The age-old debate among health buffs and gym enthusiasts is whether it is better to row or to cycle. A person who uses an air bike at home will always claim it to be the better machine. On the other hand, a rower will always vouch for his trusty rowing machine to be the superior choice.
Because of the similarity between the two devices, it can get difficult to choose one over the other. The truth is both these machines can be a good choice for a home gym.
However, they help achieve different goals, and that is why it is important to understand the nooks and crannies of these machines before you can make an informed decision.
Well, we are here to solve it once and for all. In this article, we will do a detailed analysis of rowing machines vs. air bikes, taking into account all the benefits that one offers over the other. So, without further ado, let us jump in.
How Does an Air Bike Work?
An air bike looks almost the same as a regular bicycle. However, the handlebars in an air bike are not static and move in conjunction with your body. The main resistance of an air bike comes from the big fan at the bottom in between the handlebars.
With this machine, the harder you paddle, the more resistance you will feel. As a result, you can get a full-body workout with it quite easily. Just 30 minutes of cycling on an air bike should be enough to get you sweaty and exhausted.
The main muscle groups that are affected by an air bike are:
- Lower Back
- Upper Back
How Does A Rower Work?
A rower works quite similarly to an air bike in terms of muscles used. However, the design and how you use it are quite different. A rower comes with a seat, a handle that you need to pull, and a rail where the seat can slide forward or backward.
To get the most out of your rowing machine, you need to learn the proper posture and rowing techniques. For instance, a beginner might pull the handlebar, applying force from the arms. However, the right way to do it is to apply the force from your legs.
The main muscle groups that are affected by a rowing machine are:
- Upper Back
- Lower Back
How Similar Are An Air Bike And A Rowing Device?
An air bike and a rowing machine are quite similar in terms of how it works your body. With both of these units, you are getting a low-impact, total body workout. You can easily row or cycle using your machine 4 to 6 times a week without risking any serious injury.
And while using these units, you will burn some serious calories.
Rowing Machine vs. Air Bike: Major Differences
Apart from the looks and how you work it, there are some major differences between a rowing machine and an air bike.
And understanding these differences will help you figure out which one you may want for your particular fitness goals. Here are the key differences between a rowing machine and an air bike.
The main difference between the two instruments is they require a different type of skill. No, we are not saying that cycling is easier than rowing or vice-versa. What we mean is that cycling, and rowing require a different form of technical knowledge and expertise.
Even a professional rower may find it hard to hop on a cycle and start riding efficiently. Both instruments have their own learning curve. Personally, though, we find rowing to be a bit easier. That is why beginners often find it a better option to get started with.
Demand On The Body
People who row regularly will claim that rowing is physically much more intensive than cycling. In the same way, cyclers will claim cycling on an air bike is harder and takes more effort compared to rowing. But which of these statements is true?
Well, in our experience, we have found that rowing is usually much more demanding on the body. Regardless, without proper techniques and stance, you will have a lot of trouble whether you are cycling or rowing.
Although both an air bike and a rowing machine are low-impact, total-body workout instruments, they focus on different muscle groups and sections of the body. With an air bike, the user will mostly work their lower body muscles, whereas a rowing machine works the upper body more.
However, keep in mind though, a rowing machine also impacts your leg muscles much more than what an air bike does to your upper body muscles. With an air bike, you have to specifically focus on your upper body by pushing down on the handlebar if you want to train those sections of your body.
Finding the right size of an air bike is much harder than finding a rowing machine that fits you perfectly. If the size of the bike is too high, you will have difficulty reaching the paddle. Inversely, if it is short, you will not feel comfortable peddling and cannot work your muscles efficiently.
On the other hand, with a rowing machine, size is not an issue. As long as the resistance type and levels suit you, you can hop on any rowing machine and get full use out of it. An air bike relies much more on the body shape and height of the user.
One field where a rowing machine outshines an air bike is its cardiovascular benefits. Sure, the muscular stress that an air bike creates on your body is on par with that of a rowing machine. But it cannot work your cardiovascular system on the same level.
