Any cardio machine can burn calories, and when combined with resistance training, cardio machines may have great benefits to your cardiovascular health and body composition. (1) When you’re looking to splurge on the best cardio machine for your home gym, however, you want to purchase something fun and engaging. Whether you like to row, run, or bike — there’s a machine for you.
Investing in a cardio machine for your physical and mental health comes at a very real financial cost, too. These sweat-inducing workout devices can cost a pretty penny, so the list below is meant to narrow the scope of the search. We’ve done our research and tested a wide range of machines in every category to guide you on your path and make picking the right one for you just a bit easier.
Best Cardio Machines
- Best Treadmill: Sole F80
- Best Elliptical: NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
- Best Excercise Bike: Sole SB900
- Best Rowing Machine: Hydrow Rower
- Best Cardio Smart Home Gym: NordicTrack Vault
- Best Treadmill Under $1,000: Sole F63
- Best Elliptical Under $1,000: Sole E25
- Best Value Cardio Machine: ProForm Carbon T10
- Best Cardio Machine for Small Spaces: Schwinn IC4 Indoor Bike
- Best Air Bike: Assault Airbike
- Best High-End Cardio Machine: Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Treadmill
To be named the best treadmill, a company has to make a product that offers a variety of features at a reasonable price without sacrificing quality. The Sole F80 does all that and then some, making it our go-to treadmill.
Sole F80 Treadmill
Sole packed the features in when designing the F80, producing a treadmill that can make your workouts as enjoyable as they are sweaty. The treadmill features a cushioned deck which may reduce impacts by up to 40 percent when compared to running outdoors — great for long-distance running and for keeping your joints happy in general. Tech-savvy people will like the 10.1-inch touchscreen with its integrated entertainment apps, wireless charging pad, Bluetooth/WiFi capabilities, and built-in heart rate sensors.
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.
You can really challenge yourself with the F80’s 3.5 HP (horsepower) motor, as it can ramp up to a 15-percent incline and has a top speed of 12 miles per hour (MPH). The frame is rock solid with a weight capacity of 350 pounds, so it can handle a wide range of body types. When you’re finished with your workout, you can fold the treadmill up with hydraulic easy-assist folding to create space for off-treadmill workouts. The F80 retails for around $1,900, but it provides a ton of value for its cost.
- Running Surface: 22 inches wide by 60 inches long
- Dimensions: 38 inches wide by 82.5 inches long by 66 inches tall
- Horsepower: 3.5
- Max Speed: 12 MPH
- Max Incline: 15 percent
- The cushioned deck may help keep your joints healthy for the long run (pun intended) by reducing the impact of each step.
- Integrated tech like Bluetooth and WiFi, along with entertainment apps, help pass the time without fussing with cables or setting up a tablet.
- You can fold this tread up easily to store it if you’re limited on space.
- The F80 doesn’t have any integrated workout apps, only entertainment apps that you can view through the attached screen.
- The price is higher than some other budget treadmills, though they may not have the same features as the F80.
The Sole F80 can fulfill most runners’ needs thanks to its durable build, high-tech features, and powerful motor. Being able to fold up and out of the way is a nice bonus as well.
Read our full review of the Sole F80 Treadmill.
If you’re in the market for an elliptical machine, you need to take a good look at the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9. It offers streaming workouts on a crisp display, is nearly silent during use, and features a sleek and stylish design.
NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9’s large 14-inch touchscreen display and high-fidelity sound system create an immersive experience for users. These features can transport you from your garage or spare room to thousands of scenic locations around the globe with a subscription to the integrated iFit app (about $39 per month after a free 30-day trial). The iFit subscription also lets you do elliptical workouts where trainers can automatically adjust your incline (up to a grade of 20 percent) and resistance levels.
This sleek elliptical offers a host of premium features like automatic adjustments, trainer-led workouts, silent magnetic resistance, and cushioned pedals for an elevated user experience. A modest footprint, strong build, and 10-year warranty mean this machine will be used for many years to come.
People up to about 6’3” tall should be fine with the stride length, which can be -adjusted using controls on the handles. The Commercial 14.9 makes use of NordicTrack’s famous silent magnetic resistance (SMR™) tech for a quiet stride so you don’t wake up anyone else in the house during early morning workouts or late-night strides. You can pick this elliptical up for around $1,799 before the optional iFit membership, but NordicTrack does offer financing options, pending credit approval if the price is too much upfront.
