Are you the type of person who goes all-in? We only get one chance at this precious thing called life, so why not do it right, right? Peak fitness and six-pack abs are our #1 priority here. One surefire way to get & maintain a sexy toned body year-round is to invest in the best cardio machine for home use.
In this comprehensive guide, we share:
- Top 10 Premium Cardio Machines for Your Home
- Cardio Machine Reviews
- Bonus Tips to Consider Before You Buy
Best Home Cardio Machine Reviews
Are you as ready to start burning calories as we are? We had trouble staying seated to write this guide after reviewing all of these marvelous pieces of machinery. Now that you’ve seen our top 10, let’s take a closer look at why we chose these cardio machines and what current users have to say about their experiences using them.
#1) NordicTrack Commercial Series 2950 Treadmill
The NordicTrack Commercial 2950 Treadmill is the overall best cardio machine for home use currently on the market. While this treadmill is commercial-quality, you’d be hard-pressed to find a treadmill of this caliber in most gyms. Every option you want or need in a treadmill can be found in the 2950 model, including the premium 22″ HD touchscreen.
The 22″ screen is best for people who want to start on-demand training iFit programs. On the flip side, if you’re not fond of the idea of using iFit, then there are more than likely better options out there for you. The people who love iFit absolutely love it, and we do too. It makes running on a treadmill fun and allows the user to do a wide range of running programs (16,000+) that automatically adjust the treadmill settings for you during your workout. How cool is that?
Did we mention the Real-Time Workout Tracking? Examine your workout data with a microscope to determine whether you’re meeting your goals and making real progress.
The feature we like the most is the Runners Flex Cushioning which provides the highest level of impact absorption to make running, jogging, and walking easier on your joints (especially your knees). The wide 22″ x 60″ running belt accommodates everyone, including tall people. The 2950 is also one of the only premium treadmills we’ve reviewed that offers a decline angle of up to -3%.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about the NordicTrack 2950 and almost nothing not to like.
- Awesome software (boots up quickly), virtually run anywhere in the world
- iFit trainers will motivate anyone to stay in shape and consistent with their workouts
- Built-In Fan for extra comfort
- Super Sturdy & Quiet Operation
- The best treadmill for sore knees
- NordicTrack also provides built-in training programs if you want to skip iFit after the first year
- Louder speakers than most treadmills w/ high-quality sound (Bluetooth connectivity)
- Has the ability to inspire people who never work out to suddenly have a change of heart
- Easy to Navigate on the touchscreen
- Authentic Commercial-Quality Materials and Build
- Recommended over Peloton
- Hike with penguins and seals in Antarctica (we’re so in love)
- Setting it up can get complicated without hiring a professional or super husband
- Might be too large for your home gym
- Complaints about a slow startup when the WiFi signal is weak
- Several quality control issues
- It may not be the best choice for advanced runners who desire workout programs above six miles and other advanced features such as automatic adjustments for target heart rate
#2) Assault Fitness AirRunner
Assault Fitness officially raised the bar when it released its AirRunner manual treadmill that has been making legs sore since day 1. The AirRunner is best for people who want to burn more calories in less time and do sprints in the comfort of their own homes. The curved running belt makes for a more natural running movement that’s easier on joints.
The obvious advantage here is the cord gets cut with this machine, meaning you can take advantage of the next blackout by busting out some wind sprints. There’s also no need to worry about max speed. Push yourself to your furthest limit without worrying about a motor holding you back.
This tank of a treadmill is built to hold up to 350 lbs with a 150,000-mile belt life. Even if you run a marathon daily like Superman, the AirRunner will last you more than 15 years. Let that sink in a minute.
Lastly, the console accurately tracks your calories, time, distance, speed, pace, and watts. Take your HIIT workouts to the next level with this beast.
How does the AirRunner work? Unlike traditional treadmills, there’s no deck. The running platform houses the 150,000-mile slat belt (17.1″ wide running area by 62″ length) with 100 support bearings and 12 total running-belt guide pulleys to keep the slat belt perfectly aligned. This makes for a near-frictionless and maintenance-free experience during the entire life of the treadmill.
- Pairing a heart rate monitor with the AirRunner allows the user to focus on enhancing cadence, gait, and consistency
- Perfect for sprinting, running, and interval training
- Allows you to push yourself both physically & mentally harder than any other treadmill on the market
- Sprint as fast as you possibly can
- Super-Smooth Operation lives up to the advertising
- Astonishingly Durable Construction
- Ideal for HIIT
- Quiet Operation
- The design also makes slow walks great
- True Commercial-Gym Quality Manual Treadmill
- It’s heavy at 280 lbs (Tip: deliver/install it exactly where you plan to use it)
- No option to save workouts or customize what’s displayed on the screen
- A handful of quality control issues
#3) NordicTrack S22i Commercial Studio Cycle
The NordicTrack S22i is a cutting-edge stationary bike with live incline matching technology. When paired with iFit or other mountain bike workouts, you’ll be having the time of your life while burning calories. Similar to the 2950 Treadmill, the S22i sports a 22″ HD touchscreen with a 1-year iFit membership to get you spinning right out of the gate.
