Using a rowing machine at home can bring you numerous benefits.
But there is a problem…
There are literally hundreds of different models, types, brands to choose from.
If you read this article till the end you are going to learn:
- Which is the best rowing machine under $200 you can get
- What are the top 5 best rowing machines to choose from
- What are the 4 main types of rowing machines and which one is the perfect option for you
- What are the top 10 things you should know when buying a brand new rowing machine
- Which is my personal rowing machine and why I like it so much…
- And much more…
Hi there, my name is Bozhidar and in this article, I will use all my previous experience with rowing machines to help you decide which one is the best one for you and your needs.
Don’t worry it’s fairly easy.
As a person who actually owns a rowing machine and uses it regularly, I can give you good advice and help you make the right decision.
So without any further ado, let’s see what I have prepared for you…
But before we do that I have a really important question:
Are you in a hurry?
If you don’t have the time to read the whole post I highly recommend you check out my personal rowing machine I currently own and use when I want to do some cardio and burn calories which is the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rower (click here to check it out).
I really recommend this rowing macine to anyone because it’s hands down the best and most natural feeling rowing machine I have ever used.
It’s lightweight, very affordable, takes little space and can be stored vertically.
The machine is really well made (I’ve been using it for months and there aren’t any problems) and the rowing motion is really smooth.
When using this rowing machine you really target the same muscles as you are doing it in the water.
I’m really happy of my purchase and highly recommend you to check this model.
Trust me, it’s really awesome and for that price, you probably won’t find a better one.
With that out of the way let’s see which are the other 4 rowing machines and how they do compare to mine.
Click the name to learn more details about any specific model.
|Name||Best For||Type||Weight||Size inches (L x W x H)||Weight Limit||Height Limit||Uniqueness|
|Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rower||Best Rowing Machine Under $200||Hydraulic||39 lbs (17.6 kg)||58.25 x 42.5 x 18.125||250 lbs||4’9″ – 6’4″||Affordable, portable and well made|
|Stamina 1205 Precision Rower||Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces and Home Gym Under $250||Hydraulic||47 lbs (21.3 kg)||48 x 32.5 x 27.75||250 lbs||5′ – 6’2″||Compact size and smooth movement|
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639||Most Portable Rowing Machine for Home Training||Hydraulic||33 lbs (15 kg)||57 x 29 x 12||350 lbs||5’1″ – 6’2″||Natural movement and increased weight limit|
|ProGear 750 Multifunctional Rower||Most Versatile Rowing Machine for Home Gym||Hydraulic||54 lbs (24.4 kg)||53 x 26.5 x 36.3||220 lbs||4’9″ – 6’1″||Can be used for 10 different exercises|
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515||Most Silent Magnetic Rowing Machine Under $250 for Home Gym||Magnetic||60.9 lbs (27.6 kg)||60 x 22 x 27.2||250 lbs||4’9″ – 6’5″||Very silent and great for tall people|
But before I show you my in-depth individual reviews and comparison I want you to learn what are the 4 types of rowing machines so you can make a better purchase decision…
What are the 4 different types of rowing machines you should know about? (And which one is the best one for you?)
There are 4 types of rowing machines that use a different type of resistance each having unique pros and cons. The 4 types are magnetic rowing machines, air rowing machines, hydraulic piston rowing machines, and water rowing machines.
As you can see each type is different than the other and has its unique pros and cons.
If you don’t want to get into a similar situation I highly recommend you to take the time and read the next couple of lines because this information might be crucial so you can make the best decision for your needs.
Doing that automatically places you one step ahead of the herd.
And who doesn’t want that?
Now let’s take a quick overview of each type so you can see which type of rowing machine would be the best option for you:
Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machines
All magnetic rowing machines are extremely quiet because of the lack of friction when you are using them. If you prefer to train in silence and hate loud noises then a magnetic rower may be the perfect fit for you.
Usually, they are very compact in size and that’s why they are mostly preferred as a home option.
But beware that because of the shape some models can be a little longer than the rest so you may want a couple of extra inches to place them comfortably.
Lucky for you most magnetic rowing machines can be folded so they can be store easily near the wall.
You can easily adjust the difficulty levels using a magnetic brake – that way you will have a big variety of options to choose from depending on what you really need.
And all models come with a really good display.
You can use it to track total distance, speed, amount of calories you’ve burned, and other useful info at a glance.
Thanks to the magnets, you receive very accurate information about the exact resistance you are using.
Because of the heavy flywheels, most rowers of those type usually have a very smooth range of motion which can be a useful thing to have when it comes to comfort.
One final thing to notice is that magnetic rowing machines are most commonly a lot smaller than models that operate using air and water.
Having that in mind you see why they fit easily in tiny spaces.
Air Resistance Rowing Machines
Air resistance rowing machines basically work by using the air flow you create in a circular motion by pulling the handle as resistance. The faster and harder you pull the handle, the bigger air flow you are going to create with the help of the propellers which will lead to stronger resistance.
With most air rowers you can’t manually pick or change the resistance. The speed and intensity of your rowing is the only way to choose how difficult you want it to be. The harder and faster your row, the higher resistance you will achieve.
Of course that does not apply to all machines because some air models do have some sort of a lever to control the airflow.
But the main feature of air rowing machines is the simplicity.
They are usually quite basic and don’t have many of those confusing buttons and options you regularly see.
Sadly they are quite noisy compared to the magnetic ones but with the help of the air, you will have a smoother, more natural movement compared to hydraulic oil.
Some people love them so much that even compare their movement like rowing in water.
They usually have a very smooth movement and are most commonly used in public gyms and homes.
Hydraulic Piston Resistance Rowing Machines
Hydraulic piston machines are very popular because they have a compact and fordable size which makes them ideal for storing or moving around. One more great thing about them is that they are pretty affordable and easy to maintain.
The resistance of these machines is generated by pulling 2 hydraulic pistons against the fluid inside them making their movement really smooth and controlled.
An important thing to keep in mind is that from all 4 types of rowers, only the hydraulic piston ones can have an individual adjustable resistance on each side.
That may be something really handy if you are having an underdeveloped or disproportionate body part which needs improvement.
By having the ability to use only 1 hand or change the difficulty only on one side at a time you can easily fix all the lacking muscles and improve your overall performance. 
