The Best Rowing Machines Under $400 For Beginners And Advanced

Not everyone wants a really expensive rower. Maybe you just want to try it out and see if you like it without spending big bucks. What’s the best rower you can get for under $400? After some research, here’s what i found.

The best rowing machine for beginners under $400 is the Sunny-Health RW-5730. This rower is enough for beginners and more advanced rowers. There are plenty of great useful features and quality while also providing great resistance control with air as well as magnetic resistance.

Here’s why that’s your best choice and what your other choices are.

Rowers under $400

First, let’s take a look at which options you have. These are the rowers currently available under $400. This is the price without shipping, handling and/or extended warranty.

BrandModelResistance type Price
MarcyTurbine Air$$$$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW5515Magnetic$$$$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW1205Hydraulic$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW5728Air + Magnetic$$$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW5730Air + Magnetic$$$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW5801Magnetic$$$
Sunny HealthSF-RW5639Hydraulic$$$
Fitness Reality1000Magnetic$$$$
MaxCareMagnetic 16Magnetic$$$
MaxCareAir RowerAir$$$$
StaminaBody TracHydraulic$$

Prices are subject to change so that’s why I prefer to give a range instead of a exact number. Check the chart below to get an idea of what the dollar signs mean;

  • $ = $50 – $100
  • $$ = $100 – $150
  • $$$ = $150 – $250
  • $$$$ = $250 – $350
  • $$$$$ = $350 – $400

As you can see, this list is dominated by hydraulic and magnetic resistance type rowers. A few entry level air rowers are also available.  At this price there is still quite a lot of choice. Sure, the top brands and models are missing but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something good. Let’s get into what the best choice is.

If you want an actual ‘real’ rowing experience, it’s better to leave the hydraulic rowers alone. They have a few benefits like price, size and noise but they don’t really deliver a realistic rowing experience since the movement is different.

For most people it will be better to get another type of rower that has a more realistic movement.

For $400 you can’t expect the best rowing machine in the world. The best rowers are $1000+. That doesn’t mean you can’t get anything good however. Let’s see what you best option is in this price range.

Want to know what kind of rower you can expect in the different price ranges? Check out this post.

Best rower under $400

The best rower under $400 is the Sunny-Health RW-5730

If you want a full guide of what to look for when buying a rowing machine, click here. You’ll find a full beginners guide that tells you everything you need to know.

It doesn’t really matter if you’re a beginner or experienced, this is a good rowing machine in this price range. Why is this?

  • Air resistance for a natural feel
  • Added magnetic resistance in 8 levels for extra control over resistance
  • Can fold up for easy storage
  • Built in wheels to easily move around.
  • 265 lbs. weight limit
  • Digital display that can show; Total strokes, Time, Distance, Calories, Strokes per minute.
  • Comfortable seat
  • Non-slip pedals with strap
  • Aluminum slide rail with rollers
  • Device holder
  • 3 year warranty on frame and 180 days on parts

That’s a combination of features that’s hard to beat in this price range. Especially the combination of air and magnetic resistance is a great feature often only seen in rowers that cost $1000+.

Suggested post: 9 Amazing Benefits Rowing Has On Your Body

Air resistance gives you a natural feel because the harder you pull, the higher the resistance becomes. The magnetic resistance allows you to adjust the base level of resistance. This gives you the best of both worlds.

Besides that, it stores easily since you can fold it up and has built in wheels so you can easily put it away.

The warranty isn’t great but neither are the ones of competing brands so this is one of the sacrifices you make with a cheaper model. Otherwise this machine does its job. It’s durable, pretty smooth and comfortable to use. There aren’t any bells and whistles but does the basics well.

The quality is good and you shouldn’t have any significant problems within the lifespan of the machine. Of course maintenance is important for every rowing machine. No matter how much it costs, there are certain things you have to do to keep it in tip top shape.

Other options

Are there any other options available? Sure, you can check the list above for plenty of other options. However, I would suggest staying away from the hydraulic resistance rowers. This type of rowing machine is cheap and not necessarily bad but doesn’t replicate real rowing all that well.

Click here to find my post with a full explanation of the different resistance types and their pros and cons.

The hydraulic rowers usually don’t have a moving seat. This means the movement is quite different from ‘real’ rowing. If you’re a beginner and trying to find out if you like rowing, it’s better to have something that will recreate the real thing closely. If you’re more advanced, you’ll certainly going to want a machine that has a realistic movement.

If all you’re looking for is a cardio workout, a hydraulic rower is an option. Just be aware that it’s more of an upper body workout and there is much less focus on the lower body than the other resistance types.

Suggested post: Can you lose belly fat with rowing on a machine?

One good alternative option is the Marcy Turbine rower. This is a great air rowing machine for the price. Its normal price is significantly higher than $400 but often available just around that price. If you’re lucky to find a good deal it’s a good option. It has many of the same features of the Sunny-Health RW-5730 but features a bigger display and better design.

Related questions

Do expensive rowing machines give you a better workout? Better/more expensive rowers are less likely to get in the way of your workout. They can provide a smoother and more natural movement which is less likely to distract you from your workout. Additionally, some expensive rowers have different resistance types which makes them feel more natural and have higher resistance.

Which muscles does rowing work the most? Rowing works a lot of muscles all over your body but some are used more than others. For the leg extension part of the stroke, the hardest hit are the quadriceps and glutes in the legs while for the last part of the stroke you heavily contract the biceps, forearms, rear deltoid and trapezius.

Is it worth paying $1000 for a rowing machine? The best and most popular rowing machines in the world are around the $1000 mark. If you’re an avid and/or intermediate to advanced rower, paying that amount is worth it. Especially since at that price point you can find machines that don’t lose much value second hand.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to I've been going to the gym for about 15 years and am now looking to build my own. In the process I've learned many things I'd like to share with you.

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