5 Best Rowing Machines For Under $300

Join us as we review the best rowing machines for under $300
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A rowing machine is one of the most versatile pieces of exercise equipment. It works your upper and lower body simultaneously, activating your core, hamstrings, forearms, lats, and more. It can also be used to achieve a diverse range of fitness goals. From cardiovascular training, to muscle hypertrophy and weight loss, among others. A rowing machine (also called a rower) will help develop several different aspects of your physical health. Even if you suffer from aches or pains in certain parts of your body, rowing is a low-impact exercise which places minimal tension on your joints to avoid pain as far as possible.

Though rowing machines have a reputation for being bulky and expensive, you don’t have to empty your bank account to get a quality rower that takes up little space in your gym. This article lists five of the best rowing machines under $300 that will make you love rowing as an alternative to more common exercise machines like the elliptical, treadmill, or exercise bike.

Top Rowing Machines Under $300 At a Glance

Overall Best Rowing Machine For Under $300

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

The SF-RW5515 offers massive value at an affordable price. With a sturdy frame, smooth magnetic resistance, and comfortable seating, it is easily one of the most reliable machines that can help users get in a good workout. What it misses out by excluding features like a fancy monitor, it makes up for with durability and an enjoyable rowing experience.

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Next Best Sub-$300 Rower

MaxKare Magnetic
Rowing Machine

MaxKare’s magnetic rower has many hallmarks of a high-quality rowing machine. The lightweight but secure frame is complimented well by excellent seating and 16 levels of smooth magnetic resistance. This rower is ideal for those looking to get a feel for rowing.

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Overall Best Rowing Machine For Under $300

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

The SF-RW5515 offers massive value at an affordable price. With a sturdy frame, smooth magnetic resistance, and comfortable seating, it is easily one of the most reliable machines that can help users get in a good workout. What it misses out by excluding features like a fancy monitor, it makes up for with durability and an enjoyable rowing experience.

Read the review

Check the current price

Next Best Sub-$300 Rower

MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine

MaxKare’s magnetic rower has many hallmarks of a high-quality rowing machine. The lightweight but secure frame is complimented well by excellent seating and 16 levels of smooth magnetic resistance. This rower is ideal for those looking to get a feel for rowing.

Read the review

Check the current price

The Best Rowing Machines Under $300

Best rower for less than $300 Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 82″ L x 23″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 48″
  • Cost: $$$

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MaxKare’s magnetic rower is a great rowing machine under $300 MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine
  • Dimensions: 20″ W x 76.5″ L x 25″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 49″
  • Cost: $$

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Best rowing machines for less than $300 Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 70″ L x 21″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 37″
  • Cost: $$

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Best sub-$300 rowers MaxKare Air Rower
  • Dimensions: 20″ W x 75.5″ L x 14.5″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 51″
  • Cost: $$$

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Best sub-$300 rowing machines Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 Dual Function Magnetic Rower
  • Dimensions: 21″ W x 72″ L x 18″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 44″
  • Cost: $$$

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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine
Best rower for less than $300
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 82″ L x 23″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 48″
  • Cost: $$$

Check current price

MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine
MaxKare’s magnetic rower is a great rowing machine under $300
  • Dimensions: 20″ W x 76.5″ L x 25″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 49″
  • Cost: $$

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Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine
Best rowing machines for less than $300
  • Dimensions: 19″ W x 70″ L x 21″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 37″
  • Cost: $$

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MaxKare Air Rower
Best sub-$300 rowers
  • Dimensions: 20″ W x 75.5″ L x 14.5″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 51″
  • Cost: $$$

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Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 Dual Function Magnetic Rower
Best sub-$300 rowing machines
  • Dimensions: 21″ W x 72″ L x 18″ H (foldable)
  • Slide rail length: 44″
  • Cost: $$$

Check current price

1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the Best rowing machine under $300

Sunny Health and Fitness has cultivated a reputation for building reliable machines at low prices, and the SF-RW5515 is no exception. This rower comes with a heavy-duty steel frame that remains remarkably stable even through intensive workouts. It also features a magnetic resistance mechanism with 8 levels of resistance. Besides being incredibly silent, the resistance is smooth and variable enough to suit users of different proficiencies.

