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Rowing Machine vs Bike – Which Is Better?

Last Updated on October 28, 2021 by Jeff

Rowing Machine vs BikeIf you’re looking for an effective weight loss workout without the strain on your joints and muscles, the rowing machine and stationary bike are your two best bets for a low-impact exercise that still gets the job done. 

While they are both ideal options for low-impact exercise, choosing the one that suits you best can be confusing. 

In this article, we’ll look at the main benefits of each machine, and compare which is the better option for specific fitness goals. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly which exercise machine is the right fit for you.

Rowing Machine versus Running (Compared)

  Bike Rowing machine
Muscle-building Lower body Full body
Impact Low impact Low impact
Weight loss 150-260 cals in 30 minutes  100-160 cals in 30 minutes 

Weight Loss

If you are aiming to lose weight, both machines will help you along with that goal. A rowing machine is an effective form of cardio, and if done regularly and paired with a healthy diet, you will see a difference. 

But, the stationary bike allows for more varied exercise regimes such as High-Intensity Interval Training. This can result in a higher calorie burn in a shorter period, which means you can lose weight at a faster rate. This makes the bike a better option for weight loss.

Muscle building rowing machine vs exercise bike

Those who want to build muscle can, again, achieve this using either machine. The stationary bike can be an effective way to train the muscles, especially the lower body, by increasing the bike’s resistance. 

The rowing machine does edge out the bike in muscle training. Unlike the bike, it equally works the lower body, upper body, and core muscles, resulting in a full-body workout.


While the rowing machine does provide a low-impact workout, which is helpful for those with muscle and joint issues, it does not provide the same level of support that you get from the stationary bike. 

The rowing machine does not adequately support the back for those who need it and might lead to an increase in existing pain or injury. The motion is also demanding on the knees, which is a common joint issue for many. 

In contrast, the stationary bike provides total support for these problem areas. The seat with a backrest fully supports the back, and the nature of the low-impact motion is easy on the knees. 

Rowing Machine versus Bike

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine is an exercise machine that requires the user to mimic the movement of rowing a boat, using a cable in place of ores. 

The motion requires you to move backward, extend your legs and pull the cable towards your chest. Then you move forwards, extend your arms, and bend your legs as you move to the front of the machine. It is key to keep your core engaged throughout the movement. 


Full Body Workout

The rowing machine allows for a full-body workout. Is a rowing machine better than weights? It might not work the muscles as strenuously, but it does target all muscles in the body at once. It targets the lower and upper body, working a full range of muscles such as the abdominals, arms, chest, back, thighs, calves, and glutes. 

Low Impact

You can complete a fat-burning, muscle-toning workout without the risk of pain or injury. When comparing it to other cardiovascular exercises, such as a rowing machine vs treadmills, the machine is much easier on the body. 

This makes it an ideal option for those with injuries or muscle and joint issues, as well as a good option for a recovery exercise. 

Internal Health

A rowing machine provides all the benefits that can be derived from cardiovascular exercise. It improves heart health and increases oxygen flow through the body. Exercise is also a good way to improve mental health and forms of depression, as it gets the endorphins flowing. 

Calorie Burn

The rate of calorie burn depends on your body weight the rigorousness and length of a workout, but a rowing machine can be an effective way to drop weight. 

While it may not come out on top in weight loss when comparing a rowing machine vs running, you could burn anywhere between 300-500 calories during an intense 60-minute rowing session. Weight loss also depends on other factors, such as diet and sleep patterns.

Improves Posture

The engagement of all major muscle groups in the body during a rowing machine workout is a surefire way to improve your body’s posture over time. 

In particular, the exercise movement requires the engagement of the back muscles, which leads to an increase in muscle, and corrects improper posture. 

But, when comparing a rowing machine vs a vertical climber, this does not allow the same natural standing position – you need to ensure your back remains straight throughout, to reap this benefit. 

Good For Beginners 

A rowing machine might seem daunting to those who haven’t tried it before, but once you begin, it is an easy motion to master. To those who are new to exercise in general, the low-impact nature of top rowing machines is ideal to build fitness levels less intensely. 

The rowing machine also leads to noticeable results quickly, which keeps users motivated. It is important to stick with it and push through sessions that last at least 15-20 minutes to gain the full benefits of a rowing machine.


  • Low-impact
  • Full-body muscle building
  • Improves posture
  • Effective in weight loss
  • Improves heart health
  • Can be used by visually impaired individuals 


  • More expensive
  • It burns less calories than running 


rowing machine vs stationary bikeA stationary bike is an indoor exercise cycle. It has the features of an upright cycle such as pedals, handlebars, and a seat, but is in a lower position with a backrest that supports the back and takes the pressure off the upper body. 


Internal Health

A stationary bike is an effective form of cardio, which means that like the rowing machine, it provides cardiovascular benefits to various organs and internal functions of the body. 

It improves heart health and blood and oxygen circulation through the body and improves mental health and focus. 

Muscle Gain

A stationary bike workout engages muscles throughout the body, and not just the lower body. It can tone glutes, hamstrings, calves, abdominals, back, shoulders, and arms. 

The lower body is engaged the most, as the legs are continuously moving during a workout. The abdominals and back are engaged through positioning, so it is important to stay mindful of these muscles. 

The arm muscles are worked the least as they are mostly stationary, but holding the handlebars does this.

If your main focus is building muscle, you should increase the resistance on your stationary bike to achieve this. Having little to no resistance is more suitable for a cardio workout to lose weight. 

Weight Loss

Calorie burn is guaranteed with a stationary bike, and to increase this weight loss function, you should up the intensity of your workout. 

While a one-hour workout will get you results, it might be worth it to incorporate high-intensity interval training into your exercise. This consists of alternating between extreme speed and/or high resistance, and low speed and/or low resistance every few minutes. Doing this for 15-20 minutes will burn the same calories as a long-drawn-out session. 

For weight loss, you also need to ensure a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as a regular exercise routine. 

Low Impact 

The stationary bike prioritizes comfort and support in its exercise function. It is often used for physical rehabilitation. 

The comfortable seat with a backrest holds you in place and takes the pressure off the back and knees, allowing you to focus solely on the cycling motion. This is a top choice for those recovering from an injury or suffering from chronic muscle pain.


  • Effective weight loss
  • Works lower body muscles 
  • Low-impact
  • Improves internal health
  • Good for beginners


  • Does not work the core and upper body muscles


A rowing machine and a stationary bike both burn a similar amount of calories, but the rowing machine results in a full-body strengthening workout, which leads to more calories burned over time. Together with the benefit of strengthened and toned muscles, the rowing machine beats out the stationary bike with more benefits.

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