Best Compact Cardio Machine for Home

by | Jan 18, 2021 | Exercise Machines

Best Compact Cardio Machine for Home

Shopping for the best compact cardio machine for home can be challenging. You need a model small enough to fit in your space, high quality to offer value for money, and yet one that doesn’t break your bank. You also need a unit that you can fold and store in a small space too.

Below is a complete guide on shopping for the best cardio machine for home use.

Why Shop for Compact Cardio Equipment?

If you run a busy schedule every day, you may not have enough time to go to the gym. As such, you need a couple of pieces of gym equipment to exercise different muscles at home. A cardio workout is important for your hearts health amongst other critical functions.

However, if you live in an apartment or your house doesn’t offer space for anything besides furniture, it limits the equipment you buy. A compact cardio machine has a small footprint that you may not need to stow it away after your workout. You can leave the machine on the workout area without it being a burden in your home.

Going for a small cardio machine doesn’t mean compromising on features. You can still go for top-of-the-line technologies and features to enjoy the same experience as you would in a larger machine.

Choose a Cardio Machine You Know and Enjoy

There are so many cardio machines to choose from, including treadmills, elliptical machines, and exercise bikes. It is best to choose a machine that you have used severally, and you enjoy it. For instance, if you love running, pick a treadmill. If you suffer from knee injuries, an elliptical will fit you naturally.

It is also best to stick to technologies you know and love. For instance, you can go for a simple computer that tracks at least the following:

• Time
• Distance
• Heartrate
• Calories

If you need a basic machine, go for a versatile unit that gives you value for money. However, if you need a technical cardio machine, pick technologies and features that will meet your exercise needs.

Types of Cardio Machines to Choose From

Cardio machines simulate running, walking, cycling, rowing, kayaking, stair climbing, and skiing. They might be motorized, or not, but their main function is to burn calories and fat. Available equipment include:

Cross Country Ski Machine

This machine exercises your legs and arms at the same time to simulate cross country skiing. In some machines, when you push one ski forward, the other moves back, but in others, the skis move independently. There are machines that use ropes while others have comfortable hand grips. When shopping, go for the following features:

• Arm Pulley System – Nowadays, most machines have arm pulley systems and not poles. This allows for a smooth system.
• Hip Pad – The hip pad allows for height adjustments to accommodate your height and allow proper posture when you are working out.
• Incline Adjustment and Flywheel Resistance – Versatile machines should allow for resistance adjustment so that you can try different programs. Better yet, the system should offer a flywheel for upper body resistance.

Elliptical Trainers

Elliptical machines are versatile. The up and down circular movements give the experience of stair-stepper and a ski machine. Better yet, exercise on the elliptical trainer is impact free. You can adjust grade and resistance based on your exercise needs. Some models have levers with handgrips to work your upper body. For most people, the motion of an elliptical is unusual, but once you’re used to it, the process feels easier. Consider the following features when shopping for ellipticals:

• Stride Length – Even when you need a compact design, you need the stride length to accommodate your stride. Most compact units have a shorter stride length. If you are between five feet and five feet five, you need a stride length of at least 13 inches. If you are taller than five feet five, you need at least 18 inches stride. Users taller than six feet need an elliptical with a stride at least 22 inches.
• Resistance Levels – The standard resistance levels for most ellipticals is eight. That should give you enough room to accommodate different workout programs. The more the resistance levels, the higher the versatility of the machine you choose.
• Ergonomics – Because the elliptical works your arms and legs, you need it to be comfortable. The handlebars and the foot plates need to be slip-resistant and the height should accommodate your stature.

Check out this shopping guide here.

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines offer an almost total body workout where they work the arms, legs, and back at the same time. Although the rowing might feel unfamiliar if you are not used to it, it feels easier after a few days. When shopping, opt for pulley instead of piston models as they give a better rowing experience. Consider the following factors when shopping for a rowing machine:

• Resistance Type – Rowing machines simulate rowing a boat. They offer different types of resistance, including air or fan, water, magnetic, and hydraulic. Air resistance is common in most machines, and it adjusts automatically when you pull the handle. Water resistance gives you the best simulation of rowing on a lake or river. Magnetic resistance offers smooth rowing and adjustability. Machines with hydraulic systems are the most affordable. However, the systems are less effective when you row.
• Comfort and Performance – The seat of the unit determines how comfortable you feel when working out. Padded seats and handles keep you comfortable on the machine while high end rower gives adjustable workout intensity. You also need to consider the length of the sliding track to ensure it meets your workout needs and fits in your indoor space.


Climbing of stairs helps you lose weight, and that is what this machine simulates. If you need more workout options, you can pick models with levers that workout your arms. At first, the machine might tire your knees. Pick a machine whose foot action is independent and has handrails and adjustable stair platform. When shopping for one, consider the following features:

• Digital Display – A good display helps you track your workout metrics. It can monitor your steps, the calories you burn, time, count, and heart beat among others. Tracking the metrics will help keep you motivated.
• Quality and Adjustments – Go for a unit with high quality construction to meet your needs for many years. Again, you can pick one that is adjustable to accommodate different workouts.

