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Whether you’re a runner, rower, biker, elliptical lover, or work-from-homer, you deserve the best cardio machine that your home gym (or living room, office, or garage) will allow. After all, indoor, at-home cardio equipment can help you reach your fitness goals even when the weather is crappy, you can’t make it to the gym or studio, or you only have a few minutes to spare for exercise.
Treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and other exercise machines come with a big price tag, but you can still find a range of models that fit a variety of budgets. We asked fitness experts for their opinions on the best cardio machines, so you can rest assured we found the most investment-worthy pieces of equipment.
Here, you’ll find the very best at-home cardio machine to suit your preferred cardio workout, from beginner-friendly treadmills to low-impact ellipticals to heart-pumping indoor cycling bikes, available at major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and more. Read on to find your next favorite piece of exercise equipment—and complete your home gym.
Best Rowing Machines
For a full-body workout that incorporates both cardio and strength training, a rowing machine is an excellent choice. Most models on the market offer a range of resistance levels, so you can tweak the difficulty to your liking, and then it’s up to you whether you opt for a machine with technological bells and whistles or one with a more streamlined user experience. For the former, go with the Hydrow, a rower with immersive features and a membership to loads of on-demand classes (which costs $38 per month), or Echelon’s touchscreen-equipped Smart Rower. For the latter, the Concept2 is widely considered the standard bearer for rowing machines for its ability to engage the entire body, simple interface, and longevity (it’s seriously built to last). And Sunny Health & Fitness has an exceedingly reliable—and budget-friendly—option with magnetic resistance to consider too.
For more: The 19 Best Rowing Machines for At-Home Workouts, What to Look for When Shopping for a Rowing Machine
From sprinting to strolling, you can hit your preferred pace on one of these fantastic treadmills, some of which took home a SELF Home Fitness Award in 2022. Where beginners and seasoned runners alike will find something to love about the ever-popular T101 from Horizon Fitness, those looking for a seriously high-intensity run can opt for the Assault Runner Pro, which is powered solely by the user’s own speed and effort. Are smart capabilities and an iFit membership priorities? Either the ProForm T7 or NordicTrack 2950 will check those boxes and then some.
For more: 9 Best Treadmills You Can Buy on Amazon, According to Running Coaches, What to Look For When Buying a Treadmill
Best Smart Treadmills
Speaking of treadmills with extra features, your options abound if you’re outfitting a smart home gym. Both running experts and our very own tester highly recommend the Peloton Tread, a luxe machine with lots of metric-tracking options and access to Peloton’s streaming classes for $39 per month. Coaches also like the ProForm Pro 2000—it’s a true workhorse of a treadmill that’ll stand up to daily use, while getting your heart rate up with personal trainer-led workouts and Bluetooth audio integration.
For more: The 9 Best Smart Treadmills, According to Running Experts
Best Folding Treadmills
Short on gym space? A folding treadmill is a perfect solution for getting in your steps without ceding your home to a hulking exercise machine. You can choose between models that fold upright or flat, and some are just as suitable for serious running as standard treadmills, like the NordicTrack EXP 7i. Others, however, top out at jogging or walking speeds, like the Walkstation from Sunny Health & Fitness. Experts also recommend making sure the maximum weight capacity of a folding treadmill is suitable for you before you buy it, as this type of treadmill can have lower limits than other models.
For more: 15 Best Folding Treadmills for Exercising in Small Spaces
An elliptical is another fantastic option if you want a low-impact workout for your lower body and upper body at the same time. It won’t put stress on your knees like running will, and it has plenty to offer in terms of versatility: You can focus on the cardiovascular benefits and pedal through your feet only. Or, for a higher-intensity total body workout, you can increase the resistance and push through the handlebars and pedal with equal effort. The Schwinn 411 and Niceday Elliptical are both great moderately priced options that won’t take up too much space. And if an elliptical mixed with a stair stepper sounds like fun (and you’re willing to splurge), consider Bowflex’s range of machines—the Max Total M16 even comes with a handy heart rate monitor armband.
For more: The 12 Best Ellipticals for Low-Impact Cardio Workouts at Home, What to Look for When Buying an Elliptical
Best Exercise Bikes
Experts love indoor exercise bikes because they can meet you right at your fitness level, thanks to their adjustable handlebars, seats, and resistance settings. You can pedal for speed, or slow things down to work lower body muscle groups like your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. And then many models are designed to keep you comfortable (like the ergonomic handles on the Echelon featured below) or enable interval training (like the Sunny Health & Fitness Pro II bike with its built-in dumbbell holder). For something closer to a HIIT-style total-body workout, consider the Assault AirBike, which incorporates arm movement into the ride.
For more: The 17 Best Exercise Bikes for Cycling at Home, What to Look for When Shopping for a Stationary Bike
Best Under-Desk Exercisers
Those who can’t fit a full workout into their day can still stay active with an under-desk exerciser. There are pedalers and ellipticals that you can use at your seat, as well as handle-free walking treadmills that fit seamlessly under a standing desk. Despite their low profile, they can nevertheless provide a decent cardio workout: The SELF Home Fitness Award-winning DeskCycle has eight resistance levels, and some even feature small LCD displays that track key metrics like speed and time, like the affordable Vive Desk Bike Cycle.
For more: 14 Best-Selling Under-the-Desk Exercisers to Keep You Moving at Home