Best Home Cardio Machines for 2021
Shopping for the best home cardio machines can be a bit of a trick these days. With so many great models on the market, and equipment to match any interest imaginable, it can be tough to choose. That said, knowing the different categories of cardio machines is the first step, and we’ve gone yet one more in rounding up the best of each. Whether a runner or a biker, or perhaps someone interested in mixing strength and cardio together, there’s no question the right machine is here. All compatible with a wide assortment of virtual training apps, the best cardio machines of 2021 are techier and better than ever.
Our Top 8 Cardio Machines for 2021
- Best Treadmill: Sole F80
- Best Rowing Machine: Hydrow
- Best Elliptical: Sole E95
- Best Indoor Cycle: MYX Fitness Bike
- Best Recumbent Bike: Sole LCR
- Best Fitness Mirror: NordicTrack Vault
- Best Max Trainer: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
- Best Vertical Climber: Sole CC81 Cardio Climber
1. Best Treadmill: Sole F80
Treadmills remain the one of the top-selling pieces of home fitness equipment for good reason. These days, virtual training apps are all the rage, and top treadmills can accommodate anything from gentle walking to long-distance runs. In addition to offering variable speeds, these treadmills also offer incline and cushioning. The Sole lineup is among our favorites in multiple categories, and this year the F80 takes first place. With a roomy running surface, lifetime warranty, and affordable price, the Sole F80 brings a top flight combination to the home fitness game. If someone is looking for commercial-grade quality in the home, this treadmill is certainly worth a look. The options afforded hit pretty any goal from high intensity to low.
Highlights include a high-quality 3.5 CHP motor, power incline up to 15%, and a roomy deck of 22 inches by 60 inches. Equipped with two-ply Cushion Flex Whisperer technology, the machine sports a 9-inch LCD screen, and 10 built-in programs. The Sole lineup also features its own fitness app, but users can also sync with other exercise programs as the treadmill is Bluetooth-enabled. Heart rate is taken via sensors or an included chest strap and can be worked in sync with numerous apps. Coming with a lifetime warranty on the frame, motor, and deck. Other comforts include water bottle holders, cooling fans, and an accessory tray.
2. Best Rowing Machine: Hydrow
One of the best exercises around, rowing is a fantastic a total-body workout. Folks over 200 pounds can easily burn 1000 calories an hour when rowing. In addition to an epic cardio workout, every stroke of the rower engages the hamstrings, abdominal muscles, biceps, and every other body part. While recruiting muscle fibers throughout the body, the heart and lungs are also hit.
If in the market for best rower, we’re picking the Hydrow as the number one. That said, it is a bit pricey at $2,199. Our budget pick would be the NordicTrack RW600 usually priced around $999. But with price does come perks, and the Hydrow has them a’plenty. The only rower on the market offering a Live Outdoor Reality™ experience with live and on-demand rowing workouts delivered by world-renowned athletes on the water. The Hydrow workout community features leaderboards and data-sharing, as well as Team Rowing with virtual partners around the world.
Key features include an electromagnetic resistance system and fabric strap which make its 300 levels of resistance easier on users. Personalization is a hallmark of the brand, and users get a unique experience much like being on the water due to the design. With a 22-inch HD touchscreen which swivels, the machine can either be operated with the Hydrow programming, or without. Bluetooth-enabled, heart rate can be monitored and incorporated into workouts while music from personal devices is played. Most Bluetooth heart-rate straps work with the machine, including the Wahoo TICKR and Polar H7. Weighing in at 145 pounds, the sturdy unit measures 86 inches x 25 inches and sports a maximum user weight of 375 pounds. The brand also makes charitable donations to Water.org in the rowers’ names after 60 days of participation.
3. Best Elliptical: Sole E95
Ellipticals are among the most popular machines for providing low-impact total-body workouts. As dynamic as they are versatile, these machines work both the lower and upper body. This increases the number of options for training routines. Definitely club-quality, the Sole E95 remains top of the FitRated picks for ellipticals. Built to last, it brings comfort and high-quality technology to the home fitness game.
Highlights include an oversized 10.1-inch 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. Sole also offers its own fitness app with interactive programming, but the machine has a built-in tablet-holder for the user’s own devices. Bluetooth-enabled, the elliptical has built-in heart-rate sensors and is chest-strap compatible.
A solid 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 five years of coverage on the electronics and parts, and two years of in-home labor which isn’t bad. Resistance levels number 20, as do the number of incline levels, supported by a heavy 27-pound flywheel. With a stride selection of 20 to 22 inches, the machine also works well for taller users.
See our in-depth review of the Sole E95.
4. Best Indoor Cycle: MYX Fitness Bike
Indoor cycles are increasingly being found on the shopping lists of savvy consumers looking to earn the burn. With better tech options each season, the interactive programming continues to improve in quality. Our 2021 pick for best indoor cycle is the MYX Fitness Bike. With a 41-pound flywheel, users can be assured of a smooth ride as they ramp up to any of the 100 levels of variable resistance.
A lower-cost option than many rivals at $1,299, the MYX Fitness Bike also features a $29 per month fitness app that is also budget-friendly. That said, the quality is certainly there with a virtual library chock full of more than 500 programs as well as new additions regularly uploaded. The bike itself brings a 21.5-inch HD Touchscreen which swivels, making for an easier bike-to-ground workout using the included dumbbells. Wireless heart rate programming is included, which is a critical component of the MYX Fitness Bike training program as trainers instruct users how to target specific levels.
