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Rowing Vs Cycling – Which Workout is Better?

Cycling vs Rowing

Most people think rowing and cycling are similar – and when it comes to choosing between rowing vs cycling, they don’t know which one to select. Using a rowing machine is very demanding but also very efficient as compared to cycling.

Rowing and cycling each have their own benefits. Depending on your goal, you can decide to choose the form of exercise that completely fits your requirements. The differences between both types of equipment will help you make a choice.

Whom to Row and Whom to Cycle?

You don’t have to spend hours on a rowing machine to reap its benefits. This makes rowing ideal for someone with a busy routine, juggling between different responsibilities, and trying to find some time to exercise.

Cycling is a killer workout but requires a lot of time. It improves your heart and posture while reducing stress and body fat. However, it cannot beat rowing at efficiency.

A rowing machine can be used for many reasons and is generally considered a strength-endurance sport.

As a cyclist, you need to maintain a balanced body and spend focused cycling time to witness results. If you just roaming around leisurely on a cycle, you are allowing a gap in your performance.

Cycling provides an aerobics workout while the rowing machine works for the whole body. Whether you are using a cycle or a rowing machine, you are responsible for your body posture if you want to work on every major muscle group of your body.

What burns more calories? Rowing or Cycling

Rowing machines and cycling both allow you to lose a large number of calories. These two machines are based on the same principles in which you can rotate a wheel using the strength of your legs. After doing one hour of exercise on each device, you can burn this many calories:

1 Hour Calories
Cycling: low to high power   400 to 800 kcal
Rowing machine: low to high power 400 to 1000 kcal

The number of calories burnt usually depends on how long or how hard you work out.

Cycling and rowing machines both help to burn calories and control weight. If you are cautious about tracking your calories, it is important to balance your exercise with what you are eating. If burning calories is your aim then you should know that at lower and moderate intensity, both pieces of equipment are able to burn the same amount of calories. As the intensity of the workout reaches from moderate to high, the rowing machine takes the lead by burning more calories than cycling.

Is a rowing machine more effective than cycling?

Working out on a rowing machine helps you to burn several calories, and you will see a notable difference. While it is easier to cycle for an hour or even two, a typical workout on a rowing machine lasts 20 minutes.

Rowing machines are very much in demand because of their ideal position and primary knee-bending positions. This position induces a great effort in order to turn the wheel. On the other hand, movements on the cycle are persistent, and the position is also very comfortable. If your major goal is to lose weight or have a total body workout, then a rowing machine is highly recommended.

Remember to equip yourself with the right shoes for rowing as well as cycling to reap the maximum benefits of your efforts.

Advantages of the rowing machine:

  • Rowing machines can fit into every budget, depending upon the resistance type you choose.
  • It will occupy a little space as numerous models usually fold away for easy storage
  • Works on your entire body
  • It helps to improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Workout without making any sound
  • Rowing machine does not require any power supply
  • You can burn up to 850 calories per hour

Advantages of cycling:

  • Cycling is very easy to use, once can hardly go wrong with their posture on a cycle.
  • It causes no stress on your joints
  • It will help you to tone your legs and bums
  • You can easily purchase a good exercise cycle at a reasonable price
  • Produce negligible sound as compared to treadmills.
  • Using, storing, and maintaining – all are effortless.

Muscles involved in Cycling vs Rowing

If you have tried both machines (cycling and rowing), you must be well aware of the differences in muscle involvement. Whether you use a traditional or exercise cycle, both primarily work on your lower body, including your quads and hamstrings.

On the other hand, a rowing machine offers a complete workout; it works on your biceps, triceps, shoulders, and legs. Depending on which muscles you want to strengthen most, you can choose between rowing or cycling. In a nutshell: cycling for the lower body and rowing for the whole body.

Multiple health benefits

Any type of cardio exercise, cycling or rowing, offers a lot of health benefits. With the help of these exercises, your heart rate will start increasing and help to improve your strength while toning your muscles.

Cycling helps you to develop the lower body muscles that happen to be the largest muscle group in your body. Therefore, it also burns calories at a very higher rate. As per the National Strength and Conditioning Association’s textbook, cycling involves all the muscles in front of the thighs and buttocks. Whereas, if you want to work out on your back muscles and biceps in addition to your thighs and bottom, then a rowing machine is the best. According to NSCA, a rowing machine puts some stress on your head, back, arms and knees at the start of the movement; but as you follow the rhythm it has plenty of benefits to offer.

How to choose between a rowing machine and cycling

Selecting the best tool between a rowing machine and a cycle is the one that will help you to create a well-rounded routine. There is no hard and fast rule that will decide the right machine for any individual. If you like seeing new natural scenery around you every time, cycling should be your choice. If you want a rigorous workout to tone your body, rowing should be your choice. Needless to say, both are quite similar and effective!

Find my recommended rowing machines here.