- Stride Length: 17.5 inches to 18.7 inches
- Dimensions: 29 inches wide by 67 inches long by 69 inches tall
- Resistance Type: Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR)
- Resistance Levels: 26 Micro-adjusting levels
- Max Incline: 20 percent
- The large screen and high-end sound system allow you to get into the zone and throw yourself into the workout.
- If you want a high incline, the 20 percent max setting here should do the trick.
- Silent magnetic resistance means you can work without worrying about disturbing anyone else in the house.
- There are simpler ellipticals out there with fewer high-tech features that may suit your workout needs.
- This isn’t the cheapest elliptical by any means, though the tech features may justify the cost for a lot of people.
- The Commercial 14.9 might be overkill for someone who doesn’t really care about streaming fitness classes.
This elliptical is packed with high-tech features and an array of automatic adjustments to aid in stride length, resistance, and incline changes. It also excels in the durability category thanks to its steel construction, making this an all-around great elliptical.
Best Exercise Bike
An exercise bike has to be versatile and have the ability to accommodate riders that want to stream classes as well as those who prefer to chart their own workouts. The Sole SB900 works well either way and has a ton of comfort extras to boot.
Sole SB900 Exercise Bike
The SB900’s screen is admittedly on the small side compared to other exercise bikes. However, a smaller screen means that your wallet can stay bigger. Rather than including a screen that can jack up the price, the SB900 has a tablet holder so you can stream whatever online workout programs or content you like best. Beginners can access over 3,000 classes with the included 90-day free trial of Studio™ to see if they like it. While slightly basic, the three-by-four-inch LED display serves its role in providing key info about your workouts, such as RPMs, distance traveled, speed, and time elapsed.
The Sole SB900 is a durable and high quality addition to any home gym, featuring stat tracking, an adjustable seat and handlebars, quiet magnetic resistance and front wheels for easy portability. Its display is simple and you won’t find any added technological distractions within its console.
Should you be an avid cycler looking for some indoor pedaling time, you’ll be happy to learn that the pedals work with either regular trainers or clip-in cycling shoes for a more authentic riding experience. The SB900 has a sturdy construction with a steel frame, while the 48-pound flywheel provides ample resistance for even experienced riders. The SB900 is available for $899.
- Pedals: Accepts Clip-in or Clipless Shoes
- Dimensions: 38 inches wide by 82.5 inches long by 66 inches tall
- Flywheel: 48 pounds
- Resistance: Eddy Current Magnetic
- Orientation: Upright/Spin Cycle
- The sturdy steel frame construction means this bike will likely last a long time with proper care.
- Having a 48-pound flywheel allows the SB900 to ramp up the resistance for those who want a solid workout.
- The integrated tablet holder lets you enjoy online workouts and entertainment without the addition of a price-hiking integrated screen.
- There are no heart rate monitors or pulse sensors integrated into the bike.
- You can find a cheaper exercise bike if this option is outside of your budget.
- People who like high-tech features may be disappointed with how basic the display is on the SB900.
Though it might not have a big touchscreen display or the most advanced tech, the SB900 does what it’s intended to do and can provide seriously challenging workouts for people of all fitness levels. If you do want to stream workout classes, then the 90-day free trial of Studio™ will let you try it out before you commit to a subscription.
Read our full review of the Sole SB900.
Best Rowing Machine
A large touchscreen display and a host of high-tech features make the Hydrow Rower one of the most interactive and advanced rowing machines on the market. If you want to add rowing to your daily routine, it’s worth checking out the Hydrow Rower.
The Hydrow provides a top-notch user experience thanks to a buttery smooth electromagnetic drag mechanism that’s designed to feel like rowing water. Each stroke is virtually silent, so you can row at any time of day or night without making a ton of noise like you might with air- or water-resistance rowers. Also, the seat is ergonomic and softer than other rowers, so your muscles or lungs will probably call it quits before your behind does.
