Losing weight is one of the toughest things to accomplish, especially when you’re trying to do so in a healthy manner.
There are individuals out there who are constantly looking at the number on the scale and doing whatever it takes to get it lower, whether that’s cutting out meals or refusing to eat at all - some people even develop eating disorders!
This is why we preach losing weight healthily (even something as simple as stopping eating sugar) as it will help you build a better future for your body. Longevity is something we’re going to focus on, but losing weight, in general, is always going to be a “side effect” of cardio workouts.
Nobody Enjoys Their Cardio Workout (Not Yet!)
Cardio is likely your least favorite kind of workout to do, as is the case for most people out there. Cardio is meant to push your body to the limit and see how far you can take things, but not like you would in the weight lifting room.
Instead, you’re going to be testing your durability and stamina by putting your body in a state of “panic”. There’s a reason why some professional runners still manage to poop their pants during marathons, and that’s because it’s tough.
When the going gets rough and you hit that runner’s wall, there’s only one thing to do: run right through it! This article is going to take a look at some of the best cardio equipment available in 2021, most of which will be more affordable than the typical options.
Sometimes it pays off to do a little bit of research and figure out what you want beforehand, but never fear, as there will be several options to choose from in regards to our recommendations. What we loved may not be perfect for you, but it’s a great place to start the search.
No Need to Worry About Doing Research Yourself
I’ve gone through hundreds of different cardio machines to find the best treadmills, stationary bikes, ellipticals, rowing machines, and rowing bikes to make the most optimal guide possible.
While other guides are going to focus on expensive machines to try and maximize profits, we’re all about inexpensive cardio machines - that means you’ll have more money to spend on other things in life.
A quick side-note on Shakes and Supplements...
Well, most people (especially total nerds and beginners) seldom make out one from the other - so let's clear things up real quick.
A meal replacement shake (the likes of Kachava, Huel & Shakeology), as the name implies, works pretty much like your average meal... filling in on your energy deficit and loading up your energy reserves.
You might need to have a sip before hitting the gym, or gulp it down for a refill to get you through the rest of the day. Of all the options in town, Kachava is my all time favorite, thanks to its tasty flavors, a rich nutrient profile that makes Kachava good for users.
On the other hand, supplements, also known as pre-workouts, are consumed only when hitting the gym for energy-draining workouts.
This, and of course, other advantages that you can get with supplements comes from their ingredients, but do note, NOT all of them are without some drawbacks, so pick wisely - focus on natural pre workouts and ones without beta alanine and such ingredients.
Enough said about shakes and supplements, let's get you that budget cardio machine.
The Importance of Cardio
Cardiovascular endurance is one of the most important feats you can sport as a human being. When you lack cardio, it’s going to show whether you are doing simple essential fitness exercises or grinding it out on a smith machine.
There’s a reason why professional athletes tend to focus on their cardio because it will allow them to perform for longer periods of time. When you can outperform your competition consistently and do it for longer, you’re bound to start winning at some point.
You’re the Fool, Fatigue!
Fatigue makes fools of us all, and if you’ve ever been dead tired on a sports field or court yourself, you know exactly what we’re talking about. It’s also the reason why fat kids are hiding in gym class because they know it’s the day they run laps, and their cardio just can’t handle it.
Improve Your Life, Why Don’t Ya?
Improving your cardio is also going to improve your life in many different ways, and not just in the sporting sense. You’ll be able to play with your children for longer, play recreational sports with friends when you’re older, and just enjoy life as a whole for an extended period.
The point where you’ve got nothing left and you’re basically limping around the track is where you realize you’re a coward, and your body sucks. If only you had better cardio, right? Well, that’s where the cheap cardio machines we’ve listed in this guide come in - you can buy one and start working towards getting rid of belly fat in the comfort of your home.
If you don’t enjoy the gym environment and can’t handle people looking at your jiggly parts, then you’ve got no other choice than to purchase some equipment of your own and set up a nice home backyard gym.
Keep Your Heart Pumping Properly
Cardio can help improve upon heart health as well, since sitting around and eating cheeseburgers is going to clog up your “blood pipes” (for lack of a better term).
Imagine mounds of cheese and lard gathering in the tubes of your heart, and cardio is the process that gets the heart pumping and helps break that up - of course, a proper diet (be it taking one meal a day or fasting) is going to go a long way on top of that.
Without all of the bro science involved, cardio is proven to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels (as well as reduce plaque build-up and increase blood flow).
Identifying the Perfect Fit: What to Look for in a Cardio Machine
I would say there are three traits to consider when you’re trying to purchase a cardio machine, all of which will help you get the best cardio workout possible.
