Best Cardio Machines in 2021

The Best Cardio Machines

TL;DR: Here’s a list of our top cardiovascular training equipment recommendations to help you get fit in the comfort of your home and with minimal fuss: ?

✔️ Best stationary bike: Schwinn Airdyne ($400 – 1000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best rower: Concept2 Rower ($800 – 1200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer ($1300 – 2000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best stair stepper: Bowflex TreadClimber ($1300 – 2500)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best vertical climber: MaxiClimber (under $200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Already purchase the perfect cardio machine and need some guidance on how to properly set up your home gym? No sweat (pun intended ?)!

Here’s a handy guide on how to set up your ideal home gym.

Best Cardio Machines

Your Body is Always Ultimately Going to be the Best Cardio Machine!

Whether a cardiovascular exercise is effective or not has less to do with the machine than you would think. Cardio exercise is not fun for most people, especially avid weight trainers.

If you have not visited the best cardio exercise page, you probably should check it out. Knowledge is power, and it could save you hundreds of hours of sweating in the gym.

The Main Purpose of Any Cardio Machine is to Raise Your Heart Rate

With the best cardio exercises, you are moving the large muscles in your body which require a lot of oxygen. Oxygen is circulated throughout the body in your blood.

When you get your blood pumping, your heart rate rises to pump the blood to your working muscles. If you are out of shape and look to get back into it, your extremities may fatigue before your heart does. If you have the knowledge about which cardio machines are best for your goals, you can maximize your cardiovascular exercise.

Cardio Machines and Weight Loss

Cardio machines are a fantastic way to help you lose weight and achieve peak cardiovascular health, but cardio in general is only part of the equation when it comes to weight loss. If your primary goal is to lose weight, you’re going to want to combine regular cardio exercise with a healthy diet.

What, how much, and how you eat is going to be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for effective weight loss. In a nutshell, this means a healthy diet rich in diversity and optimal caloric intake.  A balanced combination of healthy fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates will be necessary. Check out our many nutrition articles for tons of tips and ideas.

Supplements can also play an important role in your weight loss. For example, ketone supplements which boost weight loss and reduce hunger are a popular option. Keep in mind though that supplements are simply that, supplements. Supplements are meant to supplement healthy nutrition, not replace it.

How Do You Find Which Cardio Machine is Best for You?

The Best Cardio Machines for Your Best Friend May Not Be the Best for You

You already know that the most important aspect of successful cardiovascular exercise is to raise your heart rate. Even though you can raise your heart rate on any cardio machine, there is a cardio machine which is best for you.

The Best Cardio Machine for You Depends on a Few Factors

Whether You Enjoy it or Not

It may seem amateurish to have such an obvious solution but it is very important to enjoy the exercise. If you enjoy (or hate less) a certain cardio machine, it is best for you. You get absolutely no benefit if you don’t use the best cardio machines.

Whether the Cardio Machine Exacerbates Any Physical Problems

As the old saying goes, “everything in moderation.” It holds true when using the best cardio machines. If you perform the same motion over and over again, it will lead to muscle imbalances, which lead to static and dynamic posture problems. If you sit all day at work in front of a desk, the stationary bike is not the best choice for a cardio machine. If you have extremely bad knee problems the stair master is most likely going to do more harm than good.

Whether the Cardio Machine is Consistent with Your Goals

If you look to burn fat and improve and maintain your cardiovascular fitness, all of the best cardio machines will help you. If your goals are performance related, you should predominantly use cardio machines which most closely relate to your given activity. For example, if you are a marathon runner, the majority of your cardio exercise should be running. This does not mean that you shouldn’t use the stationary bike every so often for the sake of variety and balance.

Whether the Machine is Conductive for a Productive Workout

Even though you can get cardiovascular benefits from any cardio machine, some are just more difficult. Some cardio machines are more difficult than others simply because they force you to remain active instead of be lazy.

Why are There So Many Different Types of Cardio Machines?

Cardio Machines Were First Developed for Training Purposes, Not Fat Burning Devices

Cardio machines used to be predominantly used for training. Treadmills were used by people who couldn’t get outside to run. Rowing machines were used by people who wanted to train their rowing ability without the inconvenience of getting to the river.

Due to changing lifestyle and dietary factors, people started to become overweight at an alarming rate and the fitness revolution happened in the 1980s. Cardio machines were designed to simulate daily physical activities which could be done in place on a machine.

Later on in the 1990s, elliptical machines were designed specifically for non-impact exercise.

Here is an Overview of Cardio Machines You Will Find in a Gym (in no particular order)

Treadmillsbest cardio machines buy a treadmill today

Treadmills are for for the most basic impact exercises: walking, jogging and running. Every quality treadmill has the ability to change the speed and incline (level of hill) to about 10-15% incline. Treadmills usually have safety features such as an auto stop switch and side handles to make sure you don’t hurt yourself.

Another feature of the best treadmills is a remote heart rate monitor. It is not convenient to put your hands on the hand heart rate monitors when you running if you are serious about your exercise intensity.

The best treadmills allow you to put a strap around your sternum which will send your heart rate to the treadmill by remote.

Exercise Tip: If you do not like running, walking on the treadmill can be very effective for burning calories and fat and getting cardiovascular benefits. If you choose to walk rather than run on the treadmill, the key is to set the treadmill at a significant incline. Working against gravity will increase difficulty and caloric expenditure.

