Rowing Machine Vs Airdyne: Concept 2 & Schwinn Compared

Rowing machines and exercise bikes have long been two core pieces of fitness equipment, both in home gyms and professional settings. However, which is the best choice if you only have room for one of the two in your garage gym?  

This article will focus on the Schwinn and Concept 2 rowing machine vs Airdyne exercise bikes. We will break down the pros and cons of each model as a total body workout choice to help you decide which is the better choice for you. 

When you think of a gym, one of the first machines you are likely to picture is a rowing machine, and for good reason! Rowing machines combine strength and cardio training into one fast full-body workout.  

There are many different kinds of rowing machines, and they work by mimicking the action of rowing a boat on the water. Each stroke can be divided into four phases, each of which works different parts of the body. They are as follows: 

The Catch

Each stroke begins with the catch, where the seat is as far forward as it will go, and you are sitting close to the machine's front. The catch consists of bending the knees close up towards the chest while the shins are kept vertical to the ground.

The catch works the following areas: 

  • Arms: Triceps
  • Legs: Calves, hamstrings, and glutes
  • Back: Latissimus dorsi, trapezius, and rhomboids
man using an air rowing machine

The Drive

The next phase is the drive, where the feet are pushed off from their stretchers until the legs reach almost full extension. Now, while engaging the core, the hips should be used in order to swing the body to an upright position. After this, the back, shoulders, and arms should be engaged in order to pull the handlebars back to the ribs. All of this should happen in one smooth motion. 

The drive works the following areas: 

  • Legs: Glutes and hamstrings 
  • Arms: Biceps and shoulder muscles
  • Stomach: Abdominals
  • Back: Muscles in both the upper and lower back

The Finish

This stage is completed by engaging the core while using the hips to hinge backward slightly. Using this momentum, the legs should be fully extended, and the handlebars brought totally inwards up to the sternum. If done correctly, the upper arms should rotate internally. 

The finish works the following areas: 

  • Torso: Transverse abdominis, pyramidal, external abdominal oblique, internal abdominal oblique, and rectus abdominis
  • Arms: Biceps 

The Recovery

The final stage essentially reverses the first three steps. The arms should be extended out in front, parallel to the floor. Then the hips should lean forward, and the knees should be bent using the hamstring muscles to pull the body forward. The recovery ends when the body ends up in the catch position once again.  

The recovery works the following areas: 

  • Arms: Triceps
  • Legs: Calves, glutes, and hamstrings

As well as the muscles listed above, completing all the phases with good form will also use other muscles in the chest, hands, and neck to give you a workout that activates all the body’s major skeletal muscles. This is why a rowing machine is lauded as ‘the perfect workout’ by many fitness professionals. 

Two of the fitness industry’s most popular rowing machines are the Schwinn Crewmaster 100660 and the Concept 2.

Schwinn Crewmaster Rowing Machine

SCHWINN Crewmaster Rower 100660, Gray
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SCHWINN Crewmaster Rower 100660, Gray
  • Large LCD display tracks time, count,...
  • Adjustable console provides easy line of...
  • Convenient easy-fold design, stows the rail...
  • Durable nylon transmission offers quiet, yet...


  • Basically silent 
  • High-quality, durable build 
  • Ten different adjustable levels of resistance 
  • Folds away for ease of storage 
  • Good price 


  • Performance monitor is not very advanced 
  • Heavy and fairly difficult to assemble 
  • Handle may be too low for some people 

Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine

Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine - PM5...
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Concept2 RowErg Indoor Rowing Machine - PM5...
  • Integrated Device Holder allows you to keep...
  • 14-inch seat height fits most uses....
  • Indoor rowing is an effective full-body and...
  • Includes the Performance Monitor 5, giving...


