Rowing and Peloton workouts have emerged as popular choices for individuals looking to lose weight and improve their fitness levels. While rowing offers a full-body, low-impact workout that engages multiple muscle groups, Peloton workouts provide a variety of high-energy classes through an interactive platform.
In this article, we will compare the effectiveness of rowing vs Peloton for weight loss, examining factors such as calorie burn, cardiovascular benefits, muscle engagement, and convenience. By understanding the unique features and benefits of each exercise option, you can make an informed decision about which cardio workout approach may best suit your weight loss goals.
What Is A Rowing Workout?
Rowing, in the context of exercise, refers to the activity of using a rowing machine or an actual rowing boat to engage in a full-body cardiovascular workout. On a machine, it simulates the motion of rowing a boat on the water and offers a range of benefits for physical fitness and overall well-being.
Rowing involves a rhythmic motion that engages the muscles of the arms, shoulders, back, core, and legs. The rowing stroke consists of two main phases: the drive and the recovery1.
During the drive phase, rowers push against foot stretchers, using their leg muscles to generate power, followed by the utilization of their upper body and arm muscles to pull the oars through the water. The recovery phase involves returning to the starting position by extending the arms, leaning forward from the hips, and sliding the seat back to its original position.
Rowing can be enjoyed individually on a rowing machine or as a team sport in the form of competitive rowing, where teams row together in a synchronized fashion. The versatility and effectiveness of rowing make it a popular choice for individuals seeking a comprehensive and efficient workout to support their fitness goals2.
Health Benefits Of Rowing
Indoor rowing provides numerous health benefits, making it a highly effective exercise for improving overall fitness and well-being. Here are some of the key health benefits of rowing:
Rowing engages multiple muscle groups throughout the body, including the legs, glutes, core, back, and arms. This comprehensive muscle involvement makes it an excellent total body workout, promoting balanced muscular development and strength in lower body muscles and upper body muscles (including abdominal muscles)3.
Rowing is a great cardiovascular exercise that elevates the heart rate and improves cardiovascular endurance. Regular rowing sessions can enhance the efficiency of the heart and lungs, leading to improved stamina and better overall health of the cardiovascular system4.
Rowing is a low-impact exercise, meaning it places minimal stress on the joints. This makes it suitable for people of various fitness levels and ages, and it reduces the risk of joint injuries often associated with high-impact activities5.
Weight Loss and Fat Burning
Rowing is an effective calorie-burning exercise that can aid in weight loss and fat reduction. It can help create a calorie deficit when combined with a balanced diet, making it an excellent choice if you are looking to manage your weight6.
What Is A Peloton Workout?
A Peloton workout refers to the exercise sessions offered by the fitness company Peloton through its interactive platform. Peloton offers a variety of workouts across different disciplines, including cycling, other cardio exercises, and more7.
The primary focus of Peloton workouts is on their stationary indoor exercise bike, known as the Peloton Bike, and their treadmill called the Peloton Tread. Cycling workouts on the Peloton exercise bike involve riding along with an instructor who guides participants through a range of intensities, speeds, and terrains.
Peloton also provides a diverse range of strength, yoga, meditation, and stretching. These workouts typically require minimal fitness machines and are designed to target specific muscle groups, improve flexibility, enhance overall fitness, and promote mental well-being8.
Health Benefits Of Peloton
Peloton workouts offer a wide range of health benefits, combining high-energy exercises with an interactive and engaging platform. Here are some key health benefits associated with Peloton:
Peloton offers various cardio workouts, such as cycling, running, and cardio dance classes, that elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. Regular participation in these high-intensity workouts can enhance endurance, increase lung capacity, and strengthen the heart9.
Peloton workouts are effective for burning calories and supporting weight loss efforts. High-intensity sessions can lead to increased metabolism and calorie expenditure, helping you achieve your weight management goals10.
While Peloton is known for its cycling classes, it also provides classes for strength training, yoga, Pilates, and more. These workouts target different muscle groups, offering a comprehensive and well-rounded fitness experience10.
Muscular Strength and Toning
Strength-focused Peloton workouts, such as strength training and resistance-based classes, help build and tone muscles throughout the body. This contributes to improved strength, functional fitness, and a more defined physique8.
