Rowing VS Running VS Cycling

rowing vs running vs cycling

Which is better: an exercise bike, a rower, or an elliptical?

Purchasing a cardiovascular training gadget is a smart investment if you're planning to expand or start a home gym. It's a little more expensive than a set of free weights, but it's just as important. Aerobic exercise has been shown to improve heart health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

It might be difficult to decide which equipment to purchase with so many options available. Exercise cycles, ellipticals, and rowers are all excellent options, but considering your individual goals, budget, and personal preferences can help you make a more informed decision.

Let's start by looking at how each machine operates.

Stationary Bikes: What Each Exercise Machine Aims Stationary Bikes: What Each Exercise Machine Aims

The glutes, hips, knees, calves, and ankles are all worked out on exercise bikes. They also provide opportunities for non-weight-bearing cardiovascular activity. Working out on a stationary bike can burn up to 600 calories per hour (depending on your weight and how hard you're cycling).

They can also be a good option for people starting a new training regimen, getting back in shape, or recovering an injury who need a milder workout. Though, as Jonathan Jordan, a National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor for Equinox in San Francisco, California, points out, it may not be the best fit for you if you have a sedentary office job where you spend the majority of your day in an office chair.

"We turn to fitness to help provide balance to the body and something we don't get in life," Jordan explains. "In addition, people who sit too long in life often lack the core and back strength needed to maintain appropriate upper body posture on the bike, which can lead to lower back and shoulder problems."


Non-weight-bearing exercise can also be obtained by using rowing machines. Rowing machines, on the other hand, provide a greater full-body workout that can burn over 600 calories per hour depending on your weight and the intensity of your training. Though bad form on a rowing machine might cause lower back pain, it's usually thought to be a fairly safe way to burn a lot of calories quickly with little or no strain on joints.


Elliptical machines are the only weight-bearing devices on this list, which means you'll be standing on your feet while using them.

You must have the coordination and ability to stand up and walk around on the device without losing your balance in order to do so. To manage the motion and your body weight, you'll also need enough flexibility in your hips, knees, and ankles.

However, elliptical machines are common in gyms around the country for a reason: depending on your weight and effort level, they may burn up to 1,000 calories per hour. Ellipticals can be used to isolate the lower body or to incorporate upper body activity using the arm handles. They provide a strong cardiovascular exercise for the entire body.

Choosing the Best Gym Equipment

The best solution for you is determined by your needs and circumstances. These factors can assist you in making the best decision:

  • Goals in terms of fitness
  • Level of knowledge.
  • Injury dangers and how to avoid them
  • Cost.
  • Space.
  • This was my first time in class.
  • Preference.

rowing vs running vs cycling

Fitness Objectives

First, think about what you want to do with the machine you're thinking about buying. Do you want to boost your overall cardiovascular fitness? Do you want to increase your strength? Do you want to prepare for an event? Do you want to lose weight? Do you have an injury that you need to heal from? These machines can assist you in achieving any of these objectives, however one machine may be better suited to a specific objective than another.

If you're rehabbing a knee or ankle injury or getting back into shape after a layoff, a stationary bike may be a better option than an elliptical machine. Standing on an elliptical machine puts more strain on the damaged lower leg than sitting on a bike seat.

A rowing machine or an elliptical machine, which provide a terrific lower-body workout, may be a better alternative than a bike if you're seeking for a full-body workout. However, it does not have the same effect on the upper body.

"The rower may be one of the best pieces of equipment if you're physically able to," says Matt Camargo, director of ProSport Performance at ProSport Physical Therapy and Performance in Southern California. of cardio equipment due to its low impact demands on the human body and total body requirements for movement efficiency." "Whether the goal is sport performance or general fitness and health, the rower may be a great training tool in a safe and effective manner."

Rowing also challenges you to "learn how to be effective with entire body movements when the body becomes weary," according to him. As a result, rowing is an excellent way to receive a full-body workout in a short amount of time.

Level of Knowledge

There's no shame in starting from the beginning; it's never too late to gain the benefits of regular exercise. Some machines, on the other hand, are more user-friendly than others.

The elliptical, for example, is quite intuitive and user-friendly, especially if you have a running background. If you're unfamiliar with a rowing machine and utilize incorrect technique, you risk putting undue stress on your neck and lower back, which can result in pain and damage over time.

When utilizing an exercise bike, correct set up is just as vital as proper form. You can avoid damage by customizing the saddle height and handlebar height to your body.