One feature we like a lot is the 360º rotating screen. This allows you to use the screen for other iFit workouts such as yoga. The bike itself is a work of art, fully adjustable to ensure anyone who sits on it can make their cycling experience 100% comfortable.
Overall, the S22i is our top stationary bike for cardio workouts at home, especially for beginners who will undoubtedly love the immersive iFit experience.
- Energetic iFit trainers keep you motivated
- An incredibly realistic cycling experience
- The incline matching tech makes mountain bike workouts awesome (Extra-Smooth Shifting)
- Built-in 4-Stage Fan
- Rock-Solid Sturdy Construction (approved by users over 230lbs)
- Quite easy to assemble
- Approved by avid mountain bikers
- Excellent for spinning (choose between indoor and outdoor classes)
- As quiet as advertised (does not wake up napping children)
- Speakers are not forward-facing (although they do provide adequate volume)
- The free 1-year iFit membership requires a credit card to activate (must cancel before end of year if you don’t want to get charged)
#4) L NOW D501 Indoor Cycling Bike
L NOW may not be a household name, but that doesn’t mean the company doesn’t know how to make a top-notch stationary bike for spinning. We had trouble finding another bike that matches the features of the D501 for a similar price, which is why we chose it as the best stationary bike for spinning at home.
The D501 is built for professionals and beginners alike with its 35-lb electro-plated bidirectional flywheel and solid leather transmission belt. The sturdy frame supports literally anyone (who doesn’t way more than 440 lbs). The Cage/SPD pedals provide superior comfort and stability, reverse side to connect your pro SPD shoes.
The magnetic system makes for an ultra-smooth and quiet ride with no need to worry about replacing brake pads. Lastly, the fully-adjustable seat & handlebars guarantee that riders of all heights find their sweet spots.
- Seriously built like a tank
- Easy to assemble out of the box
- Resistance adjustment knobs make fine-tuning your workout easy
- Extremely Quiet Operation
- Very Comfortable Ride (no unplanned soreness after high-intensity spin classes)
- Small Footprint, yet comfortable for riders over 6′
- Tablet Holder, 2 Water Bottle Holders
- Be prepared to receive it in a single 144-lb box
- Made in China (though the customer service team has high marks)
- Measures distance in kilometers only
#5) Octane Fitness Q47xi Elliptical Machine
We love our elliptical machines for weight loss, and the best words to describe the Octane Fitness Q47xi are “Butter-Smooth.” This work of art is one of the only elliptical trainers we recommend outside of the Precor lineup because of the sheer quality and experience it offers the user.
The main reason to choose an elliptical over a treadmill is to maintain your calorie burn while taking the stress off your joints and knees. Movements on the Q47xi can’t get any more natural with Octane’s SmartStride technology that automatically makes mid-workout adjustments to match the stride length to your pace.
What we love just as much as the physical features is the range of workout programs from HIIT to Cross Circuit interval training to MMA. Get your whole body involved to stay toned year-round without putting any unnecessary stress on your joints.
Notes to consider:
- Be sure you have enough space, dimensions: 33.5″ Width x 72″ Length x 63″ Height
- Super quiet & smooth operation
- The auto-adjusting stride length mechanism makes for an amazing workout
- Very Sturdy Construction
- Maximum user weight is 300lbs
#6) Precor EFX 245 Energy Series Elliptical Crosstrainer
As far as we’re concerned, Precor is the #1 elliptical machine manufacturer in the world. The company consistently releases cutting-edge technology in its elliptical trainers that followers can only attempt to copy. We previously reviewed the EFX22, and we’re even more impressed by the EFX 245.
The main upgrades in the EFX 245 model are the number of workout metrics (27 compared to 13 in the EFX 222), 40 pre-programmed workouts (compared to 12 in the EFX 222), a larger LCD display, integrated USB port, wireless capability, and 15-25º CrossRamp elevation. Overall, the EFX 245 is the best elliptical trainer for home use on the market and certainly one of the best cardio machines for home use.
