Rowing Machines vs Ellipticals – Finding the Best Cardio Machine 

Rowing Machine vs Elliptical

November 13, 2019

Building the ideal body requires discipline and time. Doing the same routines or a slightly different variation of one is a test of patience for many people. While patience is a necessity for anyone who is aspiring to get their dream body, some people simply don't have the ability to spend hours working out in the gym or at home.

If you're having the same issues as those people well, worry not! You won't have to dedicate any more time than you should thanks to rowing machines and elliptical machines. Many other workouts focus on specific parts of the body but with these two machines, efficiency is the name of the game. While both are compact, easy to assemble and use, and are available at different price points.

If you're in the market for either of these exercise machines or if you're unsure about which one to use, then read on!

Why Pick A Rowing Machine?

Why Pick A Rowing Machine?

Rowing machines are compact and comprehensive exercise machines that work out the whole body with low impact on the joints. They're easy to use and are very newbie-friendly, meaning those who are just starting out won't have to worry much about injuring themselves. Rowing machines require simple motions that are not as taxing especially on the knees compared to other workouts. This makes rowing an attractive exercise for beginners or those who have had a joint injury in the past.

Rowing machines are excellent for full-body workouts. You can work your upper back, arm, chest, core and leg muscles with one machine simultaneously.

You don’t have to worry about assembling this equipment as most models are intuitively designed. Most rowing machines can also be folded up and are compact. When in use, most models only take up less than 100 inches in length.

A 30-minute exercise on a rowing machine will help you burn anywhere from 210-255 calories, making rowing a very efficient exercise. Rowing exercises also help improve your stamina and posture, giving an extra boost to your endurance, form, and function!

Rowing Machine

This doesn't mean that rowing machine exercises are easy, though. Fitness enthusiasts, especially beginners, may be tempted to immediately hop on a rower and start going at a fast pace to get the most out of their routine. However, without proper exercise posture, your efforts might be wasted.

There are plenty of different models of rowers out there and they each fall under a different type of rowing machines. An indoor rowing machine can offer air, magnetic, or water resistance.

If you're looking to get your own rowing machine for your home, keep in mind that the average length of a machine is roughly eight feet and can vary widely in cost depending on the model and features. But before you buy a rowing machine, know that some models might be noisier than others.

Should You Pick an Elliptical Instead?

Should You Pick an Elliptical Instead?

Meanwhile, an elliptical machine is an easy-to-use piece of exercise equipment that offers a great cardio workout, especially for those with skeletal problems. They’re easy on the joints while helping you burn calories faster. They're similar to treadmills or stationary bicycles but they're designed to hit specific muscle groups in your lower body while working out.

Ellipticals target your lower body more than your upper body. The machine easily trains leg muscles such as the hamstring, glutes, quads, and calves. To ensure your upper body is getting enough workout, distribute your weight and effort evenly.

For an efficient exercise machine, ellipticals do not take up much space. Some models only take up around six feet long when in use and can be neatly folded up and wheeled easily for storage.

This home gym equipment is great for a low-impact cardio workout that burns calories fast. A 2018 Harvard study found out that using an elliptical machine can make you burn around 270 calories for a 30-minute workout. The low-impact nature of an elliptical workout is great for people suffering from joint pain or are recovering from injury.

Elliptical machine

Elliptical machines also vary widely in price depending on the model and type you are looking at. Cheaper ellipticals will have limited functionalities, warranties, and weak durability. Meanwhile, mid-range to high-end ones will have a vastly improved build quality, features, and longer, if not lifetime, warranties.

Additionally, ellipticals are easy to learn and use. Little to no instructions are required to be able to get a proper workout from one. Most brands have a collection of exercise videos that you can easily follow to achieve your fitness goals.


Which Burns More Calories?

If you’re going to base it from Harvard’s 2018 study, an elliptical machine will help you burn at least 270 – 400 calories doing a 30-minute exercise, depending on your weight. However, your legs and core might benefit more than your upper body. To ensure your upper body also gets worked out, proper form must be observed.

Meanwhile, for a moderate rowing session, you can get rid of anywhere from 210-311 calories, again depending on your weight. If you’re looking at the calories burned alone, an elliptical machine easily wins. However, you have to take note that the study only considered a moderate-intensity workout on the rowing machine.

Which gives a better workout – a rowing machine or elliptical?

The answer depends wholly on your fitness goals. Rowing machines offer consistent workout routines that are sure to target your whole body whilst remaining under the low-impact category of exercises. A rowing machine workout also works on your posture and back much more vigorously.

Meanwhile, ellipticals offer easy yet effective exercises targeted toward your lower body muscles. If you’re looking to improve your leg strength, stride, and motion. If you’re preparing for a hill climb or keen to improve your balance, a workout on the elliptical machine will help you achieve that.

Final Thoughts

Both machines can help you reach your fitness goals for sure, but they do so in different ways. Rowing can be a more intense exercise that'll leave you feeling the burn long after you finish working out while the elliptical can give you a less stressful experience that doesn't compromise effectiveness. If you’re into a full body work out, then a rowing machine fits your goals better. However, if you want to burn more calories, then hop on an elliptical machine and get on the road to fitness! The choice is yours!

About the author 

Kevin Lee

Health and fitness have always been a passion for me; whether its being in the weight room, going for a run before work or even participating in a half iron man triathlon. ShapeJunkie was created to share to knowledge and love of fitness with others.

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