Rowing machine vs. bike

Fitness Equipment

The exercise bike and the rowing machine are excellent forms of cardio equipment to burn calories at home or the gym.

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Are rowing machines or bikes better?

When it comes to choosing indoor cardio equipment, you might be getting a bit bored of the typical treadmill. Some great alternatives include stationary exercise bikes and rowing machines. Both are great for burning calories and are commonly used in fitness centers and home-gyms. The exercise bike might be more popular for use at home as it is easy to assemble, simple to use, and requires less space compared to the typical rowing machine. However, some new models of rowing machines are designed for easier assembly and require less space. A key advantage of the rowing machine is that it allows for a full-body workout.   

Rowing machine

A rowing machine is essentially a flywheel that is connected to a handle. The rowing machine activates several muscle groups of the body including the hamstrings, quads, calves, shoulders, arms, and abdominals. Users use certain forms or techniques of rowing to increase or decrease the stress on different muscle groups. A rowing machine can be considered a full-body workout machine. The difficulty or resistance level of the rowing machine is adjustable on most models.

Some rowing machines do not require electrical power, but most of the advanced models will require them to be plugged into a wall socket.  Some of the modern rowing machines come with an LCD screen that allows users to track their workouts. Some advanced models of the rowing machine might also offer entertainment options through media connectivity.

Rowing machine pros

  • The rowing machine offers a full-body workout allowing users to activate several muscles simultaneously.   
  • The non-impact movement of the rowing machine minimizes stress on the body. This helps prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

Rowing machine cons

  • Depending on the model of the rowing machine, they can make a lot of noise.
  • The rowing movement does require learning a proper technique if the user wants to get a full-body workout. Learning the proper technique for rowing is also important to minimize the chances of injury.
  • Rowing machines are generally more expensive than other cardio equipment, such as treadmills or exercise bikes.

Best Rowing Machines

Hydrow Connected Power

Hydrow Connected Power

For high-end rowing machines with all the latest features and premium build quality, you should consider the Hydrow Connected Power rowing machine. The price might be on the higher side, but it offers a 22-inch HD screen, workout programs, built-in speakers, and several other features.

Sold by Hydrow and Amazon

NordicTrack RW900

NordicTrack RW900

With its collapsible design, the NordicTrack RW9000 offers portability with high-quality performance. It has a 22-inch HD screen and 26 levels of resistance, including a manual air resistance mode.

Sold by Amazon

Exercise bike

Exercise bikes are simple to use and affordable cardio exercise equipment. A typical exercise bike also doesn’t take up as much space as other cardio equipment. In most cases, exercise bikes are also more affordable than other cardio equipment alternatives, but keep in mind that some high-end models of exercise bikes can be expensive. Some of the common features on high-end exercise bikes include an LCD screen, a heart rate monitor, and media connectivity.

There are two basic types of exercise bikes: upright and recumbent. As the name suggests, with an upright bike, there is no back support, whereas on recumbent bikes the users can rest their back. The recumbent bike offers a more relaxed posture and allows users to have a less intense workout. It is ideal for users who are new to cardio training or those who are returning from an injury. The resistance level of both types of exercise bikes can be increased or decreased as required by the user. There are also hybrid models of exercise bikes that offer a combination of upright and recumbent bike characteristics.

Exercise bike pros

  • The seated position and low intensity of the exercise bike make it a suitable cardio machine for users of all fitness levels.
  • The cycling movement should feel natural for most people. This should help minimize any chances of injuries or needing to learn how to use the equipment.

Exercise bike cons

  • The major disadvantage of exercise bikes is that they don’t offer a workout for the upper body. 

Best exercise bikes

NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle

NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle

For a high-end exercise bike that is loaded with features, you can consider getting the NordicTrack S22i Studio Cycle. This highly durable bike is made from high-quality materials. It comes with a 10-inch touchscreen, air fan, automatic resistance training modes, and several other features.

Sold by Amazon

Yosuda Indoor Bike

Yosuda Indoor Bike

The Yosuda Indoor Bike is lightweight, durable, and designed to operate silently. For its affordable price, this product offers great value. It comes with a tablet holder that can be adjusted for different sizes. The handlebars are made from non-slip material and extra padding for optimum support and comfort.

Sold by Amazon

Should you get a rowing machine or exercise bike?

The rowing machine and exercise bike are both excellent cardio equipment and either one can be used to achieve your calorie-burning goals. Both forms of equipment offer a non-impact workout, which is great for the joints and muscles. If you want a full-body workout, the rowing machine is by far the better option compared to the exercise bike. You will get to work out your legs, abs, arms, back, and other muscle groups. If you want to spend less on cardio equipment and get more simple-to-use equipment, you should go with an exercise bike.


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Ali Azhar writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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