From rowers to ski machines and air bikes to treadmills, these are the best exercise machines for taking your home gym set-up to the next level…
A set of dumbbells or resistance bands are the go-to pieces of kit when it comes to getting your fitness fix at home. But sooner or later it’s likely you’ll want to take your workouts up a gear. Weights and bands are ideal for strength training and enhancing HIIT or CrossFit sessions. But if you’re looking to up your cardio game you need to consider one of the best exercise machines.
Of course regular running and cycling sessions are the easiest way to work your cardiovascular system. But they’re not such attractive options when nights close in, the temperature drops or it’s pouring with rain.
Also, you may want a little more engagement in your workouts than just pounding the pavements or crunching the pedals. Some people find it easier to work out if they can gamify their sessions. Others prefer to join in virtual exercise classes. Most of these cardio machines will give you at least one of those options.
So if you’ve got the space and cash to spare, a dedicated exercise machine is well worth considering.
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Best exercise machines for home gyms
(Keep reading for the full reviews…)
- Best treadmill: Peloton Tread ($3,495 / £3,345 plus membership, onepeloton.co.uk)
- Best ski machine: Concept2 SkiErg ($850 / £815, amazon.co.uk)
- Best exercise bike: WattBike Atom ($3,399 / £2,399 plus membership, wattbike.com)
- Best air bike: AssaultBike Classic ($699 / £749, amazon.co.uk)
- Best rowing machine: Aviron Strong ($2,100 plus membership – international shipping available, avironactive.com)
The price may be steep (and you need to factor in membership fees) but for the sheer quality and quantity of workout options you can’t go wrong with the Peloton Tread. The hardware is top-notch but it’s the 23.8in / 60cm screen that holds the Tread’s real potential.
In the year or so of owning a Peloton Tread, I’ve tried everything from Bootcamps, to Pop workouts, to carefully curated Interval Runs and more, while my partner prefers the Scenic Runs and Guided Runs. And yet there’s so much that we haven’t tried. The options seem endless.
As someone who has been using treadmills regularly for over 20 years, and who has access to two other home treadmills from two different brands, I can tell you that this is the only treadmill that really excites me and continues to get weekly use.
- Read our full Peloton Tread review
Best ski machine
The SkiErg is the OG ski machine and mimics Nordic skiing for a cardiovascular, upper body-focused workout. It may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, but Concept2 believes if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And I’d have to agree.
Whether it’s wall-mounted or secured with the additional floor stand, the SkiErg doesn’t take up much real estate (though check your ceiling height). It’s a relatively inexpensive way to get in regular cardio and upper body sessions, even if you don’t intend to hit the slopes this winter.
Much like other cardio machines, the SkiErg has a PM5 screen (a small one), which I found simple to use and pretty self-explanatory. There’s the option to change the units in which you measure your output (watts, strokes per minute, calories and distance, for example).
- Read our full Concept2 SkiErg review
Best exercise bike
$3,399 / £2,399 (for the bike) plus $79.99 / £79.99 per year all-access membership, wattbike.com
An ideal investment for the Zwift generation, the Wattbike Atom is all the exercise bike you need – and more (though you’ll need your own screen). Coming pre-built and ready to ride, all you need to do is pair it with the Wattbike Hub app (for $79.99 / £79.99 a year) and you’ll be smashing cycling workouts in no time.
Beyond the app, Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity means you can connect to a wide range of fitness accessories and third party software so you can monitor heart rate or gamify your sessions. A smart resistance mode means you can let the bike change gear for you too.
When it comes to the bike itself, I found that the ride felt pretty close to real, supported by the inclusion of integrated gear shifts like you’d find on your regular road bike. When it comes to simulating hills, automated resistance in climb mode (over a 0.25% gradient) serves up the full ride experience – complete with burning lungs.
- Read our full WattBike Atom review
Best air bike
There’s a reason why Assault Fitness’s Classic air bike has become industry standard in enthusiast and elite fitness spaces. This no-nonsense machine provides great value for money as well as a calorie-torching workout each time you swing a leg over it.
The saddles on most air bikes tend to be wider and plusher than on road bikes, where weight is more important, and the AirBike Classic is no exception. I found the narrow nose took a little getting used to, however, and angling it upwards slightly created a more comfortable riding position.
It doesn’t have the connectivity options of its more expensive siblings, but that’s part of its immediate appeal. Just punch in a target time, distance, calorie count or heart rate and get pedalling. In my optinion, it’s a solid and stable ride, even when your workout has you out of the saddle and on the threshold.
- Read our full AssaultBike Classic review
Best rowing machine
$2,100 plus membership from $24 per month – international shipping available, avironactive.com
Ideal for those who like to gamify their sweat sessions, the Aviron Strong has a 22in touchscreen that gives you access to workouts that the whole family can enjoy. So far there are 15 different titles to choose from, such as Row Breaker, Bug Blaster and Zombie Apocalypse.
Aviron’s Metrics Monitor keeps track of all the stats you need, including wattage, output, distance, pace, calories, strokes, SPM, heart rate and elapsed time. Membership will give you streaming access to Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and YouTube videos while you row too.
I added the Aviron Strong Series to my workout routine for about a month. During that time, I completed just over 1 hour of rowing overall – mostly in 5 to 15-minute increments — torching through 532 total calories; traveling 12,659 meters; and completing 1,479 total strokes. I’m not much for gamifying my workouts, but I love stats, and Aviron excels in both departments.
- Read our full Aviron Strong review
Why invest in home gym machines?
If you’re new to the world of home gym kit, you might be wondering if it’s worth it to splash the cash on a new treadmill or exercise bike – especially when you can use all these machines and more at your local gym. However, if you’re looking to commit to a regular fitness regime, having a home gym set up could offer an array of benefits.
Namely, after initially investing in your new exercise machine, you won’t need to pay any monthly or yearly gym membership fees, meaning your kit will pay for itself in no time. Also, having easy access to exercise machines at home can be a more time-effective way to squeeze in a workout when you’re busy, with no need to commute to the gym or wait in a lengthy queue for the SkiErg.