Rowing machines offer an amazing full-body workout from head to toe. Even if you don't plan to actually row on water, using a rowing machine can increase your all-over body strength and your stamina as well. You might be familiar with the traditional rower that uses wind-resistance to move a loud fan, but modern rowing machines have surpassed the traditional wind-resistance rower with hydraulic designs, which are both quieter and offer more varied resistance options. These hydraulic rowing machines have sturdy steel frames and just a little more finesse than air rowers.
If you're looking for a rowing machine for home use, you probably don't want a sprawling behemoth that will take up tons of space. That's why we took a look at folding rowing machines, which have arms that can be folded in and a frame design that allows the machine to be leaned against a wall upright or on its side, safely out of the way. This is another great feature of hydraulic rowing machines compared to air rowers, which tend to be more difficult to store.
We tested the Kettler Favorit home rowing machine, a bestselling brand foldable rowing machine with lots of rave reviews. We liked it, but we knew we could find a similar option at a low price. After more tests, we found that the Stamina Body Trac Glider rowing machine is a great budget rowing machine that doesn't sacrifice quality. Read on to figure out which is the best rowing machine for you!
The Kettler Favorit Home Rowing Machine is a German-designed compact rowing machine with a lifetime warranty on its frame. Its main advantageous feature is the included ear clip heart rate monitor, which displays your pulse to the LCD screen. Ear clips tend to be accurate, although older people or those with poor circulation may have less solid results. However, unless you need to track your heart rate for medical reasons, it isn't an absolute necessity if you want to get a great workout. It also offers detailed resistance adjustments--which some might enjoy, but the knob system allows for your setting to come loose over time, so you may have to stop and readjust the resistance in the middle of a workout. Unless you really want a rowing machine that monitors your heart rate, we recommend the Stamina Body Trac Glider as a great budget alternative.
The Stamina Body Trac Glider operates similarly to the Kettler Favorit. It has a smaller LCD screen that can still help you track your workout, and 12 resistance settings that are easy to adjust with a knob under your seat. This foldable rowing machine offers many of the same features as the Kettler Favorit, including a sturdy steel frame, pivoting footplates, and a comfortable padded seat. It has a slightly lower weight capacity and shorter warranty, but the machine is still well-built and made to last, which put our concerns a little bit at ease. It is also notably lighter than the Kettler Favorit, making it a more truly portable rowing machine option that is easy to store away without having to wrestle it into place. Overall, the Stamina rowing machine is a great machine that's also available at a low price, which is a rare combination in the world of fitness!
The Kettler rowing machine offers pivoting footplates to strap your feet into. This provides you with the full range of motion as you work out.
The Stamina rowing machine also has pivoting footplates that you strap into in order to help you maintain the perfect rowing form.
The handles of the Kettler rowing machine are padded and can rotate. Repetitive motions like rowing can be a strain on your hands, so good padding is important.
The Standard rowing machine also has well-padded handles. The padding also helps you keep your grip when you start to sweat, which is bound to happen!
The Kettler rowing machine includes an infrared sensor that clips to your ear to measure your pulse rate and communicate it to the machine. When installed properly, an ear clip can be just as if not more accurate than handle sensors that measure your pulse from your palms or fingers.
The Stamina rowing machine lacks a heart rate monitor, but monitors aren't absolutely necessary for your workout except for medical reasons. You may also prefer to track your heart rate separately through a smartwatch or other monitor and track that data with an app, which is more useful.
The Kettler rowing machine allows you to change your rowing positions, moving laterally as well as back and forth.
The Stamina rowing machine also offers a range of rowing positions to help you target your entire body.
The Kettler rowing machine's LCD display is battery-operated and shows time, distance, a calorie estimate, strokes, your pulse rate, and cadence/frequency. The screen is large enough that all of these features can be displayed at once.
The Stamina rowing machine also has a battery-powered LCD display, but it is smaller than the Kettler machine's. It can be set to cycle through your time, stroke count, and a calorie estimate, or you can set it to show just one of them.
The Kettler rowing machine uses two adjustable hydraulic pistons, which are smoother and more adjustable than the gas-shock resistance mechanism used in the Stamina rowing machine.
The Stamina rowing machine's adjustable gas-shock resistance type offers just as much of a workout potential as the Kettler rowing machine, which can make it worth the low price.
You can set the resistance to any of the rows' 50 knurl marks using knobs on either row, which are grouped into five sets. These detailed adjustment settings can be annoying to set up symmetrically (ensuring both rows are set to the same knurl), and seem to come loose sometimes during a workout.
The Stamina rowing machine offers 12 levels of resistance that you set via a manual resistance knob near your seat. This means you'll always have balanced resistance, and adjusting it is fast and easy. Twelve resistance settings should be enough for new rowers as well as more experienced ones.
The Kettler rowing machine has a user capacity of 285 pounds, which is 35 pounds more than the Stamina rowing machine. If you weigh more than 250 pounds, the Kettle machine is a better option for your safety and the machine's integrity.
The Stamina rowing machine's 250-pound capacity is enough to suit most people who want to use a rowing machine. This capacity should be fine for most people who are overweight and want to get fit, as well as for people of average weight.
The padded seat of the Kettler rowing machine glides on a smooth ball bearing system on a steel track. The Kettler machine's seat has a more pronounced divot in the middle than the Stamina machine's seat.
A molded and padded seat supports you comfortably on the Stamina rowing machine. Like the Kettler machine, the seat glides back and forth smoothly and easily on a ball bearing system over a steel track.
The Kettler machine can be stood on its end with the arms folded for vertical storage.
The arms of the Stamina machine fold up and it can be stored vertically as well.
The Kettler rowing machine measures 51 x 15 x 9 inches. It is slightly larger than the Stamina rowing machine, but not enough so that it would be significantly better for taller or broader users.
The Stamina rowing machine measures 50 x 12 x 10 inches. Since it is a touch smaller than the Kettler machine, it may be a better option if you want to preserve as much space as possible.
The Kettler rowing machine weighs 52 pounds. It is heavier than the Stamina rowing machine by 13 pounds, so you may prefer it if you want a sturdier rowing machine and can handle the extra weight when putting it away.
At just 39 pounds, the Stamina rowing machine is a good option if you are looking for a rowing machine that's easy to move around and put away. This makes it especially handy for beginner rowers without a lot of muscle!
The Kettler rowing machine has a three-year warranty on parts, while the frame has a lifetime warranty against breakage.The warranty covers residential use, which means you're covered as long as you don't start selling the use of your machine to others!
The Stamina rowing machine has a one-year warranty on the frame and a 90-day warranty on parts. This is a much shorter warranty than the Kettler machine's, but it may be worth it when the low price is taken into consideration.