By Katie Pierson, Certified Spinning® Instructor & Personal Trainer.
If you are searching for a total-body workout that torches calories while remaining gentle on joints, indoor cycling or rowing are great options. Stick around to learn which piece of exercise equipment is right for you.
Spinning vs. Rowing Workout: Quick Comparison
Spinning and rowing workouts are both excellent for cardiovascular conditioning. These workouts scorch calories and challenge the entire body. Intensity can continue to grow as your fitness level improves, therefore minimizing the chance for a plateau. Check out the table below to see how these two workouts stack up.
|Calories Burned in 60 Minutes||400-800||400-800|
|Total Body Workout||4/5||5/5|
|Good for Beginners||Yes||No|
|Good for Intermediate & Advanced||Yes||Yes|
Indoor Cycle / Spin Bike
Advantages Over a Rower
Disadvantages Over a Rower
Advantages Over a Bike
Disadvantages Over a Bike
Important Note for Beginners: Don’t let this fact discourage you. Continue to use your rower for smaller timeframes to build your endurance.
EVERYTHING! Using a rowing machine is an actual total body workout. When pulling the handle towards your chest, the muscles in your upper body are activated, including your back, chest, arms, and shoulders. Glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves also work as the seat of rower moves throughout the rowing motion. In addition, the core plays a crucial role in stabilization and support throughout the movement.
Air Bike: How it Differs from a Classic Indoor Cycle & How it Compares to a Rower?
Air Bike vs. Classic Indoor Cycle
A classic indoor cycle and an air bike are incredibly different. An air bike operates by a large fan turning when the handles and pedals begin to move. The faster the pedals and handlebars move, the quicker the fan rotates, increasing wind resistance. On an indoor cycling bike, the weighted flywheel also rotates based on how quickly the pedals turn through the help of a belt or chain drive. However, resistance increases with the turn of the resistance knob based on either friction or magnetic resistance system. A cloth pad moves either closer or farther away from the flywheel to adjust the resistance level with friction resistance. Magnetic resistance uses magnets that move closer or farther away from the flywheel.
Air Bike vs. Rower
Like an air bike, a rower also uses a similar design where air resistance is created through the turning of a fan. The fan on a rower turns as the long-cabled handle is extended and shortened throughout the rowing motion. Although the designs are similar, the caloric burn between these two machines is quite different. An air bike only burns about 70% of the calories expended during the same length workout on a rower.
Spinning vs. Rowing for Weight Loss: Which is better?
The number of calories that are burned on an indoor cycling bike or rowing machine is surprisingly similar. Below we have put together a table depicting a rough estimate of the caloric burn for sixty minutes of indoor cycling or rowing ranging from low to high intensity. Remember that these numbers will vary from person to person since calories burned are also based on age, gender, weight, and height.
|60 Minute Workout||Calorie Expenditure|
|Indoor Cycling Bike||400-800|
Pro Tip: Cardio alone will not provide the impressive results that can be achieved by also focusing on strength training and a clean diet.
How To Choose What Is the Best For My Needs?
Although both workouts are considered low-impact, that doesn’t mean that certain joints are not affected more than others during either rowing or cycling. However, with great form, injuries can be minimized. Let’s look at each workout individually for things to keep in mind.
Cycling is relatively easy on all of your joints while in the saddle. With the help of cycling shoes, knee safety increases even more. Remember to focus on driving your knees up to avoid “mashing down” your pedals, which can aggravate your knees. In addition, improper riding form can negatively affect your back and knees when climbing out of the saddle.
Rowing requires total body movement to make the stroke happen. Rowing can aggravate your back since it is a prime mover for those who suffer from low back pain. Also, since your feet are anchored into the machine, the ankles experience more stress than when using another exercise machine.
Some people require more motivation than others to strap or click in for a workout. In comparison, others don’t need any outside support to have a great training session. Spin bikes and rowing machines offer a variety of options for spicing up your workout.
Indoor cycling consoles and an extensive collection of apps offer a spectrum of training opportunities. If you love to feel part of a team or enjoy an instructor-led activity, an indoor cycling bike might best fit your needs.
Rowing alone or competing in a virtual contest are all options when using a rowing machine. There might not be as many rowing apps available on the market compared to cycling, but there are enough available to find one that you might enjoy.
The Bottom Line
The piece of equipment that is best for you is the one that will not be collecting dust in the corner of your room. We recommend that you test drive each type of equipment before purchasing to see which one lights your athletic fire and inspires you to strive to reach your goals.