When it comes to noise levels, this type of rowers are somewhere in the middle. They are quieter than air rowers but are not as silent as the magnetic option.
Unfortunately, anything that uses liquid inside can sometimes leak and make a big mess. That problem can be easily solved by placing your machine on some sort of water-resistant surface just in case.
There are very good mats designed for these types of problems. (click here to check a really great workout mat I place beneath my rowing machine)
During an intensive training session, because of the constant friction, the mechanical parts can get really hot (the 2 pistons and the other moving parts).
For your own safety, it’s not recommended to touch them during that time.
Trust me do not try this!
Water Resistance Rowing Machines
Water rowers uses quite innovative technology. When you row you are pushing paddles that use water as resistance. In fact, the whole process is quite similar as using air with the only difference is that the amount of sound they produce is far less. When it comes to pricing they are on higher end.
It’s well known that water-based rowing machines originate smaller amounts of sounds than the air type which is the noisiest version you can possibly find.
If you think about it, the sound coming out of the machine is water being rotated.
Many people prefer this type of resistance due to the proven fact that natural sounds, like water, can be really effective in relaxing and calming down the mind. 
If you close your eyes while rowing using water you could really imagine that you are rowing into the deeper see towards the lost Atlantis.
In addition to that, the feeling you get is quite similar to the original rowing in actual water making this option the most natural one compared to air, magnets and oil.
That’s one of the main reasons why many people prefer water rowing machines over the other 3 types.
Sadly water machines are way more expensive and you may have to deal with some leaks over time but the good news is that this time it will be just water – not hydraulic oil!
But if you have to know only one thing about rowing machines, please let it be this!
Each type has different properties and can provide you with a totally different user experience and benefits from the rest.
That’s why It’s really helpful to to know the things above.
Now let’s check my recommended 5 rowing machines and pick the one that is the best suited for you.
Top 5 Best Rowing Machines Under $200 You Need To Try (Great for a home gym)
All 5 models I will review below are made by trusty and well-known brands, are tested by a lot of people (including me) and are proven to be very durable and affordable at the same time.
So you will not make a mistake if you decide to pick any of them.
But in order to help you decide which one is for you I’m going to test, review and compare each rowing maching using 10 unique and different categories I find really important when I purchased my first rowing machine.
In addition I’m going to rate each machine on a scale of 1 to 10 is some of the so you can easily find out which one is better than the other.
Here are the 10 categories I’m going to use to evalute each one:
- My overall experience and opinion
- Weight capacity and height
- Size and portability
- Range of motion
- What makes it unique and better than the rest?
- Who is this squat rack best for?
- Are there any good alternatives
- What I like
- What I don’t like
Please don’t skip any of the categories and read everything so you can make the best decision.
Let’s begin with the first rowing machine I currently use…
1. Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rower – Best Rowing Machine Under $200
My overall experience and opinion:
I’ve decided to place this rower in the number one spot because this is the one I currently own and use and so far I’m really impressed.
It is pretty small with 23 in wide x 46 in long when I use it. Additionally I really like the option to store it vertically which takes almost no space at all.
I prefer to fold and place it near the corner of my room buy you can do that anywhere you like.
It’s pretty awesome how something that small can provide you with the same rowing motion as machines that are double or even triple its size.
In addition to that the whole machine is pretty lightweight and easy to move around because it weights only 39 lbs. I can easily move it around without any problems even after the workouts.
When it comes to the quality everything is made well and even after hundreds of my workouts it’s still standing strong and it don’t wobble or make any additional noises.
My rowing machine has a weight limit of 250 pounds which is going to be enough for most people. My father who is a heavier man than me has used it multiple times and so far he hasn’t told me anothing bad.
It also has a small LCD display which is really nice and gives plenty of stats when you need them. I’ve used it to track things such as workout time, stroke counts, burned calories which is handy if these things are important for you.
My favorite thing about the display is the fact that every 6 seconds the display shows a different parameter which is a nice little feature. Sadly I haven’t seen it on any other of the rowing machines I’ve used. But it’s great because you don’t need to stop and click any of the buttons to change it manually.
In addition to the small size I really like Stamina 1050 has folding arms which don’t really take much space when you are not using the machine.
The seat and handles are comfortable and the foot plates and nice and wide but the best part is the rowing movement.
I really like how this model mimics the rowing in water and gives a complete range of motion. Yes, I don’t know how they’ve done it but you can do wide circular motions exactly like you are doing the thing in actual water.
And that makes rowing on this machine really enjoyable and realistic. You can move your whole body freely in any direction.
It’s nice to know that my rowing machine uses a hydraulic cylinder on the botoom side which you use to change positions. It’s failry quick process and only requires to rotate a big cap under back end.
Finally, I want to mention that the frame is made using some sort of thick but light steel and the whole saddle movement is smooth. There isn’t any unnecesarry friction or bumps.
Another great thing you I want to mention is that the Stamina Body Trac Glider comes with a 1-year frame warranty and a 90-day warranty on all other parts. I’ve never had to use any of them but it’s still good to have one than not.
Weight capacity and height: With its 250 lbs weight capacity and up to 6 feet and 4 inches height capacity this is one of the best rowing machines you can get for a small home gym. I don’t find the weight capacity anything special because all other models have similar height. Because I don’t have the longest legs ever when I train on it there is a lot of space after the seat even when I’m at the farthest point so if you are someone with very long legs this is the rowing machine you want. And because of that, I would give it a well-deserved 8.5 out of 10 when it comes to weight capacity and height.
Size and portability: Sadly this rowing machine isn’t the most compact one you can get when you use it but it still weighs only 39 pounds which is less than some models. But it’s a great option to have at home because it can be easily folded and stored vertically or horizontally when not used. I really like this feature and usually store mine near the corner of my home gym vertically when I’m not using it. That way it doesn’t take any space and I can move it only when I need to. And trust me, if you don’t have a lot of empty space in your home, then the option to be able to fold some parts is essential. So when it comes to size and portability I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10. I’ve decided to take 0.5 points away because you can’t make it super flat and move it under the bed for example.
Sound: Even though this isn’t a magnetic rowing machine it’s still not a very noisy model. Sure you will still hear some noises when you row but it’s nothing too loud and annoying compared to some other rowing machines I have used. So even if this is not the quietest rowing machine in the world it is still quite silent compared to some more expensive models and because of that, I would rate it an 8 out of 10 when it comes to the sounds it makes.