Of course, some machines are going to cater to more dedicated runners or workout enthusiasts who want a dose of cardio after other workouts, and that’s okay. That’s why there are hundreds on the market to choose from, as each one will offer a different benefit than the other.
Long gone are the days where you had to settle for a boring old treadmill, a wornout elliptical with clunking noise, or a bike that hurts your knees - you get to be comfortable while staying fit, so long as you’ve got the right product to work with.
If a cardio machine seems like it’s overpriced, you’ll need to dig a bit deeper. Take a look at all of the features available and who produces the machine, as it will likely come from a reputable source. They’re always going to cost a few hundred dollars, so don’t expect to find any cardio machines on the market to be “dirt cheap”.
You’re investing in your physique and health, which is worth way more than any monetary amount that you could consider - so don’t be a cheapskate! Cutting corners on your budget will likely leave you with a lackluster cardio machine, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any affordable options on the market.
With a little bit of research (and some help from this buyers’ guide) you have the opportunity to both save money and work out with the best cardio machines around.
Quality is never overlooked when it comes to purchasing a cardio machine, as there are plenty of budget treadmills out there that you can waste your money on.
The best thing to do is find the perfect balance of cost and quality, but if you’re willing to spend some extra cash, you can always consider looking at cardio machines from the top brands.
There’s a reason why these companies reign supreme in the physical fitness marketplace, and it’s because they produce quality goods! With that being said, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars (if not thousands) to get your hands on some of these machines.
We’ll talk about the best brands around a little later on in the article, but just know that your money will be well-spent when it comes to buying items for a home gym. Going the cheap route will always call for a lack in quality, but sometimes you can be okay with that.
Looking at a treadmill that has a bunch of apps and gadgets, but you have no clue how to use them? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone! Many people just want a traditional treadmill that will offer up a quality experience, and others are more interested in something “unique”.
It all depends on what you’re looking for, so if you wanted a futuristic cardio machine with neon lights, all you’ve got to do is scour the market for it.
Some of these cardio machines will hook up to applications on your phone and let you interact with others in the fitness community, and some will have nothing of the sort. Consider what you want in a cardio machine of your own and shop accordingly, as there is bound to be something that fits your needs perfectly.
What is the Cheapest Cardio Machine?
The cheapest cardio machine is likely going to be the treadmill, as there are plenty of bare variations available when compared to the elliptical bike or even rowing machines.
Rowing bikes/machines would be a close second, but there are always going to be “luxury” versions of any cardio machine - if you’ve got the budget and are willing to spend some money, you can find just about anything you’d like.
If you’re budget-conscious and want to go for the cheapest cardio machine possible, I’d argue that you’d be best off with a treadmill or rowing bike.
While other people are moving onto the era of connecting with people through the internet and using a little screen to “bike through Paris”, you can just stare at a brick wall or TV in your basement while running on the treadmill for hours. Working out isn’t meant to be fun!
I break down on my cheap treadmill all the time and I wouldn’t want it any other way, especially if other people from across the world could see me doing it.
What Cardio Equipment Is Best for Home?
Once again, this is going to come down to a matter of personal opinion. Some people don’t have basements, and that means stomping on a treadmill may not be the best thing to do in your condo or apartment.
Rowing bikes are great because they tend to be quiet for the most part, but they take up a lot of space when compared to an elliptical bike, or say a space-saving treadmill. If you’re worried about space, a small elliptical bike is your best bet - it also helps avoid stomping on the floor and annoying your downstair neighbors.
Most people who live in apartments will go to the gym regardless, and if you own a home you can basically buy whichever cardio machine you prefer. Don’t want to worry about your stomach popping out while running? Buy a rowing bike/machine and work on your back muscles while maintaining that stamina!
There are plenty of options to choose from, and once again, the best cardio machine for your home is going to come down to the space available and personal preference.
What Are the Top Brands That Produce Cardio Equipment?
You’ve probably seen or heard about the brands we’re going to cover in the past, as they have amazing marketing campaigns and feature some of the best cardio machines found on the market today.
Of course, you’d much rather spend money on microtransactions in video games and fast food, but you’re trying to make a change for the better! Any of these brands will offer up a fantastic option regardless of which cardio machine you choose to work with, although they tend to come with a higher price point. Be on the lookout for names like:
- Black Concept
Some brands (like Peloton) will focus on stationary bikes, while others (like Black Concept) will feature top-of-the-line rowing machines and bikes.
Get a feel for what you prefer and shop these brands accordingly, because you’re probably going to be spending a paycheck or two purchasing one of these bad boys. It’s worth the money if you actually use the machine and don’t let it sit in the garage as a second coat rack though!
