Best Rowing Machine Under 500

Image of someone using a black Compact rowing machine.
Credit: Victor Freitas

Finding the best rowing machine under 500 dollars or pounds can be tricky. It's not always crystal clear what level of quality and features you're getting for your hard-earned money when going for a more budget-friendly piece of kit. That's why we've put together a list of top-tier cardio machines with careful consideration of their cost, of course, user reviews, and any additional features they offer.

If you're looking to introduce just one cardio machine into your home gym setup, a rowing machine is arguably the finest choice in this category. Why? Well, it's because these machines deliver not only an exceptional cardiovascular workout but also an effective means of sculpting both your upper and lower body, making them ideal machines for weight loss.

This is supported by a study conducted by Park et al., which found that consistent rowing led to a decrease in body weight and fat mass, coupled with an increase in lean body mass. If that doesn't prove just how great a rowing machine can be for your health, we don't know what will.

So, if you're home gym is lacking that cardiovascular edge, our list of top rowing machines has you covered, all without breaking the bank!

Best rowing machine under 500

  1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus
  2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606
  3. Stamina ATS Air Rower
  4. XTERRA Fitness ERG600W
  5. SNODE WR100
Fitness Reality 1000 Plus product image of a silver and black machine.
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Credit: Fitness Reality

1. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus

Best all-round rowing machine under 500

Brand: Fitness Reality
Max Weight: 250lbs
Resistance: Magnetic

This Fitness Reality 1000 Plus rowing machine appears to be an excellent choice to enhance your home workout routine at a reasonable price.

As you work towards achieving the goals you have set for your physical fitness, this machine's 14 levels of dual-transmission magnetic resistance will provide an engaging and stimulating challenge for you to overcome as you get better.

Additionally, the rowing machine includes six months of access to the MyCloudFitness app, offering you a selection of pre-made workouts and scenic routes to change up your sessions and keep your workouts interesting.

This folding option is a great pick for anyone who is restricted in the amount of space they have. We believe it is worthy of being included in our list due to its many benefits.

Read More: Best exercise bikes

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 product image of a grey framed machine.
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Credit: Sunny Health & Fitness

2. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606

Best foldable rowing machine under 500

Brand: Sunny Health & Fitness
Max Weight: 220lbs
Resistance: Elastic Cord

Sunny Health & Fitness is renowned for its high-quality, cost-effective cardio equipment, and this foldable rowing machine is a shining example of its expertise. It's a great pick for anyone looking for an affordable yet reliable way to work out.

It comes with dual directional resistance with four levels of adjustable tension. Therefore, you can alter the difficulty of your workouts whenever you need to up the intensity as you work towards improving your cardio.

You also get an LCD display that gives you your time, count, total count, calories burned, and count per minute. This is great for keeping track of your progress when you don't own the likes of a Fitbit to keep tabs on your stats for you.

Ultimately, if you're looking for a foldable bit of kit on a budget, then we feel this Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5606 is well worth considering.

Read More: Best treadmills under 500

Stamina ATS Air Rower product image of a black and highlighter yellow rowing machine.
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Credit: Stamina

3. Stamina ATS Air Rower

Best air-driven rowing machine under 500

Brand: Stamina
Max Weight: 250lbs
Resistance: Air

Stamina looks as though it has struck gold with its ATS Air Rower. True to its name, the ATS Air Rower utilises air resistance, similar to some of the best air bikes, by means of blades interacting with the air. Stamina claims that this design choice contributes to a smoother rowing motion.

In addition, the rower is equipped with a monitor that conveniently displays your speed, distance, time, and calories burned. This feature allows you to easily track the intensity of your workout.

Notably, the package includes complimentary access to Müüv, a smart audio coaching app tailored to provide training tips and guidance, especially beneficial if you are new to the world of rowing.

Overall, the Stamina ATS Air Rower proves to be a reliable option worthy of consideration if you seek an air-powered exercise machine.

Read More: Best ellipticals under 500

XTERRA Fitness ERG600W product image of a black, water-driven machine.
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Credit: XTERRA Fitness

4. XTERRA Fitness ERG600W

Best hydraulic rowing machine under 500

Brand: XTERRA Fitness
Max Weight: 300lbs
Resistance: Water

The XTERRA Fitness ERG600W stands out as one of the top rowing machines currently available in the market, thanks to its exceptional construction and distinctive design.

One of the standout features of this machine is its water-driven mechanism, utilising impellers to actively propel through the water tank, aiming to replicate the serene sounds of actual rowing.

Furthermore, the ERG600W is equipped with an adjustable 5.5" LCD console and offers six resistance levels determined by the quantity of water in the tank, enabling users to vary the intensity of their workouts effectively.

Considering all these impressive attributes, the water-driven XTERRA Fitness ERG600W undoubtedly emerges as a strong contender for prospective buyers, especially when taking into account its relatively inexpensive price point.

Read More: Best cross trainers

SNODE WR100 product image of a black and red, water-driven machine.
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Credit: SNODE

5. SNODE WR100

Best rowing machine under 500 for live workouts

Brand: SNODE
Max Weight: 331lbs
Resistance: Water

The SNODE WR100 is an impressive rowing machine that stands out due to its interactive personal training videos available through the free FITLOG app. These videos are designed to keep you motivated during your workouts and push you towards your fitness goals.

The FITLOG app not only provides motivating training videos but also offers a variety of tutorials that can be especially helpful for beginners. Additionally, the app allows you to set training plans, enabling you to stay on track with your fitness goals.

In terms of performance, the SNODE WR100 features a water-driven resistance mechanism that aims to replicate the authentic rowing experience as closely as possible.