Do not pull on the handles when you have an incline.. If you grab the handles, it completely defeats the purpose of the incline. The “calories burned” meter on the machine will also be inaccurate. If you feel like you need to hold on for dear life, you should slow down the machine.

Recumbent Stationary Bikes

recumbent bikeRecumbent bikes are the lazy person’s favorite cardio machine.

If you make the trek to your local gym, you will definitely see a few people read a magazine while they watch TV and talk on their cell phone on a recumbent bike.

This does not have to be the case. Like any of the best cardio machines, you can elevate your heart rate significantly on the recumbent bike, but you have to put out more effort than you see most folks giving.

Exercise Tips: If you want to get the best cardio workout on a recumbent bike, use one of the hill profiles. These are interval programs which raise and lower the resistance for periods of time, using the principles behind interval training.

At the top of some hills you will want to quit because your legs burn so bad, but just as you are ready to quit, the interval will be over and you will be coasting again.

Make sure you set up the distance to the pedals properly. Your legs should come to almost full extension, but not lock out. If the pedals are too close you will most likely burn out your leg muscles more than increase your heart rate.

Elliptical Trainers

best cardio machine preco elliptical trainer buy nowElliptical machines are famous for non-impact exercise. Non-impact exercise means there are minimal compressive forces on your bones and joints.

There are two main varieties of elliptical machines. One variety has handles, which allow upper- and lower-body concurrent push-pull movement. The intensity is increased by adding resistance.

The other variety does not have handles and usually allows the incline level of the foot rests to be adjusted as well as the resistance level.

Exercise Tips: Do not make the elliptical machine your only source of cardio. If you perform only non-impact exercise your bone mass and strength, could suffer in the long term.

To get the best workout on an elliptical machine with handles, set the resistance high so you have to use your arms as well as your legs.

Stairmasters / Stair Stepper Machines

best cardio machines buy a stairmaster todayStairmaster is actually just a brand of stair stepper machine. The motion of a Stairmaster is similar to climbing up steps, but your body weight is actually pushing the steps down. If the difficulty of the Stairmaster is increased, the steps will fall faster which will cause you to step faster.

On a Stairmaster, you’re are working directly against gravity and your body weight. Any time a cardio exercise has a vertical component it will be more difficult than horizontal-only activities.

Stairmasters have been known to be hard on the knees. If you have any major muscle imbalances and posture problems the Stairmaster is probably not your best cardio machine.

Exercise Tips: Like most of the best cardio machines, it is better for you to avoid overgripping the handles. The handles are for balance only. If you need to support your body weight with the Stairmaster, you should lower the intensity level.

To get the most effective workout on a Stairmaster, use an interval program. As with most cardio exercises on machines, the interval programs will allow you to burn the most calories a shorter amount of time.

Interval programs are great because they work your aerobic and anaerobic systems together, producing a significant effect on your metabolism.


best cardio machines buy a stepmill nowStepmills or Stairmills are like the escalators from Hell. It is just like you are climbing up your local stadium steps, except they are never-ending.

Stepmills are not for the beginner. Even at very low settings, Stepmills get your heart rate up very quickly. When you increase the difficulty level, the escalator goes faster.

Also note that the steps are pretty narrow. If you have feet over size 12, it may be awkward to exercise on the Stepmill. This is unfortunate, because the Stepmill is definitely one of the best cardio machines to get your heart rate up and keep it up.

Exercise Tips: Do not support your entire body weight with the handles. You should hold them for safety reasons, but they are not meant to support your body weight. This takes away from the intended effects of the exercise.

You can also step up sideways both ways on Stepmills. This is a great way to help functionally strengthen your legs’ stabilization mechanism, the inner and outer thighs. Do not try this if you have any ligament problems in your knees.

Adaptive Motion Trainers

Precor Adaptive Motion TrainerAdaptive motion trainers are a fairly new type of exercise technology. Two of the original brands are the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer and the Technogym Vario.

Adaptive motion trainers represent the evolution of cardio machines and a huge step up from elliptical and arc trainers due to the freedom of movement.

As the name suggests, adaptive motion trainers adapt the motion of the exercise to your movements. Rather than traveling in a same motion such as an ellipse, you are free to move whichever way you like.

While there is some limitation, you can perform movements ranging from stepping up and down, to short-stride rowing, to long-strike running and elliptical-like motions.

All this freedom comes with a price, as these types of the best cardio machines are very expensive and the price is unlikely to come down until there is more competition.

Exercise Tips: Get the most out of the adaptive motion trainer by varying the types of strides you take. Since you can perform different types of motions, and you have control over how long you perform them, use the timers on the machines programs to avoid performing too much of a single motion. This will encourage a more balanced workout.

Versa Climbers

best cardio machine versa climberThe Versa climber is one of the best cardio machines you have never heard of. If you do have a Versa climber in your local gym, you’ll notice that it tends to be one of the least popular cardio machines. It may even be collecting dust. That’s a shame, because it truly is one of the best cardio machines out there.

The Versa climber is such a good cardio machine because you are climbing vertically, directly against gravity. You also use your upper and lower body equally, which increases heart rate quickly.