  • Easy assembly with detailed instructions 
  • Accurate and detailed performance monitor 
  • Solid, durable, and low maintenance 
  • Customizable with lots of extra options and functions 
  • Smooth rowing motion 


  • Large size and footprint 
  • Can be quite noisy 
  • Relatively expensive piece of equipment 

Schwinn Airdyne Bikes (Overview + Pros & Cons)

While rowing machines are world-renowned for their fitness utility, they are certainly rivaled by the top-of-the-line Schwinn Airdyne bike. 

Unlike regular exercise bikes, air bikes use moving handlebars to work the upper body while the pedaling action works the lower body. The beauty of air bikes is that you do not need to set a resistance level, as the faster you pedal, the more the resistance increases on its own.  

The muscles worked in an average air bike routine include: 

  • Upper and lower back 
  • Biceps and triceps 
  • Shoulder muscles 
  • Core muscles 
  • Glute muscles 
  • Quads and hamstrings 

If you are looking for an air bike of your very own, one of the most popular choices are Schwinn Airdyne bikes, and for good reason. These brilliant models excel in durability, build quality, and feature smart ergonomic designs to reduce unnecessary strain on your body while you work out. Schwinn is considered leaders in the air resistance technology sector. 

Another big bonus of a Schwinn Airdyne bike is that it can be used by most fitness levels, with an optimum weight limit of around 350 pounds, which is much better than many similar exercise bikes. 

Schwinn Airdyne Exercise Bike

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Schwinn Fitness AD6 Airdyne Bike , Black, 48...
  • Single-stage belt drive keeps it running...
  • Progressive wind resistance system offers...
  • RevMeter RPM gage for interval training
  • Self-balancing foot pedals with foot straps


  • High weight limit makes it more accessible 
  • Stable, resilient, and robust - without sacrificing on comfort or ergonomics 
  • Smooth and silent 
  • Unlimited levels of resistance for every skill level 
  • Nine different programs cater to diverse fitness goals 


  • Lacks a built-in heart rate monitor, although it is compatible with wireless telemetry that can be bought separately 
  • Lacks built-in speakers or Bluetooth compatibility, unlike many other models of the same price 

Rowing Machine Vs Airdyne (Key Differences Explained)

When it comes to Airdyne vs rowing machine breakdowns, the full-body workout you receive will be fairly similar. However, there are some key differences which we will explain below.

In general, a Schwinn Airdyne is the superior choice if you are looking for something efficient, reasonably sized, and convenient to a busy schedule for your home workout routine. If you are looking to fully deck out your large garage gym, it may be better to consider a rowing machine. 

1. Skill Level Required

While both machines take a certain amount of skill to operate, the difference in results will be much more noticeable (in a bad way) if you are using a rowing machine with poor form. This is because cycling is a much more familiar motion to most people, and a rowing machine requires good form throughout to maximize the benefits.

2. Cardiovascular Workout Benefits

Rowing machines offer a workout that is well balanced between muscular and cardiovascular requirements. However, they tend to skew towards working the muscular system harder out of the two. If you are looking for a workout that maximizes cardiovascular benefits, go with the Schwinn Airdyne.

3. Muscles Worked

Both rowing machines and the Schwinn Airdyne will work both the upper and lower body, thanks to the Airdyne’s moving handlebars. However, the key difference is that the Airdyne will work the legs much more than a rowing machine, particularly the hamstrings and quads. This makes it perfect for leg day or leg injury rehabilitation.

4. Weight Loss & Calorie Burn

It is hard to beat the traditional rowing machine if you are mainly focused on weight loss. This is because a typical rowing machine workout of about 30 minutes completed with good form throughout will demand everything you have, and this combination of strength, muscular, and cardiovascular endurance will often burn the most calories. 

person standing on a weight scale

5. Impact On Joints

The impact a rowing machine has on your joints will depend greatly on your skill level and form. If you have perfect form, then the impact on your joints will be negligible. However, if you get it wrong, it is possible to do more harm than good. The Schwinn Airdyne, however, is designed to be low-impact and is especially great for those rehabilitating themselves from knee injuries.