You can train both anaerobic and aerobic conditioning of your body using a rowing machine. Although the stamina and blood circulation of your body does see some improvement with cycling, it is not on the same level as the performance of a good rowing machine.
Which Is Better, Air Bike Or Rowing Machine?
Since an air bike and a rowing machine are both total-body workout instruments, it can get a bit confusing which one is exactly better. Well, to make it easier for you, let us break it down and look at the strengths and weaknesses of these machines from an objective standpoint.
Fat Loss: If fat loss is your main goal, an air bike seems to be the better choice. By design, an air bike will give you more resistance the more you paddle. As a result, you will be burning calories like a maniac. Rowing is also a pretty decent way to burn calories fast. But it is a bit slower compared to an air bike.
Targeted Muscles: You will be working your full body to some level, whether you row or cycle. However, rowing mostly focuses on your back, quads, biceps, and core. With cycling, the main areas that are affected are the shoulders, triceps, quads, and hamstrings.
Cardiovascular Impact: Both rowing and cycling can enhance your cardiovascular system. However, rowing is much more effective. With regular rowing, you will raise your endurance level much higher, much faster.
Verdict: If you have to absolutely go with one, we would recommend going with a rowing machine. It is extremely versatile and is a very user-friendly machine even for people who never worked out before.
Are Air Bikes Worth It?
Since we have been advocating a lot for rowing machines, you might wonder whether it is even worth investing in an air bike. Well, yes. Air bikes are an amazing piece of instrument that gives you an excellent workout and help you train your core and muscles.
For instance, if you want an alternative to running on a treadmill, this is a great option. Running on a treadmill might not be the best idea if you have any quad or hip strain. You cannot even row efficiently without further increasing your injury. However, with an air bike, you can work out safely without putting any additional strain on your body.
Air bike is also a great way to do HIIT exercises. There are some air bike models that have a flexible handlebar. These handlebars move as you paddle, which can help you tone your upper body even better. And since the intensity of the training increases, as you paddle harder, it is a great way to build up your endurance.
How To Choose What Is the Best for My Needs?
Whether you are working out at home or at a local gym, you only have limited time and resources to spend on your workout. For home gyms, not everyone can afford to buy both an air bike and a rower. Even if you are working out at a gym, you cannot work out on both of these instruments without sacrificing other workouts.
So, you have to make a decision. You either have to go with an air bike or focus your time and energy more on a rowing machine. Though they share many similarities, you can pick out the better option quite easily once you look at your workout goals objectively.
The main difference between the two devices is that a rowing machine lets you train your cardiovascular system. Despite being a total body workout machine, an air bike does not focus on the cardiovascular system as much as a rower. The push and pull pattern of a rowing machine is especially useful for training the upper body.
What Burns More Calories, Rowing Or Air Bike?
To gym enthusiasts, burning calories is the main concern in most situations. However, it does not mean that the device that burns most calories is better. You should consider many other factors before opting for either an air bike or a rowing machine.
That being said, it is still worth check which unit, in fact, can burn the highest number of calories.
With air bikes, the harder you paddle, the more resistance you will feel. This means, as you try to increase your speed, you will feel the paddle getting stiffer. Because of this design, an air bike is a great way to burn calories. With this machine, you can burn around 200-250 calories in 20 minutes.
With a rowing machine, the math might be a bit more complicated. You have more flexibility in adjusting the resistance of a rower, and with intense interval workouts, you can burn a greater number of calories. In any case, typically, a rowing machine will help you burn around 300-350 calories per 20 minutes.
However, burning calories also depends on the weight of the individual. An overweight person will initially burn more calories, whereas a physically fit person will need to work harder to start burning these numbers. So, take that into consideration while making your decision.
Picking the right instrument for your needs is essential to reach your fitness goal. Though both air bike and rowing machines are great devices to have, getting both of them for your home gym might not be the smartest move. Since they offer quite a similar experience, you should always go for one or the other. We hope our detailed comparison between a rowing machine and an air bike could help you figure out which machine will serve you better.