Spin Bike vs. Rowing Machine: A Spin Instructor Compares (2023)

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VonKate Pierson, Certified Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer.

If you're looking for a total body workout that burns calories while being easy on the joints,insideBiking or rowing are great options. Stay tuned to learn which exercise machine is right for you.

(Video) Rowing Machine vs Spin Bike

Spinning vs. Rowing Workout: Quick Comparison

Both spinning and rowing workouts are great for cardiovascular conditioning. These workouts burn calories and challenge the entire body. Intensity can grow further than yoursFitnessLevel improved, minimizing the chance of a plateau. Check out the chart below to see how these two workouts stack up.

be crazyrowing
Calories burned in 60 minutes400-800400-800
full body workout4/55/5
Good for beginnersAndNO
Good for intermediate and advanced learnersAndAnd

Indoor Cycle / SpinBicycle

Spin Bike vs. Rowing Machine: A Spin Instructor Compares (1)

Advantages over a rowing machine

  • Ideal for apartments and smaller training rooms: Mostcommercial exercise bikesare about 4' long and 2' wide. These measurements are much smaller than rowing machines that are 8 feet long and 2 feet wide. So if exercise space is a factor, consider indoor cyclingBicycleis the clear winner.
  • atFitnesslevels are welcome: With a quick turn of theBicycleWith the resistance knob you can increase or decrease the resistance level and thus influence the intensity. Quickly adjusting the intensity level is a wonderful feature for everyoneFitnessLevels, but especially helps beginners. At the same time, this ability allows experienced drivers to strive for greater sporting performance.
  • Gentler on the joints: Knees, ankles, back can relax in proper riding position with an indoor cycling workout. Hence, indoor cycling has staying power as it can be enjoyed from a young age to the golden years of the rider.

Disadvantages compared to a rower

  • Upper body not so required: Go for a spinBicycleis in fact a total body workout. However, the activation of the upper body, including the chest, is somewhat limited compared to the rowing machine.
(Video) Which Is The Best Exercise: Cycling vs. Rowing

muscles worked

  • Kick power:That's the only way you can turn itweighted flywheel of a spin bikeTurning the pedals requires a tremendous amount of lower body effort. The glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves power every pedal stroke.
  • stabilizers: The core is crucial for stabilization on theBicycle, allowing you to maintain your riding position in or out of the saddle. Remember that the core includes the abs and lower back.
  • supporter: Your shoulders, chest, upper back, and arms play a role in maintaining riding position. In addition, they ensure seamless riding position changes by providing support.

rowing machine

Spin Bike vs. Rowing Machine: A Spin Instructor Compares (2)

advantages over aBicycle

  • A real full body workout:Certain muscle groups should not roll through the workout on a rowing machine. Instead, each muscle group must pull its share of the load to make this incredible workout possible.
  • Ideal for HIIT classes: We're not saying spin bikes aren't great for HIIT. However, for short periods of work and recovery, the full body activation that rowing requires is ideal. The afterburner of a 20-minute workout can continue to burn calories hours after you stop working out.

Disadvantages compared to aBicycle

  • Not ideal for beginners: The athleticism required to complete a single row on a rowing machine requires more effort than spinning the pedals on an indoor cycleBicyclewith minimal resistance. Because of these exertion requirements, newer rowers may not have the aerobic capacity to row for long periods of time.
  • More space required: A rowing machine requires a larger area than indoor cyclingBicycleas it is about 4' longer.
(Video) Rower or Bike: Which is Better For Your Home Gym?

Important note for beginners: Don't let that discourage you. Continue to use your rowing machine for smaller periods of time to build endurance.

muscles worked

EVERYTHING! Using a rowing machine is a factfull body workout. Pulling the handle toward your chest engages muscles in your upper body, including your back, chest, arms, and shoulders. The glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves also work as the rower's seat moves throughout the rowing motion. In addition, the core plays a crucial rolestabilizationand support throughout the movement.

Types of Rowing Machines: Air vs. Magnetic vs. Water

LuftBicycle: How does it differ from a classic indoor cycle and how does it compare to a rowing machine?

Spin Bike vs. Rowing Machine: A Spin Instructor Compares (3)

LuftBicyclevs. classic indoor cycle

A classicIndoor cycling and an air bike are incredibly different. The airBicycleworks through a large fan that spins when the handles and pedals start to move. The faster the pedals and handlebars move, the faster the fan spins, increasing drag. On an indoor cyclingBicycle, the weighted flywheel also spins based on how fast the pedals spin using a belt or chain drive. However, resistance increases with rotation of the resistance knob, based on either a friction or magnetic resistance system. A cloth pad moves either closer or further away from the flywheel to adjust the resistance level with frictional resistance. Magnetic reluctance uses magnets that are closer or further away from the flywheel.

