Exercise Bike Vs Rowing Machine: Finding Your Perfect Workout Match

Exercise Bike Vs Rowing Machine

If getting fit is your goal, joining a gym might be the first thing on your mind. Suppose you have a gym nearby. In that case, it’s likely equipped with two of the most sought-after machines: an exercise bike vs rowing machine.

Let’s explore their comparison in detail:

Both these machines are gym favorites, and for good reason. They offer more than just a workout; they’re tools for transforming your fitness level and sculpting your body. But the question is, which one suits you best?

Pros & Cons of Rowing Machine vs Exercise Bike

rowing machine advantages

5 Advantages of the Rowing Machine

  1. Full-body Exercise – Engages 85% of Your Muscles The rowing machine is a powerhouse, uniquely targeting 85% of your body’s muscles. While it might seem focused on your arms and legs, a proper rowing stroke involves your back, arms, legs, and core. This concerted effort delivers a comprehensive workout, enhancing both your cardiovascular health and physical fitness.
  2. Low Impact Workout – Gentle on Joints Rowing exercises are remarkably low impact, providing a joint-friendly option. This makes it an ideal choice for those with recent injuries or chronic conditions. It’s often recommended for individuals recovering from injuries or concerned about falls since the workout is performed seated.
  3. Cardiovascular Benefits – Boosts Heart & Lung Health Rowing is an effective cardio workout, bolstering your cardiovascular system — your heart, blood vessels, and blood. This system is responsible for circulating essential substances like oxygen and nutrients. Rowing’s intensity demands your heart to pump more blood, potentially strengthening your heart muscle.
  4. Beginner-Friendly – Accessible & Result-Driven Rowing is welcoming to beginners, offering quick, noticeable results. However, persistence is key. Gym-goers often disengage from a rowing machine within minutes due to boredom or confusion, missing out on benefits. To see improvement in form and elevate your heart rate, aim for a 10 to 20-minute session.
  5. Time-Efficient: Given its engagement of numerous muscle groups and high-calorie burn, rowing is exceptionally time-efficient. You’ll feel the exertion almost immediately. For those new to rowing, a 15 to 20-minute session can be a worthwhile workout.

3 Disadvantages of the Rowing Machines

  1. Not Recommended for Back Injuries – Risk of Exacerbating Pain Rowing machines might not be suitable for those with back issues. The action involves significant lower back movement during the push and pull phases. If your muscles are overworked or fatigued, there’s a risk of losing proper posture, potentially aggravating back pain or existing injuries.
  2. Noisy Operation – Potential Disturbance in Shared Spaces An often-overlooked aspect is the noise generated by rowing machines, particularly air and water rowers. Each stroke can produce a noticeable sound. This can be a concern in shared living spaces like small homes or apartments, where the noise might disturb others during your workout sessions.
  3. Doesn’t Strengthen Bones – Lacks Weight-Bearing Impact One significant limitation of rowing is its inability to strengthen bones. To counter bone demineralization, your exercise regimen should include weight-bearing activities. For instance, incorporating walking into your rest days can be an effective way to complement your rowing routine and support bone health.

exercise bike advantage

Advantages of an Exercise Bike

  1. Efficient Calorie Burning: Exercise bikes are effective for burning calories. A 150-pound individual can burn approximately 170 calories with a gentle 30-minute ride. This increases to about 239 calories with moderate effort.
  2. Low-Impact Workout: Stationary bikes provide a smooth, low-impact exercise, making them a safe choice for individuals with joint issues or injuries. Unlike high-impact activities like running, which can stress joints, cycling on a stationary bike strengthens bones and joints without undue strain.
  3. Muscle Strengthening and Toning: Along with the lower body muscles – legs, thighs, and buttocks – an exercise bike also engages the biceps, abdomen, and back, especially when using higher resistance. This can lead to improved muscle tone and strength over time.
  4. Boosts Cardiovascular Health: Regular use of an exercise bike enhances your heart and lung health, increasing cardiovascular endurance. This kind of aerobic exercise is great for maintaining a healthy heart rate and improving overall blood circulation.
  5. Accessibility & Convenience: Exercise bikes are user-friendly, making them accessible to people at all fitness levels. They’re a convenient option for home workouts, allowing you to exercise regardless of the weather or time of day. This ease of access encourages consistent workout routines, which is key to achieving fitness goals.

Disadvantages of An Exercise Bike

  1. Potentially High Cost: The price of exercise bikes varies widely, with high-end models being quite expensive. These top-tier bikes often come with advanced features and benefits not found in cheaper versions.
  2. Risk of Monotony: Regularly using the same exercise bike can lead to boredom. The repetitive nature of cycling in the same environment and manner can diminish the excitement and challenge of the workout. To combat this, it’s helpful to vary your routine or try different workout programs if your bike offers them.
  3. Limited Upper Body Engagement: Exercise bikes primarily focus on the lower body and cardiovascular fitness, offering little to no upper body workout. This can lead to an imbalance between your lower and upper body strength and development. To achieve a well-rounded fitness regime, additional exercises targeting the upper body may be necessary.