Range of motion: When it comes to the range of motion I have to give it a 10 out of 10 because it does actually mimic completely the rowing movement you will do when you are in real water. So if you really want to be able to do the closest rowing movement as you can without having to do the actual thing then this is your best alternative you can find.
What makes it unique and better than the rest?: In my opinion, this is the best rowing machine under $200 you can get because it’s extremely well made. I’ve used mine countless times and everything is still working fine even if there are 3-4 times more expensive models. And to be honest you get most of the same features without having to pay a ton of money. But the most unique feature I like that most rowing machines don’t offer is the very realistic rowing circular motion instead of simply pulling 2 levers. Sure you can still do the basic rowing movement in other models but I really like to do it the same way I do this exercise when I’m in the water.
Who is this rowing machine best for?: Because of the cheap price, small size when not used and realistic rowing movement I believe this rowing machine is best for people that have a small space or don’t want to spend a fortune when buying a rowing machine. After using it for a while I have to say that the Stamina Body Trac 1050 is a good long-term investment and it’s one of the best options to get if you are looking to buy a good rowing machine under $200.
Are there any good alternatives? While I still highly recommend this model, you can still check this great alternative. It is the slightly upgraded version called Stamina Body Trac 1052 (click here to check it out). While both Stamina models have a similar price the Stamina Body Trac 1052 has a slightly better seat, improved screen, and a little bit more texture on the foot placements. But in my opinion both options are equally great so you won’t go wrong no matter which one you choose.
What I like
- Easy and fast to assemble (Takes around 20-30 mins)
- Lightweight and portable
- You have the option to fold it and store it vertically
- Quiet and smooth movement
- No wobbling
- Full range of motion mimicking rowing in water
- Easy to adjust and use
- Comfortable seat and a great option for taller people as well
What I don’t like
- Because it’s a hydraulic machine some parts may become weaker in the future
- The resistance can be too much for some people.
- Doesn’t offer any other exercises except for rowing
If you are looking for an affordable and portable rowing machine for your home gym then toy should really consider my current one called Stamina 1050 (click here to check it out)
I’ve used it for a while now and can easily say that almost everything about it is good and In my opinion it’s worth the money. I don’t believe you can find much better rowing machine for less than $200.
That’s why I highly recommend you to check it out!
2. Stamina 1205 Precision Rower – Best Rowing Machine for Small Spaces and Home Gym Under $250
My overall experience and opinion:
The second model I want to show you is Stamina 1205.
From my personal experience I can say that this is a very affordable and compact rowing machine, specifically designed for home use.
One of its biggest features is the solid steel frame that comes with a 5-year warranty.
The combination of those 2 things really helps you understand why this product is one of the most durable ones.
It uses a comfortable padded seat and pivoting foot plates with a combination of adjustable straps to hold you tight.
All those things combined make your training very comfortable and enjoyable.
The improved hydraulic has smooth and even movement and makes using it really great.
Stamina 1205 handles rolling very good and some customers even compare it with the actual rowing in water.
The built-in display provides all important metrics such as calories burned, time spent, rowing speed, distance, and miles rowed.
It also has an additional “stand mode” which rotates all those metrics for 6 seconds each previous to the previous model.
With the added tension controls you have the option to increase or decrease the intensity of your workouts at any given time.
That way you can progressively become stronger and won’t have to worry about overgrowing the machine.
With its weight of 47 pounds, the product can hold up to 250 pounds of weight which is the standard when it comes to rowers.
The overall assembly process is fairly easy to do and can be done in around 30 minutes following the instructions.
When assembled the rower takes only 48 inches in length and about 32.5 inches in width which makes it quite compact and an excellent choice for a smaller home or room.
And of course, you can store it horizontally as well.
The overall product quality is good compared to the price you are paying.
The Stamina 1205 is really quiet compared to many of the similar models making it a really good choice for people enjoying to train without huge amount of noise.
You can also fold down the handles for easy storage when you are not using the machine and leave it under your bed.
Weight capacity and height: Even though the Stamina 1205 supports only 250 lbs and has decent size it is not a great option for taller people than 6 feet 2 inches because it has shorter seat rail and a bit more compact design than the rest. But if you are between 5 and 6 feet 2 inches you won’t have any problem with that and you will be able to fully stretch your legs. So before you decide to pick this rowing machine you need to know that it’s not designed for very tall people. And because of this drawback, I will rate in only a 7 out of 10 in this category.
Size and portability: I really like this rowing machine because it’s very compact even when used with its impressive 48 inches of length. And you can also easily store it horizontally or vertically as well because of the foldable handles. But even with its smaller size it still weighs 8 lbs more than the Stamina Body Trac 1050. I know 8 lbs difference is not a huge deal but it would be better if it was lighter than that because of the smaller design. But when it comes to size and portability I’m still going to give it a 9.5 out of 10 because it’s very small and portable. The only reason the rating is not a 10 out of 10 is because of the extra heavy frame I don’t like.
Sound: Similarly to the previous model this is again not a magnetic rower and if I have to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 when it comes to the amount of noise it creates I would give it a 6.5. While the sound you get for each row isn’t nerve-racking it’s still there and you can’t remove it. But in reality it’s not that bad so you would not have to listen to music in order to make it go away.
Range of motion: Even though the rowing exercise is missing the circular motion you would do in real water or with the Stamina Body Trac 1050 it is still a pretty close one. After all, the handles are really wide and you can easily do the full range of motion if you are not over 6 foot 2. So because of that, I believe this hydraulic rower deserves to get an 8 out of 10 in this category.
What makes it unique and better than the rest?: Even though this isn’t the cheapest rower you can buy, it is still pretty unique because of the design and size. It’s about 5-10 inches shorter than all the other rowers you can buy and takes less space when not used. Especially the folded height So if you are looking for something more compact that still works great this might be a great option for you.
Who is this rowing machine best for? Because of the overall size and characteristics, this hydraulic rowing machine is best for anyone between 5 and 6 feet 2 who doesn’t want to own a long and bulky rowing machine. Even though it’s not perfect it’s still a very decent option that works great with any home gym or space. So if you are looking to spend a little more money than $200 this is a great option to check.
