Air Bike vs Rower: How Assault, Echo & Airdyne Bikes Compare to a Rower

Intro: Should I Bike or Should I Row? 

Ah, the age-old question, which is better, cycling or rowing? Well, that depends on several different factors. 

The two most primary and vital factors to consider are your goals and your current fitness levels. After you have successfully answered these questions, you can then make a blueprint for your progress moving forward. Remember, when it comes to fitness, there’s no one-size-fits-all.

How Does An Air Bike Work?

a girl on an air bike in gym

An air bike has one main difference from a standard bicycle, and that is the handlebars move. Other differences are obviously no wheels and gears, but apart from that, an air fan bike is just like any other bike but with a twist. 

Air bikes offer one of the most challenging and comprehensive full-body workouts there is, and the best part, you don’t need hours and hours like on a road bike. In less than 30 minutes, you can be dripping in sweat and completely exhausted. 

The air bike works all the major muscles you’d expect on a bike, plus the added benefit of hitting the upper body. 

Muscles worked:

  • Hamstrings
  • Quads
  • Butt
  • Core
  • Shoulders
  • Lower back
  • Upper Back 
  • Triceps and 
  • Biceps

There is quite a big market for air bikes, but no doubt the three most popular are the Schwinn AirDyne, the Assault Bike, and the Rogue Echo. These bikes have an excellent pedigree and are made of much more durable and well-designed build quality, featuring ergonomic designs.

Related:
Rogue Echo Bike vs. Assault Air Bike

How Does a Rower Work?

a girl on rowing machine

A rower, quite surprisingly, works in much the same way a bike does, especially when it comes to the specific movements and the primary muscles used.

There is more emphasis on upper bodywork when rowing, but let’s not forget that your legs are activating and getting a thorough workout every time you take one stroke.

In that sense, the muscles used are very similar to the list you see above if not nearly identical with a few minor differences;

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Core (particular emphasis)
  • Shoulders
  • Upper back
  • Lower back (particular emphasis)
  • Triceps
  • Biceps

The great thing about rowing is that it’s referred to as a “low impact” sport, meaning it’s an activity that you can do between 3-5 times a week without having to worry too much about injuries.

Related:
Water vs Air vs Magnetic Rower

Main Differences 

air bike vs rower

When it comes to rowing and cycling, most people probably think they are moons apart in terms of similarity. However, you might be surprised to know that they are much more similar than what you may think.

Skill Level Required

Depending on who you ask, whether it be a fitness trainer, a cycling or rowing coach, or a sports scientist, which exercise benefits you more is intensely debated. Some say rowing has a high level of skill attached to it, while others say cycling is much more complex and skillful.

Both sports require a high level of technical expertise, which may seem foreign and almost comical to most people; I mean, riding a bike cant be that technical, but in reality, it is, especially at the professional levels. Hitting your maximum levels requires more than just brute power in both cycling and rowing.

Demands On The Body 

The truth is they are both exceptionally physically challenging sports that put enormous demands on the cardiovascular system. FTP or Functional Threshold Power, along with other metrics such as VO2 max and lactate threshold, also play a critical role in determining fitness levels.

You can be as strong as an ox, but if your pedal or rowing stroke is inefficient, then you are definitely not going to hit the numbers you’d like to see.

Muscles Used On Rower, AirDyne, the Assault Bike, and the Rogue Echo

As mentioned earlier, muscles used on the AirDyne, the Assault Bike, and the Rogue Echo and rowing are very similar, with one significant difference: the use of the upper body. However, with an air bike, this problem is taken care of due to the movement of the handlebars allowing you to smash out a great full-body workout.

In rowing, having a strong lower back and core are critical components in achieving an excellent technical stroke, while at the same time it helps to prevent injury. Obviously, there is much more emphasis on the upper body in rowing, but again with the invention of the air bike, those who love to ride can also get a workout similar to that of the rowing machine.

Air bikes such as the AirDyne, the Assault Bike, and the Rogue Echo, tend to work your legs much more, particularly the quads and hamstrings; this is crucial to consider if you’re looking to strengthen your legs or someone recovering from an injury and undergoing rehabilitation.

Getting The Right Fit

The other main difference or factor to consider is that the air bike is much harder to get the right fit, whereas the rower tends to fit users of all body shapes, whether it be tall, short, petite, or heavy set.  

The rower will put more strain on your muscular system compared to the bike, but that doesn’t mean rowers don’t provide cardiovascular benefits because they do. Vice versa is the same with the Air bike boosting cardiovascular performance while at the same time hitting the upper bost muscles. 

How To Choose What Is The Best For My Needs? 

When it comes to getting the most of your time in the gym, choosing the machine that’s right for you is critical, but how do you know which is best for you? 

Strength, skill levels, time, and availability all play an essential role in getting the most effective, efficient, challenging, and demanding workout you can possibly get. Both machines, the air bike, and the rower, in my opinion, are two the absolute best movements out there when it comes to transforming your body.

If you’re looking for the best fat loss workout in the minimum amounts of time, then it’s tough to go past the rower. The rower demands everything you’ve got, from muscular endurance to cardiovascular levels. Combining both of these skill sets means that the body has to tap into fat stores as an energy source, thus burning excess fat and turning you into a ripped beast. 

On the other hand, air bikes like the AirDyne, the Assault Bike, and the Rogue Echo, provide the user/rider with a total body workout similar to the rower but with not as much emphasis on the cardiovascular system. The air bike pushing and pulling technique allow you to get a complete full-body workout, and in particular, the upper body takes a real good pounding. 

Air bikes are low impact, though, so even though they offer a strenuous workout, they don’t tax the body too much.

Continuous workouts and eating healthy are also something that one should not forget when looking to transform. It’s straightforward to put in a good hard workout at the gym on the rower or air bike, and then go home and eat poorly, diminishing the gains you just made.

Time is another critical factor that plays an integral part as to which is better for you. Luckily here, both the air bike and rower provide great HIIT workouts or High-Intensity Interval Training. This type of training is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time on their hands. A typical HIIT workout might only take anywhere from 15-30 minutes and, if performed correctly, can offer plenty of positive benefits for the muscular and cardiovascular systems.

Conclusion

It’s always important to remember that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to fitness and the types of exercises that work. Rowing and cycling, however, are probably two of the most challenging movements for those looking to gain overall fitness. 

They are both low impact movements and a massive advantage as it allows users to get consistent workouts in overtime. 

Brenton Barker

Brenton holds a Degree in Sports Coaching from the University of Delaware and was the former Head Advisor for the Japanese Government's Sports Science Institute.Brenton currently consults with several Professional Athletes and clients in Self- Accountability, Health, and Goal Orientation.