Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill: Which Is Better?

Are you trying to decide which piece of cardio equipment is right for you? If so, it can be tough to decide between a rowing machine and a treadmill. Rowing machines and treadmills are two popular pieces of equipment found in gyms. Both offer a great workout, but which one is right for you? Both have their pros and cons, which we will discuss in this post. Hopefully, by the end of it, you will have a better idea of which one is right for you.
Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill

What Is A Rowing Machine?

Rowing machines come in all shapes and sizes. They are often used in gyms to train the upper body but also for full-body workouts such as rowing races (google indoor rowing). There are hydraulic resistance, magnetic resistance, and air resistance rowing machines. Hydraulic and magnetic work on a flywheel mechanism whereas air works using an impeller with blades that spins to create wind which creates resistance against the user’s stroke.

Moreover, rowing machines offer a low-impact workout that is suitable for people with injuries or medical conditions. In addition, rowing offers a total-body workout as it engages the legs, back, arms and abdominals.

Commercially available rowing machines have been used to measure physiological parameters such as oxygen consumption, lactate threshold, heart rate recovery, and peak blood pressure during exercise. Recently, there has been an increase in the popularity of using rowing machines at home because of the ease of use and their relatively low cost.

What Is A Treadmill?

Treadmills are a popular exercise machine that allows users to run or walk indoors. They come with many options such as different speeds, inclines, and targeted training programs (such as fat burners).

There is some debate about the benefits of walking on a treadmill compared to walking outdoors. Some people feel walking on a treadmill has less of an impact on joints whereas others may find it boring. If you live in town and simply want to log the distance you’ve run/walked instead of actually running/walking outside then perhaps a treadmill might be worth considering.

Besides, treadmills are often used in large gyms to determine physiological parameters such as oxygen consumption, heart rate, and lactate threshold. Recently, there has been an increase in the use of treadmills at home due to their ease of use and relatively low cost.

How Does A Rowing Machine Work?

Rowing machines work in a similar way to a rowing boat. When a rower rows, they use their legs and back muscles to drive the body’s motion forwards while also compressing their abdominals.

In addition, during a stroke, the handle is pushed away from the user then pulled back by the arms until it touches their legs near the abdomen (or at least it should touch). The movement of pulling the handle towards them is called “the drive” while pushing away is referred to as “recovery.”

Every time you pull or push on the handle during your workout generates power which creates resistance against your body. You can control this resistance using different types of settings such as air resistance or hydraulic resistance.

Rowing, not at all like treadmill running, gives you a full-body work out. With the sliding situate and hand-held bar, a rowing machine may give whole body conditioning in case you keep up appropriate technique. A rowing machine, like a treadmill, employments your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps,  glutes, and abs with each stroke. The lats, biceps, pecs,  deltoids, triceps, and obliques, among other upper body muscles, are all broadly included. As you’ll see, paddling locks in significantly more muscles than running. Hooking the bar on a rowing machine makes a difference fortify your hands and wrists over time. 

Using rowing machines may be called a high exercise as well as a muscular workout. This implies it’s excellent for cardio exercises and fat burning, as well as overall fitness. Because rowing has stronger full-body muscular activation, you may assume that it is a stronger activity based on this overall comparison.

How Does A Treadmill Work?

Modern treadmills are electric-powered which is why they are often referred to as “treadmill machines.” The movement is created by passing a belt under the unit at the front end. The belt is attached to capsules on either side of the belt and every time one of these capsules moves, it runs across the rollers which in turn propels the belt forward. As soon as you step onto this moving belt, its motion creates resistance against your body.

This resistance can be controlled using some models via buttons or dials while others provide pre-set training programs (eg fat burners) that progressively increase the speed/resistance over time. devices also have their own built-in programs that can be accessed- either by programming the machine or choosing a program.

Nonetheless, the motion of running on a treadmill is not as natural and smooth as using a rowing machine and it certainly does put more stress on your joints. However, many people feel they get an effective workout when using treadmills due to their low impact nature allowing you to run for longer periods of time without them causing too much strain on the body.

