Having cardio equipment at home can make working out regularly more convenient. Think about watching your favorite show while walking several miles on a treadmill in the privacy and comfort of your living room. From ellipticals to rowing machines to stationary bikes, there is a cardio machine out there that is perfect for your home gym.
The treadmill is a versatile machine that will give you a great workout walking or running. Treadmills have come a long way in the last few years. Many come with a personal digital screen that can be connected to TV or give full graphic workout displays to help you get the most out of your workout session.
Before shopping for a treadmill, decide which features you would like to have, such as:
- The amount of incline or decline you want
- The speed range
- How much cushioning you would like on the belt
- What sort of display you are interested in.
You'll also want to make sure you buy the right size depending on your plans for the treadmill. If you plan to use it mostly for running, you'll need a longer deck.
NordicTrack Elite 9500 Pro
NordicTrack Elite 9500 Pro is a versatile machine made by a trusted company. This treadmill includes a 10-inch color touch display that is wired to connect to the Internet, so you can run and check your email at the same time. Notable features include:
- A heart rate monitor
- Built-in speakers
- Built-in cooling fan
- Hand rails
- Music port
This treadmill will incline up to 15% and decline to -3%. Its speed ranges from 0.5 mph up to 12 mph. It also won't take over your floor space as it folds up for more compact storage. You can purchase this treadmill from the NordicTrack website for around $2000. Reviewers praise this treadmill for its connectivity and features, but the downside is that it weighs in at 325 pounds, so it's definitely not easy to move.
Smooth Fitness 6.75
Smooth Fitness 6.75 has been highly rated by customers and comes with 15 workout programs. It ranges in speed from 0.6 mph to 10 mph and inclines up to 15%. It does not have a decline function. This treadmill folds, and is relatively lightweight. It is reportedly quiet and easy to assemble. It also has a heart rate monitor and supports weight up to 350 pounds. You can purchase this treadmill from the Smooth Fitness website for $1,299.
F80 Sole has been called the "best buy" treadmill for its durability and its price range. Here are some highlights from this treadmill:
- It can support weight up to 375 pounds.
- It includes a heart rate monitor.
- It can fold up for saving space.
- It comes with two cooling fans.
- It has MP3 compatibility.
The machine ranges in speeds from 0.5 mph to 12 mph and can reach an incline of 15%. It does not support a decline function. This treadmill can be purchased from the Sole Fitness website for $1,499. Reviewers say the extra features are worth the cost and are very happy with their purchase.
ProForm Power 995
ProForm Power 995 is a less expensive option that still comes with a record of durability and comfort.
- It has 20 built-in workouts and is Nike + iPod compatible.
- It has a built-in heart rate monitor, as well as a port for the iPod.
- This treadmill folds up, and its deck is cushioned to reduce impact.
The Power 995 can support weight up to 325 pounds, ranges in speed from 0.5 mph to 12 mph and incline up to 15%. You can purchase this treadmill from the ProForm website for less than $1,000. Reviewers say this is a great top-of-the-line treadmill that is sturdy and comes with a good warranty.
There are two main types of stationary bikes: one that is upright and one that is recumbent, which relieves pressure on the back. Stationary bikes are great for exercising without putting strain on the joints.
Most bikes come with workout programs included, and all should have the ability to be adjusted to fit the user. Some bikes fold up. Others have a fan for its front wheel. And some even have arms that move to give your upper body a workout. Another option is a spinning bicycle, which are often used in "spinning" classes at gyms. These bikes can be more finely adjusted to fit one's body and mirror the setup of an actual outdoor bicycle slightly better than the traditional stationary bikes. Here are a few models to consider:
Livestrong LS5.0U Upright Bike is a great deal at $599.99 with free shipping from the Livestrong website. Customers tout its versatility and durability.
- It comes with 20 levels of resistance and 10 programs.
- The bike's padded seat adjusts to the user vertically and horizontally.
- It has a heart rate monitor built in to the handlebars, and also a USB port.
- This bike comes with built-in speakers, as well, plus an LCD display.
You can feel even better about purchasing any Livestrong exercise bike, as a portion of the sale price goes to the Livestrong Foundation to support cancer patients. Livestrong also makes a popular recumbent bike and a spinning bike.
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike
Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Exercise Bike with Pulse is a great low-tech option at a low price of about $200. It's readily available to purchase from major retailers Amazon.com or Walmart and has a lot of great features. The wheel is quiet -great for exercising and watching TV- and uses a magnetic tension system to add resistance.
