Elliptical vs Rowing Machines

For the longest time, we’ve had this debate going on:

Is the elliptical better than a rowing machine?

If you’ve ever looked for an accurate answer to this question, you’ve undoubtedly heard all kinds of opinions on both sides.

To make it easier and help you understand the two pieces of equipment (and which is superior), we’ve put together this post.

Below, we’ll go over everything there is to know about ellipticals and rowing machines 

Elliptical Trainer – Pros and Cons

Let’s take a look at the pros of ellipticals:

1. It’s Low-Impact

The elliptical is a fantastic piece of equipment for beginners – especially overweight folks – because it doesn’t put much stress on your joints.

Running is a common cardio option for beginners, but it may not be great for everyone as it causes a lot more stress to the hips, knees, and ankles.

2. It Trains The Entire Body

The great thing about the Elliptical machine is that it trains the entire body. Your lower body is engaged in moving the pedals, but your upper body contributes and allows you to overcome greater levels of resistance.

3. It Improves Your Balance

Many people don’t realize this, but the elliptical can be a fantastic piece of equipment to improve your balance. For example, if you stand tall and let go of the handles while pedaling, you achieve two things:

First, you force your lower body to work much harder. And second, you target your core muscles a lot more and force them to develop.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the elliptical’s drawbacks:

1. It Can Be Tedious

At its core, the Elliptical trainer doesn’t offer much versatility. Sure, you can use it in several ways, but it can get old eventually.

Over time, it can become tedious, especially if you have to do several hours worth of cardio every week.

2. It Feels Awkward For Some People

Not all elliptical trainers will work for your body. So, it’s worth testing out different machines to see what feels most natural to your body. This is especially true if you’re looking to buy an elliptical for home use. 

3. They Can Aggravate Your Knees

Some folks with previous knee issues report that elliptical machines aggravate old injuries.

If that’s the case for you, it would be a good idea to tread cautiously and look for symptoms such as pain and discomfort. If that’s the case, then it might be better to pick another piece of equipment. Speaking of that:

Rowing Machine – Pros and Cons

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using a rowing machine:

1. They Offer An Amazing Caloric Burn

One of the most profound benefits of rowing machines is that they offer an excellent caloric burn. Rowing machines train the entire body, which means that each repetition takes more effort and results in a greater expenditure of energy.

On top of that, we also have the caloric cost of recovering from rowing machines. The more muscles we stress, the more energy we’ll need later to recover.

2. They Train Your Entire Body

In the same line of thinking, using a rowing machine is a fantastic way to train both your upper and lower body. Rowing is a fantastic way to develop your arms, shoulders, back, and core. The movement pattern also involves your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and adductors.

So, if you’re looking for an efficient way to train, rowing is a fantastic option.

3. They Make You Stronger And More Explosive

One fantastic benefit of rowing is that you can adjust the resistance based on your goal. If you want to train for endurance and a greater caloric burn, you can use moderate resistance. If you want to get stronger, increase the resistance.

If you want to be more explosive, use moderate resistance, and aim to do each rowing motion as quickly as possible.

4. They Are Incredibly Fun and Challenging to Use

Let’s face it:

Most cardio machines aren’t particularly engaging, and we typically use them out of necessity rather than enjoyment. The fantastic thing about rowing machines is that you can have excellent workouts that are both fun and challenging for you.

With that said, rowing machines are not perfect, and they do offer some drawbacks:

1. They Take Up A Lot Of Space

If you want to get a rowing machine for home use, keep in mind that they are larger than most other equipment, and you will have to clear more space for one.

2. Rowing Machines Can Be Noisy

The elliptical is quiet; a rowing machine is not. Rowing machines are more complex, and that also makes them noisier. Again, before getting one for home use, make sure to test it out and see what you’ll be getting yourself into.

3. It Can Be Hard On Your Lower Back (If You’re Not Careful)

Rowing is relatively beginner-friendly, and most people can become reasonably good within just a few training sessions. But, as you get tired, you might start slouching forward much more, which will lead to significant spinal flexion.

If you row with such a posture, your lower back can take a lot more stress.

So, be mindful of that and always make sure to maintain a relatively straight back as you row – this will also help you engage your upper back muscles better.

Elliptical vs. Rowing Machine – Who Wins?

Both are fine pieces of equipment, and so long as you use them consistently, you will get stronger, improve your endurance, burn a lot of calories, and lose weight. Also, so long as you use them correctly, you shouldn’t experience any adverse effects.

The questions are, what are your preferences, how much free space you have (if you plan on getting either of the two for home use), and what is your budget?

For the most part, you can get a budget elliptical for less money, and it takes up less space. But, on the other hand, a rowing machine can be much more engaging. And, thanks to the tremendous challenges you can make for yourself, the rowing machine might be the more engaging option for you.

A good solution would be to try both out for several workouts in a local gym and note what you like and don’t like about them.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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