Rowing Machine or Elliptical | Best For Fitness and Weight loss?

Rowing Machine or Elliptical Trainer

Rowing Machine vs Elliptical Trainer – What is the Best?

Cardio exercises indoors burn calories and raise your heart rate. It’s an ideal way to lose weight. We have the chance to use some of our favorite exercise machines now that gyms have reopened – if you haven’t already purchased one of the best elliptical machines or the best rowing machines for home use.

Rowers and ellipticals cost less and are more effective than treadmills when used as part of a regular workout program

Taking part in cardiovascular exercise improves your aerobic capacity, loses body fat and reduces your risk for developing a wide array of diseases. The gym offers a wide variety of exercise machines, but the rowing machine and the cross trainer or elliptical are arguably the best ones. These equipment can be beneficial to even the fittest and healthiest of people. In light of this, are there any true differences between one workout style and the other? You can decide between the rowing machine and the elliptical by comparing them.

An Elliptical machine and a Rowing Machine make up the other two fantastic machines you’ll find at a fitness club. Compared to traditional machines, they are the new and preferred machines. In terms of intensity levels and styles of usage, both have a wide variety of exercises.

They are not just beneficial for exercising, but also for burning more calories. If, however, you are considering which one to purchase for your home, this is a good place to start. You will gain an understanding of how both machines function and which body part each affects.

This will allow you to determine the one that will suit your needs. Home users can choose from some of the best elliptical trainers and rowers. Depending on your budget and needs, you can select one.

Despite the fact that both rowers and ellipticals deliver aerobic exercise, there are several key differences between them. Because of the pedaling motion, elliptical machines work the entire body, but primarily the lower body.

Due to their push-pull operation, rowing machines work on the whole body. Elliptical machines are designed to help you lose weight by burning calories, while rowing machines are designed to increase muscle strength as well as burn calories.

If you want to increase the effect of your cardio workout, then you need a rower, but ellipticals are also an excellent option. In this article, we will explore elliptical machines and rowing machines based on a few factors.

You can also decide which one is best based on your requirements between eliptical trainers and rowing machines. In this post we will dive deeps into comparisons between indoor rowers and elliptical trainers, mainly: who can benefit the most from each machine, calories burned, muscles used on each one, and what could be the best option for losing weight or gaining muscle.

Rowing Machine vs Elliptical – Calories Burned

Based on Harvard Health Study
Calories Burned
βœ”οΈ Calories Burned On Rowing Machines:

  • With a vigorous rowing workout, a 125-pound person can burn 255 calories in 30 minutes.
  • A person weighing 155 pounds can burn 369 calories
  • A person weighing 185 pounds can burn 440.
βœ”οΈ Calories Burned On Elliptical Trainers:

  • An elliptical trainer can burn 270 calories in 30 minutes for a 125-pound person
  • 324 calories for a 155-pounder
  • 378 calories for a 185-pounder.

The burning of calories is the key to everything you do, no matter which machine or what you do. Cardio and strength workouts should prioritize this goal. Keeping your body lean is dependent on how many calories you burn per hour.

An elliptical is more effective than a rowing machine at burning calories, according to a recent Harvard School of Public Health study. A rower burned fewer calories in one hour than an elliptical.

Since there is more use of the muscles, this results in a higher level of calorie burn after workouts. An elliptical machine burns 670 calories per hour for someone who weighs 155 lbs, whereas a rowing machine burns 520 calories per hour.

Running is not the only way to burn calories; ellipticals can also do it. If the rate of workout speed is high, they are beneficial over running since they reduce joint impact and burn up to 750 calories in one hour.

Machines that burn calories more efficiently and are preferred for this reason include rowers. One hour of rowing burns approximately 600-900 calories.

On both machines, 600 calories are burned on the slower end, but 900 calories are burnt on a rower if you push a little bit harder.

Elliptical Trainer Or Rowing Machine – Who can benefit the most?