This bike, because it is lower priced and simple, does not have as high a range of resistance as other exercise bikes, which is something to keep in mind if you are in very good shape already. The computer will give you data on calories burned, time, distance and heart rate. Plus, it folds up and weighs just 39 pounds, making it easy to stow away. Customers have said this bike is great for saving space and is easy to assemble.
Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro
Phoenix 98623 Revolution Cycle Pro II has garnered great reviews in the moderate price range for spinning bikes. It is designed for people with varying intensity needs and can be adjusted at the seat and handlebars. Customers say this is a gym-quality bike with a smooth ride and easy assembly. This bike can be purchased through Amazon.com for about $500.
Exerpeutic 900XL Extended Capacity Recumbent Bike with Pulse is designed to allow the user to exercise efficiently while taking pressure off the back. This bike will fit users up to 300 pounds and stand 5' 6" to 6' 3". It comes with an extra-wide, cushioned seat and includes features such as a heart rate monitor, wide pedals and transportation wheels to easily move the bike around. Its LCD display shows distance, time, calories burned and heart rate.
Many customers say this bike is very quiet, durable and affordable at about $230 from Amazon.com. Reviewers also say this is a great low-tech option for someone who just wants a basic bike that will give them a good workout.
Do you love to run and walk, but don't like the stress it puts on your joints? An elliptical machine might be what you're looking for. Its non-impact motion is very similar to that of running and walking, and most machines offer varying inclines and resistance levels to improve the quality of your workout.
You'll want to decide whether you want an elliptical with moving or stationary handlebars as well as how many high-tech features you require.
Precor EFX Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer
Precor EFX 5.25 Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer is a higher-end machine made by a reputable company whose products are often found in gyms.
- Its CrossRamp technology gives a smooth gliding motion that can be adjusted to change the focus on different muscle groups.
- It has 16 resistance levels and a ramp angle adjustable between 15 and 25 degrees.
- This machine is programmed with eight workouts, and on its single-color LCD screen you will see a readout of calories, distance, heart rate, program profile, resistance level, strides per minute and time.
- It also includes two separate workout IDs, if you share your equipment with someone but don't want to lose your personal settings.
This machine comes with both moving arms and stationary arms. It retails for #2,999 on the Precor website. Reviewers have said this elliptical is reliable and the features are great, but it is very heavy and assembly can take a long time.
Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer
Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer will give you customizable workout programs, and a lot of bells and whistles.
- It includes a heart rate monitor, MP3 compatibility and a built-in fan.
- With 10 workout programs, the machine gives the user plenty of options. You can even switch programs during your workout without starting over.
- It has a 275-pound user capacity, and the machine itself weighs 154 pounds.
- The machine measures distance and calories burned. It has a water bottle holder and two smaller holders to stow other items.
Customers report this machine to be very smooth and easy to assemble, as well as it being a good, less-expensive option. It is available from Amazon.com for $599.
Smooth Agile DMT X2
Smooth Agile DMT X2 2013 is a good option for its features. Though it does not include a water bottle holder, it does have some attractive features:
- It comes with 15 workout programs and an extra long stride, making it easy to share with family members of varying heights.
- It has 16 resistance levels and moveable handlebars to give your upper body a workout.
- This machine also has 12 options for ranges of motion to give the user many ways to feel comfortable and still get a good, safe workout.
- It accommodates users up to 350 pounds.
- The company offers some downloadable workouts to use with this machine, and you can also plug in your iPod or MP3 player.
- A built-in fan comes with three speeds to keep you cool during your workout.
You can also adjust your workout without taking your hands from the handlebars by using a thumb button. This machine can be purchased for about $1,900. Reviewers said even without a water bottle holder, this is a great machine with fun features that will give you a good workout.
Sole Fitness Elliptical Machine Model
Sole Fitness E35 has received positive reviews by customers and reviewers for its versatility.
- It comes with six preset programs and two more you can set yourself, plus 16 resistance levels.
- The incline range moves from perfectly flat to 30 degrees, which is a very wide range for an elliptical.
- This machine has both stationary and movable handlebars, but only the stationary handlebars have heart rate sensors. However, the company provides a chest strap heart rate monitor for continuous monitoring on the machine.
- It has an adjustable stride length between 20 and 22 inches and adjustable pedals and console.
- It also includes a built-in fan and sound system, to which you can plug in your iPod or MP3 player.
This machine can be purchased from Amazon.com for about $1,300. Reviewers say this is a quality, durable machine with the only drawbacks being a fixed-width stride and no compatibility with iFit.
