In this article, we will give you a brief overview of what to look for when shopping for the best cardio machine for a home gym. Though we’ll cover general stuff, we’ll go into as much detail as we can, and where necessary, we’ll link you to relevant posts that we have on this website.
Though this guide will not show any specific cardio machine options, it should serve as a good starting point for your purchasing process.
What To Consider When Shopping For A Cardio Machine
Types of cardio machines
You can find cardio machines of different types on the market, each with its distinct advantages and disadvantages. We’ve written guides on some cardio machine subtypes, so for more in-depth info, you should give them a read.
Below, we’ll introduce you to the main classes of cardio machines and redirect you to our existing materials.
We’ve covered elliptical trainers in a separate guide, so you may give it a read too.
Elliptical trainers are perhaps among the most functional and feature-rich cardio machines you can find. They offer arguably the best comfort and workout results thanks to their unique features, as well as because they somewhat imitate multiple athletic disciplines at once, such as jogging, skiing, and running.
Additionally, elliptical trainers have a number of useful health benefits that we cover more in-depth in our guide. Elliptical trainers can be very silent and used anywhere too.
With that said, elliptical trainers can be quite bulky, so not every homeowner will be able to dedicate enough space for such a machine. But if you do, an elliptical trainer could very well be the best cardio machine in a home gym.
A lot has been written about the treadmill, and no doubt, the treadmill is the most popular cardio machine. We’ve covered treadmills as well, so be sure to read our dedicated guide if you are interested.
Running and walking on a treadmill involves the entire body, so it’s a good machine for comprehensive workouts. Using a treadmill for walking may remove joint pain, restore well-being, flexibility, and muscle strength.
In terms of size, a treadmill is preferable to, for example, an elliptical cardio trainer. Almost all treadmills made for home use are folding, so they take up relatively little space in the room.
However, among all machine types, treadmills are probably the noisiest. And this isn’t because the machine’s motor is noisy – it’s because you are running on it.
Finally, exercise bikes. Again, we have a dedicated guide for this type of cardio machine.
Even the noisiest mechanical exercise bike works much quieter than a treadmill. Exercise bikes also have similar or quieter noise levels to elliptical cardio exercise machines. The very best exercise bikes can be nearly noise-free.
Compared to other cardio machines, exercise bikes are rather compact. This is because exercise bikes are very narrow and often foldable.
Exercise bikes tend to be cheaper than other cardio machines as well, so they are a good option for budget-limited buyers.
The main downside with exercise bikes is that they actively incorporate only leg and core muscles – the upper body is only weakly involved. Although you can get a good workout with an exercise bike, it may not be as effective as with an elliptical trainer or treadmill.
Cardio machines can get pretty big, so it’s important that you get something that can work with your space. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do – you need to determine how much free space you are willing to dedicate to your machine and then purchase one that will fit in your home.
Note that some cardio machines (e.g. recumbent bikes) may have moving parts that extend beyond the frame when working out. With such machines, stationary dimensions will not be enough – you’ll also have to consider how much clearance the cardio machine needs for working out.
If you are looking to purchase a foldable machine, then also pay attention to dimensions when folded.
Any cardio machine has a certain weight limit. Beyond this limit, prolonged usage is unsafe and may result in a broken machine and injuries.
When shopping for a cardio machine, look for one whose weight limit exceeds your weight by 10-20%. If more than one person is going to work out on the machine, then you should find out who weighs the most and get a machine that can withstand 10-20% more weight.
Cardio machines are never completely quiet – you will have to tolerate some noise if you want to improve your fitness level. Yes, it can be annoying, but that’s just how things are.
Not all manufacturers list the noise levels of their machines, but some do. Look for decibels or dB if you are interested in how noisy a machine is. Alternatively, read buyer reviews to see how the machine has been for others.
One thing to keep in mind – if you are living in an apartment building, then the noise level may matter more. Though cardio machines aren’t loud enough to keep the whole building awake, they may still cause annoyance.
Pretty much any cardio machine allows you to adjust workout intensity. This is achieved by adjusting the resistance system of the machine.
When it comes to resistance, you should pay attention to how many resistance levels the machine has. The higher its number, the more flexibility you will get while training.
Another nice thing to consider is adaptive resistance. This feature is reserved for higher-end cardio machines that can track your progress and adapt the workout intensity based on your performance.
Also, you should pay attention to the type of resistance systems used in the cardio machine. We won’t cover types of these systems here since we’ve already done that in our guides dedicated to specific types of cardio machines. Read those to find out more.
Cardio workouts can be pretty boring, which is one of the main reasons why many people don’t like them. To combat this, cardio machine brands incorporate a wide range of multimedia features to make the session more fun.
Mostly, these are music-related – machines with multimedia features typically support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi mobile device connectivity for music transfer, and they may also allow you to connect external speakers for better sound quality.
Arguably, exercise bikes in many ways fit the title of the best cardio machine for a home gym more than other cardio machines. This is because of their quietness, cheapness, and compactness.
However, individual preferences should not be neglected. For example, if you like walking more than pedaling, then a treadmill will be a better pick for you, and vice versa.
If in doubt, you may try out a cardio machine in the gym and see how it goes. One-time visits to gyms shouldn’t cost a lot, and it’s certainly worth the money to try out a few different kinds of machines before spending a lot of money on something.