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Rowing Machine vs Elliptical: Which Gives a Better Workout Rowing Machine or Elliptical? – 2024 Guide

Rowing Machine vs Elliptical

Rowing machine vs elliptical: there are quite a few exercise machines for cardiovascular exercises, these help you in improving your metabolism, losing fat and weight, maintaining health and prevent diseases such as cardiac diseases, high cholesterol, and other diseases that may be caused due to obesity.

Whether you chose to use the rowing machine or an elliptical machine or even a treadmill, the good news is that by using all three, you will burn calories and you will also be able to strengthen your body.

However, all the rowing machines and the elliptical machine also give distinct benefits to your body.


What is a Rowing Machine?

Rowing Machine

As the name suggests, a rowing machine is an exercise machine that has the ability to imitate the motion of rowing a boat while ensuring a whole-body workout to ensure good health.

This exercise machine helps you in developing your upper body along with the lower body. It also leads to weight loss and maintenance of your health by preventing chronic diseases.

The rowing machines consist of a braking mechanism that is connected to a chain. It also comes with footrests and the seat slides upon a rail.

What is Elliptical?


The elliptical exercise equipment provides high intensity or light-intensity workout to your body depending upon your need which is why people who may have injuries are able to use the elliptical.

It has pedal links that provide various pedal motions to the user. This exercise machine allows adjustment so the user is able to target various lower body muscles and remains fit.

The pedal links are attached to the handle-levers so that the burden is equally divided between the arms and the feet.

This way, not only the arms or legs are burdened.

Rowing Machine vs Elliptical: The Differences Between Elliptical And Rowing Machine

Elliptical versus rowing machine

If we talk about the ease of use, then elliptical is easier as compared to the rowing machine.

When you are new to cardiovascular exercises, then you will surely need the help of your trainer to get started with the rowing machine.

Elliptical, on the other hand, is basically running but with greater resistance, unlike the treadmill.

The chain or the bar of the rowing machine is not fixed which means that you need to know the proper technique to avoid any injury.

The rowing machine is excellent for the arm and back workout while the elliptical is exceptional for the lower body workout.

Both of them have the ability to provide distinct benefits, now it depends upon your body and the need of your body because both of them burn calories but they do train different parts of the body.

If you are someone who is in the need of a good arm and back workout, along with that requires a good lower body workout then you should include both of the exercise machines into your workout routine.

Rowing Machine

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine is exercise equipment that mainly focuses upon your back workout.

It helps in training the muscles of the upper back, the traps, rhomboid, posterior deltoids, and other muscles.

It also helps in strengthening the areas that are present around your spine. it replicates the motion of rowing a boat while ensuring that it becomes a full boy workout for individuals.

It does put pressure on the knees so people who have issues with their knees should not use the rowing machine as they can have pain.

Rowing Machine Features

A braking mechanism that is connected to a bar or a chain, along with footrests and a seat are the major components of the rowing machine.

The seat slides upon the rail allowing the user to push and pull the bar or the chain.

Weight-loss, upper body workout, lower-body workout, and low-impact cardio are some of the few key features of the rowing machine.

The rowing machine can be intense for some people so people who have back or knee injuries should not use it.

Rowing Machine

How Rowing Machine works

A lot of the people in the gym may be using the rowing machine is the wrong way.

The correct usage of the rowing machine involves four steps:

  • Pushing with legs
  • Pulling the chain with your arms (it also has an impact on your back)
  • Bringing the bar or the chain back to the starting posting by relaxing your arms and back
  • Bringing your back to the starting position by relaxing your legs

If all of these steps are followed, you will observe a difference in your workouts.

How much to do in a day?

People may use rowing machines for different purposes. Some may use it only to maintain health and others intend to lose weight with it.

If you are someone who is intending to only maintain health with a rowing machine then working out with low or moderate intensity for 30 minutes, or working out with high intensity for 15 minutes every day is more than enough.

However, if you are using it for weight loss, then you will need to follow the instructions of your trainer and you will need to do it for more than 15 minutes depending upon the need of your body.

How many calories does it burn?

The rowing machine burn calories depending from the individual to individual. Some people burn calories very easily and others might take a lot of time.

If an individual rows at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes then it is likely that he will end up burning around 210 calories if he weighs 125 pounds. Also, if the individual weighs 185 pounds then he will burn 311 calories.

