Cross trainer or rowing machine??

We are looking to buy a new machine for home training and would be grateful for any of your advice or experience??


  • If I could afford one I'd go for a rowing machine.  A Concept 2.  But they're expensive.   Have a look at the Concept 2 website to see what  you think.   Sorry I can't be of more use.  Rowing machines give an all round workout much better that a cross trainer.  But that's just my opinion.
  • SianceSiance ✭✭✭

    I got a concept II cheap(er) after it had been used at the indoor championships - they get brand new ones, use them once on the day then can't sell them at the normal price so you can get a new rower (relatively) cheap. Check out the concept II webiste for details of rowing events.

    I'd say a rower will condition you more than a cross trainer, as it's more of a whole body workout, but beware of using good technique - I've seen a lot of back probs caused by poor form. Again the website's good for technique.

  • I'm a rower who runs so I'm biased, but I would say get a concept II, but with a couple of additional points:

     1. they're quite expensive so consider getting a second hand one from ebay - they're near as damnit indestructible so an older model will make no difference to you whatsoever. I bought one from ebay when I was nowhere near a river and sold it a year later, and only lost 20 quid

     2. Concept 2 themselves do offer a hire service so you could always rent one for a few months and see if you need it

    If you do get one, you'll find that it provides you with a great workout for your backside, quads and core stability, providing you use it properly. At the risk of being patronising, I would direct you to the following youtube demonstrations:


  • I'd also take your personal preference into account: both will give you a good workout if used properly, but you're more likely to use a machine regularly if you enjoy it. 
  • Some good advice here already. I've trained extensively on both (hundreds of sessions on each). Both can provide a seriously good workout, and there can be little doubt that cross-trainers are more closely "related" to running. This is why Paula Radcliffe (and others) use them when injured. But for weight loss and general fitness, I would go for a Concept 2 rower. Yes, they are expensive, but buy carefully from eBay, try to get the latest model (E?), and you'll find them cheaper than a good quality cross-trainer (I use the LifeFitness ones at my gym). Have a few sessions on both, trying the different "effort" settings, and see what you like. Decide what you want to achieve, the rower will work your upper body more than the X-T and will probably burn calories quicker at equal effort. Concept2s may be near indestructible, but I've seem them put out of use at my gym. After significant use (and not enough maintenance), the ride is much less smooth which spoils the session, so buy the best you can.

    I'm probably biased towards the Concept 2 rower. I lost 4 stone in 2 months on it (16 to 12 stone) and it's still off 4 years later. I've exercised to exhaustion countless times on the rower, treadmill and X-Trainer, and nothing feels as punishing as the rower, if you choose to exercise to your limits. Although I'm currently on the X-T most days, and always have targets and aims, nothing motivated me as much as the rower to beat my times at various distances. The Concept2 website is well worth a look, and there are many "ranking" lists there if you want to compete against others.

    Hope this is of some help.

  • The Concept2 is the best all-round fitness machine and also has fully-customisable workouts - unlike the other CV kit in our gym which is several times more expensive.

    To get the most out of it you would do well to get some coaching. It was originally designed by "real rowers" and you should engage the muscles in the same order as you would propelling a boat.
  • LOKLOK ✭✭✭
    i had a concept2 rower for a while and i loved it

    - they were doing an interest free 10 month deal direct from concept2 when i bought mine- look out for that
    - new vs old - i disagree with the person above that said buy the latest model - these machines are rock solid and you can tell if you give it a couple of pulls on the chain if there is a problem with the action
    in fact, i'd go so far as say that you might want to buy a knackered one really cheaply and get it fixed - there are a few good firms that specialise in this and all the parts are easily available
    the basic frame is so strong that it can go on for years and everything else is replaceable
    and the old machines are upgradeable to the new monitors

    the best thing for me about the concept2 (model D i had) is the monitor - it is really good for tracking progress and let's face it, we all need motivation and visible results from training

    you can get loads of numbers out of it , so if you're a stats geek at all you will love that (it even plugs into your PC on model D and above)

    i don't think there is much difference between the model D and C apart from the stats display (enhanced and log card thingy) and the rowing hand grips (rubbery feeling and hand shaped instead of straight hard wood) and i believe these are both changeable
  • LOKLOK ✭✭✭

    however, i think the latest model E (?) actually has a different frame that means you are higher off the floor
    i can see arguments for this being slightly more comfortable when you stop and get on or off but that's about all i can see in this and personally i'd rather buy a frame design that's already had hundreds of thousands of users test it to destruction!

    other stuff i like about the concept2 rower
    - as someone said above there is a great online competition thing as well as the indoor rowing championships every year so if you need competition to get you going then it's all there - i've not heard of the same for cross trainers and i doubt that they are calibrated like the concept 2 to make your performance genuinely comparable to a friends on a different machine
    - the concept2 site is really helpful - there is even now a section specifically for runners using the rower
    with a downloadable guide written by a serious runner
    - the company themselves are really helpful if you email or phone them about stuff
    - you can buy weird addons for your rower like a kayak pole thing
    - you can race in real time over the internet against someone else who has a model D or above (hooked up via PC and see your progress on screen vs them)

    as you can see i think it's a great machine and great company and in case you are wondering about my enthusiasm - this is genuine - i do not work for them or sell them

    as for cross trainer (presume we mean those eliptical things) - i find them too easy to only half do eg not put full effort into the arms
    i've also heard both my physio and weight loss peeps on tv, say that they are not great for weight loss - so if that is a part of why you are training then i think the rower would be better

    i think it depends on what are your objectives for non-running type of training ?
    - is it to give the running muscles a break? if so the rower might be better
    - is it to lose weight ? if so the rower again wins imho
    - or is it to get as close to running as possible but with a slight reduction in impact on your joints? if so cross trainer is better
    - another thing to think about is who else is going to use it ? and what do they prefer? kids from about 7 can use the rower (with supervision) . my son liked our rower alot.

    arguments against the rower
    - i'd agree with the point about back problems if you have poor form ( concept 2 will give you a great dvd that's free if you ring them up and it goes into correct form at great length)

    - needs quite a bit of floor space as it's long (it does fold away pretty small though) . suspect a cross trainer is less spread out in use

    good luck!
  • It depends who  is giving you advice, i was lucky  enough to be at Liz McColgans fitess suite in Scotland. I told her i had a rower, her answer was get rid of it and replace it with a stationary bike.

    She maintained for a runner the bike was the best piece of equipment and also advised that you should get to a point where you are standing up on the pedals.

  • It would be good if you buy both of them as personally saying I have all of the equipments in my home including treadmills, elliptical bikes, rowing machine and all the cardio machine. I suggest you to search before buying it anywhere as I mostly purchased gym equipments online from
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