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For hard-core metcon workout fans, you want a machine that will really get your heart rate up. However, you most likely have room for only one piece of equipment. Which is the better choice, an air bike or a rower?
If you have used both types of equipment, then you most likely have your mind made up as to which is your preferred piece of gym equipment. For those of you who haven’t used either one, or you’ve only used something like a spin bike or a portable rowing machine, you might be undecided.
I want this article to give you all the information you need so that you can make a more informed decision when you’re ready to invest in one for your home gym.
Assault Bikes 101
Air bikes, sometimes called fan bikes, aren’t necessarily new, but one brand, Assault, is so well known that most air bikes are now called by that name.
Assault bikes combine the leg firming power of a bicycle with the arm-pumping action of cross-country skiing. This makes for some serious high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Most assault bikes are designed to give you a complete full-body workout in about 26 minutes.
When it comes to burning calories, an air bike is an outstanding piece of fitness equipment, no doubt about it.
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The Pros of an Assault Bike
Let’s face it, there are a great many reasons to love an air bike. They are so popular and so demanding that they are frequently used in CrossFit workout routines.
Some of the pros of an assault fitness airbike include:
- Excellent piece of garage gym machine. They are space-saving and easily moved from place to place.
- For people who want to really test their physical stamina, air bikes are a perfect choice.
- For those who love interval work or doing CrossFit, the push and pull motion combined with leg work is an easy way to accomplish this.
- It offers a full-body yet low impact workout using wind resistance.
- An assault bike offers variable resistance, which means that the faster you pedal, the harder your workout will be.
- Compared to a regular on-the-road bike, an airbike can leave you with muscle soreness you won’t soon forget.
- For aerobic training, your workouts will accomplish much more in a shorter time frame.
- If you are training for a long-distance bike ride, this type of airbike is the best solution to help you cover those extended distances.
- If you wish, you can continue training just your arms or just your legs, which isn’t possible with a rower.
The Cons of an Assault Bike
There are some drawbacks to the gold standard assault bike, such as:
- Depending on the model, a spin bike often lacks toe grips.
- Other models lack large displays and can be difficult to read.
- While the air bike seat is adjustable for height, not everyone finds them comfortable.
- An air bike can be quite noisy. For CrossFit fans, this isn’t usually an issue, but if you keep your assault bike in your bedroom, it might be a bit loud.
- The chain on an air bike can also be noisy when it’s loose, or it can break and need repair.
- Some things can be overlooked, but the truth here is that an air bike may not be for everyone. If you are into weight-lifting, you might find an air bike to be too easy and feel as if you don’t want to make it a part of your workouts.
- Women especially love the calorie-burning effects, but many find the air that flows from the fan quite distracting because it hits them in the face or blows their hair around.
Rowing Machines 101
For those who are training or want to work every single part of their body, rowing devices are also a terrific way to get in shape. These machines are so exceptional that CrossFit chose the Concept2 rower over treadmills, climbers, and other things.
This is interesting when you consider that most gyms have a minimal number of indoor rower devices, but you will find that they have dozens of treadmills and climbers. Why is that?
Rowing is a low-impact device that not only burns calories in an efficient manner but also develops strength and endurance.
Watch our full video of Concept2 Rower by Rowing Coach Max Secunda:
There is no question that a high-quality indoor rower, such as the Concept 2 rower, will not only be easy on the joints, but these rowers are also easy on the pocketbook. If you compare the prices of a rower vs. air bike or a rower vs. treadmill, you will see why the Concept 2 Model D rower (read more on Concept 2 rower model d vs e side by side comparison) and other quality rowers are top-picks whether you’re a man or a woman.
The Pros of a Rower
If you’re one of the people in the gym who has never tried a rower, you might be surprised at how easy they are to operate. Rowers can trace their roots all the way back to the 4th century when the Greeks used them to train for the Olympics!
There is a multitude of reasons that CrossFit chose the Concept 2 Model D Rower (click here to see the best rowing machines for crossfit) . It underscores the fact that you too can enjoy the benefits of owning one. Here are just a few advantages of an indoor rower:
- Unlike an air bike, a rower is incredibly smooth and quiet, depending on the version you own. Even those in apartments won’t have issues with the neighbors.
