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Rowing Machine vs. Stationary Bike: Choosing the Right Machine for Your Workout

rowing machine vs exercise bike

You are building your home gym and are wondering what exercise machines to invest in.

The choices can seem overwhelming.

How do you decide whether a rowing machine or a stationary bike is best for you?

Both forms of exercise can give great results.

In this guide, we will be looking at the pros and cons of rowing machines and stationary bikes and will give you all the information you need to decide which one is the best choice for your workout needs.

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is rowing better than cycling

Exercise Bike vs. Rowing Machine Which is Better? It Depends on Your Fitness Goals

Exercise bike vs. rowing machine.

How do you decide which one is the best for your needs?

The fact is it depends on your fitness goals as well as your current athletic abilities.

If you are interested in determining your own individual fitness goals, we can help.

The physical therapists, postural specialists, and fitness coaches at In Motion O.C. can partner with you to design a fitness program that is both effective and safe.

Let’s take a close-up look at the factors that determine whether a stationary bike or rowing machine is best for you.

Stationary Bike vs. Rowing Machine for Weight Loss

Are you hoping to shed a few pounds and are wondering; when it comes to weight loss, which is better? Stationary bike or rowing machine?

A rowing machine can get your heart rate up enough to get into fat-burning mode and is considered a full-body workout.

However, the professionals at In Motion O.C. do not recommend using a rowing machine for weight loss.

And here is why.

First, if you do not have technical training on how to properly operate a rowing machine it is very difficult to do it effectively.

And if you are not doing it properly, you may see some strengthening results, but you will not see much improvement in the area of weight loss.

Exercise bikes, however, provide a workout for your lower body, specifically your glutes, hips, knees, calves, and ankles.

They also provide a great cardiovascular workout.

And, with an exercise bike, you can easily switch between extended cardio and 20-minute HIIT workouts to burn off calories and fat.

If your goal in exercising is to lose weight, we at In Motion O.C. recommend that you select an exercise bike versus a rowing machine.

rowing machine vs stationary bike

Rowing Machine vs. Stationary Bike for Muscle Tone and Technique

Let’s say your goal is to tone and define your muscle.

Should you choose a stationary bike or rowing machine?

Both machines help tone and firm up your muscles.

They also help strengthen your legs, your butt, and your thighs.

When you exercise on a stationary exercise bike the majority of the workout is on your legs.

The rowing machine, however, utilizes more of your muscles than the exercise bike does.

When you are using a rowing machine:

  • 60% of the effort comes from your legs
  • 30% comes from the pendulum movement
  • 10% comes from your arms

Take a look at the list of muscles that get a work out when you do your workout on a rowing machine:

  • Abdominal muscles
  • Back muscles, including trapezoid, rhomboid, and large dorsal muscles
  • Arm muscles, including biceps and triceps
  • The muscles at the back of your shoulders (deltoids)
  • Calf and anterior tibial muscles
  • Glutes
  • Leg muscles (hamstrings)
  • Thigh muscles, including quadriceps and hamstrings at the front and back of your thighs

If you are looking to enhance your technique in the gym, the rowing machine is the clear winner.

Rowing Machine vs. Stationary Bike For Increased Muscle Mass

Maybe your goal is to pump up your muscles to achieve the buff, bodybuilder look.

Exercise bike vs rowing machine. Which is better if you are looking to build muscle?

It depends on what part of your body you’re wanting to bulk up.

A stationary bike will help you build strength in your legs and lower body, especially if you ramp it up to high resistance. The pedaling motion strengthens your…

  • calves 
  • hamstrings, and
  • quadriceps.

In addition, it gives a powerful workout to the muscles in your…

  • Core
  • Back, and 
  • Glutes.

A rowing machine, on the other hand, is first and foremost a cardio workout.

However, it can also be effective in building muscle, particularly in the…

  • Back
  • Shoulders, and 
  • Arms.

Which Burns More Calories? A Stationary 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.

rowing machine vs exercise bike

Choosing Between a Rowing Machine or a Stationary Bike: Top 3 Things To Consider

Besides looking closely at your personal fitness goals, you will want to evaluate these 3 areas as you are contemplating exercise bikes vs. rowing machines.

