12 Best Cardio Machines for Home Use or Garage Gym + Reviews 2020

Jeff Baldelli
Written by
Last update:

If you are looking for cardio machines, then these are all the best models we found so far for home use. We hope you find this useful when you’re looking to buy a cardio machine for your own home gym.

Looking for a good cardio/muscle workout? Then you should consider getting a rowing machine. Rowing machines are super useful pieces of gym equipment that are great for burning fat, building endurance, and toning muscle.

There are a lot of different kinds of rowing machines out there which can make the decision difficult.

Rowing machines have different resistance types and different overall setups. If you are not familiar with exercise equipment, choosing the right kind of rowing machine can be a tough task.

That is where we come in. We put together this comprehensive guide on the 9 best rowing machines available now. We also included a full guide on how to pick the best rowing machines. Without any further ado, let’s get to learning.

NameCategoryProduct
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding TreadmillBest Overall
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill
Schwinn Compact Elliptical MachineBudget Pick
Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine
Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair ClimberUpgrade Pick
Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair Climber

1. Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill

Our rating: 9 / 10


Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Plenty of clearance for tall people.
  • Lightweight design makes it easy to move from room to room.
  • Plenty of workable height to fit your body size.
  • Settings are easy to read and access.

Cons:

  • Running board is a little narrower than real treadmills, so not as comfortable.
  • Low-powered motor means a slight amount of shaking when you’re on high settings.

We’ve found that this Sunny Health & Fitness treadmill is the go-to for a decent cardio workout at home. It’s a mid-range model that delivers on its promises.

Treadmill workouts satisfy every requirement that people have for the cardio component of a CrossFit workout routine, or a home gym exercise regime.

The Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill is a perfect lightweight, folding treadmill that is great for every part of your workout.

2. Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair Climber

Our rating: 8 / 10


Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair Climber

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • 7 incline positions
  • Comfortable plastic grips
  • One-touch infinite resistance increase/decrease,
  • Resistance force adjusts automatically
  • Easy to move and store
  • Solid frame structure

Cons:

  • No pulse system
  • No heart rate sensors
  • No TV like a commercial model would have
  • A bit on the pricey side for home use

A commercial stair climber can be an excellent addition to your home gym. It allows you to get a complete cardio workout without placing a high impact on your knees or joints. Its features can sometimes rival those of commercial gym equipment.

One of the more affordable options is the Precor CLM 835. It has ample incline to place extra stress on your muscles and can raise up to 3.5% above level. The P30 console keeps track of your total distance, static and interval speed, and total steps taken.

It has pulse sensors in the grips that allow you to take heart rate readings and includes several program options to give you variety.

3. NordicTrack Commercial Series Treadmills + 1 year iFit membership

Our rating: 8 / 10


NordicTrack Commercial Series Treadmills + 1 year iFit membership

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Very quiet
  • Solid performance tracking
  • Smooth, sleek design
  • Solid warranty

Cons:

  • Small user base
  • HP mechanism is rudimentary
  • Not good for really tall users (Alex says 6′ 6″, but he’s tall)

The NordicTrack Commercial 1750 is a treadmill with a 4.5 HP motor that provides a decent amount of power for heavier users. It manages to be very quiet, even at top speed, so it won’t become a distraction.

The 1750 also has a decent amount of in-built workout programs and games that provide the user with some variety.

The NordicTrack Commercial has a LCD display that show the current speed and incline level. A backlit display is also included, so you can operate the machine even when the room is dark.

4. Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Our rating: 7 / 10


Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • PM5 performance monitor
  • Works well for upper and lower body workouts
  • Large seat and footrest
  • Can handle large users
  • Stable, powder-coated steel frame
  • Smooth, low-impact rowing
  • Can be stored vertically or horizontally
  • Fewer moving parts than other rowing machines
  • Consistently good reviews
  • 20-year warranty on frame, two years on electronics and moving parts

Cons:

  • Seat doesn’t adjust fore/aft
  • Requires assembly
  • Comparatively expensive

The Concept 2 Model D Rowing Machine is one of the most comfortable rowing machines on the market.

