Rowing machine vs. bike: which is better? - BoxLife Magazine (2023)

Many people go to the gym to lose weight or get in better shape. In this article, we're going to break down two different forms of exercise: rowing machine vs. bike. We'll go through the pros and cons of both so you can decide for yourself which one works best for you to achieve your goalfitness goalsand get health benefits.


  • 1 Choosing between a rowing machine or an exercise bike: 2 things to consider
    • 1.1 Security
    • 1.2 Ability to initiate work
  • 2 Rowing Machine vs. Bike: Which is Better? It depends on your fitness goals
  • 3 advantages of rowing machines
    • 3.1 1. Full body workout
    • 3.2 2. One of the highest calorie burning exercises
    • 3.3 3. Low stress on the joints
    • 3.4 4. Mental Strength
  • 4 disadvantages of rowing machines
    • 4.1 1. Difficult to do correctly
    • 4.2 2. Requires mental focus
  • 5 advantages of bicycles
    • 5.1 1. Easy to do
    • 5.2 2. Freedom to Multitask
  • 6 disadvantages of bicycles
    • 6.1 1. No strain on the upper body
    • 6.2 2nd setup required
    • 6.3 3. Bike seats can irritate your butt
    • 6.4 Is cycling or rowing easier?
    • 6.5 Rowing machine or bike if you get injured?

Choosing between a rowing machine or an exercise bike: 2 things to consider

Rowing machine vs. bike: which is better? - BoxLife Magazine (1)

To find out which rowing is better than cycling, we will use two variables in our evaluation of these two movements. These are the ability to induce work and security. Now let's evaluate rowing vs. cycling from these viewpoints.


With a stationary bike, the safety factor is high because we don't experience many safety hazards. Cycling does not put any strain on your joints and knees. However, it can lead to lower back problems. Accordinglya recent study, 45% of professional cyclists have back pain.

We have a high safety rating for rowing because it's a low-impact exercise. Arowing machinehas limited stress on your joints, so anyone can use it without a high risk of injury.

The ability to induce work

The ability to stimulate work falls in the middle range when we talk about cycling. With this type of movement, you can do any cardio workout you need, from sprints to 1.5 hour workouts. However, if you want to load your upper body, you better use a rowing machine.

If you look closely at these two modalities of work performance, rowing wins in the long run. From the rowing standpoint, we can introduce both strength and light work. We can also introduce very high or low intensity workloads.

Rowing machine vs. bike: which is better? It depends on your fitness goals

Both of these great forms of cardiovascular exercise have their pros and cons. Depending on your fitness level and fitness goals, you will have to choose between these two.

Rowing machine vs. bike for weight loss

If you decide to row or cycle for weight loss, use a rowing machine.Activation of 86% of the body muscles, Rowing is a perfect exercise to burn calories.

Our top pick

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge

Based on our testing, this is the best rowing machine for beginners. For less than $500, this quiet water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

See all rowers under $500 See at Amazon

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If you spend 20 minutes on the bike and rowing machine, you'll likely get a lot more work done on the rowing machine. Riding an indoor bike typically takes 30 to 60 minutes, while rowing machines generally require 15 to 30 minutes to get the same effect. A tough 60-minute argument is significantly more exhausting than the corresponding 60-minute bike ride.

So if you're short on time and want to lose weight, or just prefer shorter, more intense workouts, then the rower is for you.

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Rowing machine vs bike to gain muscle mass

If you want to build leg muscle mass, choose an indoor bike. Simply set the resistance at 45-60 rpm while doing your lower body workout. However, you can't build big muscles when it comes to your upper body with a cycling workout.

A rowing machine can help you achieve any fitness goal. It is perfect for both weight loss and building muscle mass.

Advantages of rowing machines

Rowing machine vs. bike: which is better? - BoxLife Magazine (3)

Let's get to the benefits of rowing.

1. Full body workout

The first pro withRowing is that it engages 86% of our musclesGroups. So you're not just working your legs, you're working your back, your arms, and some of those little muscles that are in those big muscle groups. Overall, you will achieve far more muscle gain and development from rowing than from cycling or any other form of aerobic exercise.

Consistent use of a rowing machine will make you healthier, stronger and increase your cardiovascular endurance.

2. One of the highest calorie burning exercises

One of the most compelling things about rowing as a workout is that it's the highest calorie burner you can find of any type of workout, as far as it's sustained continuous movement. Rowing burns the most calories compared to cycling, running, or other sports. So if you're looking for a high calorie burn and want to get the most calorie bang for your buck, rowing is the way to go.

3. Low impact on the joints

Another great advantage of rowing is the low stress on the joints. Since you're seated and your feet are buckled, there isn't much impact when it comes to your knees. So if you have knee problems, rowing is a great option.

4. Mental toughness

Another pro of rowing is being good at itbuild mental strength. When rowing, you are responsible for keeping your form correct and maintaining a consistent power output. This forces you to train your brain and entire body to focus. This can help you perform better not only in rowing but in other forms of exercise as well.