The seating here is comfortable, and the rail is long enough to accommodate users as tall as 6’ 7″. However, this means that the machine has a slightly large footprint when in use. Though the machine can be folded for storage, size might be a factor to be wary of, especially if you’re cramped for space. Another thing to be aware of is the console, which is fairly basic. Though this is to be expected for a machine of this price, this monitor can only track the most essential metrics like time, total strokes, and rough estimations of calorie counts. It doesn’t track distance, nor is it backlit, making it difficult to read while rowing.

The Good

  • Secure frame
  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Long rail accommodates tall users
  • Foldable

The Not So Good

  • Slightly large size
  • Disappointing monitor

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2. MaxKare Magnetic Rowing Machine

Top rowing machines under $300

MaxKare’s rowing machine is a great rower with a distinctive set of features. Its frame utilizes both steel tubing and ABS plastic to ensure that the machine remains stable for workouts without being too heavy. The rower also comes with a manual magnetic resistance mechanism with 16 unique levels of resistance. Its resistance output is approximately 7 lbs. (3kg), which is low for professional users, but suitable for anyone looking to introduce themselves to rowing.

Other notable features include its seating, which is padded and contoured for extra stability while rowing. It’s also comfortable for long workouts. Furthermore, the rower’s rail is fairly long, accommodating users up to 6’ 5″ tall. The maximum weight is listed at 243 lbs., which is about as high as it gets in this category. Lastly, this rower can be folded for convenient storage.

As a potential downside, the pivoting design of its footrests might make your feet feel slightly unstable while rowing. Its monitor also suffers from many of the same drawbacks as the SF-RW5515 and is somewhat disappointing.

The Good

  • Steel and ABS frame
  • 16 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Comfortable seating
  • Long rail accommodates tall users

The Not So Good

  • Footrest design feels unstable
  • Unsuitable for professional rowers

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3. Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine

The Goplus Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the Best rower under $300

The Goplus magnetic rower is similar to the MaxKare magnetic rower in several respects. Like the MaxKare, it’s made of both steel and ABS plastic to make for a lighter machine. It is equipped with a manual magnetic resistance mechanism that operates on batteries instead of a power source. The system features 10 levels of resistance instead of 16, but the maximum resistance is still approximately 3kg. It can also support users as tall as 6’ 5″, although its maximum weight is slightly lower at 220lbs instead of 243lbs.

The seat here is also contoured to prevent slippage, but it replaces the padding with high-density foam and a steel frame for comfort. The ball bearings attached to the seat are smooth, and the rail is slightly inclined to give your legs a better workout. Lastly, folding it reduces its footprint by about 2/3rds, making storage easier in cramped spaces.

While the Goplus comes with many of MaxKare’s advantages, it also shares its main faults. The included console is similarly disappointing, while the pivoting footrest design is also an issue for some.

The Good

  • Light but durable frame
  • 10 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Comfortable seating
  • Smooth rowing motion

The Not So Good

  • Pivoting footrest design
  • Basic monitor

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4. MaxKare Air Rower

The MaxKare Air Rower is one of the Best rowing machines for less than $300

This machine by MaxKare is among the few rowers in this category to feature an air resistance mechanism. This type of system most closely mimics the experience of rowing a boat and offers dynamic resistance adjustment. This means that you don’t need to manually turn a knob to adjust tension – the flywheel does that automatically depending on how hard or slow you row. However, one issue common to all air rowers is that they do produce some noise while rowing intensely.

