Elliptical Bike vs Rowing For Weight Loss

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Elliptical Bike vs Rowing For Weight Loss

In the quest for weight loss and improved fitness, numerous exercise options are available, each with benefits and considerations. Elliptical and rowing machines are popular choices if you are looking to shed pounds and enhance your overall well-being. These exercise equipment options offer unique advantages for weight loss, cardiovascular health, and general fitness.

In this article, let’s explore the features, benefits, and considerations of using an elliptical bike vs rowing for weight loss.

Elliptical Bikes And Rowing Machines

Elliptical bikes, also known as elliptical trainers or cross-trainers, are stationary exercise machines that simulate the motions of walking, running, and stair climbing. They typically feature pedals and handlebars for a full-body workout, combining cardiovascular exercise with resistance training.

On the other hand, rowing machines, also called rowers, provide a low-impact, full-body workout by simulating the motion of rowing a boat. Rowers use a sliding seat, handlebars, and foot pedals to engage various muscle groups and provide an intense cardiovascular workout.

Elliptical Machines For Weight Loss

An elliptical, stationary exercise machine provides a low-impact, full-body workout. Elliptical machines mimic walking, running, and stair-climbing motions without exerting excessive pressure on the joints.

The elliptical motion of the pedals allows for smooth, fluid movements, making it an ideal option for individuals with joint issues or those seeking a low-impact exercise alternative.

The Benefits Of Using An Elliptical Machine

Elliptical bikes offer a multitude of benefits for your fitness journey. Some of these advantages are:

Low Impact on Joints

One of the significant advantages of using elliptical bikes for weight loss is their low impact on joints. Research shows that elliptical training produces lower joint forces than weight-bearing exercises such as running or jogging1.

This reduced impact helps minimize the risk of joint injuries and makes elliptical biking suitable for individuals with joint pain or those recovering from injuries.

Full-Body Workout Routine

An elliptical bike offers both lower and upper-body workout. As you pedal, the handlebars allow you to push and pull, engaging your arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles.

At the same time, the pedal motion targets the muscles in your legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. This comprehensive muscle engagement not only aids in weight loss but also helps tone and strengthen various muscle groups2.

Increased Calorie Burn

The number of calories burned during exercise plays a crucial role in losing weight. Elliptical bikes are effectively calorie-burning machines.

According to research, elliptical training elicited similar calorie expenditure to treadmill running, with an average calorie burn ranging from 300 to 400 calories in a 30-minute session. This helps to burn calories that aid in weight loss3.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Engaging in cardiovascular exercise is essential for weight loss and overall fitness. Elliptical biking provides an effective cardiovascular workout that increases heart rate and improves cardiovascular endurance.

Rowing Machine For Weight Loss

Rowing machines are exercise equipment that simulates the motion of rowing a boat. They include a sliding seat, foot pedals, and a handlebar or oar-like attachment. Rowing machines combine leg, core, and upper body movements.

The Benefits Of Rowing

Rowing offers a wide array of benefits for your fitness and well-being. Here are some of the health benefits of doing a rowing workout:

Full-body Workout

Rowing engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, making it a comprehensive exercise. A study assessed the muscle activation patterns during rowing and found significant activation in the upper and lower body muscle groups, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, latissimus dorsi, abdominal muscles, and biceps4.

Cardio Centric Workout

Rowing is an excellent cardiovascular and aerobic exercise that improves cardiovascular endurance. It was found that rowing enhanced aerobic capacity, heart rate, and oxygen consumption to a similar extent as cycling5.

Weight Loss And Calorie Burn

Rowing at moderate intensity burns a substantial amount of calories, making it an efficient exercise to lose weight6. Exercises like rowing assist in mobilizing body fat, so it may be used as energy7.

Low-Impact Exercise

Rowing is low-impact, meaning it puts minimal stress on the joints. Joint loading during rowing produces significantly lower forces on the knee joint than running. This makes rowing attractive for individuals with joint issues or those seeking gentler exercise8.

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Regular rowing can positively impact cardiovascular health because it is considered aerobic exercise.

A study showed the effects of long-term rowing on cardiovascular risk factors in older adults. It reported significant improvements in blood pressure, lipid profiles, and insulin resistance among participants who engaged in rowing exercises9.

Elliptical Trainer vs Rowing Machine

The rowing machine and elliptical trainer offer different benefits for your fitness routine. The most significant distinctions can be seen in the posture and functionality.

You’ll remain seated while using the rowing machine.These movements are derived directly from the real-life action of rowing a boat, recreating the experience and providing a similar physical challenge.

In an elliptical trainer, on the other hand, you stride while standing straight. Although not likely to occur in a realistic situation, the actions utilized on this machine are nonetheless valuable.

