Embarking on a weight loss journey? A good place to start is with a well devised nutrition and training program. Cardio machines can be an excellent tool to get you moving more in an effort to facilitate weight loss, and there’s no shortage of profiles to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a top treadmill, quality rowing machine, enthralling exercise bike, or another type of machine, each offers specific perks and features that can make burning calories a calm and cool endeavor.
With such a wide array of options to choose from, though, it helps to know just what to look for when deciding on a cardio machine for weight loss. Additionally, these machines are likely to be one of the most expensive purchases you make in your fitness journey. To help you make the right decision from the start, we’ve gathered our notes and research findings to curate this well-rounded guide for you. No matter how you take your cardio workouts, odds are we’ve been hands-on with a profile that fits the bill.
The 8 Best Cardio Machines for Weight Loss of 2024
- Best Treadmill for Weight Loss: Sole F80
- Best Rowing Machine for Weight Loss: LIT Method Strength Machine
- Best Exercise Bike for Weight Loss: NordicTrack Commercial S22i
- Best Recumbent Bike for Weight Loss: Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike
- Best Elliptical for Weight Loss: ProForm Carbon E10
- Best Smart Cardio Machine for Weight Loss: NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio
- Best Stair Climber for Weight Loss: ProForm Carbon HIIT H10
- Best Online Training Program for Weight Loss: iFit
How We Tested
The BarBend team is composed of many individuals with a wide range of experience in the fitness industry. Our roster of competitive athletes, certified personal trainers, dedicated fitness enthusiasts, and more, have tested over 100 cardio machines — from treadmills, to exercise bikes, ellipticals, and more — over the years, including many featured in this roundup.
Each machine was chosen for its in-training performance and effectiveness in facilitating a worthwhile weight loss journey. Factors like affordability, app integration, equipment size, and others were also taken into consideration to help you make the most informed decision possible when it comes to adding one of these quality machines to your personal training space.
Best Treadmill for Weight Loss: Sole F80
The Sole F80 treadmill is full of modern touches. It can withstand long runs, offers an incline range up to 15 percent and speed range up to 12 mph, and has a cushioned deck that makes running 40 percent less impactful on your joints than the outdoors.
- Price: $1,899.99
- Max Incline and Decline: 15% incline, 0% decline
- Max Speed: 12mph
- Weight Capacity: 350lbs
- Roller Size: 2.36″
- Product Dimensions: 82.5″ L x 38″ W x 66″ H
- Running Deck Dimensions: 22″ W x 60″ L
- Larger 2.36-inch rollers can be better for longer running sessions, requiring less power to move the running deck.
- When folded for easier storage, this treadmill takes up just 11.61 square feet of space.
- The max speed of 12 miles per hour allows for sprinting workouts.
- This treadmill does not feature any decline capabilities.
- Sole+ library is lacking when compared to other integrated platforms.
- While the price is approachable, there are still more budget-friendly treadmills on the market.
Studies have shown that, when compared to working out on a rowing machine or elliptical, running on a treadmill can be one of the most effective ways to maximize your fat-burning potential in training. (4) For these fitness goals, we’re big fans of the F80 profile from Sole. We appreciate the value strewn across this sub-$2,000 treadmill, including the max speed of 12 miles per hour. This top end setting can facilitate all-out sprints, allowing you to really up the intensity for a better caloric burn in training. A 60-inch running deck also shines in these instances, as the extended surface can be better for longer strides when trying to reach that top speed.
The 2.36-inch rollers baked into this treadmill are also noteworthy, as they create a more efficient operation that can withstand extensive use. Rollers are what turn your running belt when the treadmill is on, and their size directly influences how hard they have to work in order to achieve a full belt revolution. Larger rollers work more efficiently and develop less strain over long training sessions, which can help preserve your treadmill.
