Best Cardio Machines for Weight Loss: At-Home Equipment That Will Make You Sweat

cardio machines


If you're hoping to drop a few pounds, investing in a home gym can be an effective strategy. When it comes to cardio equipment for weight loss, there are a ton of options, so it's important to do your research. Some cardio machines offer a full-body workout (e.g., rowing machines) while others (e.g., stair steppers) focus more on the lower body. You can get a good workout with any kind of cardio machine, as long as it's something you do regularly. The key to weight loss is duration and intensity. The longer and harder you work out, the more calories you'll burn. However, it's a fine balance—you don't want to exercise so hard that you get burned out or injured!

We've rounded up the best cardio machines for weight loss so whether you're looking for a high-intensity run or a low-impact bike ride, there's guaranteed to be a cardio machine that will work for you. Take a look at our list of weight loss machines, and you'll be sweating your way to fitness in no time.

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The Best Cardio Machines for Weight Loss - Our Top Picks

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Rowing Machines

Treadmills

Ellipticals

Exercise Bikes

Climbers

NordicTrack RW900 Rower

RW900 Rower

SPECS

  • Benefits: Full-body workout, low impact, ability to stream on-demand workouts from the large pivoting screen
  • Muscles used: Calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, upper back, and lats

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The RW900 Rower has a large 22-inch rotating HD touchscreen and premium sound system, allowing you to stream workouts with ease. We also like that the resistance auto-adjusts based on your workout and the ergonomic handles and seat keep things comfortable.

The innovative sliding rail system combined with an inertia-enhanced flywheel and Silent Magnetic Resistance™ (SMR) technology make for a smooth and silent workout. Perfect if you're an apartment dweller or live in a shared space.

What We Like

  • Auto-adjust resistance means you can focus on your workout and not on pushing buttons
  • Oversized pedals with adjustable foot straps
  • 22" HD screen and premium sound system
  • Extremely smooth and quiet

What We Don't Like

  • 250-lb. weight capacity is on the lower end
  • Advanced rowers may need more resistance than what is offered by the machine's 26 levels

BUY: RW900 Rower

Horizon Fitness Oxford 6

Oxford 6

SPECS

  • Benefits: Full-body workout, low impact, generous weight and height capacity
  • Muscles used: Calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, upper back, and lats

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With its quiet and smooth Silent Magnetic Resistance™ (SMR) technology and ergonomic seat and handlebars, this is a supremely comfortable rowing machine. And the quick adjust foot straps on the pedals make it easy to hop in and start rowing.

We don't love the basic console, but the machine wins points for accommodating longer inseams (up to 38 inches) and higher weights (up to 350 pounds).

What We Like

  • 20 electronically-controlled magnetic resistance levels
  • 12 pre-programmed workouts
  • SMR technology makes for smooth and quiet operation

What We Don't Like

  • The console is very basic
  • Machine doesn't fold flat like some other models, but can be stored upright

BUY: Oxford 6

ProForm Pro R10

Pro R10

SPECS

  • Benefits: Full-body workout, low impact, iFit workouts adjust resistance manually for a hands-free workout
  • Muscles used: Calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, abs, obliques, pecs, biceps, triceps, deltoids, upper back, and lats

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With 24 magnetic resistance levels and a 10-inch smart HD touchscreen with iFit connectivity, users can get a range of workouts on this machine. We like the ergonomic seat, oversized pedals with adjustable velcro foot straps, and sturdy design. Plus when you're finished sweating, you can fold the machine flat and roll it out of the way via the transport wheels. The weight capacity is only 250 pounds, so keep that in mind if you're a heavier user.