To increase the difficulty of the versa climber, you can add more resistance. When you add more resistance, you can push and pull, which will not only work your muscles, but will give you a tremendous cardio workout.

Exercise Tip: The versa climber is a fantastic cardio machine to use for interval training. At a decent intensity level, the Versa Climber can be tough even for just 5 minutes.

It is possibly the best cardio workout to alternate a few minutes on the Versa climber with a couple minutes on a stationary bike or any other cardio machine to which you can make a quick transition, never allowing your heart rate to drop.

Tread Climbers

tread climber cardio machine buy one from amazon now!The treadclimber is one of the newer cardio machines on our list to hit the market. Upon its release, there were immediate claims that it was one of the “best cardio machines,” but its popularity never quite took off, at least in the commercial gym setting that is. This is likely because the treadclimber is basically an awkward combination of a Stairmaster and treadmill, and these two traditional machines are already commonplace in many gyms.

This cardio machine has independent treadmills which raise and lower every time your foot strikes. There is no running on the tread climber, only walking, which makes it a comfortable way to burn calories if you are significantly overweight or have health issues that may prevent you from being able to do more intense, cardio workouts.

So while the treadclimber may have its limitations (e.g., walking only) and may feel awkward until you get used to exercising on it, it is a great machine if you’re looking for one that is capable of offering an admirable cardiovascular workout. This is especially true for those of you who are significantly overweight or have health issues, as mentioned previously.

Is a treadclimber worth the cost of admission? For many of you it will be a great investment but for others there will definitely be better options for you. If you are looking for one of the best treadclimber machines on the market and want to determine if in fact a treadclimber is a good investment for you personally, be sure to check out our Bowflex TreadClimber review to learn everything you need to know.

Exercise Tips: The up and down motion of each independent treadmill is not controlled by the machine but rather the strikes of your foot. Unless you want a wild, unproductive cardio workout make sure you plant each foot evenly and don’t stomp.

Like most of the best cardio machines, you should not support the majority of your body weight on the handles. Because of the awkwardness, make sure you hold to the handles when you first try the tread climber.

Incline Trainers

Incline TrainersIncline trainers are simply treadmills with the ability to increase the incline past the usual 15% all the way to 30-40%.

Having a higher maximum incline allows you to burn the same amount of calories walking on a high incline than jogging or running on a lower incline. This makes incline trainers the best cardio machines for people who don’t like running or jogging.

While the amount of calories burned is always going to depend on the effort you exert, many people are uncomfortable running, which makes incline trainers superior to standard treadmills as they will allow you to burn more calories walking.

The incline trainers also allow more advanced exercisers the ability to exercise at higher intensities and inclines, which is important for people who train for hiking and other high incline, high intensity events.

Exercise Tip: As with regular treadmills, the handlebars are mainly present as a safety precaution to aid balance. Holding on and leaning much of your body weight with the handles defeats the purpose of increasing the intensity of the machine. If you find yourself holding on the handles for dear life, lower the incline or speed, or choose a different cardio machine.

Stationary Bikes

stationary bike cardio machine buy one from amazonThere are about a million different models of stationary bikes. Stationary bikes are upright with no back rest. Every gym in the world has at least a few stationary bikes.

The way to increase the intensity of a stationary bike is to increase the resistance of the pedals. Most stationary bikes have many different programs.

Some programs increase the resistance at preset intervals and some depend on your heart rate as the cue to increase resistance. The programs which use your heart rate increase the resistance to keep you at your target heart rate. The machine usually determines your target heart rate for you from the information which you input before you start the program.

Exercise Tip: Make sure you sit upright and do not slouch when using the stationary bike. If you work a job or live a lifestyle where you sit for many hours during the day, you should probably not use the stationary bike. Choose a standing machine instead.

Your hip flexors are most likely tight, which would cause posture problems if you overdo workouts on the stationary bike. The best cardio machines can hurt you as well as help you.

Fan Bikes

Airdyne Bikes

The Schwinn Airdyne exercise bike was the first patented fan exercise bike to provide a full total body workout. They were brought on the market in the 1980s and have endured to this day. As far as fan bike enthusiasts are concerned, Schwinn Airdyne bikes are hands down the best cardio machines around.

“Fan bikes” or “dual action bikes” made by other brands are often referred to as Airdyne bikes after the Schwinn model, which has been around the longest.

Airdyne bikes are an upright exercise bicycle which incorporates arm movement. The exerciser has to push and pull to aid in moving the machine at higher resistances.

The giant fan which is powered by your feet pedaling and arms pushing and pulling blows at the exerciser which can be great during difficult, sweaty workouts.

Read Full Airdyne Bike Review

Exercise Tip: Since Airdyne bikes are designed with concurrent upper and lower body in mind, performing one at a time is not the best way to use them. Set the resistance level high enough to where you cannot perform the exercise comfortably without using your arms. Now you will get the most out of the Airdyne bike, as you are using your arms as well as your legs.

Rowing Machines

rowing machine buy from amazon and get one at homeThe rowing machine is the most underrated cardio machine in the gym. Most people do not understand the correct way to use the rowing machine.

Rowing machines are obviously the best cardio machines for simulating rowing but they are great for cardio as well if you know how to use them.

