Best Home Cardio Machines for 2020
Looking for a new cardio machine to diversify your at-home training routine? There are so many different types on the market, from indoor cycles, to treadmills, to vertical climbers. Knowing what will be best for you and where to get the best deal can be overwhelming. We’ve rounded up the best cardio machines of the year below to help you get started. The list is organized into handy categories pinpointing what we think is the best model for each different cardio machine type. The ‘best’ here is based on overall value, quality, durability, and features. Whether you’re looking for an indoor cycle for interactive training or a trusty treadmill to up your at-home running game, you’ll find a solid workout partner here.
Our Top 7 Cardio Machines for 2020
- Best Treadmill: NordicTrack Commercial 1750
- Best Rowing Machine: Concept2 Model D
- Best Elliptical: Sole E95
- Best Indoor Cycle: NordicTrack S22i
- Best Recumbent Bike: Sole LCR
- Best Max Trainer: Bowflex Max Trainer M8
- Best Vertical Climber: Sole CC81 Cardio Climber
1. Best Treadmill: NordicTrack Commercial 1750
Treadmills are one of the most popular types of at-home cardio machines on the market. They can help you ramp up your cardio routine, allowing you to lose weight sensibly and enjoy efficient exercise from the comfort of your home. As well as offering an effective cardio workout, treadmills with incline and decline are especially useful for adding sculpting and toning into the mix. The NordicTrack 1750 is our top treadmill year after year. It has a stellar combination of quality components, features, and durability all at an affordable price. What’s more, it’s easily foldable so it will suit most home gyms. Although it’s the entry-level model in the brand’s Commercial Series, it offers plenty of features for the price and will suit almost any trainee, from walkers to runners.
Highlights include a high-quality 3.75 CHP motor, power incline and decline, and a roomy deck with unique Runners Flex™ cushioning. It has a 10” touchscreen for you to view a basically limitless library of iFit workouts on, which are free for a year. Try a treadmill routine with a world-class personal trainer, or a scenic running trail across the world via iFit’s Google Maps component. The incline and speed will be automatically controlled by the iFit trainer in the program you choose or the Google Maps terrain you are exploring, allowing for a truly immersive workout. Overall, the Nordictrack 1750 is a dependable, high-quality treadmill that will keep most trainees challenged and entertained as they progress.
See our detailed review of the NordicTrack Commercial 1750.
2. Best Rowing Machine: Concept2 Model D
Rowing is a fantastic a total-body workout. A large person can easily burn 1000 calories an hour when rowing. Just one stroke engages your hamstrings, abdominal muscles, biceps and all other major muscle groups. As it recruits every major muscle group, rowing is an excellent form of low-impact exercise for your heart and lungs. If you’re in the market for an indoor rower, you’ve probably come across a range of Concept2 models. The Concept2 Model D is one of the best-selling rowers in the world. It will be a dependable, high-quality addition to any home gym. The Model D features variable air resistance (with damper settings from 1-10 to change the feel of the rowing stroke) which will challenge just about any trainee. This is because resistance depends on user effort; the harder and faster you row, the more resistance you add.
Highlights include a sturdy frame, quiet operation, and a significant weight capacity. There isn’t a flashy touchscreen in sight, but it’s still a connected rower so to speak. Its easy-to-use PM5 monitor is more sophisticated than it looks. As well as preset workouts and games, the monitor features Bluetooth and ANT+ wireless connectivity. This allows you to connect it to a variety of wireless heart-rate monitors, fitness devices and apps. Try Concept2’s free ErgData app to track your workouts in an online logbook, or connect to one of the many compatible third-party apps to experience virtual rowing, racing and more. You can basically make it as tech-savvy a workout as you would like, so it will offer enough entertainment variety for most trainees. Even though it has quite a large assembled footprint (96″ L x 24″ W ), the Model D separates into two pieces for easy storage so it will suit most home gyms. At just $900, it’s a top-value rower too. Overall, the Model D offers high quality components, unlimited resistance, and engaging programming at a manageable price point.
See our detailed review of the Concept2 Model D rower.
3. Best Elliptical: Sole E95
Ellipticals are popular cardio machines for low-impact but effective total-body workouts. They are versatile machines that work both the upper and lower body, so the options for cardio training and fat burning are endless. The club-quality Sole E95 remains top of the FitRated elliptical leaderboard. It has a solid combination of high-quality components, comfort features, and extras, all at a reasonable price.
Highlights include an oversized 10.1” TFT LCD display, 10 pre-programmed workouts, and built-in Bluetooth connectivity for seamless workout data transfer to your favorite fitness apps such as FitBit. It’s a sturdy machine that can hold up to 400 pounds. Sole’s confidence in the durability of the machine is illustrated by the lifetime frame warranty. There’s also 5 years of coverage on the electronics and parts, and 2 years of in-home labor which isn’t a bad deal either. Work your way up through the 20 levels of resistance and 20 levels of incline (supported by a heavy 27-pound flywheel) to ramp up the cardio challenge. You’ll be comfortable even during your most intense cardio routines because of the Sole E95’s cushioned, adjustable pedals with customized angling. Overall, the Sole E95 is a top-value elliptical that’s ideal for all skill levels and fits most heights. It’s sure to deliver a satisfying, club-quality workout at home.
