Spin Bikes vs Rowing Machines – Which Is the Best Workout? A Complete Guide

Spin bike vs rowing machine, which is the best workout? You might be questioning yourself and wondering which one is the best for you and which one is worth buying and adding to your home gym.

The difference between spin bikes and rowing machines is the type of workout they offer. Rowing machine offer a fully body workout that includes upper and lower body while spin bikes only offer lower body workout. As a result you burn less calories using a spin bike than a rowing machine.

We want to state that both are great, for several and different reasons. Our main goal here is to point out the features of each piece of equipment and help you to make the decision that will best suit your fitness goals.

Although there are numerous options available, it all comes with questions when choosing between spin bikes and indoor rowing machines. Start making some questions to yourself, a checklist to have a clear fitness plan while selecting the best equipment for you.

What are your short and long term goals? How is your overall fitness condition? Do you prefer low-impact exercises, or do you practice high-intensity exercises?

Also, think about your space. Where is this equipment being placed? Do you need this equipment to move around, or it will be stationary? Do you have storage space? Is the level of noise an issue for you? How about price and maintenance?

Finding the right equipment is important, and it is what will make a real difference for you in your exercise success. In this guide, you will find out the differences between both types of equipment, the features that you should check before you purchase one and how to make the final decision.


When it comes to workout, both types of equipment are great for beginners. However, indoor rowing machines are considered low-impact, best suited for those who have joint problems. On the other hand, spin bikes are also beneficial for those who prefer moderate to high-intensity sessions of spinning classes.

Rowing machines are great cardiovascular exercises and help to increase the oxygen circulation, benefit from the strokes movements, and improve all the body’s functions, including blood circulation and your heart. They are also considered a full-body workout, operating approximately 85% of the muscular system, including the upper back, triceps, lats, glutes, hamstrings, calves, deltoids, pecs, biceps, abs, obliques and quadriceps.

When compared to indoor rowing machines, stationary bikes are also great for the heart and the circulatory system, working mainly in the lower body, with a low impact on the upper body. Regular workouts can help you increase your cardio-respiratory capacity and strengthen many of your muscles, including your heart. Some of these muscles are the glutes, the hamstrings, the quadriceps, the calves, abdominal and back muscles, the biceps and triceps.


If your main goal is to lose weight, here are some great facts that can help you. According to health experts, indoor cycling and indoor rowing not only strengthen your heart but also have the capacity to burn significant amounts of calories. Both will help you burn calories, and the one-hour session can consume an average of 600 calories.

That said, rowing exercise engages more muscles in upper body than cycling. Remember that practising exercises regularly will help you to burn more calories, benefiting your health, your body and your mood.


Although both machines are not considered very loud, they still can produce some noise. In both types of equipment, the noise level will depend on the type of resistance system they have.

When comparing the indoor rowing machines, the air resistance rowers is the one that generates some extra noise while working out. If this is a concern for you, prefer the water rowing machines or the magnetic rowing machines.

On the other hand, when comparing the stationary spin bikes, consider the ones built with magnetic resistance and belt drive since they are the quietest models available. The noisiest models would be the ones made with friction resistance and chain drive.


Indoor rowing machines tend to take up more space than stationary bikes. The average space required of a rowing machine is 9 ft by 4 ft. On the other hand, spin bikes take around 5 ft by 2 ft of needed space.

In fact one of the reasons many people decide to buy spin bikes instead of rowing machines is the limited floor space they have available! Do not forget to measure your area before purchasing your equipment.


Before you make a decision on which equipment you are going to purchase, make sure you have your fitness goal very clear and set up a budget.

Overall, indoor rower equipments are less expensive than an indoor stationary bike when compared to both commercial-grade equipments mainly because rowing machines come with basic consoles measuring speed, time, calories, pace or RPM, only with a limited number of options offering download stats on an app, for example.

Both types of equipment have more affordable models with fewer features; however, make sure you check them before you purchase, especially if you intend to use them regularly and for high-intensity workouts.


