5 Best Budget Rowing Machines

If you need the best budget rowing machine for home use, you’re on the right page. We’ll discuss several popular models to see if they fit your needs.

As such, we’ll break down their main characteristics and see why these features could help you. To this end, we’ve selected value-for-money rowers that cover the whole range of fitness levels and goals.

Keep reading!

What To Look For In A Budget Rower

But first, we’re going to hit you with some pretty zen-sounding hippy stuff, so here it goes:

The first thing you should look for in a budget rower is the reflection of your goals.

That can sound pretty esoteric at first and not at all objective. Understandably, that phrase can put you off from reading more.

That would be a mistake.

We get it. If you’re a beginner, you need someone to spell it out for you, such as “look for characteristics 1 to n and you’ll make a good choice”.

And although you could define good rowing machines through some mix of characteristics, that’s not going to guarantee you’ll pick a good rower for your needs.

So, let’s start from this premise:

You want a budget rower, and that probably means:

  • You don’t want to spend lots of money constantly on fitness equipment:
    • Make sure the frame is resistant, so made of sturdy materials like aluminium or steel.
    • Pick an ergonomic rower that won’t cause or increase chronic pain. So, your seat should be contoured and cushiony, the footplates should be anti-skid, and the handlebars should be grippy. The rower should also allow you to make a full push-pull range of motion comfortably.
  • You don’t live in a palace:
    • You need a rower that fits your available space, so start by shortlisting rowers in terms of their dimensions.
    • You may need your rowing machine to fold so that you can store it somewhere out of your way.
    • If you’re living with other people, you’ll need a silent rower.

Those features above relate to your space and budget goals. Now, you have to move on to your fitness goals:

  • You want to lose weight quickly. Look for an air-resistance rower that allows you to do lots of HIIT. If you’re going to reach a weight loss goal quickly, you may also need some motivation. Rowers in this price range don’t usually have app-based training or pre-programmed workouts, so at least look for one with a tablet holder. That way, you could find practical YouTube workouts.
  • You want to lose lots of weight in the long term. Both air-magnetic and magnetic rowers work for this goal because if you’re going to lose more weight over a more extended period, you’ll need a mix of cardio, HIIT, and strength training.
  • You want to build your muscle mass/ gain weight. Air-magnetic and air rowers increase your heart rate quickly and bring you into the fat-burning zone, so they’re better for weight loss. The safest bet is a magnetic rower with high resistance levels if you want to gain weight and build up your muscle mass.
  • You want to find a low-effort way to stay active. Any run-of-the-mill quality rower will do the trick.

Thus, the rowing machine you end up choosing should fit your training style, goals, and current condition. But two things you should never compromise on are:

  • Material quality because you need your rowing machine to last
  • Overall comfort because you want to keep a good form, which guarantees a challenging muscle workout and decreases the risk of injury.
    • Remember: Your lower back, knees, and rotator cuffs are the most predisposed to injuries when you’re rowing.

Budget Rowing Machines Reviewed

JLL® R200 Review: Best Lifelike Rower

JLL® R200 Luxury Home Rowing Machine, 2022 Model Rowing Machine Fitness Cardio Workout...
  • 10 levels of Magnetic Resistance.
  • LCD Monitor Display: Total Count, Calorie, Count / Min...
  • Advanced belt driving system provides rapid engagement for...

The JLL R200 has “luxury” in its name, but it’s an affordable piece of equipment. However, it’s built with the JLL state-of-the-art quality and features ROHS CE compliance. So, although it’s basic, it’s also practical.

For example, you get ten levels of magnetic resistance that allow you to choose the right intensity. Thus, you’ll be able to sculpt your body and build endurance even if you’re a complete newbie.

Couple that feature with the advanced rowing simulation, and you’ll experience lifelike rowing motions. That means you can target all your muscles more comprehensively because this system engages them quickly.

The 7-function LCD monitor is pretty standard because it tracks routine stats like calories, distance, and time. However, these measurements are precise, and the screen is easy to read.

We also like the belt-driven design because it makes the R200 rower smooth and quiet. This design complements the advanced rowing simulation feature so that you can enjoy a genuine rowing experience.

As such, you can row for extended periods. JLL’s R200 is an ergonomic and comfortable rowing machine, with foam-padded handlebars and secure footplates.

People who want the best budget rowing machines are also interested in portability and space-saving features. JLL R200 has a small footprint, and it’s easy to fold. Use the front wheels to transport it easily from room to room.

