Recumbent Bike Rowing Machines: The Best of Both Worlds?

Many people buy indoor rowing machines because they give you such efficient and effective at providing a full-body workout in minimal time. That said, recumbent bike rowing machines can do even more!

The Pros and Cons of a Recumbent Bike Rowing Machine - and How to Buy the Right Rower for You

With the rowing movement alone, you can work virtually all muscle groups while burning fat. Plus, you can build muscle and tone your body simultaneously. Having the recumbent bike option adds more versatility to your workouts without taking up extra floor space or costing double the price.

Are Recumbent Bike Rowers Really Better?

Recumbent Bike Rower: Pull Handle to Row, Pedal to Bike

Whats the best value when it comes to home exercise equipment? Recumbent bike rowers may offer the best of both worlds by combining a rowing machine with a stationary bike.

But let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of these machines compared traditional indoor rowers and recumbent bikes. Plus, I’ll give you a checklist to help you choose the best bike-rower for your needs.

Advantages of Recumbent Bike Rowing Machines:

1. Low-Impact Cardiovascular Workout:

Bike-rowers offer a better low-impact cardiovascular workout than other fitness machines like treadmills or stair climbers. Plus, the seated position and backrest offer superior support for your spine and joints, reducing the risk of impact-related injuries. In addition, the smooth, fluid motion of rowing engages multiple muscle groups, increasing heart rate and promoting efficient calorie burning.

Strong Woman, Rowing Muscles

2. Full-Body Workout:

Unlike traditional stationary bikes that mainly target the lower body or rowing machines that primarily focus on the upper body, recumbent bike rowing machines offer a comprehensive full-body workout.

Therefore, you can engage your legs, arms, core, and back muscles simultaneously, resulting in improved strength, endurance and overall toning.

3. Adjustable Resistance Levels:

Most recumbent bike rowing machines feature adjustable resistance levels, allowing you to tailor your workout to your fitness level and goals. Therefore, you can increase or decrease the resistance to challenge yourself and mix up your workouts.

Disadvantages of Recumbent Bike Rowing Machines:

1. Limited Mimicry of Rowing Technique:

Seatback on Recumbent Rower Slants Back But is Not Removable

While recumbent bike rowing machines provide an effective workout, they may not replicate the exact technique and motion of rowing on water.

For example, the rowing stroke in a recumbent position differs from the upright posture typically used in rowing. As a result, this variation may not be ideal for competitive rowers or those seeking to mimic on-water rowing precisely.

2. Reduced Core Activation:

Compared to traditional rowing machines, the seated position of recumbent bike rowing machines may result in reduced core activation.

Although your core muscles are engaged during the rowing motion, the backrest provides additional support, potentially diminishing the intensity of core workouts.

3. Less Upright Posture Benefits:

While recumbent bike rowing machines offer a comfortable and supported workout, they lack the postural benefits of non-seatback rowers.

Rowing with an upright posture on a standard rowing machine helps improve posture and strengthen our core muscles.

CategoriesRecumbent Bike Rowing MachinesRowing MachinesStationary Bikes
Full-Body Workout
Low-Impact Cardiovascular
Adjustable Resistance Levels
Mimics On-Water Rowing
Core Activation
Upright Posture Benefits

Choosing the Best Bike-Rower: A Checklist

Comfort: Ensure the recumbent bike rowing machine has an ergonomically-designed seat, changeble footrests, and cushioned handles.

Resistance Levels: Look for a bike-rower with adjustable resistance to accommodate your fitness level and progression goals. Having the ability to increase or decrease the friction will ensure you can continually challenge yourself.

Size and Space: Consider the dimensions of the recumbent bike rowing machine and ensure it fits well within your available space. Some models are foldable or compact, making them suitable for smaller home gyms or apartments.

Stability and Durability: Opt for a bike-rower that is sturdy and built to last. For example, I like to see customer reviews and ratings to get an idea of how well the machine works.

Display and Tracking Features: Look for a machine with a clear and easy-to-read display that tracks time, distance, calories burned and heart rate (if applicable). Tracking features can help you monitor your progress and stay motivated.

Stamina Bike Rower Digital Monitor Tracks Workout Time, Speed, Distance, Calories, Heart Rate

Programmable Workouts: Some models offer pre-programmed workouts that vary in intensity and length. Consequently, these programs can add variety and help you achieve specific fitness goals.

Noise Level: Consider the noise level produced by the machine, especially if you plan to use it in a shared living space. For instance, look for models that have a reputation for being quiet or offer noise-reducing features.

User Weight and Height Limitations: Also check the weight and height limitations of the machine to ensure it can accommodate your body type comfortably and safely.

Price and Warranty: Lastly, compare prices and warranty options across different brands and models to find a balance between affordability and quality.

1. Stamina Conversion II Indoor Rower

Stamina Recumbent Bike Rower - 2 Fitness Machines in One for Home Workouts

At first glance, the Stamina looks like a typical  rower. (Except that the seat includes a support back for recumbent biking, and there are cycling pedals.)

However, with a few modifications, you can switch from one exercise to another without needing to re-arrange the whole device.

Rowing uses all major muscle groups, (ie. legs, arms, shoulders, back abdominals and glutes). Stationary cycling, on the other hand, focuses more on the lower body (hips, thighs and glutes).

Rowing Technique Diagram
courtesy of

Do you want to get your blood flowing – but don’t necessarily have the energy for a hard core workout? Some people enjoy getting on a stationary bike with a good book or a newspaper in the morning or at the end of the day. Although you probably won’t make any muscle gains using this type of workout, it can be great for increasing circulation and boosting energy.

Key Features of the Stamina Recumbent Rower/Exercise Bike:

  • Electronic monitor with large LCD display (easy-to-read).
  • Monitor tracks calories, speed, distance, time and more
  • Built-in hand pulse sensor measures heart beats per minute
  • 8 levels of resistance so you can always challenge yourself
  • Works with müüv, the free smart audio coaching app
  • Seat and seatback are foam padded for extra comfort
  • Pedals include foot straps for secure footing and better workouts
  • Folds and has wheels for easy and compact storage
  • Well-made with sturdy steel frame and weight capacity of 250 lbs
  • Quiet Magnetic resistance (Great while watching Tv or movies!)
  • Assembled dimensions: 75.5” L x 20″ W x 27″ H
  • Get More Info on the Stamina Bike/Rower

2. Avari Conversion II Bike Rower

Avari Bike Rower

Avari Conversion II Rower/Recumbent Bike

The Avari is made by the same company (Stamina) as the model above. They also have very similar dimensions, have the same 250 pound weight capacity and can fold in half for compact storage.

In addition, they both come with pulse rate sensors and easy-to-read LCD monitors for tracking your workouts. However, the Avari screen sits higher at eye level.

Note: Also, the Avari costs about $50 less than the Stamina Conversion II above. The trade-off is that the Stamina works with müüv, the smart audio coaching app that helps you move 500 minutes per month. (You can access müüv on the Apple App Store for free.)

In summary, recumbent bike rowers give you 2 exercise machines in one. If you want to use both types of fitness equipment, this can be a terrific buy for you. However, combining 2 machines in one limits the capabilities of each, so keep that in mind if you prefer one exercise over the other.


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