Additionally, the Sole F80 earns its place within this round-up thanks to its convenient foldable profile. Folding treadmills can be ideal for athletes tight on space, or those that may not want to step around a full piece of fitness equipment every time they enter a room. When folded, the F80 takes up just 11.61 square feet. This equates to roughly 10 square feet of flooring regained when not in its down, in-use positioning. When in operation, the Sole F80 takes up 21.77 square feet of space.
When you purchase the F80 treadmill, you also get access to the brand’s Sole+ workout library. This free app includes over 3,000 video fitness classes catering to athletes of all experience levels. We do appreciate the inclusion of this service, but admittedly, the library is not the largest we’ve had the pleasure of using over the years. For example, the iFit platform (which we’ll cover more in-depth here shortly) offers over 17,000 fitness classes and challenges, with new programs being added on a regular basis.
Read our full Sole F80 review.
Best Rowing Machine for Weight Loss: LIT Method Strength Machine
This rower from Lit Method is so much more than your typical rowing machine. It combines the cardio benefits of a rowing machine with the strength benefits of resistance band training to give you a full-body workout. If you like instructor-led workouts they have a membership which you receive three months of for free with purchase.
- Price: $2,000
- Resistance Type: Water
- Weight Capacity: 450lbs
- Product Dimensions: 7’ L x 1.75’ W x 1.6’ H
- Water resistance can be set between 10-40 pounds for better training variety.
- Includes resistance bands for off-rower workouts, and available expansion packs can bring even more worthwhile attachments to your setup.
- Rower can be stored vertically when not in use, keeping everything out of the way until it’s time to train.
- A separate tablet or streaming device is required to view your workouts.
- The lower seat height can be difficult to get into and out of for some.
- Heavier resistance when using the included bands can cause the machine to move during exercise.
Rowing can also be a worthwhile, low-impact discipline for your weight loss journey, and this impressive rig from LIT combines all the perks of the activity with an added dose of resistance training. The LIT Method Strength Machine comes equipped with two tubed resistance bands that allow you to take your training off the rowing machine itself, giving your sessions another layer of calorie-burning potential. The bands hook into the rig itself, so be sure to anchor your setup appropriately before stretching to peak resistance levels — our tester found that the rowing machine can move if you really stretch the bands to their maximum range.
Looking at the rowing mechanism itself, the LIT Method Strength Machine employs a water resistance system that can be adjusted between 10 and 40 pounds. We like this setup as it gives each stroke a more natural, on-water sensation. Plus, the adjustability of the water can allow you to fine-tune the resistance for more or less intensity — a unique quality amongst water-powered rowing machines. It does take a little while for the water to move into the specific chambers when changing resistances, though, so we recommend doing this prior to a workout rather than on the fly.
The LIT Method Strength Machine can also be a convenient cardio machine thanks to its vertical storage capabilities. You’ll need just four square feet of floor space to house this impressive machine when not in use, and the seven-foot length should be able to fit vertically in most rooms.
Unfortunately, though, this rowing machine does not come equipped with the built-in display console, so the only way to stream your favorite workouts and programs during training is through a separate tablet or other device. The LIT Method Strength Machine does include a convenient tablet holder, but some athletes have stated that the placement isn’t the most ideal.
Read our full LIT Method Strength Machine review.
Best Exercise Bike for Weight Loss: NordicTrack Commercial S22i
The NordicTrack Commercial S22i is high-tech and high quality, featuring both advancements like a 22” touchscreen display, and solid specs like 24 levels of quiet magnetic resistance.
- Price: $1,999
- Resistance Type: Silent Magnetic Resistance
- Resistance Levels: 24
- Max Incline and Decline: 20% incline, -10% decline
- Weight Capacity: 350lbs
- Bike Weight: 205 lbs.
- Product Dimensions: 61” L x 22” W x 58” H
- AutoAdjust technology automatically adjusts your incline, decline, and resistance settings according to your trainer-led iFit fitness classes for seamless progress through your workouts.
- 22-inch HD touchscreen display swivels 360 degrees, allowing you to keep your instructors in view during on-bike and off-bike exercises.