Elliptical Trainer Or Rowing Machine
βœ”οΈ An Elliptical Trainer is a good option if:

  • Joint pain is bothering you.
  • It is important to exercise both your upper and lower bodies.
  • You are recuperating from an injury.
  • It is important to burn calories if you are overweight.
  • Running and cycling are boring to you.
  • You want to work out every day.
  • You want to Boost your stamina and cardio capacity
  • You want to Burn body fat
  • You want to target specific leg mucles
  • You want to improve your balance
βœ”οΈ A rowing machine is a good idea if:

  • Your goal is to work out your entire body.
  • You want good cardiovascular health.
  • It is important to burn calories fast.
  • Your home has less space.
  • Rowing is an enjoyable activity for you.
  • The budget you have is limited.
  • You Want to see quicker results
  • You want to improve posture
  • you want to work your core and glutes


Rowing Machine vs Elliptical – Who shouldn’t use an Elliptical or Rowing machine?

Elliptical and Rowing Machine Contraindications
❌ An Elliptical Trainer is a bad option if:

  • You feel heart pain, severe shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea
  • If you suffer from suffer cardiovascular disease
  • If you suffer from asthma, tachycardia, angina
  • If you are a edema and thrombosis, cancer, diabetes patient
❌ A Rower is a bad option if:

  • You have Low back Injury/pathologies
  • You have Hip Pain/Pathologies
  • You suffer from Hypertension Diseases of the thyroid gland
  • You suffer from Cardiovascular diseases Infectious diseases (ARVI, influenza)


Rowing Machine vs Elliptical – Muscles worked

Muscles Worked
βœ”οΈ Muscles Worked on Ellipticals are:

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Calves
  • Glutes
  • Core
  • Back
  • Deltoids
  • Biceps brachii
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Pectoralis Major
  • Trapezius
βœ”οΈ Muscles Worked on Rowers are:

  • Core
  • Erector Spinae
  • Gastrochnemius and Soleus
  • Erector Spinae
  • Rhomboids
  • Quadriceps
  • Erector Spinae
  • Triceps
  • Deltoids
  • Trapezius
  • Rectus Abdominus
  • Rhomboids

There are many types of elliptical cross-trainers, including one without levers, which works only the lower body and doesn’t target the arm, back, shoulder, or chest. Some are geared toward building upper body strength with levers and resistance.

The muscle use is still not as effective as rowing. By utilizing a variety of muscles, rowing machines make muscles more active as they work both arm and leg muscles.

Leg and arm pressure can be increased or decreased to target different muscles. You may get back pain if you practice this technique too frequently.

Because ellipticals work better on calves (the lower body), rowers work better on arms and shoulders than ellipticals.

You should invest in the best rowing machine on the market if you want more muscle exercise. It is also important to learn how to use it properly so that you do not strain the machine.

Repetitive Stress

It’s important to be aware of the muscle groups you are targeting when you use a piece of equipment and how they are affected by repetition. When it comes to ellipticals, they are so powerful because they take all your body weight, but due to the pedals being connected to the feet.

Exercise becomes less effective. It puts repetitive strain on the muscles whenever the pedals are moved, whether backwards or forwards. Although the hips, knees, ankles, and lower back won’t be affected by this, many users find that the knee, lower back, and shin are affected.

Similarly, rowers are also a no impact exercise as oposed to running for example. In addition to the resistance levels and the effort involved in pushing and pulling your body weight, it also has an adjustable seat.

Repetitive movements put stress on hips, an

kles, and lower back. Prior to selecting a machine, it is necessary to understand both its advantages and disadvantages.

Rowing Machine or Elliptical For Weight Loss

If you stick to a focused training program, you can lose weight with either machine, and the low impact nature of the machines and the fact that they work the entire body make them especially effective if you are recovering from injury.Β 

As a general workout machine, the rowing machine takes the top spot since it works almost all the muscles in your body simultaneously. The key to getting the most benefits out of your session is to watch your form to prevent injury in the long run. Comparatively, to the elliptical machine, which mainly targets quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes, the rower puts much more emphasis on your biceps and upper back.

