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Rower vs Assault Bike: Which One to Choose?

 Written by 

Ilinka Trenova

 Last updated on 

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Do you want to burn off some serious calories and get your heart pumping? Feeling unsure if a rower or an assault bike is the best tool for the job? It’s certainly a tight race, but there’s always a clear winner when you take a closer look.

Let’s dive into an in-depth assault bike vs rower comparison to help you decide which piece of equipment is the right fit for you.

rower vs assault bike
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What Is an Assault Bike?

Also known as an air or fan bike, this fitness machine operates on a flywheel with fan blades that uses air resistance to create an effective workout. The bike has two independent handlebars and a heavy-duty steel frame, so you get the feeling of riding a real bicycle while working out in the gym.

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It basically combines strength and cardio training into one intensive activity, giving you the chance to train multiple muscle groups simultaneously. And unlike regular stationary bikes with preset programs, the spin bike offers full control over how hard you want to push yourself.

Having a say in the general intensity of the routine makes it much easier to modify your plan when needed and create relevant modifications. Any hiccups along the way that may affect your performance can be quickly and easily addressed by tailoring the workout to your own needs.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

What Is a Rower?

The rowing machine is a gold standard when it comes to fitness machines, providing an effective way to exercise your entire body without putting too much strain on your joints. Basically, it’s a single machine with a sliding seat, handlebars and a large fan that create the resistance to simulate the activity of rowing.

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Now, it might seem a little intense, especially since most people associate rowing with long, slow-paced sessions that leave them feeling out of breath and sweating buckets. But even if the whole thing looks intimidating, it’s actually quite simple to adjust the resistance based on your fitness level and goals.

Of course, you want something challenging to help improve endurance and strengthen your core muscles. But you don’t want it to be too difficult or uncomfortable, as this can lead to injuries and discourage you from using the machine altogether.

Rower vs Assault Bike Similarities

Despite the different rhythmic motion patterns and body mechanics, both devices actually share some common ground. These parallels mean the two machines can be both used for similar purposes and provide comparable results.

Both Provide Full-Body Workouts

If there’s anything workout enthusiasts love, it’s a full-body workout that helps improve fitness and cardiovascular levels, as well as and strengthen all your major muscles at once. Sure, going from one machine to the other can help achieve that, but with an indoor rower or assault bike you get it all in one go.

Not only does this save time, but it also boosts motivation and makes the whole training session more efficient. Each muscle group is getting its fair share of love, all while you get closer and closer to your fitness goals.

Low-Impact Exercise

When done correctly, both machines offer an adequate method of exercising that minimizes the risk of joint strain and muscle tears. When you’re doing high-intensity training, there’s always the chance of pushing yourself too hard and causing an injury, which is something you want to avoid.

That’s why any machine that allows you to perform your workout routines at a comfortable pace is highly beneficial both for professionals and beginners. By customizing the resistance, you can decide on the right intensity for your body and make sure you stay safe while reaping all the benefits of your exercise plan.

Both Can Use Air Resistance

This particular feature is often overlooked, yet it can make a huge difference in the way you operate both machines. Using air resistance allows you to get a more natural and continuous motion, which in turn helps improve technique and enhance overall performance.

On top of that, you maximize your energy expenditure and achieve better results in less time. The resistance is evenly distributed, which means you don’t have to work extra hard during different phases of the exercise while still getting buffed up.

The particular way it’s implemented can be different, with rowers usually having a fan to move the air, while air bikes use specially designed blades that circulate the air. Either way, you can get a more realistic and intense experience that boosts your performance.

Rower vs Assault Bike Comparison

Aside from the shared properties, these two devices have a few obvious differences that you just can’t ignore. Some might think of them as a decisive factor, while others may consider it a matter of personal preference.

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The learning curve on an indoor rower might be a bit steeper than on an assault bike, as the former requires you to use a specific technique to master the movements. In most cases, it takes a few sessions to get used to the rowing strokes and do them correctly, which might be a bit tedious for some individuals.

On the other hand, the assault bike is much easier to use and doesn’t require any special training. You can get on it and start pedaling right away, which makes it more accessible for beginner-level athletes. Plus, its versatile design allows you to use it in different settings and for different purposes.