- Some models fold to fit in a corner or under a bed. This is something an air bike can never claim.
- A rower is easy to assemble for the majority of people.
- A rower works every part of the body.
- Even people with zero experience can quickly learn to use a rower.
- The rhythm of a rower is very pleasing and releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone.
- Good for the heart and lungs, a rower also increases strength.
- Rowers strengthen the abdominals, something an air bike cannot do.
- A rowing device can be used by people of any fitness level.
This device is the healthy part of a CrossFit plan or a HIIT exercise program.
The Cons of a Rower
While I’ve never met anyone who regretted owning a rower, I am aware that rowers, depending on what version you purchase, can have some drawbacks, such as :
- While some rowers fold, not all of them do. This means that you will need to have enough space to both store it and use it if you do not have a foldable version.
- A lot of people tend to jump right on their new toy, and they don’t bother to learn the proper form. This can lead to low backaches and shoulder pain.
- If the model you have chosen uses air or water for resistance, there are times when this might be noisy enough to annoy others.
- There is no question that a rower is generally less expensive than a bike, but if you choose a top-of-the-line model with all the bells and whistles, you could end up spending a lot more than you planned to.
Which Is Better: Assault Bike or Rower?
Now that we’ve inspected the pros and cons of each, let’s see how they compare side by side as they are quite different machines.
How Similar Are an Air Bike and a Rowing Device?
If your question is, “Why are we comparing these two very different things?” it’s because these two devices are the same in some ways.
Both are low-impact pieces of equipment, which means they won’t harm the joints.
Due to the above fact, this makes both items a great choice for those who have injuries, arthritis, joint pain, or are overweight.
No matter which one you choose, you are sure to get a complete workout, whether you use Crossfit or a HIIT program.
If the rowing device you have chosen is not foldable, it can take up quite a bit of space, as can the bike. Side Note: If you are on a budget there are even rowers available for under $200 which you can try out initially and see how much you enjoy rowing before you spend too much money.
What’s the Major Difference?
If I were to say what the major difference was between the two, I would tell you that the air bike makes you work constantly. These bikes do have a “free-wheeling” option, if you will, where you can rest for a few moments.
With a rowing device, you at least get to “glide” as you return to start. After a good 20 or 30 minutes, you really come to appreciate that moment of gliding and not really working so hard!
It’s a small thing, yes, but for some, it makes a world of difference.
What’s Your Plan?
I’d say it all depends on your plan.
If you’re the type of person who wants to get into your exercise routine and work your behind off, if you don’t care about resting and HIIT is your first love, then an air bike might be better for you.
If you like to change things up, enjoy breaking with routine and getting just a moment to rest while working out, a rowing tool is right up your alley.
A Personal Note
This is strictly personal and not something that everyone will agree with, but I can go almost anywhere and find a bike. An assault bike, fan bike, whatever you wish to call it, these can be found in nearly every gym around the world.
A rowing device? Not so much. I love having my own piece of equipment in my house that I can use whenever I like. When I hit the gym, I can use the air bike.
The Bottom Line
For all-over body conditioning and training, both of these devices are going to serve you well.
For CrossFitters, both these items work equally well, just note that CrossFit has a preference for rowing – if you are into to CrossFit click here to learn what rowing machine does Crossfit use?
Air bikes are terrific for hard workouts, but many times, they are a bit too hard for those who are new to exercise.
If you really can’t decide, my advice would be to purchase the rowing device first. You can use the airbike at your local gym if you like, and then if you want to add one to your home gym, you can always do so.
I’ve never known anyone who regretted purchasing a rowing device; I can’t say that about an airbike!
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Written by Petra Amara – RowingCrazy.com
CEO & Founder of RowingCrazy, National Rower, Coxswain Womens Eight Team, Rowing Coach & Writer
Petra is a Mother of two and owner of Rowingcrazy.com. Petra lives and breathes rowing, she also has a passion for writing which lead her to start RowingCrazy.com to share her rowing experience and expertise with others.