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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing
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“We Don’t Just Talk About Rowing – We Actually Row!”

Rowing Machine vs Stairmaster – The Clear Winner Is ….

Who is the clear winner - Rowing Machine vs Stairmaster

Are you trying to get back into shape after spending weeks chilling and binging on Netflix series? Do you want to stay in shape but don’t want to pay for those expensive gym memberships?

Whether you want to get back into shape, stay in shape, or lose weight, the one thing you need is a cardio machine that is going to work all the muscle groups in your body and burn calories like crazy, all in one device.

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There is certainly a wide range of cardio equipment you can choose for your home gym, including the assault bike, treadmill, rowing machine, and Stairmaster.

Both the Stairmaster and rowing machine are known to be super high calorie-burning, high-intensity workouts, but are they the same? How are these two machines different, and which one is better?

I’m going to answer all your questions, go through the pros and cons, and give you a good idea about what these pieces of equipment have to offer so you can make a more informed decision.

Why Stairmaster?

StairMaster SM3 StepMill

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A Stairmaster is simply a device with rotating steps or stairs that a person walks on. Imagine an endless staircase – that’s the kind of workout a Stairmaster provides.

It has a computer-controlled system that allows a person to set a predetermined time to work out (such as 30 minutes), the number of steps to complete (5,000 steps for a particular workout, for example), and speed at which the steps will rotate. It also monitors the calories burned and heart rate.

StairMaster SM3 StepMill in Use

The Pros of a Stairmaster

Stairmasters are popular and can be found at nearly all gymnasiums. Let’s see what using a stair master does for you:

  • It offers a terrific cardio workout
  • Builds muscle on the lower body
  • Can be used for interval training
  • Good at burning many calories
  • Improves balance
  • Can help you shed off unwanted pounds
  • Easy on most of your joints
  • Offers a high-resistance workout in a short amount of time
  • Engages the core muscles mildly
  • Offers a weight-bearing type of exercise which is good for building bones

These are indeed good reasons to buy a stair master, but first, let’s check out its cons.

Woman using the StairMaster SM3 StepMill

The Cons of a Stairmaster

Stairmasters are terrific pieces of equipment but they do have some drawbacks, such as the following:

  • Most people need more time to adapt to the movement
  • Will only work the lower body even if you pump your arms
  • Not suitable for those with lower back pain or other types of back problems (click here if you have back pain)
  • Unbelievably boring in a short amount of time
  • Can be intimidating as step heights vary tremendously when trying to increase resistance

StairMaster SM3 StepMill with Monitor

Why a Rowing Machine?

Even if you never plan to compete in an Olympic event or actually row on a lake, a rowing machine offers incredible benefits to one’s cardiovascular and overall health. Aside from getting your heart rate up and working out major muscle groups, it’s also a good body trainer to build your stamina and strength.

A rowing machine, sometimes called an indoor rower or simply a rower, simulates the action of rowing on a body of water.


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Rowing machines are so popular that they are now being used in competitive sport. While they might not be as popular as stair masters at your local gym, they’re fast becoming the favorite in personal gyms. A rowing machine is highly addictive once you’re accustomed to the rhythmic motion of rowing.

The Pros of Rowing Machines

When it comes to exercising, you don’t only want to work out your cardio system. You will also want to make sure that you work as many muscles as possible, burn calories, and do all that with one machine. That makes this cardio equipment your best choice.

These are some of the things that an indoor rower can do for you:

  • Works 86% of all muscles in the body
  • Burns calories at an amazing rate of 800 per hour
  • Engages your lower body and upper body muscles, ensuring a full-body workout
  • Best for elevating your heart rate and for interval training
  • Has low impact on your muscles and joints
  • Good for the back when used properly
  • Foldable models are space-saving
  • Has a soothing rhythm, not monotonous
  • Best for people of all fitness levels
  • A great alternative to machines like the elliptical trainer, treadmill, stationary bike, stair climbers, and other cardio machines
  • Good for endurance training

Check out our Buyer's Guide for Rowing machines

The Cons of Rowing Machines

Nothing in life is perfect, and that includes rowing machines. Many people find the following as some of the cons:

  • If you don’t choose a folding model, these fitness machines can be quite bulky and use quite a bit of room.
  • If you don’t use the proper form during training, you can injure your back.
  • Some models can get very noisy (you can find quiet types and models, of course).

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Which Will Help You Burn More Calories?

Sunny Health & Fitness Obsidian Surge 500 Water Rowing Machine - SF-RW5713 , Black

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If you’re looking for a device that will help you burn calories better or faster, then nothing beats an indoor rowing machine! Let’s see how it performs when compared with other fitness and training activities.

Is rowing as good as lifting weights?

Rowing Machine vs a Stair Climber

The numbers don’t lie, so see for yourself! (Note: All numbers are in calories per hour.)

Rowing Machine vs Other Forms of Exercise

Against other fitness machines and exercise, still, nothing comes close.

  • Rowing – 900
  • Elliptical- 700
  • Treadmill- 500
  • Running – 300
  • Stationary Bike- 500

Of course, these numbers will vary depending on your weight and intensity of workout. Generally, though, no exercise machine can beat the number of calories burned on a rower. Plus, you can’t deny the aerobic and cardio benefits you derive from it.

On a Tight Budget? Click Here to See Rowers Under $500!

Learn about the Hydrow Rowing Machine

The Clear Winner

If you want the best piece of training equipment to increase your overall body strength, burn calories faster than you could have ever imagined, shed off a few pounds, and if you need something that’s easy on the joints, then you’ve found it!

The best piece of equipment for interval training, cardio workouts, muscle toning, and overall fitness is an indoor rowing machine. As you can see, it’s clearly the winner alongside other stationary machines and fitness activities we’ve compared it with.