6. HIIT Training

Both rowing machines and the Schwinn Airdyne are excellent in that they both offer low impact workouts and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) options. This is great for those who lead busy lives and cannot commit multiple hours each day to training. The Schwinn Airdyne is particularly great for this, as its nine different programs offer a great deal of customization for your needs.

7. Size

The size of your desired machine is an important thing, especially if your home workout space is not the largest. In terms of space efficiency, it is hard to beat the Schwinn Airdyne bike, as its dimensions only measure 42” (L) x 20” (W) x 52” (H). This is much better than most rowing machines, which tend to be bulky with a large footprint. However, some rowing machines (such as the Crewmaster, also by Schwinn) offer fold-away designs that the Airdyne does not.

8. Price & Warranty

The cost and warranty length of a rowing machine will, of course, depend on which model you select. However, Schwinn Airdyne bikes are very affordable for what you get, and you should be able to pick one up for between $600-700. This will come with between a 5 and 10 year warranty, depending on the model. You also have the option to extend the warranty for an additional cost.

Concept 2 Rower Vs Schwinn Airdyne Bikes  

In terms of rowing machines, it is hard to beat the Concept 2 Rower. They tend to be the industry standard for CrossFit gyms for good reason. However, the following will summarize the advantages of a Concept 2 Rower vs Airdyne bike. 

In terms of price, the Schwinn Airdyne is a clear winner. They are also smaller, more ergonomic, easier on the joints, and offer infinite levels of resistance, as opposed to Concept 2's ten levels.  

However, the Concept 2 accommodates up to 500 lbs in user capacity, whereas the Schwinn Airdyne is most efficient at 350 lbs. The Concept 2 also comes with a chest strap heart rate monitor and separates into two separate pieces for ease of storage, whereas the Schwinn Airdyne does not fold at all and can be harder to store. 

All in all, both machines provide a full-body workout that is highly customizable. Which option you choose depends more on personal preference and requirements. 

man using a concept 2 model d rowing machine

Schwinn Rower Vs Schwinn Airdyne Bikes

If you are as enamored by the industry-leading air resistance technology of Schwinn as we are, but still want to opt for a rowing machine over a bike, then Schwinn’s Crewmaster rowing machine might be for you. 

With this piece of equipment, you get all the usual advantages of a rowing machine, plus the infinite wind resistance that makes the Schwinn Airdyne so excellent. Add to this a relatively cheap price tag and the ability to easily fold it up for storage, and you have one excellent product. 

Once again, whether to opt for Schwinn's rower or air bike will really depend on what exactly it is you are looking for. However, rest assured that no matter which you choose, with Schwinn, you will be purchasing a piece of high-quality equipment! 

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are Airdyne bikes good for seniors? 

The great thing about Airdyne bikes is that the resistance depends on how hard you pedal, meaning that your workout will be personally tailored and low impact, should you desire it. This makes the Schwinn Airdyne an excellent choice for seniors, as well as those recovering and rehabilitating from leg injuries. 

Is a Concept 2 rower worth the money? 

The Concept 2 Rower is undoubtedly worth the money if you have it available to you. The build quality is excellent, and the machine itself is low maintenance, so the initial cost is more than worthwhile. Furthermore, the wealth of customization options mean that you will not outgrow the Concept 2 as you get fitter. 

However, if you cannot quite justify the price tag but still want a rowing machine, the Crewmaster by Schwinn is more affordable and still an incredibly worthwhile purchase! 

How long will a Concept 2 rower last? 

The Concept 2 Rower is durably built and designed to last an entire lifetime of use. However, should anything go wrong with your machine, they are designed in a modular way. This means that each individual part is replaceable on its own so that you can inexpensively replace parts. 


In conclusion, we know that choosing the right option for your piece of full-body workout equipment is no easy task. However, we hope that we have fully equipped you with all the information you need to make an informed decision that suits your needs! 

Good luck and happy exercising! 

Last Updated on January 30, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.