Rowing machines are not meant to be a resistance exercise. When people improperly use them they are usually pull very hard with their arms and have bad form.

The difference between rowing machines and all other cardio machines is you are in complete control of the intensity of your session. The faster you go, the more intense your cardio workout will be.

Since you must have motivation and put out effort to get the full benefit from rowing machines, rowing machines are not the most popular cardio machine among the many people who like to read magazines or watch TV while exercising.

Want to determine if a rowing machine is a good option for you? Looking for one of the best rowers on the market? Be sure to check out our Concept2 Rower review for all the details.

Exercise Tips: To get full cardio benefit of the rowing machine, you should use one of the built-in programs. These programs will show you intervals which allow you to pace yourself so you don’t get burned out too quickly.

Arc Trainers

Arc TrainerThe arc trainer is another non-impact cardio machine. They are one of the newer types of cardio machines in your local gym and are probably most popular.

You step on two platforms and basically swing your legs back and forth in a similar fashion to the gazelle freestyle, which has been a top selling home workout machine for many years.

The adjustable resistance as well as the speed at which you choose to swing your legs back and forth in the scissor-like motion adjusts the intensity of your cardio workout.

Exercise Tips: Non-impact machines are the best cardio machines for people with chronic joint problems. The arc trainer can get your heart rate up effectively without putting too much stress on your legs.

Don’t let the non-impact style cardio machine sabotage your results. Make sure you work hard and keep your heart rate up higher than your target zone. If you are free of joint problems, make sure you also use forms of impact exercise such as jogging to keep your bones strong and your bone mass at optimal levels.

Hand Ergometers

Click Image to Buy Online

Hand ergometers or hand bikes are not anybody’s favorite cardio machines. When you are forced to use a hand ergometer it usually means you either have a broken leg, sprained ankle, surgically repaired knee or are bound to a wheel chair.

Hand ergometers can actually get your heart rate up faster than leg cardio machines because your arms are closer to your heart than your legs.

Hand ergometers have been used often in research about heart rate response.

Exercise Tip: Think happy thoughts. The hand bike is not very fun and can be quite boring. Very few people choose to use the hand bike as a form of cardio.

Looking for the Best Value Cardio Machine and the Best Possible Workout?

Top 5 Cardio Machines

If you do not have or want a gym membership, a cardio machine at your home is a great idea. To make sure it doesn’t turn out to be the most expensive coat rack you’ve ever owned, make sure you have performed thorough research.


You can find new and used (mostly refurbished) cardio machines on the world’s largest online vendor. A refurbished gym-quality cardio machine is better than picking up a piece of junk from a garage sale or getting a cheap machine at your local sporting goods store, which will probably break in a month. The best cardio machines, designed for commercial gym use, will last up to 10 times longer.

The Best Cardio Machines for Fat Burning

It has been said multiple times, but any cardio machine can be used for fat burning. This does not mean that some machines are not better than others for fat burning. It means the effects of the best cardio machines depend on how you use them.

The best cardio machines such as Stepmill and Versa climber are not easy to cheat on. Even at a very basic level, they are still challenging and can help you raise your heart rate. Combining these factors makes the Stepmill and Versa climber the best cardio machines for fat burning.

  • How to Get the Most out of your Cardio Exercise
    If you do not know the basics of cardiovascular exercise, you should check out this page. You will find information that will help you chose one of the best cardio machines.
  • Challenging Interval and Cross Training Cardio Workouts
    Find fun, exciting, and intense ways to get a great cardio workout with or without the best cardio machines. There are also tips which you can use to get the best workout on a single cardio machine or a combination of multiple machines. Remember, complete workout routines with resistance training and a healthy diet will help you burn fat most efficiently. You can learn about more pieces of equipment to go along with the best cardio machines to get the most out of your training.
  • Gym Equipment Overview
    Become familiar with the different styles of gym equipment. Learn why some of the machines may do more harm than good.
  • Home Gym Equipment
    If you workout solely at home, you may be interested in the cheapest and most effective equipment which can help you burn fat, gain muscle or simply tone up and be more fit.

Top 5 Less Common Cardio Machines

TL;DR: Here’s our top five at-home cardio machine picks to take your at-home cardio workouts to new levels. See below… ?

✔️ Best stationary bike: Schwinn Airdyne ($400 – 1000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best rower: Concept2 Rower ($800 – 1200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer ($1300 – 2000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best stair stepper: Bowflex TreadClimber ($1300 – 2500)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best vertical climber: MaxiClimber (under $200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Top 5 Cardio Machines You’ve Probably Never Used

best cardio machine

While cardio machines have been around for dozens of years and even though small improvements often occur, it is rare to see an innovative, brand new type of machine introduced to the market.

New or old, here are the top 5 cardio machines you’ve likely never used before.

Water Rowing Machines

The Closest You Will Get to Actual Rowing Without Getting Wet

Water Rowing MachineWhile not the most popular type of cardio machine, there is no doubt that rowing machines are one of best. Rowing is a almost a full body exercise in which you are using a significant portion of the muscles in your legs, back, and arms.

What makes water rowing machines one of the top 5 cardio machines is that they come very close to simulating rowing in the water. The fluid motion and natural feeling of resistance that machines offer can have a positive psychological effect on its users in addition to being a terrific way to burn calories.