Stationary Bike

A stationary bike comes in handy for best at home cardio machine as it occupies less space. When shopping for stationary bikes, go for a model with an adjustable seat and adjustable handlebars to meet your height succinctly. You should also pick one whose seat is replaceable so that you can switch it once it gets hard. A stationary bike needs at least the following features:

• Seat – The seat needs to be well padded and comfortable or replaceable. If you plan to work out for extended periods, opt for a comfortable seat.
• Adjustments – For the best at home cardio machine, you need a unit you can adjust to meet the needs of different members of the family. The handlebars and the seat should be adjustable to ensure that your arms rest comfortably and your legs extend straight when at the bottom peddle.
• Computer and Programming – A good display and computer helps to track your metrics. You can pick one with workout programs or one that allows you to program your workout. Again, pick a bike with multiple resistance levels.


Treadmills are for running and walking indoors. The best treadmill model offers flexibility as it will be easy on your joints. Again, a motorized model will serve you better as long as you pick a quality motor. Even when you go for the smallest treadmill, ensure that the belt is long and wide enough to accommodate your strides. Again, the unit should have a sturdy frame for your weight and side rails for safety. You can also pick one with a stop device for emergencies. Better yet, ensure that the speed and the grade are adjustable to meet different workout needs.

A treadmill’s main features:

• Motor or Horsepower – If you go for a treadmill, check out its motor first, its power or capacity, and its quality. For the horsepower, consider the capacity of the motor during peak duty and during continuous duty. HP peak duty refers to the max capacity of the motor, which the machine cannot maintain. Pick one with high continuous duty HP.
• Belt – The belt should be wide enough to give ample running or walking space. For a compact unit, it should be at least 16 inches wide and about 45 inches long.
• Speed/Incline/Workout Programs – If you only need a simple workout treadmill, speeds of up to 10 miles per hour will meet your needs. A variety of speeds and inclines makes the unit versatile. You can pick one with programs for automatic adjustments. Some models are programmable while others have programs already installed in them.

Other Factors to Consider

How much space do you have at home? Ensure that the available space fits your cardio equipment perfectly and leaves a small space to move around it. You should consider the following factors when shopping:

Durability and Warranties

Most cardio machines will have a steel frame. The frame is sturdy and will last many years. Most machines made of steel can accommodate people who are at least 300 pounds or more and last long while at it. Good cardio equipment should last you at least 10 years or more. Look at the warranty and ensure it lasts a couple of years and covers most of the major parts of the equipment.


Cardio equipment come with advanced technologies to meet different needs. Some models have a basic computer that tracks speed, distance, and time. Other models come with advanced computers with Bluetooth to connect to mobile devices and HR monitors. If you love keeping workout records, you need a unit that connects to your smartphone and allows you to control it remotely. The advancements on the equipment you choose will depend on your budget – more advanced models will cost more than basic models.


Comfortable cardio equipment allows you to work out for longer. Look for an ergonomic design that allows you to place your spine in the correct position. If the unit is not ergonomic enough, it should at least be adjustable. When the handlebars and other parts adjust, the unit will fit your needs well.

Ensure that the handlebars and the seat have enough padding for added comfort. For units with footplates, ensure the plate is large enough and has a surface that grips for added comfort. If you plan to work out for extended sessions, a comfortable machine comes in handy.


Your fitness program should be versatile and flexible and so should your cardio machine. Most of the machines might feel challenging at first, but that shouldn’t happen for longer than a few days. A good machine should help you exercise different muscles, most importantly the arms, legs, and the back.

Besides working out different muscles, your cardio equipment needs to be adjustable so that you can try different resistance levels. To be better, you need to keep increasing resistance and working out longer. If you choose ellipticals, for instance, you will find that most of them offer a standard eight resistance settings. If you can find one that offers more settings than that, pick it.

The Best Home Cardio Machine

XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill

• The unit has a large five-inch LCD display from which you can read your exercise metrics, including time, distance, pulse, and calories
• On the console are easy-to-access keys for speed settings. You can reduce or increase the speed of your treadmill as you continue working out.
• Each unit comes with hand pulse grip sensors on the side of the handlebars for easy tracking of your pulse. This helps you track your goals better.
• XTERRA uses XTRA Soft cushioning technology on the deck to absorb impact and protect your joints. You can work out on the unit for a long time and your knees will still be in good shape.
• Inside the system is a powerful 2.25 horsepower motor that offers speeds of between 0.5 and 10 miles per hour. This is enough speed to meet the needs of everyone. The motor operates quietly at all times.
• After use, the unit folds up into a small unit that you can store in a small space.
• The running surface is wide at 16 inches wide and 50 inches long. This makes it ideal for use by most members of a family.
• The heavy gauge steel frame accommodates users up to 250 pounds heavy. You get a lifetime warranty on the frame and one-year warranty on the motor.