The Hydrow is a high-tech rower with a library full of live and on-demand workouts, a smooth drive and electromagnetic resistance. It’s a quiet machine and provides a great full-body workout for both beginning and advanced rowers.
With an optional monthly membership of around $44 per month, Hydrow’s app gives users access to over 4,000 live and on-demand workouts that take place both on and off of the machine. For off-machine workouts, the rower’s 22-inch HD display can pivot so you can follow the workout from wherever you work out. These features do come at a premium, as the Hydrow Rower costs about $2,495 before the membership fees. They offer financing (pending credit approval), so you can break the payment up into monthly installments.
- Rowing Area: 36-inch Inseam
- Dimensions: 25 inches wide by 86 inches long by 47 inches tall
- Resistance: Electromagnetic Drag Resistance System
- Seat Height: 16 inches
- Magnetic resistance simulates rowing on water without actually being on a lake or having to hear loud wooshing noises.
- The large touchscreen display is perfect for streaming workouts either on or off the machine.
- The seat is designed to keep your bum comfy during long rowing stints.
- This rower is expensive, and you can pick up some other high-quality options for a fraction of the price, though they may not have the same features and sleek aesthetic.
- The Hydrow might be overkill if you don’t really care about high-tech features like big screens and streaming.
- There is an additional monthly charge for the streaming service on top of the cost of the machine.
This would be a great addition to your home gym equipment if you’re in the market for a quiet, tech-loaded rower. The interactive technology, smooth resistance, and thousands of classes ensure your rowing experience will be as enjoyable as it is exhausting.
Read our full review of the Hydrow Rower.
Best Cardio Smart Home Gym
Smart home gyms have exploded in popularity, and there are a ton of options available on the market. But which one is the right one for you? The NordicTrack Vault is a mirror-based smart gym that has everything you need for a variety of fun and engaging workouts.
Unlike other fitness mirrors, the Vault features a self-contained equipment storage area in its “vault” — essentially a cabinet that slides open behind the 61.5- inch oversized mirror. You can purchase the Vault on its own without any equipment included. If you want the total package, you can add equipment such as a mat, towel, dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands for an additional charge. On the mirror, you can work out along with any of the thousands of trainer-led iFit classes, tracking your stats, watching your form, and pacing along with the class.
The NordicTrack Vault is a high-tech smart gym that features iFit classes on a 6-foot mirror display. As you workout, you can watch your form and your trainer in the mirror and gauge your progress with on-screen stats. The Complete option comes with a closet full of dumbbells, kettlebells, bands and a yoga mat, so your gym equipment can all be stored inside the Vault.
iFit is a separate monthly subscription fee of around $39, though you do get a free 30-day trial. While the Vault functions more or less like many other smart home gyms, the added advantage of storing your entire gym setup in a well-organized cabinet is a huge perk. The Vault on its own costs around $1,499, while the complete package with equipment will run you about $1,999.
- Mirror Surface: 61 inches
- Dimensions: 24.25 inches wide by 14 inches deep by 72.65 inches tall
- Weights (Optional): Dumbbells and Kettlebells up to 30 pounds
- Types of Workouts: Strength Training, Yoga, Pilates, Recovery, and More
- The Vault looks good when not in use and can be relegated to common spaces without looking out of place or being an eyesore.
- An emphasis on free weights and resistance training, as well as cardio, allows you to have a diverse array of workout experiences.
- Streaming workouts is extremely easy with the iFit integration and the reflective surface to help you check your form.
- If you’re a cardio purest, you’ll probably prefer the reliability and familiarity of a treadmill, elliptical, or bike.
- People who already have a strength training routine or aren’t interested in one might not receive as much value.
People who are building their home gym from the ground up or those who don’t have a ton of space will appreciate that everything tucks away neatly into the Vault. The design allows it to look good as a standalone fixture rather than being an obvious piece of workout equipment, while the online classes are varied and comprehensive.
Read our full review of the NordicTrack Vault.
Best Treadmill Under $1,000
Treadmills can be pricey, with some of them costing thousands of dollars. The Sole F63 is durable, has an adequate range of adjustments, and cost just under a grand, making it a great choice for people who want a budget treadmill without sacrificing quality.