If you're not familiar with the machine, Jordan suggests seeing a personal trainer or taking a class. This can help you learn good form so you can practice on your own.

Injury Prevention and Risk

You should also think about how these varied equipment could put your body under stress and possibly cause damage if you overdo it, ramp up too rapidly, or don't employ good technique.

All three machines are low-impact, according to Dr. Michael Nieto, a primary sports medicine specialist at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Orange County, California. "As sports medicine physicians, we prefer to suggest them to patients with joint pain," he says.

This is a significant distinction between exercise machines such as stationary bikes and ellipticals and, for example, running. Running is a popular form of exercise for people who don't want to go to the gym, but it has some disadvantages, according to Camargo.

Running for “miles outside” can cause achy joints, and the impact imposed on the joints by the pounding movement can result in damage. Even if you're a runner, "replacing or alternating certain running sessions with the exercise bike, rower, and/or elliptical might provide much-needed joint relief."

When determining the appropriate exercise for your body, it's important to keep an eye out for potential damage, especially if you know where your personal problem areas are. Rowers are beneficial for persons who have "a history of ankle and knee troubles," but they may not be so good for people who have "a history of lower back issues," according to Camargo, because you must hinge from the hip and back to make the motion correctly, which could aggravate an existing problem.

Similarly, a “exercise bike is low impact and a suitable alternative to running," he says. The exercise bike's shape makes it ideal for older people or those healing from lower-body problems.

The elliptical, on the other hand, "needs a considerable bit of coordination" because it is used while standing. You'll need "adequate lower body stability" to perform this properly, according to Camargo.

Remember to take it easy at first and work your way up to avoid being wounded on any of these equipment. "With these machines, overuse injuries are prevalent," Nieto explains, "particularly if you raise the frequency and volume of exercise too quickly early in your training program." Allow time for your body to acclimate to a new fitness plan.

You're more prone to develop iliotibial band friction syndrome, which develops when the IT band is overused, if you ride the bike or rowing machine. "The iliotibial band is a thick, fibrous band that runs from the outside of the hip to the lower leg." This syndrome usually causes pain on the outside of the knee when it develops.

According to Nieto, people who use rowing machines and stationary bikes are at risk for wrist tendinitis. "This is caused by poor wrist posture on the handle." This annoyance can be alleviated by:

  • Changing grip postures on a regular basis.
  • Rest.
  • Medications that reduce inflammation.
  • Splints for the wrists.

When you use the bike or the rowing machine, you're more prone to develop iliotibial band friction syndrome, which occurs when the IT band is overworked. "From the outside of the hip to the lower leg, the iliotibial band is a thick, fibrous tissue." When this ailment develops, pain on the outside of the knee is frequent.

According to Nieto, users of rowing machines and stationary bikes are also at risk for wrist tendonitis. "It's because of poor grip wrist posture." The following solutions can help to alleviate this discomfort:

  • Grip locations are alternated.
  • Rest.
  • Medications that are anti-inflammatory.
  • Wrist splints are a type of splint that is used to support the wrist.
rowing vs running vs cycling


Cost will almost certainly play a role in your decision-making process, as it will with any major purchase. And the prices of all three types of devices differ. Exercise bikes are the most affordable, with prices ranging from $150 to $1,500 for both an upright and a spinning bike.

Rowers are a mid-priced choice, with most models costing between $200 and $2,500. The most tech-savvy devices, as with each sort of machine, are the more expensive possibilities.

Ellipticals are more expensive, with prices ranging from $300 to over $3,000. It might be worth it to upgrade to a newer model with this gadget. Jordan suggests using an ergonomic elliptical machine that allows you to change "the stride length and range of motion of the legs and arms" for a less taxing workout.

Space Depending on how much space you have in your home to commit to building out your gym, the piece or pieces of equipment you choose – and which precise brand – will be heavily influenced. There are a variety of alternatives available, with some manufacturers focusing on smaller machines meant for apartments and other tiny places. Find out what's accessible and what might work best by doing some research.

If space is a constraint, but you want to raise your heart rate to improve cardiovascular health, the rower may be your best option, according to Camargo. "Due to its ability to stand vertically and/or hang on the wall, the rower is the most space efficient. If extra space is required, the rower can be disassembled into two distinct components "He clarifies. Make some measurements to see which one will work best for your needs.

