The Ultimate Guide To The Best Cardio Machines

The Ultimate Guide To The Best Cardio Machines

In the United States, we’re no stranger to the couch potato culture. As we become more engrossed in our smartphones, tablets, computers, video games, and televisions we become less likely to get up and achieve our 30 minutes a day of recommended exercise. This inactivity leads to further laziness and health problems until we’ve become so unfit that we can’t even see it.

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Guide To Cardio Machines

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As it becomes more normal to be unhealthy, with a shocking two-thirds of us being classed as overweight by the National Institute of Health, there’s never been a more pressing time to change the way we look at exercise and come up with a plan that makes it more enjoyable and accessible than ever.

If you’ve ever tried to implement your own routine of exercise consisting of walks and jogs around the local neighborhood, you’ll realize just how many excuses there are not to get up and go. Whether you don’t have the time or it’s too dark out to safely walk, you can’t leave your kids unsupervised at home, or the weather is downright terrible, there are so many reasons to stay locked up inside your comfortable home.

Woman Jogging

However, with one simple machine, you’re able to get rid of all of the excuses, and there’s no reason to pay an expensive gym membership anymore just to reap the benefits. Owning the best cardio equipment in your own home is now a reality for many Americans, as these machines have never been more affordable or enjoyable than they are today.

How A Cardio Machine Can Help

When you make an investment in cardio exercise equipment for your home gym, not only are you getting a quality piece of machinery to use but you’re able to reap so many more benefits. As a country, we have become too accustomed to being unfit and are finding more and more reasons not to get off the couch.

When you have the best home gym equipment at your disposal, you’re more likely to get up and get moving no matter what excuse you think you might have. You can live a happier, healthier, and more productive life just by investing in one simple machine, and it’s easier than it’s ever been before.

Home Gym With Cardio Machines

You may have seen the different cardio machines if you’ve ever been into a professional gym or health club, but these days more and more people are investing in these for themselves. Although the best home cardio machine still can’t compare to the expensive gym models, they do an excellent job at keeping us fit and healthy in the comfort of our home.

If the past is anything to go by, these machines will continue to get more compact, affordable, and easy to use so soon all American homes can have at least one piece of the best home fitness equipment in their living room. When we make the shift to get our daily exercise in, we’re able to reap the benefits of a healthier life.

The History Of The Cardio Machine

Not all cardio machines began looking like the ones we now see in homes and professional gyms across the country, and they historically were a lot bulkier and less effective. Many of these machines didn’t even start out as a form of exercise for humans, but rather something entirely different altogether.

The treadmill has had the most significance historically, beginning in Ancient Rome as a tread wheel. This wheel was used to lift heavier weights for building and construction purposes and allowed men to walk on the belt and move things that they normally couldn’t lift.

As it progressed through history, it was also used by animals in order to move objects and get active until it finally became an exercise device for people.

The very first modern medical treadmill was invented in 1952 by a doctor who learned the link between this type of exercise and cardiac function, effectively leading to all other types of cardio machines being invented.

Illustration of History of Treadmill

These weight losing machines were officially marketed to commercial gyms from the early 1990s and since then have taken residence in homes the world over.

Treadmills today are extremely different to how they first looked, and now come with a range of features intended to make exercise more enjoyable for the user. Everything from an integrated television screen to heart rate monitoring can be found in this cardio machine so that the user has a personalized experience every time they work out.

As the health and fitness industry only continues to expand, we can expect to see greater changes for in home cardio machines. If the history is anything to go by, we may even find that some common industrial items or machinery one day become the model for the next big popular home cardio machine.

Types Of Cardio Machines

Every week it seems there’s some new piece of workout equipment claiming to be the latest and greatest device, and keeping track of the cardio machines names can be exercise enough in itself. However, throughout the years there is a select group of cardio exercise equipment that has stood the test of time and continues to offer an effective and enjoyable workout at home.


A treadmill is most simply put, a walking exercise machine. These machines consist of a running deck which moves along with a belt and are either electric or self-propelling treadmills. Some variations have handles or digital displays, and others are quite basic, and it all depends on what the user deems important for their workout.

Woman exercising on treadmill in gym

So, how does a treadmill work? The user walks or runs along the deck to achieve a cardiovascular workout, and you can adjust the resistance level or incline on the treadmill to offer a more challenging workout.

Where Will It Target?