Sole F63 Treadmill
While the Sole F63 may not seem special at first glance, it’s rich with features and budget-friendly at about $999 before tax, shipping, and optional streaming services. The streaming service that accompanies it with thousands of on-demand classes, Studio™, is priced well at around $19.99 per month after a 30-day free trial. Sole didn’t skimp on the quality, however. The F63 houses a powerful 3.0 HP motor with a top speed of 12 miles per hour and is capable of inclines up to 15 degrees — on par with most treadmills that cost double the price.
The Sole F63 is a high-quality, no-frills treadmill. The 3.0 HP motor can support up to 325 pounds, and the foldability is ideal for those tight on space.
A modest 6.5-inch display shows you key stats such as speed, pace, pulse from heart rate sensors, incline, and distance traveled so you can keep track of your progress. Should you like Studio™ and want to take classes, the integrated tablet holder will be handy. After your workouts, the F63 has easy-assist folding to store neatly away and free up space — making it an excellent treadmill for home.
- Stride Length: 20 inches by 60 inches
- Dimensions: 35 inches wide by 77 inches long by 67 inches tall
- Horsepower: 3.0 HP
- Max Speed: 12 MPH
- Max Incline: 15 percent
- Easy-assist folding makes it easier to clear out some extra room in your workout area when not in use.
- The powerful 3.0 HP motor is built to last and can accommodate long-distance runs as well as interval sprints.
- The speed, incline, and many of the features are similar to what you may find on treadmills that cost double or even triple the price.
- If you want to stream workouts, you’ll have to provide your own screen to watch and follow along.
- There is no decline option, only incline and speed changes.
- People who prefer the latest tech or are used to a big screen may find the F63’s offerings too basic.
The Sole F63 is a solid budget treadmill that doesn’t give off “cheap” vibes and has an array of convenience and performance features. It’s an all-around good tread, especially given the cost-effective price and overall quality.
Read our full review of the Sole F63 Treadmill.
Best Elliptical Under $1,000
Though this is a budget elliptical, it packs a ton of versatility into its durable build. The Sole E25 has a ton of features, many of which you’d expect to be relegated to only ellipticals that cost double the price or more.
Sole E25 Elliptical
The newest iteration of the E25 has seen a relatively recent overhaul of the design that includes lots of new features and makes it one of the top ellipticals out there. A new console featuring a 7.5-inch LCD display and integrated Bluetooth speakers are great for playing music or streaming workouts. There’s also a tablet holder for your smart device so you can capitalize on the 90-day free trial of Studio™ (about $19.99 per month after), which provides access to over 3,000 classes to keep you striding.
The E25 is a high-quality, no-frills elliptical. It features a budget-friendly price tag, a 350-pound weight limit, and a 20-pound flywheel.
The E25 is no slouch with resistance either, thanks to a heavy 20-pound flywheel and a high gear ratio that makes for a smooth yet challenging stride. A micro-adjustment dial allows you to achieve the perfect amount of difficulty for your workout, and there are 20 different incline levels to take your workouts to new heights (ahem). The stride length of 20 inches and a weight capacity of 350 pounds allows the E25 to accommodate most body types. You can purchase the Sole E25 for around $1,099, though there are financing options available pending credit approval.
- Stride Length: 17.5 inches to 18.7 inches
- Dimensions: 24 inches wide by 70 inches long by 70 inches tall
- Resistance Type: Eddy Current Resistance
- Resistance Levels: 20 levels
- Max Incline: 20 percent
- The wide range of adjustments and micro-adjustments make this suitable for people of all fitness levels.
- Despite being a budget elliptical, Sole managed to include a variety of convenience and performance features to give a premium feel to the E25.
- Longer stride lengths and a higher-than-average weight capacity allow most users to comfortably stride on this elliptical.
- If you want to stream, you’ll have to provide your own device since the console doesn’t offer streaming capabilities and only tracks stats.
- Shorter people may not need the longer stride length and can likely look for smaller and more compact ellipticals to save space.
The Sole E25’s sturdy build and large flywheel allow for the vast majority of people to comfortably and confidently achieve a solid workout. There are a ton of features, some of which are often only available on more expensive elliptical machines, so the value provided for the cost is great.
Read our full review of the Sole E25.