LuftBicycleagainst rowers

Like an airbike, a rower uses a similar designwhere drag is created by the spinning of a fan. A rower's fan spins as the long cable handle is lengthened and contracted throughout the rowing motion. Although the designs are similar, the calorie burn between these two machines is quite different. an airBicycleburns only about 70% of the calories expended during a workout of the same length on a rowing machine.

(Video) FACEOFF: Exercise Bike vs Treadmill vs Rowing Machine

Spinning vs Rowing for Weight Loss: Which is Better?

The number of calories burned indoor cyclingBicycleor rowing machinesurprisingly similar. Below we've compiled a table that provides a rough estimate of calorie expenditure for sixty minutes of indoor cycling or rowing from low to high intensity. Keep in mind that these numbers vary from person to person as calories burned also depend on age, gender, weight and height.

60 minutes workoutcalorie consumption
(low to high intensity)
rowing machine400-800

pro tip: Cardio alone will not produce the impressive results that can be achieved by also focusing on strength training and a clean diet.

How do I choose what is best for my needs?

body ailments

While both workouts are considered low-impact, that doesn't mean certain joints aren't impacted more than others when rowing or cycling. However, with good form, injuries can be minimized. Let's look at each workout individually to note things.

Cycling is relatively easy on all joints in the saddle. With the help of cycling shoes, knee safety is increased even further. Remember to focus on propelling your knees up to avoid "pinning down" your pedals, which can make your knees worse. In addition, improper riding style can have a negative impact on your back and knees when you get out of the saddle.

Rowing requires full-body movement to complete the stroke. Rowing can aggravate your back as it is a major source of exercise for those suffering from back pain. In addition, because your feet are anchored in the machine, your ankles are subjected to more stress than when using any other exercise machine.


Some people need more motivation than others to buckle up or click in for a workout. In comparison, others don't need outside support to have a great workout. Spin bikes and rowing machines offer a variety of ways to spice up your training.

Indoor cycling consoles and an extensive collection of apps offer a wide range of training options. If you love feeling part of a team or enjoy an instructor-led activity, an indoor cyclingBicyclemight best suit your needs.

(Video) Spin Bike V/S Rowing Machine | Which is Better For Your Home Gym? Best Workout Equipment | cultsport

Rowing alone or participating in a virtual competition are all possibilities when using a rowing machine. There might not be that many rowing apps available in the market compared to cycling, but there are enough available to find one you might like.

The final result

The device that works best for you is the one that doesn't collect dust in the corner of your room. We encourage you to test each type of gear before you buy it to see which one ignites your sporting fire and inspires you to strive to achieve your goals.


What's better a spin bike or rowing 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.

Why cycling is better than rowing? ›

Injury risk

Rowing is quite demanding on the back muscles and if done without the proper technique, it could cause an overuse injury to the back. The stationary bike puts very little strain on the back and is gentle on the joints overall. It's even often used as a rehabilitation tool after injuries.

What burns more calories rowing or spinning? ›

A 50-minute rowing class can burn up to 1,200 calories, twice as many as spinning.

What is the equivalent of rowing to cycling? ›

Most agree equivalent distances are about a 5 to 1 ratio depending on who is commenting, a runner or cyclist.

Should I get a rower or air bike? ›

With that said, the rower is much more suitable for steady-state cardio as you can easily row for 30 or more minutes, while the air bike is a better option for HIIT workouts where you need to give your maximum for a short burst of time, then rest and repeat.

What exercise is better than rowing? ›

Burn the Most Calories: Running

Rowing at a moderate pace burns about 504 calories. That's not a dramatic difference, but if your main goal is calories burned, Holland says running tends to be the better workout, especially because it's easier to integrate sprinting into the mix.

Is rowing or biking better for knees? ›

While rowing machines and exercise bikes have similar health benefits and are great cardio options, they each have aspects that are better or worse for certain individuals. If you have back or knee problems, riding an indoor cycling bike might be better for you.

Is rowing good for the knees? ›

It's easy on the joints.

Rowing is a low-impact sport, so it's perfect if you're nursing an injury. With your feet planted on the footpads and your hands locked on to the grips, there's little to no impact on the ankles, knees, hips, elbows and shoulder joints.

How many times a week should I row? ›

In terms of time, weight loss is best achieved with consistency, so aim for at least 30 minutes per day on a rower, anywhere from 4 to 6 times a week. Make sure you're getting enough rest days, especially if you're just getting started!