Exercise Tips: How to get the most out of using Water Rowing Machines

Master the form first. Without using proper form, you will never be able to challenge yourself fully on any rowing machine. Once you are able to consistently use proper form, then you must challenge yourself by using the built-in programs on the rower which are based on pace more than anything.

Why You’ve Probably Never Used This Cardio Machine Before

Sadly, since it’s not possible to drink energy drinks, read magazines or talk on your cell phone while on a rowing machine, they have never been the most popular machine in the gym! If your local gym does happen to have a rowing machine, this usually means an old, beat-up concept 2 rower or equivalent.  For these reasons you’ve likely never used one of these wonderful water rowers and unfortunately may never get the opportunity to do so unless you purchase your own.

Incline Trainers (High Incline Treadmills)

Because Walking is Easier than Running, or is it?

Incline Trainer (High Incline Treadmill)Traditional treadmills allow the user to set the incline from a 0-15% grade which is more than enough for runners, however, what about those people who for whatever reason don’t like to jog or run?

In comparison, incline trainers are treadmills with maximum inclines of 30-40% which allow users to burn the same amount of calories walking than they would via jogging or running on a standard treadmill.

What makes incline trainers one of the top 5 cardio machines is not the maximum incline but the variety of training you can perform on them. You are able to perform standard high incline walking (hiking), running, walking, and various stepping motions to target your full lower body.

Exercise Tips: How to get the most out of using High Incline Treadmills

First and foremost, don’t over rely on the handles for support. The handles are there to help you keep your balance, not support your body weight. By not using the handles you are essentially pulling a significant percentage of your body weight up the hill. If you do find yourself leaning on the handles, simply lower the incline until you build up your cardiovascular endurance.

Additionally, make sure you have proper fitting footwear when using an incline trainer as the high inclines can be hard on the feet, ankles, and muscles attaching to them.

Why You’ve Probably Never Used This Cardio Machine Before

The first producers of incline trainers Nordic Track and Free Motion are not the usual suppliers of cardio equipment to most gyms. For whatever reason, the primary suppliers to most gyms like Precor, Lifefitness and Cybex haven’t jumped on the incline trainer bandwagon as of yet which is likely why you haven’t used an incline trainer before.

Technogym Cardio Wave

“Multiplanar Cardio Exercise”

Technogym Cardio WaveOne thing in common with almost all as well as 4 of the 5 top cardio machines on this list is the plane of motion. The plane of motion for everything from bicycles, rowing machines, to ellipticals is straight forward in the sagittal plane. The problem with this is that in real life during daily activities and sports we don’t move in a straight line for long periods of time. This is where the Techno Gym Cardio Wave comes in as the motion of movement is in the frontal (lateral movement) and sagittal (front to back) planes.

The cardio wave has an amazing 25 levels of difficulty. With the extremely smooth motion of the Cardio Wave, levels 1-5 are enough for the average fitness enthusiast. Spend a couple minutes on the Cardio Wave and the foot plates seemingly disappear leaving only you with your heart & lungs getting a great pulse-pounding and non-impact workout.

Exercise Tips: How to get the most out of using the Technogym Cardio Wave

The motion of the cardio wave is designed to work your leg muscles in multiple planes of motion as well as your core. Rather than just getting on the machine and stepping away, to maximize your time on the Cardio Wave, learn the various hand and foot placements you can do to change the emphasis of which leg muscles you target before you start using it regularly as you will no doubt want to do.

Why You’ve Probably Never Used This Cardio Machine Before

Technogym is a company in Italy which makes ‘high-end’ products, therefore their equipment costs significantly more than other major brands. Does being the Ferrari of exercise equipment make Technogym products better than other brands such as Precor or Lifefitness? Probably not, and the brand choices of most gym’s exercise equipment reflects this which is probably why you’ve never used this great piece of exercise equipment before.

Learn More at

Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer

“Follows What You do Rather Than Telling You to Follow it”

Precor Adaptive Motion TrainerWhen elliptical trainers hit the market in the 1990’s, they quickly populated gyms and became the most popular cardio machines. The combination of offering a non-impact upper and lower body exercise was an instant favorite to many, so much so that they’ve been going strong for something like 20 years. Flashing forward to today, the time of the elliptical has finally come to an end.

The beginning of the end to elliptical machines was the introduction of the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer (AMT). The AMT is everything an elliptical is and more. Users can use the elliptical motion, use even longer strikes or even a stair stepping motion. Best of all, the motion can even be switched on the fly. For most people this makes workouts more fun and less monotonous and we all know that people are more likely to stick with something they enjoy over something they dislike doing.

It’s too bad I don’t see more of these amazing machines at the local gyms in my area. Adaptive Motion Trainers are a superior machine in my opinion, however, arc trainers appear to be the popular kid on the block where I live.  Every local Snap Fitness I frequent uses arc trainers because they are a Cybex player, however, I’ve seen Anytime Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness gyms using AMTs in other areas.  Whether or not you will get to experience the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer is really going to depend on the gym. Either way though, it’s great to see arc trainers and AMTs phasing out older elliptical machines.

Exercise Tips: How to get the most out of using the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer

The Adaptive Motion Trainer was designed to be the most user friendly cardio machine of all time. Take advantage of this and use multiple forms of movement during each workout. By using different combinations of movement patterns along with the handlebars and interval programs, you’re going to keep your workouts ‘fresh’ and avoid plateau and boredom!

