What’s the best metcon equipment for a home gym or garage gym?
Is it the air bike or the indoor rower?
That’s what we’ll discuss here.
We’ll be looking at the pros and cons of indoor rowers like the Concept 2 Model D rower and air bikes like the Assault Fitness AirBike.
NOTE: We’ve posted an up to date comparison of Rower vs Assault Bike over on our sister site, you may want to get the latest details there.
Both are low impact exercise.
There’s no jarring impacts to the joints.
Can’t run? You may be able to row or bike instead.
Back problems? The Air Bike might be the better bet.
Your lower back is kept in a relatively static position.
The forward lean required for the rower could cause you problems.
The air bike seat gets uncomfortable pretty quick.
The rower is definitely the better choice for stead state cardio or LSD (Long, Slow, Distance) type training.
The Air Bike is better for intervals and sprints – think HIIT style training (High Intensity Interval Training).
But, you can do intervals on the rower as well.
In either case there is little residual muscle soreness (or DOMS – Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.)
This is because there is not really an eccentric loading in either.
The “negative” part of weight lifting is what makes you sore.
There’s just not much of that at all in the air bike or rower.
Here’s one advantage of the air bike – you can turn it into a “legs only” or “arms only” workout.
To use “legs only” – don’t use the handles.
For “arms only” – rest your feet on the pegs on the front wheel.
The rower is fully body at all times – you can’t selectively use your arms or legs only.
But more importantly, the air bike is a more miserable experience ALWAYS.
That’s mainly because on an air bike you NEVER STOP WORKING.
On a rower, you are “resting” as you return to the catch position. That’s 50% of the movement.
On an air bike you have to stay in constant motion the entire time – there’s no respite.
You can’t free-wheel, you can’t coast. It’s all motion – all the time.
Let’s move on and talk about logistics and space utilization.
Rowers take up more space – but only when you are using them.
The Concept 2 Model D is easy to hang on the wall , and it breaks into two pieces for convenient storage.
Air Bikes take up a smaller amount of floor space, and there’s no way to hang them on the wall.
But, they typically have wheels so you can move them out of the way quickly and easily.
Air Bike vs Spin Bike
What’s the difference between a spin bike (like Peloton) and an air bike?
There is a lot of difference.
Spin bikes have resistance, but it’s not due to a fan.
Spin bike is more like riding a real bike or road bike.
You might change gears.
You can coast.
Almost forgot – you also don’t use your arms much.
In comparison, the air bike is an all together different experience.
There’s not really any coasting – you can’t free wheel.
The infinite resistance from having to spin the fan means the faster you go, the harder you work – and there’s never a gear change to lighten the load.
You also can push and pull with your arms.
And air bike is more of a full body workout.
It’s also less pleasant.
As we discussed earlier, when you are on an air bike you never stop working.
That’s why the air bike is a more miserable experience.
In short, are you trying to replicate an on the road bike riding experience?
You want a spin bike.
if you are “engine building” or want the ultimate metcon tool – get the air bike.
Rower vs Air Bike – In Summary
There’s more than one way to skin a cat.
The Rower and Air Bike are both low impact, full body exercise.
They both require a relatively expensive piece of equipment.
You can get excellent results using either exclusively.
But, it’s also fun to have choices – I like to do them both.