Cardio training is an intensive workout, and many of us avoid it even though we know it’s necessary. However, you can save time, energy, and effort by picking a machine that targets the workouts that you want, helping you make your workout time as efficient as possible. Cardio workouts are relatively more intense and heavy-duty than other types of workouts, and cardio exercise equipment should generally be strong, durable, and sturdy enough to offer support and sustain these workouts.
Cardio workouts boost aerobic and muscular endurance, allowing you to bulk up, sculpt your body, and burn fat. When you use the large muscles in your body and exert yourself, your body increases it’s heart rate in order to pump enough blood to your muscles, supplying them with oxygen. This can help boost everyday health by bettering your blood circulation. As your blood pumps faster, your heart rate rises to pump blood out to all of your muscles. These types of workouts are great for building muscle or endurance, and are often used in training regimens. In general, cardio workouts will help make you feel healthy, fit, and revitalized.
Things to Consider
Although this guide should help you purchase a great cardio machine, ultimately, the decision will be based on what each individual wants. You will want to purchase a cardio machine that will match your exercise goals and lifestyle. You will also want to consider whether or not you enjoy it or not and are likely to do the workout regularly. In order for you to get the most out of your cardio machine, you will want to use it quite often. Intending to exercise and doing it are very different though. Picking a machine that you enjoy using and therefore likely to actually use on a regular basis is paramount when purchasing a machine if you want to ensure you get use out of it and do not waste your money on a very fancy coat rack. You also want to ensure that whichever machine you get, you will get a productive workout from it, targeting the type of exercises you are looking to work on.
If you want to get the most out of your time on your cardio machine, you may want to consider effectiveness. If you are serious about cardio workouts and want to get the most beneficial exercise with the least amount of time on the machine, you will want to pick equipment that offers you the best efficiency in terms of time working out and calories burned. This will help reduce your time spent exercising while achieving your desired results. If you are looking to do a more relaxed or longer workout to burn those calories, you will not need to get the most efficient cardio machines available, and may prefer something different.
If you are using your cardio machine to help with training, as is sometimes the case, you will want to consider how realistic the exercise transfers to real life. For example, many ellipticals don’t mimic any real life movements, and you are therefore not training for any real life action. Stair steppers and treadmills, on the other hand, help train you how to climb stairs and run, helping to train your endurance and increase your output. If you’re solely interested in getting a great cardio workout, this probably won’t matter to you, but if you are training and trying to improve in a specific area, you may want to consider getting something that transfers clearly and relatably.
Types of Cardio Machines
Treadmills offer the most simple exercises like walking, jogging, and running. These are relatively low impact exercises that are not as hard on your body. Treadmills are great for both average and serious workouts. They allow you to perform regular functions and exercise without having to leave, so you can be more productive and you won’t miss out on a workout because of weather. By adjusting the speed and incline you can alter the intensity and purpose of your workout, helping you tailor it to the exercise and results you want, and mimic walking or running outdoors. Even if you just want to use it for walking, setting it at an incline will ensure you are burning calories and getting the oxygen flowing in your blood, increasing your cardiovascular health.
Treadmills also come with a range of convenience, comfort, and safety features to suit them for users at all exercise levels. Treadmills typically have handrails for grip, foot rails for a place to safely step on and off, and auto-stop switches that force the machine off when pulled from the machine, helping to keep you safe if you slip or fall. Most treadmills feature LCD displays, and the level of technology differs depending on how much you are willing to spend. Average models will track your time, distance, and calories burned, while more advanced machines will offer more tracking options as well as special features like iPod compatibility and entertainment units.
The Weslo Cadence G 5.9 Treadmill is a foldable machine to save space and make storage easy. It offers six different personal trainer workouts and adjusts to two different incline settings. It has comfortable padding to ensure both comfort and safety when in use. The Weslo Cadence R 5.2 Treadmill is another foldable design from Weslo, giving you great value for your space. It has a large walking belt and features the same Comfort Cell Cushioning to ensure your time on the treadmill is comfortable and convenient. If you’re looking for a durable machine that can hold a lot of weight, ProForm 505 CST could be great for you, since it can hold up to 300 pounds. It has ProShox Cushioning to maximize comfort and iPod compatibility to ensure you enjoy your time. It offers great adjustability options, allowing you to choose a zero to ten percent incline and even comes with a limited warranty to back it up. If you want a large, heavy-duty model, the LifeSpan TR1200i Folding Treadmill has a 20” by 56” deck, which can support up to 300 pounds. It has an LCD screen that tracks your time, distance, speed, and burned calories. It also offers various built-in programs that target weight loss, healthy living, sports training, and heart rate problems. This is arguably one of the best cardio machines for weight loss. Another basic model that offers some built-in programming, an LCD display, and the ability to fold it is the Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill.