Are there any good alternatives? Even though I like this model a lot I still recommend you to get my current rower I reviewed earlier – the Stamina Body Trac 1050 (click here to check it out). It is a little bit longer but it’s 8 lbs lighter, has a more natural rowing movement, and it doesn’t make much sound. It is also a great alternative if you have longer legs or are a taller person in general.
What I like
- Lightweight, portable, and very short in length
- Overall quiet and smooth rowing movement
- Extra 5-year frame warranty
- A great option for a small space or home gym
- Perfect for people between 5 and 6 foot 2 inches.
- Comfortable and wide enough seat
What I don’t like
- It is too short for people taller than 6 feet 2 or people that have really long legs.
- It doesn’t have the best overall quality and it’s not designed for hardcore explosive rowing. (You may cause problems if you row too hard or fast)
Even if this product is not quite perfect and has some quality issues it’s still one of the best rowing machines for home you can get.
I really like Stamina 1205 because it’s portable, quiet, highly adjustable and overall well made.
It’s definitely one good rower worth checking.
3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 – Most Portable Rowing Machine for Home Training
My overall experience and opinion:
The third rower I really like is another great option to consider.
It is one of the cheapest rowing machines for home gym you can get but it’s still made with long-lasting high-quality materials.
With the help of the long machine arms (they are longer than the arms of the majority of similar models), your upper body can get a full range of motion while you are rowing.
That on its own results in far better and faster results for your arms, shoulder, back and core muscles. 
The bigger the range of motion you do the more calories you will eventually burn.
If one of your arms or part of your body is weaker than the other you can individually increase the difficulty on each one of the handles and make up for that difference.
The adjustment is easily done as the machine comes with useful resistance knobs.
With the Sunny SF-RW5639 you get 12 different levels of adjustable options to choose from.
That way you will never have to worry about variety and progression.
I personally really like this feature because many people can use the same machine at the same time no matter what their strength level is.
The built-in LCD monitor shows you clearly all the important statistics you need.
I’m talking about thinks like:
- Total time spend training
- How many calories have you burned during the workout
- What is the amount of strokes you have done
- and much more.
When it comes to comfort, the rower is equipped with a fully padded seat, non-slip handlebars, extra-large foot pedals which again are covered with the same non-slip material and adjustable straps to hold you tightly in one place.
All those things combined can really help you stay in one place during your intense rowing workouts.
As it comes to functionality the SF-RW5639 can hold up to 350 pounds while weighing only 33 pounds.
Compared to the previous models this rowing machine can hold more but the overall size is little larger coming at 51.5 x 24 x 14 inches when assembled.
The slide rail is around 40 inches in length which might be enough for the average person.
One more thing to notice is that the foot pedals are designed to pivot as you go.
Finally, it’s nice to know that the product comes with easy assembly instructions and everything is protected by a long manufacturer’s guarantee.
Weight capacity and height: Even if this rower is the lightest one of all the models I’ve seen (it weighs only 33 lbs or 15 kg) it still has the biggest weight limit with the impressive 350 lbs. I don’t know how they’ve done it but they somehow managed to get an extra 100 lbs of weight capacity even though the whole machine is around 10 lbs lighter which is really impressive. But because this rower is 57 inches long it’s perfect for anyone between 5 foot 1 up to 6 foot 2. So in case you are shorter than 5’1” (155 cm) you may want to get the first rowing machine I reviewed here (click here to take a look) because this one won’t be very comfortable to use. But overall I’m really impressed with the weight and height capacity with this model so I would rate it a well deserved 9.5 out of 10. I took 0.5 points off because it’s not comfortable to use for shorter people than 5’1” (155 cm).
Size and portability: Sadly this rower can’t be folded and doesn’t have any wheels so it’s not very portable. If you want to move it around you have to drag it against the floor or lift it up entirely which is not a big deal because the whole thing weighs only 33 lbs but it can be a little uncomfortable because of the size. And because of the lack of any foldable parts it will have to stay the same size the entire time which will take extra space you may need. But if you have enough space and don’t mind leaving it in the same spot this won’t be an issue. So in my opinion this hydraulic rowing machine deserves to get a 7 out of 10 when it comes to portability and size because it’s somewhere near the middle.
Sound: When it comes to sounds this model is also very quiet. There aren’t any annoying sounds that will make your ears hurt. After all this is another hydraulic rowing machine and they are not very noisy. So when it comes to the amount of sound you will create when you row I will rate it an 7 out of 10. (10 being the quietest)
Range of motion: Because the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 uses circular motion I will have to rate it a 10 out of 10. It uses the exact same range of motion like you are in water and everything moves nice and smoothly. So if you really want to be able to completely replicate rowing in water this is one of the most accurate rowers you can use.
What makes it unique and better than the rest?: What makes this rowing machine unique and better than the rest is the 350 lbs weight capacity, the great length and the accurate full range of motion when it comes to rowing. It’s also really well made and can also be used for high-intensity workouts without having to worry that something might break. After all, I’ve trained on this model a couple of times and it’s really one of the best ones you can get for under $200.
Who is this rowing machine best for?: Because of the big length this rowing machine is better suited for taller people than 5’1” (155 cm). But because it can’t be folded and stored away it’s best for people that have a lot of usable space at home or at their home gym. So if you’ve got the height and the space and are looking for one of the best rowers money can buy you should definitely check this model.
Are there any good alternatives?: The only worthy alternative I can recommend is the one I currently use (click here to take a look). Even though it’s heavier and can support 100 lbs less, my rowing machine has the ability to be folded and takes less space when not used. But at the end of the day you are making the decision so pick the one that suits your needs better.
What I like
- Weighs only 33 lbs (one of the lightest rowing machines I’ve ever seen)
- Comes with 12 easily adjustable resistance levels
- The slide rail is 38 in
- Easy and fast assembly
- You get full range of motion when rowing (like you are in water)
- Very durable and well made (can support up to 350 lbs instead of 250 lbs)
- High quality materials and silent when used
What I don’t like
- You can’t fold it and store it away vertically
- Doesn’t have any wheels so you have to lift it or drag it around
- The resistance may not be enough if you are really strong
If you don’t have a big budget and are looking for something that can provide you with variety, longevity and can hold a lot of weight the Sunny SF-RW5639 Rowing Machine is a good way to go.
It’s an awesome machine that is really functional and reliable and I highly recommend you to check it out.
