Is Rowing Machine Better Than Bike

If you want to regularly do aerobic workouts in your home, your choices as to what equipment to use for this purpose are varied.

You can orient yourself towards an exercise bike, towards a more “performing” spin bike. But also towards an elliptical or on a rowing machine.

And if you are a “tough” person, you can also consider using a stepper as well.


The benefits of both workouts: with the rowing machine and with the exercise bike

Rowing machine or exercise bike? Both are excellent tools for doing low-risk exercises that do not strain the joints. They are useful at any age.

Regardless of what your choice may be, a correct and regular use of each of these tools can contribute,

  • to improve the strength and endurance of the muscles involved in the exercises;
  • to favor the increase of osteo-ligament elasticity;
  • the improvement of coordination and balance;
  • to the increase in the volume of the hippocampus (in Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to have damage) and, consequently, to positively influence the cognitive parameters correlated with the mnemonic functions. 

With these two different types of tools, the problem inevitably arises as to which option may be the best for each of us.

It goes without saying that every choice can be dictated by many different, particular conditions, situations, objectives pursued, personal preferences, and more.

In this article, we will examine both of them while also making comparisons. Both are widely used in home fitness , as both:

  • offer the possibility to train intensely;
  • they are easy to use (from a technical point of view, they do not require particular precautions);
  • they are “relatively” quiet, especially those models that are equipped with magnetic resistances (although the water and air rowers may not be so much);
  • allow you to work different groups of muscles;
  • they can also be purchased with a few hundred euros;
  • they can be used at all ages (although it must be said in general that, for specific cases, it is always good to consult with your doctor);
  • allow you to perform low impact exercises on the joints (in the sense that they create little stress);
  • they can be placed and used in any corner of the house, as long as a space of at least 2 x 3 meters is available: it should be noted that  recumbent bikes and rowing machines take up more space than an upright bike.

Having said that about the use of fitness equipment in general, let’s start by talking about rowing machines.

Training on the rowing machine

Training on a rowing machine

the rower

The rowing machine is a tool that simulates the movement of the row. Consists,

  • from a frame;
  • by a saddle that slides along the frame itself;
  • from the platforms;
  • a flywheel and a handle that is used to rotate the flywheel;

Hydraulic rowers, instead of a flywheel, have a pair of hydraulic pistons; instead of a handlebar they have two oars.

the rowing

The action of rowing on the rowing machine affects 84% of the muscle mass, from the muscles of the fingers (with which the handlebars are grasped) to those of the soles of the feet (with which you push on the platforms).

Rowing has two recovery phases (which are the slowest phases), and two movement phases.

After some time of training by rowing, all the movements you do become much more fluid and rhythmic, and this helps to involve both the body and the mind in the training.

This improves physical fitness and relaxes the mind.

the position of those who row

The most important thing about training with a rowing machine is to maintain correct posture while rowing.

It is not a difficult thing. But above all at the beginning it requires a certain concentration and attention to what you are doing. Differently it is advisable to be followed by a trainer.

Let’s talk now about exercise bikes.

Training with the stationary bike

The workout that is done on stationary bikes

Like the exercises that are done with the rowing machine, even those on stationary bikes require little care.

You just have to pay attention to correctly adjust the height and position of the saddle, the height of the handlebar and – in some cases – you also need to tighten your feet well to the pedals.

on upright exercise bikes

Despite their name, chamber bikes are tools that are widely used also in other places, especially in gyms where you can train even in company.

In any case, their use at home allows you to train as if you were on a normal bike, in any weather condition, at any time of day, and in absolute safety.

Upright bikes are certainly the most popular exercise bikes, because they allow action very similar to that on a walking bike.

Those who have special needs, on the other hand, may prefer other types of exercise bikes, such as  recumbent bikes or  spin bikes .

for whom recumbent bikes are indicated

They are particularly suitable,

  • for those with back problems (especially lumbar),
  • for those who want to exercise in particular the buttocks and the hamstrings,
  • for those with balance problems (the low seat with a wide backrest makes these tools easier to climb and safer during exercise).

for whom spin bikes are indicated

Instead, spin bikes (also called spinning bikes) are more suitable,

  • for the most demanding people in terms of exercise intensity and athletic performance,
  • but above all for road bike enthusiasts who do not disdain indoor training during the coldest and rainiest months of the year.
Why rowing machine? why exercise bike?

