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Rower vs Elliptical Machines – Who Won for Best Workout?

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Preparing to make the next big purchase for your home gym is a big decision. Is it better to go with an elliptical trainer or a rowing machine?

A rowing machine vs elliptical is a great argument, but the first thing to know is that rowing machines are the best piece of equipment to workout your whole body. Elliptical trainers are really best just for their cardio benefits.

Anytime you are debating a rowing machine vs elliptical you need to break down the benefits to both and see where your priorities are. If you are after just cardio and heart benefits, then elliptical trainers could be an option, and they are a great way to get in a great non-weight bearing workout. That said, if you have injuries to your lower back, for example, you would be better with a rower. 

Both machines are a great way to burn a lot of calories per hour and you will get a lower body work out with both. Probably the biggest difference between both these machines vs treadmill is that either a rowing machine or an elliptical trainer can give you a great low impact total body work out. A treadmill is higher in impact and you don’t get a total body work out.

Which is Better Rowing Machine or a Treadmill – Click Here See Who Won!

Is a Rowing Machine better than an Elliptical?

Rower vs Elliptical - Who Won for Best Workout?

In some ways yes rowing machines could be better vs elliptical since you are working out more of your total body with a rowing machine. Think of a rowing machine as a great way to do perform non-weight bearing exercise.

While both machines can help you with weight loss because you will get a full body workout, you actually burn far more calories with rowing machines than an elliptical trainer. While burning calories should not be the only goal of your fitness journey, it is important. The short answer is that both a rower and an elliptical are better than a treadmill in terms of burning calories, and that a rower is a little better than an elliptical.


You just don’t get the same upper body workout with an elliptical trainer as you do with rowing machines, so if you want a whole body experience, go with a rowing machine instead of an elliptical machine.

Elliptical trainers are great machines, for sure, but nothing can beat rowing machines in terms of the overall workout your body will get while not causing any harm to your joints that some high impact workouts do.

people working out on cross trainers

What is better for Weight Loss Rowing Machine or Cross Trainer?


table showing calories burned for a rower vs other Machines

While elliptical machines are easy to use, you might find that you lose more weight with a rowing machine. If you use a rowing machine for your primary form of exercise, your muscles will get stronger and you will get a cardio workout, all while protecting your lower back from injury.

Rowing machines absolutely help you burn more calories than using a treadmill – almost double the amount in fact. The best way to use any fitness machine, ellipticals or rowers, is to use them regularly. Pick the machine that is going to encourage you to use it and put in the work and exercise!


As far as a rowing machine vs elliptical, the rowing machines are ahead by a little. Elliptical machines do cause you to burn a lot of calories, but not as many as a rowing machine, and it does not give you as many overall health benefits as a workout on a rowing machine, making a rowing machine the clear winner for weight loss and calories burned.

Are Rowing Machines Good for Losing Weight?

Rowing machines are great for your overall health. That is the most important. Yes, you will likely lose weight if you incorporate a healthy diet into your plan as well. More importantly, you will gain muscle definition and likely shed some weight around your belly.

Elliptical trainers are good for losing weight but they don’t give you the same muscle tone and overall health benefits that a rowing machine does. Yes, if losing weight is your top goal then an elliptical might help you meet those goals. However, if you are looking to lose weight then you probably want to improve your overall health, and if that’s the case a rowing machine is going to help you accomplish your goals better than an elliptical trainer.

With a rowing machine, you get a program designed to provide health benefits and an overall reduction in body weight. Fortunately, you can find great rowing machines for sale online

When thinking about losing weight, try to worry less about the amount of calories or if you can burn calories (read more)  and more about the muscles used and health benefits from using exercise equipment.

Overall Comparison of a Rowing Machine vs Elliptical

Anytime you can get in a good workout and healthy exercise your body is going to benefit. That holds true whether you use a treadmill, an elliptical trainer, an exercise bike, or a rowing machine. Get your body moving!

While the proper form is important, it is just as important that you get up and get moving. Rowing machines are going to give you the best overall health benefit, better than any other cardio equipment you can buy and probably the best exercise you can get at home for your total body.

An exercise bike is also low impact so could be a good option, but your upper body doesn’t get a workout. An elliptical is more total body, but it doesn’t help you build muscle and add strength, and a treadmill just focuses on your lower body and can cause injury.

If you’ve ever used equipment to benefit your cardiovascular system but then felt like your arms, back, or other muscles weren’t getting a workout, then you need to consider the technique required to use a rowing machine and you will soon realize your whole body can get in a good workout, including your arms and back.

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What if you have an injury?

While some injuries may prevent you from doing any work or exercise, most times an injury could benefit from a little exercise and might need some work to the muscles to have you feeling better. Plus, any time you can use an exercise machine you are going to reap cardiovascular benefits, which can only help your injuries even if you use light resistance levels. You can even have bad technique, and your heart will still benefit.

Your overall fitness should include self-care after you hurt your back or injure a leg, but you might find that an elliptical machine might prevent you from exercising those muscles. Go slow and monitor your body, but know that there are many low resistance workouts you may do to improve your back. One such workout would be using a rowing machine, since it is a low impact way to get blood flowing to your whole body.

If you hurt your arms, a rowing machine can be a great way to ease them back into activity. You may use a technique that takes the pressure off of any joints that might be injured. The nice thing about your gym being in your house is that you can ease into working out without any pressure.

With an injury, do make sure you don’t overdo it and go back to fitness too fast too soon. Take it easy. Ease back into working out until you make sure your injury is healed enough that you can handle a more strenuous workout.


So, what is the Best Machine for your Health?

A rowing machine works out your back, muscles, and gives you cardio benefits all in one machine. Rowers are a great way to help your fitness by giving you a low impact way to use some resistance and improve your fitness.

lady working out on rowing machine showing calories burned

Any machine is going to involve some work to get those muscles toned, but a rowing machine is going to be better than a bike or ellipticals because you only want to need one machine to reap great rewards and no injuries. That describes a rower. Elliptical trainers are going to only train certain muscle groups, so go with a rower so you can get more of a total body workout.

Don’t read into the hype around elliptical trainers. You want a machine that does both strength training and cardio, and that would be a rowing machine that works out your entire body. If you are limited in your ability to buy more than one machine for your home, there is no better choice than a rowing machine since it is the only machine that can truly give a workout to your entire body.

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