There are good reasons to value rowing against cycling as a platform to get in shape. The first and most obvious is that most gyms offer you the opportunity to get on one of the best rowing machines. (opens in a new section) or the best exercise bikes (opens in a new section).
The second less obvious reason is that, unlike running, none of the activities are stressful, which means they carry a lower risk of injury, so you can probably do some of them more often and for more. -long.
But this is rowing against cycling, not rowing and cycling, so which one to choose for your own fitness and body purposes? Is one better than the other for fitness, fat loss, function, health or your wallet? Let’s find out…
Rowing against cycling: what’s the difference?
One of the first things that everyone looks at when comparing fitness activities is calories burned. Although this is a dumb tool, it deserves attention.
According to Cycling Weekly, (opens in a new section) a person weighing 55 kg, riding a bike at 18 mph outdoors in one hour will burn 660 kcal. Meanwhile, the same person on a rowing machine (according to the algorithm that powers the popular online calorie calculators based on the collection of physical activities (opens in a new section)), a clock power of 150 watts will burn about 490 kcal, or if you really push it to 200 watts, it will burn about 690 kcal. However, it will be difficult for you to maintain this for an hour. (The figures for a person of 75 kg are 900 kcal and 670 kcl / 945 kcl, respectively).
Calorie figures tell you that cycling outperforms what is interesting, given that rowing activates about 85% of your muscles, while road cycling in particular tends to activate mainly the lower body.
The muscles worked
Rowing and cycling are great ways to build cardiovascular shape and also increase your anaerobic capacity through HIIT workouts while burning fat. Where they start to differ is in the effect on your muscles, but it also depends on the setting.
Given rowing as a start, the exercise activates the entire back chain in the drive phase, from your heels, up through the calves, hamstrings, gluteus, nucleus, spinal erectors and neck. During the pull-up phase, it also strikes the quadriceps, forearms, biceps and widths.
It activates 85% of your muscles and moreover, it moves many of these muscles throughout their range of motion, especially in the legs and back. This means that rowing in the gym will probably make you functionally stronger than riding a bike in the gym. Riding a bike in the gym does not activate so many muscles (unless you are upright from the saddle), because the upper body is less engaged.
Where this picture is changing is with downhill biking and other types of cycling, where you spend a lot of time out of the saddle, using your core to build a bridge and work your upper body like a human suspension.
Other health benefits
In terms of general health, there are many high-quality studies done on the health benefits of cycling. Once such a study published in BMJ (opens in a new section), showed that regular cycling reduces the risk of death from cancer and heart disease. And another British study published in Neuroimage (opens in a new section) found that after six weeks of cycling for 30 minutes a day, five times a week, a group of sedentary adults demonstrated an increase in brain volume in the hippocampus, where new brain cells are formed that return to their previous level after six weeks of rest.
There is less research on rowing because it is a less versatile sport, but since it is also highly aerobic, you can expect to see similar health benefits.
Once you free rowing and cycling from the gym and take them out into the open, the differences in practice and lifestyle become clear. Cyclists are available in all shapes and sizes, as are bicycles. There is a huge range of road bikes, mountain bikes, travel bikes and cycling subgenres. And new ones are constantly appearing, from gravel cycling to electronic bicycles.
You can just as easily join a cycling club as you can on your own, and there’s hardly a landscape in the world that hasn’t seen anyone try to ride a bike through it, and on old bones up to a few thousand dollars, carbon fiber machines.
Outdoor rowing, on the other hand, is a different beast. To get the same benefits for fitness and strength training as the Concept 2 outdoor rower, you need to be in a rowing boat designed to compete in regattas. So, the first thing you need to do is join a rowing club, both to access these boats and to join a crew in a rowing eight, four or a pair. (You can ride solo, but that’s something rowers tend to finish later.)
Once you join a club and register for training, competitions, schedule, then you should be prepared to row to take over most of your life. This is a team sport, so you will have to show up to train sessions in the water, as well as train your fitness with rowers, similar to Concept 2, on land. It’s definitely fun and engaging, but it’s also a commitment.
Rowing against cycling: costs
If you are comparing rowing against indoor cycling, then you are either looking for a gym membership for both, or a rowing machine or a stationary bike (or turbocharger) for your home. Stationary bikes are similar to the price of rowing machines (about $ 2,500 for a good model or about $ 300 for something very basic), although turbochargers can be significantly cheaper if you already have an outdoor bike to use with them (from about $ 250).
Once riding outdoors, the cost increases, although a entry-level road bike can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, the best trips cost over $ 10,000. In terms of annual operating costs, you will need to change the chain every few months to avoid wear on the chain and chain rings (which will also need to be replaced eventually). bill.) Other consumables include brake pads, tires and inner tubes and gear shifting cables. You can pay for an annual service to get all of these things, and you’re generally looking for at least $ 200 a year. And you will have to set aside a budget for basic accessories, such as a bicycle helmet.
Membership in a rowing club will probably cost $ 60 a month or $ 670 a year, but you don’t have to buy the boat, so there are lower initial costs to start the sport, so there’s not much in the first year.
Rowing against cycling: the sentence
When it comes down to it, rowing and cycling are great engines to improve fitness, overall health, body composition and life satisfaction. Rowing can be superior to cycling to improve performance if you never get off the bike, but if you are a mountain biker or even a gravel rider, then the difference is small. And as mentioned above, cycling seems to burn more calories if you are in the gym.
In terms of costs, the activities are similar. If you are taking advantage of the outdoor versions and do not have the time, then outdoor cycling may be a better choice than outdoor rowing.
Wherever you stand against rowing against cycling, you can rest assured that neither is a bad choice and you can just start the changes you want to make in your body and life, so get to it!