It is made of durable steel and is easy to assemble. It has a virtual coach feature to keep you motivated throughout your workout.

The machine tracks distance, time, strokes per minute, total strokes and calories burned. The PM5 monitor provides instant data and these monitors can be used by numerous users.

5. Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine

Our rating: 7 / 10


Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Superb value for the money
  • Uses a similar design to the more expensive Schwinn models
  • Can fold up for easy storage

Cons:

  • The display screen is very basic and low-tech
  • The frame is made of plastic, rather than metal

If you are searching for the best elliptical for your home, the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine is a good choice. It provides a similar design to the Schwinn 130 and 150 models but at a fraction of their cost. It features an LCD screen with a display that will allow you to view distance, time, watts, heart rate, and calories. It also features a multi-function workout display screen.

The platform is 20-inch wide by 50-inch long, which is an ample amount of space to fit in most users (5″ to 6″ foot categories). It also features high-speed foot peddles that provide a smooth and even transition. The stride length is 20-inch, which is a comfortable length for most users.

The Schwinn 470 elliptical also has a very sturdy frame that feels solid. They have put a great amount of thought into the build quality of this model, as all of the workouts will feel smooth and fluid. Additionally, the frame is made from steel, which helps to create a more solid feel and durability.

6. Bodycraft SPX Club Indoor Cycling Bike

Our rating: 7 / 10


Bodycraft SPX Club Indoor Cycling Bike

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Excellent price-to-quality ratio
  • Structural steel frame
  • Smooth belt drive
  • 14 resistance levels
  • Max capacity 350 lbs

Cons:

  • Assembly instructions could be more detailed
  • Some customers report a problem with the resistance pad

The SPX Club Indoor Cycling Bike is the final pick for our list of the best cycling bikes for home gym. This machine is designed with a steel construction and a high maximum capacity of 350 lbs. The frame is in perfect proportion to the bike and the seat offers a good range of motion.

The 14 resistance levels allow you to adjust the intensity of your workout. The tension settings are fully adjustable and the belt drive is also silent and very smooth with a low maintenance.

The only downside is that the tension pad can stick sometimes, but this can be avoided with a simple lubrication. Apart from this issue, the bike is very sturdy, precise, comfortable and offers the right range of resistance and durable.

7. Schwinn Airdyne Bike Series

Our rating: 6 / 10


Schwinn Airdyne Bike Series

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Strong manufacturing that will last a long time even if used everyday
  • Smooth and somewhat quiet operation
  • Semi recumbent design that is very comfortable
  • Pedal straps to provide security and prevent slipping during intense workouts
  • Folding design is easy to transport and store

Cons:

  • Small seat that can be uncomfortable for people with larger torsos
  • Fan kit is somewhat pricey

If you want to make your cardio minutes count, check out the Schwinn Airdyne. The Schwinn is one of the most effective ways to blast calories and burn serious fat thanks to its incredibly solid construction.

This home exercise bike features a compact design with a solid steel frame that can support users weighing 350 pounds. It is equipped with a large fan pump to supply extra air power and a genuine Schwinn saddle with seats that are very comfortable.

This bike is designed for serious cardio workouts. It performs smoothly during rigorous intervals and is relatively quiet during operation. It can supply over 100 miles per gallon so you can get the most out of your pedal power. The vacuum fan system generates a wind-like feel that motivates you to achieve more during your workout.

8. Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster

Our rating: 5 / 10


Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Quick and Easy Assembly
  • Rugged Materials
  • Efficient Incline Sleds
  • Solid Construction

This standing exercise bar promises to add excitement to your workout routine. It features five treads which provide plenty of room to execute a wide range of aerobic moves including step-ups, side steps, and reverse tiptoe walks. You can also use its anchoring attachments to do your favorite workout DVD’s.

The Xiser Commercial Mini is very easy to assemble, lightweight, and folds flat for storage. The entire unit weighs eight pounds, and it is just five feet tall, making it perfect for closets, garages, bedrooms, and dorm rooms.