Should I row or spin? ›

While most spin classes are 60-90 minutes long, classes at Total Row are only 30-45 minutes. Because rowing workouts are usually more anaerobic and incorporate many more muscles, its calorie-burn is significantly higher (we've seen research suggesting 2x as many calories burned per 50 minutes!!).

Will rowing 30 minutes a day weight loss? ›

When rowing for weight loss, workout consistency and duration are key. For maximum results, strive to complete 30–50 minutes of rowing five to six times per week. Aim for a comfortable intensity of moderate, steady work where you can still carry on a conversation. Add intervals for variety.

Is it okay to row everyday? ›

While we recommend having a rest day between workout days a few times per week, if you're smart about how you train, you can row everyday without overdoing it. It's a good idea to alternate between light days and hard days.

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 in shape only rowing? ›

Rowing is a total-body workout, meaning it will strengthen major muscle groups in your arms, legs, and core and increase cardiovascular endurance. In short, if you consistently use the rowing machine, you'll notice that you'll become stronger and less out of breath. You may even notice some muscle gain.

What is the main disadvantage of the rower? ›

If you aren't using proper form, using an indoor rower can lead to back pain or injury that can put you out of commission for weeks. Because they are relatively large machines, many rowers aren't easy to move and can't be folded up for storage when not in use.

Why rowing machine is the best? ›

Unlike other cardio options, the rowing machine has the edge of simultaneously being a strength and cardio workout, notes Tyrrell. "Rowing workouts let you build more muscle by raising the resistance level, whereas treadmills, spinning bikes, and elliptical machines offer limited muscle-building benefits," he says.

What is better rowing machine or peloton? ›

It depends on your priorities. If you're looking for a rowing-first experience that best replicates the water-based workout, then Hydrow is the frontrunner. However, if you're already part of the Peloton community, you'll find the seamless transition between products and the variety of classes worthwhile.

How long does it take to see results from rowing machine? ›

You can expect to notice more definition in your muscles within the first week of daily rowing machine workouts. It takes about 90 days to get an amazing rowing body transformation result. Rowing is a learned movement.

Is rowing a good exercise for seniors? ›

Recent studies have proven that a older person using a rowing machine helps for building physical strength and stamina, stimulating growth of bone and bone mineral density increase. Indoor rowing is perfect for people aged 40, 50, 60 and even older.

Why do my knees hurt after rowing? ›

You might notice it as a knee click when you're rowing. IT brand friction occurs from repeatedly bending your knees. The normal movement of the IT band during flexion and extension irritates nearby tissues, causing pain on the outside of the knee.

Is rowing good for arthritic knees? ›

A rowing machine used to simulate the action of rowing a boat can provide a great cardiovascular and strength workout for people with arthritis — working both your upper and lower body.

What exercise machine is best for arthritic knees? ›

Elliptical pros

Low-impact exercise typically puts less stress on your joints than high-impact exercise. This makes the elliptical a safer option if you have a musculoskeletal condition such as low-back pain, knee or hip pain, or other health conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis.

Is rowing good for sciatica? ›

Rowing can disrupt the spines structure and lead to inflammation on your sciatic nerve. Sciatica pain causes constant discomfort and can impact the quality of your daily life. It's important you seek medical attention at the early signs of nerve pain to avoid further injury.

Is rowing good for bone density? ›

Any exercise that loads the bones sufficiently can increase bone mass. Numerous scientific studies have confirmed that rowing fulfills this criterion and is an effective means of building BMD.

Is it better to row in the morning or evening? ›

What really is the best time for rowing? According to some studies, the ideal time to engage in physical activity is actually the mid- to late-afternoon. Your body is warm, your muscles are loosened up, and you generally tend to feel awake, alert, and better overall.

What kind of body does rowing give you? ›

The beauty of a rowing stroke is that it activates the lower body (like your quadriceps and glutes), upper body (like deltoids and lats), and core muscles (the coveted abdominal muscles) all at once. Many believe that rowing is all about leg strength, but as you can see, this couldn't be further from the truth.

What resistance should I row at? ›

Generally, that is between 4.5 to 6.5 on the resistance setting; however, every machine varies so it's a good idea to calibrate the drag factor each time you use the erg to work out.

Is it OK to spin everyday? ›

Even once you've found your spinning legs, daily sessions may still be overkill. But if you're looking for a high-intensity workout a few days a week—and especially if running or other forms of vigorous aerobic exercise hurt your joints—spinning may be the ideal way to keep your heart and body in shape.

Does rowing help belly fat? ›

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.

How does rowing change a woman's body? ›

Whole body exercise not only improves the health of the muscles in your arms, legs, core and back, but also in your heart and blood vessels. Unlike running or cycling, rowing recruits large muscle groups in both your upper and lower body from the very first stroke, and strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system.