These walk exercise machines allow you to move your entire body in a free range of motion, however, your quadriceps and hamstrings do most of the work. There are certain variations you can achieve with interval training or adjusting the incline that will target different areas of your body, however, it’s great for an all-over workout.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

An average 60-minute workout on a treadmill, just walking with no running or intervals, will burn roughly 270 calories. This can be adjusted if you’re of larger or smaller stature than normal, as those who are heavier will burn more. When you run on a treadmill for 60 minutes, you’ll burn between 500 to 800 calories instead.

270 Calories

Specific Benefits

As one of the most popular cardio machines, there are quite a few benefits involved with working out on a treadmill.

  • Bone Density – studies performed on laboratory rats found that when on a treadmill the bone density improved. This signals exciting things for sufferers of bone diseases and indicates that the treadmill isn’t only effective for cardiovascular health.
  • Variety – when working out on a treadmill, you have more options than when training on cardio machines that can only perform one action such as cycling or rowing. A treadmill allows you to walk, jog, run, squat, jump, or turn the other direction, with each of these targeting new areas of your body
  • Affordability – the treadmill is still one of the best in home cardio machine options due to their low price when compared to others. You can get them into the thousands, but for a basic machine that will get the job done, they start as low as $100.

Who Is It Suited To?

One of the reasons that the treadmill has enjoyed such success is because it’s easily accessible to all types of people. The settings can be adjusted and there’s no need to work at an extreme intensity just to see results.

This machine can cause some impact, though, so if you suffer from injury you’ll need to keep it at a moderate pace. For a workout machine kids can use, the treadmill is the safest option of all the cardio equipment.


The elliptical was a latecomer to the cardio machine range, but it’s one that’s gained just as much popularity as the exercise bike and treadmill. These fairly modern approaches to home workout equipment are now just as common in a home gym than a commercial setting.

Woman on an Elliptical Machine

To operate an elliptical may be a bit of challenge at first, as there are moving arms and legs to coordinate all while keeping a smooth rhythm. The user stands on the foot pedals and uses their legs to cycle while holding onto the handles at the same time. By using both areas, you’re getting a full body workout and keeping your core engaged too.

Where Will It Target?

An elliptical workout will give you both a lower and upper body workout, so it can be quite a challenge. Your lower body muscles that will feel it most are glutes, quadriceps, and calves, whereas your upper body will work the lats, pectorals, triceps, and biceps. When you realize you can get all this from the one trainer, it’s quite impressive.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

The elliptical machine calorie burn is quite impressive in the scope of cardio machines, and one of the reasons why it’s enjoyed so much popularity. Just 60 minutes on the elliptical can burn up to 700 calories, and this is for a 160lbs person. The larger you are the more calories burned, and likewise if you mix up your workout to combine interval training.

700 Calories

Specific Benefits

So, how does the elliptical differ? Here are just a few ways this amazing cardio machine can benefit the user when compared to the others on the market.

  • Full body workout - The best thing about an elliptical is it can do the job of a few different machines in one. This trainer targets your upper and lower body at the same time while giving you core a great workout too.
  • No impact exercise - Compared to other cardio machines that are either high or low impact, using an elliptical trainer is absolutely no impact at all. It’s one of the best low impact cardio machine choices for a joint friendly workout and there’s hardly any risk of further injury.

Who Is It Suited To?

Because the elliptical is a no-impact workout, it’s perfect for people with existing injuries or a weaker physique. However, because you’re able to increase the intensity and train in intervals, it can be a challenging workout for people who like to push a little harder. Overall, this trainer is suited to pretty much anyone who’s willing to give it a go.

Rowing Machine

For something a little different from your workouts, the rowing machine is favored by many. This unique trainer mimics the sensation of rowing a boat, and some of the more upmarket models even feature water flywheels to increase this sensation and sound even further.

Woman Using a Rowing Machine

Rowing machines come in a variety of designs, but at their most basic feature a seat with foot rests for the user. You sit down on the rower and position your legs, grab onto the handle, and pull yourself forward and glide backward, just as you would rowing a boat.

Where Will It Target?

Many people assume that rowing is a solely upper body workout, but they couldn’t be more wrong. When you use a rowing machine correctly, rowing machine cardio can target legs, cores, and arms too. The best workout will be in your upper body, but there’s no reason the rest of you can’t get a workout too.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

The rower machine calories burned in a standard 60-minute workout will depend on your size and intensity, but for a 160lbs user rowing at a general pace, you can expect to burn around 500 calories. Of course, when you add in intervals to this and change up your intensity, you can almost double that in the same amount of time.

