What is the Best Gym Equipment for a Cardio Workout? Our Complete Guide!

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What is the Best Gym Equipment for a Cardio Workout? Our Complete Guide!

New year, new you, and there couldn’t be a better time to start thinking about more exercise in your life. Whether you haven’t got time for the gym, or couldn’t think of anything worse than exercising in public, it’s now easier than ever to get your heart racing without having to leave the comfort of your home! But what equipment will give you the best cardio workout and help you achieve your personal goals?

Now, there’s nothing stopping you from getting a complete cardio workout from home, but the right equipment is going to make it significantly easier. Here, we’ll look at the four main types of gym gear that dominate the fitness market and you should have at home to complete a cardio workout, as well as our top picks to help you get started.


The perfect machine for those who want to start running, and one of the most accessible cardio exercises there is. A treadmill is designed to help you build stamina through the gradual improvement of pace, but they can be excellent for bursts of high-intensity exercise if you don’t have a lot of time, too.

Best treadmills for cardio

But why should you buy something that you can do for free? Valid question, but think about the weather in the UK- it’s not healthy to run in the rain and you don’t want to worry about safety risks that running outside might pose. It is also better for your joints as running on a treadmill is a padded surface. Just a couple of things to consider.

When buying a treadmill, it’s important to consider what you want from it and what features it can offer you based on those needs. Belt size, max speed, and incline will all determine, in part, what kind of workout you can expect. A shorter belt is better for walkers, while runners need a longer stride, and thus a longer belt.

Treadmills can come with a range of features that improve and help you track workouts. All decent treadmills display your speed, time ran, and calories burnt per session. However, these interfaces can be upgraded to show heart rate and offer many different options, such as different running programs, too.

The Reebok One GT40S Treadmill is a good example of an affordably priced, gym-sized treadmill, with a wide variety of programmes to offer varied challenging workouts, as well as a soft-drop folding function to help with storage. Meanwhile, the Opti Treadmill has a lower max speed and shorter length, but multiple levels of incline, making it a great choice for those looking to build stamina and get into slower paced hill-climbing.

So now you’ve decided your belt size, speeds, storage needs and features, you’re ready to find your perfect treadmill at a price that’s right!

Exercise bikes

For a mixture of excellent cardio exercise and reliable muscle building, targeting your legs, glutes, and core, exercise bikes are a versatile and effective tool. This mix of exercises and the high calorie burning nature of these machines makes them a popular choice for any gym or home gym. As a low-impact exercise machine, they’re gentler on your joints as well.

A basic exercise bike won’t have too many features beyond the ability to adjust tension manually with a dial and track your workout. However, the more you are willing to spend, the more features you can find, such as heart rate monitors, electronic resistance settings, and workout programmes.

There are different kinds of bikes, too. Recumbent bikes seat you in a reclined position, which offers a great leg workout while being extra gentle on your back and joints, that could be useful for those with limited mobility. Upright bikes offer the more muscle-building potential, targeting your core and upper body. And, if you’re super keen then you might fancy a spin bike to really test your stamina.

The Reebok GB40s One Electronic Exercise Bike is a good example of a standard, feature packed exercise bike, including pulse sensors in the grips, electronic resistance, and the ability to choose from and customise different exercise programmes. The Opti Folding Magnetic Exercise bike is a little less feature rich, but highly cost effective and easy to store away, making it a popular choice.

Cross trainers

Also called elliptical machines, cross trainers are a piece of equipment designed to offer a full body workout, building muscles in multiple groups while also getting your heart pumping. Depending on how they’re used, they can offer workouts that resemble walking, stair climbing, and rowing. They work out the legs and glutes and your arms too if you use them to power it. If you don’t want to do that, you can focus on your core instead.

Cross trainers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A small flywell and stride length usually means they’re better built for slower-paced exercises, but the longer the stride and bigger the flywheel, the tougher your workouts can be.

You can adjust the tension and difficulty of your workouts on just about every kind of cross trainer. Some, however, also double as exercise bikes, allowing you to adjust the position of the machine to switch up your workout.

The Opti Magnetic 2 in 1 is a great example of a cross-trainer meets exercise bike, with an adjustable magnetic resistance system, a pulse sensor in the handgrip, and a digital console offering a lot of feedback on the workout. The Reebok GX40s may not offer the same transforming versatility, but it has all the same features plus a range of customisable exercise programs, a larger flywheel, and a great degree of tension control.

Cross trainers are probably the most versatile piece of gym equipment you can have in your home as they offer so much exercise variety- whether walking, running, or powering those arms, they are a great all rounder calorie workout!

Rowing machines

Lastly, for a full body workout that offers a much better targeting of the arms, upper back, and shoulders, rowing machines are a great mix of cardio and strength building exercise bundled together. They’re also low impact machines, meaning they’re good for those who need to take care of their joints while working to improve their range of movement.

The major difference in rowing machines is what kind of resistance they have. Hydraulic rowers offer less resistance and tend to be on the lower end of the price scale. Magnetic rowers use a flywheel with a magnetic breaking system inside to offer a little more resistance, but this functionality means they are a much quieter option if you have fussy neighbours. Air rowers, however, add an extra challenge, increasing the resistance based on how fast you’re rowing- these are the ones you will normally find in the gym.

Choosing the equipment that offers the level of workout you need is important, and these machines can come with loads of other features too, such as the ability to fold up for storage and monitoring settings.

The Opti Magnetic Rowing Machine is a good example of a mid-level machine designed to help build stamina and muscle, with some handy transportation wheels to adjust its position in the home gym. The Reebok GR Electronic Rowing Machine, on the other hand, is an electronically controlled machine, with heart rate measurement, race mode, and the ability to program a range of exercise routines.

Whether you are super fit, or just looking to get some exercise back in your life, there are so many different choices on the market to give you the home cardio workout you desire at a price that’s right. A balanced, varied workout is going to be much easier to achieve in your own home and with loads of storable options available, even if you don’t have lots of space, you can still find something that works for you. Many of the pieces of equipment mentioned are also really versatile, so they can be included in other routines too- so you’ll never get bored!

About The Author
Niki Anderton
Personal gym instructor and fitness enthusiast. Helping people achieve their own personal fitness goals and make a real difference to their lives is what keeps me going.
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