4. ProGear 750 Multifunctional Rower – Most Versatile Rowing Machine for Home Use
My overall experience and opinion:
The forth option from my list is the ProGear 750.
This is one of my most favorite machines because of the huge amount of things it provides.
Not only is it very affordable but in my opinion, it is a steal if you take into consideration all the different things you can do with it.
The versatility and number of exercises this machine provides you with are really phenomenal.
With the ProGear 750 you can do over 10 different exercises and 3 different types of adjustable rowing movements.
Yes, that’s right!
You can transform the machine and do bent-over rows, lat pull-downs, pec flies, shoulder presses, ab rolling and much more.
It uses 2 independent hydraulic cylinders giving you the opportunity to target different muscle groups individually.
That way you can balance underdeveloped muscles and improve overall strength.
Each handle uses a special 180-degree range of rowing motion which gives you a very similar movement as you are rowing in open water.
That will also result in better upper body muscle development and strength.
Both handles have 3 adjustable resistance options to choose from so you can pick what’s right for you.
The 1.8” thick cushion seat is adjustable in 3 different positions making the whole machine usable for people of various heights between 4.9” to 6.1”.
With that change, the slide rail can be adjusted between 37” – 43”.
The seat combined with the multi-purpose backrest can help keep you comfortable during your rowing exercises.
Both handles and foot pedals are made with a non-slip material so you won’t lose your grip.
In addition to that the foot pedals are made extra large so people with bigger feet can use them comfortably.
With the help of the adjustable straps, you will hold your feet in one place no matter how intensive your rowing is.
The built-in LCD display is simple but effective. It can show you time, rep count, total rep count and total calories burned during your session.
One thing I really enjoy about this model is the ability to fold it down and place it under the bed with ease.
The product dimensions are 53” L x 26.5 W x 36.3” H and a weight of 54 lbs.
It can hold up to 220 lbs which isn’t that much compared to the other models but I hope it would be enough for many of the people reading this post.
Finally it’s good to know that everything from this machine comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Weight capacity and height: Even if this rowing machine can support only 220 lbs instead of the standard 250 lbs it can still be used by people from 4’9” up to 6’1”. But the smaller 30 lbs weight capacity is well compensated with the huge number of extra exercises you can do instead of only doing rowing. And because of that I believe this model deserves to get a 7.5 out of 10 in this category.
Size and portability: With its 54 pounds of weight, this is one of the heaviest rowing machines you can buy. But the extra 15 lbs are well worth the hassle because they allow you to transform the rower into a completely different machine in just a couple of seconds. But beware that this specific multifunctional rower is not designed to be moved often and needs some extra space in order to be used at its full potential. And because of that I will have to rate it a 6 out of 10 when it comes to size and portability because it isn’t the smallest or most portable option. So if this is the most important category for you and you care about portability this model isn’t the best option for you.
Sound: Еven if this rower can be used in variety of unique and different ways I will have to give it a rating of 7 out of 10 when it comes to noises. It isn’t the quietest model you can get but it’s not irritating at all if you use it correctly. The sound levels are not bad so you won’t have any noise complaints if you need to train near other people.
Range of motion: When it comes to range of motion I have to rate this model a 9.5 out of 10 because it uses natural circular motions that replicate what you would do when you row in water. And to be honest, what’s the point of buying a rowing machine that doesn’t do a similar motion like the real thing? So when it comes to rowing, the ProGear 750 doesn’t lack anything. You get enough space to move around freely and with every row you get a great range of motion. This can be said even for the other exercises except rowing.
What makes it unique and better than the rest?: The fact that you can use this machine to do over 10 different exercises besides rowing makes it really unique. I really like to own multifunctional equipment at my home gym because I don’t have a lot of space and if I didn’t have a rowing machine already I would probably go for this one because I can do chest press, bicep curls, lat pull-down and many other great exercises as well. So take a second and think if these extra features are things you care about. If they are and you don’t have any other equipment you can use to do them with then this rowing machine might be a great option to consider.
Who is this rowing machine best for?: In my opinion this rowing machine is best for people who want to have variety when it comes to exercises and like to use multifunctional machines. Sure, it will take a little more time to transform the machine from one exercise to another but you will save money and space because you won’t need to buy extra home gym equipment. So if you have a lot of empty space, don’t mind adjusting some pins and want realistic rowing that doesn’t sound like a dying cat then you may want to check the ProGear 750 rower. It offers many things you won’t find anywhere else.
Are there any good alternatives? Even though I would like to give you a worthy alternative in this case I can’t because there aren’t any worthy multifunctional rowers in this price range. But if you don’t mind having a rower that can be used only for rowing your best bet is to go for the Stamina Body Trac 1050 (click here to learn more). It also uses a very natural rowing movement and has plenty of space. But like I said nothing can beat the number of exercises you can do with this model.
What I like
- Great value for the price you pay
- You can do 3 different types of rowing exercises
- The whole machine can be used for 10+ whole body exercises
- Uses 180-degree rotatable handles for complete and realistic rowing motion
- Perfect for the majority of heights between 4’9” and 6’1”
- Really good quality and low noise
- Extra back padding for more comfort
What I don’t like
- It can’t be folded or stored vertically
- Can withstand only 220 lbs of weight
- Can be too low to the ground for certain exercises
If you are looking for something more than just a simple rowing machine and want to get maximum functionality and number of different exercises for your money you must check the ProGear 750 rower.
It’s one of the most innovative and useful machines I have ever seen…
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 – Most Silent Magnetic Rowing Machine Under $250 for Home Gym
My overall experience and opinion:
The fifth model I will review is again made by Sunny but this model is totally different from all the other four machines because it uses magnetic resistance.
But even so it costs little above the $200 mark you should still consider it because it offers may useful features you might need.
To begin with the biggest difference between this machine and all the rest I’ve used is the amount of sound it produces when you row.
Because of the magnetic resistance technology this Sunny rower is way quieter than even my own personal rowing machine making it the best quiet rowing machine you can buy under $250.
I’ve tried a similar model once I can say that If I didn’t have one currently I would most likely go fo this model because I often have people sleeping nearby when I have to use it.
It also is very easy to use and you slide smoothly as well.
And you can turn a little knob and quickly choose of the 8 different levels of resistance you can for your workouts.
Even tho it’s not the smallest or lightest rower, this specific model is designed to be yet portable because it comes with a set if small built-in wheels and the ability to be folded and slided around.