What We Like

  • Included 3-year iFit membership
  • Space saving design; folds up easily when not in use
  • Magnetic resistance mechanism is smooth and silent

What We Don't Like

  • 250-lb. weight limit is on the lower hand
  • The handles can interfere with adjusting the foot pedals

BUY: Pro R10

REP Fitness Assault Runner

Assault Runner

SPECS

  • Benefits: Powered completely by the user (no electricity or batteries needed!), low-impact slatted belt
  • Muscles used: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals, lower back

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Popular among CrossFitters, this athlete-powered treadmill doesn't require any electricity. It has a bit of a learning curve, but once you get a hang of it, you're guaranteed to get a great workout. With precision ball bearings and a steel frame, this machine feels sturdy (and a bit tough to move!). This isn't a good choice if you want a motorized machine, but if you're open to a self-propelled option, be sure to give it a look.

What We Like

  • Curved belt promotes proper running form
  • Frame is made of powder-coated steel and feels very sturdy
  • The digital console tracks time, calories, speed, distance, watts, and pace

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • You can't increase or decrease the incline

BUY: Assault Runner

NordicTrack Commercial 2450 Treadmill

Commercial 2450

SPECS

  • Benefits: Connected treadmill with ability to auto-adjust pace and incline based on streaming workout, 3% decline and 15% incline for a full range of terrain
  • Muscles used: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals, lower back

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The Commercial 2450 is one of the most connected commercial treadmills on the market. It features AutoAdjust™ and ACTIVEPULSE™ technology as well as a GoogleMaps integration. Walk or run at speeds ranging from 0-12 mph and practice running hills with the decline and incline options. The 3.6 CHP motor is quiet yet powerful, making it ideal for runners. No matter what your workout, the included fan, device tray, and 22-inch HD screen will make the miles fly by.

What We Like

  • 22" tilting and pivoting HD screen
  • AutoAdjust™ technology, means incline and pace can be automatically adjusted based on streaming workouts
  • ACTIVEPULSE™ TECHNOLOGY adjusts pace and incline to keep you within your optimal heart rate zone

What We Don't Like

  • Tray doesn't have a ton of storage space
  • Users reported that the screen shakes and vibrates at higher running speeds

BUY: Commercial 2450

Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT Treadmill

7.0 AT

SPECS

  • Benefits: Extra long deck (60") and higher than average weight limit (325 lbs.), ability to connect to streaming workouts via Bluetooth, quick-dial controls are easy to use
  • Muscles used: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals, lower back

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This machine has a longer than average running deck (60 inches) and a decently powerful 3.0 CHP motor, meaning it can keep up with even the most advanced runners. The speed options range from 0-12 mph and if you're looking for hill work, you can crank the incline up to 15%. It features Bluetooth connectivity for streaming workouts and quick-dial controls to easily adjust the pace and incline.

What We Like

  • Quick-dial controls for rapid pace adjustment
  • One-step hydraulic folding makes storage easy
  • Bluetooth connectivity so you can stream on-demand workouts

What We Don't Like

  • The display screen is basic compared to some of its peers
  • Does not have a decline feature

BUY: 7.0 AT

ProForm Pro 9000 Treadmill

Pro 9000

SPECS

  • Benefits: 60" deck with ReBound Pro™ cushioning for shock absorption, strong 3.6 CHP motor keeps pace for miles and miles
  • Muscles used: Quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, abdominals, lower back

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With speed options from 0-12 mph and the ability to toggle between 12% incline and -3% decline, this treadmill can keep up with any workout. It's also equipped with a powerful 3.6 CHP motor and Bluetooth capability. We like the space-saving fold-up design and the ReBound Pro™ cushioning on the belt. The machine also features a generous 22-inch smart HD screen so you can stream on-demand workouts with ease.

What We Like

  • 22" Smart HD touchscreen
  • Shock absorbing deck made with ReBound Pro™
  • Ability for incline and decline

What We Don't Like

  • Weight limit of 300 lbs.
  • Touchscreen can vibrate at higher speeds

BUY: Pro 9000

NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer

FS14i

SPECS

  • Benefits: Up/down and forward/back movements plus incline options allow user to access the benefits of a stair climber, treadmill, and elliptical
  • Muscles used: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and abdominals

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This unique machine offers up/down, forward/back, and incline options to give users the benefits of three machines: treadmill, elliptical, and stair climber. In addition to a 0-10% incline, this machine also offers decline options. It's ready to stream iFit workouts and will automatically adjust incline and resistance based on the trainer's instructions.