Elliptical vs Rowing: Pros and Cons

Pros of Elliptical:

  • One advantage of using an elliptical machine is that it’s simple to adjust to the movement pattern, even if you’re a newbie. While learning, the long handles assist you and let you maintain your balance.
  • The elliptical machine has several adaptable cardiovascular applications. If you want to primarily target your upper body, you can focus on pushing and pulling the grips while reducing your leg drive. Conversely, if you prefer to emphasize your lower body, you can engage your legs while keeping your hands on the grips for stability and support
  • You must always maintain your hands and feet in contact when using an elliptical machine because of the way the machine moves. Their low-impact action makes them perfect for senior citizens or those with joint problems and injuries.

Cons of Elliptical:

  • Cardio machines like ellipticals don’t burn as many calories as other exercise machines. They are less suitable for those who want to lose weight quickly, although this is primarily because of the low-impact action.
  • Elliptical machines are great for cardio-based exercises but don’t help you build muscle strength or endurance because they are so low impact.

Pros of Rowing Machine:

  • You may establish a fitness program by repeatedly rowing; the resistance wheel lets you adjust the tension as necessary.
  • Rowing machines provide intuitive feedback based on the amount of pressure used in addition to the resistance wheel adjustment. Depending on how you move your body, you can determine the motion and pace.
  • To increase muscle strength and endurance in your upper body, hamstrings, glutes, and core, rowing machines combine low resistance and aerobics.

Cons of Rowing Machine:

  • Some people may find the rower grip overly tight, which could harm your hands and lead to blisters. You might need to start wearing gloves because this will progress gradually.
  • The rough seat that allows you to move along the rail while rowing may be the major drawback of utilizing a rowing machine as a beginner. This may eventually result in numbness or rubbing, especially if you’re starting out.

Elliptical vs Rowing: Space Requirements

Rowing machines have to be longer than elliptical machines by design. Your legs are extended as you sit on the rower, and the handle you pull is attached to the flywheel, which is located a few feet in front of you.

Rowing machines are distinguished by their vast length, thin width, and extremely short height. Rowing machines are perfect for tall users who must install the machine in a space with a very low ceiling.

In contrast, elliptical machines need much more height than rowers since you use them while standing rather than sitting and because the pedals raise you a few inches off the ground. Elliptical machines typically require the user to have a height clearance of approximately 15 to 20 inches above their own height.

Elliptical vs Rowing: Price

Both rowing machines and elliptical bikes come at various prices, depending on the brand, model, features, and quality.

Elliptical Bikes Prices

Budget Range: $200 – $500

  • You can find basic elliptical bikes with fewer features in the lower price range.
  • These models may have simpler displays, limited resistance, and lighter construction.
  • While they may still provide a decent workout, durability, and stability might be lower than higher-priced options.

Mid Range: $500 – $1500

  • Elliptical bikes in this range offer a good balance between price and features.
  • They often have more advanced features like adjustable resistance, workout programs, and heart rate monitoring.
  • Construction quality and stability are generally better compared to budget options.

High-End Range: $1500 and above

  • High-end elliptical bikes are designed with premium features and durability in mind.
  • They may include advanced functionalities like touchscreens, built-in entertainment systems, and interactive workout programs.
  • These models are often built with high-quality materials, providing a smooth and sturdy exercise experience.

Rowing Machine Prices

Budget Range: $200 – $500

  • Rowing machines in this range are often simpler in design with basic features.
  • They may have manual resistance settings or limited resistance options.

Mid Range: $600 – $1000

  • Rowing machines in this range offer a balance between price and quality.
  • They often have more features and resistance options.

High-End Range: $1000 and above

  • High-end rowing machines are typically built with premium materials and advanced features.
  • They offer various resistance settings and may have additional functionalities like advanced performance monitoring.
  • These machines are often designed for commercial or professional use and provide superior durability and performance.

Elliptical Bike vs Rowing For Weight Loss: Factors To Consider

Several factors should be considered when deciding between an elliptical bike and a rowing machine for weight loss. Understanding these factors will help you decide and choose the equipment that best suits your needs and preferences.

1. Fitness Goals

Consider your specific weight loss goals and fitness preferences. Are you primarily focused on burning calories and improving cardiovascular endurance, or are you also looking to build strength and tone muscles?

Elliptical bikes provide a low-impact, full-body workout that targets both the upper and lower body, making them suitable for individuals seeking overall fitness and weight loss.

On the other hand, rowing machines offer a full-body workout emphasizing strength and endurance, making them a good choice for those looking to build muscle while losing weight.

