What Is Better A Rowing Machine or Exercise Bike – Our Complete Review

Choosing what type of exercise machine you want in your home can be tough. Most of us have limited space and budget that can be invested in exercise equipment.

But, even if you can afford to purchase both a rowing machine and an exercise bike, it doesn’t mean that you should do it. Some people benefit more from using a rowing machine, others from an exercise bike.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s better, a rowing machine or exercise bike, then you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together a review of everything that you need to know to make the decision on what to buy for your home.

So, what is better between a rowing machine or exercise bike?

What Is Better A Rowing Machine or Exercise Bike

What is a rowing machine?

Rowing machines are one of the most commonly seen machines that you can find in the gym after the common treadmill. It’s designed to combine your cardiovascular workout with some strength training.

So, you can expect to feel the heat of a cardio session while also working your muscles.

These machines mimic actual rowing in a boat. The performance monitors are there to show you things like your pace, watts, calories, and stroke rate.

So, you can close your eyes, lean back, and feel like you’re rowing down a stream. They allow for fast, intensive rowing, or a more leisurely pace that’ll still give you a good workout.

What are the perks of a rowing machine?

This type of exercise machine has plenty of benefits to choosing it. One of the most impressive is that it’s meant to give your entire body a workout, targeting up to 85% of your muscles!

A full movement on a rowing machine takes up a lot of your body, so you don’t have to worry about neglecting a certain part.

They are also a machine that has you sit down. This increases your chance of injury and puts less pressure on many of the joints that are often involved in the most injuries.

The way that they work out your muscles is also less likely to make you feel soreness unless you’re really pushing it.

Rowing machines also only need a short amount of time to give you the best results. You can get a fantastic workout on a rowing machine after only 15 minutes!

This is perfect for the person who only has a short amount of time to dedicate to their fitness. Considering how many parts of your body the rowing machine works, that’s not a bad deal!

What are the downsides to rowing machines?

Rowing machines can take up a lot of space in your home. They may look skinny, but the flywheel is quite large. So, if you’re looking to get a rowing machine of your own, you have to keep in mind how much space it’ll take up.

In addition to being large, they’re also noisy. It’s impossible to have a quiet workout on the rowing machine, whether it’s a water or air rower.

Rowing machines are going to have a lower impact than other types of exercise. While this is a healthy choice, it doesn’t mean it’s entirely risk-free.

The seated position of the rowing machine can cause lower back pain if you aren’t keeping a proper form. If you think the rowing machine is for you, make sure that you are listening to your body and maintaining a position that is safe.

Safety and Injuries

When used properly, a rowing machine is a perfectly safe piece of equipment, so you don’t have to worry about getting injured. However, what you should keep in mind is that a rowing machine is demanding for the back.

What does this mean? First of all, it will strengthen your back. But, if you have back pain or you struggle with poor posture, intense workouts on the rowing machine can worsen the pain. Also, since you will have to bend your knees to use this machine, workouts will put some tension on your knees.

If you’re wondering: “what is better a rowing machine or exercise bike,” the answer depends on your current condition. If you are an elderly person or you suffer from back or knee problems, then the exercise bike is a more suitable choice for you.

Weight Loss

You can burn the same amount of calories on the rowing machine and the exercise bike. The number of calories burned is determined by how long and how hard you exercise. A one-hour intense workout on a rowing machine or stationary bike, for example, will burn roughly 800 calories, but a more moderate activity will only burn 400 calories.

However, you should keep in mind that working out on a rowing machine is more demanding than working out on a stationary bike. So, if you’re a beginner, it is very likely that your workout on a rower will last for about 20 minutes. On the other hand, you are quite likely to be able to work out for up to 30 or 45 minutes on a bike.

What does this mean? If your primary goal is weight loss and you’re wondering what is better a rowing machine or exercise bike, then we recommend you to go with the bike. Longer workouts mean burning more calories per session, and eventually, greater weight loss.

You can lose 1 kg each month by riding an exercise bike for an hour. three times a week, or by rowing for 30 minutes three times a week for two months.

Muscles Targeted

Cardio fitness devices, such as the exercise bike and rower, primarily target the body’s most vital muscle – the heart!

A similarity between the rower and the stationary bike is that both will help you build your legs, thighs, and buttocks muscles.

The rowing machine engages more muscle groups in the body than the exercise bike. When rowing, it is generally perceived that the legs do 60% of the work, the pendulum movement provides 30%, and the arms provide 10% of the movement.

The rowing machine has an advantage over the stationary bike in that it works the arms, shoulders, back, and belly muscles, whereas the exercise bike mostly works the lower body muscles.


Which piece or pieces of equipment – and which specific brand – you choose will be heavily influenced by how much space you have in your home to devote to filling out your gym.

