Exercise Bike vs. Rowing Machine: Which is Right for You?

So, you have calories to burn, and it seems like an uphill run. Luckily, modern exercise equipment allows fitness enthusiasts to remain hard-pressed consistently and in the most calculated manner until a calorie deficit is achieved. The two most helpful exercising machines in this regard are a rowing machine and an exercise bike. Both these machines speed up your cardiovascular system and convert calories in your system into energy.

However, choosing between a rowing machine vs. stationary bike might not be easy after all. Generally, it comes down to your fitness goals, the machine’s footprint, and several other factors. Identifying these factors correctly is the key to selecting the right machine.

But let’s not forget; exercising with both machines provides numerous significant health and fitness benefits. For instance, a stationary bike is an excellent choice if you want to lose belly fat and tone your legs. And a rowing machine will help you with a full-body workout in a short time.

Before discussing other details related to a rower vs. bike, let’s quickly look at the pros and cons of both these pieces of equipment.

Exercise bike vs. Rowing machine: Pros and Cons

Rowing Machine

Rowing is not only a cardio workout but also a muscle-toning exercise. It engages your entire body and gets your heart pumping pretty quickly. You may also use different types of resistance with this exercise to make it a bit more challenging.

Here is a list of the pros of exercising with a rowing machine.

  • It helps strengthen cardiovascular functions.
  • It burns calories.
  • A rowing machine supports several short high-intensity workouts.
  • It works your entire body.
  • Workouts performed with this machine are usually low impact.
  • A rowing machine doesn’t take up much storage space.

Some cons of a rowing machine include the following.

  • This machine can put a significant amount of strain on the lower back and knees.
  • You may need to move your hips to sit close to the floor.
  • Exercising with this machine can be counterproductive with a poor body form.
  • This machine can become louder depending on the amount of resistance attached to it.

Stationary bike

Exercising on a stationary bike offers several health benefits, some of which may be similar to those of a rowing machine. However, the primary difference between a rowing machine and a stationary bike is that a rowing machine engages your entire body, while a stationary bike works your lower body. Exercising on a bike can get your heart rate up pretty quickly, depending on the amount of resistance added.

Here are some significant advantages of an exercise bike.

  • It burns calories and helps reduce weight.
  • It strengthens your cardiovascular system.
  • It supports longer endurance exercises.
  • Like a rowing machine, a stationary bike also supports low-impact workouts.
  • It can help people with problems in the knee or back.
  • It doesn’t produce much noise.

And here are the disadvantages of a stationary bike.

  • It is not a foldable piece of equipment, so it may take significant storage space.
  • It has a large footprint.
  • It is not great for upper-body workouts.

Rowing vs. Biking: A Brief Comparison

Still got no idea what to choose between a stationary bike and a rowing machine? While a rower may seem a better option due to its ability to work your entire body, you may wonder if it is more efficient than an exercise bike. And what about building muscles? And also, what could be the better option when you have problems with your back or knee? Let’s answer these questions below.

Which one of these machines is better for weight loss?

Which machine burns more calories in this rowing machine vs. bike comparison? In general, both these machines burn the same number of calories. However, rowers can be used for high-intensity interval training, which instigates a calorie after-burn effect. With this effect active in the body, you will burn calories long after the workout. So, from this perspective, rowing allows you to burn more calories than exercising on a stationary bike.

Nevertheless, many people consider a stationary bike more effective in weight loss. This is because a stationary bike is easier to work with. You can easily exercise for 30-45 minutes on a stationary bike. On the other hand, a workout session on a rower generally lasts around 20 minutes for most people due to increased difficulty level. So you may benefit more from a stationary bike if you have no problem performing a calorie-burning workout for 45 minutes or more.

Stationary Bike vs. Rowing Machine: Which Muscles Do These Machines Work?

Both the exercise bike and rowing machine support cardio workouts, meaning that they work your heart. Moreover, these machines are designed to help you firm muscles instead of making them swell like in the case of weight lifting.

Another significant advantage of both these machines is that they strengthen your thighs, legs, and buttocks muscles. These muscles must be strong if you want to lose weight and have a more athletic body. Generally, a rowing machine engages more muscles than a stationary bike. When rowing, 60% of your effort is produced from your legs, 30% from your pendulum, and 10% from your arms.

On the other hand, a stationary bike only engages the lower body. Since a rowing machine involves pulling a string using your arms, you may probably get tired after 20 minutes. On the other hand, an exercise bike primarily engages your legs, allowing you to continue your workout for 45 minutes or even more. This probably explains why cycling may be more effective than rowing to strengthen your legs.

Cycling vs. Rowing: What to Consider When You Have A Problem With The Knee Or Back?

A stationary bike doesn’t put much strain on your back, so neither it causes nor worsens back pain. It may even help reduce back pain. Moreover, this bike allows you to use your knees gently with moderate resistance. Therefore, exercising with a stationary bike helps prevent knee pain and promotes rehabilitation after knee surgery. In general, an exercise bike is ideal for rehabilitation as it goes easy on your joints.

On the other hand, a rowing machine engages your back more compared to an exercise bike. A rower will strengthen your back, but if you have back pain or posture problems, it may aggravate the pain. Moreover, exercising with a rowing machine may require you to bend your knees, which can cause problems for people with their knees.

This means that if you have problems with your knees or back, you may be better off with a stationary bike as a rower may cause problems.

Is An Exercise Bike or Rowing Machine Better For You?

Now that you know enough about how these machines compare and differ, you may want to know which option is better. The answer to this question may depend on the following factors.

Your Physical Limitations

it’s understandable; you cannot wait to get back to your fitness regimen while recovering from an injury, but it is always advisable to consult your doctor before starting any workout. You do not want your new and old injuries to cause pain and affect your body and its movements.

If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, you may better choose an exercise bike over a rowing machine. Both these machines are low-impact, but you will be more relaxed when exercising with a stationary bike. This machine is typically gentler on your back and knees.

Your Home

There is nothing more disappointing than realizing that you do not have enough storage space to store a piece of equipment after you unbox it at home.

While rowing machines come with a long footprint, they are generally easy to store. You can store them upright, which reduces their footprint on the ground. Some rowers can be folded in half. On the other hand, an exercise bike cannot be folded and needs to be stored in the same position.

Both these machines may feature transport wheels, allowing you to move your equipment from one place to another at home.

Noise is another factor you may want to consider when buying a stationary bike or a rower to exercise at home. Generally, exercise bikes are quieter devices, even if you add a significant amount of resistance when cycling. Magnetic resistance bikes can be even more noiseless. On the other hand, rowing machines are noisy objects. The level of sound they generate depends on the amount of resistance you add to them.

Your Goals

What kind of exercise do you want to perform? This is an important question to answer when choosing between a bike vs. rowing machine. And it is equally important to use the machine you have regularly. You won’t be able to fully benefit from a machine if you do not use it regularly.

The length of your workout session is another significant factor in deciding which machine to use. If you want to exercise for longer durations, you will benefit more from a bike than a rower. A rower, on the other hand, allows you to perform HIIT, which helps you burn calories long after you are off the machine.


Both the rower and exercise bike are incredible devices to burn calories and improve your health and fitness level. However, each of these pieces of equipment has particular aspects that make it different from the other. This is why both these machine target people with varying fitness requirements. So, is it a rowing machine or a bike? Well, the answer lies in what you need or prefer.