Besides this, the rower comes with a frame built entirely out of steel, accompanied by two rear stabilizers for added sturdiness. This also allows the machine to accommodate users weighing up to 300lbs. The seating is made of polyurethane, a firm but comfortable material that allows for smooth rowing. Its rail is inclined for extra resistance and can support users as tall as 6’ 2″. The included console also measures distance along with metrics like time, calories burned, and total strokes, but is otherwise similar to other rowers on this list.

The Good

  • Air resistance mechanism
  • Durable steel frame
  • High maximum weight
  • Console measures distance

The Not So Good

  • Can be noisy
  • Basic monitor

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5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 Dual Function Magnetic Rower

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5622 Dual Function Magnetic Rower is one of the Best rowing machines for under $300

The SF-RW5622 is more than just a rowing machine. Its ‘Dual Function’ refers to its highly adjustable footplates, which allow you to perform various exercises like bicep curls, bent over rows, and upright rows. While rowing majorly involves your legs, this feature of the SF-RW5622 lets you get in a more exhaustive upper body workout as well.

Coming to its functionality as a rower, this machine is equipped with a magnetic resistance system that features 8 levels of resistance. The seating is comfortable, and the rower can be folded after use. Its maximum weight is listed at 275 lbs., which is fairly high compared to other rowers on this list. While the included console does measure distance along with metrics like calories burned and time, the distance is based on an estimate derived from the stroke count, meaning it isn’t very accurate.

All in all, this rower is ideal for beginners looking to introduce themselves to rowing while also getting a few other basic exercises in. The resistance offered isn’t too high, meaning more proficient users may need to look elsewhere for more intense workouts.

The Good

  • Supports many exercises besides rowing
  • 8 levels of magnetic resistance
  • High maximum weight

The Not So Good

  • Inaccurate distance measurements
  • Low maximum resistance

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Should You Get a Rowing Machine For Less Than $300?

Absolutely! Rowing is one of the best exercises for energy expenditure (and therefore burning calories), particularly for women. Also, unlike treadmills, rowers place minimal stress on joints. For this reason, rowing is a good choice of exercise for those that are rehabilitating from injury.

However, many people don’t have any experience with rowing. Therefore, buying a cheap rowing machine under $300 is a great way to familiarize yourself with the exercise. Despite its versatility, rowing isn’t an exercise everyone enjoys, and buying a low-cost rower can help you decide whether you want to invest in a better machine down the line. This is especially true if you’re just starting out building your fitness, since you likely don’t need any of the extra features included in more expensive models, such as higher resistance or better consoles.

This is what makes spending below $300 on a rower a smart purchase. There’s almost no drawback, and plenty of potential gain as you get to experience the many benefits of rowing. Even if you don’t decide to include rowing as a frequent element of your training regimen, a cheap rower will help you get in a good cardio workout from time to time while also working the muscles of your upper and lower body simultaneously. These machines can also be used by all members of your family since they do not require any minimum level of fitness.

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Choosing a Great Rowing Machine Under $300

Arguably the most important feature to consider before buying a rowing machine under $300 is the quality of its build. This will be crucial for how well the machine holds up during intense workouts, as well as its long-term durability. Steel and ABS plastic are two reliable materials used to manufacture the frame of rowing machines, while some also have stabilizers installed for additional security.

Besides the build quality, the resistance mechanism also plays a huge role in the rowing experience a machine offers. Though many rowers in this category come with hydraulic-piston systems, a magnetic or air resistance mechanism is much more preferable. Air resistance systems are generally considered the best option due to the realistic rowing motion and adjustable resistance they offer, at the expense of being larger than magnetic rowers. However, magnetic rowers tend to be quieter.

Next, seating is another important factor to consider before buying a rower. Though uncomfortable seating can be remedied by purchasing a seat cover, this additional expense is easily spared by finding a rower with either a padded seat or a polyurethane molded seat.

Footrests are a fourth feature to think about. Some rowers come with pivoting footrests that allow for different foot positions, which can help you develop a stroke that is consistent with your unique body shape but can also feel unstable while rowing.

