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Best Rowing Machine For The Money  
Everything You Need to Know to Get a Great Rowing Machine at a Great Price
Top Five for the Money (Based on our Frugal5 Formula)
How do we pick these products? We spend many hours doing unbiased research to only give you the highest rated products at the best price. We first come up with a list of features, which you can see below, that we feel the majority of people will need. We then look for the highest quality products with these features and only show you the top five with the best value. Our mission is to provide you with the best five options based only on the facts. Don't see the product you were thinking about getting? Click here to calculate it's frugal score.
Kettler FavoritKettler KadettLifeSpan Fitness RW1000HCI Fitness Sprint Outrigger ScullStamina Avari Magnetic Rower
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Product Rating
Average Price
Cheap ($359)
Cheap ($539)
Cheap ($499)
Cheap ($380)
Cheap ($699)
Frugal5 Score
Features Needed
Adjustable Resistance
- simple adjustments to huge array of resistance levels
- 12 levels of resistance
- Heavy duty flywheel provides variety of resistance
- 12 levels
- Simply adjustable tension on high quality flywheel
Displays Calories Burned
Displays Distance
Displays Speed
Solid Construction
- steel construction
- High carbon steel and aluminum
- solid steel frame
- all metal construction
- High strength single aluminum beam
Sufficient Weight Capacity
- 285 lbs
- 250 lb
- 300 lb
- 275 lbs
- 250 lbs
- 3 years
- 3 year
- 5 year frame, two year parts, one year labor
- one year
- 1 year frame, 90 days parts
Workout Programs
- 12 different programs
Features Not Needed
Docking Station For Electronics
Entertainment Screen
Full Color Monitor
What You Need To Know In 5 Minutes

With the emergence of training programs like Crossfit and advocates of high intensity, full body training programs the rowing machine has seen a big boost in popularity over the last few years.  A good rowing machine, even when not used in high intensity interval style training, can be an excellent addition to your home gym set up.  These handy machines provide almost a full body workout - taxing the legs, arms, back and cardio vascular system and helping to build lean muscle and burn fat.  The workout provided by a rowing machine is also low impact which makes it safer and more comfortable for people who might have joint pain or other injuries.  

Rowing machines come in a few different styles, each with potential upsides and downsides depending upon your specific situation:
Hydraulic machines tend to be the least expensive and the easiest to store or fit into small spaces, but they don’t provide quite the same feel that you would get from a pricier machine or from actually being on the water.

Magnetic resistance machines can vary greatly in cost depending upon the manufacturer but tend to be the quietest of any of the styles of rower available.
Flywheel machines tend to be reasonably priced and have very smooth resistance, the biggest downside of these machines is probably the noise.  The fans used to create resistance can get loud, especially when you pick up the speed of your rowing.

Water resistance machines provide the closest match to actually rowing on a lake of any machine.  These rowers can be very heavy and cumbersome and are the most expensive of any style rower on the market.

Two major factors in finding the right rower are durability and comfort.  A rowing machine is a big investment and you'll want to make sure it feels good while you are using it and that it will last under the use and abuse that you'll put it through on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.   

Check to make sure that the rowing machine you are considering has a weight limit that will support you.  Larger bodied individuals might need to upgrade in price or change the style of rower they are considering in order to ensure that they are getting a piece of equipment that will work for them.  Tall individuals could have more limited choices as well – while average height people might be able to comfortable use any style of rower on the market, people who are over six feet tall might need a full size rower in order to ensure a comfortable workout. 

The seat of a rowing machine can also be a big consideration.  If at all possible take the rower you are considering for a quick spin prior to purchase (or at the very least, check what people who have used a rower you are considering have to say about the seat). Sturdy construction, Smooth and adjustable resistance, Sufficient weight capacity, Display that features speed, distance, time, calories burned, Manufacturer warranty are all features that should be considered essential.

You can find all types of bells, whistles and extras when shopping for rowing machines but it is important to not get too caught up in the hype.  We already looked at a few features that should be considered "must haves," here are a few that you can likely do without: full color monitor, entertainment screen, built in speakers, docking station for electronics.

You'll come across a number of different features depending upon the different machines that you opt to look at, some of them should be considered high priority (monitoring of speed, distance, calories burned, etc.) while others simply drive up the price without adding a great deal to the experience.  Features like a full color monitor, built in entertainment console or a docking station for your electronics might sound nice but they can add tremendously to the cost without helping you get a better workout.

In order to get a good quality rower that will provide an excellent workout over an extended period of time you should expect to pay somewhere between $200.00 and $700.00.  Kettler, HCI and Lifespan produce the best rowers in this price range.

Regardless what type of rower you choose it can be a fairly sizable investment.  This is a piece of equipment that you will want to make sure will grow with you as you get fitter.  Having multiple levels of adjustment for resistance and different workout programs on a machine that is built to stand the test of time will help keep your workouts fresh and keep you going from the novice stages of rowing up until you reach or exceed your fitness/weight loss goals.

Features You Need
Adjustable Resistance, Displays Calories Burned, Displays Distance, Displays Speed, Solid Construction, Sufficient Weight Capacity, Warranty, Workout Programs
Features You Don't Need
Docking Station For Electronics, Entertainment Screen, Full Color Monitor
What You Should Pay
Between $359.10 - $699.00
Top Of The Line Price
Over $2,999.00