500 Calories

Specific Benefits

So, how does the rower stand apart from the other best cardio machines? Here are just a few reasons why people choose this as their machine of choice when working out.

  • Enjoyment - Anyone who’s ever had a turn on a rowing machine will attest to just how much fun they can be. Even if you can’t imagine yourself out on an open lake, there’s something about the rowing action that makes working out more enjoyable than running on a treadmill.
  • Comfort - If you’re after a seated cardio machine that can offer a little more comfort, the rower is it. One of the reasons why people choose this over the standing ones is that it provides better support for their back, and is especially ideal for people with lower body injuries.

Who Is It Suited To?

Although it can be fun, don’t confuse this for a walk in the park. To use the rower effectively, you’ll need to be moderately fit. That being said, though, it’s also ideal for people with injuries or who want to reduce the impact on their lower body. If you’re tired of standing for a cardio workout, the rowing machine could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Exercise Bike

Behind the treadmill, the exercise bike is probably the most world renowned piece of cardio equipment. This choice is extremely popular for home gyms too as users are able to take a seat and enjoy some television while they work out. An exercise bike mimics the actions of riding a regular bike outdoors, but you stay stationary the entire time.

Woman on an Exercise Bike

To use an exercise bike, take a seat on the bike and ensure it’s adjusted to your height for the correct stride. Fasten your feet into the pedals and begin to cycle. Depending on your fitness level, you can go fast or slow, so it’s fully adjustable. If you want an added workout you can even try squatting up and down or riding at different speeds.

Where Will It Target?

Bike riding is a great cardio workout, so it’s going to get your heart rate higher than a lot of the other machines can. Specifically, though, riding a bike is great for your lower body and core, but if you’re looking to get some more strength training in you can take a spin class for an added challenge.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

For an average 160lbs person working at moderate intensity, you can burn up to 600 calories on an exercise bike in just 60 minutes. When you add in the challenge of a spin class or interval training this becomes almost double, so it’s worth it to push yourself a little harder when you can.

600 Calories

Specific Benefits

When compared to other cardio machines, the exercise bike can give you one of the most intense cardio workouts. But what other benefits are there to the user than the other machines might not offer?

  • Compact - These make a popular choice for home gyms as they can take up quite a small footprint when compared to others, and often fold away even smaller.
  • Joint-friendly - Working out in a seated position like this is extremely beneficial for your joints, even if you do get an intense cardio workout at the same time. Since there’s no jumping or running, you’re virtually impact free for the entire session.

Who Is It Suited To?

Because of the low impact of an exercise bike, they’re great for the elderly, people with an existing injury, or anyone who wants to take it easy. A bike is one of the simplest gym machines to use, so it suits everyone from beginners to professionals. For those who want an extra challenge, a bike can provide it too if you’re willing to enroll in a spin class or tailor your own HIIT workout.

Alternative Cardio Machines

Arc Trainer

If you’ve never stepped foot inside a professional gym before, you might not even have heard of the Arc Trainer before. This machine is neither an elliptical or a stepper but provides a combined workout that does the job of a few different machines in one.

woman using an arc-trainer

To use the arc trainer, it may feel and look similar to an elliptical. However, when working out on an elliptical one arm moves in conjunction with the opposite leg, and with an arc trainer both the arm and leg on the same side move together. The machine works on a load dependent system and will automatically adjust to suit each user as you step on.

Where Will It Target?

There are two different types of arc trainer, total body or lower body. The lower body focuses specifically on that area and can improve your legs significantly as it mimics a stair climber. The total body does as promises and will give you an entire body workout in just 30 minutes.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

The arc trainer calorie burn is one of its most promising benefits, as studies have shown that it can burn up to 16% more calories per hour than an elliptical. For the average 160lbs person, you can expect to burn around 800 – 900 calories in an hour of work.

800 Calories

Specific Benefits

When we compare the arc trainer to other popular cardio machines, it’s no wonder that it’s starting to gain popularity. Here are a couple of ways that it’s superior to the other devices, with huge benefits to the user.

  • More calories burned - The arc trainer calorie burn is better than almost all other comparable cardio machines, so if you’re looking for fast results and willing to put in the hard work then it’s the best choice.
  • Personalized workout - As you step onto the arc trainer, it weighs you and adjusts the resistance to suit your needs. This fully automatic response means you’re getting a personalize workout tailored just to your body.

