of 2021

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Home rowing machines provide a compact way to achieve a whole-body, cardiovascular, and resistance workout. For people with limited space, a rowing machine may be a good option for a home gym.

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An indoor rowing machine, which people often call a rower, simulates the action required when rowing a small boat or dinghy. Competitive rowers may use these machines to help them train when they are unable to practice on water.

Rowers also provide a full-body, cardio workout for other athletes and people who exercise. These machines are low impact and work muscles in the arms, legs, and back.

A rower’s type of resistance determines their classification. The four categories include:

  • magnetic
  • air
  • hydraulic
  • water or fluid

These resistance types offer the same basic movement and provide similar rowing workouts for users. However, they may have subtle differences. For example, air, hydraulic, and fluid rowers can replicate the feeling of water when rowing, while magnetic rowers do not offer this sensation.

These machines may also vary in noise level: air resistance models are often louder than other types.

When selecting a rower, a person may wish to consider their:

  • resistance
  • size
  • their fitness goals
  • price

The size and storage ability of the machine can also play an important role. People with smaller living spaces may consider more compact models that take up less room or fold to store in tighter areas when not in use.

A person’s fitness goals can also factor in their decision. Competitive rowers who want a machine that simulates water should look for water-based resistance models. Others may prefer rowers with built-in programs and displays to help keep them motivated in achieving their fitness goals.

Lastly, rowing machines can range in price based on the company, size, resistance method, and the rower’s additional features. Less expensive models will typically offer fewer functions.

Rowing machines can range in price based on their features and manufacturer. People on a budget may want to consider some of the following models.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.

Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1060

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1060 is an affordable option for many budgets. The rower features hydraulic resistance and a small, foldable frame. Some other functions include:

  • free access to müüv, a smart audio coaching app
  • electronic device holder
  • steel construction
  • padded hand grips
  • a molded seat

The company also offers a 1-year frame warranty and a 90-day parts warranty.

Standard shipping is free of charge, but for an additional fee, a person can choose expedited shipping that takes 1–4 days. Individuals can return the machine within 30 days of delivery.

The rower has the following specifications:

  • maximum user weight: 250 pounds (lb)
  • machine weight: 35 lb
  • assembled weight:
    • length: 49.25 inches (in)
    • width: 36 in
    • height: 20 in

The Stamina BodyTracGlider 1060 is available for purchase online.

Concept2 RowErg

The Concept2 RowErg is easy to assemble and has ergonomic handles and adjustable footrests. It uses air resistance and comes in either standard or tall leg options. Both models separate into two pieces for easy storage.

It has several technological functions, including connectivity to apps for virtual team training and tracking performance. There is also an option to purchase a water simulator.

The company offers a 5-year limited warranty on frame parts and a 2-year limited warranty on all parts. Concept also provides a 30-day return period from the time of shipment, minus the costs of shipping. Delivery costs vary based on the method a person chooses, but they start at $45 for standard shipping.

  • maximum user weight: 500 lb
  • machine weight: 57 lb
  • shipping weight (standard): 70 lb
  • shipping weight (tall): 97 lb
  • length: 96 in
  • width: 24 in
  • seat height (standard): 14 in
  • seat height (tall): 20 in

The RowErg is available to purchase online.

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine with LCD Monitor

The foldable Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers eight levels of magnetic resistance, providing a quiet, full-body workout.

It has a steel frame, floor stabilizers, padded grips and footrest, and a large, cushioned seat. The machine also features wheels for easier portability.

While this rower cannot connect to related apps or incorporate a smartphone or tablet holder, it has a large LCD console for viewing workout statistics.

This machine has the following specifications:

  • maximum user weight: 250 lb
  • machine weight: 60.9 lb
  • shipping weight: 70.8 lb
  • size when assembled:
    • length: 78 in
    • width: 19.1 in
    • height: 23.2 in
  • size when folded:
    • length: 37.4 in
    • width: 19.1 in
    • height: 53.5 in

The company offers free standard shipping and a 30-day return policy. Sunny Health also provides a 3-year warranty on the structural frame and a 180-day warranty on all other parts.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine is available to purchase online.

Stamina ATS Air Rower

The Stamina ATS Air Rower offers air resistance rowing for a more affordable price. It is foldable, while the company claims it is easy to assemble. The rower has dynamic resistance that automatically changes based on rowing speed.

The machine also features an LCD monitor to track workout statistics, along with a padded seat, footrests, and grips.

While the Stamina ATS Air Rower offers fewer extra features, people interested in a rower that adjusts resistance based on speed may prefer this model.

  • maximum user weight: 250 lb
  • machine weight: 54 lb
  • size when assembled:
    • length: 77 in
    • width: 18.75 in
    • height: 22 in
  • size when folded:
    • length: 48 in
    • width: 18.75 in

The rower comes with a 3-year frame warranty and a 1-year part warranty. Shipping costs vary.

The Stamina ATS Air Rower is available to purchase online.

Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine

The Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine offers adjustable magnetic resistance in a foldable frame.

Some features include a padded footrest and seat, wheels for portability, and a display that tracks workout progress. The rower also folds for easy storage.

  • maximum user weight: 264 lb
  • size when assembled:
    • length: 73 in
    • width: 16 in
    • height: 21 in
  • size when folded:
    • length: 26 in
    • width: 16 in
    • height: 49 in

When buying through Amazon, a person can add a 2-year protection plan for $25. The cost of shipping varies.

The Merax Magnetic Rowing Machine is available to purchase online.

Rowers are a common feature at many gyms and health clubs, though they are often not as popular as treadmills, stationary bikes, or ellipticals. Unlike some other fitness machines, they offer a full-body, low-impact cardiovascular workout, making them accessible to many people.

According to the American Fitness Professionals Association, indoor rowing machines work 25–35% of the upper body and 65–75% of the legs.

The American Council on Exercise (ACE) notes there are three main benefits of a rowing machine workout:

  • they are low impact and non-weight bearing, which reduces stress on the body and joints
  • they activate multiple muscle groups
  • they provide a combination of strength and cardiovascular work in one activity

In a 2014 study, researchers found that using rowing machines helped improve several areas of measured fitness after 8 weeks, including:

  • flexibility
  • muscle strength
  • body composition
  • muscle endurance
  • explosive power
  • muscle reaction
  • agility

A rowing machine can also help a person achieve the recommended amount of weekly exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that individuals should aim for 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of intense cardiovascular exercise each week. They also note that people should incorporate strength training into their exercise routine.

Rowers are also accessible to most individuals. In a 2015 study, researchers showed that people living with visual impairment benefited from using these machines. The scientists also noted improvement in body composition and overall fitness levels.

Fitness professionals and organizations, such as ACE, generally consider rowers safe. This is chiefly due to their low-impact design that does not place a lot of pressure on the joints.

However, before purchasing a rowing machine, a person may wish to speak with a doctor, physical therapist, or other healthcare professional. They can help assess their fitness levels and make recommendations based on their goals and current ability.

Rowing machines provide a full-body, low-impact cardiovascular and strength workout.

Affordable home rowers are available for people interested in rowers with minimal added features.

When purchasing a rower, individuals should keep their goals, space, budget, and resistance type in mind.

Please note: Medical News Today does not imply warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or endorse any of these applications. These apps have not been evaluated for medical accuracy by Medical News Today. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved them unless otherwise indicated.



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