The hamstrings and quadriceps, the glutes and calves, are the key muscles engaged in a treadmill workout. When you raise your speed to running, the abdominal muscles are likely to be activated as well.

The pectorals, shoulders, back, and arm muscles are all slightly strained during upper body activation. While you may carry weights while running to give your arms a better workout, jogging is largely a lower-body activity. To enhance your sprinting technique, learn about good sprinting form. 

It’s worth emphasizing that treadmills are a universally accessible exercise machine. Most are fitted with handrails, allowing you to do your workout slowly and steadily while bracing oneself with the arms.

This is a significant benefit for fitness novices since it improves efficiency out regardless of your skill. For people who are just getting started with cardio, a leisurely jog on the treadmill with a moderate incline might be beneficial.

What Are Some Differences Between The Treadmill Vs Rowing Machine?

Muscle Development:

Both of these workout machines can help you grow muscle, but let’s see which one is superior if that’s your main goal. The lower body muscles we’ve as of now portrayed, such as leg muscles and supporting muscles, are primarily influenced by the treadmill.

Regardless, there aren’t many choices for increasing treadmill tension to work out your muscles greater successfully. To get a greater aerobic workout, raise the pace or inclination, although this will only minimally boost the core strength capability of this workout.

Rowing machines, in contrast, are fantastic for muscular development. When you are rowing, you’re strengthening your lower and upper body muscles, and it’s simple to make the activity more difficult by raising the damper. On a rowing machine, you may effortlessly build core muscles, back muscles, arm power, and abs. The rowing machine is a far superior workout machine choice for maximum benefits in the external rotators and biceps.

Calorie Burning Capacity:

This is another important aspect to take into account if you’re interested in using either of these fitness machines. The treadmill possesses the possible advantage here simply because it provides users with control over speed and incline. You can raise both on a treadmill to increase your calorie-burning rate during the training exercise, but many treadmills only go up to 15-16mph so its benefits are limited.

The rowing machine, however, allows individuals to set their own pace and resistance level which turns them into high-calorie burners. This implies that they provide more bang for your buck than treadmills do when it comes to working out hard enough to meet your weight loss goals.

Also, people know that running outside burns more calories than running on a treadmill, but this is only true when you run outside at the same speed as on a treadmill.

Considerations For The Impact:

When it comes to the impact on your joints, the rowing machine is sometimes considered superior compared to a treadmill. Some people use rowing machines to relieve pain and stress on their joints because it provides a workout that doesn’t put as much strain on them as other techniques do. To be honest, you should always protect your body from injury by warming up before moving too fast but this is especially true if you’re using a rower.

The truth is that both machines have their pros and cons when it comes to impact on joints – or lack thereof – so keep in mind that these are only broad generalizations based on what we know. Just make sure you choose an appropriate intensity level for your workout to avoid problems.

Energy Expenditure:

Both, the treadmill and rower are fairly equal when it comes to energy expenditure. However, generally speaking, the treadmill expends more energy if you’re using its manual settings which is why treadmills can be found in gyms where people are looking for quick results.

The good news here is that both machines are sufficient enough to meet your needs if you want an effective workout without having to spend too much time on them. For most people, three half-hour sessions per week of either one will be sufficient enough to see noticeable changes just as long as they put in a strong effort at those times.

Still, some might find that they have more endurance with the rowing machine than with a treadmill. This is most likely due to the fact that rowing machines can allow people to burn more energy and build muscle as they work on strengthening their technique.

Fitness Level:

Both workout machines are used by people o all fitness levels, but experts recommend that beginners start off with a rowing machine before moving to a treadmill if they want to get started right away.

Beginners can use both machines without doing too much damage so it’s up to their personal preferences and the results they’re looking for when deciding which one to use. Overall, experts agree that a rowing machine is more suitable for people who are just starting out because it provides people with a smooth workout that will help build endurance while protecting them from injury when performed at the proper intensity range. Treadmills must be approached in much the same way.

The Comparison Between Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill

Now that we’ve covered the specific qualifications for each machine individually, let’s take a look at how they compare with one another.