I’ve moved many rowing machines and believe me – those small wheels do really make a big difference because you don’t have to lift or drag the whole thing every time before and after a workout.
The display also has large numbers that can easily be seen and it shows the basic things like number of total strokes, strokes per minute, calories burned, distance and workout time.
While it’s noting special it is still good.
What I like about this machine is the fact that your body is located 8 inches above the ground which is higher than what you get with the other 4 machines. I don’t know if this is important for you but I don’t have a problem even with being little bit closer.
What makes this rollwer lilttle bit better is the fact that the handle is just a bit longer that the average one which makes it easier to do a wider grip.
And you won’t have to worry about scratching the floor because this model has really thick rubber floor protectors. Not like the cheap thin ones most machines use.
While the rowing motion is not the same as being in water, this Sunny rower is still easy to move around and portable, making it perfect for people living in a small space that don’t want to lift heavy objects all the time.
Weight capacity and height: When it comes to weight capacity this rowing machine is nothing special with it’s 250 lbs limit but it’s really unique in the height department. Because of the very long rain and overall length of 78 inches it offers plenty of space so anyone between 4’9” and 6’5” can use it without problems. (145 – 195 cm). This unique feature makes this magnetic rowing machine best suited for taller people as well and that’s why I would have to rate it a 9.5 out of 10 when it comes to weight capacity and height. I would have given it a 10 if the weight capacity was over 300 lbs.
Size and portability: Even though this is the largest rowing machine of all the 5 different models I’ve reviewed it doesn’t take a lot of space when you don’t use it because it can easily be folded over and rolled away with the help of the built-in set of wheels. After all this whole machine weighs nearly 61 lbs and it won’t be very comfortable to lift around frequently. But beware that it will take a little bit more space when you fold it down compared to the previous models that can also be folded and stored vertically. But even so I would still give it an 8 out of 10 because of the wheels and creative design.
Sound: If you are looking for a super quiet rowing machine that you can still use where there are sleeping occupants nearby then this is the model you should go for. Because it is a magnet rowing machine it’s way quieter than all other types that use hydraulics, water or air. So when it comes to my rating this model easily wins a 10 out of 10 when it comes to sounds because it’s actually pretty silent. It’s even more silent than the rowing machine I currently use.
Range of motion: Sadly with most magnetic rowing machines you have a single handle you hold with both hands when you row. While the motion still uses most of the same muscles it’s not the same as when you row in water so have this in mind if you want to use this model. But if you don’t care about that and you only want to use this rowing machine to lose weight or get in shape then it’s a great option to consider. You can easily adjust the weight and can get full range of motion because of the long design. That’s why I would have to rate it an 8 out of 10 when it comes to the rowing itself. While it’s still really good and works your entire body it’s not the same as holding 2 separate handles and moving them like paddles.
What makes it unique and better than the rest?: The biggest difference I see between this rower compared with the majority of other ones you can find in this price range is the fact that this is an extremely silent machine that is made for very tall people. In addition you can easily fold it and store it vertically for more space efficiency. I know these things are not very unique but when you combine all of them in one machine things start to get interesting. So in my opinion paying the extra $50-100 for this model compared to the cheaper ones is worth it. Especially if you really care about noise or are a really tall person.
Who is this rowing machine best for?: Because of the great length and silent but smooth rowing this rower is a great option for anyone who wants to be able to row silently and efficiently at home. You can easily move it around with the help of the little wheels and and fold it when not used so even if you don’t have a lot of empty space you will still have no problem with this magnetic rowing machine. In my opinion it’s one of the best rowing machines you can get under $250 because of it’s high quality materials and the freedom to be used by both short and tall people.
Are there any good alternatives?: Even if this is the best magnetic rower you can buy for under $250 the closest alternative worth checking out is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5801 Rower (click here to see the price). The alternative rower is a little bit cheaper, lighter and a bit smaller. But when it comes to functionality both models are fairly simple and offer the same type of training. So in case you want something a little bit more compact which is still of high quality you should take a look at this alternative.
What I like
- Extremely quiet to use even if people are sleeping nearby
- Very long rail so even taller people over 6’3 can use without problems
- Built in transportation wheels and the ability to fold and take less space when not used
- Overall easy to assemble
- Very well made and quite durable
- Offers a ton of resistance and works great with high explosive rows
What I don’t like
- It can be little too heavy if you need to lift it up
- You will need minimum of 78 inches in length to be able to use it
- The rowing motion is not the same as the one you are doing when in water
In my opinion the Sunny SF-RW5515 rower is a great option if you are looking for a very quiet, functional and portable rower for your home gym.
The added features and great spcae can really help with your rowing workouts and it’s one of the best machines you can buy for under $250.
It is also perfect choice for people of all heights and sizes so definitely give it a shot if you can afford it.
How to Find the Best Home Rowing Machine for You?
Choosing the perfect rowing machine may turn out to be a really confusing experience. The reason behind this is the great number of different machines to choose from. You can easily get overwhelmed and potentially pick the wrong rower.
We all know that feeling of purchasing something and then regretting it, right?
Actually, only a few years ago you wouldn’t be able to find so many options than today. However, that is also good in its own way because it gives you a very big variety of features and options to choose from.
In order to avoid making serious mistakes that will make you regret your purchase in the future, you need to know what is the most important thing you want in a rowing machine.
And then, after doing a careful research, you need to pick the model that fits your needs the best.
So in order to help you made the right decision I’m going to share with you what were the 10 most important things before I purchased my first rowing machine.
So please don’t skip this part because the better you know about a specific topic, the lower the chances are of you being disappointed later on.
Top 10 Things You Should Know Before You Buy a Rowing Machine
Now lets see what are the most important things you should care about when choosing your first rowing machine.
This part is fundamental so take a second to check it out.
After you are done you need to be able to differentiate different models and know exactly what you need and why.
Let’s begin with the first thing.
How to make sure the rowing machine is comfortable to use?
In order to guarantee comfort every time you use a rowing machine you must be sure it has enough weigh capacity to support your body and enough space so you can use it with full range of motion and fully stretch your legs without any problems.
This is why you should make sure it fits your body type, height, and weight – you want something specially designed for your individual preferences.
Don’t forget that if more than one person is going to use it it’s a good idea to check out the height and weight range to see if both of you would be able to use it safely.