Notes to consider:
- The Bluetooth functionality allows you to control personal music selections from the console, even displaying artist names and songs (we thought this was awesome)
- Delivers the top-notch quality Precor is known for
- Authentic health-club quality at home
- The software may feel a bit complicated to non-tech-savvy individuals
#7) Concept2 Model E Rowing Machine w/ PM5
There’s only one rowing machine in our Top 10 for a reason: nothing compares to a Concept2 rower. It’s that simple. The only rower that comes close to the Model E is the Model D. We love the upgrades in the Model E version, and so do most owners who opted to buy the Model E over the Model D.
The Model E is true – if not better – commercial-gym quality inside your home. The flywheel design makes the Model E rower quieter than other rowers (great for apartment dwellers with fussy neighbors) and super smooth. The PM5 (performance monitor 5) accurately tracks all of your workout data to help you push yourself and ensure you’re progressing along your fitness journey.
The Model E sits 6″ higher than the Model D, making it easier to mount/dismount the machine (a better choice for people with bad knees or mobility issues). The PM5 is within arm’s reach, and lastly, the frame is beefed up to welded-steel construction (supports up to 500lbs). You’ll also love the quick-release frame lock mechanism that allows for easy folding and storage.
- Made in the USA and built to last a lifetime
- Effortless motion won’t tax your joints or knees
- Super Quiet Operation (only a small amount of noise from the fan)
- Seriously High-Quality Materials
- The extra 6″ of height is worth the cost
- An excellent investment for anyone’s health
- The best cardio machine for a full-body workout
- Assembly instructions could be better
- You may not be a fan of the seat
- Could use a handle for support when getting on and off the machine
#8) Gronk Fitness Jacobs Ladder Step Machine
Now here’s a fun piece of home gym equipment that you don’t see every day. While it may appear intimidating to some, others get pumped when they first lay eyes on this exquisitely-built step machine.
What sets this machine apart from its competitors? Apparently, Gronk learned something from getting banged up in the NFL: people want cardio machines that don’t stress their joints! Longevity is the name of the game here.
Gronk’s ladder is made to prevent stress on the lower back, knees, and hips with its 40º incline. The materials are top-notch, including the maple rungs. There’s also no assembly required, simply plug it in upon arrival and start climbing (just keep in mind that it weighs 300lbs).
The coolest part is the integrated console that tracks calories burned, distance climbed, rate of speed, and elapsed time. Overall, this is the best step machine on the market and a worthy addition to anyone’s home gym who has the room for it (Dimensions: 76″ Length x 27.25″ Width x 65.5″ Height).
Notes to consider:
- True Commercial-Gym Quality
- Quiet Operation
- Excellent for strength training and endurance building
- An excellent choice for mountain hikers
- Professional Customer Service
- The ideal choice for people who desire a seriously-hard, calorie-burning home workout
#9) Octane Fitness AirdyneX Bike
Octane Fitness impressed us yet again with its AirdyneX bike that we like more than comparable Schwinn models and the Assault AirBike Elite. Why? The main feature that really won us over outside of the heavy-duty construction is the console. The Octane Fitness console is built to push you to the highest of highs.
The tachometer is similar to a car RPM meter, except you’re the car, and watching the meter rise will undoubtedly push you to pedal harder. Since resistance builds the harder you pedal, the tachometer is the perfect motivator to reach previously undiscovered heights. Expect an elite level of calorie-burning when you work out on the Octane Fitness AirdyneX.
When compared side-by-side with the Schwinn Airdyne Pro Bike, the AirdyneX offers the same size fan, 27″ 26-blade, and the number of training programs, 9.
What makes the AirdyneX better than the Schwinn AD7?
The AirdyneX is commercial-quality with a steel-reinforced crank assembly. Overall, we think the Octane Airdyne is worth the extra coin for a bike that’ll stand the test of time.
- More diesel and sexier than the Schwinn AD7
- Easy to assemble (takes about 30 minutes to an hour)
- Very comfortable padded seat
- Built like a rock, no wobble or play to worry about
- True professional-grade gym equipment for home use
- Perfect for HIIT workouts or to warm up
- Must be very careful when assembling it (DO NOT use a hammer, it’s precisely engineered to fit perfectly together)
- Documentation explaining the console functions could be better
- Not compatible with all HR monitors (Polar or Scosche are examples)
#10) Concept2 SkiErg w/ PM5
Our final choice for the best cardio machine for home is the most unique machine in our Top 10, the Concept2 SkiErg. You may be wondering what exactly this machine does? Well, it’s built for professional skiers, motocross riders, and fitness enthusiasts alike. Of all the machines in our Top 10, the SkiErg is the best cardio machine for a hardcore upper-body workout.
Similar to the Concept2 rowers, there’s an option to include a PM5 unit with your purchase to accurately track your progress and workout results. Keep in mind, you’ll either mount it to a wall or purchase the package with a floor stand to place it away from a wall.