On the downside, R200 only accommodates people up to 100 kg. It’s also slightly heavy at 23 kg, so it’s challenging to move it upstairs. Conversely, this weight ensures extra stability during higher-impact workouts.

  • Scalable
  • Lifelike experience
  • Easy-to-read monitor
  • Smooth
  • Comfortable for long workouts
  • Compact
  • Upright foldable
  • 100 kg max weight
  • Heavyish

Check price and reviews on Amazon UK

XS Sports R310 Review: Best For Cardio

XS Sports R310 Home Rowing Machine-Folding with Magnetic Adjustable Resistance-Fitness...
  • STRONG; Our foldable rowing machine features a powder coated...
  • SAFE; Each XS Sports foldable fitness machine rower has...
  • MAGNETIC; Our foldable rowers feature 10 levels of...

XS Sports R310 is one of the best cheap rowing machines for home use too.

You can notice similar features to JLL’s R200, such as the 100 kg max user weight, ten resistance levels, and standard monitor. For example, the monitor shows calories based on the distance you’ve rowed and not your intensity level.

However, XS Sports R310’s unique selling proposition is that it’s manufactured in consultation with professionals from the home fitness industry.

As such, the first thing we noticed is its durability. The powder-coated frame looks and feels sturdy. As such, the R310 will accommodate more challenging workouts, and you can use it for a long time. Although XS Sports offers a 12-month warranty, most customers have had their R310s for years.

Another thing that shows quality craftsmanship is the safety-first design. To this end, XS Sports does extensive quality inspections of all its products.

Now for the results:

As we said before, R310 features ten levels of magnetic resistance and a 4-kg flywheel. These characteristics tell us that R310 is best for beginner and intermediate levels because the 4-kg flywheel is easy to push, although you can work up your strength to level ten.

But an easy-to-push flywheel isn’t necessarily bad for expert rowers. If you want to improve cardiovascular endurance and burn fat, this type of equipment is precisely what you need.

You can also notice the padded grip and overall comfy design. That way, you can keep your body in an anatomically correct position and row for extended periods to expend more calories.

Besides, the R310 is compact and foldable. The setup instructions aren’t self-explanatory on the downside, so it will take a while to build it.

  • Value for money
  • Rugged and durable
  • Safe
  • Best for beginners, intermediates
  • Best for high-calorie burn and cardio
  • Padded and comfortable
  • Compact and foldable
  • The calorie count doesn’t take into account your effort
  • Difficult-to-read instructions
  • Not best for advanced people who want to build strength

Check price and reviews on Amazon UK

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 Review: Best For Independent Upper Body Workouts

Sunny Health and Fitness Unisex's Dual Function Magnetic Rowing Machine SF-RW5622, Grey,...
  • DUAL FUNCTION ROWER: Large heavy-duty foot plates allow for...
  • RESISTANCE: 8 Levels of Magnetic Resistance promote quiet,...
  • TRACK YOUR FITNESS: Keep track of your performance and...

Sunny Health SF-RW5622 is also one of the best inexpensive rowing machines for home use. Compared to the previous two models, though, this model features only eight levels of magnetic resistance.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

If you’re a newbie or intermediate rower, you’ll challenge yourself appropriately. You can also use this rower to its maximum potential if you’re primarily interested in aerobic training.

Besides, Sunny Health SF-RW5622 is a dual-function rower. That means you can use it for upper body training without using other equipment. For instance, many customers say they’ve used this rowing machine to perform varied arm and shoulder exercises without additional weights. Use the standing footplates for extra grip and to maintain a correct posture.

Basically, Sunny Health SF-RW5622 allows you to combine toning exercises with cardio training. As a result, you can burn more calories faster and also shape your body.

However, just like with the other models above, be prepared for a practical, standard rower. Sunny Health SF-RW5622 lacks the bells and whistles of more advanced models, and that’s reflected firstly into the basic monitor. Moreover, some customers complain that this screen is a bit small so difficult to read.

This rower is highly comfy, though. Sunny Health spared no effort into the padding for the seat and handlebars. This extra cushioning will help you maintain the correct posture and reduce impacts to your lower back. That means you can work out for longer and recover faster.

Another thing we like is the seat’s width. The seat is 28 x 36 x 5 cm so that it accommodates larger people as well.

Plus, just like the other two models above, Sunny Health SF-RW5622 is foldable and portable.

