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What Is A Better Cardio Workout? Rowing Machine Or Exercise Bike?

Published by Acacia
Last Updated on March 25, 2021

Which piece of gym equipment will allow you to get the most out of your cardio workout, a rowing machine or exercise bike?

Essentially, it depends on what your fitness goal is. If you want to work out your whole body at one time then a rowing machine is best, but if you want to focus on your lower body then an exercise bike is for you.

When buying a new piece of gym equipment, you want to get the one that will benefit your workout style the best. For those who are more focused on cardio workouts, the best two machines to get are either an indoor exercise bike or a rowing machine.

That being said, not everyone can afford both machines. Let us help you choose which exercise machine will provide you with the best cardio workout.

Decide your end goal

There is no point in purchasing either an exercise bike or a rowing machine if they will not help you reach your overall fitness goal.

The mistake that many people make when they start working out is the lack of a goal to work towards, or at least a more specific goal than wanting to be healthier in general.

Some people workout to gain muscle, others to lose weight. You first need to decide what you want to get out of your workouts before you buy an exercise machine that may not even help you achieve that.

To figure out which machine will be better suited to your goal, first, you need to know what area of your body both machines target.

What each machine targets

Rowing machines do not require you to put your whole weight on your legs as exercise bikes do. As such, instead of focusing intensely on your lower body, they provide a whole body work out.

That being said, when you use a rowing machine, more than half of your effort goes into pushing and pulling your legs. Because of this, you are able to target your hamstrings, thigh muscles and butt muscles all at once.

Still, not all of your effort goes straight to your lower body. Using a rowing machine will also allow you to focus on your core and back muscles as you pull the handlebar back to your body.

While exercise bikes do focus mostly on your lower body, the workout that you can get from a bike can be intense.

Most of your effort will go into exercising your lower body muscles but depending on the type of exercise you do could result in a much more intense biking workout that also focuses on your core strength.

Why rowing machines are good for cardio

It is true that rowing machines are able to target your whole body, but the type of workout that they provide is a mix of cardio and muscle endurance.

What this means is that unlike when you are using a treadmill, you are not simply just doing a cardio workout.

The constant pull incorporated into the pulling motion of the rowing machine means that you are also doing a low impact strength workout for your arms and back.

Not many types of exercise equipment are able to provide a full-body workout and engage as many of your muscles at one time as a rowing machine can.

Due to the range of muscles that a rowing machine uses, you are able to burn up to 800 calories per hour during a cardio work out on one of these machines.

Because of the full-body workout, this calorie burn is spread throughout your body rather than just focusing on one particular area of your body.

Can I do a cardio workout on an exercise bike?

An exercise bike is also a great piece of equipment to use when you want to do a cardio workout, but they are best for cardio workouts that are more focused.

As mentioned above, exercise bikes are tailored to focus on your lower body muscles. However, there are some types of exercises that engage more of your upper body.

For example, spinning exercise bike classes often have periods where you stand up straight and pedal at a faster pace. This is engaging both your core and your back muscles.

Like rowing machines, you are able to burn up to 800 calories per hour with an indoor bike. The difference is that rather than that burn being spread through your body, it is targeted at your lower body.

What other key things to consider?

There is no doubt that the most important thing to think about when deciding between a rowing machine or an exercise bike is your fitness goal and the cardio benefits. However, they are not the only factors to consider.

Both of these machines are primarily used for low-impact workouts but have the ability to have added resistance to make the workout more challenging. That being said, some people will not be able to use a rowing machine due to the amount of strain that the machine puts on their knee joints.

Exercise is supposed to be fun but you are not going to have fun in pain. As such, if you have constant physical pain or you are currently working through joint/ muscle rehab, you need to be aware of the type of strain you will experience on each machine.

The rowing machine requires a constant pushing and pulling motion, resulting in your knees being pulled to your chest. This is not an exercise that some people are able to physically do without resulting in overstraining their injuries or body past what is okay.

On the other hand, there are certain types of exercise bikes that are specially designed to accommodate those who suffer from joint problems meaning that you are still able to do a full cardio workout without hurting yourself.

There are also price points to consider. There are so many types of exercise bikes on the market that you are able to buy a decent one on a budget of £300 that will last you a reasonable amount of time.

However, rowing machines are harder to come by and therefore can be more expensive. There is also more risk of you buying a budget rowing machine and it being unreliable.

Still, depending on what type of exercise you prefer to do, you may decide that spending a bit more cash on a rowing machine is well worth it to reach your fitness goal.

About the author
Published by Acacia
Acacia works as a freelance content writer alongside getting their film degree. They enjoy writing about health, food and technology and keeps up to date with what is current and popular today.
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