How long does it take to burn 500 calories on a rowing machine? ›

Depending on your age, heart rate, weight, and intensity of rowing workout, it can take you 35-60 minutes to burn 500 rowing calories.

Is rowing better than walking? ›

Rowing machines are much better for combining cardio with muscle building. This maximizes your calorie-burning potential, as you'll burn fat both during the workout and for the rest of the day. It's a more balanced total body workout that is great for losing weight in a more controlled manner.

Why do rowers row in the morning? ›

The tradition of early-morning practices dates back to the early years of competitive rowing. In English rivers, where trade and transportation dominated the waters, competitive races were held at dawn to ensure that they would not be hindered by boat traffic.

What is the correct rowing technique? ›

The Rowing Stroke
  1. Arms are straight; head is neutral; shoulders are level and not hunched.
  2. Upper body is leaning forward from the hips with the shoulders. in front of the hips.
  3. Shins are vertical, or as close to vertical as is comfortable for you. Shins should not move beyond perpendicular.
  4. Heels may lift as needed.

What should you not do when rowing? ›

The Do's and Don'ts of Working Out on a Rowing Machine
  1. Do: Use proper form while using the machine. ...
  2. Don't: Row with a high resistance (to start). ...
  3. Do: Power through with your legs. ...
  4. Don't: Pull too much with your torso. ...
  5. Do: Grip the handle correctly. ...
  6. Don't: Forget to breathe.

What should be sore after rowing? ›

Your muscles will feel tired (unrecovered) and sore to the touch. After rowing, you may feel this in your back, glutes, or shoulders. This muscle soreness should be in the thicker, middle region of the muscle (not near joints and tendons) and should go away within 48-72 hours.

What is a good rowing pace for a beginner? ›

The workout

Rowing speed is measured by your stroke rate, which is usually displayed on the machine's screen. Mr. Galvanek and Mr. Bergenroth recommended rowing for 20 or 30 minutes at a pace of 16 to 20 strokes per minute when you're starting out.

Is 15 minutes rowing enough? ›

Indoor rowing is perfect for those who have a busy schedule and don't have a full hour for gym visits. If you focus your mind on putting in maximum effort from start to finish, you can squeeze in a great 15-minute or 20-minute full body workout that will burn more than 200 calories.

What is a good distance for 20 minutes on a rowing machine? ›

A good distance for 20 minutes is 5047 m. This is the average distance for 20 minutes across all ages and genders. The furthest distance for 20 minutes is 6434 m.

What is a good distance for 30 minutes on a rowing machine? ›

A good distance for 30 minutes is 7436 m. This is the average distance for 30 minutes across all ages and genders. The furthest distance for 30 minutes is 9651 m.

Is rowing good for losing belly fat? ›

Compared with other forms of exercise machines, using the rowing machine is an efficient way to blast calories and slim you down everywhere — including your belly. Besides, it is low-impact and offers you a full-body workout as well as build strong and defined muscles, including your abs.

How many calories does 30 minutes of rowing burn? ›

Just 30 minutes on an indoor rower can help you to burn up to 300 whopping calories.

Is rowing the best exercise for weight loss? ›

One of the most proven and effective ways to lose weight is to use a rowing machine. In fact, Harvard Health Publishing says that while most exercise machines work only certain parts of your body, rowing machines come the closest to providing a full-body workout, which can maximize your weight loss efforts.

Is rowing any good for weight loss? ›

Rowing boosts weight loss by providing a significant calorie burn, though you should be sure to pair it with a proper diet. It's comparable to running in terms of calories expended, though it has less impact on your joints.

Can you get in shape by just rowing? ›

Rowing is a total-body workout, meaning it will strengthen major muscle groups in your arms, legs, and core and increase cardiovascular endurance. In short, if you consistently use the rowing machine, you'll notice that you'll become stronger and less out of breath. You may even notice some muscle gain.

Which machine is best for belly fat? ›

The following are among the most popular and effective workout machines used for reducing belly fat.
  • Treadmill.
  • Elliptical.
  • Stairmaster.
  • Stationary bike.
  • Rowing machine.
Nov 10, 2020

Why am I gaining weight rowing? ›


But you're also gaining muscle. Though rowing isn't necessarily the most effective or efficient ways to gain muscle, it's not unusual for rowers to add muscle mass in their legs. That can obviously affect the reading on the scale.

Is rowing better than Walking for weight loss? ›

If you just want to lose fat, then a treadmill is a better choice. However, if you want to burn fat while building muscle and improve your overall fitness, rowing machines are better for losing weight.


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