Rowing Machine:

The good news is that a rowing machine won’t take up too much space in your home. Most models are relatively small so they can be stored under a bed or in the corner of a room without being too much of an eyesore.

However, you should keep in mind that it will take up more space if you purchase one with seat rails which move back and forth for sliding resistance. If possible, find one without these since they’ll just get in your way. Most machines have wheels to help you move them around though so don’t worry about this being cumbersome when not using it.


A treadmill takes up significantly more space than a rower whether you’re storing it away or using it for an intense workout. Treadmills are typically placed against a wall to give you more room but they’re also larger due to their design and the fact that they have moving parts that will require a dedicated area for storage.

You’ll definitely need an open space without too many doors if you want to use your treadmill so keep this in mind when choosing between these two machines. Some treadmills are foldable so they can get out of the way, but don’t expect them to store away completely on their own.


Rowing Machine:

Most of these devices are bulky and heavy so it’s hard to find a model that can be folded down when not in use. That being said, there are some units that come with built-in storage options such as wheels or transportation handles which allow you to move the equipment around after each workout session.


The majority of treadmills have a foldable option which is why they have become popular over the years. The best part is that all major treadmill brands offer folding models so your only problem might be finding a big enough area for them! There aren’t too many workout machines out there designed to be used by more than 300lbs men so treadmills can definitely do the job without any problems whatsoever.

Type Of Workout

Rowing Machine:

Rowing machines come with a variety of features that allow you to do more than just cardio. You can track your calorie burn rate, heart rate, time, and distance for instance so these devices are often used by people who want to lose weight or just keep fit in general.


The main idea behind a treadmill is to simulate running on ground level in order to help you get in shape without going outside. These machines have been around for a long time so the odds are that you’ll be able to find one that’s similar in nature to real-life conditions when it comes to speed and gradient changes. 


Rowing Machine:

While there are many high-quality rowing machines on the market, you don’t have to spend more than $500 for a good device that will help you get in shape while having fun at the same time. There are also some entry-level models that will only cost you around $100 if this is your budget then it’s best that you look into adjustable resistance rowers which allow you to adjust the intensity once you grow stronger over time.


The price range can vary greatly when looking for a treadmill depending on the size, quality, warranty period, and features. A cheap treadmill will typically cost around $500, average units are $1000+, while the best ones can go for over $2000. You can get a commercial-grade model that’s suitable for various types of training but keep in mind that these devices are often quite heavy and bulky so you’d need to find room for them.

User Friendliness

Rowing Machine:

Another great benefit of the rowing machine is how user-friendly it is! It’s extremely easy to get on one of these machines even if you’ve never used one before since you can adjust the resistance by simply adding more or less pressure with your body weight. The only complicated part might be setting up some models which don’t come pre-assembled in the box.


A treadmill is user-friendly in the sense that it’s meant to be walked on or run upon but most of these models come with a complicated console and controls which aren’t exactly self-explanatory. You can find some machines with pulse grips, chest straps, and built-in fans though so don’t worry about getting a boring machine even though they tend to be more expensive than other types.


Rowing Machine:

The good news is that if you’re looking for something that’s more portable than a treadmill then a rower is great! You can pick up most of these models with ease even though some of them can be a bit bulky.

The downside is that some models don’t fold and it can take time to assemble them if they do not come pre-assembled. You may also want to consider getting an adjustable rowing machine for ergonomic support and added comfort.


A treadmill is significantly heavier than a rowing machine which means that you won’t be able to move one around with ease. Most of these are designed for stationary use only so they’ll stay in the location where you leave them or find it difficult to push even when unplugged from the wall outlet.

If you need something portable, then look elsewhere but keep in mind that some treadmills allow you to fold them up so they take less space. Don’t expect to fold it up and move it around though because most of these models are bulky and heavy.

Safety Features

Rowing Machine:

When it comes to safety features then you’ll have no problem finding one that will keep your legs safe from harm as this type of exercise equipment has been around for years now. There are adjustable footrests designed to provide support as well as shin straps that hold your feet in place as they provide optimal rowing motion.


