If you are reading this, then you are trying to decide between an AirBike and a rowing machine. Both offer great workouts, but there are some differences that could sway your choice either way. In this post, we are going to compare the machines to evaluate which delivers the best workout, which is the most reliable and easy to maintain, and which will keep your neighbours happy.
Given that you are deciding between an AirBike or a rowing machine, it is safe to assume that you are already a reasonably fit person (or a very ambitious newbie). You are therefore aware that there is no such thing as the ‘best’ workout because everything depends on your fitness goals. AirBikes and rowing machines are primarily cardio equipment, thus we can ask: which has the greatest aerobic capacity? Which burns the most calories? Does either offer non-cardio benefits?
On aerobic ability, both machines offer the setting for a moderate-to-high intensity cardio workout. However, the AirBike is a naturally more intensive exercise because of its in-built resistance fan. The more you push yourself on this bike, the more it pushes back! This is the distinguishing feature of an AirBike; it does not wait for you to manually turn up the resistance, which means that you are constantly being challenged. If you rise to meet this, then the AirBike offers a more intense workout than a rowing machine.
While the highs may be higher, there is something to be said for maintaining a moderate-intensity workout for a longer period. Endurance levels are measured by how long you can sustain a reasonable pace. For this, the rowing machine is your champ. Its repetitive motion and controllable resistance level make it an ideal setting for a long workout session. If done regularly, this will improve your cardio fitness more than short sharp bursts on an AirBike.
If your main goal is to lose weight, then you are probably most concerned about which machine will burn more calories. There are two ways of thinking about this: calories per minute and calories per session. Per-minute, the AirBike is the clear winner. In fact, it was used by Rob MacDonald to set the world record for calories burned in a minute – an astounding 87 calories!
But most of us are not Rob MacDonald, and even Rob MacDonald did not do a full session at that crazy high intensity. The downfall of the AirBike is that it is such a gruelling exercise that it is very difficult to do much more than 20 minutes (and even that is a challenge). A rowing machine, on the other hand, burns fewer calories per minute but is a much more manageable exercise. If you have the time and the willpower, you can row for…hours! This makes the overall calorie burn higher per session.
Neither an AirBike nor a rowing machine will deliver a good strength training workout. For that, you will need to lift weights. However, because both involve resistance, they condition the muscles. This promotes the growth of general strength and endurance muscle, which is beneficial for overall health and wellbeing.
An AirBike engages the same muscles as a standard stationary bike, making it predominantly a lower body exercise with some core engagement. A rowing machine, on the other hand, provides full-body conditioning. This gives it an edge over the AirBike.
Upkeep and noise
When considering buying an exercise machine, any exercise machine, you also need to think about the boring stuff. How easy is it going to be to maintain? Is it noisy to use? The AirBike requires weekly attention to its pedals, the crank, the linkage bearings, and the handlebar. About once a month, you should check the chain and do a more comprehensive pedal check. Then, every few months, you are going to want to do a full check of all the bolts, oil the chain, and check on the seat.
For a rowing machine, the picture is very much the same. You must pay close attention to the screws and make sure that they are tight and check on all the moveable parts and ensure that there is a smooth glide to motion. The chain needs to be lubricated too. For water rowers, you will need to change the water regularly or else the water will go rotten.
An AirBike is louder to use than a rowing machine. If you have small children or sensitive neighbours, it is best to only use the AirBike during reasonable waking hours. It is not so loud that you should avoid it altogether.
By now, you should have an idea of which machine suits your needs. If you want to engage in intense short cardio sessions, then the AirBike is for you. If you want to improve your endurance levels and are willing to spend some quality time with your machine, the rowing machine is your best option.