See our in-depth review of the Sole E95.
4. Best Indoor Cycle: NordicTrack S22i
Indoor cycles are ideal machines for at-home cardio training and are very popular for weight loss as they allow for especially intense exercise. If this is the style of bike and exercise you are looking for, you should consider our favorite indoor cycle on the market: the NordicTrack Commercial S22i Studio Cycle.
A more affordable alternative to the Peloton, the NordicTrack S22i supports interactive training on its 22” Smart HD touchscreen. Try an engaging iFit spin class or a scenic cycling trail somewhere across the world via Google Maps Street Views. Cruise through the 22 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance, and ramp up the challenge with the impressive 20% incline and -10% decline. As it tilts it feels much like real uphill/downhill training, which means that it will satisfy beginners and hardcore cyclists alike. The S22i is a truly immersive and digitally connected indoor cycle that’s optimized for workout variety. It’s sure to keep a variety of trainees challenged and entertained as they progress.
See our detailed review of the NordicTrack S22i.
5. Best Recumbent Bike: Sole LCR
Recumbent bikes are perfect for those who are looking for a comfortable, low-impact cardio workout. Their chair-like seats will give you comfortable lumbar support while you cycle. They can be used for rehab, moderate-intensity, or higher-intensity cross training.
The Sole LCR is our favorite recumbent bike on the market for its stellar combination of comfort, quality and value. Highlights include a foam 12-position adjustable seat, oversized and self-leveling pedals, and a 30-pound flywheel which offers exceptional stability. Sole’s confidence in the durability of this machine is demonstrated by its lifetime frame warranty. Cruise through the LCR’s 40 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance during on the bike’s 10 preset workout programs, and connect your phone to the Bluetooth speakers to play your favorite workout playlists. You can keep on top of your workout data on the 10.1″ TFT LCD screen and transfer it to various fitness apps for progress monitoring. Overall, the Sole LCR is a top-value cardio machine that will be kind to your joints and back. It offers commercial-grade quality at an affordable price, and it’s variety of resistance options means it will suit a variety of users. It’s one of the top-rated recumbent bikes on the market for cardiovascular exercise.
See our detailed review of the Sole LCR.
6. Best Max Trainer: Bowflex Max Trainer M8
Looking for a versatile cardio machine that supports low-impact workouts and a variety of exercises? The Bowflex Max Trainer M8—the brand’s premier trainer—could be your perfect match. Max trainers are hybrid machines that fall somewhere between a stair stepper and an elliptical. The M8 offers the ultimate total-body workout without the impact. Work your way up through the 20 levels of resistance to sculpt your body, torch calories and shed pounds all at the same time.
Used in combination with the Bowflex JRNY™ App (subscription required but you usually get a couple of months free with purchase), it’s like having a personal trainer in your living room. The app will push you to reach your max capacity in shorter bursts while also finding your endurance range to keep you working in a higher heart-rate zone. This gives you maximum cardio results in less time. It also features a unique burn-rate display which is another useful motivation tool, and it’s compatible with Bluetooth heart-rate straps too. The M8 will suit most trainees, whatever your fitness level. What’s more, it’s a compact machine; if space saving is your priority, the M8 can cater to this. If you’re looking for a low impact but high-intensity workout, this could be your ideal cardio machine.
See our detailed review of the Bowflex Max Trainer M8.
7. Best Vertical Climber: Sole CC81 Cardio Climber
Much like the Bowflex Max Trainer, the Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber is a low impact, total-body workout machine that doesn’t take up much space. Vertical climbers engage your core and major muscle groups to deliver a full-body workout. The Sole CC81 blends elements of an elliptical machine with a more traditional vertical climber, and has a good combination of adjustability, durability, and features. Although it also doesn’t fold like some other models on the market do, you are getting a solid, sturdy hybrid machine here. It weighs 265 lbs. and can hold up to 400 lbs., and it’s frame is backed by an impressive lifetime warranty.
The CC81 features 20 levels of resistance from a 25-pound flywheel, and has multi-adjustable hand grips so you can target different muscle groups each time you exercise. There are also oversized pedals (much like elliptical machine pedals) which allow for different foot positioning. As for programming, the CC81 features 6 standard programs, 2 custom, and 2 heart programs. Keep on top of your workout data on the 5” by 3” LCD display and transfer it via Bluetooth to your smart device to track your progress. Overall, the Sole CC18 is an engaging cardio machine that allows for a variety of workouts.
See our detailed review of the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber.
Want to check out some other cardio machines? At FitRated.com, we review a range of cardio machines from rowers to home gyms to treadmills at every price point. Check our individual reviews to compare the best models on the market and find your perfect match.