Speaking about comfort, do you know what plays one the most important roles except dimensions and characteristics?
Yep, it’s the cushion you get on the seat.
Go for something that has nice padding on top and it’s neither too hard nor too soft. That’s especially helpful for people that easily get blisters and sore butt while sitting a lot.
Finally, don’t forget to check out how the handles and footrests are made – again, keep in mind that you are going to use them regularly.
What extra features do rowing machines have?
The number of features each rowing machines has is different but some of the best ones you should look for are device and bottle holders, bigger screen with more functions, built-in transportation wheels and heart rate monitor, the ability for the machine to be folded or change the handle if possible.
Firstly, check out if a specific model offers the additional features you would like to have.
So see the options above and think for a second if any of these extra features are important for you.
Of course, without of a doubt the more extras you have the more money you will have to pay.
So think really what additional stuff you’ll need and why.
In case you’re looking for a more compact model, check out what storing options does it come with.
Some models can stand vertically when not used, others can be folded in half, etc.
Unfortunately, not all rowing machines offer this type of flexibility so if this is an important feature for you, make sure your model has this kind of option.
If you are planning on moving around or transporting your rowing machine often, a set of built-in wheels may come really handy, especially if it’s not the lightest model.
Speaking of weight, check out how much does the whole thing weigh if you have future moving plans – that can also be a lifesaver.
Believe me, this could save you a lot of money. For example, I have so many additional equipment from different fitness machines that I’ve never even bothered to use and they are currently sitting in the closet, collecting dust.
Additional features to look is the option to monitor your heart rate while training or even the ability to transform the machine entirely and use it as something completely different.
Always pick features you are certain that you are going to use.
If you’re not 100% sure whether you’re going to use a specific feature or not, then there’s no point in spending an extra amount of money or picking a different model in order to have it.
Example: You have 2 models at the same price and one has an extra feature you really need. Why not pick it?
Now you may think that you’ll need a lot of money to afford a rowing machine because extra features do sometimes cost more money.
Well, you’re wrong!
If you don’t have a huge budget, don’t worry – in order to have some great results you don’t really need any of those things. A really simple model can provide you with everything you will ever need.
But how much money do a decent rowing machine cost? Keep reading to find out.
How much space do you need for a rowing machine?
On average a normal rowing machine when ready to be used takes around 48 – 65 inches length (121 – 165 cm), 25 – 45 inches width (63 – 114 cm) and in 12 – 40 inches height ( 30 – 101 cm). So in order to be able to comfortably use your rowing machine you will need at least 10 extra inches of space in all directions and enough space on top so you can stand freely.
Would you be able to fit a rowing machine inside a small room?
Yes, you would be able to fit a rowing machine inside a small room if you have at least 10 inches of extra space on all directions. So if the rowing machine is 55 inches long you would need to have at least 75 inches of available space. The same thing applies for width. When it comes to height you should have enough room to stand up comfortably above it.
After all, is it smart to buy a rowing machine if you can’t physically fit it in your room?
You should care about the amount of free space you have in hand and the overall product dimension when in use – you most certainly don’t want to hit your walls, furniture or other things around.
Some models out there need at least 65 inches length x 40 inches width of free space in order to be used freely.
How much does a rowing machine cost? (And how much to pay)
The price of a decent rowing machine varies between $100 and $1000 but in general you should be able to find a decent model anywhere between $150 and $500.
It’s always a good idea to know exactly what you are receiving in return for the price you are paying.
Is paying $200 enough for a good rowing machine?
With a budget of $200, you can do a pretty decent job of finding a great deal and buying a good rowing machine. While you can get a very good hydraulic rowing machine in this price range if you have the option to increase the budget a bit do so because magnetic, air and water rowing machines usually cost more than $200.
Also keep in mind that $200 isn’t that much money and you can always find more expensive rowing machines which can have a lot more features and can provide you with more options and better quality.
But under no circumstances should you be discouraged, though. With $200 you can still get a very good rowing machine that will last you years.
Mine is worth less than that and so far is working great!
As you will see shortly, there are some very good gems in the sea of different brands and models. You only have to know which one to pick and that’s, my friends, why I’m here.
What monitor functions do rowing machines have? (And which ones do you need)
Almost all rowing machines come with a small multi functional display that can track multiple useful information such as number of rows, total distance, time, calories burned, count per minute, pulse and even heart rate. The specific display features and number of them entirely depends on the model you choose.
But it’s always helpful to have at least the basic workout information shown to you during your workouts such as number of rows, time and count per minute so you can keep track of your progress.
The good news is that almost all decent rowing machines come with some sort of display on which they show you these things.
The amount and type of information are different for every model and brand.
Usually, the more expensive rowers can give you more accurate and in-depth data but to be honest, most people only need and use the basic info such as time, calories, total counts and more.
At the end of the day, $200 is enough for you to get some very useful monitor functions!
How durable is a rowing machine? (And what to look for if you want to have a really long-lasting one)
The quality of the a rowing machine is far more important than any functions and extras.
In order to be sure your rowing machine is durable and will last for a very long time you need to make sure it is made from strong and thick steel, has a wide base, comes with thick rubber feet and can support at least 250 lbs of weight. The higher the number it can support, the more durable the whole design will be.
In some cases, it’s better to pay a little more but receive something very well made rather than paying less and get something cheap that will break in a couple of months.
Trust me if you decide to save money today it will eventually hit you in the back like a boomerang.
One of the things that really depend on the overall quality of the equipment is its strength when it comes to how much it can hold. Usually, the bigger that number is the stronger the machine is.
Another important thing is the longevity of the machine.
If you plan to use it regularly for years ahead then you really want something very durable and well made. I wouldn’t say it’s easy to find such a piece on this budget but it’s not impossible.
Actually, I currently own a very durable rower that costs less than $200.
How much weight can a rowing machine support? (What is the weight capacity)
Every rowing machine has a specific amount of weight it could handle but on average most rowers can support anywhere from 220 lbs up to 400 lbs. (100 – 200 kg) without a problem. But in order to be extra safe don’t purchase anything that can support less than 220 lbs. Even go for models that can withstand over 250 lbs.
I’m a firm believer that the weight capacity is strongly related to the overall quality of the machine. Most models are designed to withstand an average amount of weight.