Stair Steppers and Stair Mills
Just as you’d expect, a stair stepper is a device that allows you to mimic the process of walking up a flight of stairs. This can be used for regular training and can also help with cardio exercise if used properly. With a stair stepper, you are fighting gravity and your body weight. This is a vertical rather than horizontal battle, meaning you exert more energy and force trying to perform these exercises. This makes the stair stepper great for cardio workouts if used properly. Unlike non-impact exercises, this can be a high-impact exercise, and can potentially cause joint problems. Just like many other machines, using an interval setting will help give you the best cardio workout and lead to burning more calories.
Stepmills, or stairmills, function very similarly to stair steppers. They are essentially continuous stairs, functioning much like a tiny escalator. It continually cycles stairs through the machine and you continuously climb. These units offer adjustability options to change the speed of the stairs, allowing you to increase the intensity of your cardio exercise. However, these are designed for serious workouts since even low speed settings increase your heart rate rapidly. In order to make these more compact and take up less space, some of these machines have rather small steps, which can make it potentially difficult, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. If you have a large foot size, this may be extremely frustrating to use and you may want to consider a machine that is easier and more enjoyable for you. There is not much versatility with these machines, aside from climbing at an angle, which can help you target other muscles and help you work on stability and balance. It is also important that you don’t use the handrails to support your body rather than for balance and safety. This can decrease the impact of the workout and its effectiveness.
Ultimately, both stair mills and stair steppers provide the same type of movements and exercises. However, a stair mill takes out a lot of the manual work, and can be a more challenging workout. However, if used properly, both a stair stepper and stair mill can give you a great cardio workout. Stair steppers are typically less expensive and more portable than stair mills as well, so you will want to consider how mobile you would like your machine to be when purchasing.
The StairMaster SM3 StepMill is a relatively small cardio machine, that will take up less space than a treadmill or rowing machine. As a vertical, high intensity workout, this is great for fast cardio workouts that push you to your limits. This model offers ten different workout programs to let you tailor your workout to your needs; focus on weight loss, training, or endurance. It features an LCD screen that allows you to track your progress, and is even compatible for use with a heart rate monitor.
The Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper is one of the best cardio machines for home and weight loss purposes. It is probably the smallest and most portable cardio machine available on the market, and is great for at home and on the go. You can adjust the resistance in order to tailor the intensity of your workout. It also features an LCD to track progress. You can take this anywhere in your house and even bring it to work, a friend’s, the cottage, on vacation, and essentially anywhere else you need it. The Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper with Handle Bar comes with all of the same features but also has a handle bar for support. This is great for at home cardio workouts and will help you stay safe and ensure you don’t fall off. If you really want to push yourself, consider getting one without handle bars as this can decrease the intensity of your workout and your heart rate, affecting home much the workout impacts your cardiovascular health. If you’re a serious and experienced cardio exerciser, you may want to consider the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistance Bands. It is extremely compact and portable, offers adjustable resistance settings to customize your workout, and comes with exercise bands to add an upper body workout. The LCD screen lets you track time, total count, and burned calories. This may be one of the best cardio machines for abs too, since it allows you to do a range of workouts.
For a manual stair stepper that requires no electricity and is much more basic and low-tech, you should try a model that is essentially a single step that does not work mechanically. You simply use the step as you would a stair case. These are constructed to absorb the shock to lower the effects on your joints and bones. The Original Health Club Step with Basic Step DVD is a durable stair stepper with a non-slip grip and cushion top to ensure it is both comfortable and safe. It adjusts to 4, 6, and 8 inch heights, allowing you to change the level of your workout. This is also extremely durable and stable, able to hold up to 300 pounds, and even up to 500 pounds if you stack it on risers. The Step Original Aerobic Platform – Circuit Size is a similar model that adjusts between 4 and 6 inch heights. It also has a non-slip surface and can support up to 275 pounds. Another comparable model is the Tone Fitness Aerobic Stepper. The best thing about these models is that they are extremely portable, and you can do your workout almost anywhere. In order to get a solid cardio workout from these, you will need to push yourself and be motivated to bring a high level of intensity.