The Best Cheap Cardio Machines Around
Let’s not waste any time and get right into the products, shall we? For the most part, people don’t want to spend an arm and leg on their cardio machines - I understand that on a personal level, which is why cheap cardio machines are what I was researching most.
This list should help you get a feel for the best available options that you can use, although you’ll probably be eating ramen for dinner over the next few months.
Here are the best treadmills on the market
Best Bang for Buck Treadmill
The XTerra Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill is known as the best “bang for buck” because it will cost you about $500 or so, depending on whether or not you catch a sale. The best part about this treadmill is that it’s durable and straightforward, allowing you to jump right into the action without any worry. If you’re sick and tired of all the “beep-boop” involved with modern treadmills, this one is going to be something you fancy.
Some of us are like cavemen when it comes to technology and we don’t need more of it introduced into our workouts, which is where the XTerra Fitness TR150 Folding Treadmill shines the most. With a deck length of 50 inches and 2.25 or horsepower available, you’ll be able to push your limits (or see how long it takes until you fall off) with any cardio routine, with a speed rating of 0.5 to 10mph.
Take it slow and steady with a nice walking pace, or crank it up to 10mph and see how fast you can truly run! All of this can be had without cracking open a safe or robbing a bank to make it affordable, yet still maintains the quality that all XTerra products tend to offer.
Best Overall Treadmill
The best overall treadmill has to be the NordicTrack T Series Treadmill, which is one that I have a bit of personal experience with. Although NordicTrack is known to focus on more affordable products that still offer quality, I was pleasantly surprised with this treadmill. If my chunky self can get up there and get a few steps in daily, just imagine how much weight you could lose with this bad boy!
They have two different models available that offer different-sized display monitors (10 and 5-inches), but other than that, there isn’t a lot of technology to be had here. Every single treadmill comes equipped with an iFIT Membership as well, which means you can stream live workouts on-demand with personal trainers from all over the world!
Elite trainers can take a look at your treadmill settings and adjust them according to your needs, giving you a cardio experience that will be worth all of the pain. There’s a maximum user capacity of 300-lbs to consider, although the treadmill comes equipped with a 10-year frame warranty, also this treadmill comes with incline, if you like a little bit of challenge during your treadmill sessions.
Highest Reviewed Treadmill
The best-reviewed treadmill has to be the Sunny Health & Fitness Folding Treadmill, with well over 6,000 ratings on Amazon and a 5-star rating. Maxing out at 9mph, this treadmill offers enough power and support for even the most dedicated runners out there.
Designed to be used with a maximum weight of 220-lbs, you can expect this to be better for lightweight users - it’s easy to fold up and store as well, which likely contributes to the lack of weight support.
The large LCD screen can be used to interact with 9 different built-in workout programs, as well as take a look at the time, calories burnt, and several other useful pieces of information. You can even hook up your smartphone to this treadmill and display the information there if it’s easier!
There are “better” treadmills available, but all of this can be had for $400 and the people on Amazon seem to love using it themselves.
Best Rowing Machines
Now we showcase the best rowing machines on the market.
Best Bang for Buck Rowing Machine
Coming in at under $300 due to a current sale, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine is one of the best “bang for buck” cardio machines I’ve ever come across.
The ratings are amazing and it seems as if you can implement a professional piece of workout equipment in your house without starving for a few days! That in itself is worth the purchasing price, isn’t it?
There are several features to drool over, but most important are the non-slip handlebars to stop your clammy hands from dropping them constantly.
All jokes aside, this is an amazing machine that will help you lose weight and get shredded at the same time; it offers an adjustable resistance system that can be adjusted by twisting the knob clockwise or counterclockwise (to increase or decrease the resistance).
Best Overall Rowing Machine
The Fitness Reality Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine is a full-sized rowing machine that offers comfort, and all of the other pros that come with owning a cardio machine of this quality.
Although it isn’t one that offers up an immaculate VR experience or lets you row through European lakes, this is the kind of cardio machine that gets things done. Want to lose those side pouches? Get on the Fitness Reality Bluetooth Magnetic Rowing Machine and watch those calories burn away.
Like most other options on this list, you can hook it up to your smartphone and interact with your stats easier (or at all, as there’s no LCD screen to help you).
Go through a plethora of different techniques like Front Raises, Tricep Extensions, and Side Raises to build a balanced body that can withstand more cheeseburgers than ever before!
Highest Reviewed Rowing Machine
Concept2 Performance/Monitor Indoor Rowing Machine (I own this one personally!)
