What is the Most Effective Cardio Machine

Want to know which cardio machine will give you the best results. Read on to find out. 

Setting the Treadmill

In today’s day and age, people want results fast. That means when it comes to working out they don’t want to spend months on one machine, if there was another machine that would have got better results sooner.

And while getting results doubly fast may not exactly be possible, the type of machine you use can play a huge role in your overall progress.

Some burn calories at a higher rate, some are for specific parts of the body whereas others are more effective at training the entire body.

Well, here’s the good news, if you’ve been wondering which machine is right for you, you’re in luck, because in this article we’re going to break down the different types of cardio machines and tell you which one is the most effective for getting results. 

How Do you Judge Which Machines are Effective? 

The real answer here is it depends, because different people have different goals, however in this article, we’re looking at cardio machines that can improve your fitness and help you to increase your performance over time. To do that, the equipment in question must:

  • Burn calories at a high rate
  • Give you a great workout
  • Be efficient and not require hours on to see results
  • Be a machine you might find in the gym, or be able to buy for home use.

Using those criteria, we’ll be able to effectively rank the most effective workout machines and successfully pick a winner.

Most Common Cardio Machines


Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise and it’s pretty simple why. Running burns a lot of calories, it’s enjoyable and it also replicates how our bodies move every single day, whether we’re walking, running, or jogging.

The treadmill offers you a way to do all of this and work on your fitness as you walk, jog or run indoors, making it perfect for when the weather gets colder or the days get shorter and darker.

Running on a treadmill can also be easier for some people as the tread belt isn’t as hard as the ground, which can reduce your chances of injury if you run a lot. Treadmills are universally popular, and a great choice whether you’re exercising in the gym, or at home.

Exercise Bike

There are different types of exercise bikes but for this article, we’ve put them all under the same heading.  The good news is, whether it’s a recumbent exercise bike or a standard upright bike, both are fantastic options to help you progress in the gym. Both bikes are suitable for low impact exercise, making them perfect for people who are new to exercise or who may be getting over an injury, and although they may not be as intense as some options on this list, both the recumbent bike and the upright exercise offer high-calorie burning potential.

However, they do have two drawbacks. Firstly, they don’t work the upper body which will mean you won’t be training some of your essential muscles whenever you use the bike, and secondly, they are somewhat limited in terms of how much resistance they can give you.

Rowing Machine

The rowing machine can give you a fantastic cardio workout while also working multiple muscle groups at once, making it a great option if you’re looking for a full-body training session.

Although it looks fairly easy, rowing is actually one of the hardest cardio workouts you can do and it’s excellent for building up your fitness.

Whether you’re new to exercise or a gym regular, you shouldn’t have any problem using the rowing machine and even if you have an injury, or need a low impact option, the rowing machine is still a great choice.

Spin Bike

The spin bike offers a different type of cardio workout that’s a step up from other exercise bikes. Traditional exercise bikes are made for you to sit down and pedal, but the spin bike has been uniquely designed to replicate road cycling.

You should expect to sprint, climb hills and work on your endurance multiple times in any given spin session.

Spin can be very high intensity, and it will be demanding, although as with most forms of exercise you do get to self-regulate and work to your own level of difficulty so you’re never biting off more than you can chew.  

Spinning targets your legs more than anything else but it also works the core muscles and it is possible to add some upper body exercises into a session, although that shouldn’t be expected every time.

Overall the spin bike is a fantastic choice for burning calories and improving your cardio fitness and you’ll definitely feel the effect after your session is over.

Elliptical Machine

Elliptical machines are extremely easy to use and a great way of getting a full-body workout. They’re low impact, making them a preferred choice for people suffering from joint problems and because they work your upper body and lower body at the same time, you get more bang for your buck when using an elliptical.

However, if there was one drawback,  it would be that they don’t replicate a real-life movement, and while that isn’t essential, some people like to perform exercises that work their muscles in a more realistic, life-like way.

However, if that’s not a concern, the elliptical can be a great workout option.

Which is the Most Effective at Burning Calories?

Accurately tracking how many calories you burn is never an exact science as there are other factors to consider such as how intense your sessions are and how long they go on.

