All of the best rowing machines under $400 are as reliable as those that cost thousands. You can get in shape with a cheap home rowing machine with a minimum investment.
While these rowers lack a few accessories or large display screens, they still work on the same principles as other rowing machines that can cost twice as much.
The type of rowing machines under $400
You can consider 3 main types of rowing machines, even when shopping on a limited budget. All of them come with their pros and cons, but most can be used at home to improve health and fitness.
- Magnetic rowing machines: Magnetic rowing machines are the most popular option for home use. A flywheel is used with a magnet that increases or decreases resistance when it gets closer or further away through tension adjustments. The magnetic rower is generally versatile and cheap to make, making it a bit more affordable.
- Water rowing machines: Water rowers are the closest types of rowing machines to real-world rowing. They use a water tank, and they come with or without adjustable tension. Water rowers without adjustable tension work base on the user’s effort. The harder you row, the more difficult rowing becomes. But most modern water rowers also come with at least 6 levels of resistance.
- Air rowing machines: Air rowers are the lightest rowing machines. Ideal for outdoor home use, they are typically the lightest to move around the backyard or the patio. At the same time, these are some of the loudest home rowers, so they might not be the ideal choice if you live in small apartments.
Ideal characteristics of rowing machines for home use
Most rowers under $400 perform similarly regardless of their resistance system. They are great for losing weight or for staying in shape. Here’s what they need to come with as you’re going to use these rowers at home.
- Foldability or vertical storage: Home storage space is limited, unlike the free space in a gym. You need a compact rower with a folding design or a rower that can be stored vertically. These are the only options to save space at home with large fitness equipment.
- High weight capacity: Most of those looking to get an affordable rowing machine purchase their fitness equipment for the first time. There are high chances these users carry excess weight. While purchasing a fitness an affordable rowing machine is important, it shouldn’t come at the cost of durability. Most rowing machines recommended below have a large weight capacity between 280 and 330lbs (127kg to 149kg).
- Multiple resistance levels: On their own, resistance levels aren’t a make or break feature for a rowing machine purchase. However, multiple resistance levels can be useful for workout variation, workout progress, and future proof of the purchase. The more resistance levels a rower has, the easier it is to switch workout intensity.
All of these characteristics are important when training at home. Furthermore, the noise levels of a rower also play a significant part in the overall workout experience.
The following 5 best rowing machines under $400 can be used in small spaces such as apartments as they produce minimal noise and come with a versatile design for space-saving storage.
The TOP 5 Best Rowing Machines Under $400 for 2021:
1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine Review – Best Overall
While many don’t believe a brand can offer the best rowing machines under $400, Sunny Health & Fitness offers a couple of worthy options within the budget. Their RW5515 rowing machine is highly affordable and one of the ideal rowing machines for home use.
It comes with all of the important characteristics for the ultimate workout. This small rowing machine has a folding design. It complies with the design specifications of some of the best rowing machines for weight loss at a much higher price.
Oversized pedals and padded handlebars make it feel like a real rowing machine like those in the gym. Many cheap rowing machines suffer from low-quality materials, which isn’t the case here. Small accessories also make it feel a bit more complex than its price might imply. It even comes with floor stabilizers. In the gym where the floor was an investment of thousands of dollars, this might not be of significant importance. These stabilisers are ideal for uneven floors at home as they provide the correct workout angle with every rowing session.
There are 8 magnetic levels of resistance delivered by this potent rower for home use. For less than $400, these levels offer much-needed training resistance regardless of your fitness level. If you want to train for maximum cardiovascular endurance, you can start high-frequency rowing at an easier level of resistance. For the ultimate strength gains, you can train at a higher level of resistance.
- Included LCD monitor for workout data display
- Designed with a long 48in slide rail
- Included transportation wheels
- Small footprint with a compact design
2. Fitness Reality 1000 Plus Bluetooth Magnetic Rower Review – Best For Strength Gains
There are a few reasons why Fitness Reality’s 1000 Plus rower deserves its spot on the list.
This rowing machine features double magnetic resistance plus Bluetooth connectivity. Its double magnetic resistance is a dual transmission mechanism that supports 14 levels of resistance. Highly recommended for experienced rowers, this cardio fitness equipment for home use is among the top choices for upper body workouts. Two front pedals added to the rower allow it to be used for various pulley exercises such as triceps extensions.
Bluetooth capabilities also make this rower one of the most important names in home rowing machines under $400 for the ultimate workout data analysis.
In theory, you can connect the rower to almost any fitness tracking app. In practice, all of the rower features are going to be best interpreted in native Fitness Reality apps such as the MyCloudFitness app.