Class Experimentation

If you have trouble motivating yourself to exercise, see if a workout class is perfect for you. Nowadays, you can join a professional-hosted live-streamed fitness session. Peloton is the most well-known example of this; their training bikes can be utilized with their app (which costs a monthly fee) to participate in livestream and taped fitness courses.

Hydrorow is a company that provides similar services for rowing machines. On an elliptical machine, you could have trouble finding a virtual class group, but Jordan suggests checking if your elliptical's maker has pre-recorded classes on YouTube.


Camargo recommends consulting with a fitness professional who can perform a fitness evaluation and provide personalised guidance to select which piece of equipment will best match your unique needs and goals.

You should also test out all three possibilities to determine which one appeals to you the best. Which one do you think you'll be watching numerous times a week? Which is the most enjoyable, consistent, and accessible? All of these considerations can assist you in selecting the ideal piece of exercise equipment for you, because the best workout is one that you can maintain over time.

Is rowing a better form of exercise than jogging or cycling?

Despite the fact that rowing burns more calories per hour, both rowing and cycling can help you lose weight. Rowing also targets more muscle areas, resulting in a more comprehensive workout. Cycling on a stationary bike, on the other hand, does not necessitate appropriate technique and carries a lower risk of injury.

Is rowing a more effective workout than cycling?

Cycling is mostly a lower-body activity, but rowing is a whole-body workout that actively uses 86 percent of the body's major muscle groups. Rowing and cycling are both excellent endurance and strength exercises, but do they burn the same amount of calories during – and after – a 20-minute workout?

Is rowing a viable alternative to running?

Rowing is an excellent cardio workout that also works the upper body muscles. Although the rowing machine at your gym may not be as popular as the treadmill, rowing is a terrific alternative to jogging for a workout. Rowing not only burns calories and strengthens your heart, but it also has other advantages that running does not.

rowing vs running vs cycling

Is it preferable to lose weight by running or rowing?

Although running and rowing are quite different exercises, they can be compared in terms of how many calories they burn. Running appears to burn somewhat more calories than rowing in general.

Is rowing more difficult than running?

This isn't surprising because rowing requires greater muscular strength than running, thus there are other factors to consider when rowing. Elite rowers and runners, for example, have a significantly higher percentage of slow-twitch fibers than the ordinary individual.

Is rowing more calorie-burning than running?

"Running often burns more calories than rowing since you're working against gravity," Tuttle adds, however this depends on one's fitness level and how hard they're working. " Both are beneficial to calorie burn and general wellness.

Does rowing help you gain muscle?

The rowing machine works all of your major muscle groups throughout each stroke, making it a highly effective way to build muscle mass. Rowing also has some unique advantages, such as combining cardiovascular exercise and strength training into a single calorie-burning session.

Is a 20-minute rowing session sufficient?

Rowing sessions that last about 20 minutes Endorphins, the feel-good neurochemicals released during exercise, appear to kick in around the 20-minute mark, according to studies. A 20-minute workout can provide a full-body burn that will leave you feeling great for hours.

Why is rowing the best form of exercise?

Rowing, on the other hand, has numerous advantages, including improving stamina and overall fitness and strength, as well as strengthening the heart. It can also increase immune system function, mood, and even provide the mind a serene, meditative effect because to its repetitive, low-impact movement and noises.

I'm not sure how long I should row each day.

In terms of time, consistency is key to weight reduction, so set aside at least 30 minutes each day on the rower, anywhere from 4 to 6 times per week. Make sure you have enough break days, especially if you're just starting out!

What percentage of cycling is equivalent to running?

In terms of miles, a 1:3 or 1:2 run-to-bike ratio is a good rule of thumb. In other words, 1 mile of moderate-intensity running is similar to 2-3 miles of moderate-intensity biking.

Is cycling a better way to lose abdominal fat than running?

If you have a choice between cycling and running to lose belly fat, always go with running. Why? Because running engages more of the body's muscles than riding. When you're riding, your stomach muscles work substantially harder to keep the body stable.

Is cycling a viable alternative to running?

Cycling can be used for both high-intensity interval training and long-distance cycling. Intervals on a bike, whether done outside or on a stationary cycle, are a terrific way to mimic the intensity of a running workout without the impact.

Should I go for a run or a bike ride first?

It is possible to condense the quick response that everyone is looking for. If you want to gain muscle, start by running. Run last if you want to improve your endurance and aerobic capacity. Essentially, the sort of exercise you finish your workout with has a bigger adaptive response in your body.

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