Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer

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Rowing machine VS cross trainer – which is better for you? What are the main differences between a rowing machine and a cross trainer? Which one is more suited to muscle-building, and which is best for cardio/weight loss?

We’ve covered all of these questions and more in our ultimate guide to Rowing Machines VS Cross Trainers.

By the end of this guide, you should have a complete understanding of rowing machines VS cross trainers and which one is best suited to your personal requirements.

rowing machine vs cross trainer

Rower VS Cross Trainer: What’s The Difference?

Rowing machines and cross trainers are two of the most widely used pieces of gym equipment in the world. They’re both popular choices for cardio, weight loss and muscle-building exercises due to their versatility.

Over the last few years, more home users have been purchasing rowing machines and cross trainers as they’ve become a lot cheaper to manufacture. Home cross trainers have become more popular and have evolved over recent years, with new features being added to improve their ‘slick’ appeal. Rowing machines have always been a popular piece of home fitness equipment, with their smaller, lighter size and easier storage options when compared to cross trainers.

Does that mean rowing machines are the superior piece of equipment? Should people buy cross trainers or rowing machines for home use?

To answer these questions, we’ll break down the main differences between rowing machines and cross trainers, so you can make a more informed decision.

Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer: The Differences

In terms of functionality and overall goals, there isn’t a huge difference between rowing machines VS cross trainers. Both can be used for all-round cardio, weight loss and strength/muscle building workouts. However, there are some key differences between the way they operate (which we’ll discuss in more detail later).

Most people will want to know which machine is better for losing weight and which one is better for muscle-building. Even though they’re different pieces of equipment, there isn’t a huge difference between rowing machines vs cross trainers in terms of fat loss and muscle building potential.

When it comes to cardio exercise, both are great ways to burn calories so you can achieve weight loss. If you’re looking for a more intense cardio workout, then cross trainers are typically better-suited to burning calories and losing weight. Their upright use gets you on your feet, with your entire body being used throughout the exercise.

On the other hand, rowing machines can also provide great cardio benefits, but typically not as much as you’re sat down.

If you want to tone your muscles or work towards muscle growth whilst also improving your cardio, it’s likely that you’ll get better results from doing weights/resistance training combined with rowing machine VS cross trainer sessions.

When comparing rowing machines vs cross trainers for weight loss, there are other factors to consider. If you’re looking to buy a rowing machine or cross trainer, then it makes sense to get the right type of equipment in order to help with your goals.


  • Rowing machines provide slightly less cardio benefits due to being sat down, but have better muscle-building benefits.
  • Cross trainers are better for cardio when compared to rowing machines, but they’re not as practical for home use due to their size.
  • Rowing machines are typically cheaper.

Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

If you want to lose weight, then you should focus on working your cardiovascular system so you get into a state of ‘cardio-vascular fitness.’ It’s this improved level of cardio-vascular fitness that will help to keep your metabolism active and allow you to burn calories while doing everyday activities.

There are many benefits to be gained by being more active. Cardio will help you to lose weight, reduce stress levels and improve your overall well-being. If you want to know how much exercise you need every week for weight loss, then it’s important that you consult a doctor first.

A rowing machine will provide you with decent weight-loss results if you’re consistent. Rowing is a form of cardio, and thus you’ll burn through calories in no time whilst rowing.

A cross trainer is also a great option for weight loss. You’re moving your whole body which provides brilliant cardio and weight loss benefits. Overall, you’re likely to lose weight faster on a cross trainer when compared to a rowing machine, but it’s a pretty close call. If you’re considering a home cross trainer, be sure to consider how much space you have – rowing machines are usually easier to move and store than cross trainers.


  • It’s a fairly even match when it comes to weight loss, but a cross trainer will likely provide slightly better results as it uses your whole body, and you’re up on your feet for the whole period of training.

Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer: Which Is Better For Muscle Building?

If you looking to purchase a rowing machine or cross trainer for your home, one of the main reasons will be to build muscle mass. Both types of equipment are commonly used in gyms because they offer high-quality cardio workouts and resistance training exercises that can burn fat and build muscle.

It’s important to remember that you can’t build significant muscle mass from just a rowing machine or a cross trainer. This is because they’re both essentially cardio machines. To build muscle, you need to primarily perform anaerobic exercises such as weight lifting, whilst also eating enough calories from the right food groups. You also need to get good rest in between workouts. If you’re not sure about any of this, then consult a doctor or nutritionist first. Rowing machines and cross trainers are aerobic forms of exercise, and so focus more on cardio benefits and weight loss.

We’ve already discussed the fact that cross trainers may be slightly better than rowing machines when it comes to losing weight, but the opposite is true when it comes to building muscle with rowing machines vs cross trainers.

Both pieces of equipment offer a high-level cardio workout that can help to burn fat, but the resistance training exercises are much better with rowing than they are with cross trainers.

A rowing machine’s resistance can be increased to such a degree to effectively turn it into a resistance exercise, thus helping to build both the upper and lower muscle groups in the body.


  • Rowing machines are better for muscle building when compared to cross trainers.
  • However, both are aerobic exercises primarily, so neither are very well suited to muscle building.
  • You are better off performing anaerobic exercises such as weight lifting, coupled with aerobic exercises such as rowing.

Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer: Which Is Better For Cardio?

As we mentioned earlier, cardio is important for weight loss and improving your overall health. There are many ways to get into a state of cardio-vascular fitness, but if you want to do it with rowing machines vs cross trainers then they both offer exceptionally good results.

Rowing does give you a better workout almost immediately as it targets more muscle groups, especially in your lower body than cross trainers. This is one of the reasons that some people use rowing machines during muscle building programs and for beginners, they’re an ideal way to tone muscles and get into shape.

If you want to lose weight quickly, then cross trainers are one of the best pieces of equipment for low-intensity exercise and high-endurance training.

If you don’t feel comfortable using either machine or if you’ve never used them before, then the best idea is to consult with a professional at your local gym. They’ll be able to show you how to use both machines safely and effectively on a regular basis. If they’re for home use, then be sure to check YouTube for some great instructional videos on how to use both machines, as well as programs you can follow. Both machines should also come with instruction manuals to walk you through how to use them.

If you want to lose weight, then cross trainers are the best piece of equipment for beginners who have never used them before. We recommend that you keep using them every day until you’re happy with the results, and incorporate other forms of exercise to keep things interesting, such as running or swimming.

Cardio-vascular training isn’t the only benefit that you can get from using either machine though. If you want an efficient way to burn fat throughout the day, then rowing machines can help to build muscle and increase your resting BMR, thus increasing how many calories you burn at rest.

Rowing Machine VS Cross Trainer: Summary

  • If you’re joining a gym and are looking to lose weight, then your best bet will be a cross trainer
  • If you want to get some added muscle-building benefits, then the rowing machine is the better option for you
  • If joint health is an important factor for you, then try out both options to see which works best for you. Many people see differing results, but overall the cross trainer could be easier on your joints.
  • If you’re setting up a home gym, the rowing machine provides the best benefits in terms of cardio, muscle building and space. Cross trainers can be quite bulky and difficult to store.

We hope you found this guide helpful. If you have any questions for our experts, then leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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