- Our tester notes that assembly is simple and straightforward, taking about one hour to complete in entirety.
- When riding in manual mode, the incline and resistance adjustments are not as smooth as when operating through the AutoAdjust feature in iFit.
- The impressive tech features and other conveniences make this one of the more expensive exercise bikes on the market.
- You need to be extra mindful of the large 22-inch display when moving this exercise bike.
Cycling indoors can be a great way to target your weight loss goals, with studies indicating that the activity may improve aerobic capacity, blood pressure, lipid profile, and body composition. (3) This luxury-filled bike from NordicTrack is prime for any athlete thanks to its impressive build quality and slew of available settings. This is one of the few exercise bikes we’ve tested that offers both incline and decline adjustments, and we appreciate the 24 available resistance levels that can give every workout a unique sense of intensity.
We also enjoyed the massive 22-inch display console that provides crystal clear visuals and metrics in training. Plus, the console can swivel 360 degrees, creating the perfect viewing arrangement to follow along with iFit’s library of on-bike and off-bike fitness classes.
Speaking of iFit, the Commercial S22i also allows you to take full advantage of the tech-heavy AutoAdjust feature within the service. When taking in a trainer-led fitness class, the bike will automatically adjust the resistance, incline, and decline in tandem with your instructor’s callouts. We preferred this method of changing the settings in testing, as the incline and decline toggles proved to be less smooth when adjusted manually.
Finally, with all the perks and features built into this impressive rig, it should come as no surprise that this is one of the more expensive exercise bikes on the market. Sure, you can find other, more affordable bikes out there, but if you’re looking to make a true investment in your weight loss journey, we think the bells and whistles justify the heavier cost.
Read our full NordicTrack Commercial S22i review.
Best Recumbent Bike for Weight Loss: Schwinn 230 Recumbent Bike
The Schwinn 230 has a solid build, a comfortable ride, and a host of user-friendly features. Not only that but an affordable price for the quality with 16 levels of resistance to select from while you follow along to workouts from popular streaming apps like Explore the World and Zwift.
- Price: $599
- Resistance Type: High-Speed, High Inertia Perimeter-Weighted Flywheel System
- Resistance Levels: 16
- Weight Capacity: 300lbs
- Product Dimensions: 64” L x 27” W x 44.5” H
- Forward facing pedals can be better for athletes looking to train without excessive pressure and strain placed across their knees. (8)
- Included media shelf allows you to easily stream your favorite workouts and programs from a separate device or tablet.
- The ventilated, contoured seat creates a comfortable setup for training.
- Shorter power cord limits where you can store this machine. You’ll either need quick access to an outlet or an extra extension cord for a proper setup.
- The LCD display is pretty basic, so athletes wanting a more tech-heavy console may want to look elsewhere.
- As with other recumbent bikes, this Schwinn 230 is not the most storage-friendly profile, taking up 12 square feet of space with no vertical storage capabilities.
Okay, so you’re wanting to develop a cardio fitness routine for weight loss, but maybe you’re struggling to find a worthwhile discipline because of lingering injuries or consistent knee pains. Recumbent bikes can be great solutions for these dilemmas, as the reclined cycling position has been shown to decrease the amount of load experienced across the ACL. (8)
With the Schwinn 230, we enjoyed the more comfortable setup displayed across the forward-set pedals, and the contoured, ventilated seat provided more than enough comfort to support us during training. Additionally, the added handles and built-in pulse sensors provided a good sense of stability when really trying to pedal hard toward the end of a workout.
The Schwinn 230 isn’t the most tech-riddled cardio machine in this roundup. The LCD display is pretty basic compared to other consoles across the board. With that said, Schwinn does provide a convenient media shelf, so there’s still an opportunity to stream fitness classes and other programs as you pace through your daily sessions. Other conveniences include a large cup holder at the side, as well as an easy-adjust seat rail slider system that allows you to find that perfect seat placement in no time.