Thoughtful extras like a generous adjustable stride length, an air fan, and oversized pedals make for a comfortable workout. The 14-inch smart HD touchscreen is big enough to view the workouts, but it's a bit smaller than some of the competitors.

What We Like

  • Automatic trainer control adjusts incline and resistance
  • Automatically adjustable stride length
  • 375-lb. weight capacity is higher than many machines

What We Don't Like

  • Long stride length means you'll need plenty of clearance in front of and behind machine
  • You'll need to pay a monthly fee for iFit after the first 30 days (or use the machine in manual mode)

BUY: FS14i

Horizon Fitness Evolve 5 Elliptical

Evolve 5

SPECS

  • Benefits: Heavy flywheel and generous 20" stride length offer users a smooth and comfortable workout, low impact, targets the whole body
  • Muscles used: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and abdominals

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With a patented rear folding design, this elliptical measures roughly 2.5 feet by 3.5 feet when stored. In addition to its compact footprint, users report that it's easy to assemble. It features 20 electronically adjustable resistance levels and a number of preset programs. The LCD screen is on the smaller side and it doesn't come with Bluetooth connectivity, but you can connect to ViaFit to track your workout stats. If you're looking for a moderately priced machine that will give you a good workout without taking up a ton of space, the Evolve 5 just might be the ticket!

What We Like

  • Compact footprint
  • Easy to assemble
  • Heavy flywheel and frame for a smooth workout

What We Don't Like

  • Not Bluetooth enabled
  • 300-lb. weight limit

BUY: Evolve 5

ProForm Carbon E10 Elliptical

Carbon E10

SPECS

  • Benefits: Low-impact cardio option that allows you to work your entire body
  • Muscles used: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and abdominals

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This Bluetooth enabled machine features a large touchscreen and the iFit enabled workouts automatically adjust resistance while you work out. In addition to adjusting resistance, you can also adjust the incline and stride length for a tailored workout experience. Plus, the 3 years of included iFit membership and 10-inch touchscreen make streaming workouts easy.

What We Like

  • 25-lb. flywheel
  • 10" HD touchscreen
  • A 3-year iFit membership is included

What We Don't Like

  • Machine doesn't fold
  • 275-lb. weight limit is on the lower end

BUY: Carbon E10

NordicTrack S27i Studio Cycle Bike

S27i Studio Bike

SPECS

  • Benefits: A low-impact, high-intensity workout that is well connected to iFit technology
  • Muscles used: Calves, hamstrings, quads, abdominals, back, glutes

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With Bluetooth heart rate and headphone connectivity and a sizable 27-inch rotating HD touchscreen, this bike can compete with any premium brand on the market. Stream iFit workouts and benefit from the auto-adjusting resistance and incline. We also like the option to clip in via the dual sided pedals and the included 3-pound weights, integrated fan, and dual water bottle holders.

This isn't an inexpensive machine, so prepare to pay for a monthly iFit membership to fully take advantage of its features. Despite the cost, you'll get a great workout and the extras make the cost worth it.

What We Like

  • 27" rotating HD touchscreen
  • Pedals have cages on one side and SPD compatible clips on the other side
  • Handlebars are easy to adjust

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive (comparable to premium brands like Peloton)
  • iFit membership requires a monthly fee

BUY: S27i Studio Bike

Horizon Fitness 7.0 IC Indoor Cycle

7.0 IC

SPECS

  • Benefits: A well-connected, low-impact workout for the fraction of the price
  • Muscles used: Calves, hamstrings, quads, abdominals, back, glutes

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If you're looking for options, the 7.0 IC has it with 100 levels of resistance and pedals equipped with SPD clips on one side and cages on the other. It's also Bluetooth enabled so you can connect to your favorite apps (Zwift, Peloton) for on-demand workouts. This is a well-connected bike at a very wallet-friendly price, but unlike some of its competitors, be prepared for a smaller than average display screen.