Expect your upper body, particularly your upper back and shoulders, to burn while engaged in this motion that mimics Nordic skiing techniques. The beauty of this machine is it also hits the core once you get your form down.
All in all, this machine will test you, and the harder you work on it the more you’ll fall in love with the positive effect it has on your physique.
- An intense calorie-burning workout with easily-adjustable levels of difficulty
- Shred your shoulders, back, and triceps
- An excellent choice for HIIT training
- Reliable Concept2 Heavy-Duty Construction
- Perfect for splitting cardio work between this and a treadmill to tone your entire body
- Expect to get a hardcore ab workout once you get the motion down
- May be too challenging for some (a lot harder than a Concept2 rower)
- Weak lower back muscles may pose a problem
- Several quality control issues
What is the best cardio machine for home?
Allow us to help you make your decision an easy one. When choosing a piece of cardio equipment for your home, there are two important steps to follow.
Step 1 – Identify Your Goals
What do you want to accomplish with your cardio machine? Do you want to burn calories to lose weight, tone your body, increase strength, enhance endurance, all of the above?
Once you answer these questions, choosing a piece of equipment becomes a whole lot easier.
When it comes to burning calories and losing weight, the treadmill is the king. The Assault Fitness AirRunner will almost always burn more calories in less time than any other cardio machine in our Top 10.
The best machine in our Top 10 for upper-body work is the Concept2 SkiErg, though we know this machine isn’t for everyone. Some people will find it to be monotonous, while others will find it to be too extreme.
For full-body workouts, elliptical trainers, rowing machines, and step machines are your best bet.
Like the SkiErg, an Airdyne bike is also not for the faint of heart. If you’re not after a hardcore fitness routine and looking for something more enjoyable to burn calories daily, it’s hard to beat the NordicTrack 2950 Treadmill or S22i exercise bike.
Step 2 – Account for the Footprint
Once you know which machine(s) suits you the best, it’s time to take some measurements. Be sure you have enough room in your home or garage gym to accommodate the cardio machine of your choice. Believe it or not, we’ve read more than a handful of reports written by people who were unaware of a machine’s size. Don’t fall into this category.
What cardio machine is best for abs?
Are you as obsessed with toning and strengthening your abs as we are? The best machines in our Top 10 for abs are all of them, depending on where you’re at physically.
Do you need to shed some pounds to expose a hidden six-pack? If so, a treadmill is your best bet to lose some inches around the waist.
Do you need to build muscle while losing weight? Better options are the SkiErg machine or a rowing machine. The key is to focus on engaging your abs during your workout to get the best results.
When using the SkiErg or a rowing machine, it’s possible to keep your core engaged for the entirety of your workout, which increases time under tension. By adding resistance to these motions, you increase the strength of your entire core including your abs.
The gentleman (Jim Carrey lookalike) in the video below demonstrates how to engage your core while rowing:
- Unhook your feet to force yourself to engage your core on each stroke (be extra careful when first starting out to avoid falling off the machine)
- Warm-up with your feet out for 2-3 minutes to get your core engaged from the get-go (this is all about mind-muscle connection)
- Move the upper body beyond vertical in both directions
The video below teaches the proper technique on the SkiErg machine to benefit your core the most. Keep in mind, the SkiErg motion is meant to mimic a real skiing motion, not a weightlifting motion:
How to use the SkiErg
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart 18″ to 24″ from the flywheel
- Keep your arms bent 90º throughout the motion like your skiing (this motion should shred your triceps)
- Lift your heels on the upward motion
- Engage your core and flatten your feet in the downward motion
- At the bottom of the motion, your knees are slightly bent and your arms positioned along your hips with your thumbs aiming toward your thighs
- The arms never fully extend
- After hitting the bottom of the motion, stand up to elevate yourself for the next motion
- The key is to create a continuous fluid motion throughout the workout (keeping your muscles under tension throughout the workout is what makes this workout so intense and great for toning)
- A second workout is to alternate arm pulls to mimic real ski movements while following the guidelines above
- It’s also possible to use the machine from a seated position to isolate the upper body and core
It’s easy to see in the video how hard the machine works teres major and minor muscles below the shoulder blades in the upper back.
We’re confident that following our guide above and choosing a machine in our Top 10 will land you on the absolute best cardio machine for your home. Be sure to focus on your goals before choosing a machine because all of these machines are awesome. Like us, you may wish to own them all!
Also, don’t forget to break out the measuring tape to ensure you have enough room and play in your home gym. Cardio machines make a great addition to any home gym and investing in one that’ll stand the test of time is a 100% worthwhile investment.