Best Value Cardio Machine
You don’t have to drop thousands of dollars to purchase a cardio machine. The ProForm Carbon T10 treadmill might sound like a Terminator, but instead of eliminating Sarah Connor, it’s out to destroy the misconception that high-tech and well-built cardio machines can’t be cost-effective.
ProForm Carbon T10 Treadmill
ProForm was able to stuff a surprising amount of high-tech and premium features in the Carbon T10 while keeping the retail price reasonable at around $1,299. The value comes in the form of a sharp 10-inch HD display for streaming and a shock-absorbing running surface — features that many other, more expensive treadmills don’t even have. You can try iFit with a 30-day free trial to stream thousands of workouts, though membership is around $39 per month after your trial period ends.
This treadmill offers a 10-inch touchscreen display, and comes with a free month of iFit. You'll also find incline up to 12 percent, speed up to 12mph, solid shock absorption, and foldability.
This treadmill’s motor and performance capabilities are pretty comparable to most other options around the same price point. The T10 can ramp up to an incline of 12 percent with a max speed of 12 miles per hour. Another great feature is the easy-assist folding to free up extra space when the tread isn’t in use. ProForm priced this treadmill fairly, though you can finance it to break up the payments if the up-front price is too much, pending credit approval.
- Running Surface: 20 inches wide by 55 inches long
- Dimensions: 38 inches wide by 82.5 inches long by 66 inches tall
- Horsepower: 2.75 HP
- Max Speed: 12 MPH
- Max Incline: 12 percent
- The large, crisp 10-inch touchscreen display is a very nice feature for a budget treadmill.
- Having a shock-absorbing running service may potentially help preserve your joint health and reduce the stresses on your body from running.
- iFit integration and a 30-day free trial allow you to try out a variety of classes to see if you want to keep the membership or try different ones.
- If you’re on a strict budget, then there are cheaper options out there (but they likely won’t have the same features).
- People who don’t place a high priority on high-tech options may not find some of the options worth the extra cost.
- There are no decline options on this tread.
The ProForm Carbon T10 comes with features that would normally cost hundreds of dollars more, like a shock-absorbing running surface and a large touchscreen display for streaming. Couple that with the reasonable price and folding capabilities, and this tread provides a ton of value.
Best Cardio Machine for Small Spaces
Many of us have to try to fit our workout equipment into a smaller space than we’d like. Having a huge cardio machine in a spare bedroom doesn’t leave much real estate for anything else, so a compact piece of equipment is key. The Schwinn IC4 is our go-to for small spaces thanks to its compact design and excellent features.
Schwinn IC4 Exercise Bike
This bike makes great use of the small space it occupies, making it a great option for small spaces. At 48.75 inches long, 21.25 inches wide, and 52 inches tall, the IC4 can essentially fit into a coat closet when not in use, though it may be uncomfortable to work out if you’re not Harry Potter. Despite its small size, it still offers a great workout with 100 levels of silky smooth magnetic resistance to cycle through. The dual-sided pedals are capable of accepting clip-in cycling shoes if you don’t want to pedal in cross trainers.
The Schwinn IC4 combines upper and lower body work with its included set of dumbbells and 100 levels of cycling resistance for a complete upper and lower body burn. Dial up your favorite streaming app and hop on, this bike is compatible with JRNY, Peloton, and Zwift.
Users can make use of the integrated tablet holder to stream workouts with the two-month free trial of JRNY (about $11.99 per month after), though the IC4 is also compatible with Peloton and Zwift programming. You’ll also receive a three-pound pair of dumbbells with easy-to-reach cradles under the handlebars for upper-body exercising as well. You can pick up the Schwinn IC4 for around $999, which is a bit higher than similar bikes, but the compact design and included features make it worth the price.
- Pedals: Accepts Clip or Clipless Shoes
- Dimensions: 21.25 inches wide by 48.75 inches long by 52 inches tall
- Flywheel: 40 pounds
- Resistance: 100 levels of Electromagnetic Resistance
- Orientation: Upright/Spin Cycle
- You can achieve a true spin class experience with the included dumbbells and convenient cradles.
- Two months of a subscription service is nice since most trials are only for 30 days.
- The variety of available resistance levels (100 in total) makes it easy to achieve the optimal resistance for how you’re feeling at the moment.