How much height can a rowing machine support? (How tall do you need to be to use a rower?)
The height capacity of each rowing machine is different but most models can support anyone who is between 4’9″ and 6’5″ tall (145 – 195 cm) without a problem. While some models can be used freely with people below or above those numbers it is still recommended to ask the manufacturer if this is possible before you order the model.
If you are taller or weigh more than the average Joe, you might be extra careful with those 2 things if you want to feel comfortable using the rower.
There are specific models that are made so they can accommodate more weight or taller people.
Just do a quick search and you will easily find them.
How loud is a rowing machine? (What you need to know?)
While all rowing machines do a similar rowing motion they don’t product equal amounts of noise.
When it comes to noise magnetic rowing machines are the quietest ones you can buy followed by the hydraulic rowers who produce little bit more noise but are still quiet. Next you have the watered powered rowers being somewhat noisy and lastly the air rowing machines which are the loudest.
Hearing loud and unpleasant sounds on a regular basis is not something that is neither healthy nor enjoyable.
If you want to train at peace or listen to some great music or just want to hear the TV then you should pick a silent rowing machine like the magnetic and hydraulic ones.
If you really don’t care about noise because you have some very good Bluetooth headphones, you could easily get a rowing machine that uses water or air. After all, these models offer unique features you won’t find with the magnetic and hydraulic ones.
At the end of the day, we live in a very loud society and it’s not always bad to have a bit of silence.
Finally, before we finish with this part I want to add that silence can really improve the overall focus resulting in better results.
How long and hard it is to assemble a rowing machine? (And what you will need)
While some models can be quite difficult to assemble because of unique design elements or many extra features the average rowing machine can be assembled correctly fairly easily when you follow the instructions by only 1 person in around 30 minutes to 1 hour. In most cases all the needed tools are provided inside the package but even if they are not you will most likely own them already.
I know that you probably think that nobody really cares about this and why I’m even wasting my time writing about it.
Believe me, when you receive an item and don’t know how it works or how to assemble it and it could take you a whole day to do it if you don’t have the required instructions or they are really badly explained.
To make the process easier you want to look for a few things.
The first essential thing you need to have is the assembly instructions.
If you don’t have any, then you will have a big problem. If that issue ever happens your best bet is to look online to download then and print them yourself.
Right after you have found the instructions you should check if you have all the required parts in the package and if they fit each other properly.
It really sucks when you have a small bolt missing and you can’t built anything…
At last it’s always good to know upfront what additional tools you would need to assemble the machine or whether everything is included in the package. To do this right simply read what it’s said inside the manual.
Or you can find all the required information on your manufacturer’s website.
How long is the rowing machine warranty and what does it support?
If a product has none to very short warranty or really poor customer service it’s most likely, not a high-quality one. When it comes to rowing machines you would want to have at least 1 year of warranty on the most important parts such as the frame, arms and all moving parts.
If for some reason, you don’t receive your order, or something is missing or damaged then you want to solve this problem in the fastest way possible.
And let’s be honest, things break – sometimes it’s our own fault but sometimes there could be some sort of manufacturer defect.
You want to be sure that even if this happens, you will be covered by the warranty.
When picking out the best rowing machine under $200 you should really aim for a model that is backed with some type of guarantee and excellent customer service.
After all $200 is not a small amount of money…
Extra Bonus You Will Like
If for some reason you didn’t like the 5 rowing machines I reviewed earlier I’m going to provide you 4 more great options for each one of the 4 types or rowers.
That way you will have the option to choose whatever you like.
Please click the links below the images if you want to see the latest price or learn more about a specific model.
Here we go…
Best Magnetic Resistance Rowing Machine Under $200 You Can Get
If you are looking for a solid magnetic rowing machine under $200 I highly recommend you to check Stamina 1100.
It’s super quiet, has a large display, built-in holder, transportation wheels and solid and sturdy frame.
Best Air Resistance Rowing Machine Under $300 You Can Get
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5623 is one of the best air resistance rowing machines you can get.
It’s really well done, has enough room and the movement is smooth.
In addition to that it can be stored vertically and the overall machine is nice to assemble and has good instructions. The price is still really good.
Best Hydraulic Piston Resistance Rowing Machine Under $200 You Can Get
If you are a fan of hydraulic machines and are looking for the best piston rower I highly recommend you to go for my personal model I use at home – Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050.
It’s cheap, very effective and durable. I have used it hundreds of time and everything is working fine.
There isn’t any leakage or broken parts and the overall design is really sturdy. In my opinion, it’s a really good machine worth checking.
Best Water Resistance Rowing Machine Under $500 You Can Get
If you prefer water resistance instead of air, magnets, or oil I highly recommend you take a closer look at the Obsidian Surge. (click here to check it out)
This machine has everything you need – smooth rowing movement, solid frame, functional display, vertical storage and nice price.
As you have already seen picking a great rowing machine under $200 isn’t that difficult if you are given proper models and know what to look for.
Every person’s needs and requirements are different so make sure to pick the one that fits all your personal criteria the best.
But in case you are still overwhelmed and don’t know which one to pick listen…
Here’s what I suggest:
If you could buy only 1 rowing machine I highly recommend you to go for the personal one I use almost every time I want to do some cardio at home – the Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rower (click here to check it out)
In my opinion, this model deserves to be the best rowing machine under $200 for quite a few reasons.
Firstly, it’s light, compact, portable and affordable.
The handles are adjustable so you can easily store it under the bed or vertically.
The rowing movement is very natural and you can easily adjust the difficulty.
The overall quality is good and you can be sure this is something that is going to last.
That’s why I highly recommend this machine to anyone looking for something cheap and well made.
If you want to learn more about my rowing machine and find out it’s latest price and reviews please Click Here to check it on Amazon. <<
And that’s really it!
If you liked this post and want me to share with you more awesome information about home gym equipment please let me know in the comments below.
Also, don’t forget to share it with somebody you feel would be useful.
In case you want to read even more great buying guides here are some of my favorite ones about home gym equipment:
- See my top 5 best cable machines for home gym
- Check my top 5 squat racks with pull-up bars for any home gym
- Learn what are my top 5 favorite wall-mounted pull-up bars
- Take a look at the top 7 best home gym equipment I own
- See what are the top 5 best treadmills you can buy under $500
Thank you very much for reading my article.
I hope to see you again!