Cycling vs. Rowing: Which One Is a Better Workout?

Which is a better workout between cycling and rowing? Discover how the advantages of these machines stack up against each other below!


Stationary exercise bikes are standard pieces of cardiovascular equipment with relatively easy usage.

Their function calls for a movement that mimics the same action of a regular bicycle, working to strengthen joints and bones without placing excessive stress on them.


Cycling provides a low-impact workout with multiple benefits, which are as follows:

Engages Multiple Muscle Groups

Regardless of the duration of your workout, exercise on a stationary bike utilizes major muscle groups to perform movements. As you pedal, you’ll activate your quadriceps and hamstrings with your calf's gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.

You’ll also depend on your core muscles to push your legs off and hold you at a slightly upright angle for the duration of the workout.

Builds Strength and Stamina

Short workouts with an increased intensity are a beneficial method to increase stamina and strength. An intense cycling session will test your body. It’s worth noting that when the going gets tough, maintaining your form throughout will improve stamina over time.

Includes Adjustable Intensity Levels

Like most cardio-focused equipment, stationary bikes can provide sessions at an adjustable intensity to accommodate your fitness levels. You can start at a lower resistance and adjust based on your feelings that day. Gradually build up the intensity for more demanding workouts.

Adds Excitement to Workouts

Lastly, cycling can be a more entertaining way to get fit. Whether you own a stationary bike or opt for the real thing, cycling allows you to utilize your body differently to achieve your fitness goals.


An indoor rower, or ergometer, is a machine that simulates watercraft rowing. Unlike a stationary bike focusing on lower body training, a rowing machine activates your lower body, core, and upper body muscle groups to perform the rowing movement.


Like cycling, rowing is a beneficial, low-impact workout that allows you to utilize your body outside the standard running experience to achieve fitness goals.

Provides a Full-Body Workout

At first glance, you wouldn’t think a 20-minute session on a rower would provide a full-body workout. When pulling the handle correctly, the rowing motion activates muscles in your arms, shoulders, and back.

You’ll use your thighs, glutes, and calves to push your body on the slider away from the fan.

Offers a Meditative Experience

The repetitive motions on a rowing machine can provide a meditative and calming experience that counteracts the sheer intensity of the workout.

Combines Resistance Training and Cardio

You can think of rowing as a fitness hybrid that meshes resistance training and cardio. The intensity of your workout depends on the resistance created by the machine as you pull the handle towards you. You can go for intensity or endurance. The more reps you perform can strengthen your muscles while keeping your heart rate elevated.


While comparing cycling versus rowing, the better workout isn’t solely about which machine helps burn more calories. The decision relies on your fitness goals and what body parts you wish to improve.

When searching for rowing machines for home use, you'll want to check out our list of devices at Treadmill Planet. Our equipment makes excellent additions to your workout space and supports your fitness needs.