The Xiser Commercial is also pricier than other exercise bars, but you really get more value for your money.

9. StairMaster SM3 StepMill

Our rating: 5 / 10


StairMaster SM3 StepMill

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Work your way up to high-intensity sprints
  • Best cardio machine for burning fat
  • Adjust resistance settings in 1-step increments
  • Huge window to view your stats
  • Detachable tablet holder

Cons:

  • This is not much useful if you have medium to short height.

This full-body cardio machine is specially designed to help you reach your fitness targets. Stepping has long been a favorite exercise for many people and it can be a great way to get a cardio workout.

It helps to burn excess fat which is the biggest concern for the growing age group. It is specially designed for strengthening the muscles of the legs, buttocks, and upper body.

The machine is capable enough of transforming your whole body by burning away your excess fat. You will get lean muscles and you will never feel tired even after a long day at office. It has a big LCD display with an innovative design. The manufacturer’s claim that it can burn up to 100 calories per minute and that can help you reach your daily goals.

10. Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

Our rating: 5 / 10


Sole Fitness F80 Folding Treadmill

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Foldable for easy storage when not in use
  • Carbon steel, heavy duty frame
  • Electronic Panel
  • Incline up to 15%
  • Synchronous belt movement
  • Whisper Quiet
  • Easy access foldable handle and easy fold system
  • Cushioned deck
  • Easy-To-Change speeds, 0.5 mph increments
  • Accepts wireless heart rate monitors and hand weights

Sole has been talking up the fact that this is "whisper quiet" and it may be — for the first month. That's when everything works well and there's no problems. When you're trying to get the "whisper quiet" for a while, maybe the "servicing" is "whisper quiet" too — but in this case the one I had was NOT! It was so loud that I could hear it through the walls! My sister lives next door and was so concerned she called me. I thought it was my heart because I had to hit the gym and really push myself hard to get a good workout. Once I hit the 4+ mph it was fine.

I've had it for about 3 months and I'm perfectly satisfied with the way it works. I paid a lot less than what they're selling for now and I'm planning to keep it for a long time. It's a good value for your money if you can get it at the lower price.

I've read the instructions, asked friends how to use it, watched the video on the Sole website. I've used it for about 4 times and I'm comfortable in using it so far.

11. Octane Fitness Q37x Elliptical Machine

Our rating: 4 / 10


Octane Fitness Q37x Elliptical Machine

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Smooth operation
  • Extra-long stride and low step-up height
  • Simple control panel with only essential functions
  • Quiet, smooth flywheel operation
  • Accommodates all heights and sizes
  • Nicely built, with sturdy frame and pedal movement
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • Heart rate monitor is not accurate
  • No experience programming available
  • Some durability concerns with monitor

The Octane Vision Fitness Q37X is one of the most popular elliptical machines on the market. It does not sacrifice quality when it comes to performance, and its motion closely mimics that of a natural gait.

This feature has been particularly helpful for a number of users recovering from physical injuries. It also prevents wear and tear on the joints by churning out 8.5 to 15 degrees of incline at up to 221 strides per minute.

The Octane Fitness Q37X is well constructed of heavy-duty steel, which has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, which allows it to accommodate users of varying body shapes and sizes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best cardio machine for home?

If you have limited funds and you want to buy only a single piece of cardio equipment for your home gym, you can't go wrong with a treadmill. Treadmills provide low impact movement that is great for walking and running. You can also get creative (and more intense) by increasing your speed, distance, or incline.

One shortcoming of a treadmill (other than the fact that you are stuck inside). A treadmill does not require any body strength and you do not have to balance yourself.

If you are looking to include cardio as part of your home gym or you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness without having to go outside it is a really good option.

You can also go with an elliptical machine. These are generally quieter, safer, and more stable than treadmills and many people prefer them. The flywheel provides some resistance but you also have to work against the machine itself.

You can also get more creative with your cardio workouts with elliptical machine and you can vary your workouts this way. Basically, they are a safe and enjoyable workout.