Muscles Worked

This is an interesting aspect since both machines employ a different set of core muscles, depending on the starting position and maximum intensity of your exercise regimen. Despite being classified as full-body training, their main focus can be slightly different. And naturally, you need to understand what the target groups are and how to use them for maximum effect.

Rowing is considered more of a back and shoulder workout, as those two groups of upper body muscles are the main players of the game. You move the handlebar using your arms, while your back and pectoral muscles are responsible for keeping you balanced and in position. Your legs are affected to a certain degree, but mostly by the stabilizing effect.

In medical terms, rowers count as aerobic machines, which means focus more on cardiovascular endurance and metabolic conditioning. This makes them ideal for burning fat and getting fit in a relatively short period of time.

At the other end, air bikes target both the lower and upper body muscles to move in sync. You need to coordinate all those movements for ultimate efficiency, which is why this type of training helps you develop better muscular control and coordination. The arm and pectoral muscles get their fair share of work, with the balanced pattern of constant motion allowing for a more intense experience.

Calories Burned

Due to the different intensities of exercise, you can expect to burn calories differently on each machine. Rowers have a decent calorie-burning capacity, with a typical training session lasting up to 30 and cutting down around 250 calories. Bear in mind that the speed and technique used can alter the results significantly.

On the other hand, an assault bike has a higher capacity to get your heart rate up and help you burn calories faster. To put it in perspective, a 30-minute steady-state cardio session can burn over 500 calories – which can, in turn, increase your cardiovascular capacity and push your physical limitations. More vigorous effort activities can boost that number even further.

Best Rower for Beginner
Sunny Water Rowing Machine

Based on our testing, this is the best rower for beginners. For less than 500$, this silent water rower will last you for years. It also comes with a 12-year warranty.

  • Affordable
  • Quiet
  • Amazing warranty
See latest price See all Rowers below 500$

Newcomers could likely make do with 15-20 minutes of moderate effort exercise 3-5 times a week and still benefit from a good calorie burn. Their recovery period could also be slightly shorter, allowing them to build up a steady rhythm of exercise and slowly increase the cardio intensity.

Machine Dimensions

The size and shape of the machines inherently differ, mainly due to the different set-up and mechanics used. Rowers are usually longer and narrower than air bikes, which makes them more suitable for home training or a garage gym, since they require less space. They also have adjustable footrests, so you can get the machine at a comfortable level for your current weight.

rowing workout
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On the flip side, air bikes are bulkier but also more powerful devices. To get the same kind of resistance you’d usually get from an air-resistance rowing machine, you’d need a heavier and bigger machine. The big wheel in the front of the bike also increases its length and width, so it can be difficult to find a space to place it without taking up too much room.

This heavy-duty design might be more appropriate for commercial settings, where space isn’t a luxury. Their flexibility and stability also make them more suitable for intense, prolonged exercises that can be done for prolonged periods of time, something that’s commonly done in spin classes.

Can you lose belly fat on a rowing machine?

Yes, you absolutely can. Despite the emphasis on the arms and shoulders, rowing helps you cut down excess fat from all parts of your body. The movements are all-encompassing, which promotes weight loss in a healthy way and helps you achieve your desired look.

Does the assault bike build legs?

Yes, the assault bike does build your legs. The constant pedaling motion stimulates the thigh muscles and builds them up, while also improving their overall conditioning. With regular use, you can expect to see a noticeable difference in your leg size and strength.


Hey there, I'm Ilinka Trenova, a self-proclaimed CrossFit addict and content creator extraordinaire. I've been pumping iron and perfecting my snatches and squats for a solid decade now, and I still get a thrill every time I hit a new PR. What I love most about both CrossFit and writing is the sense of community they both provide. My CrossFit crew is full of people who push themselves to be their best, both inside and outside the gym. And let me tell you, I've never felt stronger or more confident than when I'm crushing a WOD. As a content creator, I've had the privilege of connecting with readers and other writers from all over the world and explore different topics and aspects of life together. Whether I'm writing a blog post, a product review, or crafting a witty social media caption, I always strive to create valuable and entertaining content. At the end of the day, I believe that both CrossFit and writing have helped me grow and become a better version of myself. And I'm truly excited to see where these passions will take me in the future!

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