Rowing Machine vs Treadmill

In the world of fitness, the debate between the treadmill and the rowing machine is a hot topic. Both machines offer excellent cardiovascular workouts, but which one is superior? Today, we’re going to delve into the statistics and logic behind why the treadmill trumps the rower.

a woman running on a treadmill in a gym

Here is a quick comparison for Treadmills Vs. Rowers, and why we claim that Treadmills are better:

Workout IntensityVersatile, accommodates various fitness levelsEngages multiple muscle groups simultaneously
Calorie BurnModerate speed: 8.5 to 12.5 cal/min (160 lbs)Moderate workout: 210 to 311 cal/30min (155 lbs)
Impact on BonesWeight-bearing exercise, improves bone densityLow-impact exercise, no impact on bone density
Psychological BenefitsReleases endorphins, boosts mood and reduces stressCan also provide psychological benefits
Training for Running EventsMimics race conditions with adjustable speed and inclineDoesn’t provide specific training for runners
Popularity & AvailabilityCommon in gyms and homes; abundant resources availableLess common; fewer resources available
Cardiovascular HealthStrengthens heart, reduces risk of heart diseaseProvides good cardiovascular workout
Weather Conditions ResistanceCan be used indoors regardless of weatherNot affected by weather conditions
Weight LossBurns more calories than rowingEffective choice for weight loss
Learning CurveLower learning curve than rowerRequires more technical skill

The Treadmill: A Fitness Staple

The treadmill is a staple in almost every gym and many homes. It’s a versatile machine that can cater to a variety of fitness levels, from beginners to advanced athletes.

Versatility and Accessibility

One of the key advantages of the treadmill is its versatility. Whether you want to walk, jog, run, or sprint, the treadmill can accommodate your needs. This makes it accessible to a wide range of people, regardless of their fitness level or goals.

High Calorie Burn

According to the American Council on Exercise, running on a treadmill at a moderate speed can burn approximately 8.5 to 12.5 calories per minute for a person weighing 160 pounds. This means that a 30-minute run could burn between 255 to 375 calories.

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Impact on Bone Density

Running is a weight-bearing exercise, which means it can help improve bone density. This is particularly important for older adults and post-menopausal women who are at a higher risk of osteoporosis.

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  • Includes a 30-day iFit membership for access to live and on-demand workouts
  • OneTouch incline control and Smart OneTouch speed control
  • Smart-Response motor for effective training
  • Foldable design for compact storage
  • Comes with a 10-year frame warranty


  • Logical and clear step-by-step instructions for assembly.
  • Sturdy build materials and quality construction.
  • Quiet operation with minimal noise.
  • 10-speed treadmill with 10 levels of incline for varied workouts.
  • Great price


  • Assembly may require assistance from an able-bodied helper.
  • Handheld heartbeat sensors may not always provide accurate readings.

The Rower: A Full-Body Workout

The rowing machine, or rower, is known for providing a full-body workout. It engages both your upper and lower body, and is low-impact, making it a good option for those with joint issues.

Full-Body Engagement

While the rower does engage more muscle groups simultaneously than the treadmill, this doesn’t necessarily translate to a more effective workout. The effectiveness of a workout largely depends on the intensity and duration, not just the number of muscles engaged.

Calorie Burn

According to Harvard Health Publishing, a moderate workout on a rowing machine burns about 210 to 311 calories in 30 minutes for a person weighing 155 pounds. While this is a decent calorie burn, it’s lower than what you’d achieve running on a treadmill.

Low-Impact Exercise

While the low-impact nature of rowing is a plus for those with joint issues, it doesn’t provide the weight-bearing exercise needed for improving bone density.

The Psychological Factor: The Joy of Running

Running, whether it’s done outdoors or on a treadmill, has been linked to numerous mental health benefits.

The release of endorphins during a run can create a sense of euphoria often referred to as the “runner’s high.” This can lead to improved mood and reduced stress levels.

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While rowing can also provide these benefits, the unique sensation of running and the ability to easily adjust pace and incline on a treadmill can offer a more varied and enjoyable workout for many people.

The Popularity and Availability of Treadmills

Treadmills are one of the most popular pieces of fitness equipment. You’ll find them in almost every gym and many homes.

This popularity also means there’s a wealth of resources available, from workout plans to online communities, to help you get the most out of your treadmill workouts.

On the other hand, rowers are less common and can be more intimidating for beginners.

The Treadmill and Heart Health

Cardiovascular exercise, such as running on a treadmill, is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. Regular cardio exercise strengthens the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease.

While rowing also provides a good cardiovascular workout, the ability to easily adjust the intensity on a treadmill—from a leisurely walk to an all-out sprint—makes it an excellent tool for heart-rate-based training.

Treadmill for All Weather Conditions

One of the significant advantages of a treadmill is that it’s not subject to weather conditions. Whether it’s raining, snowing, or scorching hot outside, you can always get a good run indoors on a treadmill.

This is not a direct comparison with a rower, but it’s a practical advantage that makes the treadmill a more reliable choice for consistent training.

The Treadmill and Weight Loss

If your primary goal is weight loss, the treadmill might be your best bet. As we’ve mentioned earlier, running on a treadmill can burn more calories than a rowing machine, making it a more effective choice for weight loss.

Plus, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is easy to implement on a treadmill, and this type of workout has been shown to be particularly effective for burning fat.

Treadmill: Easier Learning Curve

While proper form is important on any exercise machine, the treadmill has a lower learning curve than the rower. Most people already know how to walk and run, so it’s easy to hop on a treadmill and get started. On the other hand, rowing requires more technical skill to ensure effectiveness and prevent injury.

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The Verdict: Why Treadmill Trumps Rower

While both the treadmill and the rower have their merits, the treadmill comes out on top for several reasons.

  1. Higher Calorie Burn: As mentioned earlier, running on a treadmill burns more calories per minute than rowing. This makes it a more effective choice for weight loss.
  2. Bone Health: The weight-bearing nature of running can help improve bone density, an advantage that rowing doesn’t offer.
  3. Versatility: The treadmill is more versatile and accessible. It can cater to a wide range of fitness levels and goals, from walking for beginners to high-intensity sprinting for advanced athletes.
  4. Real-World Training: Running on a treadmill more closely mimics real-world movements. This makes it a more practical choice for those training for running events.

In conclusion, while the rower is a fantastic machine that offers a full-body workout, the treadmill’s higher calorie burn, impact on bone health, versatility, and real-world training make it the superior choice.

As always, the best exercise is the one you enjoy and will stick with, so choose the machine that best fits your personal fitness goals and preferences.

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