Exercise Bike Vs Rowing Machine

You’ve decided to purchase an indoor exercise machine, but you’re not sure which suits you best.

Will a rowing machine burn sufficient calories?

Will an indoor exercise bike help in losing weight? 

So which is it?

An exercise bike or a rowing machine?

Let‘s dig deeper into which machine could benefit you the most.

Let’s talk about their pros and cons, and hopefully, this post will help you decide which cardio machine to get for your home. 

Exercise Bike

Schwinn IC8 Spin Bike

Indoor exercise bikes, or also known as stationary bikes, have different types.

They differ on the kind of pedal and its positioning, availability of backrest, handlebars, weighted flywheel, and adjustable resistance.  

Your choice on the type of exercise bike you want to invest in depends on your preference and purpose.

May it be for rehabilitation or weight loss, here are some the benefits of using an exercise bike. 

Benefits of Exercise Bikes

man training on an exercise bike

Cardio Exercise

It can help in elevating resting heartbeat to increase oxygen supply in the body, improve lung capacity, and keep the heart-healthy.

An exercise machine can also be a warm-up exercise before engaging yourself in some resistance training or dome bodyweight exercises.

Burns Calories

Cycling mostly utilizes the muscles of the lower extremities, which are the largest muscles in the body (thigh, groin, and buttock).

As a result, there are more calories burnt as compared to a rowing machine exercise.

For exercise bikes, there are exercises incorporated to work on arm muscles. One hour of indoor cycling bike exercise can burn around 400-800 calories, depending on the intensity and resistance.

It is a great exercise machine for overall weight loss and muscle toning.

Reduces Joint Stress

Recumbent and semi-recumbent bikes backrest to lean on, and the pedals are located in the front, instead of under.

This is especially helpful for obese or overweight individuals to reduce joint stress.


As compared to outdoor cycling, there is no risk of vehicular accidents.

In addition, it is safe for the joints, easy to use for beginners, and regardless of your fitness level.

In particular, indoor cycling is the safest cardio workout compared to running on a treadmill, where it puts a lot of pressure on the joints.


For people who have back problems, little to no strain is placed on the back muscles compared to rowing machines.

Moderate resistance pedaling is gentle on the knees, making it a good exercise machine to prevent knee injuries.

It also a recommended exercise during rehabilitation after a knee injury and operation like an ACL tear. 

Drawbacks of Exercise Bikes

There are a few drawbacks with indoor exercise bikes, but it can be managed easily.

Can Be uncomfortable

Like biking for extended periods may feel uncomfortable in the buttocks.

All you have to do is to alternate with standing position while pedalling (applies to upright and indoor cycling bikes).  

Can be monotonous

Another disadvantage is the monotonous exercise, especially when indoors.

You can put an end to the boredom by turning on a pump-up workout song or incorporate it with other exercises to add with the challenge.

You can watch videos online on indoor cycling class activities, add some upper body exercises to add to the level of difficulty and burn more calories.

Who Will Benefit Most From Exercise Bikes?

Anyone can use an exercise bike but it really comes down to which one exactly.

So, when it comes to exercise bikes there are 4 main types:

  • Upright Bike
  • Recumbent Bike
  • Indoor Cycling Bike
  • Air Bike

Anyone can benefit from an upright bike as it’s not too taxing on your cardio and doesn’t need a great range of motion.

People with back problems or need less pressure on the knee will benefit most from the recumbent bike.

People who are after the best in a cardio workout will benefit from the indoor cycling bike or an air bike.

These will help increase your heart rate and burn calories in the quickest time.

Rowing Machines

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine has a pulley that assists with moving, and a flywheel connected to the handle.

When using a rowing machine, you use your legs to push your body backward and pull using your arms to return to the rest position, with your knees bent.  

The major muscles involved are the biceps and back muscles. With a minimal effort on the shoulders, abdominal, and leg muscles.

So how can a rowing machine benefit you?

Is it suitable for your exercise needs?

Let’s find out. 