Lastly, rowers in this category feature only the most basic consoles that are useful for keeping track of the time or strokes of your workout. Though some models claim to track calories or distance, this is usually based on estimates from an average, and tend to vary wildly. If you’d prefer a monitor with more features, it might be worth considering some of the pricier models.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Low-Cost Rowing Machines

If you’re in the market for a sub-$300 rower, then you’re obviously a discerning buyer who doesn’t want to waste a penny. Therefore, you likely have a bunch of questions you want answered before pulling the trigger on a rowing machine for your home or garage gym. You’re not alone. Read on.

Is a rowing machine worth buying?

If you’ve tried a rowing machine before and are comfortable with the motion, rowing machines are probably the best investment to make for your fitness. They work almost every major muscle group in the body, providing a comprehensive full body workout that targets diverse areas such as the core, upper and lower back, biceps, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and many others. While it isn’t effective in producing muscle hypertrophy, it excels as an endurance builder. The high number of calories burned while rowing also help you lose fat while improving cardiovascular performance.

Are low-cost rowing machines worth it?

As long as a rower simulates the rowing action closely, works your body in much the same way that on-water rowing does, and are a made to decent standard of quality, then yes, they’re worth it.

Rowing is a very unique and effective exercise that works large portions of your body simultaneously. Any machine that can transfer the benefits of rowing can be a worthwhile investment.

While all of the products in this list should simulate the rowing action closely enough to provide its benefits, they’re not premium rowers. They’re not made for people that are serious about rowing. If you think you’re going to be rowing frequently and for long periods, then you’ll be lucky if a lower cost rower lasts more than 3 – 6 months.

Are air rowers better than magnetic?

The answer to this depends on your personal preferences. While air rowers have dynamically adjustable resistance, they also make more noise. Magnetic resistance mechanisms are more silent, but require manual resistance switching that will need you to interrupt your workout. Some also find air rowers to be smoother, but the difference can often be negligible and air rowers generally take up more space than magnetic rowers. Lastly, air rowers more closely resemble the motion of outdoor water rowing, but this is less important if you don’t intend to engage in rowing as a sport.

Can you get fit just using a rowing machine?

Yes. Rowing works basically every major muscle group in the body. Consistent rowing with good form is fantastic for your cardiorespiratory fitness, and musculoskeletal health.

What is the best rowing machine for home use?

In our view, the Concept2 Model D and Model E are the pinnacle of rowing machines, and are great for home use. That said, while they fold up, they are fairly large when unfolded, so you may want to opt for a more compact model. We review a bunch of these in our article on the best rowing machines for home use.

Is rowing better than running?

While the better option between rowing and running depends primarily on your fitness goals, rowing is arguably a better exercise overall. Rowing exerts less impact stress on your joints, which leads to less wear and tear in ligaments and cartilage and avoids exacerbating any existing pain or injury you might be suffering from. Running, on the other hand, is a high-impact exercise and may eventually result in pain in either your knees, ankles, back, or hips.

Also, rowing works both your upper and lower body, while running generally only works the lower body. While this may not be relevant if you only intend to do cardiovascular training, rowing does lead to more holistic muscle development as you target almost all of your major musculature.

Lastly, according to a study by the American Council of Exercise’s physical activity calorie counter, running burns more calories than rowing but only marginally so. In 10 minutes of activity, an individual weighing 150 lbs. burns an estimated 90 calories while running at a moderate pace (5 mph) and 79 calories while rowing at a moderate pace. As such, if weight loss is your sole aim and your body can handle it, then going for a jog may be a better option. On balance though, most people will likely benefit more from rowing.

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Well, there you have it: The Best Rowing Machines Under $300.

Rowing may not be the most popular exercise around, but it is undoubtedly one of the most effective in improving your fitness. All of the rowers listed here are among the best machines in this category, but if you have to choose only one, make it the SF-RW5515.

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