The Concept2 Performance costs a whopping $1,288 USD, but it’s well worth the money. I’ve spent a lot of time on rowing machines in my life, but none of them have been as sensational as this one.
I mean, I own it, so isn’t that enough to warrant the purchase? Engage all of your muscles and be a better person with Concept2, so long as you can avoid thinking about your ex-girlfriend.
Best Rowing Bikes
If you are looking for a rowing bike, here are the best options
Best Bang for Buck Rowing Bikes
The XTERRA FItness FB150 Folding Rowing Bike is produced by XTERRA, a well-known manufacturer in the cardio machine industry. If you don’t want to take a guess with some of the other providers around, you can always just spend about $129 on this product and be happy with the results.
As long as you can get on the thing and be comfortable for about an hour every single day, what more could you ask for? There are hand-readers and a small display that will let you know your heart rate and how many calories you’ve burned as well.
Although this bike is foldable it doesn't have backrest, if you are looking for a foldable exercise bike with backrest, there are lots of them on the market, if you're willing to put in the time and do some digging.
Best Overall Rowing Bike
The Schwinn Fitness 130 Upright Rowing Bike is likely the most expensive option out of all three we’re going to look at, but there’s a reason for that: it’s Schwinn!
This is a company that has been pumping out high-quality bicycles for a long time, so it only makes sense that they’re charging a premium price for their rowing bikes as well.
There are 7 Preset profiles to choose from, as well as the option to create your own - the LCD screen makes it easy to see how many calories you’ve burned and how far you’ve traveled too!
Highest Reviewed Rowing Bike
This Marcy Recumbent Exercise Resistant ME 709 Rowing Bike is by far the most popular option here, with a heap of great Amazon reviews.
A closer look at this bike and the reason behind the massive reviews becomes apparent...
Its spacious, ergonomic seat and back support have more than sufficient high-density foam padding. Its armrests are pretty cool too, your hands won’t be, well…, just hanging there.
Then there’s the easily readable screen. All your workout stats (speed, time, distance, calories…etc) are right there!
The different resistance levels, a smooth, quiet operation, and the counterbalanced pedals are downright awesome, too.
While at it, you just can’t miss the step-through design, and even more remarkably, the 14-gauge steel tubing frame for ultimate strength and durability.
And yeah, all that for just $158, a steal for a great exercise bike with back support like this one.
Best Elliptical Machines
Here are the best elliptical machines on the market.
Best Bang for Buck Elliptical Machine
The Sunny Health Fitness SF E902 Elliptical Machine is easily the cheapest option on this list, as it only costs around $99 if you can catch a sale. While other people are worried about how they’ll afford the next payment on their Peloton bikes, you don't have to.
You can get your exercise in without a care in the world - $100 is a small price to pay for the betterment of your physical health (and arguably your life as a whole).
Best Overall Elliptical Machine
The Cross Trainer and Monitoring Sunny Health Fitness Elliptical Machine is slightly different from the above version, as it offers a more “quality” experience. It’s going to cost more money, of course, but just think of it as paying for a better experience.
Easy to set up, doesn’t cost too much money, and will monitor all of your readings with a small digital screen to display the information. It’s everything you could ask for in an elliptical and then some, and it’s also highly reviewed on Amazon to boot!
Highest Reviewed Elliptical Machine
This is the Schwinn 100516-430 Elliptical Machine, and it’s going to shock you how much it costs. Like most Schwinn models, you can expect to be paying a lot to get your hands on anything they’ve produced.
As I’ve said numerous times, there’s a reason for this, and you need to get over it.
If you already have and are willing to pay $799 (usually $999) for the best elliptical experience possible, this is the perfect option for you. Then again, we don’t all have $1,000 laying around.
Only a Beginner? The Best Exercise Machine to Lose Weight at Home
Losing weight at home doesn’t need to be complicated, take a look at the list of cardio machines I’ve compiled and decide which one is the best fit for you.
I’m sure you’re going to find something that makes shedding that excess weight and staying in shape a simple task, and I love it! I take pride in seeing my readers make a change for the better after all.
If you want to learn more about personal fitness or how to get in shape with specific machines, be sure to stick around and check out some of the other articles I’ve written!
- Schwinn 470 vs Sole E25: Which Better Elliptical Should You Get?
- Schwinn 170 vs Nautilus U618 – Which Upright Exercise Bike is Worth it? – My Personal Review
- Running for Weight Gain
- Does Exercise Increase Metabolism? - Science Backed Research Says Yes
- How to Build Bigger Quads
- How To Measure Fitness Level & Track Your Progress