When looking mainly to lose weight, the elliptical would be the first choice, in order to increase your metabolism and start to lose weight. If on the other hand you would like to gain muscle, due to the stimulus you will get on your legs, back and arms, the rowing machine would be your best option.

Ellipticals vs Rowing Machines – Benefits

Rowing Machines Pros

Rowing machines provide numerous benefits, as they increase your cardiovascular health and muscular endurance and improve your overall fitness. Aside from a total body workout, it also exercises muscles such as the upper back, obliques, calves, and glutes. Additionally, rowing is low-impact, making it easier on the joints and muscles.

With minimal joint stress, rowing is a great calorie-burner. Active recovery can be achieved by doing this exercise as it allows you to control the movement and pace.

The right form and proper technique involved in rowing can significantly improve posture. Hence, it helps strengthen the muscles of the upper back, which reduce stooping and hunching.

Harvard Medical School published a study that found an 84kg person burns 440 calories in 30 minutes of vigorous exercise with a rowing machine. This is significantly more than other types of cardio you can do indoors.

Rowing Machine Cons

The disadvantage of rowing machines is that they require enough space for arms and legs to fully extend, making it difficult to accommodate them within a smaller structure. Rowing machines with smaller storage spaces are at an advantage during sessions since they fold upwards for additional storage.

Unless you get your form right when rowing regularly, proper rowing can cause problems as well.

A rowing machine will provide you with the most benefits if you perform proper rowing form. An injury could result from bad form on a rowing machine. If you want to get the most out of your rowing machine, you need to learn how to properly form it. Our guide to rowing machine form can help. In contrast, elliptical trainers are more reliable.

Elliptical Trainer Pros

You can get a good aerobic workout on the elliptical machine or cross trainer, which will help increase your cardiovascular endurance. A versatile piece of equipment, the machine can be used for steady-state cardio or high-intensity interval training.

Those with aching joints or beginners can benefit from the low-impact design of the machine. Those returning from an injury or who are interested in gaining or maintaining fitness can benefit from it as well.

As your arms are involved in pushing and pulling the handles while your legs rotate, an elliptical machine with handles can provide you with both a lower and an upper-body workout.

Your entire body will be in motion, so you’ll burn more calories this way. Researchers found that a participant weighing 185 lbs (84kg) would burn 378 calories on an elliptical machine for 30 minutes. Once you learn how to make the most of your elliptical machine, you can build muscle and burn fat simultaneously.

Elliptical Trainer Cons

Although this machine has a low impact, it can also have a negative aspect, even though some people really want to stay away from impact cardio. Maintaining a strong bone and joint requires some impact each day. In the absence of impact, they will not be able to adapt and grow.

Can get pricey really fast if you are looking for a top notch elliptical trainer.

Despite the lower-impact nature of the elliptical trainer, it remains a useful machine for people simply looking to lose weight and burn calories, as the athlete will not be as sore the next day.

The secret lies in the technique

Elliptical Motion

To begin with, rowing involves a lot more technique than an elliptical machine. In the beginning, it can be hard to understand one’s way around an elliptical machine, but eventually you learn to use it. You’re essentially running with more resistance and in a fixed range of motion instead of the treadmill, which puts more emphasis on your whole body.

Rowing Machine Motion

However, the rowing machine’s handle isn’t fixed in place. Using proper technique is necessary to avoid injury and get the most benefits. When rowing correctly, you must maintain a rigid, straight back at all times:

  • By pushing with your legs
  • The back and arms are used to pull
  • As you bring the bar back to the start position, relax the arms and your back.
  • As you return to your starting position, relax your legs

Most people in the gym who use the rowing machines are using them incorrectly if you observe them at work. Their backs will be violently pulled, or they will not pull enough or perform the steps in the wrong order. The rowing machine is a machine that you must be taught how to use properly by a certified trainer, so you will face or overcome barriers while learning how to use it. The rowing machine can be overwhelming if you’re intimidated or just want to get started immediately.

If you master the right technique, though, the rowing machine can offer many advantages that you can’t get from exercising on an elliptical machine.