Stationary bikes, or spin bikes, are a great way to exercise at the gym and at home. Since you remain seated, this is considered a more relaxing workout than others. You can even casually read, use your phone, or watch TV while riding on a spin bike, ensuring you get a solid cardio workout while doing so. In order to get a good cardio workout out of a spin bike, you will need to push yourself and make sure you’re increasing your heart rate. Using a spin bike on an interval setting, for example, can be a great way to get a solid cardio workout from a spin bike.
Recumbent bikes, which have a reclined seat, are also great stationary bikes that can be advantageous to use. These are great for people with back problems since it lets you sit lower and does not make you hold yourself upright. Because of this style, it works out your legs more than anything. This can help if you are trying to target working out your legs, but is still a great cardio workout if done properly.
The Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike with Pulse is a non-electric machine that can support up to 300 pounds. It has a large, soft, cushioned seat that adjusts for various users. It easily folds for storage when not in use and has wheels for transport when needed. You can also adjust the resistance levels in order to tailor your workout to suit your needs. Another great stationary bike option is the Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike that features adjustable resistance, seat, and handlebar settings so you can make it as comfortable as possible. It supports up to 275 pounds and comes with transport wheels if necessary. The Stamina 15-0125 InStride Folding Cycle is a foldable, portable stationary bike that comes with a battery-operated electronic monitor if you want to track progress. It comes with different resistance levels in order to customize your workout level to suit what you want. It also comes with non-slip foot boards and straps to ensure safety during use. Another comparable model that you can rely on for its durability, adjustability, convenience, and comfort is the Sunny Health and Fitness Indoor Cycling Bike.
The Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse reduces stress on your back and joints by having you sit on an incline. It offers a variety of resistance settings and has an LCD screen that tracks your distance, time, speed, and calories burned. It also comes protected with a three-year warranty. For a slightly lower level model at a reduced price, try the Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike. This model is foldable to save space while not in use, has eight adjustable resistance levels to tailor your workout, and has an LCD screen to track your progress. It even supports up to 300 pounds. The Marcy Recumbent Mag Cycle has eight resistance levels, a display to track progress, and foot straps to ensure safety during use.
As you would guess, rowing machines mimic the motion and exercise of rowing. Originally designed for training, the rowing machine has evolved into one of the most efficient cardio exercise machines out on the market. These machines offer an intense workout when used properly and can help increase cardiovascular health, build muscle, and help you lose weight. Despite how they are sometimes used, rowing machines are not designed to be a resistance exercise, instead built for building cardiovascular health. As opposed to other machines, you are directly in control of the pace and intensity of your workout, adjusting your speed to meet your specific needs. As you build your cardio you can go faster, but there is no motor determining the pace for you.
Since this can be a very intense workout, you will want to consider using the built-in programs rather than your own regimen in order to ensure you are using this for cardio exercises. This is advised if you do not regularly workout or have your own regimen in place. It is important to use this machine properly to get a cardio workout, and if you achieve this, it can be one of the best in terms of results and efficiency. Rowing machines are a lot less common, so if you have one in your gym, it’s probably the best cardio machine at the gym.
The Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is a great rowing machine, with cushioned seats and non-slip grip handlebars to ensure comfort and safety while exercising. It has eight levels of resistance and tracks your levels through an LCD display. It has anti-slip pedals and foot straps to ensure safe use. The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine with PM5 offers a low-impact cardio workout with a flywheel design to reduce noise. It has a display that lets you track your workout and easily separates into two pieces so you can store and transport easily. This machine is extremely durable, featuring a 500 pound weight limit. If you want a machine with the most in adjustability, try the Sunny Health and Fitness Rowing Machine with twelve resistance levels. It has adjustable footstraps and seats as well to make sure you can row in comfort. You can track all your progress using the display monitor, including time, count, and calories burned. Another comparable model with adjustability and similar comfort features is the Stamina Air Rower (Black, Chrome). It also folds for easy storage and has wheels to make transport convenient.
Elliptical machines are known for being great non-impact exercises, ensuring their is very little strain on joints and knees. This allows you to get exercise without potentially damaging your joints and bones. There are two varieties of elliptical machines, and both adjust intensity of exercise by creating resistance. The first has handles and allows both upper and lower body motion to create movement, the other does not use handles and uses an incline method. Both of these models work by creating resistance that you fight against. Ellipticals with handles can help you get a bit of an upper body workout as well, but either can help with cardio exercise if used properly.