2. Impact on Joints

If you have joint issues or are prone to injuries, the impact on your joints is crucial. Elliptical bikes offer a low-impact exercise option that minimizes stress on the joints, making them ideal for individuals with joint pain or those recovering from injuries.

Although they provide a full-body workout, row machines have a higher impact on the joints, particularly the knees. If a collective result is a concern, elliptical bikes may be better.

3. Muscle Engagement

Both elliptical bikes and rowing machines engage multiple muscle groups, but the specific muscles targeted differ.

Elliptical biking primarily works the muscles in the legs, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. The handlebars also engage the arms, shoulders, chest, and back muscles.

Conversely, rowing engages muscles throughout the body, including the legs, core, back, shoulders, and arms. If you’re looking for a full-body workout focusing on muscle development, rowing machines provide a more comprehensive engagement of muscle groups.

4. Cardiovascular Benefits

Cardiovascular exercise is essential for weight loss and overall health. Both elliptical bikes and rowing machines offer effective cardiovascular workouts.

Elliptical biking elevates heart rate and improves cardiovascular endurance, making it suitable for individuals aiming to improve their heart health while losing weight.

With their combination of strength and endurance, row machines provide a high-intensity cardio workout that challenges the cardiovascular system and promotes aerobic capacity.

5. Personal Preference

Enjoyment and personal preference play a significant role in maintaining consistency and motivation in your workout routine.

Try the elliptical bike and rowing machine to determine which activity you find more enjoyable and comfortable. Consider factors such as the type of motion, variety of workouts available, and overall experience while using each piece of equipment.

Choosing an exercise modality you enjoy and look forward to will increase the likelihood of sticking to your weight loss program.

6. Space and Budget

Consider the space available in your home or gym and your budget constraints. Elliptical bikes and rowing machines come in various sizes and price ranges.

Determine your space for the equipment and set a budget that aligns with your financial resources. Evaluate different models within your budget and compare their features, quality, and durability to make an informed decision.

Considering the factors mentioned above, you can assess which equipment aligns best with your weight loss goals, fitness preferences, joint health, muscle engagement needs, cardiovascular benefits, personal enjoyment, and budgetary considerations.

Remember, the most effective exercise equipment for weight loss is the one you will use consistently and enjoy.


1 Prosser LA, Stanley CJ, Norman TL, Park HS, Damiano DL. Comparison of elliptical training, stationary cycling, treadmill walking and overground walking. Electromyographic patterns. Gait Posture. 2011 Feb;33(2):244-50. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2010.11.013. Epub 2011 Jan 6. PMID: 21215636; PMCID: PMC3299003.

2 Schiffer T, Knicker A, Hoffman U, Harwig B, Hollmann W, Strüder HK. Physiological responses to nordic walking, walking and jogging. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Sep;98(1):56-61. doi: 10.1007/s00421-006-0242-5. Epub 2006 Jun 24. PMID: 16799817.

3 Brown GA, Cook CM, Krueger RD, Heelan KA. Comparison of energy expenditure on a treadmill vs. an elliptical device at a self-selected exercise intensity. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jun;24(6):1643-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb2854. PMID: 20453685.

4 Nowicky, A. V., Horne, S., & Burdett, R. (2005). The Impact of Ergometer Design on Hip and Trunk Muscle Activity Patterns in Elite Rowers: An Electromyographic Assessment. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 4(1), 18-28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3880080/

5 Vajda M, Vanderka M, Buzgo G, Sedliak M, Kampmiller T. The effect of different training modalities on resting hormonal level in active young males. J Appl Biomed. 2021 May;19(2):83-90. doi: 10.32725/jab.2021.008. Epub 2021 Mar 9. PMID: 34907707.

6 Lindenthaler, J. R., Rice, A. J., Versey, N. G., McKune, A. J., & Welvaert, M. (2018). Differences in Physiological Responses During Rowing and Cycle Ergometry in Elite Male Rowers. Frontiers in Physiology, 9. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2018.01010

7 Mulla, N. A., Simonsen, L., & Bülow, J. (2000). Post-exercise adipose tissue and skeletal muscle lipid metabolism in humans: The effects of exercise intensity. The Journal of Physiology, 524(Pt 3), 919-928. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7793.2000.00919.

8 Roemer, Karen & Hortobagyi, Tibor & Richter, Chris & Munoz Maldonado, Yolanda & Hamilton, Stephanie. (2013). Effect of BMI on Knee Joint Torques in Ergometer Rowing. Journal of applied biomechanics. 29. 10.1123/jab.29.6.763.

9 Asaka, M., Kawano, H., & Higuchi, M. (2012, May 26). 1(2): 227-234 (2012) – J-stage. Rowing as an aerobic and resistance exercise for elderly people. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jpfsm/1/2/1_227/_pdf/-char/en


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