Rowing vs Peloton For Weight Loss
Differences between rowing and cycling include the muscles targeted, ease of accessibility, and space requirements when considering the purchase of an exercise machine. Additionally, their effectiveness and exercise intensity vary.
1. Muscles Worked
Rowing engages a wide range of muscle groups, targeting approximately 85% of your muscles (almost the entire body), including the legs, upper body, back, and core. On the other hand, cycling primarily focuses on the leg muscles, such as the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. While cycling outdoors requires more balance, activating the core and lower back to a certain extent, it does not provide the same level of whole-body workout as rowing11.
2. Fitness Space
When deciding between a rowing machine or stationary bike for your home gym, it’s important to take into account the available space. Rowing machines generally require more floor space compared to bikes. Although some rowing machines are designed to be foldable for convenient storage, you should ensure enough clearance to fully extend the machine during use.
On the other hand, rowing machines are typically lighter and more portable than exercise bikes, making them easier to move if needed. So, if you need to wheel it out of the way, rowing machines are generally more manageable in terms of mobility11.
When considering the purchase of a rowing machine or an indoor exercise bike, both options offer similar accessibility, with the exception of potential space limitations. However, if you intend to take your workout outdoors, access to rowing becomes more challenging as it requires proximity to a body of water11.
4. Calories Burned
The number of calories burned during exercise is influenced by individual factors such as body size, body composition, fitness level, and level of exertion. Consequently, it is difficult to definitively determine whether rowing or cycling burns more calories. Additionally, calorie burn can vary depending on whether the activity is performed indoors or outdoors. However, some generalizations can be made.
According to Harvard Health12, a person weighing 155 pounds burns approximately the same number of calories when rowing or cycling at a moderate pace, which amounts to around 252 calories in a 30-minute session.
When the intensity is increased slightly, rowing appears to have a slight advantage. For instance, the same individual weighing 155 pounds would burn about 369 calories rowing vigorously for 30 minutes compared to 278 calories burned while cycling. An older study13 that compared energy expenditure during both activities also reported similar findings.
5. Workout Difficulty
Typically, both the exercise bike and the rowing machine can be adjusted to high-intensity interval training by increasing resistance levels. However, the rowing machine provides a more challenging workout due to its engagement of a larger number of muscle groups.
Moreover, the Peloton bike is often considered more beginner-friendly compared to the rowing machine. Rowing requires a certain level of skill and practice to build confidence, whereas anyone can easily hop onto a bike and start riding.
Therefore, the rowing machine offers a higher level of workout difficulty compared to the bike, thanks to its comprehensive muscle engagement and the skills required for proper technique14.
In conclusion, both Peloton and rowing workouts offer effective options for weight loss. Rowing engages a large number of muscles and provides a whole-body workout, making it a great choice for those seeking a comprehensive calorie-burning exercise. On the other hand, Peloton workouts, such as cycling, offer high-intensity cardio exercises that can help burn calories and contribute to weight loss.
The choice between rowing and Peloton for weight loss ultimately depends on personal preference, accessibility, and individual goals. It is important to consider factors such as the impact on joints, equipment availability, space requirements, and enjoyment of the exercise.
Regardless of the chosen activity, consistency and dedication are key to achieving weight loss goals. Combining regular workouts with a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle will yield the best results.
5 Kang, S. R., Yu, C. H., Han, K. S., & Kwon, T. K. (2014). Comparative analysis of basal physical fitness and muscle function in relation to muscle balance pattern using rowing machines. Bio-medical materials and engineering, 24(6), 2425–2435. https://doi.org/10.3233/BME-141056
9 Yoon, J., Kim, S., & Rhyu, H. (2017). Effects of 16-week spinning and bicycle exercise on body composition, physical fitness and blood variables of middle school students. Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation, 13(4), 400–404. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.1735052.526
10 Kyröläinen, H., Hackney, A. C., Salminen, R., Repola, J., Häkkinen, K., & Haimi, J. (2018). Effects of Combined Strength and Endurance Training on Physical Performance and Biomarkers of Healthy Young Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 32(6), 1554–1561. https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0000000000002034
12 Harvard Health. (2021, March 8). Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
13 Hagerman, F. C., Lawrence, R. A., & Mansfield, M. C. (1988). A comparison of energy expenditure during rowing and cycling ergometry. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 20(5), 479–488. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3193864/