What We Like

  • Lots of included extras like Bluetooth heart rate band and clip in pedals
  • 100 electronically controlled resistance levels
  • 4-way adjustable handlebars and seat
  • Eye-level tablet holder and charging port

What We Don't Like

  • Very small LCD screen
  • 300-lb. weight limit

BUY: 7.0 IC

ProForm Studio Bike Pro 22

Studio Bike Pro 22

SPECS

  • Benefits: Low-impact, high-intensity workout wrapped up in a machine that doesn't take up a ton of space
  • Muscles used: Calves, hamstrings, quads, abdominals, back, glutes

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This bike is moderately priced and the connected iFit workouts offer full-body cross-training options. The handlebars and seat are adjustable for a comfortable ride and the large 22-inch HD touchscreen makes viewing on-demand workouts a breeze. Overall this is a great option for calorie-burning cardio, but keep in mind that the weight limit is only 250 pounds, so this might not be a good option for larger users.

What We Like

  • Large 22" HD touchscreen
  • Ability to stream on-demand workouts via iFit
  • Adjustable handlebars and seat

What We Don't Like

  • iFit membership is an additional monthly fee (after the 30-day trial)
  • 250-lb. weight limit

BUY: Studio Bike Pro 22

Life Fitness Powermill Climber

Powermill Climber

SPECS

  • Benefits: Full range of motion workout for the lower body and core, low impact
  • Muscles used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core

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This machine provides a fantastic workout for the lower body and core with 26 stepping speeds and a motor-driven design, meaning no matter your body weight, you can access the entire range of speeds.

It's on the pricier end of cardio machines, but has numerous console options to tailor the price and also features an anti-pinch design for toes, a large stepping surface area, an accessory tray, and cup holders.

What We Like

  • One of the largest stepping speed ranges on the market
  • Variety of console options from basic to premium
  • High weight capacity (400 lbs.)

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive
  • Doesn't target upper body

BUY: Powermill Climber

Sunny Health Fitness Stepper Machine

Fitness Stepper Machine

SPECS

  • Benefits: Convenient machine that tones the lower body and glutes
  • Muscles used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core

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If you're looking for a basic and inexpensive cardio machine, the Fitness Stepper is a solid choice. With a space-saving design, a sturdy base, and non-slip pedals, you'll be able to break a sweat without breaking the bank.

While it's on the basic side, it does feature adjustable handlebars, height, and resistance levels, as well as a digital monitor to track metrics. If you need a little extra motivation, follow along with workouts on the brand's YouTube channel.

What We Like

  • Space-saving design
  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Easy to assemble

What We Don't Like

  • Very basic, doesn't work the upper body
  • Only 250-lb. weight limit

BUY: Fitness Stepper Machine

ProForm Carbon HIIT H10 Elliptical and Stepper

Carbon HIIT H10

SPECS

  • Benefits: Full-body, low-impact workout with the benefits of both an elliptical and a climber
  • Muscles used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core

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Working off of Silent Magnetic Resistance™ (SMR) makes this machine extremely quiet. It also features extra touches like a water bottle holder, fan, and oversized cushioned pedals.

The 10-inch HD touchscreen display has the ability to stream iFit enabled workouts, but if you'd rather not connect to that app, there are over 50 non iFit workouts on board. This machine also features 24 resistance levels and offers the benefits (and calorie burn) of both an elliptical and climber.

What We Like

  • iFit-connected workouts automatically adjust the resistance for you
  • Burn more calories with the machine's 10" vertical and 5" horizontal elliptical path
  • 3-year iFit membership included

What We Don't Like

  • Users say assembly can be tricky
  • Primarily a lower-body workout

BUY: Carbon HIIT H10

Sole Fitness Sole CC81

Sole CC81

SPECS

  • Benefits: Low-impact, full-body workout that combines the best of an elliptical and a climber
  • Muscles used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and core

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This full-body machine combines the benefits of both an elliptical and a climber. It's adjustable for different heights and you can alter the handles to target different muscles. In addition to being quiet, it also features a vertical space-saving design.