- Taller people or those with particularly long legs may find that this bike is too small for them to pedal comfortably.
- There are cheaper options for exercise bikes out there, though they may not have all of the same included features.
- People who want an integrated display may be disappointed that they have to provide their own streaming device.
Schwinn made the IC4 an all-around solid exercise bike with features to provide challenging and complete workouts no matter your experience level. The compact design allows you to get a good cardio workout without taking up a whole room.
Best Air Bike
Air bikes provide a unique type of workout that allows you to train both your upper and lower body individually or together. If you’re looking for an intense cycling session or you like to participate in CrossFit workouts, the Assault Airbike is a great choice.
The Assault Airbike is different from most exercise bikes because of its moving arms instead of stationary handlebars, allowing you to use both your upper and lower body to cycle. Some fitness circles even refer to them as “calorie bikes,” so you can imagine that your Airbike workouts can become quite intense if you really push them. Assault’s version has a minimalist display that shows calories burned and time elapsed, among a few other pieces of information like watt output and RPMs.
The Assault AirBike is a moderately priced bike with a solid build that features a powder-coated steel frame. It’s an upright indoor bike with moving arms that’s designed to burn calories and integrate seamlessly into cross-training and interval workouts.
This bike does utilize fan resistance, and while it does sound pretty cool, things can become windy and loud very quickly. The fan allows for near-endless resistance potential — essentially, the faster and harder you go, the more resistance you’ll feel. A steel frame and front wheels allow this bike to be beefy yet mobile, so you can move it around without breaking your back. Pick up your Airbike for around $699.
- Pedals: Only Accepts Clipless Shoes
- Dimensions: 23.34 inches wide by 50.95 inches long by 50 inches tall
- Flywheel: 25-inches with Six Blades
- Resistance: Variable Air Resistance
- Orientation: Air/Upright
- You can achieve a full-body burn thanks to the moving arms.
- The resistance scales directly with the amount of effort you’re putting in so you can increase or decrease it easily without worrying about dials or knobs.
- Included wheels make moving the bike around easier.
- There are no fitness apps that integrate directly at this point to the Airbike, not that you could hear the instructors easily.
- People will definitely hear you working out, so this may not be ideal to use if you’re working out inside of a house or apartment. This makes a lot of noise.
- This bike can be hard to ride for a long time and is more designed to perform sprint or interval work than distance cycling.
This isn’t your fitness center or spin studio’s exercise bike. The moving arms and variable resistance lend the Airbike more to full-body burns and interval training rather than long-distance cardio. You can build up a good sweat quickly, though, and if you like a challenge, this is the bike for you.
Read our full review of the Assault Airbike.
Best High-End Cardio Machine
If you’re the type of person who wants the best of the best, this treadmill is probably right up your alley. The Life Fitness Platinum Club Series brings a sturdy and robust commercial-quality treadmill into your home for a world-class workout experience.
Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Treadmill
Let’s get the biggest drawback out of the way right off the bat — this treadmill costs around $11,000 — but for hardcore runners and professional athletes, it’s worth the dough. It helps that Life Fitness also includes a lifetime warranty for the frame and motor. The premium components and solid steel frame make for a higher-than-average 400-pound weight capacity too. A very powerful 4.0 HP motor that can run up to 8.0 HP at peak performance in short bursts to rev up the speed quickly is great for both ultra long-distance running and high-octane interval training. The motor tops out at 12 miles per hour and a 15-percent incline.
The Platinum Club is the treadmill for you if you want a powerful motor, smart compatibility, easy stat tracking using an array of apps, cushioning for your joints, and more.
To keep you entertained, Life Fitness included a 21.5-inch touchscreen monitor with Bluetooth capabilities for your headphones, heart rate monitor, and streaming directly from your phone. You also gain access to Life Fitness On Demand with thousands of workouts at no charge, with new classes added regularly. The FlexDeck® shock absorption system may help reduce knee and joint stresses and prevent injury, which is crucial for continued high performance. To top it all off, the extra-wide 22-inch running surface is coupled with oversized 3.5-inch rollers to keep things moving smoothly.