- Backed by online workout programs through MyCloudFitness
- New monthly training programs through the official app
- Compatible with world tour virtual rowing programs
- Designed with a tablet holder
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Magnetic Rowing Machine Review – Best For Workout Variation
Not all rowing workouts are the same. Some are more intense than others.
For the most variety in your rowing workouts, you need a rowing machine for home use that comes with as many resistance levels as possible within the budget. This is where this rower from Sunny Health & Fitness comes into play. Featuring 16 levels of resistance, it stands out as one of the most powerful rowers to prevent boring workouts and to switch up training intensity as much as possible.
Made with a durable steel frame, the rower is among the most interesting options for overweight users as well. This is where its high 285lbs weight capacity and its multiple levels of resistance stand out.
Overweight users take small steps in progress when it comes to fitness level and strength. This is why its multiple levels of resistance might also be helpful to ease the transition towards heavy workouts.
Since this rower is made for intense workouts which can also belong, it also features a built-in water bottle holder. You can use it for pure water or vitamin water to stay hydrated during the most demanding home workouts.
A digital calculator also keeps an eye on all movements on the rower. Time, count, and calories are its most significant parameters recorded automatically in each rowing session.
- Designed with oversized pedals with straps
- Included transportation wheels to eliminate heavy lifting
- Folds for storage
- Made with an ergonomic seat
4. HouseFit Water Rower Rowing Machine Review – Best For Smooth Rowing
Based on water rowing resistance, this HousFit rower is ideal for smooth workouts with minimum noise.
Ideal for families where parents train quietly in the morning or the evening without disturbing the kids, the rower provides a unique stroke experience. Water rowers are ideal for smooth workouts, mimicking those in kayaks and real-world rowers.
This HouseFit affordable water rower also comes with a long list of benefits, including its smart modern design. Made according to the needs of the modern user, it comes with an integrated tablet holder so that you can follow along with various workouts on YouTube without losing motivation.
6 levels of water resistance power this rower to make it ideal for simple workouts that provide results. You can lose weight and build better physical endurance with this simple rower that is also a bit less complicated to use than some of the multi-levels of resistance alternatives.
The rower also comes with transportation wheels so that you can train in different areas of the house. Since it also holds water, it’s a bit heavier than its alternatives. At 77 pounds, it would be a bit too heavy to move around without these wheels.
- High 330lbs maximum weight capacity
- Made with an aluminum slide rail
- Designed with adjustable pedals
- Stores in a standing position
5. OVICX Magnetic Rowing Machine Review – Best For Muscles Strength
Based on one of the most modern look rowing machines, this OVICX design also impresses its performance. It features 16 levels of magnetic resistance for the ultimate full-body workouts.
If you want to strengthen your muscles and lose weight, its high resistance levels might help you get there faster. Most rowing machines in this price range are limited when it comes to resistance levels.
This OVICX home rowing machine is ideal for the ultimate versatility and to activate all major muscles. You target your feet as you use them to push during every stroke. You activate core muscles through posture. Arms are trained through pulling movements.
Even the back muscles are highly targeted by a rowing machine, especially one with so many resistance adjustments.
This small rower can replace multiple other home fitness machines for cardiovascular endurance as well. It comes with a small digital computer to show the number of calories you burn during every workout.
But the rower is also a bit more comfortable than its competitors. It uses a cushioned seat, which is a rare sight in most other rowers since most are made with hard seats inspired by those from the gym, where they get used a bit more every day.
The rower also stands out with its quiet performance. Those living in small apartments or users planning to train in small rooms can also prioritize it over its alternatives as it produces minimum training noise.
- Made with angle-adjustable foot pedals with safety straps
- Included odometer function
- Made with a non-slip handlebar
- Rounded edges and console shape for easy vertical storage
Rowing machines for under $400 are some of the best investments in health and fitness.
Affordable and easy to use, they can be all you need to start training at home. Their low cost is also ideal to get started with training at home in a period where social distancing prevents many from playing outdoor sports.
One of the most impressive aspects of the cheap vs expensive rowing machines debate is that even these affordable options keep track of the same workout parameters as their premium counterparts.
Regardless of which rower you choose from the options listed above, you still get an estimation of the number of calories you burn in a workout. You also get readings on time spent training as well as the number of strokes in a workout.
All of this data is also shown by rowing machines that cost twice as much. With clear data on how you perform on the rower, you can start training at home to replace your gym workouts with success. You can also save your progress if you choose a rowing machine with enabled Bluetooth connectivity.
Alternatively, you can use a table to follow along with online rowing classes, which can be beneficial if you’re just starting without a clear idea on how to best use a rower at home.