We suggest having a plan in place to house this large piece of equipment. You can’t store the Schwinn 230 vertically, so you’ll need to have 12 square feet readily available at all times if you’d like to opt for this weight loss cardio machine. We also recommend finding a suitable place near an outlet, as the included power cord is somewhat short.
Best Elliptical for Weight Loss: ProForm Carbon E10
The ProForm Carbon E10 is a great all-around cardio machine with a ton of high-tech features at a reasonable price. Power-adjusting stride length, resistance, and incline all make it seamless to transition between workout intensity. iFit compatibility opens up a world of trainer-led classes and live stat tracking to keep you on pace to reach your goals.
- Price: $1,403
- Resistance Type: Silent Magnetic Resistance
- Resistance Levels: 24
- Stride Length: 19” (Power Adjustable)
- Weight Capacity: 275lbs
- Product Dimensions: 68.5” L x 25″ W x 67.75″ H
- Integrated with iFit for a wide array of on-elliptical and off-elliptical workouts.
- 24 Silent Magnetic Resistance levels give each training session a nice range of intensity without any excessive noise.
- The heavier 25-pound flywheel can be great for creating a stable, secure striding setup.
- Those wanting a more compact, moveable cardio machine should opt for another silhouette.
- The Carbon E10 does not support EKG heart rate monitoring.
- 275-pound weight capacity may be too low for some athletes.
The ProForm Carbon E10 harnesses all the low-impact benefits of elliptical training in a well-built profile that can help take the strain out of your weight loss journey. A heavy 25-pound flywheel creates a smooth, sturdy striding experience, and the 24 levels across the Silent Magnetic Resistance system ensure your training doesn’t shake up the house with excessive noise — or worse, wake your nearby roommates or children.
We also appreciate how this Carbon E10 profile utilizes the iFit library of fitness classes and challenges. The wide array of workouts can go a long way in keeping your sessions entertaining and engaging. Plus, the service has off-elliptical workouts, too, which can be viewed through either the Carbon E10’s built-in 10-inch HD touchscreen, or your personal streaming device. Be aware, though, that this elliptical doesn’t boast any EKG heart rate monitoring sensors, so if you’re an athlete that values data monitoring mid-training, you’ll need a heart rate monitor or other fitness tracker at the ready.
Of course, we can’t ignore the spacial requirements that come with this device, and the bulkier silhouette can be a bear at times to move. Sure, the Carbon E10 comes equipped with convenient travel wheels at the front of the profile, but that cumbersome flywheel and longer frame can make moving this device from room to room a multi-person endeavor.
Best Smart Cardio Machine for Weight Loss: NordicTrack Fusion CST Studio
This machine is an elite, quiet, smooth, and modern version of a home gym that’s packed with tech to enhance your home workout experience. It features a modest footprint for space-savings and hands-free weight adjustments with seemingly endless class options and daily workout suggestions.
- Price: $2,499
- Resistance Type: Silent Magnetic Resistance
- Resistance Range: 10-100lbs
- Resistance Levels: 20
- Cable Travel Length: 95”
- Product Dimensions: 41.5” L x 60.5” W x 73.5” H
- Multiple cable attachments allow you to work your whole body through a variety of trainer-led iFit classes.
- The Fusion CST Studio features a more compact profile than other cable machines on the market.
- A 70-inch front mirror allows you to follow along with fitness classes while also keeping an eye on your form and body movements.
- The 100-pound max resistance may not be ideal for stronger athletes.
- There’s no barbell attachment included in the accessories bundle.
- The near-$2,500 price tag is still quite the investment, albeit for a machine that’s durable and long-lasting.
One of our favorite smart home gyms is also a high-quality option for cardio workouts. The Fusion CST Studio from NordicTrack offers up plenty of training potential for your weight loss journey thanks to its six cable attachment points and up to 100 pounds of resistance. The Silent Magnetic Resistance system ensures quiet operation during exercise, too, so there’s no worry about drowning out your surroundings with obnoxious hums or loud clangs and bangs.