- Running Surface: 22 inches wide by 60 inches long
- Dimensions: 36 inches wide by 80 inches long by 62.25 inches tall
- Horsepower: 4.0 Continuous HP with 8.0 Peak HP
- Max Speed: 12 MPH
- Max Incline: 15 percent
- The FlexDeck® is great for long-distance runners and ground-pounding sprinters who want to look after their joints.
- Streaming on this treadmill is a joy, with essentially a TV in front of you to display whatever you’re watching.
- The beefy motor can keep up with whatever you throw at it and ask for more.
- The price is unrealistic for the majority of people who aren’t professional athletes or people who simply have money to burn.
- There’s a lot of tech to deal with, and if you’re not tech-savvy or don’t care about those features, a more basic option may be better.
- Other treadmills have a higher potential incline, so hikers may want to look at those options instead.
If you’re a diehard runner or simply want the cream of the crop, then the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Treadmill is the way to go. The FlexDeck® shock system is intended to soften the blow when putting in tons of miles every day, and the durable motor can keep up with you. It may be expensive, but having the right tools to maximize your performance can be priceless when competing.
Read our full review of the Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Treadmill.
Benefits of Cardio Machines
Cardio machines can be a useful tool for people of all fitness levels who are looking to get their sweat on, and there are a variety of different machines available to achieve that goal. Generally speaking, even low- and moderate-intensity workouts on cardio machines may help improve cardiovascular health. (2) Most of the machines that are on this list offer some way to stream or entertain yourself during your workouts as well — you can listen to a podcast or audiobook for brain gains while making fitness gains or pass the time watching your favorite show.
Also, having a cardio machine in your home may help you negate any excuses. Scared of cars? Exercise bikes might be safer than road cycling since there usually aren’t cars in your living room. Lousy weather? Running on a treadmill prevents you from slipping on ice or a wet sidewalk. Can’t swim? It’s much harder to capsize a rowing machine than a boat. The list goes on. You might even be more dedicated because it’s just plain more convenient to have a cardio machine in your house than driving across town at rush hour to work out in a gym.
How We Chose the Best Cardio Machines
Since cardio machines come in a variety of types, the criteria we used to select the best when testing them had to apply to all machines. Here are some overarching key factors we took into consideration when making this list.
While cardio machines aren’t cheap, they don’t have to cost a fortune either. The price of any given machine had to reflect the features and quality of the product offered. If a machine was particularly expensive, then it had to be exemplary in nearly every way or have some distinct advantage over most other machines. Machines with high-tech options and extra durable construction are often worth the extra money since they provide more value and are likely to last longer. Regardless of which option you choose from this list, none of them are priced in a way that’s outlandish or unreasonable for the product you’ll receive.
Not everyone looks for the same things when purchasing a cardio machine, so we put a premium on machines that could satisfy the most amount of people. Those that can accommodate both tech-forward consumers and folks who want to simply start working out without worrying about touchscreens and settings were given more preference.
Some of the machines on this list have giant screens with high-fidelity sound arrays for immersive streaming experiences, while others house basic displays and only show mission-critical information. There are options for everyone on this list, no matter the technology you seek.
Build and Durability
Since cardio machines are often a large investment, it’s reasonable that you’ll want your purchase to last a long time. We took care to ensure that all of the machines on this list are durable, constructed from high-quality materials, and made by reputable companies with proven track records. Even the more cost-effective options are well-made and robust.
There will obviously be some variability in the builds from one machine to another based on the type of machine and price range. That said, most of the machines on this list have great warranties of anywhere from three to 10 years, while some offer lifetime warranties. Check out the warranty before finalizing your purchase to see how long the company expects its products to last without issue.
How Much Do Cardio Machines Cost?