Why You’ve Probably Never Used This Cardio Machine Before

Many gyms (especially small local gyms) may already have a couple dozen elliptical machines and could possibly even still be paying for them.  This means they will either wait to get the new Adaptive Motion Trainer or possibly even pick up arc trainers (depending on their supplier) when it comes time to replace their elliptical machines. Why? Adaptive Motion Trainer’s come at a pretty hefty price. While almost everyone who uses the Precor AMT likes it better than the elliptical, stair climber or even the arc trainer, it is simply not enough reason for many gyms to replace all the aforementioned cardio machines. Of course, if you don’t want to wait for your local gym or your local gym doesn’t use Precor products, you can always order one for your own use at home but be prepared for it will not come cheap.

Versa Climber

“It’s All the Fitness You Need”

Versa ClimberWhile the Versa Climber may not have all the bells & whistles of the previous cardio machines on this list, when it comes down to it, what you want in a cardio machine is results and that is what the Versa Climber offers best.

Rather than simulating an activity going forward and backward or side to side, the Versa Climber simulates climbing straight up. This vertical exercise puts high demand on almost every muscle in the body.

Performing ‘cardio’ on the Versa Climber also means you are working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, shoulders, triceps, biceps, and forearms as well.

Since using the Versa Climber recruits such a large amount of muscles, it causes your heart rate to elevate faster than any other cardio machine which is why it is the favorite amongst many elite athletes and personal trainers. Another reason why the Versa Climber is #1 of the top 5 best cardio machines is its simplicity.

As well as being very easy and quick to adjust, the actual machine will last for a very long time with minimal care and maintenance. It takes up the least floor space out of any cardio machine as well.

Exercise Tips: How to get the most out of using the Versa Climber

While the Versa Climber may seem pretty straight forward and simple to use (which it is), there are many ways you can modify the exercise to emphasize or deemphasize certain muscles, joints and body parts if desired. Learn how to position yourself, control range of motion, and set up the Versa Climber to be consistent with your goals before you spend time using it.

Why You’ve Probably Never Used This Cardio Machine Before

In addition to being hard on almost every level, the Versa Climber is not on anyone’s list as the most glamorous cardio machine. It is plain looking and there is no way to look at a TV as your face is within a few inches from the console, which is probably the reason few gyms have more than a couple if any of these tremendous cardio machines, and if they do, it’s usually one of the last pieces of gym equipment people will try out.

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So tell us, have you used any of these cardio machines before? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!

Top 5 Best Cardio Training Equipment for Home

TL;DR: Here’s a list of our top cardio training recommendations for anyone looking to get fit at home with great results: ?

✔️ Best stationary bike: Schwinn Airdyne ($400 – 1000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best rower: Concept2 Rower ($800 – 1200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer ($1300 – 2000)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best stair stepper: Bowflex TreadClimber ($1300 – 2500)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

✔️ Best vertical climber: MaxiClimber (under $200)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

So You’re Thinking of Setting Up a Home Gym: Which Cardio Training Machine is Best?

Best Cardio Training Equipment for Home

If you want to get the opinion of an experienced personal trainer on which pieces of home cardio equipment are the best use of your time and money, you’ve come to the right place.

Please know that there are many other great home cardio training options out there; my objective with the best cardio training equipment for home article is to provide an overview of some of my favorite stuff that is suited to different ability levels and personal preferences.

Before we start looking into individual machines, let’s first outline why everyone should be including some type of well-thought-out cardio training to their fitness plan. Next, I’ll help answer the most common questions about such considerations as how much cardio to do, the best types of cardio for you, and tips for setting up a home cardio training space (hint: TV is cardio’s frenemy, both helping and hindering depending on the choices you make).

The bulk of the article will, of course, go into detail on my top five best cardio training equipment for home recommendations that I feel comfortable recommending to my personal training clients, making specific recommendations about which machines may best suit your individual situation based on budget, preferences, and your individual body.

Benefits of Cardio Training

benefits cardio training equipmentWhile the most highly sought-after benefit of cardio exercise is loss of excess body fat, there are several other important benefits of cardio. Cardio not only empties out your fat stores; it clears your mind, flushes out waste products, and improves basically every system in your body when correctly applied. Benefits of regular, moderate to vigorous cardio training of many different modalities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Burning calories to help shed extra pounds of body fat
  • Stronger circulatory and respiratory systems (heart, blood vessels, and lungs)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decreased risk of Type-2 (adult onset) diabetes
  • Better immune function; less frequent colds & flus
  • Relief from depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as prevention of relapse
  • Improved metabolism and hormone balance
  • Stronger, more resilient bones; prevents osteopenia and osteoporosis

Who wouldn’t want to tap into these amazing cardio exercise benefits? If you’re a beginner or novice exerciser, however, or have gotten out of shape over the years, you may very well be wondering how to structure a decent cardio plan using home cardio training equipment (or combining home training with gym training and outdoor exercise) to allow you to reap these health and fitness rewards.

Never fear! Next, I’ll break down what you need to consider about your needs, lifestyle, strengths, limitations, and fitness goals before moving on to specific equipment recommendations to suit you personally. Not every piece of equipment will be best for each individual, so there are important questions to ask yourself before making a choice.