Rowing machines are sometimes overlooked, but can deliver a simple, yet substantial whole body workout. They can take some getting used to, but if you're looking for a low-impact cardio machine, a rowing machine could be what you need. Some machines are more compact than others, some fold up, some come with a fan. Below are a few options to consider:
Concep2 Model D
Concept2 Model D is made by a reputable company known for its durability. The frame on this machine is very sturdy, and its display is battery-run, so there is no plug-in required.
- It has a stainless steel track and glides smoothly.
- With a 500-pound capacity, it can hold a lot of weight.
- It is easy to stow, as it separates into two parts and has caster wheels for easy movement.
- It comes with a display that shows speed, time and distance.
This is a commercial-grade machine but also great for home use. This rower can be purchased from Amazon.com for $900. Reviewers say you can't go wrong with this machine. While more expensive than others, it is durable and offers a smooth ride.
Stamina Body Glider Rowing Machine
Stamina Body Trak Glider 1050 has a different set-up than other rowers, but it is regarded as a great piece of equipment that is sturdy and gives a great workout. Instead of a bar to pull from the front of the machine as you glide back on a track, this machine has two handles that serve as oars. It is not as natural a movement, but still offers physical benefit.
Lifecore R100 is more expensive, but comes with many features.
- It has 16 levels of resistance and 12 programs, including heart rate-controlled programs.
- Its slide rail is made of aluminum and can hold up to 600 pounds.
- Its handles are ergonomic, and its seat is cushioned to give you a comfortable setup for your workout.
- The machine also folds up for easy storage.
It sells for about $1,300. Reviewers say this is a good machine for all fitness levels and it is easy to use and to store.
Like elliptical trainers, Arc trainers offer a gliding motion without impact on the joints. You use your legs and arms to begin the movement, thus boosting calorie burning.
Its sole manufacturer, Cybex, says the Arc trainer is a more efficient machine than the elliptical at burning calories and fat while being more gentle on the joints. The company has six models listed on its website with varying features and options. You will need to contact a Cybex sales representative for pricing options. Reviewers love it as a major calorie burner with lots of workout options and as a cross-trainer for athletes.
Remember the Stair Master from the early days of the cardio equipment craze? They are still out there, but have improved over time. These machines mimic the action of climbing stairs and can be a great lower body workout as well as improve cardiovascular fitness. There are also hybrid options available.
StairMaster SC916 StairClimber is built for the home gym, but is commercial grade. It has an ergonomic design that reduces stress on joints. The machine has adjustable speeds and 10 preprogrammed workouts. Its heart rate monitor function is compatible with Polar wireless transmitters.
It comes with a hefty price tag on Amazon.com at $4,299. Customers have said this is a worthwhile machine for a targeted workout in the lower body, but some said there have been problems with the tension on the steps that have been difficult to fix.
Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper
Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper is a good option for space-conscious buyers. Weighing just 45 pounds, it can fold easily into small spaces, like under a bed or in a closet and can be rolled around on its rollers.
The machine comes with a battery-operated display that shows steps per minute, total steps, time and calories burned. It has two independent hydraulic steps and fixed arms. Though reviewers have said the product durability is not terribly high, the low price could make this machine a good buy for those wishing to try out a stair climber. You can purchase it from Amazon.com for around $100.
Sunny Health Fitness Twister Stepper
Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper is another cheaper option for those on a budget or interested in a machine that is small and stows easily. This stepper has two pedals that can swivel and two resistance bands that can add an upper body workout. The exercise motion is similar to using roller blades, which adds a twist and targets the abdominal muscles.
While the machine is small, it is steady when being used. However, the manufacturer recommends not to use it for more than 15 minutes as the components may get overheated. It has an LCD monitor, but reviewers mentioned it is hard to see. It has a weight limit of 250 pounds. You can purchase this machine from Hayneedle.com for $74.99.
StairMaster StepMill 5
StairMaster StepMill 5 is a large piece of equipment, but people love it. It is like an endless loop of stairs, akin to an escalator with eight steps. New versions of this machine come with an optional 10-inch touch screen and TV tuner. There is a ceiling height requirement of 10 feet for this machine. Reviewers say it is difficult to assemble and the high price tag of about $5,000 is discouraging.
Select Your Equipment
Now that you've read about the various types of cardio equipment to enhance your home gym, you have some choices to make. There are many great products on the market in a range of prices to suit your budget. With careful research and perhaps some test runs at local sporting goods stores, you will find the machine that best suits your needs.