Your height, weight, and levels of fitness should also be considered to get a clearer picture of how many calories you’re burning. For example, a 200lb athlete and a 200lb untrained individual would get very different calorie expenditures due to how fit they are and how hard they worked in a session, however with all that in mind we have used the comprehensive ‘Calorie Calculator’ from My Fitness Pal to get a ballpark figure of how many calories you could expect to burn.

We used the preset data of a 150lb person when doing our calculations and we set the duration to 30 minutes for each activity.

The result was that running on a treadmill came out on top. Our calculator showed us that if a 150lb person was to run for 30 minutes at a pace of an 11-minute mile, they could expect to burn between 306 and 340 calories, making running the clear winner.

For reference, the elliptical came in second place, which was somewhat surprising, but It was also great to know because the elliptical is an extremely popular activity for people that are new to exercise or who are recovering from an injury. If a 150lb person was to use this machine for 30 minutes they could expect to burn somewhere in the region of 306 calories.

The third best machine was the Spin bike, and again this surprised us.

Spinning is one of the most intense workouts there is and we felt it would be much closer to the calories burned when running, especially if you’re cycling at an intense level. However, the calories burned in 30 minutes would only be 238.

Which Machine Gives you the Best Workout?

There are a few different things that contribute to a good workout and when it’s done right, you’ll want to come back time and time again. It’ll be fun, enjoyable, challenging and you’ll experience a rush of endorphins throughout the workout while still feeling great after.

When you’re trying to find an effective cardio machine, you must be able to get a good workout because this will help keep you motivated long term. If not you’ll quickly get bored, your training will become a chore and you’ll start to find it harder to commit to your training sessions.

With all that in mind, we looked at all of the cardio machines and felt that the Spin Bike deserved to be on top.

As a piece of equipment it’s extremely versatile and whether you want to use it as a beginner to simply get some miles in, or you’re currently training for a race, the spin bike will help, but it’s not just the design of the bike that makes spinning such a great workout. Spin classes are set to music, and whether you’re sweating in a class at the gym or following along at home, the feel-good vibe of the class music is a great motivator. It keeps you engaged, makes the sessions fun, and helps to motivate you to achieve more every session.

Spinning is fun, fast-paced, and all-action from the start, making it the ideal option when looking for a great workout.

When considering the other options, we felt that either the stationary bikes were worthy of second place because although they are fixed machines and don’t allow for as much movement and excitement as a Spin class, they are designed in a way that is ideal if you want to watch TV, play a game or do something else while working out, which many people do when training at home.

Which Machine Helps you to Have a Great Workout and Work up a Sweat the Fastest?

When working out, you want to actually feel like you’re doing something, and once again we felt the Spin Bike was the best option.

Some of the machines, such as the treadmill or the elliptical, are limited by what your body can do, which means you’re stuck in the same position for the duration of your sessions, for example, because of the design of the elliptical, it’s very hard to increase the speed too much, for too long, without feeling uncomfortable and disjointed in your movement.

Equally, it’s difficult to sprint for too long on a treadmill because your body is doing all the work, and it can only take so much.

However, you don’t have that problem with Spin.

Spinning is as much about the bike, as it is about the person, and because of how classes are delivered, there are multiple ways to move without having an impact on the intensity of the session. For example, hill sprints followed by ‘attack jumps’ would be just as challenging as a flat out sprint, and because of how spin is delivered, you’d be able to do both back to back with relatively short in between movements, making it a much more effective machine to use for your workout.

Final Thoughts

When we consider everything, it’s hard to look past the Spin Bike as the most effective cardio machine.

Not only does it have great calorie-burning potential, making it an ideal machine to use if you have weight loss for a goal, but the sessions are fun and exciting, which will keep you motivated and more engaged as you work towards your targets.  

Spinning sessions are fun, fast-paced, and full of high-tempo music, and the best thing is, it’s the same wherever you do your class.

You can attend a spin class at a gym or a specialist studio, but thanks to a rise in virtual fitness apps, you can even follow along to on-demand, or live classes from the comfort of your own home.

Whether you’ve got an hour to kill or a quick 15 minutes, you’ll be able to enjoy a great spinning session, and with a few adaptations, you can train your entire body from your bike.

If you’re looking for an effective cardio workout machine, the spin bike may just be the perfect choice.

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