best cardio machines

The Best Cardio Machines of 2017

best cardio machines

Introduction

​Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of machines available for a cardio workout? It's so hard to choose, as they all have their merits. I've done some research on which machine may be the best cardio machine to purchase for yourneeds. This is what I've discovered.

Kinds of Fitness Machines

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines provide a great full-body workout to experienced people. By working both arms and legs, they can match the calorie-burning rate of a treadmill without bearing weight. Unfortunately, they are not the best machines for a beginner. With improper technique or weak muscles, beginners run the risk of hurting their lower backs. Some training is required before jumping onto a rowing machine. However, if you have the experience, rowing machines are pretty easy to accommodate in your home. They often fold up and weigh less than 60 lbs so that they can be wheeled out of the way. Plus, they don't require an outlet to run.

Ellipticals

These gym favorites are low impact alternatives to running that burns almost as many calories. Using the arms is a good way to increase the calorie burn. Beginners can usually pick up elliptical training easily. However, this is not the easiest machine to fit into your home. It is one of the largest cardio machines on the market, and it does not fold up. You'll need a lot of square footage (and a nearby power outlet) to enjoy all the benefits of an elliptical.

Spin Bikes

If you like the heart-pounding excitement of spin classes, you might want to check out a spin bike. These machines burn calories without requiring you to bear your weight. For this reason, bikes are often a good choice for people recovering from injuries or just starting out. Unfortunately, it can be hard to track progress with this machine because it typically doesn't track distance. There are distance tracking gadgets that you can buy to pair with the spin bike, though. It's one of the easier pieces of equipment to keep at home because of its small footprint and no power requirements.

Recumbent Bikes

These alternatives to spin bikes are more comfortable but still provide the same calorie burn. Recumbent bikes are also a favorite of recovering athletes. The larger seat supports the back. Spin bikes require using some core and arm strength to sit upright. My friend that loves spinning got a stress fracture in her hip but was able to return to recumbent biking quickly because it supported her better than a spin bike. As a piece of home exercise equipment, it is one of the larger options and will occupy a lot of square footage.

Concept2 Model D

This rowing machine is a great option for a full body workout at home. Although it looks like rowing machines focus on arms, the right technique works your legs too. This rowing machine is also great for home use because it folds up when it's not in use.

Best Rowing Machines of 2017

The Concept2 Model D also doesn't require any power. It runs on D batteries and the power of your muscles spinning the flywheel. You can read a more extensive review of this machine here. 

PROS

  • Light (only 56 lbs)
  • Folds up for storage
  • No outlet required

CONS

  • Requires some knowledge of proper technique
  • Large area required when in use
  • Taller people (greater than 38" inseam) may have to get a special model

Sole E95

Ellipticals are a gym favorite because they are a low impact alternative to running. The Sole E95 even allows you to adjust the angle of the footpads for further relief on your joints. There are incline settings to up the calorie burn. Plus, using the arms converts this leg workout into a full body workout. 

best cardio machines

This elliptical comes with all the gym electronic favorites like heart rate monitoring and distance tracking. Just make sure you have plenty of square footage to accommodate this behemoth workout machine.

PROS

  • Low impact (compared to running)
  • Arm workout option
  • Heart rate monitor

CONS

  • 82" long takes up a lot of floor space
  • Doesn't fold up
  • Difficult installation. It's 236 lbs.

Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike

Replicate a spin class by using this bike in your home. It has a 40 lb flywheel, just like the ones at spin class in the gym. Turn up the resistance, and you'll burn even more calories. This model doesn't have any electronic tracking or heart rate monitoring, but that means that it requires no outlets either. It has a smaller footprint than much of the other equipment listed here.

best cardio machines

It has a smaller footprint than much of the other equipment listed here.

PROS

  • Smaller footprint
  • No power required
  • Adjustable resistance

CONS

  • No distance tracking
  • Doesn't fold up
  • Difficult to move at 97 lbs

Schwinn 270 Recumbent Bike

This Schwinn is a high-tech alternative to the spin bike. It has 29 programs, so you can choose one to maximize fat burning or endurance. The Schwinn even syncs with your phone. Plus, it has the major benefit of a recumbent bike over a spin bike, a comfortable seat that supports your back.

Best Exercise Bikes

PROS

  • Specialized programs
  • USB and charging port
  • Built in speakers

CONS

  • 64" long and doesn't fold up
  • Requires power
  • Difficult to move at 97 lbs

Proform Pro 2000

This treadmill offers a great cardio workout to people of all fitness levels. Walkers can both incline and decline this treadmill to work different muscles. Runners can bump the pace to a speedy 12 miles per hour (or 5-minute miles). This treadmill comes with all the typical gym accessories like heart monitoring.

best cardio machines

PROS

  • Incline and decline mimics real outdoor conditions
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • Folds up for storage

CONS

  • More expensive option
  • Large area required when in use
  • Difficult to install at 291 lbs

Kinetic Road Machine 2.0 Fluid Trainer

This bike trainer is for avid cyclists that love their bike. It pairs with the rider's bike to mimic outdoor conditions but indoors. As a piece of cardio equipment, it is one of the smallest and lightest. After a workout, this two ft by less than three ft piece of equipment can be put into a closet for storage. It's only 28 lbs.

best cardio machines

PROS

  • No power required
  • Riders can use their own bike
  • Easy to store and move

CONS

  • No distance tracking
  • Requires owning a bike

Conclusion

In my search for the best cardio machine, I've discovered that even the best machines have disadvantages. High tech calorie burners like ellipticals, recumbent bikes, steppers, and some treadmills occupy more square footage than I have to give. Smaller options like rowing machines and spin bikes don't provide all the heart monitoring and distance tracking features that I've enjoyed in the gym. While I still haven't decided which machine to buy yet, I hope that my research has helped you narrow down your options. I'm convinced that there is a home cardio machine out there that will work for you!

best cardio machines

Treadmills

Often touted as the cardio machine that burns the most calories, treadmills can be a great home workout option. From beginner to expert, everyone can get a workout on a treadmill. Features like incline help raise the calorie burning to a high level. Many treadmills come installed with programs for fat burning and endurance training. Like ellipticals and recumbent bikes, treadmills occupy a large amount of floor space. However, some of them fold up and roll away for easier storage.

Bike Trainers

Dedicated cyclists will enjoy this home exercise option during rain and snow. Bike trainers pair with an existing bike to mimic the outdoor riding experience. The health benefits are similar to a spin bike, but some cyclists prefer to adjust the seat and handlebars of their own racing bike. It's one of the easiest pieces of equipment to keep at home because it's small and light compared to the others.

Steppers

If you're training for a stair climb race, this might be the right choice for you. Steppers mimic the workout of walking or running up stairs. Like treadmills, there are slow and fast settings to accommodate all types of people. However, steppers tend to be more low impact than treadmills. While steppers don't provide a whole body workout, they do burn calories pretty effectively. However, steppers are a big piece of equipment to keep in your home, much like a recumbent bike or elliptical.​