The price of cardio machines can vary wildly from one type of machine to the next. The low end of the spectrum is usually somewhere just under $1,000, while the high-end machines’ prices tend to have more variance. It’s important to consider not only the price of the machine itself but the monthly or yearly cost of the associated streaming service as more and more machines put a bigger emphasis on streaming workouts.
|Best Treadmill||Sole F80||$1,899.99 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Elliptical||NordicTrack Commercial 14.9||$1,799 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Exercise Bike||Sole SB900||$899.99 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Rowing Machine||Hydrow Rower||$2,495 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Cardio Smart Home Gym||NordicTrack Vault||Starting at $1,499 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Treadmill Under $1,000||Sole F63||$1,099.99 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Elliptical Under $1,000||Sole E25||$1,099.99 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Value Cardio Machine||ProForm Carbon T10||$1,299 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Cardio Machine for Small Spaces||Schwinn IC4 Indoor Bike||$999 before optional streaming membership|
|Best Air Bike||Assault Airbike||$699|
|Best High End Cardo Machine||Life Fitness Platinum Club Series Treadmill||$11,659|
Services can range from around $10 to $50 per month, though you may receive a discount for purchasing annual subscriptions. Cardio machines can be purchased for as little as about $699, whereas the higher-priced ones can run as much as $2,500. Outliers and specialty machines can range as high as $12,000.
What to Consider Before Buying a Cardio Machine
You’ll want to consider some important points before dropping hard-earned cash on a shiny new machine. Here are a few things you should take into account when shopping for cardio machines.
Any time we talk about home gym equipment, one of the first things that needs to be considered is the size available for said equipment. Gauging how much room you have will inform you if you will need an option with storage capabilities like folding or easy disassembly or if the machine will have to be moved often. The footprint is usually disclosed, but a quick search can help if it’s not readily available on the company’s website. Measure and measure again to ensure that you’re not stuck with a brand new machine and nowhere to put it.
Type of Machine
The type of machine that you purchase will likely be informed by your preferences and fitness goals, but it’s still important to think about it before finalizing your purchase. We like to envision how we will use the cardio machine and think through what a typical week of workouts will look like.
If you’re not excited and looking forward to it, then maybe another option is best for you. Whether you select a treadmill, elliptical, rower, bike, or something else, you never want to dread your next workout. Remember, it’s a lot easier to stick to a fun routine than one you hate.
You’ll find a lot of different features in cardio machines. Some have more than others, though, and some even have optional add-ons. Look at all of the features of whatever machine you’re interested in, and don’t compromise if you don’t have to. If you really want to be able to stream with a built-in screen, but the machine you’re looking at doesn’t have that capability, it might not be worth making that concession. On the other hand, if the feature you want is only available on a machine that’s double your budget, it might be worth considering other options.
Purchasing a cardio machine is a big decision and commitment whether you go for a cost-effective option or a premium machine with all the bells and whistles. Considering all of your options and the variety of cardio machines available, it may help to rank them in a list from most enjoyable to least. Let’s be honest — not all types of cardio are fun for everyone.
Once you’ve decided on a type of cardio machine, it’s usually a good idea to create a checklist of must-haves and give priority to options that have the most features you’re looking for. That will help narrow your search and use this list as a helpful guide. Whether you’re looking to walk, run, stride, row, pedal, or high-knee your way to fitness, there are cardio machines on this list for you.
What is the best cardio machine?
That depends on what type of machine you are looking for. If you’re looking for a treadmill, we’re big fans of the Sole F80 because of its strong motor and crisp touchscreen display. If you want an elliptical, we’re big on the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 because of the world-class streaming experience. The Sole SB900 is our favorite exercise bike because of its versatility and robust build at a great price. There’s not one “best” cardio machine, it’s more about what’s best for you.
How much do cardio machines cost?
Cardio machines can be pricey, with even cost-effective ones going for around $700, and the sky’s the limit from there — most high-end consumer machines usually top out at around $2,500. If you plan on using a streaming service, it’s a good idea to factor that monthly or yearly cost into your budget too.
What are the differences between cardio machines?
The category of cardio machines is so broad that it’s hard to nail down just one definition. There are different types of them, and they all excel at different things. Treadmills are great for walking and running training, while rowers give a nice full-body workout. Exercise bikes mainly train the lower body, but air bikes can work the upper body too.
- Santa-Clara, H., Fernhall, B., Baptista, F., Mendes, M., & Sardinha, L. B. (2003). Effect of a one-year combined exercise training program on body composition in men with coronary artery disease. Metabolism, 52(11), 1413-1417.
- Rippe, J. M., Ward, A., Porcari, J. P., & Freedson, P. S. (1988). Walking for health and fitness. JAMA, 259(18), 2720–2724.