Walk into any gym and two pieces of exercise equipment you’re likely to see are elliptical trainers and rowing machines. Both of these will give you a joint-friendly, low-impact exercise. However, that’s where the similarities end. The best machine for you depends on your workout goals. Today, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each machine.
If your exercise goal is slimming down, you need to burn off more calories than you consume. While both machines can help with this goal, the elliptical will burn slightly more calories per hour than a rowing machine.
A study conducted by the Harvard School of Medicine found that a 185 pound person burns around 400 calories in 30 minutes on an elliptical machine as compared to around 311 calories during a moderate intensity workout on a rowing machine.
It is important to note, however, that rowing machines work more muscle groups and will therefore build more muscles. These muscles will continue to burn calories after your workout is complete.
Elliptical trainers primarily work your legs. They primarily work your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes.
By tightening your abdominal muscles during your workout, you can also incorporate some light core work into your elliptical exercise. Most elliptical trainers come equipped with arm poles that can add a little upper body work into your elliptical session.
By comparison, rowing machines provide a total body workout.
During the “catch,” or the initial rowing phase, the machine works your hamstrings, Gastrochnemius and Soleus, and Erector Spinae.
During the “drive,” or the initial pulling phase, you begin to involve you Quadriceps, glutes, Wrist Extensors and Flexors, Trapezius, Rhomboids, Deltoids, and Triceps. In the “finish” stage, you include your Biceps and Obliques.
Most cardio workouts, such as running or playing sports, cause your feet to leave the ground. This creates impacts on your joints that can injure them over time.
Both elliptical trainers and rowing machines provide an impact-free workout that helps prevent joint injury. That said, both machines cause the user to make repetitive motions that can lead to injury over time.
With elliptical machines, some users may experience knee, hip, shin, or lower-back pain after using the machine for extended periods of time. To break up the repetitive motion, some elliptical trainers allow you to peddle backwards. This reduces the chance of injury from repetitive motion and provides the added benefit of working different muscle groups.
While rowing machines also take the stress off your joints, be careful to avoid adding too much resistance too quickly. This can lead to pain in the lower back, knees, and hips.
To avoid injury on rowing machines, it’s important to start slow and practice good form. Most injuries on rowing machines come from new users pushing themselves too hard too quickly.
Before hopping on either machine, it’s important to assess your current physical fitness. Elliptical trainers are generally more forgiving for those who need to ease their way back into shape. They allow the user to adjust the resistance to meet their needs.
Elliptical trainers usually include timers and calorie counters as well to help you monitor your progress. After you have become comfortable with the elliptical machine, you can move on the rowing machine.
If you’re already in good shape, then you will benefit more from a rowing machine. These machines work more muscles than elliptical trainers, so you’ll gain fat-burning muscle more quickly.
Rowing machines do require more coordination, so it’s best to start with very little resistance. This way you can focus on your form. Once your form is perfected, you can increase the resistance and speed for a more intense workout session.
Elliptical trainers and rowing machines are both great exercise tools. Both machines provide an impact-free exercise experience that greatly reduces the risk of joint injury as compared to other cardio exercises.
The elliptical is ideal for those who are just starting or getting back to exercise. The rowing machine is ideal for those who are already in shape and are looking to get a full body workout.
Remember to listen to your body and never push yourself to do any exercise that doesn’t feel right. If you have any questions, talk to your doctor about which exercise equipment is right for you.