We also appreciate the updated aesthetic of this home gym which now boasts a 70-inch front mirror. This not only keeps the design clean when placed against the backdrop of a living room, but also allows you to monitor your form when working through trainer-led exercises.
Speaking of, the Fusion CST Studio also earns high regards from us thanks to its integration with iFit — one of our favorite online workout programs. You’re able to find countless fitness classes and challenges within this expansive library, which can be great for making those calorie-burning sessions at home as enjoyable as possible.
For most, this isn’t a reasonably affordable cardio machine, especially when you account for the added iFit subscription after your initial 30-day trial period. However, if you’re looking to mix up your workouts and harness resistance training’s studied ability to significantly reduce fat mass, this can be a worthwhile option for your at-home fitness setup. (7)
Best Stair Climber for Weight Loss: ProForm Carbon HIIT H10
This impressive ProForm climber-elliptical hybrid allows for vertical and horizontal movement in each stride, which help keep workouts comfortable and less impactful on your joints. Plus, the 24 available resistance levels allow for a good bit of intensity variety, so no training session is identical.
- Price: $1,403
- Resistance Type: Silent Magnetic Resistance
- Resistance Levels: 24
- Stride Length: 10” Vertical, 5” Horizontal
- Weight Capacity: 325lbs
- Product Dimensions: 52” L x 29.25″ W x 66.7″ H
- A hybrid setup allows for vertical and horizontal strides.
- The multi-functional handlebars allow for a full-body workout while also keeping your frame stable during movement.
- Oversized, cushioned pedals accommodate most shoe sizes while also improving in-training sturdiness.
- The built-in workout fan is louder than the machine itself, according to testers.
- Some athletes have stated that assembly is a daunting task that requires two people.
- If you like to move and rearrange your equipment, look elsewhere. The Carbon HIIT H10 weighs roughly 225 pounds.
Okay, so we tag this ProForm Carbon HIIT H10 as the best stair climber for weight loss, but in reality, it’s sort of a climber-elliptical hybrid due to its vertical and horizontal stride movements. This unique design can be great for athletes that want the low-impact comfort often associated with ellipticals.
Additionally, we appreciate the Carbon HIIT H10’s inclusion of multi-functional handles that give us a nice sense of stability during training. They’re also a convenient way to engage the upper body for added movement and increased heart rate during your workout.
The Silent Magnetic Resistance system also keeps training relatively quiet, which is a plus when trying to grab a workout around roommates or other household members. Our tester did notice, though, that the built-in cooling fan does not share the same audible tendencies. It may be best to schedule your sessions for when your housemates are gonee, or when your children aren’t down for a nap.
Lastly, some athletes have noted that the assembly process of this hybrid climber-elliptical is quite involved. The build instructions include 34 steps in total, so it may be best to have an associate at the ready to help make the assembly go as smoothly as possible.
Best Online Training Program for Weight Loss: iFit
The iFit app features a library of over 16,000 live and on-demand classes that range from mental health and recovery to rowing, running, HIIT and strength classes. You can get the full studio experience virtually through iFit, and is a great boost to any home gym set-up — with or without equipment.
- Price: $39 per month, $396 per year
- Supported Fitness Equipment Brands: NordicTrack, ProForm, Freemotion, Weider, Matrix
- Workout Types: 60+
- Workout Library: 17,000+
- There’s a wide array of fitness classes, including programs that don’t require equipment.
- The platform is easy to navigate as you scroll through new programs, live courses, featured challenges, and more.
- IFit is integrated across multiple fitness equipment brands for added convenience and training options.
- If you want to follow a specific training discipline, you may be better off with a different platform that’s focused solely on that particular workout style.
- Some athletes may prefer a more individualized training program based on their output and performance.
- A $40 monthly subscription cost can be expensive for some, although year-based payment options can help save you some money in the long run.