The elliptical trainer is kind of the perfect machine. The workout is lower impact than running or jogging. But it is still intense enough to burn a lot of calories. The arm handles provide additional, adjustable resistance but the back leg handle is attached to a very small flywheel, so the workout isn't as intense on the legs. I think that it has the best of both worlds, and that is why I prefer it to a treadmill.

What is the most effective cardio machine at the gym?

At the gym, you will find many different cardio machines. Each one has its own advantages and drawbacks, and which machines are best for you will depend on your goals and preferences. The most effective cardio machines all involve being on your feet and doing repetitive exercise. This increases your heart rate and burns calories the best.

Of these, running and walking are still the most effective and provide good cardiovascular benefits. Elliptical machines are another good choice and are probably the best option for people with joint problems or who want a low-impact workout. The biggest drawback of these machines is that they are dependent on the water bottle filling, setting the resistance level, and moving.

Rowing machines are another alternative, particularly when it is not possible to get outside and run. Rowing machines can have their own additional benefits as they put a great deal of stress on the arms and back. However, they require a much greater amount of space than most of the other options and can be more expensive to purchase as well.

These machines all offer something different for every person. You can choose which one will work best for you based on your fitness goals, your level of physical comfort, and your budget.

Which cardio machine is best for bad knees?

Your knees are the first to suffer if you don't maintain your cardiovascular fitness. While there is no one machine that is ideal for everyone, here are some of the top machines for people with bad knees.

Which cardio machine burns the most belly fat?

Anyone who knows me in person could tell you I was not a big fan of cardio training. Cardio, or aerobic training as it is properly called, would make me feel tired and worn out. In fact, it was a feeling that was similar to being hungover.

Too often people think of cardio as an overall body activity and that’s the mistake. There are two energy systems that your body uses to get you through a workout. The anaerobic system and the aerobic system.

The anaerobic system is called upon when you need energy at a very high rate. For example, if you are running a 100 m sprint and you know that it is going to take you 10 seconds, then you are going to need a large supply of energy. And, it needs to arrive very quickly. This system relies on energy sources that are found in the blood such as stored sugar and the amino acid pool.

The anaerobic system is purely the production of energy without the use of oxygen through the direct or indirect break-down of carbohydrates or fat. This system only lasts a short amount of time in a very intense workout. So, it only has that quick supply of energy that you will need to get to the finish line.

On the other hand, the aerobic system is used over a longer period of duration and it relies on your body’s ability to use oxygen to break down stored fat for energy. This is why you shouldn’t do all out sprints for a long period of time because you simply don’t have the aerobic capacity to burn off a lot of fat.

So, I was getting worn out in my aerobic workouts, not because I was getting a good aerobic workout, but because I was trying to force my body to do something it wasn’t good at. The reason why my body was trying this is because my aerobic system is very good.

The saying goes that “cardio is king” … but, that’s only if you are using the breathing system as intended. Find your zone, your level of intensity that allows you to talk in the same breath. Listen to your body and when you start to breathe harder without talking, then you know you are reaching the limit.

Conclusion

A cardio machine is a fitness equipment that works to simulate an exercise such as running in a reduced area to be used by individuals or athletes. Cardio machines are ideal for cardiovascular training along with body conditioning and are used to reduce stress and reduce overall body fat.

If you are looking to buy a cardio machine for your home gym or home use, there is a wide variety of machines to choose from. The best cardio machine for your home will depend on the type of model you decide to purchase, and of course, your budget.

Cardio machines can be used by beginners and advanced athletes alike, though some are better suited to less-experienced athletes. For example, if you are new to working out, you may start with an air rower, or maybe use a recumbent bike for a few weeks. Then, gradually increasing your training, you may want to move to a treadmill, and then upgrade to an elliptical.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding TreadmillBest Overall
Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill
Schwinn Compact Elliptical MachineBudget Pick
Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine
Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair ClimberUpgrade Pick
Precor CLM 835 Commercial Series Stair Climber