Rowing Machine Vs. Treadmill: Which One Is Perfect For You?

Fitness equipment assists in improving your cardio health and weight loss journey. But, between rowing machine vs. treadmill, which is the best one to use?

As you know, treadmill running has been the go-to cardio exercise for many years. However, rowing has become very popular in recent years due to the rise of indoor rowers and studios. So, should you swap your treadmill for a rowing machine?

Perhaps understanding the differences between these machines can help you decide that. Besides, this will help you choose the best cardio machine based on your personal training needs.


A treadmill is convenient fitness equipment that allows you to run, walk or jog while staying indoors. More importantly, it will enable you to run, walk or jog at the belt's speed. This helps you to develop stamina, speed and promotes proper posture.

Benefits & Drawbacks of a Treadmill


Running or walking on a treadmill provides many benefits. Some of them include:

  • Ideal for building and strengthening leg muscles
  • Good for burning calories and weight loss
  • Treadmill training is less strenuous on the joints than sidewalk running
  • Treadmills are pretty durable
  • It allows you to walk, run and jog
  • Modern treadmills have LCDs that show metrics


On the downside, treadmill training can have the following limitations:

  • Running can cause different forms of pain like knee pain, joint pain, etc.
  • Treadmill is a high-impact and weight-bearing training equipment

The 3 Best Treadmills

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Series

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill Series

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The Horizon T101 is an affordable piece of workout equipment, making it an excellent option for beginners. Besides, it's easy to set up, has a foldable design, and provides multiple workout options. On the same note, this compact and foldable design makes it quite simple to store. It's excellent fitness equipment if you prefer a light-moderate workout or walking. More notably, it's a great alternative to the FreeMotion 860 treadmill.

Moving on, this treadmill is fitted with great features. It has Bluetooth speakers, a cooling fan, a device holder, and a shock-absorbing deck. As a result, training on this piece of equipment will be more fun.

Also, this equipment has 3 LEDs where you can track calories burned, time, speed, distance & incline level. Moreover, it has a 2.5 CHP motor which can reach a maximum pace of about 10mph. Therefore, this machine can accommodate trainers with up to 136 kg (300 lbs.) in terms of the weight limit.

Goplus 2 in 1 SuperFit Folding Treadmill

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Due to the 2-in-1 function, this is one of the most innovative treadmills you'll ever come across. More notably, this makes it the best treadmill if you've got limited space. For starters, you can lay it flat and use it at slower speeds of about 1 to 4 km/hour. Alternatively, you can raise your arms and use them at faster speeds of around 1 – 12km/hour.

That's not its only innovative feature, though!

For example, it's fitted with a quiet but powerful motor. All thanks to the multi-layer design that reduces noise and vibrations. Moreover, this system has a shock absorber to reduce the workout impact on the body. You can change the speed of your workout with a remote. However, this can be a limitation to a certain extent since you can't use the equipment without a remote.

Moreover, the device features a Bluetooth speaker to connect to your phone. Even better, a cell phone holder secures your phone while working out. Moreover, this treadmill is quite simple to move around, thanks to the inbuilt wheels.

Echelon Stride Treadmill

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This Echelon Stride machine isn't the most affordable treadmill on this list. However, it's a high-quality piece of equipment.

To start with, its lightweight & auto-folding design makes it easy to store. This treadmill can reach speeds ranging from 5mph to 12 mph when it comes to pace. Moreover, it has a 4.5 ft running deck and twelve incline levels. In addition, you can select from the 8 preset workout programs available.

Also, you can access on-demand or live training sessions using the Echelon Fit App. However, you've to pay a certain fee to become a member. Also, it has an inbuilt device holder, and you'll get a 1-year limited warranty on labor and parts!

Rowing Machine

A rowing equipment/ ergometer is one of the best machines for full-body workouts. It imitates rowers while they propel their boats through the water. So, while you'll be sitting during the exercise, you'll be drawing energy from all the major muscles.

To work out on this machine:

  1. Sit on the sliding seat and stretch your legs.
  2. Use your core and arms for the pulling actions.
  3. Reverse that movement and return your body to the front.
  4. Repeat those movements many times until you complete the workout.