Who Is It Suited To?

Although you might want to get the amazing results that the arc trainer offers, it’s not really suited to everyone. This trainer can take a bit of practice to get right, so for the elderly, it might not be ideal. However, it does give an all over workout with minimal impact, so if you have an injury or want to take it easy some days with your exercise this is a great machine to do so.


As one of the most popular cardio machines in this country, Americans are no strangers to the Stairmaster. At one point in time, it seemed every gym in the country had rows on these and they were hailed for their fun and hard workout.

Woman Using a Stairmaster

The Stairmaster works quite simply as a simulator for stairs, and the user can hold onto the side rails as they walk their way up the never-ending flight of stairs. It’s intended to give you a cardio workout that can be easily adjusted to suit different fitness levels.

Where Will It Target?

As you’d imagine, using the Stairmaster is best for a lower body workout. A stair treadmill workout won’t necessarily get your upper body moving, but with some adjustments such as hand weights, you can get a more effective all over toning.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

For the average sized person, 60 minutes on a Stairmaster walking at an average pace can burn around 450 calories. Although they were widely popular in the 90s, it appears the newer range of cardio machines is more effective at this than the traditional stair mill.

450 Calories

Specific Benefits

So, why do people choose to work out on the Stairmaster rather than other cardio machines? Here are just a few step machines benefits that might entice you:

  • Strength building - Unlike some cardio machines that work solely on getting your heart rate up, the Stairmaster can provide a cardio workout as well as strength conditioning, particularly on your lower body.
  • Aerobic conditioning - The challenging task of climbing a never-ending set of stairs means you’re getting an intense aerobic workout and building your stamina and strength at the same time.

Who Is It Suited To?

If you’re a little unsure on your feet, it might be best to leave the Stairmaster to those who aren’t. This machine is a great no-impact workout and can be particularly useful for people looking to build up strength in their lower body specifically.

Exercise Ladder

A ladder machine or rope exercise machine is a fairly new addition to the best cardio machines list, with popular brands such as Jacob’s Ladder Machine getting the word out about this device. They can burn huge amounts of calories as they allow the user to mimic climbing on a ladder or rock climbing.

Man on an Exercise Ladder

To use an exercise ladder, you first set your weight so that the device can set the ideal resistance level for you. Attach the belt and climb onto the machine, so that it adjusts to your recommended speed. Begin to climb as if you’re on a ladder and continue with your workout for as long as possible to get the best results.

Where Will It Target?

A Jacob’s Ladder Exercise Machine uses muscles from your entire body to give you an intense all over workout. Because it relies on a contribution from all of your muscles, it’s often regarded as one of the hardest cardio machines ever made.

How Many Calories Does It Burn?

An average workout on an exercise ladder will shed nearly 1000 calories for 60 minutes of hard work. However, even the fittest people may find it hard to work out on this device for a full 60 minutes because it can be quite grueling.

1000 Calories

Specific Benefits

Although they might not be as popular as the other machines, with the results and benefits that an exercise ladder can bring you can guarantee you’ll be seeing them more in home gyms across the country.

  • Complete body workout - This is one of the only cardio machines that can target every single group of muscles, making it an intense but effective workout.
  • Fast results - Because an exercise ladder burns so many calories, you can get a much faster and more dramatic result if using it for weight loss and toning when compared to other cardio machines.

Who Is It Suited To?

An exercise ladder isn’t for the faint-hearted, but even the weakest of people can benefit with just five minutes a day on this. If you’re looking to save money and purchase just one piece of equipment that will target your entire body, this is suited to you.

Other Workout Machines

Although there are some hugely popular designs out there in treadmills and exercise bikes, there are other types of exercise machines which can be just as effective but might not be as common in home gyms.

Although the typical ergometer is used to simulate rowing and does so with a widely popular device, a less common variation of this machine is a ski ergometer. This machine gives you the feeling of skiing which works wonders for all areas of your body and offers an extremely intense aerobic workout.

Woman Using a Ski Ergometer

Another of the less common workout machines is the Range of Motion (ROM) machine. These devices are intended to work in just four minutes, giving the user an express workout to target their whole body. According to the manufacturer, in these four minutes, it uses 12 times as many muscle cells than running for a full workout training.

These machines might be a little more expensive than your standard elliptical or treadmill, however, they aren’t without their results. As the health and fitness industry ventures even further into cardio equipment for home, we’re more likely to see new and inventive ways to get quick in even faster workout time.