Cardio Considerations for your Fitness Plan

How Much Cardio Should You Do?

cardio training equipment tipsHow much cardio to do, what types of cardio to include, and when you do your cardio are all important considerations when setting up a cardio plan for home or otherwise. You need to be doing not just any old cardio, but cardio that fits your specific fitness goals and fits your lifestyle.

Basic cardio recommendations are generally as follows: for general health and wellness, adults need to do at least 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardio spaced out throughout the week, each and every week. If you are looking to burn body fat, you will want to dial up the frequency and possibly the duration of your cardio sessions to more like 120 minutes per week at the least.

If you’re new to exercise, 90 to 120 minutes of cardio per week might sound like a lot. But if you chunk it out and think about it as including three, four, or five shorter sessions, it will seem less overwhelming. In fact, for losing weight and improving your metabolism while maintaining your lean muscle mass, shorter, more frequent cardio is best. So there’s really no need to do marathon cardio sessions, unless of course you’re training for, well….a marathon!

Where Should You Do Cardio: Gym, Home, or Outdoors?

woman-performing-cardioThe question of the best setting for your cardio training is really just answered by your personal preferences, health considerations, and other life obligations such as work and family schedule.

While there is a lot to be said for getting outside, breathing the fresh air, and soaking up some sun rays to help manufacture Vitamin D, I’m not going to claim that everyone needs to go out running or hiking frequently unless they love it and their lifestyle can accommodate it.

If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume that you are most interested in getting your cardio exercise at home using one of several great home cardio machine options. The ideal home cardio exerciser would fit the following profile: doesn’t live or work near a gym, works odd hours, has a desire for privacy when exercising, and/or has other barriers to exercise such as a very busy work schedule or family schedule.

Additional characteristics one must have to be successful with home cardio include, perhaps most importantly, an ability to focus, work solo, and stay motivated in an often-distracting home environment. Maybe you live in an area plagued by frequent bouts of inclement weather! If most of the above sounds like you, investing in home cardio equipment may be your best option compared to joining a commercial gym or running, jogging, hiking, or biking outside.

Tips for Setting Up a Home Gym

cardio training equipment home gym setup tipsSo let’s assume you have decided to invest in a piece of home cardio training equipment. Here are some tips to help you arrive at the best setup that will help ensure your success.

Dedicate a specific area of your home to your workouts. This can be a room all its own if you have the space, or a corner you carve out of your living room or bedroom.

Make sure you choose an area that allows you to focus and minimize distractions; don’t set up your cardio machine in too close of proximity or within a direct eye line of something that will rob your focus. An exception would be if you must motivate yourself by watching TV to zone out and actually accomplish your cardio.

If you feel you must watch TV (no judgment, though pure auditory input like music or podcasts are really better when exercising), just make sure your TV sight line is set up so that you can maintain a straight-ahead gaze and a neutral neck position while watching the TV, neither looking up nor down, nor to one side or the other. A suboptimal head position will put your neck, spine, hips, and knees at risk for injuries.

Keep your cardio area neat and tidy, swept and/or vacuumed clean and free of clutter. By all means, avoid the common trap of using your cardio machine as a coat hanger! The neater and cleaner your workout zone, and the less setup you have to do to prepare for a session, the more motivated you will be to use your equipment.

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The Top 5 Best Cardio Training Equipment for Home

Now that we’ve covered our bases on cardio programming and setup considerations, let’s dig into my top 5 favorite home cardio machines. I’ll break down what each machine does, how it works, points of difference from the others, and of course who would and wouldn’t be best suited to each machine. Without further ado, in no particular order, here are my five current favorite pieces of cardio training equipment for home.

Schwinn Airdyne Bike

schwinn airdyne cardio Training Equipment for HomeThe Schwinn Airdyne Bike is an awesome piece of home cardio equipment for many reasons and so it lands on my best cardio training equipment for home list. This stationary bike has been a standby of personal trainers and home exercisers for three decades. You may not see them much in commercial gyms because the fan causes a pretty strong whooshing sound that other nearby exercisers might not appreciate. The harder you pedal, the more wind resistance is created by the fan, and the harder you will work. This allows you to adjust the workout to an appropriately challenging level by simply pedaling harder and faster or slowing it down.

The Schwinn Airdyne Bike allows you to get a vigorous fat-burning cardio workout. In addition to the expected foot pedals, there are also handles up top that you can choose to push with your arms and chest to effectively get your upper body muscles into the mix. Or you can even just use your arms if you want to give them more attention (or give your legs a break). This is pretty rare in a stationary bike, most of which limit you to only using your lower body. I also really appreciate the durable construction of the Schwinn Airdyne as well as the long warranty period on the frame, which on some models goes as high as 30 years!

I’d recommend the Schwinn Airdyne bike for exercisers that enjoy biking and don’t have trouble pushing themselves to up the intensity, since the intensity of the Schwinn Airdyne Bike workout is dependent on how hard and fast you are pedaling, rather than the machine guiding you through. This bike is great for toning up upper and lower body muscles and burning lots of calories for effective fat loss.