If you’re short on space yet want to boost your heart rate to improve your cardiovascular health, the rower might be the best option. Due to its ability to stand vertically and/or hang on the wall, the rower is the most space-efficient option.


When it comes to the cost, both a rowing machine and an exercise bike have similar price tags. Rowers are a mid-priced option, with most models costing between $200 and $2,500. The tech-savvy rowers come with a higher price, whereas the basic models are quite affordable.

What is an exercise bike?

The exercise bike is even more commonly found than the rowing machine. They’ve become a staple in any real gym, and make appearances in home gyms all over the world.

So, why all the fuss? These machines are stationary bikes that, like the rowing machine, mimic the real-world equivalent. Similar to outdoor biking, exercise bikes are a fantastic piece of cardio equipment.

Exercise bikes are more than just pedaling. Most types allow you to increase the resistance, giving you the same workout as if you were going uphill. Some types will also come with upper-arm handlebars, giving your arms as much of a push as your legs.

What are the perks of an exercise bike?

As mentioned, exercise bikes are one of the kings of cardio. They allow you to strengthen everything from your lungs, heart, and muscles.

You’re also sure to build up a sweat on the exercise bike, which is great for those who are trying to lose weight or burn calories. Higher intensity workouts on the bike can also help you burn body fat.

As seen with the rowing machine, these exercise bikes are also ideal for those in need of a low-impact workout. The movements made are smooth and steady, putting minimal pressure on your joints and your bones.

You also have complete control of your speed and resistance, so any level of user can find the right stride.

Exercise bikes can be quite heavy.

However, the typical machine is still smaller and lighter than many other home exercise machines, including the treadmill.

They also provide a safe alternative for those who like to ride outdoors. So, even if you just want to keep it for the days it’s too rainy to bike outside, it’s a worthy option.

What are the cons of the exercise bike?

Exercise bikes can work up a sweat and help with weight loss. Unfortunately, the time it’ll take you to burn plenty of calories is far higher than comparable machines. If losing weight is your ultimate goal, this type of machine shouldn’t be the only thing you’re relying on.

For cycling enthusiasts, it’s also important to note that this won’t give you the exact equivalent of an outdoor bike. You can increase the resistance, but it still won’t give you the exact same challenges that outdoor cycling does. So, if you’re training for a race, you can’t rely on the exercise bike alone.

Safety and Injuries

The stationary bike puts little force on the back and so does not cause back problems. Furthermore, when pedaling with moderate resistance, the exercise bike softly works the knees, making it ideal for both prevention and rehabilitation after knee surgery.

An exercise bike does not cause any knocks to the joints, making it an excellent fitness machine for rehabilitation. Also, it is more suitable for the elderly and people with back or knee problems than the rowing machine.

Weight Loss

As we already mentioned, working out on an exercise bike is less demanding than using a rowing machine. Both pieces of equipment burn the same amount of calories. However, you are more likely to be able to exercise longer on the stationary bike rather than a rowing machine. And, the more work you put in, the more calories you will burn.

In other words, if weight loss is your primary aim, an exercise bike is a better option for you since you will be able to exercise for longer and burn more calories.

Muscles Targeted

The rowing machine targets both your upper and lower body. The exercise bike, on the other hand, primarily targets the leg and thigh muscles, making it a better choice for those who would like to focus on this area of the body.

However, since the exercise bike targets primarily your legs and thighs, you are likely to be able to exercise for longer times and burn more calories.


Exercise bike is a better option for those who have more space at their disposal. The majority of stationary bike models cannot be folded or placed upright to save space. However, they do take up less space compared to other pieces of workout equipment, such as the treadmill.


Both rowers and stationary bikes are more affordable pieces of workout machines. An exercise bike, as a matter of fact, tends to be slightly more affordable than the rower. In general, the prices range from $150 to $1,500 for both an upright and a spinning bike.

Should you go for the exercise bike or the rowing machine?

Now, for your all-important question: what is better between a rowing machine or an exercise bike?

Ultimately, it boils down to your goals. Exercise bikes are a perfect addition to a home gym set-up. Or, if you work out at a gym, are a great way to cool down or warm-up for your upcoming workout.  However, they aren’t the best choice if you’re only planning on using the bike.

Rowing machines give you a more full-body workout. If you want to stick to one machine or are limited in the time you can dedicate to your fitness, a rowing machine may be the safer bet.

The rowing machine and exercise bike are also both great choices for those who need less impact. Though, the rowing machine can increase your risk for lower-back problems. If that’s a concern, then your best bet is the exercise bike.

You’ve hopefully now found your answer to your question of what is better between a rowing machine or exercise bike. It’s all about your personal goals. The rowing machine has a few more pros, but for some, the exercise bike is perfection.

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