Because ellipticals are low-impact machines and are easy to use, people tend to be less active on them and do not get the best workout possible from these machines. People get relaxed on them, and don’t gain the full benefit of the workout. As long as you push yourself to do a serious workout, these machines can and do offer a great cardio workout. If you are not the most self-motivated person, you may want to consider getting a more difficult machine that forces you to do the exercise you need.
The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is one of the most popular ellipticals on Amazon. It features adjustable resistance levels, foot pedals, and programs so you can tailor your workout and target specific muscles. It lets you track progress using the monitor and has non-slip pedals to ensure safety and comfort while exercising. For a machine with a diverse range of settings, try the Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine. It comes with 22 programs and two different user settings so you and your partner, friend, or competitor can get on and have it set just for you quickly and easily. It has 20 different resistance levels and can let you track up to 13 different factors of your progress.
Best Home Cardio Machine
There are a few cardio machines that are great for around the home. Treadmills and Stationary Bikes are two of the best cardio machines to use at home, since these mimic fairly regular movements and do not require as much commitment of effort as some more difficult machines. These machines are convenient and easy to use, built safe, and great for simply doing regular exercises in the home when you don’t want to – or can’t – go outside. These machines do take up a relatively large amount of space, and require room around the machines as well to ensure easy access and safety during use.
The rowing machine is another great at home machine, but it requires a lot of space as well, and is generally a harder workout, requiring more energy and effort. This is also a more complex workout, and requires you to do it properly, or you can cause injury to yourself. It is important to ensure you use it properly and you should note that this machine is geared more towards a serious and experienced exerciser.
Elliptical trainers are great machines for at home use, offering a low-impact option. This can be really good for people with existing joint and bone problems. Since we regularly perform only low-impact movements in our day-to-day life, suddenly jumping to a high-impact workout is not a good idea. Ellipticals also take up a lot of space and do not mimic any real activity. However, they can be great machines for exercise and cardio health.
Best Cardio Machine for Weight Loss
Most cardio workouts help contribute to weight loss, so almost any cardio machine – if used properly – can help you lose weight. That being said, if you do not push yourself and ensure you are increasing your heart rate, you will not be contributing much to your cardio health. In order to make sure you are getting a good cardio workout while losing weight, you will want to make sure you get a machine that lets you push yourself and get your heart rate up. Something that would be great for weight loss due to the intensity and efficiency of the workout would be a rowing machine or step mill, since these require a lot of effort and give you the most results in the least amount of time.
Picking the Best Cardio Machine for You
As you can see, there are a variety of different cardio machines that you can choose from. Ultimately, your decision will depend on what you want out of the machine and how it will fit into your lifestyle. One of the most important things to consider is what your exercise goals are, ensuring that you match the machine to what you want out of it. You want to get the machine that will give you the type of exercise and results that you want from it. Another really important thing to consider when getting a machine for your home is the amount of available space you have for it and how much space the machine will take up. You not only want to consider how much it takes up, but consider how much space you need around it during use for it to be safe. Some machines, like treadmills, require a lot of room around the machine to ensure proper and safe operation. Therefore, you want to consider how much floor and ceiling space you have, and whether or not you want space saving options, such as units that fold up and save space when not in use.
You will also need to consider is whether or not you enjoy the workout. If you don’t enjoy it, odds are, you won’t do it; and it will be a huge waste of space and money. It’s important to be realistic with yourself and what you will and won’t do. You want to get something that you will enjoy doing and will be willing to do regularly. Without the motivation to do the exercises, the machine does you no good. So choose a machine that you will want to – or at least be motivated to – do regularly. Another thing to consider is how effective and efficient you want your machine to be. If you like to casually workout and don’t mind spending time, then you may not need to worry about this. However, if you want to spend as little time as possible exercising, you will want to go for a very efficient machine that gives you results in a shorter period. These would be some of the higher intensity cardio machines that demand a lot of physical exercise and hard work, burning the most calories in the shortest period. A final thing to consider is whether you are using this to train for real life activities. Many cardio machines mimic real activities, such as the treadmill, stationary cycle, and even rowing machine. If you are planning to use your machine to train for a specific purpose, such as running, cycling, or rowing, you will want to pick a machine that mimics these activities. Although this is not necessary for you to achieve a cardio workout, matching the machine to the activities you are training for will help you build endurance in those areas.
In the end, you will need to weigh your options and balance what you want from your machine when deciding on the best cardio machine. This will mean considering the type of exercise you want to do, how intense you want your workouts to be, and how much space you have. Ideally, you will pick the machine is most suited to your exercise goals, balancing the quality of the machine with the needs and demands of your workout regimen.