Further Reading:

Concept2 Rower

concept2 rower Cardio Training Equipment for HomeMy top 5 best cardio training equipment for home list wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of the classic Concept2 Rower. The Concept2 Rower is found in most commercial gyms as well as lots of home gyms for many good reasons. The first reason is that rowing is just an all-around excellent cardio training workout! You might not immediately associate rowing with intense cardio, but give it a shot and then get back to me! You’ll be surprised by the intensity you can achieve as well as the pleasant feeling you get from gliding back and forth, pushing with your legs and pulling with your arms and back.

I really love that rowing on the Concept2 strengthens your arms, hips and legs, core, and especially your lats and midback. Executed properly, rowing is excellent for your posture and is a considered a highly functional exercise.

As an effective full body exercise, rowing is great for melting away excess pound of body fat. Many regular rowers have reported fast and sustainable weight loss. Since rowing strengthens so many muscles, it also preserves and builds lean muscle mass, which improves your baseline metabolism

The Concept2 is an extraordinarily solidly built piece of equipment, requiring very little maintenance beyond oiling the chain with as substance as basic and cheap as food-grade mineral oil. You can expect an initial investment of at least $1000 depending on the Concept2 model you buy, but I consider it money very well spent on a solid, efficient, and fun piece of home cardio equipment.

Be sure to test a rower before purchasing to ensure that it will work for your body. Though most people throughout all age groups do very well with a rowing workout, folks with particularly bad backs or knees may find that leaning forward from the trunk and/or bending the knees and pushing with the legs in a seated position is troublesome to their joint issues.

Further Reading:

Bowflex Max Trainer

bowflex max trainer Cardio Training Equipment for HomeFor fairly healthy exercisers with a decent baseline level of fitness, the Bowflex Max Trainer is an excellent addition to your home gym. The Max Trainer is pretty intense, built around the principles of high-intensity interval training.

The Bowflex Max Trainer machine combines the benefits of a stair stepper and a elliptical, allowing you to wail on your legs, glutes, core, arms, and chest to get your heart pumping and the sweat pouring.

Bowflex products are not cheap, but they are effective, innovative, and well-built, so they can be a great choice depending on how much money you are willing to lay down.

Those who are quite deconditioned or who have bad hips, knees, or backs will do better to choose a less-demanding machine such as the Concept2 Rower, Schwinn Airdyne Bike, or Bowflex TreadClimber.

Further Reading:

Bowflex TreadClimber

bowflex treadclimber Cardio Training Equipment for HomeThe slogan of the Bowflex TreadClimber is “Just Walk”. If you can walk, you should be able to safely and effectively use this piece of home cardio equipment. The TreadClimber has two independently-moving mini-treadmill belt pedals that spring up with your every step, allowing you to mimic the motion of hillclimbing, which is excellent for burning calories as well as toning up your butt and legs.

If you love a walking-style workout but want more bang for your buck than walking on a treadmill or walking outside, the TreadClimber is an awesome choice. Just know that no TreadClimber model goes faster than 4.5 miles per hour, so joggers and runners need not apply. However, due to the fast hillclimbing motion you’ll hit, you don’t need to jog or run to get a great cardio workout on the Bowflex TreadClimber.

I like this home cardio machine option for folks that like to walk, don’t mind putting in a fair amount of time on the machine to get results, and most importantly, for those who have joint issues or health considerations that may preclude the safe use of more intense machines such as the Bowflex Max Trainer or Concept 2 Rower.

Further Reading:

Maxi Climber Vertical Climber

maxi climber vertical climber home cardioThe final piece of home cardio training equipment to land on my top 5 best cardio training equipment for home list is the Maxi Climber Vertical Climber. I like the function and I LOVE the price point and convenience; you can pick up a Maxi Climber for just a couple hundred bucks. It’s a pretty simple machine that arrives 90% assembled. It also folds up between uses, making it the most friendly for small spaces. It’s also pretty quiet during operation, which can’t exactly be said about all cardio equipment out there.

The Maxi Climber is sort of like a stair stepper, and sort of like rock climbing. You’ll be using your legs and arms to power your workout. You can choose to employ more arms and less legs or vice versa depending on which body parts you would like to emphasize. Though the resistance is not adjustable, you can adjust the depth of your steps as well as your speed to make your workout more or less intense. This machine is great for interval training. It’s also adjustable to comfortably fit different body dimensions from short folks up through tall folks.

Similar to the Schwinn Airdyne Bike, the Maxi Climber Vertical Climber machine leaves you in charge of how hard you choose to work, so you’ll need to dig in and find your own motivation to push yourself rather than relying on the rhythm of a programmed machine to push you.

Those with hip, knee, back, and/or shoulder problems would do better with a gentler machine. But if you have a healthy kinetic chain and a tight budget, the Maxi Climber is the way to go.

Top Five Best Cardio Training Equipment for Home: The Trainer’s Takeaway

So there you have my top shortlist of the best cardio training equipment for home. All of these machines are ones I have recommended to my personal training clients who wish to add a home cardio training component to their fitness program.

My goal was to include options that fit well with different budgets, fitness levels, and exercise preferences, so I hope you found information that helps guide you to the right choice for your home gym.

See Also:

About Michael Behnken

Mike Behnken is a personal trainer who holds multiple NASM certifications and a MS in Exercise Science. Mike loves fitness, travel, and photography among many other interests.

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