If you haven’t picked up on it yet, we’re big fans of what iFit brings to our training programs, especially when it comes to sweating toward a weight loss goal. This online workout platform is rich with engaging classes and challenges, and we appreciate its availability across multiple fitness equipment brands, including NordicTrack, ProForm, Freemotion, Weider, and Matrix.
Navigating the iFit system is also intuitive, which can make getting into a daily session all the more simplified. You can scroll through the latest available workouts at the home screen, followed by the scheduled live courses, categorized classes by discipline, and more. There’s even featured challenges that allow you to earn trophies for your profile, which can be a nice way to ramp up your training motivation every now and again.
Of course, though, you’ll want to do your homework before signing up for the $39 monthly subscription. For example, you’re likely to find a suitable program for your needs and wants from the over 17,000 available classes, but if you’re really invested in a particular discipline such as pilates, barre, HIIT, or a strength sport like Olympic weightlifting, you may be better supported with another platform that caters more to that given activity.
Additionally, $39 per month is a reasonable price given the amount of programs iFit offers, but we understand that all budgets are different. If you are trying to save a few bucks in the process, we recommend looking at iFit’s yearly payment options. Paying upfront for an entire year’s worth of service ($396) can save you roughly $72, while a two-year plan ($699) can help keep $237 in your pocket. A three-year iFit purchase ($899) could help you save $505 — enough to help you upgrade that workout wardrobe after all the slimming results.
Read our full iFit review.
How We Chose the Best Cardio Machines for Weight Loss
Finding a cardio machine for weight loss requires a lot of pre-purchase research spanning multiple factors. After all, these pieces of equipment are often large, heavy, and carry a higher price tag than other training-focused purchases. Here are the factors we looked at when curating this roundup of worthwhile fitness machines.
Of course, one of the first things to consider when looking at cardio machines, or any home gym machine for that matter, is whether the device can actually fit in your space. You don’t want to purchase an expensive profile and have it delivered, only to find that you don’t have high enough ceilings or ample room to comfortably house the cumbersome machine.
While all of the included cardio machines listed in this roundup showcase a unique silhouette, we did our best to include the overall dimensions to give you a good indication of the required floor space. If a machine also boasted space-saving qualities such as a foldable design, vertical storage capabilities, and others, we included that information, as well.
Having a cardio machine for weight loss that offers workouts outside of just manual setups can be great for keeping your interest when progressing through a fitness journey. Whether through pre-programmed modules across the main console, or a connected experience with a third-party platform, having a little bit of variety can be helpful.
Many of the cardio machines we tested for this guide feature app integration with platforms such as iFit. If they did not boast such capabilities, we made sure to look for other components like a built-in media shelf, so you can still follow along with your favorite training programs despite the more basic setups.
Sure, the tech infused across your cardio machines often lends itself to better, more convenient display consoles, but there are other components that can make working out more convenient through that digital touch. We made note of certain cardio machines that boasted traditional tech features like HD touchscreen displays and Bluetooth connectivity, but digital resistance systems, smooth settings adjustments, and more were also critiqued when building out this round-up.
Training with your cardio machine should be a comfortable, inviting activity. As such, we looked for machines offering added perks that made storage and mid-training setups more bearable. Accommodating cup holders? Built-in media shelves? More convenient storage solutions? All analyzed and examined as part of our process.
Comparing prices across cardio machine categories can get difficult, especially when different equipment can deliver different experiences to an athlete. So, we did our best in this guide to compare each profile against its respective category, providing notes wherever relevant to point out high-value finds as well as where heightened price tags were more justified.
The Benefits of Cardio Machines for Weight Loss
Studies show that regular aerobic exercise can be an important adjunct to a weight-loss program. (6) So, it makes sense that machines designed for cardio training can benefit your waist-slimming journeys, too, right? Below are just a few of the top perks that can be reaped when turning to a quality cardio machine for your weight loss goals.