  • Scalable resistance levels
  • Best for aerobic training and toning
  • Allows independent upper body workouts
  • Comfortable and wide padded seat
  • Cushiony and grippy handlebars
  • Foldable and portable
  • Not best for expert rowers who want to build more strength
  • No bells and whistles
  • Smallish screen

Check price and reviews on Amazon UK

Viavito Sumi Review: Best For Strength Training

VIAVITO Sumi Folding Rowing Machine
  • 7kg (15.4lbs) Flywheel; 10 Levels of Silent Friction-Free...
  • Feedback: Time Distance Calories Count Strokes Per Minute;...
  • Ergonomic Comfort Seat; Large Pedals With Foot Straps;...

Viavito Sumi is one of the best affordable rowers for home use if you want to build more muscles. That’s thanks to a heavier 7 kg flywheel that provides increased resistance. Besides, flywheel-based rowers feel more lifelike too.

Combine that heavier flywheel with ten levels of magnetic resistance, and you get a highly scalable rower. Viavito Sumi allows you to adjust the resistance easily according to your fitness level. Therefore, you’ll be able to improve your strength without straining your muscles.

Warning: This machine won’t be able to increase your muscle mass if you’re already ripped.

Another advantage to this design is you’re getting a quiet rower. Thus, you’ll be able to work out without bothering your roommates or waking up any sleeping babies.

Viavito Sumi is durable and stable too because its frame is made from tubular steel. Steel is a lightweight but rugged material. That means you can move this rower around effortlessly, but it will also withstand higher-impact workouts.

The 4-roller system with commercial-grade rollers is also robust and durable. The seat and handlebars are also quality, although slightly firmer than the above products’ seats. However, they’re ergonomic and enhance the lifelike rowing experience.

Compared to the other rowers we reviewed, Viavito Sumi caters to taller and heavier people. That’s because it accommodates people up to 120 kg and up to 110 cm leg length.

Another marked difference lies with the large footplates that pivot. That means you can push off them at natural angles for that realistic rowing feel. It also means you can avoid injury and have increased foot support.

  • Best for muscle mass
  • Scalable
  • Easily adjustable resistance
  • Quiet
  • Smooth
  • Sturdy materials and craftsmanship
  • Works well for tall and heavy people
  • Allows natural motions
  • Reduces the risk of injury
  • Simple monitor
  • Not best for experts

Check price and reviews on Amazon UK

HOMCOM Rower Review: Best For Low-Level Cardio

HOMCOM Rowing Machine Cardio Rower Workout Fitness Body Tonner Home Gym Training
420 Reviews
HOMCOM Rowing Machine Cardio Rower Workout Fitness Body Tonner Home Gym Training
  • Adjustable Resistance: 12 Strength adjustable levels...
  • LCD Nonitor: Multifunction LCD monitor console displays...
  • Ergonomic Design: Enjoy a comfortable row with the smooth...

This HOMCOM rower is the cheapest in our review so far. So, although it’s a standard rower, it’s practical and effective.

Keep in mind that it’s also the lightest at just 9.3 kg overall weight. By comparison, the other rowers above were about three times heavier.

So what that tells us is that HOMCOM Rowing Machine is best for newbies, petite people, and low-impact workouts. If you’re heavier and row harder, this rower will prove particularly unstable.

With that in mind, you have to adjust your expectations. Although this model features 12 resistance levels, don’t expect too much resistance to challenge your muscles. As such, this rowing machine is best for people who want to keep things at a light-moderate cardio level.

If you’re one of these people, you can burn enough calories, and you’ll keep yourself in good shape. You’ll also maintain a healthy set of heart and lungs, plus you’ll decrease stress.

Basically, this HOMCOM rower is best if you want to squeeze in some activity while binge-watching Netflix. It’s definitely not the sort of equipment you’d want if you’re a gym rat.

That said, the HOMCOM Rowing machine is comfortable, smooth and effective. You can use it to target all your main muscle groups, but remember that this rower is best for petite people.

  • Scalable to various endurance levels
  • Full-body workout
  • Metal frame
  • Easy-to-read LCD monitor
  • Scan function for easy search during your workout
  • Padded, comfy seat
  • Cushiony, non-slip handlebars
  • Grippy footplates
  • Anti-skid floor protectors
  • Not stable at high intensities
  • Best just for petite people

Check price and reviews on Amazon UK

In Conclusion

In this article, we discussed five of the best rowing machines on the market. Each is best for different ends, though. So, apart from your budget, consider your fitness goals and current level too.

Here’s a quick reminder:

  • JLL® R200: best lifelike rower
  • XS Sports R310: best for cardio
  • Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622: best for independent upper body workouts
  • Viavito Sumi: best for strength training
  • HOMCOM: best for low-level cardio

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