Best Rowing Machine on the Market

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5

Rowing Machine (3)

  • It provides upper body workout and lower body workout as well
  • Since it is affordable, you can keep it in your home gym
  • It allows weight loss by burning calories
  • Effective aerobic exercise can be done with it
  • Rowing machines may cause stress on the knees, if used consistently then it may cause knee pain the long turn.
  • Also, people who have back or knee or back injuries will not be able to use it as it may cause them pain.




The elliptical exercise equipment consists of pedal links and handles levers that are attached together and the motion is similar to running or walking but with increased resistance.

It mainly focuses on the lower body muscles. People who want to strengthen their leg muscles should definitely opt for elliptical exercise equipment.

Elliptical Features

The elliptical exercise equipment has adjustable resistance which can be adjusted according to the need of the people.

It also has an adjustable incline.

With its quiet operation, it doesn’t annoy the people around it and you can also keep it in your home gym.

Smooth elliptical motion and forward and reverse motion are the major features of the elliptical exercise equipment.

How Elliptical Works

The pedal links and the handle levers are connected together, the user can use the pedal links to apply pressure and also uses the handle levers to divide the pressure applied.

By using the pedal links and handle levers both, the burden is divided and the machine is able to train the lower back muscles, arm muscles and also trains the areas that are present around the spine.

How much to do in a day?

If you are using the elliptical exercise equipment for the first time then you can start by using it for 10 minutes each day to get the hang of it.

Once you get the hang of it, you can start increasing the time duration of each session to up to 20 to 30 minutes.

This will maintain your health and your weight. If you are someone who intends to lose weight then you need to have a session of an even greater time period.

A session ranging from 30-60 minutes, depending upon your need is good enough for weight loss.


How many calories does it burn?

Again, just like the rowing machine, each body may burn calories differently.

According to the research of Harvard, a 30-minute-long session of the elliptical exercise equipment has the ability to burn 345 calories for a person who has a weight of 160 pounds.

Best Elliptical Machine on the market

Nautilus E614 Elliptical Trainer


  • It has the ability to boost stamina and cardio capacity
  • It is also great for people who have back injuries, they can even work out with it at a low intensity.
  • People who have injuries don’t get to do a lot of exercises because the exercise machines may end up causing pain to them, so this one is beneficial for them.
  • It allows you to target specific muscles of the legs
  • It doesn’t put pressure or stress on the joints of the individuals
  • The low impact exercise that you get from the elliptical exercise equipment doesn’t give muscle strength

FAQs of Elliptical Vs Rowing Machine

Is a rowing machine better than an elliptical?

The rowing machine and the elliptical equipment exercise are both beneficial for the users. They both have distinct features and they provide distinct benefits to the body.

However, if you talk about the calories then in terms of calorie-burning, the rowing machine burns 800 calories per hour while the elliptical exercise machine burns 700 calories per hour.

The difference is only 100 calories. Also, a rowing machine that is better for one person may not be better for the other.

Is a rowing machine better than walking or running?

The rowing machine is better in terms of weight loss and strengthening of the muscle while walking and running are better in terms of calorie burning.

So, we cannot clearly say which one is better. It depends upon the need for your body and personal preference but both of them provide great benefits to the body whether it is calorie-burning of muscle strengthening.


Which is better for belly fat?

The rowing machine is certainly better for belly fat, it trains the upper body and also trains the lower body.

The belly fat can certainly be gotten rid of with the help of the rowing machine.

The elliptical on the other hand also helps with losing belly fat but less than the rowing machine. The elliptical is great for strengthening leg muscles.

With the rowing machine, the user pulls and pushes, and then relaxes the legs and arms too, during the four-step process of using the rowing machine, belly fat is burned. Even then, you should check with your trainer.

Which is a good rowing machine treadmill or elliptical?

The rowing machine trains your upper body, and lower body but focuses mainly on the back and arms muscles, the elliptical is tremendous for training the leg muscles and the lower body.

The treadmill allows you to get a good run and burn calories. If you only intend to burn calories then you should go for the treadmill but if you want to strengthen muscles as well then go for the elliptical and rowing machine.

The treadmill is great because it provides you with a good run a home without having to go outside in the harsh weather. All three of them are good in their own way.


Whether it is a rowing machine or a piece of elliptical exercise equipment, the use of these machines depends upon your body.

Some people are obese and are struggling to lose weight, some people are not overweight but they just want to maintain their weight.

Then there are some people who are only focusing on muscle strength. So, the kind of exercise machine that you need to use, it totally depends upon the need of your body.

Saying that the rowing machine is better or the elliptical is better would not be fair because it depends upon the body to body and person to person.


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