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Rowing Machine vs. Exercise Bike: Which One Is Better?

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We’ve all probably done a workout routine that has included a rowing machine or exercise bike at some point in time. If you’re looking to acquire one of these machines to incorporate into your workout regime, it’s good to know what each machine has to offer.

Let’s learn more about which machine is better suited to your fitness goals and routine.

Rowing Machine

Designed to simulate a similar feeling as being on open water in a canoe, rowing machines have gained popularity in recent years mainly because of their uniqueness from traditional cardio methods. They’re relatively easy to use, but it’s essential to learn proper form before getting into a heavy rowing exercise set.

How Do Rowing Machines Work?

Begin by strapping your feet into the foot placeholders and hold the oar (handle) with your knees fully bent, and arms extended. Make sure to keep the weight on the balls of your feet and not the heels or toes. One of the most crucial pieces to the desired rowing machine form involves the back posture.

Engage your core muscles and push off the foot placeholders with your lower body first, then utilize your upper body to bring the oar to your chest - preferably right below your pectoral muscles. Once you’ve reached the peak of the exercise, return to base by releasing your arms and bending your knees back to the starting position.

This is general instruction on how to complete the rowing exercise, but people tend to make a few common errors along the way. Hunching your back is one of the biggest mistakes somebody can make while using a rowing machine, and this can lead to lateral pain and heavy reliance on your shoulders to do the workout.

People also tend to sometimes bring the oar too high against their chest. It only needs to go a bit below your pectorals - anything higher than this will just force your body to exert more energy than necessary. 

Lastly, make sure your knees remain straight even when bent and strap your feet in properly. The strap should overlap your big toe joint, which should result in less ability to maneuver them around during your workout.

Benefits of a Rowing Machine

This aerobic exercise machine has many benefits that will positively affect your body. For one, rowing machines require the full body to use - otherwise known as a full-body workout. This means that it requires your core, legs, and arms to be present to function this machine properly.

This feature makes slacking off while working out with a rowing machine incredibly difficult to do. It’s almost impossible to hop onto one of these and not give 100 percent of your effort during however long you’re working out for. 

Contrary to running on treadmills or outdoors, rowing machines don’t significantly impact the body while simultaneously working out at a very intense rate. In turn, this means there will be less room for injuries, and those of you who already participate in heavy cardio can add this into your training without the risk of adding more impact.

Not only does this machine provide a significant improvement to your exercising routine, but rowers can even improve their posture. Assuming you’re using proper form while rowing, this motion requires people to be upright as they pull the bar backward. This also can strengthen one’s glutes and core - both significant areas that fitness goers look to focus on.

This goes back to the full-body workout aspect that rowing machines possess. From an outside perspective, it might appear that this type of exercise only nails upper body muscles. However, 60 percent of the motion requires your legs, whereas 20 percent is arm-based, and the other 20 percent is felt in the remainder of the body.

Exercise Bike

Exercise bikes are a fun alternative route to take when at the gym, but there are ways to incorporate cycling into your daily lives outside of just one location. 

Many people bike to work as opposed to driving - this is a time-efficient way to both attend work and sneak in a fitness program every day that you can’t really excuse yourself from skipping (barring you living near the office and aren’t running late any particular day). 

Cycling is a full-body workout that requires the use of all major muscle groups to operate. Cycling machines can be set to lower parameters that can allow lackadaisical workout sessions to occur.

Keeping this in mind, those of you who will constantly challenge yourself while at the gym don’t necessarily need to factor in the potential easy factor of the bike in this case. 

For the majority of the population, biking is seen as a very common skill set that kids learn across the world as means of transportation in their youth and as a necessary skill. 

It can be seen as a more comfortable choice for gym beginners due to the less complex learning requirements that go into the form. Riding a bike and riding a cycling machine at the gym or in your home are essentially the same thing - there isn’t much of a learning curve.

Despite the ease of the cycling workout, it can also be ramped up to a more intense degree if you desire. This creates avenues for exercise bikes to be used by a wide range of people dependent on the physical fitness situation that they find themselves in.

Benefits of Biking

Like rowing machines, exercise bikes can also provide similar health benefits, including a smaller risk of developing health issues. Exercise bikes are low-impact, meaning they don’t force as much stress on your joints to develop similar results to other intense forms of cardio (i.e., running).

Studies have shown cycling to lower the potential oncoming of breast and colon cancers, limit obesity and lead to positive mental health as well. Also similar to rowing exercise benefits, biking has been proven to raise self-esteem and decrease body fat levels while managing obesity and weight.

Along with many of the other cardio options, cycling raises your heart to a metabolic rate. The faster your heart is pumping blood, the more efficient your body will burn calories and fat while also building forms of muscle in the process. 

High-Intensity Interval Training

Now that you’ve learned about the individual advantages of each of these cardio methods, there’s a different avenue you can take instead. Try combining the two of them! 

A relatively new form of exercise known as HIIT workouts (high-intensity interval training) has taken the fitness population by storm due to their ability to burn fat and calories well after the workout time frame.

Interval training is fairly simple and time-efficient but can show results rapidly if you commit to them with full attention. The difference between these workouts as opposed to a more traditional cardio exercise falls in the rest time. 

When we normally work on cardio, it usually looks like a moderate set of repetitions or distance/time, followed by a rest or cool-down period, which concludes the workout.

HIIT workouts are completely different. They combine short spurts of intense cardio training followed immediately by low intensity “rest periods” where you’re not ever fully resting. This keeps your heart rate pumping at an optimal level that is desired whenever taking part in cardio in general. The best part about HIIT workouts is they can be very creative and nonrepetitive.

For example, you could hop on the rowing machine and row 5000 meters at a very intense rate for yourself for two minutes straight. Afterward, immediately hop on a treadmill or bike and either walk at a slower pace or bike leisurely for five minutes before hopping back on the rowing machine and repeating steps one and two as many times as you decide on.

By skipping traditional rest periods, your heart will pump blood at optimal rates well after your workout sessions that will allow your body to burn fat and calories when you aren’t even exercising anymore! 

By trying the Ski-Row Air from EnergyFit, you can row on your own time, at home. This dual-function HIIT workout machine functions as both a row and ski trainer - two cardio exercises that you can fit into your routine.

 

Sources:

Cycling - health benefits | Better Health

Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms | NCBI

Aerobic Exercise Health: What Is It, Benefits & Examples | Cleveland Clinic

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