Therefore, if you're in search of an inexpensive rowing machine that will keep you motivated, the SNODE WR100 could be the perfect choice for you.

Read More: Best recumbent bikes

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Buying a rowing machine can often generate numerous questions, but we're here to address some common queries to help you make an informed purchase decision

Is a rowing machine worth it?

A rowing machine is a great option to have for the winter months for indoor cardio-based training, however, it also makes for a great option all year round as rowing in real life is not as simple as putting on your shoes and stepping outdoors.

This is one of the reasons why we feel a rowing machine is worth having in your home gym, but we also think it's a great way of working out your whole body whilst also improving your cardio as well.

In fact, a typical rowing stroke is said to consist of 65–75% leg work and 25–35% upper body work according to the American Fitness Professionals Association.

How do you use a rowing machine?

Enhancing your cardiovascular fitness through the use of a rowing machine is an excellent choice, but mastering the technique is crucial to optimise your progress. To ensure proper form, first, take a seat on the rowing machine and adjust the foot straps to securely fit over the top of your feet.

Next, reach forward and grasp the handle with both hands. Maintain straight arms and a neutral back position. Initiate the rowing movement by pushing off with your legs. Simultaneously, lean back slightly while pulling the handle toward your chest. Keep your elbows close to your body and relax your shoulders.

Once the handle reaches your chest, reverse the motion by extending your arms, leaning forward, and bending your knees. Repeat this cycle of leg push, arm pull, and slightly lean back until you have achieved your desired number of repetitions or time.

With all that in mind, it's important to acknowledge that rowing machines can differ in setup and usage, so carefully read the instructions provided. If you're uncertain, seek assistance from a trainer. Additionally, begin with light resistance and gradually increase it as you become more comfortable to prevent any potential injuries.

Can you lose weight using a rowing machine?

A rowing machine offers an extremely effective way of burning calories and, therefore, a great option for weight loss in our opinion.

In fact, a study conducted by the University of Roehampton compared running on a treadmill to rowing on a machine and found participants burnt 300 calories whilst rowing.

The results also showed that rowing activated more muscle groups than running, making it an efficient way of improving your cardio whilst also exercising your entire body.

To further support this, a study by Ka-Young Shin et al. found participants who rowed 5 days a week for 6 weeks significantly reduced their fat mass and total body fat percentage, thus supporting the idea that rowing is a great tool for losing weight.

How long should you use a rowing machine?

The answer to this question is not universal and depends on factors such as your fitness level and exercise frequency.

Livestrong suggests that if you're aiming for general health benefits, you can use a rowing machine for 30 minutes a day with moderate intensity or 15 minutes a day with vigorous intensity.

However, it's crucial to include rest days in your weekly routine to give your body time to recover. To optimise your health benefits, it is recommended to row between 3 to 5 days per week.

Is a rowing machine better than a treadmill?

Rowing machines offer a comprehensive full-body workout, making them a particularly great option over a treadmill if you're looking to perform regular full-body cardio workouts.

Supporting this, a study conducted in 2015 focused on rowing machines and discovered that rowing for 5 days a week over a span of 6 weeks resulted in a notable reduction in fat mass and total body fat percentage. This finding strongly suggests the positive benefits of incorporating rowing into your exercise routine.

However, the choice between these cardio machines is yours to make, so consider this information while evaluating which option is best suited for your home gym.

Is a rowing machine good for building muscle?

A rowing machine is an extremely versatile bit of kit as it is an effective way of improving your cardio and building muscle because you utilise almost your entire body during the movement.

That said, a rowing machine isn't as effective when it comes to building and sustaining muscle mass over time as you're often limited by the resistance.

Therefore, we'd recommend checking out some of our best back and shoulder exercises for mass to accompany your cardio-based rowing machine training.

Is a magnetic rowing machine better than an air rowing machine?

In general, magnetic and air rowing machines are both suitable options, offering a smooth and effective rowing experience for various workouts.

Air rowing machines often have damper settings that allow you to adjust the resistance by controlling the amount of air entering the flywheel housing. This gives you the flexibility to customise your workout intensity.

On the other hand, magnetic rowing machines also offer adjustable resistance levels. They are typically recognised for their quieter and smoother operation compared to air rowers. However, it's worth noting that air rowers tend to provide a more realistic simulation of rowing on water compared to magnetic rowers.

Ultimately, the decision between the two types of machines boils down to personal preference, as there are valid arguments for both.

Is a rowing machine easy to assemble?

The difficulty of assembling a rowing machine can vary depending on the specific model and the skill level of the person assembling it. However, most rowing machines come with clear instructions and all the necessary tools for assembly, which can make the process relatively straightforward.

Some models may require more complex assembly, such as attaching cables or electronics, which may require more advanced skills. In general, it is a good idea to carefully read the assembly instructions before beginning the process and to take your time to ensure that all parts are properly installed.

If you are unsure about your ability to assemble a rowing machine, you may want to consider hiring a professional to do it for you or purchasing a pre-assembled machine.

Are rowing machines suitable for older adults?

Yes, rowing machines can be suitable for older adults. In fact, rowing is often considered a low-impact exercise that can provide a full-body workout without putting excessive stress on the joints. This is because rowing is a smooth, fluid motion, making it a great option for individuals with joint issues or those who prefer low-impact exercises.

What's more, rowing engages multiple muscle groups, including the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs. This helps improve overall strength, endurance, and flexibility, which are important for maintaining functional independence as you get older.

Also, rowing is an excellent aerobic exercise that increases heart rate and improves cardiovascular health. Regular rowing workouts may even enhance lung capacity, boost circulation, and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

However, it's always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new exercise programme as an older adult, including using a rowing machine. They can provide personalised advice based on individual health conditions and any specific considerations.

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