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Exercise Bike or Rowing Machine

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The Exercise Bike:

Schwinn 130 Upright Exercise Bike

Exercise bikes are without doubt one of the most popular items of fitness equipment purchased for the home.  Compared to most exercise machine types, they don’t tend to take up a lot of space, are a relatively simply design and the availability of this equipment means that there should be a bike out there to fit anyone’s budget.

The good points:

  • Great for weight loss and improving general fitness
  • Ideal for people who want to keep fit when the weather doesn’t allow outside exercise (especially the case with Cyclists!)
  • Space saving when compared with other equipment, some bikes more than others though
  • You can watch your favourite TV programme whilst you work out, the bike tends to be less noisy that other kit (some rowers come to mind!)
  • You can monitor your fitness improvements and make small adjustments to the speed and resistance of the bike as you progress.
  • Great value for money, bike to meet most budgets

Maybe not so good (depending on your needs):

  • Generally works just the lower half of the body and the ‘life muscles’ (good workout for the heart & lungs), although activities like spinning (alternating sitting/standing cycle etc.) do involve the upper body more.
  • The bike is not for everyone, some find it too repetitive and uncomfortable on the ‘seat’.

The Rowing Machine:
Concept 2 Rowing Machine

Rowing machines give you an almost complete body workout. They work for all the major muscle groups and just like the exercise bike, give you a good aerobic session.

The good:

  • Excellent all over body workout
  • Very low impact on the body’s joints
  • Good range of rowers to fit most budgets
  • Comfortable exercising
  • Most rowers have monitors which allow you to monitor and adjust your exercise routine
  • Come in different types and options for flexible storage depending on your requirements

And not so good:

  • A good rower can involve quite a substantial initial investment. Second hand models can be a great option though
  • For a beginner, the technique is very important. Although this equipment is very low impact, get the technique wrong and injuries are often not far away!
  • Generally, depending on the model, not great for storing away after use. You need to see the rower before buying and assess your storage need fully


Both of these types of exercise equipment are great in their own way.

If you have the space available and the budget to buy a decent new or second hand rower then you can’t go wrong for an all over body workout. If you’ve never used a rower before, you would be wise to try one first before buying.  Why not get a day pass (sometimes these are free if you show interest in joining!) to your local gym and try one and compare it with an exercise bike? What do you feel more comfortable using?

For some, and not just cyclists, an exercise bike is great for general keep fit and weight loss. They can suit more budgets than decent rowers and are generally better at storing away when not in use.

Whatever you choose, exercise bike or rowing machine (or maybe something else?) please remember to try before you buy!

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