#1: Biking vs. Rowing if You have Knee or Back Problems

What if you are rehabbing an ankle or knee injury?

Or maybe you are getting back into shape after being out with an injury.

What is better? Exercise bike or rowing machine?

A stationary bike:

  • Is gentle on your muscles 
  • Puts minimal pressure on an injured knee or ankle
  • Gives you the opportunity to control the resistance and intensity of your workouts

A rowing machine:

  • Strengthens the back muscles, but may not be the best idea for people who already have back pain or do not have good posture, due to the intensity of the machine
  • Requires you to bend your knees completely which can exacerbate existing knee pain

While both may cause a bit of pain initially, biking is definitely going to be the best route to take if you’re going through rehab, have an injury, or have back or knee problems.

#2: Rowing Machines Have More of a Learning Curve

In order for a rowing workout to be effective, you must use the correct form so that you are targeting the right muscles and avoiding injury.

If you row willy-nilly and have not learned the proper technique, you will be putting in a lot of wasted time and energy.

Unless your purpose for exercising is strictly to get in a cardio workout, your best option will be to look into an exercise bike.

rowing machine vs stationary bike

#3 It’s All About Preference

So how do you decide between an exercise bike vs. rowing machine?

Honestly, it all boils down to personal preference.

If you love cycling, the stationary exercise bike may be the best choice for you.

But if you are wanting to get more of an upper-body workout in, the rowing machine is probably a better fit.

Still trying to decide between the rowing machine vs. exercise bike?

This list can help make your decision easier.

A rowing machine may be best for you if:

  • You have a limited amount of space
  • You are on a tight budget
  • You are looking for a cardio workout
  • You enjoy rowing
  • You would like an exercise machine that does not require a power source 
  • You prefer a low-impact workout

You may want to select an exercise bike if:

  • You need an exercise machine that does not make much noise
  • You are on a tight budget
  • You are recovering from an illness or injury
  • You want to increase your aerobic fitness level
  • You have minimal space
  • You want to tone your legs and glutes
  • You want to minimize stress on your joints
  • You want a piece of exercise equipment that can be stored fairly easily

Of course, in order to get all the optimal benefits, you will need to use your stationary bike or rowing machine on a regular basis.

The recommendation is a 30 to 45-minute workout on your exercise bike or rowing machine 2 to 3 times a week.

Biking vs. Rowing: The Best Overall Workout

So, all things considered, what is better? Exercise bike or rowing machine?

In our experience at In Motion O.C., a stationary bike is the way to go.

We choose stationary bikes because:

  • They require no prior technique or skill to get in a good workout
  • They provide a great cardio workout
  • Since you do not need to concentrate, you can turn on Netflix and pedal away 
  • They are the perfect choice for those suffering from low back or knee pain

biking vs rowing

Need More Guidance in The Gym? In Motion O.C. Can Help

Are you ready to start working out but are not sure where to start?

Or maybe you have been working out for years but are ready to try a new exercise technique.

In Motion O.C.’s educated staff can help.

We work with our clients to enable them to:

  • Discover new exercise goals
  • Learn how to properly use exercise equipment
  • Avoid injuries
  • Get the most out of their workouts — whether at the gym or at home

Health is Our #1 Priority

Is getting healthy and staying healthy your top priority?

You have come to the right place.

At In Motion O.C. our goal is to meet you at your current level of fitness and teach you the skills you need in order to get healthy, stay healthy and successfully reach your fitness goals.

Our Educated Staff Can Help You Get the Most Out of Your Workouts

At In Motion O.C. we have highly trained:

  • Physical therapists
  • Postural specialists
  • Fitness coaches
  • Massage therapists

And each and every member of our staff share the common goals of:

  • Helping you look and feel better
  • Improving your posture, balance, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, and overall function
  • Preventing the recurrence of pain and injury

What are you waiting for?

Contact the fitness professionals at In Motion O.C. today for your free consultation.

rowing machine vs stationary bike

In Motion O.C.