Rowing Machine Vs Exercise Bike Calories Burned

As you might expect, the exercise bike burns more calories than the rowing machine. This is because it uses more muscle groups and works them at a higher intensity.

However, if your goal is weight loss, this isn’t necessarily a good thing—the rowing machine burns more calories per minute (roughly 500 compared to 300).

And if you’re looking for something that targets different muscles than your legs and lower back (which are worked by both exercises), think about investing in a weight bench or squat rack instead. It will help improve your balance as well as strengthen your core while building overall muscle mass throughout the body.

Calorie Burn Comparison Table

ActivityWeight of IndividualDuration
Calories Burned (Approx.)
Rowing Machine125 lbs30 mins210 – 255
Rowing Machine155 lbs30 mins260 – 316
Rowing Machine185 lbs30 mins310 – 377
Exercise Bike125 lbs30 mins165 – 250
Exercise Bike155 lbs30 mins210 – 311
Exercise Bike185 lbs30 mins255 – 372


Note: The above figures are estimates and can vary based on individual factors such as fitness level, intensity of the workout, and metabolic rate.

Rowing Machine Vs Bike For Weight Loss

When considering weight loss options between a rowing machine and a bike, the rowing machine emerges as a powerful ally. Research in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research highlights that rowing outperforms cycling, as well as treadmill and elliptical workouts, in terms of calorie burn.

Specifically, a person weighing 150 pounds burns about 9 calories per minute on an exercise bike. This rate increases to around 12 calories per minute for moderate-paced workouts on treadmills or ellipticals.

However, the same individual can burn up to a remarkable 20 calories per minute on a rowing machine. This makes the rowing machine an excellent way to boost cardiovascular health.

Rowing Machine Vs Bike Muscle Targeted

The exercise bike and rowing machine both work the lower body, but there’s a key difference. The bike focuses solely on your legs, while the rowing machine adds arms and back into the mix. With every rowing stroke, you’re engaging your entire upper body, a benefit you won’t find in most other cardio equipment.

Yet, this makes the rowing machine a standout choice for a full-body workout, effectively combining upper and lower-body training in each session.

Feature/Muscle GroupExercise BikeRowing Machine
Lower Body Workout
Upper Body Workout
Leg Muscle Engagement
Arm Muscle Engagement
Back Muscle Engagement
Full-Body Workout

Rowing Machine Vs Bike For Knee And Back Problem

If you’re navigating knee or back issues, the rowing machine is often the more suitable choice over an exercise bike. The rowing motion is smoother and generally gentler on the joints. Despite the similar leg force exertion between the two machines (with pedal speeds averaging around 12 miles per hour), the exercise bike can still be more jarring on the joints.

For those aiming to stay fit while minimizing bodily strain, the rowing machine emerges as the preferred option. It allows you to achieve a robust workout with less risk of exacerbating knee and back problems.

Physical Limitations

Old injuries can resurface and impact your movement over time.

For such situations, exercise bikes are an excellent choice. They are generally more forgiving than rowing machines and are low-impact compared to running.

Plus, poor form on any machine can exacerbate back and knee issues. Meanwhile, exercise bikes typically put less stress on muscles and joints also making them a safer option for those with physical limitations.

Muscle Tone & Technique

Both rowing machines and exercise bikes excel in muscle toning and technique, yet rowing offers a more comprehensive upper-body workout. When you row, you engage your arms, back, shoulders, legs, and core simultaneously, including muscles in your lower back that are less active during a bike ride.

While the stationary bike provides an excellent workout for the lower body, it doesn’t target as many upper-body muscles as rowing does. For those aiming to enhance muscle tone across their entire body, rowing is likely the more effective choice.

Top 3 Things To Consider When Choosing Between Exercise Bike Vs Rowing Machine

When choosing between an exercise bike and a rowing machine for your home gym, consider these top three factors:

  1. Costs: Both machines vary in price, but affordability is a key factor. Rowing machines range from around $150 for basic models to over $300 for advanced ones. Exercise bikes start as low as $100 for simpler models. Also investing some more dollars for high-end versions with added features like built-in displays.
  2. Space Requirements: Space is a crucial consideration. Exercise bikes generally require less space compared to rowing machines, which have larger flywheels. However, if space is limited in your home gym, a rowing machine might be more suitable as it often occupies less room.
  3. Workout Variety: Both machines offer varied workouts but with different focuses. Rowing machines provide a more diverse workout experience, engaging multiple muscle groups.

Deciding What’s Best For You

Consider your fitness goals, joint health, and workout preferences.

Do you aim for targeted lower body strength and a gentle routine?

Then, the exercise bike might be your match. Or, are you aiming for overall fitness, craving a mix of strength and endurance training?

If so, the rowing machine could be your ideal pick.

Exercise Bike Vs Rowing Machine? In the end, whether you lean towards the bike or the rower, the key is consistency and enjoyment in your workouts. Both machines offer unique benefits and can be pivotal in your journey towards better health.

Happy training!