Best Cardio Machine for Home: 8 Types of Equipment

Meet the expert

John is an experienced health and wellness professional with a history of working in corporate wellness, clinical research, fitness equipment, and non-profit organizations.

With cardio machines coming in many different forms and types, it can be hard to choose the best machine for you. The guide below will help you navigate the best cardio machine for home use.

We’ve split the guide into the following categories:

  • Treadmills
  • Ellipticals
  • High intensity equipment
  • Indoor bikes
  • Max trainers
  • Recumbent bikes
  • Rowing Machines
  • Vertical climbers

Best Cardio Machine For Home: 10 Picks by category

1. Treadmills: Air Runner

Assault Fitness AirRunner, Black Frame/Charcoal

If you’re looking for a natural run on a cardio machine, you’re not going to find a better cardio equipment than this one! The Assault Air Runner is a self propelled motor less treadmill made for those who are looking for interval and sprint training.

The console displays distance, speed (mph or kph), time, pace, and can track heart rate with compatible device.

The only downside to this high quality treadmill is the expensive price.

Pros

  • Self propelled
  • Natural running motion
  • Easy to control speed

Cons

  • Expensive price
  • Unable to incline or decline

Who it’s good for

  • People that want to interval train
  • People that want to sprint train

Who it’s not good for

  • Beginner exercisers
  • Active older adults

2. Treadmills: NordicTrack Commercial Series

NordicTrack Commercial Series Treadmills  + 1 year iFit membership ($396 value)

If you prefer the traditional motor treadmill, the NordicTrack Treadmill is great treadmill for a home gym.

What I like about this line of treadmills are the features. This treadmill series upgrades the width of the track for comfort while running, adds additional cushioning to protect joints while on the treadmill, and provides both declines and inclines to change intensity of the workouts on the treadmill.

What’s great about this treadmill is the space it saves by being able to fold up when not in use.

This treadmill also comes with an HD touch screen that comes with their workout membership and personal coaching called iFit.

The best part in my opinion is the great warranty of 10 years on the frame (this breaks down a lot on treadmills), 2 years on parts, and 1 year on labor. This is one of the best warranties you will find on a cardio equipment.

Pros

  • Decline and incline features to change intensity
  • Wider width of track
  • Extra cushion to support joints on treadmill

Cons

  • Expensive price

Who it’s good for

  • Those that want a long lasting durable treadmill
  • Those that need a wider track to run on
  • Those that need extra cushion when running on a treadmill

Who it’s not good for

  • Those with a tight budget

3. Elliptical: Octane Fitness Q37x Elliptical Machine

Octane Fitness Q37x Elliptical Machine

The Octane brand is one of my favorite brands out on the market right now. They are changing the fitness industry with one innovative machine after another. Not only are they changing the equipment to be more user friendly, but they are changing the programming as well.

The Octane Q37 Elliptical is perfect for any level of exerciser with its multiple programs including HIIT programs that are usually not included on elliptical machines. This elliptical is also made for low ceilings areas and is shorter than most elliptical machines.

One of the great features on this elliptical is the shortening the distance between the feet. The Octane team made this change to help take the pressure off of the low back when exercising on this equipment. Low back pain is a occasional injury for standing cardio equipment.

Pros

  • Fits in smaller spaces than most ellipticals
  • Focuses on preventing back pain by shortening the distance between feet for more stability
  • Multiple programs including HIIT workouts

Cons

  • High price

Who it’s good for

  • Those that have small spaces and low ceilings
  • Those that have back pain when using normal ellipticals

Who it’s not good for

  • Those on a tight budget

4. High Intensity: Assault Bike

Assault AirBike Classic, Black

The best cardio equipment for a high intensity full body workout is the Assault Bike. Working both lower and upper body at the same time, this cardio machine is guaranteed to elevate your heart rate and burn the most calories compared to other cardio equipment.

For the price, this is the best bang for your buck cardio equipment you will find.

The console display allows the user to set custom interval programs to meet their needs. This bike does allow for lower and upper body only workouts as well if you need to work one of them more.

The only negative to this almost perfect cardio equipment, is the loud fan.