The bike itself measures 54 inches x 21 inches x 47 inches and can support up to 350 pounds in user weight. While we’d like to see the one-year warranty a little stronger, the welded steel frame is indeed solid and the user weight plus flywheel are good indicators of durability.
5. Best Recumbent Bike: Sole LCR
Recumbent bikes let users hit the cardio in style with a low-impact approach that’s easy on the joints. With chair-like seats, the bikes provide lumbar support while cycling. Extremely popular for rehabilitation work, they’re also used for both moderate- and higher-intensity cross training.
Review after review, the Sole LCR is high in our rankings. It’s a top-selling recumbent bike on the market for a number of reasons, including quality and value, priced at $1,499. Highlights include a foam 12-position adjustable seat, oversized and self-leveling pedals, and a 30-pound flywheel which offers exceptional stability. Measuring 57 inches x 30 inches x 50 inches, the bike supports up to 350 pounds in user weight. The bike is built with a 12-position adjustable seat.
Sole’s confidence in the durability of this machine is demonstrated by its lifetime frame warranty. Users can pedal through the LCR’s 40 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance during on the bike’s 10 preset workout programs, connect device to the Bluetooth speakers, and monitor their heart rate with either pulse grips or sensors on either of its customized programs. The 9-inch blue LCD screen helps users maximize any of the 10 pre-set programs. We like the Sole LCR for its commercial-grade quality, affordable price, and wide variety of resistance options.
See our detailed review of the Sole LCR.
6. Best Fitness Mirror: NordicTrack Vault
Mirror, mirror on the wall. What’s the fittest mirror of all? The NordicTrack Vault, of course. Consider fitness mirrors to be giant smart screen with storage capacity. The possibilities for training really are unlimited with one of these fitness toys, hence their popularity. With storage capacity for dumbbells, kettlebells, or any other equipment one needs, the imagination is the only limitation when using fitness mirrors. Part of the highly-rated NordicTrack family of equipment, we like the Vault for its compact design and top-notch instructors. The mirrors themselves are part of an emerging category of fitness machines, and so we’ll be excited to see how this sector evolves in coming years.
Measuring 61.5 inches in height and 22 inches in width, the Vault features a 32-inch screen which can slide open like an armoire and reveal a 14-inch deep storage space. The Vault’s mirror also features 360-degree rotation for maximum use.
The fully-loaded Vault package runs $2,999 and includes a yoga mat, blocks, three loop bands, three resistance bands, dumbbells from 5 to 30 pounds, as well as a 20- and 30-pound kettlebell. Without the additional items the standalone unit is $1,999. It’s very probable that one could simply buy the standalone unit and acquire their own equipment for less money and better personalization.
That said, both packages come with one year membership to iFit, which is valued at $396. For the full run-down on iFit, read our review here. The bottom line is it’s a great interactive training program and by combining it with a full-size warrants a thumbs-up. The fact that the machine now allows for the same trainer-led, interactive workout programming found on NordicTrack’s other equipment is truly a big deal. This unit can truly replace a personal trainer in one’s own home with the mirror standing directly in front of them, not only giving instructions, but recording all activities and sharing across the world. Bluetooth-enabled, heart rate monitors can also be incorporated, and overall, we’re truly thrilled to watch where this new foray into home fitness takes us down the road.
See our detailed review of the NordicTrack Vault.
7. Best Max Trainer: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
When it comes to versatility, the Bowflex family of trainers are tops, and this year the Max Trainer M6 is number one. Max trainers are hybrid machines which combine the stair stepper and elliptical into one. The M6 offers a terrific total-body workout without much impact to joints, tendons, or ligaments. Work your way up through the 16 levels of resistance while using every muscle in the body to torch calories and shed fat. Priced at $1,499, the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 hits a real sweet spot for most budgets.
Measuring 49 inches in length, 30.5 inches in width, and 65.5 inches in height, the trainer has a maximum user weight of 300 pounds. Equipped with an enhanced 5-inch, dual LCD/LED screen, the machine also features an entertainment rack for other devices.
Used in combination with the Bowflex JRNY™ App, the trainer and it’s unique burn-rate on the monitor act as if one has a personal trainer in their own living room. The app features a number of different programs which push users to reach their max capacity in shorter bursts while also finding personalized endurance ranges. The burn-rate display which is a useful motivation tool, and is compatible with Bluetooth heart-rate straps too. The M6 will suit just about any level of trainee, irrespective of fitness level. A compact machine, if space saving is important, the M6 can help here as well.
8. Best Vertical Climber: Sole CC81 Cardio Climber
If one likes the total body approach of a Max Trainer, the Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber might be the next step up – No pun intended. Vertical climbers activate the core as well as other major muscle groups while replicating the movements of a wall-climb. The Sole CC81 merges elements of an elliptical machine with a more traditional vertical climber. We like its combination of adjustability, durability, and features. While not a folding model, customers are getting a solid, sturdy hybrid machine here. Measuring 59 inches long, the machine is 31 inches wide. At 265 lbs. in machine weight, it can hold up to 400 pounds, and its frame is backed by a solid lifetime warranty.
The CC81 features 20 levels of resistance generated by way of a 25-pound flywheel. Multi-adjustable hand grips allow climbers to target different muscle groups round after round. The machine also features oversized pedals, much like elliptical machine pedals, which allow for different foot positioning. As for programming, the CC81 features six standard programs, two custom, and two heart programs. Keep on top of workout data on the 5-inch x 3-inch LCD display and transfer it via Bluetooth to another device.
See our detailed review of the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber.
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