If you want to boil weight loss down to a simplified thought, it can best be summarized as trying to maintain an efficient calorie deficit, or, expending more calories than you’re consuming. (5) You burn calories during physical activity, and how you move can greatly influence your results — a brisk walk is going to be less effective as a caloric burner than, say, a tempoed multi-mile jog. Cardio machines can be great for keeping your body moving in multiple directions and styles while making the most of your efforts in as comfortable a manner as possible.
Additionally, cardio machines can be great tools for monitoring your burned calories during training thanks to common features like pulse sensors and other connectivity benefits. This tech can give you a numerical value associated with your workout progress, allowing for simpler math at the end of your day when comparing calories in versus calories out.
Varied Training Intensities
Moving is essential to getting a good sweat in for the sake of weight loss, but not every athlete moves at the same pace or cadence. Cardio machines can be excellent for catering to different training tastes and preferences, allowing you to choose your intensity at your leisure. You can opt for lower-impact machines like rowing or ellipticals, or challenge yourself a little more with treadmills, exercise bikes, and others.
It’s also common to find varying speed, incline and resistance settings across top cardio machines, which can do wonders for creating a varied training regimen while also testing your progress in trusted movements. Changes within these measurements can also be a great motivating factor when working through your regimens over time. Don’t you think it would be rewarding to see yourself complete a treadmill run at a faster speed or higher incline, knowing that your former self would struggle with such toggles at play?
Granted, there’s a specific form and practice that goes into any exercise, but since cardio machines often see you working out in a more controlled plane of motion atop a saddle, on a track, or on a running deck, they can be viewed as more approachable workouts than, say, free weights or other workout disciplines. After all, many cardio machines ask you to perform some form of walking, running or cycling — all acts that most athletes can understand from the start regardless of their training experience.
Cardio machines can also be viewed as a more intuitive way to train for weight loss because of the typical presence of an on-unit display console. This can give you a convenient opportunity to watch someone else, like a trainer in a connected fitness class, performing the exercise in tandem with yourself. Even if your cardio machine doesn’t have a display allowing for such viewing habits, they often house a media shelf that can prop up your tablet or other device for similar experiences.
How Many Calories Should You Burn in a Workout?
There are many factors that can influence how many calories you burn in a given cardio workout such as your bodyweight, length of training session, method of training, and more. Below are some common ranges that can be expected from certain 30-minute cardio machine workouts at moderate intensity, gathered by researching athletes with listed bodyweights of 125, 155, and 185 pounds. (1)
- Treadmill (12 minutes per mile): 240-336 calories
- Treadmill Walking (15 minutes per mile): 135-189 calories
- Rowing Machine: 210-294 calories
- Exercise Bike: 210-294 calories
- Elliptical: 270-378 calories
- Stair Climber: 180-252 calories
How to Choose the Best Cardio Machine for Weight Loss
When looking for your own cardio machine to bolster your fat-burning training regimen, there are a few things worth considering. Below are a few things worth remembering when trying to decide on the ideal profile for your workout wants and needs.
If you shop around for cardio machines, you’re likely to encounter a number of varying price points, especially when looking at rowing machines versus exercise bikes versus treadmills, and so on. While there are a handful of worthwhile options under $1,000, you’re more likely to see prices between $1,000 and $2,000, with some even surpassing that top end.
These higher costs may dissuade some athletes from buying a dedicated cardio machine for their home, but thankfully, some brands offer payment plans that can help spread the expense out over a handful of months. If you’re in need of a cheaper route yet still want to add a cardio machine to your weight loss routine, this can be a good perk to search for.
There’s no sense in searching for a cardio machine if you can’t conveniently store it in your home or garage gym. It can help to understand just how much available space you have before even beginning your research. This preliminary information can also help narrow down your machine options. For example, if you don’t have an abundance of room in your apartment or training space, a quality exercise bike or folding treadmill could be a solid way to get in some cardio without sacrificing your entire floor plan. If you have more room to work with, larger, more static machines like an elliptical or recumbent bike could be worthwhile picks depending on your interests.