The Benefits Of Owning Home Cardio Equipment

No matter which of the popular pieces of home cardio exercise equipment you own, there are countless benefits to be had. While each machine certainly offers its own set of unique benefits to the user, there are some that can be enjoyed no matter which trainer you choose for your home gym.

Improved Health

Making a conscious effort to purchase a cardio machine for your home will be the first step to making a range of healthy changes in your life. When you work out for just 30 minutes a day you can reduce your risk of disease, lose weight, improve your circulation, and give yourself more energy throughout the day.

Weight Loss

As one of the top reasons why people buy an in home cardio machine, these are the perfect way to lose weight. Spending half an hour each day on your trainer and increasing the intensity with interval training can get you results faster than you ever thought possible in your own home.

Woman on a Home Treadmill

Freedom Of Workout

One of the best things about owning your own equipment is that you can use it whenever and wherever you like. Rather than being stuck working out to a gym’s opening hours or having to stare at a wall every time you ride a bike, your home gym equipment is always there ready to use.

Best of all, if you choose something with portability, you can move your treadmill or bike around the house or yard to get the best view of whatever you wish.

Save Money

When you add up just how much is spent on diet pills, shakes, food, gym memberships, and personal trainers, it makes sense to invest that money instead on a quality piece of cardio equipment.

More Time

You’ll be given the gift of time when you purchase a home cardio machine, thanks to all the ways it can save you hassle throughout your day.

No more getting dressed just to brave the outdoor weather, no commute to the gym, and no time wasted waiting for people to be done with your favorite cardio machine at the health club. When you have your own piece of gym equipment at home, it’s there whenever you want to use it.

Little Girl on a Kids Treadmill

Improvement In Family’s Health

One of the biggest benefits to buying cardio equipment is not just felt by us, but by our families. Having access to a treadmill or exercise bike in the home can be the push that the other family members need, so you’ll be giving them a way to achieve their health and fitness goals too.

With the best home fitness equipment at your disposal, you can get all of this and more. Best of all, there’s no more throwing money away at your local health club for a membership that you never use, as this investment goes straight into your own living room.

How A Home Cardio Machine Can Save You Money

As one of the biggest benefits of owning your own gym equipment, the amount of money you can save over its lifetime is actually quite phenomenal. Although some people might initially be put off by the cost of the best home cardio machines, when you compare the prices against what you pay at a professional gym or health club it’s quite astounding.

Current figures state that Americans spend billions of dollars in the health and fitness industry each year, with a large portion of that going to professional gym memberships. The average cost of a gym membership if $58 per month, with most people only going to the gym twice a week. Effectively, these people are throwing away $39 per month on a wasted subscription.

Modern Home Gym with Cardio Machines

When you consider that you’re able to purchase a quality piece of cardio equipment starting at around $150, it could pay for itself in just over 2 months of a gym membership and it will last you for years to come. Not only that, there’s no need to commute to the gym each day, brave cold weather outside, or even line up for your turn at the treadmill. You can work out happily and comfortably at home and get real results in your own personal gym.

  • Average cost of a home treadmill: $200 - $1000
  • Average cost of a home exercise bike: $100 - $1000
  • ​Average cost of a home elliptical trainer: $200 - $1000
  • ​Average cost of one session with a trainer: $50 per hour
  • Average yearly cost of a gym membership: $696

Looking at this comparison of costs, the money you spend on just one year in a professional gym could buy you at least two pieces of professional cardio equipment to start your very own gym. When you consider also that your entire family can benefit, the savings are multiplied further.

The Importance Of A Home Cardio Machine

As it becomes more important than ever in this country to start making our health and wellbeing a priority, there’s never been a better time to consider equipping your home with a cardio machine. Whether you want a 3 in 1 exercise machine with the latest and greatest features or a simple treadmill or exercise bike to get the job done, you’ll be surprised at just how many ways you can benefit.

Home Gym with Beautiful View

When you consider how many Americans are obese and overweight, and how easily our country has adopted the couch potato culture, it’s frightening to think what future generations might look like.

By making one small change and investing in your personal fitness goals, you can influence members of your own family to get active as well so that they too can live longer and healthier lives.

No matter which of these home cardio machines you choose, just making the purchase and committing to 30 minutes a day of being active is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. As your confidence grows and stamina returns, you’ll find how easy it is just to stay focused when you have the right piece of cardio equipment at your disposal.

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