• The initial setup needs at least two people
• The incline is not much for those who need high-intensity workout

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Exercise Bike

• This is an upright exercise bike made of a high quality steel frame. The bike can accommodate users up to 300 pounds heavy.
• It has a large seat with a thick foam cushion for all family members. Better yet, you can adjust the height of the seat to make it comfortable for users between five feet three and six feet one.
• Each unit features an easy-to-read LCD display that measures 3.3 by 1.5 inches. On the screen, you can read time, calories, distance, heart rate, and speed.
• It offers eight-levels magnetic tension, so you can set it based on the resistance you need. You can adjust the resistance from the console.
• There are hand pulse sensors that track your heart rate to keep you motivated and in great shape.
• The innovative three-piece crank system allows the unit to run smoothly and also offers consistent pedaling experience.
• The system folds into half its size when not in use to save on storage space. It also has transportation wheels for fast and easy transportation.

• The unit mileage rests after 99.9 miles, so you can only keep records up to about 100 miles.
• The seat might feel large for some users, but luckily you can swap it with a smaller standard seat
• It takes about two hours to assemble, thanks to lots of instructions, some of which are unnecessary

Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

• The Explore the World App allows you to tour different places virtually from the display of this machine. You can also access virtual courses from the app, including three free courses. You can unlock more courses and more trails when you pay the subscription.
• It offers an 18-inch stride length as in larger ellipticals. However, this does not affect its size as it remains compact and easy to use.
• There are about 16 resistance levels to accommodate the workout needs of the whole family. You can easily adjust the resistance using a dial.
• There is a simple streamlined display that shows time, calories, distance, and heart rate.
• There are both flexible and static handlebars with a contact grip heart rate sensor. This helps track your exercise goals and fulfill them.
• There is a built-in media rack that you can use to hold your phone and a water holder to keep you hydrated.

• The resistance feels too high on the lowest setting, and it can take getting used-to for some users.
• The handlebars feel like they are a little forward, so you have to lean to get to them, and this might cause back pains.

Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

• This compact unit comes with a backlit LCD display that shows distance, time, and intervals. The display is easy on your eyes, and you can see it any time of the day.
• Each unit is ANT+ and wireless Bluetooth compatibile for heart rate monitoring and to connect it to apps.
• You can save your workout data on a USB drive and play games from the unit’s console.
• You can control your workout intensity, thanks to the air-resistance flywheel. There are ten damper levels with the transition being quiet and smooth.
• The unit assembles with ease as there are only eight screws. It separates into two pieces for easy storage. It releases quickly without the need for any tools.
• You can connect this unit with a host of fitness apps. It comes with a free ErgData app that tracks and stores your workout data. You can join an online challenge where you work out with other fitness enthusiasts.
• The unit sports high quality construction with steel rear legs and aluminum front legs. It weighs only 57 pounds, making it easy to assemble.

• The seat feels uncomfortable when you work out for extended periods of time.

Sunny Health & Fitness Twist Stepper

• This is a highly compact unit that you can stand on any space for an intense workout session.
• The unit features a heavy duty steel frame that will last you many years. It can accommodate users up to 250 pounds.
• There is an intuitive LCD monitor that displays calories, count, scan, and time. These metrics keep you motivated to work out more.
• It is ideal for beginners who have never used a stepper before, thanks to the ergonomic handlebars. It keeps you balanced in every step you take.
• The unit uses a twist-action motion that tones your core and your lower body without causing impact on your joints and bones.
• The pedals have a non-slip surface. They are also over-sized to guarantee your safety during strenuous exercises sessions.
• You can adjust the height of the handlebars to meet the needs of different family members.
• Assembling the unit is simple and takes only a few minutes.

• The console is not accurate on tracking calories. If you raise the tension of the unit, the system doesn’t put that into consideration.
• At high speeds, the unit feels a little wobbly and might also squeak.

Which is the Best Home Cardio Machine?

The best at home cardio machine needs to fit in the space you have at home during workout and during storage. You need to measure the space you have and compare that with the size of the cardio machine. Foldable machines are ideal for storage in small spaces. There are many other features that the cardio machine needs to meet, including tracking your workout metrics, sturdiness, ergonomics, and durability.

From our reviews, the best home cardio machine is the XTERRA Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill. It is a compact unit that offers as many features as a full-size treadmill. It folds during storage to take up less space. It also allows you to adjust the incline for high intensity exercises. It has less impact on your joints and bones so that you can use it for long periods. Once set up, the unit is sturdy to accommodate up to 250 pounds.

Read more: Fitness Guides.


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