The rowing machine benefits the stomach, engages your core, shoulders, legs, biceps, and back. Yet, it's a low-impact workout that is gentle on your joints. For that, it's an excellent workout for the elderly, overweight, and anyone recovering from injury.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Rowing Machines


Since rowing stimulates the entire body, it certainly provides some incredible benefits. For instance:

  • It's a great workout for burning calories
  • Rowing is a full-body exercise that focuses on cardio and strength.
  • Rowing has minimal chances of causing injuries
  • It's perfect for toning and building muscles
  • They're suitable for elite athletes and beginners


  • Although rowing doesn't cause injuries, it can get boring
  • High-end rowers can be expensive
  • Rowing machines can produce loud noise over time.

The Best 3 Rowing Machine Reviews

NordicTrack RW 900 Rower

NordicTrack RW 900 Rower; rowing machine vs. treadmill

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As far as rowing machines are concerned, RW900 is one of the NordicTrack brand's best rowers for home use. Besides, it has improved features you'll not find in other models.

One notable feature is that it uses both air and magnetic resistance. It contains 26 levels of magnetic resistance. This allows you to control your workouts from the console. And 10 levels of air resistance that help to increase the training intensity.

The other stand-out feature is that it has a 22" HD tilting touchscreen display. Therefore, you can watch iFit workouts filmed from different places globally or use the 30 inbuilt programs. Also, you can access 12,000 on-demand and live workout sessions using the iFit Coach app.

This rower is heavy, stable, and easily folds up regarding the design. This protects you from tipping over while rowing and makes it easy to store. Moreover, the bottom front is fitted with wheels, making it easy to move around when you're done training.

Stamina ATS Air Rower; rowing machine vs. treadmill

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Unlike rowers that use dual-resistance, Stamina ATS only uses air resistance. Therefore, it doesn't feature complex systems, allowing you to set the resistance manually. Even better, this delivers a smooth and reliable rowing stroke.

On top of that, this rowing machine comes at an affordable price. Yet it has a sturdy build, which helps to last long. As an example, its frame is made up of sturdy steel material. At the same time, the rowing strokes are crafted from nylon.

Moving on to the design, the Stamina ATS rower features an angled seat rail. This, plus the textured grips, makes it easy to slide your knees. Better still, this equipment is foldable to save on storage space. It has a convenient LCD that shows information like speed, calories burned, etc. Besides, it's fitted with inbuilt wheels for convenient transportation after your workout. Overall, this workout equipment will give a smooth paddling experience.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515 Magnetic Rower

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The RF-RW5515 is another amazing rowing machine, especially for cardio workouts. Besides, it comes at a very affordable price, but it still has some great features.

One unique feature of this device is that it uses magnetic resistance. Its flywheel has a magnet that creates resistance against the rotating metal drum. Unlike hydraulic, water, or air resistance, magnets provide a silent & smooth rowing action.

On the same note, this rower has eight resistance levels. You can change these levels using the knob fitted on the center panel. The magnet will move closer to the spinning drum as you control the knob from levels 1 – 8. As a result, it will create more resistance, providing an excellent workout for serious athletes. However, if you're a beginner, I'd recommend you start with level 1 resistance.

Other notable features include; LCD monitor, inbuilt transportation wheels, and foldable design. Moreover, it comes with a grip-pulse sensor that shows the heart rate.

Rower Vs. Treadmill Comparison

Rowing Machine Vs Treadmill; rower vs treadmill; rowing machine or treadmill

⦾ Treadmill Vs. Rowing machine calories

After every session, the amount of burned calories is an excellent way to compare different fitness machines. Besides, it allows you to determine the amount of weight you've lost and the diet limit you need to maintain.

Rowing at a moderate pace can help you burn around 210 – 310 calories every 30 minutes. While treadmill running for a 30-min training session at 5mph burns about 240 – 330 calories. As you can see, both workout machines burn relatively almost the same amount of calories. However, certain variations in form can make this training more challenging. Consequently, the overall effectiveness in terms of calories burned will increase.

For example, adding an incline to your running session will burn more calories than rowing machine calorie burning. Moreover, that will be influenced by the intensity of your running session. So even though both types of equipment work differently, they're suitable for weight loss and burning calories. Even better, they can help you overcome health problems caused by fast food.

⦾ Is rowing good, Cardio?