Pros

  • Works upper and lower body at same time or can do one at a time
  • Great for HIIT workouts

Cons

  • Not great for long duration workouts
  • Loud fan

Who it’s good for

  • Those that don’t have a lot of time and want to lose weight
  • Those that like a challenging workout

Who it’s not good for

  • Those that live in a tight space that want to avoid loud noise

5. High intensity: Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob's Ladder Gronk Edition Step Machine, Gronk Edition, Black

Climbing an endless ladder for 20 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of fun. But what if I told you it would give you the best defined glutes and hamstrings out of any cardio equipment?

The Jacob’s Ladder is one of the most unique cardio machines on the market, but it gives amazing results.

Not only is it an intense physical workout, it can be at times a difficult mental workout due to hand and foot placement.

With a very simple design and limited number of parts, this equipment is perfect to maintain at home. The two negatives to this equipment are the high price and how much space it takes up.

Pros

  • The best glute and hamstring cardio workout
  • Great for HIIT workouts

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of space
  • Pricy

Who it’s good for

  • Those that don’t have a lot of time and want to lose weight
  • Those that like a challenging workout

Who it’s not good for

  • Those that live in a small space

6. Indoor Cycling Bike: Peloton Bike

Peloton Bike

Click here for more information on Peloton Bikes

The Peloton Bike has created hype like no other exercise equipment in the past decade. It’s one thing to have hype and its another to live up to it, and Peloton does live up to the hype.

What separates Peloton from other bikes, is the experience. As a fitness professional, the best way to stay consistent with exercise is to create a fun and welcoming experience and Peloton does it better than any other company.

Not only do they bring the bike to your home and set it up, they give you a free membership to their Peloton bike service that includes classes and tons of programs. Yes, it is expensive but its a high quality bike and an exceptionally high quality service like no other in the industry.

Pros

  • Professional set up
  • 12 month warranty
  • Free Subscription to Peloton classes and programs

Cons

  • Very expensive after free subscription ends

Who it’s good for

  • Those that need accountability and group setting

Who it’s not good for

  • Those that are on a tight budget

7. Max Trainer: Octane Max Trainer

Octane Fitness MTX Max Trainer

Check out the Max Trainer here

The Octane Max Trainer is one of the most innovative cardio machines out right now. This equipment is very lightweight and easy to move if you need to store it somewhere. It does have a fan but the fan is not as loud as the fans on the assault bike and rowers.

The Max Trainer equipment is a combination of an elliptical and a stair stepper. The motion is more like a stair stepper but the support of the machine is very similar to an elliptical.

What separates this equipment from other max trainers ability to quickly restart if a new user starts back on the machine. Instead of moving to a home screen to select a program, the time just starts over once the button is pressed. This makes this equipment perfect for HIIT workouts with multiple people.

The max trainer’s signature program is a 14 minute HIIT workout, that is guaranteed to leave you sweating after you’re done.

I know I mentioned HIIT a lot with this equipment, but it is also great for long aerobic cardio workouts as well. The only downside to this equipment is the high price, which is more than ellipticals and treadmills.

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Great for multiple users
  • Multiple programs for HIIT or aerobic exercise

Cons

  • Resistance is set by a lever rather than by the touch screen and its difficult to place on a specific level

Who it’s good for

  • Those that want a stair stepper machine with the support of an elliptical
  • Multiple users because of the reset feature

Who it’s not good for

  • Those on a tight budget

8. Recumbent Bike: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Bike Exercise Bike

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Recumbent Exercise Bike, 350lb High Weight Capacity, Cross Training, Arm Exercisers, Monitor, Pulse Rate Monitoring | SF-RB4708

Recumbents bikes are great low-impact exercise machines that will give you a great workout. The Sunny Health & Fitness Recumbent Bike is great for those wanting a low-impact workout on their lower body while working out their upper body with the arm bars.

For the price, you can’t beat how great of a machine this is. This bike holds up to 330lbs, has over 8 resistance levels, and includes heart rate monitors on the the handle bars.

Pros

  • Works both upper and lower body at the same time
  • Heart rate monitors on handles track workout the entire time

Cons

  • Weight capacity doesn’t allow for those who really need it to use it.