Disadvantages of rowing machines

Now let's talk about the disadvantages of rowing.

1. Difficult to perform correctly

First of all, it is a difficult movement to learn at the beginning. It's not very intuitive and takes practice. You should get it without any problems if you check out our articleHow to Use a Two Handle Rower | techniques and workouts.

2. Requires mental focus

When rowing, we have to constantly focus on what we are doing. Not only to keep our power output consistent, but also to make sure we don't hurt ourselves and execute form properly. It's difficult to watch TV and row at the same time in the gym. So, if you are someone who lacks focus and cannot focus on training for a long non-stop struggle, then rowing could be a major disadvantage for you.

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Advantages of bicycles

Now let's talk about cycling.

1. Easy to do

We'd say one of the biggest advantages of cycling is that it's a simple exercise. Anyone can just sit down and kick their feet. It's not a complicated movement like the rowing stroke, which can be enticing for people who are just starting out.

2. Freedom to multitask

Another enticing benefit of cycling is that it gives you the freedom to multitask. If you enjoy going to the gym and also reading or watching TV or whatever else you like to do, cycling allows you to maintain a nice, steady, intense pedaling motion while doing other things.

With something like rowing, where you're constantly in control of your hands and concentrating on keeping your form right, you can't focus on other things. But cycling and just pedaling allow you to focus on things like your phone or the TV.

Disadvantages of bicycles

Rowing machine vs. bike: which is better? - BoxLife Magazine (4)

Let's talk about the disadvantages of cycling.

1. No upper body impact

If you want to work your upper body, a stationary bike isn't for you. It certainly targets the lower body muscles. However, when you cycle, your legs are spinning. Legs are a large muscle group and burn far more calories than the upper body.

2. Setup required

Another downside to cycling is that it requires a very specific setup to properly utilize the range of motion and get the most out of cycling. And if you don't know how to do this setup, it can be a problem.

3. Bike seats can irritate your butt

The last disadvantage that annoys a lot of people and completely puts people off cycling is that the bike seats can irritate your butt or crotch. This can happen when cycling, especially if you have a lot of weight. It can be very uncomfortable to ride a bike for a long period of time. So that's something to consider when deciding whether or not to ride a bike.

Is cycling or rowing easier?

It's easier to train 30 minutes, 1 hour or even 2 hours on a stationary bike on a stationary bike than on a rowing machine.
One of the reasons indoor cycling is so appealing is its beginner-friendliness. Minimal technique, dexterity, or even mobility is required to get a good workout routine. So almost everyone can just jump on the bike and get started.
When rowing, on the other hand, the technical requirements are somewhat higher. It's not a lot by any means and you should be able to develop a decent technique by prioritizing your form.
However, if you are looking for a beginner-friendly piece of exercise equipment, the bike is probably a better choice.

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Rowing machine or bike if you get injured?

It depends on the type of injury. If you injure your upper body, choose cycling. Both training devices are low-impact, especially compared to jogging or running. However, in case of injuries, it is better to talk to a specialist.

Our top pick

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge

Based on our testing, this is the best rowing machine for beginners. For less than $500, this quiet water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

See all rowers under $500 See at Amazon



Is rowing machine better than bike machine? ›

In general, bikes and rowing machines burn equal calories.

However, rowers are frequently used for HIIT workouts and offer the benefit of after-burn, where the body continues an accelerated rate of burning calories long after the workout. Taking this into consideration, HIIT rowing burns more calories than biking.

Which is a better workout rowing machine or spinning bike? ›

Rowing is a full body workout; it uses all the main muscle groups, whereas cycling is heavily leg focused. That's why, at higher intensities, rowing burns much more calories than cycling on a stationary bike.

What is better than a rowing machine? ›

Treadmills and rowing machines are both excellent devices to increase your heart rate and get you into the fat burn zone. If weight loss is your only objective, then a treadmill is probably the more effective option.

Can you get ripped with just a rowing machine? ›

You'll get a full-body workout

Maybe you think rowing = ripped arms. But according to the American Fitness Professionals Association, rowing is 65 to 75 percent legs and 25 to 35 percent upper bod. It'll shred your upper back, pecs, arms, abs, and obliques. It'll also strengthen those quads, calves, and glutes.

Is 20 minutes of rowing enough? ›

Rowing workouts around 20 minutes in length

Studies show that endorphins, the neurochemicals that release during exercise and make you feel good, regularly kick in around the 20-minute mark. A workout around 20 minutes can give you a full-body burn that leaves you feeling good for hours to come.

Can you get a flat stomach using a rowing machine? ›

Yes, when used effectively, a row machine will help lose belly fat and tone your stomach. There are several ways that a rower can be used to target the midsection. The best is to incorporate other exercises such as push-ups, pikes, and planks.


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