Cardio equipment is always versatile and full of potential to help you on your fitness journey. It comes in all shapes and sizes, with some of the most popular being things like exercise bikes, rowers, cross trainers and treadmills. You can use whichever suits your personal needs, or a mix of equipment to diversify your workouts and keep your heart in great shape. There’s no wrong choice, as long as you use them in the right way. The exercises do overlap in most cases, which is useful, but two that couldn’t be much more different are the treadmill vs. the rowing machine.

Deciding which one is the right fit for you, though, may not be so easy. All cardio equipment has unique benefits, and it can offer you different things. Each one is a champion of fitness, but what it is you’re training for and how you’re able to use them will have a dramatic impact on what they can do for you. Choosing the right equipment is vital, and we’re here to help you do it.

Treadmill

Woman using a treadmill

The treadmill is one of the most famous pieces of cardio equipment out there. Few exercises are as natural as running, and so it makes sense that it gets its fame. They can be used for a range of goals, with weight loss often being the driving force. They have a massive array of health benefits. But what does it have that the rower doesn’t?

Leg focussed

First of all, running on a treadmill is centred around your legs. Running means that you’re making explosive muscle contractions in your legs to drive you forward at speed. Initially, this was for survival purposes, but now, it’s all about health and performance.

Because of how hard your legs are working to generate this force, you’re building up a lot of muscle in your lower body. Your quads, hamstrings, glues and calfs all have a significant role. Because of this, you’re getting a good leg workout every single time you run, made better by how fast and for how long you run.

Variable incline

In case running alone wasn’t enough for you, most treadmills also come with an incline feature. That means that not only can you focus on your speed or technique, but you can focus on power too. Whether you’re walking on an incline to burn serious calories, or sprinting to build those calfs, you’re doing serious work.

It’s an excellent way for you to get both LISS and HIIT workouts, and that’s great for keeping your training varied. Getting bored is never a good thing to have to deal with, especially if you’re buying the equipment.

Rowing

Man using a rowing machine

If you think the battle of the treadmill vs. rowing machine is over, you'd be wrong. Treadmills are amazing machines, don’t get us wrong, but rowers are just as incredible in their own right.

Full body

One of the biggest selling points of a rowing machine is that it is a full body workout. They give your back and your biceps an incredible workout at the same time as your legs to make the exercise as efficient as possible. That’s great for muscle building and for calorie burning at the same time. That's the perfect recipe for toning up.

You can use it as a part of your cardio training or as a great way to diversify your back workout. That’s not the same with a treadmill. Sprinting after leg day is not something that many people are capable of!

Resistance variation

If you are going down the route of a harder workout, the rowing machine has you covered there too. Rowing machines have variable resistance, which means that they can be as tough as you need them to be. That is going to seriously push the bigger muscles such as your lats, rear delts and your biceps to their limit.

You can go for an all-out sprint HIIT workout or a long distance row and see the different effects that they will have on your body. They can even help you if you're having back pain which is a common issue for many of us. Fitness and muscle can really build together if you can use them in the right way. Versatility is always an essential tool.

When you weigh up a treadmill vs rowing machine, two of these cardio titans just can’t compare some of the time. They’re both great at what they do, and they have their own unique benefits that other machines can’t match. You can choose your pace on a treadmill to get the workout you need no matter what your fitness, or just hop on the rowing machine and feel the burn instantly. It’s all about preference at the end of the day.

Exercise.co.uk Cardio Machines


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.