One feature that makes this machine stand out is that it doesn't require the internet. The screen and tech are a bit basic, but this is a great option if you live in an area without access to high speed internet (or simply don't want to slow down your WiFi). Even without the internet, the CC81 offers on-board workouts as well as manual mode.

What We Like

  • Space-saving footprint
  • Full-body workout
  • 400-lb. weight capacity
  • Doesn't require internet or expensive monthly subscriptions

What We Don't Like

  • Not Bluetooth enabled, can't connect workout stats with apps
  • The LCD screen is small and technology is pretty basic

BUY: Sole CC81

How Cardio Machines Help with Weight Loss

In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit or burn more calories than you consume. You can burn hundreds of calories per hour through moderate cardio exercise. The trick to avoiding boredom and sticking to a routine is to find an exercise that you enjoy! It's important to note that cardio is just one piece of the weight-loss puzzle. In order to change your body composition (build muscle and reduce fat), you'll also need to focus on solid nutrition and good sleep habits.

Treadmill

A treadmill is a nice cardio option for all fitness levels. If you're just starting out, you can walk at a moderate pace. Once you've built up a fitness base, you can progress to incline walking or walk-jog intervals. If you're up for a high-impact activity, not much can match the calorie burn of a run.

Elliptical Machine

Depending on the resistance you choose, an elliptical can potentially burn more calories in 30 minutes than any other cardio machine. An elliptical is a good choice if you're looking for a low-impact workout that will be easy on your knees and hips.

Rowing Machine

Because you'll be pushing with your legs, pulling with your arms, and keeping your core engaged, a rowing machine is a true full-body workout. It's also low impact (good for creaky joints) and can be customized according to fitness level.

Stair Climber

A stair climber is a great way to work your lower body. In no time, your glutes (and hamstrings and quads and calves…) will be feeling the burn! The stair climber is easier on your joints than a treadmill, so this is a good low-impact, yet weight-bearing option.

Exercise Bike

There are multiple types of exercise bikes, so whether you're looking for a recumbent bike, an under-the-desk pedal machine, a spin bike, or an air bike, there's an option on the market. Exercise bikes primarily work lower-body muscles, but if you choose an upright model, you'll also work on core stability.

FAQs About Cardio Machines for Weight Loss


What cardio machine is best for belly fat?

It's difficult to spot treat areas of the body, so you'll need to focus on overall weight loss. Most cardio machines will burn a similar amount of calories, so choose an exercise based on your fitness history and personal preferences. For low-impact, high-intensity workouts that will work the whole body, rowers and ellipticals fit the bill.

What is the most effective cardio machine?

The most effective cardio machine is the one that you'll use! If you hate running and struggle to do it for more than a few minutes, a treadmill won't be a good option. Choose a machine that you enjoy and can see yourself doing on a regular basis. The more you work out, the more calories you burn! That being said, machines like assault bikes, ellipticals, and rowers can offer a full-body workout, which can be very efficient.

Is an elliptical or treadmill better to lose weight?

If your body can handle the high impact of a treadmill, there's not much that compares to a steady run or a high-intensity interval training (HITT) workout on the treadmill. But if you prefer to limit the pounding, an elliptical is a great low-impact alternative.

What burns the most calories in 30 minutes?

So much of calorie burn will depend on the intensity of the exercise. For example, 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill will burn far fewer calories than running for 30 minutes. If you work out at a moderate intensity, most cardio machines will burn a similar amount of calories. But if you're looking for a full-body, low-impact workout, choose an elliptical or a rowing machine.

About the Author

Megan Harrington

Megan is a runner and writer who resides in upstate New York. She is a former collegiate runner and regularly competes in marathons. Megan uses her personal experience in competitive running to review fitness equipment and write running guides.

See More from Megan

Megan is a runner and writer who resides in upstate New York. She is a former collegiate runner and regularly competes in marathons. Megan uses her personal experience in competitive running to review fitness equipment and write running guides.

See More from Megan

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