If you’re looking for a quality machine just to generate some added caloric burn, then your options for cardio machines are practically limitless, but if you have other fitness aspirations, it can be helpful to match your equipment to those goals as well. Think about what you’d like to accomplish with your training outside of just dropping a few pants sizes, and pair your equipment accordingly. If you’d like to train for an upcoming race or have running-based goals in your future, a treadmill can be an excellent option. More of a cycling fan? Consider an exercise bike.
Looking for cardio machines with multiple goals in mind can also help you justify the heightened upfront costs of the machines, too. Tackling multiple goals atop one singular profile means you’ll likely use the machine more frequently over time, which can help you get the most out of the machine itself rather than turning it into a glorified clothes rack once you’ve hit your targeted weight.
Training for weight loss should be a comfortable, enjoyable experience with your cardio machine, so be sure to look for profiles offering the features you value when it comes to your workouts. These can be as basic as a roomy cup holder or well-cushioned seat, to more intricate offerings like integration with an online training platform, heart rate monitoring, and more.
It’s important to note, though, that the more feature-laden silhouettes often come with a higher price tag, so be sure to weigh the importance of these components when looking for a cardio machine that matches your fitness needs as well as your budget.
Cardio machines can be great for creating a sweat-inducing training experience that caters to your weight loss goals, and there’s no shortage of profiles to choose from. Rowing machines, treadmills, exercise bikes, and other categories can be suitable options, but it’s important to think about key factors prior to purchase, namely how much money you’re willing to spend on a single machine and how much space you’re willing to give up to house it.
It’s also vital that you choose a cardio machine offering up enough training potential whether through wide ranges of speed, resistance, and incline settings, pre-programmed workouts, or access to an online training library. Doing so can help you keep sessions fresh and interesting day in and day out. As you soak up those engaging hours of running, rowing, and pedaling, that stubborn fat can begin to melt away like it was never there.
Which cardio machine burns the most fat?
There’s no clear and concise answer as to which cardio machine can burn the most fat in a given workout. How many calories you burn in a session is entirely dependent on a number of factors, including your bodyweight, training intensity, training duration, and others. Controlled studies have indicated, however, that moderate, 30-minute sessions with an elliptical machine can generate a higher caloric burn than other modalities under the same intensity and duration. (1)
Can you lose weight with 30 minutes of cardio a day?
Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 30 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three to five days a week can generate weight loss. That said, it’s important to pair your exercise regimen with a proper nutrition plan to help give yourself the best shot possible at achieving your weight goals. (2)
What is the easiest form of cardio for weight loss?
The “easiest” cardio for weight loss is subjective, but there are cardio machines that offer training setups with a lower-impact to your body and joints. For example, seated exercises like rowing and cycling can be easier on your knees than, say, running on a treadmill or walking up a stair climber. This is because your feet are in constant contact with the machine itself, taking the gravity and force you’d experience in your landing stride out of the equation.
- Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities. Harvard Health. (2021, March 8). https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April 26). Physical activity for a healthy weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html
- Chavarrias, M., Carlos-Vivas, J., Collado-Mateo, D., & Pérez-Gómez, J. (2019). Health benefits of Indoor Cycling: A Systematic Review. Medicina, 55(8), 452.
- Filipovic, M., Munten, S., Herzig, K.-H., & Gagnon, D. D. (2021). Maximal fat oxidation: Comparison between treadmill, elliptical and rowing exercises. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 170–178.
- Kim, J. Y. (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Journal of Obesity & Metabolic Syndrome, 30(1), 20–31.
- Mersy, D. J. (1991). Health benefits of aerobic exercise. Postgraduate Medicine, 90(1), 103–112.
- Miller, T., Mull, S., Aragon, A. A., Krieger, J., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2018). Resistance training combined with diet decreases body fat while preserving lean mass independent of resting metabolic rate: A randomized trial. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 28(1), 46–54.
- Reiser, R. F., Peterson, M. L., & Broker, J. P. (2004). Analysis of recumbent cycling pedal loads with comparison to the standard cycling position. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 34(5).