Who it’s good for

  • Low impact exercisers that want a full body cardio experience

Who it’s not good for

  • Those that are looking for a quick high intensity workout

9. Rowing Machine: Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 Performance Monitor

The Concept 2 Rowing brand is the gold standard of rowing machines. What separates the Concept 2 Rower from most rowers is the 10 levels of resistance, most rowers only have 1 level of resistance.

This rower is also able to break down easily for storage in small spaces. The smooth fan and monorail makes for minimal noise when exercising, making this a great cardio machine for apartments or condos.

From a HIIT perspective, the Concept 2 is the best rower for max speed. Most other rowers that I’ve seen participants use catch at the beginning or ending of the track, but the Concept 2 is made exceptionally well to change directions without missing a beat.

I would advise not to use rowers if you have low back pain, because the rowing motion can put a lot of pressure on the low back.

Pros

  • Multiple resistance levels
  • Breaks down for storage

Cons

  • Fan noise

Who it’s good for

  • Great for those that live in apartments, condos, or studios
  • Those looking for a low-impact workouts

Who it’s not good for

  • Those with lower back pain

10. Vertical Climber: CITYBIRDS Vertical Climber

CITYBIRDS Vertical Climber - Folded Cardio Exercise Equipment Stair Climber Full Body Workout for Women Men

Vertical Climbing machines are difficult workout machines that are great for short intense workouts. The workout is a combination of high knees with single arm pull downs.

The CITYBIRDS Vertical Climber is a space saving vertical climber due to its simple foldable climbing design. This machine is made to protect against rust with its durable steel. It comes with both mobile and static handles that allow for a leg only workout or a full body workout.

This climber also comes with a LCD screen that is readable for the user (some climbers have screens in awkward places). Adjustable arms allow for multiple muscles groups to be worked for a great resistance workout. Guaranteed to burn 500 calories an hour, this is a great all around vertical climber.

Pros

  • Big and readable LCD screen
  • Adjustable arms to work multiple muscle groups
  • Foldable design allows for storage in small spaces

Cons

  • No resistance levels

Who it’s good for

  • For those that want a tough workout for a low price

Who it’s not good for

  • Beginner exercisers due to the high intensity
  • Older adults due to the difficulty and lack of support during exercise

Related

Buying Guide for Home Cardio Machines

Low Impact vs High Impact

Higher or lower impact has nothing to do with intensity but rather the amount of stress placed on the joints during exercise.

Low impact means equipment is made to take pressure off of ankles, hips, and knees Low impact machines are usually made for those with injuries to joints, overweight individuals with joint pain, or older adults Most low impact machines have user in a seated position.

Exceptions include elliptical machines because they are designed to take weight off of the users joints while exercising.

High impact means the user is able to put their full bodyweight on the equipment while moving at an average or high pace. These machines are usually in a standing position with the user forcing all

Heart Rate Monitors

In my opinion, heart rate monitors are a necessary feature for home cardio equipment. I would advise against buying a cardio equipment without that feature because it’s the best tracker for how many calories you’re going to burn during a workout.

Having a heart rate monitor can make interval training more efficient by making sure your are in the correct heart rate zone.

Heart rate monitors will also help you identify what type of source your body is using for fuel. When your heart rate zone is around 60% of your max heart rate you will be primarily using fat as a fuel for your workout.

A heart rate that is 85% of your max heart rate, will use primarily carbs as the main fuel source during your workout.

To find out your max heart rate take subtract your age by 220.

Price and Quality

With cardio equipment a higher price will lead to a higher quality equipment or a decent quality equipment with great technology. In my opinion, durability is the most important factor with price.

Cardio equipment is bound to break down at some point due to the number of moving parts and abuse the machine takes from wear and tear.

I try to stick to buying equipment that has simple setups and doesn’t use tablet monitors. The simple setups allow for easy weekly and monthly maintenance to prolong the life of the machine and for easy fixes if the equipment breaks down.

Cardio equipment that relies on touch screen monitors can be a nightmare if the monitor breaks. The monitors are expensive and most of the time require a technician to install.

I hope you see the underlying message in all of this, make sure you buy cardio equipment that has or offers warranty to save you money in the long run.

Summary

Choosing cardio equipment is an overwhelming and time consuming task. Hopefully, this guide has given you the tools to find the best cardio equipment for you.

You can’t go wrong choosing any of these 10 cardio equipment machines to meet your fitness goals and space in your home.

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