Why the rowing machine, why the exercise bike?

Taking into account what we have already said, namely that each choice depends on many different particular conditions, situations, goals, personal preferences, we can now make some comparisons.

regarding the types of training

The “ideal” workout is that workout that is capable of involving all the muscles of the body.

Even if equipped with a movable handlebar to train the arms, an exercise bike mainly works the lower part of the body.

While a rowing machine, by working 84% of the body’s muscles, allows for a more complete workout than on a stationary bike.

So the training done with the rowing machine is more complete than that done with any exercise bike.

relative to the impact on the joints

Both with the rowing machine and with the stationary bike we do low-impact exercises on our joints.

This applies to low-intensity workouts as well as to more intense ones.

regarding ease of use

Both are easy to use tools.

Stationary bikes (upright ones, in particular) require a kind of effort that is very similar to what you do to ride a normal bike, which is an activity that is practiced by most people.

Training with the rowing machine is, on the other hand, more technical, but the correct movement on the rowing machine is within everyone’s reach. With a little time and practice.

in relation to the calories you burn,

a) with the exercise bike

  • It is estimated that a person weighing 70 kg. you consume, on average, between 130 and 150 calories by pedaling for 30 minutes on an upright bike.
  • With a recumbent bike consumes a little less.
  • The exercise bikes and spinning bikes, however, allow us to easily increase calorie consumption simply by increasing the pace of pedaling and / or increasing the duration of the action.
  • To maintain high rhythms, greater mastery of the vehicle is not required, although it is true that some training is necessary to maintain a high number of rides / minute and to push steadily on the hardest gears. 

b) with the rower

  • As for the rowing machine, with moderate intensity exercise, a person weighing 70 kilos consumes about 250 calories every 30 minutes of training.
  • Unlike what happens with an exercise bike, a rowing machine requires greater technical mastery, and greater physical fitness to maintain high rhythms that allow you to burn more calories.

in relation to cardiovascular health

Both tools offer us the opportunity to perform excellent cardiovascular workouts. All this assumes, of course, that you use them consistently, making your heart work in the “right range” of frequency.

about the space they occupy

A rowing machine in the operating position takes up roughly the same space as a recumbent bike, but takes up more space than an upright bike and spin bike.

However, it should be noted that many rowing machines (such as the  Oxbridge WaterRower Rowing Machine ), while being very robust and stable, can be folded up and take up very little space when not in use.

about the noise they make

Exercise bikes are very quiet machines, especially if they are equipped with a magnetic resistance.

Water and air rowing machines are noisier. Less noisy are those with hydraulic piston, and those with magnets.

about their cost

Costs for both stationary bikes and rowing machines vary depending on many factors.

However, for the same quality, a rowing machine is much more expensive than an exercise bike.

Gradually and for purely indicative purposes, it can be said that a good exercise bike costs as much as a low-end rowing machine, while a good spin bike costs when a mid-range rowing machine.



Summarizing what we have just said, we can conclude by stating that,

  • exercise bikes / spin bikes and rowing machines are (both) excellent tools to do anaerobic exercises, to lose weight, and / or to improve your cardio-circulatory performance;
  • both allow you to do low-impact exercises, in the sense that they do not stress the joints;
  • both are at low risk of injury, and can be used at any age;
  • the rower requires a minimum of technique to be used correctly,
  • exercise on the stationary bike is more intuitive and simpler;
  • the rowing machine allows you to activate about 84% of the muscles,
  • the exercise bike works mainly those of the lower part of the body;
  • some types of rowing machines (water ones, and air ones) are slightly noisier than exercise bikes.

We hope that this brief analysis will be useful to make an informed decision whether to opt for a rowing machine or an exercise bike / spin bike.


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