Both types of equipment are more focused on performance rather than technological features. They are built to let you exercise as intensively as you desire. For the extras, both present pretty standard LCD monitors with average display information.

Some spin bike models are built with digital equipment that enhances the overall cycling experience, offering access to high-intensity workout sessions at a lower cost. Although those bikes are pricier than the other ones, they provide significant benefits for home exercise.


When comparing rowing machines and spin bikes, both require a minimum level of maintenance, especially those that feature magnetic resistance and belt transmission instead of chain transmission and friction resistance.

In both types of equipment is important to lubricate the chain with mineral oil (be aware of the chain noise to detected any abnormality), use a dry cloth to keep it dry and clean of dust.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance, inspect your equipment regularly to keep it running smoothly, and benefit from better workout results. Note that water resistance rowers require more maintenance (water change and cleaning) than spin bikes.


When considering storage space, rowing machines win the battle, generally speaking. Most of the indoor rowing machines can be folded and stored in a vertical position.

Remember, before you purchase your equipment, make sure you measure the proper space and check the internal humidity or dry conditions since some materials can deteriorate with time and when exposed to some strict conditions.


Either the rowing machine or the stationary bikes are somehow easy to move around the space. For both types of equipment, most models come equipped with transportation wheels.

Now, if you are planning on moving your machine around the house from time to time, spin bikes are usually more compact and weigh from 50 to 150 lbs. On the other hand, indoor rowing machines are longer and can weigh 50 to 100 lbs in some cases, especially those with filled water tanks.

Always remember to check the sizes and weight capacities, especially if you plan on moving the equipment around your house. Both the place you are planing to use the equipment and the place you would like to store it.


The comfort level will depend on your overall physical condition; however, because indoor rowing machines are considered a low-impact exercise, they can be more comfortable than stationary bikes. They are also easier to hop on and hop off compared to spin bikes which is a major decision making factor for those with balance or knee issues.

Although not everyone is familiar with rowing exercises, the easiest way to pick up the pace is to mimic the motion of waves, pushing with your legs, then pulling the handlebar with arms using your back, returning and continue the same movement.

One important piece of advice here is to check the seats for the stationary bikes and consider an upgrade. There are many spin bike seats available to buy and substitute the standard ones, enhancing the level of comfort while exercising.


In a perfect world, it would be beneficial to have both types of equipment in your home gym; however, we know that space and budget are a huge factor when deciding between one or another.

Overall, make a plan of your fitness goal for the short and long term and set up your budget. Make sure you check your overall physical health, your space and storage space (if applicable).

Do not forget your overall needs and desires when it comes to these type of machines. Different people have different needs. Remember that indoor cycling bikes are not for everyone. They are more aggressive and require a better physic and more flexibility compare to lowering machines.

Do not forget that to make the most of your equipment for better results. It is recommended that you exercise 30 to 45 minutes for at least 2 to 3 times a week. No matter which equipment you choose for yourself, have fun with it!

Final Words

My honest opinion is that if you have plenty of room space and you prefer to work on both, upper and lower body, it’s better for you to buy a rowing machine. It’s a lower-impact exercise, engages the full body, and requires little effort to hop on and off. But if you have little floor space, like the hype of online studio classes, and don’t have flexibility or balance issues, I recommend you to get yourself a spin bike. Now it is your turn to share your experience with this type of equipment. Leave a comment below about your experience with indoor rowing machines or indoor stationary bikes.


Hi there, I'm Sayed Hamed Hosseiny, the founder and one of the authors at yourexercisebike.com (YEB). I am a former indoor cycling instructor and personal trainer with nearly 20 years of experience. With a passion for indoor cycling, I have spent years designing cycling parts, repairing, and importing exercise bikes. All the articles, tips, guides, reviews, and comparisons on YourExerciseBike.com (YEB) reflect my personal opinion and expertise in the field. I'm excited to share my knowledge with fellow exercise bike enthusiasts and help people find reliable indoor cycling information and the best exercise bike for their needs. If you have any questions or suggestion, you can contact me at sayed@yourexercisebike.com.

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