Benefits of Rowing Machines

Burns Calories

One hour in the rowing machine (depending on the intensity and resistance) can burn up to 400-800 calories.

It’s also a great cardio exercise that can help in building stamina and for overall health. 

More Muscles Used

As compared to a stationary bike, it has more muscles involved.

Though it may not have a higher impact on the lower body’s major muscles, it works for more muscle parts. 

So it is an excellent machine for overall toning.

Increases endurance

Rowing is a tough exercise, especially for beginners. But if you keep on motivating yourself, your endurance levels will improve.

In no time, this will be a routine workout for you.

Drawbacks of Rowing Machines

A weak or painful back

Since the rowing machine involves more muscle groups, there are several drawbacks involved with its use.

This is applicable for people who have existing back and knee problems.  

Back pain can be caused by a ligament or muscle strain, an underlying disease, or congenital disorders.

People who experience this must consult a healthcare provider first before investing in a rowing machine.  

Further strain on the back like lifting heavy weights or exercising in a rowing machine may worsen your condition.

For some people, it may strengthen their back, but for some, it may lead to further problems.  

People who do not have back pain, but execute the position poorly, can lead to back problems in the future.

Knee Problems

Another drawback is for people who had knee injuries, procedures, or pain in the area.

Health experts do not recommend using rowing machines for these people, as it may worsen the pain.  

Remember that with a rowing machine, the knees must be bent completely, and this contraindicated for such cases, unlike stationary bikes that are even recommended for those who had knee injuries.  

Can take up a lot of space

Other than the knee and back issues, there is also a problem regarding the dedicated space of a rowing machine for your home.

As compared to a stationary bike, it consumes too much space.

Some rowing machine also produces a lot of noise and your housemates may not be happy about it.  

Who Will Benefit Most From Rowing Machines?

Basically anyone who does not have any knee and back pain can benefit from using the rowing machine.

If you practice the proper execution and posture while using the rowing machine, it can even strengthen your back. 

It can benefit those who want a full-body exercise because it targets minimal muscle groups.

It can also help with body toning and overall wellness. 

Similarities & Differences Between Exercise Bikes and Rowing Machines

Now that we know the pros and cons of an exercise bike and a rowing machine let’s dig deeper into how these two exercise machines differ in specific aspects.  


Both machines are low impact and do not bear weights.

But exercise bikes have modified exercises where you can incorporate weight-lifting workouts like those you see in indoor cycling classes.

To meet the cardio requirements, 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week using the exercise bike and rowing machine is recommended.

Calories Burned

In general, exercise bikes burn more calories as compared to the rowing machines.

Of course, this depends on the intensity and impact of the exercise. 


Both exercise machines gives you the freedom to adjust the level of resistance. 


When it comes to safety, exercise bikes imposes little or no risk on injuries.

As mentioned earlier, knee and back pain may worsen with the use of a rowing machine.

In addition, those who cannot execute the rowing exercise efficiently may develop knee and back pain. 

Muscle Definition

Although a rowing machine impacts many muscle parts as compared to an exercise bike, the muscle definition when it comes to using an exercise bike is far greater.


Biking is a more straightforward exercise as compared to rowing.

It will take time to master the rowing machine, but with exercise bikes, it is easy to use even for beginners or in any age group.

Not only can adults use exercise bikes, but also kids and older people.

Weight Loss

If your goal is to lose weight, an exercise bike is a better partner for you at home.

As compared to a rowing machine, using a bike has many options, and you can add variety to your workout.

With a rowing machine, your movement is limited to pulling and bending your legs.

With an indoor exercise bike, you can lift weights even while you’re feet are pedalling.

Which Is The Best Indoor Exercise Equipment?

After giving it a lot of thought and weighing the pros and cons, I personally think exercise bikes are a better piece of indoor exercise equipment compared to rowing machines.


  • It’s easy to use
  • Great for beginners
  • Can be enjoyed by the whole family
  • Don’t take up too much space
  • Different types available depending on your fitness level

All you need is a 30-45 minute workout on your exercise bike for two to three times a week to make that big difference for you and the whole family. 

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