Rower vs. Bike- Which of these cardio machines is the best for you?

Bikes have long been the monopoly for a good cardio workout but rowers are rising up the ranks to be one of the best indoor workout machines. They are both great for challenging and efficient routines in your home. How then do they compare?

Hi there. A few years ago I started looking for ways to work out at home. I wanted to hit my fitness goals, maybe lose a few pounds and tone my muscles. That is how I came across rowers and bikes. They are both cardio beasts always have me pumped after an intense workout. Because you probably would not want to have both of them in your home, I decided to do some research to help you choose between them.

Are you more like Kevin Spacey in House of Cards with his rower or are you a die-hard cyclist?

What are the key differences between the Rower and Bike?

Maximum user weight
LCD display with progress stats
LCD display and progress tracker, water bottle holder, media holder
Calorie Burn Potential (after an hour of highly intense workouts)
Drive system
Magnetic Tension
Can go up to 8 levels
Varies up to 24 levels

Rower vs. Bike – How do they differ?

Riding Experience

With bikes you get a whole load of options to choose from. There are folding recumbent bikes, air bikes, road bikes and spin bikes. As you can see, the list is endless but they do have almost the same design and riding experience. With bikes, can work out while standing or seated. Most bikes are also fitted with a display screen to track your fitness stats as you work out. Others like Peloton come with a whole new riding experience. With a Peloton bike you get to join a community of riders, stream your classes as well as challenge yourself on the leaderboard.

Rowers on the other hand all have the same design from the high-end ones to the low-priced ones. A rowing machine consists of a braking system, connected to a chain, belt or handle that you pull towards you then release once you are up. Most rowers also have a rail where you seat slides on as you push and pull. So while you do get to sit while working out, rowers are still built for a challenging riding experience.

Compared to rowers, bikes win out on their ride experience. Bikes give you more versatility to choose from depending on the kind of workout you want. All rowers have the same sort of structure.

Targeted Muscles

Rowers and bikes both offer great cardio workouts that will have you working your body with every movement. A highly intense 30-minute session on the rower or bike first works your heart muscles. They also strengthen your thighs, legs and butt.

They do have their differences though. With rowers get your upper and lower body muscles working. Also, remember that your posture and form highly matters when using the rower. If you do not use a rower properly, it can be super stressful on your lower back because of the dynamic movement of a rower to get the weight loss and toned muscles. For bikes on the other hand, they mostly work your lower body muscles.

Rowers target your entire body while bikes firm up your thighs and leg muscles. This gives rowers a leg up over the bike.

Calorie Burn

The number of calories you can burn in a session highly depends on your effort, skill and comfort. That said you can lose 400-800 calories after an hour of intense workouts on the rower and bike.

However, when you go for a low intense workout, you are bound to lose more calories on the bike than the rower. This is because a bike targets your lower body which has the largest muscle group in your entire body. So, even if you are on a slow ride you are still using up a lot of energy.

If you are working out for weight loss or you just want to tone your body, the rower and bike are both formidable options.

Rower vs. Bike – A Comparison Overview

Rower- Overview

Rower vs. Bike

Have you ever wondered why rowers are so good for cardio fitness? A rower is a fitness machine that has a flywheel, strap/belt and handle that you pull towards you and release when you come at the end of the stroke. With each movement, you work your heart as well your entire body muscles.

Also, most people go for rowers because you can really cut the weight on them. An intense workout on a rower can have you lose up to 800 calories after an hour. This effort to pull the pulley towards you gets your arms, legs and core working. It also burns off the excess fat.

The only drawback with rowers is that you need to have a proper posture while working out with it. The last thing you would want was to hurt your back, arms or knees because of overstretching or flexing too much.Some people also find rowing dull and unexciting after using them over a long time.


  • Two-in-one workout (rowing is like running and lifting)
  • High calorie burn potential
  • Low impact workout


  • Can take a toll on your lower back
  • Takes up a lot of space



A bike is mostly a lower-body workout machine that can really keep you in shape. If you want to have a total-body workout, you can add arm exercisers and weights to flex your arms as well. Nonetheless, you still get an impressive cardio workout with every time you hit the pedal for a long run.

To add, bikes are favorites with many people because of their calorie burn potential. If you are out to lose weight or tone your muscles, you ought to go for equipment that targets the right areas and will have you sweating. A highly intense workout on your bike can have you losing up to 800 calories. That goes a long way with a proper diet and a regular routine.

Depending on your budget, you can get a wide variety of options with exercise bikes because there are many models in the market. It also depends on your needs because for example, the recumbent bike is best suited for seniors and people with injuries. The air bike on the other hand is for fitness enthusiasts. Cyclocross and road bikes are also other bike models that are just built for racing.


  • Wide variety of models to choose from
  • Great calorie burner
  • Comes with exciting workout programs


  • Can wear out your body if you over-exert

Conclusion: So, which is better- Rower or Bike?

When you pit the rower against the bike, it is not easy to pick which is the best just from their looks. They are entirely different machines that work different parts of your body. You also get tremendous benefits from both like cardio workouts and toned muscles. However, when it comes down to it, the bike easily triumphs because of the versatility you get with it.


Which burns more calories?

They have the same calorie burn potential. It all depends on how comfortable you are with equipment as well as the energy and effort you put in.

Which one delivers on highly intense workouts?

If you are a fitness enthusiast and you like going hard on your workouts you will love both the rower and bike. They come with infinite levels of resistance.