Both rowing machines and treadmills provide several cardiovascular benefits. For example, they make your lungs and heart stronger, improve your mood and reduce stress. Also, they promote better sleep, lower the risk of getting certain illnesses and improve bone density.

Interestingly, running is considered the ultimate workout for the cardiovascular system. That's why many celebrities and athletes prefer treadmill running to rowing as exercise. However, the effectiveness of your cardio while training on a treadmill will rely on the workout intensity. That said, I'd recommend that you start with at least 5 mph every day to enjoy cardio benefits.

Although rowing is not as good in cardiovascular exercise as treadmills, it has many cardiovascular benefits. To start, it maintains long, repetitive strokes while rowing boosts oxygen and blood flow. To enjoy the full-body cardio workout benefits, do this for about 30 minutes daily. Besides, the effectiveness of the workout will rely on the training intensity.

⦾ Does Rowing build muscle?

Rowing is more superior to treadmill running when it comes to toning muscles. This is because rowing targets more muscles than a treadmill. Rowing targets the entire body, including the lower, upper, and core. It provides a full-body workout, thus developing abs, biceps, shoulders, and back muscles & legs.

What muscles does a rowing machine work with? Rowing training mainly engages the legs, thus flexing many thigh and leg muscles—other muscles targeted when rowing are; hamstrings, chest, quadriceps, shin, and quads.

Treadmill running, on the other hand, mainly works the lower body. For that, it provides an excellent workout for toning parts of your legs, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quads. Better still, running can benefit the upper body in one way or another. For example, you can use your arms while running to practice balance. Moreover, running strengthens the biceps and abs because they're the supporting muscles.

⦾ Impact: Rowing machine or treadmill?

Modern treadmills have shock-absorbing platforms. So, although you'll be running on a hard surface, it will not be as hard as jogging/ running on concrete. Nonetheless, treadmill running can cause stress fractures or shin splints. Moreover, it's hard on the joints, making you experience different types of pain. So, if you've sensitive knees, backs, or ankles, I'd recommend you look for an alternative exercise.

On the contrary, rowing is considered to have almost zero impact on your body since it causes more minor wear & tears on the joints. Therefore, you can train on a rowing machine without the risk of injuries. Also, rowing workouts offer a better form of exercise than running if you've arthritis or weak joints.

⦾ Cost

In terms of costs, rowing machines are much more affordable than treadmills. For example, a rower can cost around $200. However, I'd suggest that you look for a good rowing machine which comes at about $500. On the same note, if you want a high-end rower with superior quality and a screen, the cost may have a price range of about $1000.

Also, you should note that rowers have different types of resistance. This can have an impact on determining the total cost of rowing equipment.

Surprisingly, some treadmill models have cost ranges at about $200. Unfortunately, such machines aren't that durable since they tend to fall apart after a few uses. Moreover, cheap treadmills do not provide a realistic running experience. Generally speaking, treadmills that deliver outstanding performance start from around $700.

However, that price can be about $3000 for premium treadmills. Therefore, treadmills are more expensive than rowing machines.


Both rowing machines and treadmills improve your cardio system and burn calories. However, each workout equipment has its unique benefits. This makes it better than the other machine in certain circumstances. For example, rowing works both your upper body and the lower body.

For that, it's more suitable for full-body workouts than treadmill training. Moreover, rowers are more affordable and have less impact on the body than treadmills. On the other hand, Treadmill running is known to have more calories.

That said, choosing between Treadmill Vs. The rower will ultimately come down to your personal and fitness needs!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is running a better workout exercise than rowing?

Rowing engages more muscles than treadmill training. Therefore, running may not be a better workout than rowing simultaneously.

2. Can rowing give you a six-pack?

Yes! A rowing machine like Stamina ATS rower works both the lower and upper parts of the body. But, more importantly, each strong engages the abs, so you'll get a six-pack over time for rowing.

3. Will a rowing machine help you stay fit?

Rowing is a good workout for losing weight and burning calories. Moreover, it improves your cardio system and tones your muscles. Therefore, rowing will get you in shape and improve your overall health.

4. Between rowing and treadmill running, which is better for bad knees?

Running on treadmills is a weight-bearing training exercise, while rowing is a low-impact workout. For that, rowing has almost zero impact on the knees. This makes it the better option if you're recovering from an injury.

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