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Best CrossFit Cardio: Rowing and Airbike

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

CrossFit workouts utilize high-intensity functional movements to improve users’ cardio and physical strength. Although CrossFit is commonly associated with strength training workouts, it also offers the ability to include any cardio workout into a user’s fitness routine. However, the two best options for getting an intense CrossFit cardio workout are rowing and airbikes. Both allow users to torch away calories while also incorporating elements of strength training due to the natural movements one makes when using either machine. Read on to learn more about the benefits of rowing and airbikes, how to incorporate them into a CrossFit workout, and an intense workout for each machine that’s sure to get anyone’s heart pumping.



Low-Impact – It’s important to remember that low impact doesn’t mean low intensity; users can torch calories without putting large amounts of stress on their joints. Rowing provides an excellent low impact workout due to placing next to no stress on the knee and ankle joints, something that very few other machines accomplish that burn as many calories as the rowing machine. It also benefits joint health due to the large range of motion users must complete when using the machine. It also allows CrossFit users to perfectly balance their Crossfit workouts, counteracting the lifting, pressing and pushing movements that come with exercises like burpees and deadlifts.

Maximized Calorie Burning – Because rowing is performed in a sitting position, many CrossFit users wonder about its ability to burn calories. In fact, many people can burn upwards of 1,000 calories when using a rower! This is due to the numerous muscles that must be utilized when rowing. Unlike more traditional cardio machines like treadmills and ellipticals, rowing gives an even full body workout that combines the best elements of cardio and strength training into one machine.

Improves Endurance – Besides being an excellent cardio and strength training workout, rowing also improves CrossFit users’ endurance—an integral part of the workout process. While some workout machines can become “outgrown” by users as they become more fit, rowing machines allow users to increase their endurance as slowly or quickly as they want on the same machine, meaning a leaner, stronger body that can workout longer and harder than one can imagine.

Incorporating Rowing into CrossFit Workout

Adding the rowing machine to one’s CrossFit workouts probably sounds great, but how often should one use the machine? It’s truly up to the user; however, Fitscope recommends beginners use the rowing machine 1-2 times a week to allow the body to recover and get the most out of the machine. This is an excellent starting point that allows exercisers to vary their workout routines while still getting maximum benefits from a rowing machine.


There are an assortment of CrossFit workouts one can complete on their rower, but this one that combines rowing with kettlebell swings is sure to torch calories. Just remember to use a challenging weight for the kettlebell to receive maximum benefits. Don’t want to use the kettlebell? This workout is entirely customizable, so feel free to switch it out in favor of burpees, press-ups or another strength training exercise of one’s choice.

200 m Row

15 Kettlebell Swings

400 m Row

15 Kettlebell Swings

800 m Row

15 Kettlebell Swings

1000 m Row

Rest 3 minutes

Perform entire set three times



Excellent Default Equipment – Unfortunately, injuries do happen; however, rolled ankles or flexor strain doesn’t mean one needs to completely stop working out. Airbikes (also called assault bikes and fan bikes) are an excellent way to exercise safely while injured due to next to no stress being placed on the joints, facilitating rehabilitation quicker than not exercising at all while also burning calories. That doesn’t mean airbikes are only applicable for the injured either. They are also an excellent way to work out on rest days due to the increased blood flow in the body which makes recovery times much shorter than those who remain stagnant.

Bust Plateaus – While airbikes provide a great full body workout, they really excel as a cardio workout. This makes it perfect for those who have recently plateaued in their workouts and are seeking to increase their cardio to get their body back on track without losing one’s muscle mass or strength.

Powerful Lower Body Workout – CrossFit primarily focuses on getting the most out of a workout in the least amount of time which is why so many of their machines provide combined strength and cardio workouts, and an airbike is no exception. Pedaling will strengthen the ankles, calves hamstrings and quads to create shapely, strong legs while stabilizing oneself on the bike actually engages the core muscles, leading to stronger abs.

Incorporating an Airbike into CrossFit Workouts

Users should aim to work out on an airbike between 1-2 times a week when first starting out. This will allow adequate recovery time in between workouts. As users progress with their exercise plan, they may find they want to use their airbike more often.


This workout is perfect for beginners. Remember that CrossFit focuses on completing each section as quickly as possible while still maintaining form. Therefore, instead of focusing on time spent on the bike, this workout focuses on calories burned:

15 calorie Airbike

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Burpees

15 calorie Airbike

10 Kettlebell Swings

15 Box Jumps

15 calorie Airbike

10 Kettlebell Swings

10 Air Squats

Repeat 3 Times


Rowing machines and airbikes both provide excellent CrossFit workouts for those looking to lose weight and get fit as quickly as possible without spending hours on a machine. Want to vary your exercise routine and start working out as soon as possible? Fitscope offers online studio classes for rowing machines, airbikes and strength training with dumbbells, kettlebells, etc., as well as old favorites like treadmills and ellipticals, to allow people to vary their workouts while obtaining maximum benefits. Click here to learn more and receive a free one-week trial.

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