Spin Bike vs. Rowing Machine: Which is Better

By Sayed Hamed Hosseiny

In need of a full-body workout that is comfortable on the joints? Indoor cycling and rowing are suitable options for you. There’s more to learn, however, if you keep on reading!

Spinning vs. Rowing Workout: Quick Comparison

Both spinning and rowing workouts are great options for cardiovascular exercise as these activities burn calories and get the entire body active. Intensity grows with an increase in your fitness level, and this summarized index below helps you have an idea of how these two workout options compare and why they are important.

  • Both workouts help burn about 400-800 calories per hour.
  • Total Body Workout is about 4/5 for Spinning and 5/5 for rowing.
  • Spinning is good for beginners, while rowing is not very beginner-friendly. However, they’re both good for those at the intermediate or advanced level.
  • Lastly, they are both low-impact workouts.

Advantages Of Spin Bike Over a Rower


Work well with small spaces

Spin Bikes are suitable choices for apartments and smaller workout spaces as they don’t take up much space as compared to rowing machines. Most commercial spin bikes are approximately 4′ long, and 2′ wide and are smaller in size compared to rowing machines at 8′ long and 2′ wide.

Accommodates all fitness levels

Anyone at any fitness level can use a spin bike as it is easy to ramp up the resistance level with just a quick turn of the resistance knob. Likewise, you can decrease it this way. This helps you regulate the intensity, making it a good choice for beginners. In addition, competent riders can attain higher intensity and upgrade their levels with this feature.

Easy on the Joints

An indoor cycling workout is gentle on your joints; knee, back, and ankle. Hence, riders of all ages can enjoy this workout as long as they’re in the right riding position and don’t suffer from any body issues.

Helps you work your muscles

Your lower body needs to bring in a lot of effort to provide the needed pedaling power, and for this reason, your glutes, quadriceps, cables, and hamstring are toned as they drive each pedal stroke.

Advantages of Rowing Machine Over a Bike

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Full body workout

Each muscle group is expected to supply its share of the strength needed for this workout which sees that all your muscles are getting exercised.

Suitable for HIIT classes

Now, it is not that spin bikes don’t make good options for HIIT. However, rowing requires the use of the whole body and is excellent as a workout that alternates between periods of intense bursts of activity and rest.

Disadvantages of Rowing Machine Over a Bike

Not Suitable for Beginners

The major disadvantage is that rowing is not advisable for learners as it demands greater effort than simply pedaling on an indoor cycling bike. For this reason, beginners might not possess the ability to row for long periods.

However, if you’re a beginner reading this, don’t let this deter you from trying out this workout. It is very possible to set smaller workout periods to build your strength.

Requires More Space

As compared to indoor cycling bikes, rowers require more space and wouldn’t function well in limited space since it measures approximately 4′ longer than a spin bike. Depending on the type of rowing machine resistance, it can also be louder than spin bikes, especially magnetic resistance spin bikes as they are extremely quiet.

Air Bike vs. Spin Bike:

The regular indoor cycle differs from an air bike. An air bike uses a large fan that turns when the handles and pedal start to move. And an increase in pedal speed and handlebar movement results in a quicker fan rotation which intensifies wind resistance.

On the other hand, the weighted flywheel on an indoor cycling bike rotates based on how fast the pedals turn through the help of a chain or belt drive. It is possible to increase resistance with the turn of the resistance knob based on friction or a magnetic resistance system that utilizes magnets.

Air Bike vs. Air Rower

Similar to an air bike, an air rowing machine employs an identical design where air resistance is generated by the turning of a fan. The fan on a rower rotates as the handle expands and shortens throughout the rowing motion. Although comparable in design, these types burn calories way differently, with the air bike burning less than the rower.

For weight loss, both options burn a similar amount of calories. However, it is noteworthy that a strict cardio workout alone will not fetch you the results you desire, and you would have to look into strength training as well as cultivate a clean diet habit.

What Best Suits Your Needs?

Both workouts are low-impact activities, but that doesn’t completely eliminate the risk of injuries to joints. If you’re on the lookout for an option that is easier on the joints or the body, cycling is a better option.

Cycling is gentle on the knees and mostly requires your legs for pedaling. Rowing, however, requires the full body to be active, which can stress certain body parts. It can also worsen back problems for those who struggle with back pain and can put a strain on the ankles.

In addition, if you’re looking to spice up your workout sessions, both options make good choices. There are numerous cycling apps that offer training sessions, live classes, or pre-recorded classes with instructors, which will definitely help with your workout needs. So, if you’re more into team activities or workout sessions with trainers, then indoor cycling it is.

On the other hand, if you prefer rowing alone or participating in virtual events, rowing offers these experiences. Although you should know that there are not a lot of rowing apps compared to cycling, however, you can find a few satisfactory ones.

In conclusion

Your workout needs will determine which option you go for. You can try out a variety to see which best suits your mood or training style or motivates you to reach your workout goals.