Since treadmills were invented fairly recently, you won’t find many units with adjustable footrests and shin straps so your knees may come under threat if you don’t pay enough attention to the machine’s mechanics. Most of these models are either belt-driven or have a large surface area which doesn’t make them very safe for use even though there are some safety features added nowadays. 

Rower Vs Treadmill: What Is The Best Cardio Exercise?

For most people out there, a treadmill is simply a better option when it comes to cardio training. Sure enough, some rowing machine models come with many more features and they’re designed to help you keep fit but treadmills are still considered to be the superior choice for many reasons. If you want an easy way to burn calories without having any complicated equipment or setups then go for a nice model that can do everything you might need!

Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill: Which Would Be Better For Weight Loss?

While this is a tricky question to answer, the odds are that you’ll lose more weight if you go for cardio training on a treadmill than rowing. This is because treadmills provide an actual running motion which helps speed up your metabolism while also making you burn calories at a faster rate than when using stationary machines. A rowing machine tends to be less tedious so it shouldn’t be used as the only workout tool but it’s not designed for intensive exercise programs anyway.

So, lastly, goes to a conclusion, that rowing machine is better than treadmill when it comes to safety and workout effectiveness, but if you’re looking for the most efficient cardio training possible then a treadmill should be your number one choice.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Rowing Machine?

The main advantage of using a rowing machine is that it allows the user to achieve the same results as if they were running or walking outdoors. The difference is that your heart rate won’t increase significantly which makes this machine an ideal option for people who are overweight, have joint problems, need to recover from surgeries or suffer from cardiovascular diseases.

As far as losing weight goes, users claim you can burn up to 700 calories per hour on a rowing machine so if you’re ready to invest two hours every day then you should be able to see some fantastic results! Another benefit comes in the form of flexibility since most models are compact enough to fit into smaller houses and apartments. 

Lastly, these machines are designed with comfort in mind so even though you’ll be exercising non-stop, there’s almost no chance of getting bored.

What Are Some Of The Advantages Of The Treadmill?

One of the biggest advantages when it comes to running on a treadmill is that you won’t have to worry about bad weather. Sure, you can adapt your schedule in order to make sure you get some cardio training in whenever the opportunity arises but wearing shorts in winter or trying to run outside when it’s raining are simply not advisable!

Another good thing about treadmills is that they don’t require any assembly and if money is an issue then you should know that most models cost less than $1000 which makes them accessible for people who want to stay fit without becoming overweight. A big advantage with the treadmill vs rowing machine debate has to do with safety because even though walking and jogging outdoors might seem like a safe activity, there are so many hazards waiting for you so why risk it when running on a treadmill is always an option?

Last but not least, working out at home can save you time because there are no commuting costs or gym memberships to worry about. You can simply set up your equipment in the living room or basement and get ready to sweat!

So, Which Is Better, Treadmill Or Rowing Machine? 

Overall, both machines offer a great way for any person looking to burn some extra calories and strengthen various muscles in the body. Some might find that they prefer one over the other but it’s important to remember that your fitness journey looks different from another person’s – what works for you might not work as well for someone else and vice versa.

When deciding between a treadmill or rowing machine, ask yourself what kind of workout you’re looking for and go from there. If you want a challenge, consider using free weights instead if neither appeals to you then a rowing machine is a good option that will help you become more flexible and burn off some extra calories.

If you’re willing to put in the effort then running for an hour every day on a treadmill might be great for your heart but it’s still not as effective as using a rowing machine. In order to achieve similar results, you would have to run for at least two hours so if time is something you can’t really afford then getting a rowing machine seems like a better idea! 


So, which is the better workout machine for you – a rowing machine or treadmill? The answer to this question really depends on your personal fitness goals and preferences. If you’re looking to primarily improve your cardiovascular health, then the treadmill would be a better choice. However, if you’re looking to tone up your entire body, the rowing machine is definitely the way to go. Whichever machine you choose, make sure to always consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

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