When rowing, for example, the back and arms are heavily trained, which are vulnerable areas for many people. Because we spend most of our waking hours hunched over a desk, we develop a very curved posture, tight chests, weak lower backs, and weak hips. These issues are countered by rowing, as it trains all the important muscles. It trains muscles in the upper back – traps, rhomboid, and posterior deltoids – much more than dead lifts (picking up a heavy weight from the ground). When you complete this exercise correctly, you will strengthen the areas around your spine, which will improve your functional movement in everyday life and prevent the common injuries we experience as we grow older. Rowing offers far greater benefits than the elliptical machine as far as the core is concerned. There are many cases in which we execute movements similar to those required for rowing, but rarely do we perform movements similar to those necessary for using a cross-trainer or elliptical machine.

Elliptical Trainer Or Rowing Machines – Price


The simplicity of rowing machines makes them better suited to regular use than elliptical trainers, since you’ll be able to get a low-end rower that holds up more easily. Nevertheless, rowers with low prices will be limited by the same problems a low-end elliptical presents: flimsy construction, unreliable drive mechanisms, and poor performance.

A quality rowing machine reportedly costs between $600 and $800. A decent model of an elliptical trainer will cost about the same, although most elliptical trainers rated as high quality will cost $1,000 or more.

For lower models, both rowers and ellipticals are affordable. You can find some inexpensive ellipticals in the market that offer great functionality. After mid-range and higher-end models, rowing machines may become a bit more expensive.

Difficulty of Use

If you want to achieve better results, you should learn how to use a piece of equipment at home before purchasing it. Using an elliptical trainer is a simple exercise machine in which your feet are moved by pedals as you step on them.

Additionally, use your arms to move the handlebars. It is intuitive and simple to use, and there is no room for error. Conversely, rowers need proper form and practice. If not used properly, it can lead to injuries.

You should consider the following points when rowing:

  • Bend your knees, straighten your back, stretch your arms, bend forward, and bend your arms. Maintain a straight back to prevent pain.
  • As you do so, lean backward and push yourself backward with your legs.
  • As you do this, hold the bar at 45 degrees and pull it back towards you.
  • The arms should remain straight and the movement should be reversed. Your next step should involve bending your knees.
  • Keep an eye on your posture, as it is essential to prevent injuries to other muscles.

Bearing the Weight

It is recommended that people with osteoporosis maintain safety while pedaling since it is a weight-bearing exercise. By pedaling an elliptical trainer, you are slowly losing minerals from your legs, bones, lower spine, and hips.

The benefits of this are immense. Rowing machines, in contrast, do not involve weight-bearing exercises. Although, rowers can benefit people with osteoporosis by strengthening their backs and combating the disease.

For people with osteoporosis, it is best to purchase an elliptical bike that they can use in the comfort of their own homes.

Miscellaneous Aspects

Ellipticals require little maintenance, they may simply need a daily wipe down after every use. The type of rower you have bought might require a little extra maintenance, since there are some amazing rowing machines out there.

Exercise with an elliptical machine is simple and doesn’t require any special technique, as we discussed earlier. Move by stepping on the pedals, then hold the handlebars (if it has them) and move the arms in the same way.

The first time you use a rowing machine, you will need a bit of guidance and expertise. Be aware that if you don’t learn the technique, it can severely affect your back.


  • Prosser, Laura A et al. β€œComparison of elliptical training, stationary cycling, treadmill walking and overground walking. Electromyographic patterns.” Gait & posture vol. 33,2 (2011): 244-50. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2010.11.013
  • Burnfield, Judith M et al. β€œImpact of elliptical trainer ergonomic modifications on perceptions of safety, comfort, workout, and usability for people with physical disabilities and chronic conditions.” Physical therapy vol. 91,11 (2011): 1604-17. doi:10.2522/ptj.20100332
  • Ian Gee, Thomas et al. β€œInvestigating the Effects of Typical Rowing Strength Training Practices on Strength and Power Development and 2,000 m Rowing Performance.” Journal of human kinetics vol. 50 167-177. 13 Apr. 2016, doi:10.1515/hukin-2015-0153

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