This might seem like a contradiction to some – after all, most cardio is done outdoors.
However, there are always reasons that people prefer to workout at home:
Ease, weather, location, schedule or other reasons that don't quite accommodate jogging on trails or sprinting up hills.
Home gym equipment can be the perfect way to improve fitness and burn some calories.
We are here to provide you with the best cardio equipment for burning fat in the comfort of your own home.
Here's our list of the best cheap home cardio equipment that will get you into great shape in no time at all, provided you put the effort in.
We'll include a wide range of equipment and prices - some are cheap in terms of they're only a few pounds and others are cheaper versions of more expensive cardio equipment such as slimline rowing machines.
The Best Cheap Home Cardio Equipment
Heart Rate Monitor
Footwear for Cardio: Well Cushioned Footwear
More of a comfort measure as well as a matter of safety, but good footwear is still worth getting if you care about your joints and spine, and want to take your training up a notch.
Many home cardio workouts involve some kind of jumping or other high-impact exercises, and wooden floors tend not to be as forgiving on your joints as dirt-packed trails.
While it might feel weird buying running shoes for home cardio, it’s necessary if you want to go high-impact and keep your joints and spine intact.
Price doesn’t matter here: just pick something that will provide good cushioning and if you want to, support.
There's a reason skipping is a staple in many a boxer's conditioning program: it lets you simultaneously work on endurance, speed, balance, coordination, strengthen the knee and ankle structure (goodbye, sprained ankles!), and it's great when you want to lose weight.
What's more, it's a low impact, high-intensity exercise that's easy on joints, and that is a combination too good to miss.
Jumping rope reigns supreme in the world of home cardio workouts, there's no denying it, and the perfect calisthenic exercise. Not sure what a calisthenics exercise is? Check out this Calisthenics Resistance Exercises article from Very Well Fit.
If frustration from tripping over the jump rope still outweighs its benefits for you, take the time to learn proper form.
You'll thank yourself that you did.
A jump rope is a very cheap piece of cardio equipment and is very light-weight, meaning it can go with you even on your travels.
Kettlebells are some of the most underrated and underutilised form of weights.
This is primarily the case with men, but also with women too.
Kettlebell exercises can give you highly effective home workouts as the motions you tend to do will hit multiple muscle groups.
You’ll increase your flexibility whilst also toning up muscles and burning fat.
Combining kettlebell and dumbbell exercises can revolutionise your home workout circuits.
Reasonably cheap, Plyometric boxes are incredibly sturdy and are effective for improving the reaction of the fast twitch muscle fibres throughout your body.
There are millions of very fun and effective home cardio exercises you can do with it, like bench hop-overs, plyo jumps (duh), box squats, one-leg lunges and so on.
Why is it good?
You can build an entire workout around it, hit every muscle in your body and it will still count as a cardio workout.
Start with some step-ups and box squats to warm up, follow up with box jumps, then give your legs some rest and do pushups or planks with your feet on the box, and so on.
Stepper platforms are cheap, more convenient than a chair when you’re doing step aerobics, and, if robust enough, it can function as a variable-height plyobox.
Still, if you want to do plyometric jumps or something equally potentially destructive to the equipment, a proper sturdy plyobox is recommended.
Home Dumbbell Set
Dumbbells don’t just have to be for weightlifting – opting for a lighter weight can help for an incredible home cardio workout.
For cardio, dumbbells weighing between 3-10kg are more than enough.
Free weight circuit training provides a very good workout that strengthens your entire body and requires tremendous endurance.
Don’t let your ego get the better of you when choosing your dumbbells – you want them to be light enough to survive at least several minutes of non-stop circuit work with some 30-60 second breaks in between at most.
Yes, resistance bands can be extremely effective home cardio equipment, if you use them correctly.
They will also help your bones and muscles get stronger.
Couple resistance bands with the plyobox or step aerobics, and you will end up with a great way to make your cardio workout a little more intense while simultaneously making you faster and stronger.
Band squats, for instance, are a great way to increase your vertical jump, but are still easy enough to be done as cardio.
Fold-Away Rowing Machine
Rowing machines don’t have to be expensive, and provide a welcome break from the lower-body cardio.
In fact, this one can be purchased for less than £100.
We gave the Body Sculpture rowing machine (that’s the one pictured and linked above) a rating of 4.2 out of 5, that’s pretty good going for such a cheap product – providing exceptional value for money.
For more reviews on rowing machines, check out Fitness Equipment Reviews.
Exactly the same situation as the rowing machine – this product proves that good products don’t have to be expensive. There are cheap exercise bikes for the home out there.
Will they provide enough resistance to leave you gasping and sweating? Will they last?
Surprisingly, they do work, and they do last.
In fact, we gave the Ultrasport exercise bike listed above a massive 4.8 out of 5.
Remember – any exercise is miles better than no exercise at all.
When you just can’t force yourself to get up and do burpees or skipping, half an hour of peddling on a cheap bike with little resistance will let you get at least some exercise for the day.
Cycling can also help to increase the size of your calves.
Low-impact, high-comfort, and not likely to make you sweat buckets.
And that’s their entire point.
Ellipticals let you train when you have issues with cardio, if you really, really don’t want to train, or if you get injured but still want to work out.
They let you go for a long time, but don’t trust the calorie monitor – cheap models often give bogus readings. The same thing holds true for cheap exercise bikes. Just a reminder to get a heart monitor.
Like an exercise bike, but cheaper.
In practice, they won’t let you push as hard as you would on an exercise bike, but are better than nothing – and won’t set you back as much either.
They’ll also hardly take up any room in your home.
They’re also good to keep the blood flowing when you’re sitting down. Think of it as a more relaxing, chilled version of an exercise bike.
Heart Rate Minitor
A heart rate monitor might not technically be a piece of cardio equipment, but they’re cheap and have the potential to make your workouts much more effective.
They provide much more accurate readings compared to in-built monitors like those on exercise bikes or treadmills.
Are you really pushing as hard as you should?
Or maybe you are overdoing it and fail to finish the workout because you’re going over the top?
The fact is, when doing cardio, it’s better to last the entire workout instead of taking timeouts every couple of minutes.
Heart rate monitors let you gauge just how much you are pushing yourself so you can find that sweet spot where you work as hard as you can but still manage to finish the workout and reap the most benefit.
Plus, with a heart rate monitor, you always know when your workouts are effective: if your resting heart rate decreases over time, chances are you are doing something right.
What The Bottom Line?
There’s no need to spend lots of money on cardio machines to have a good workout at home.
Good old jump rope remains one of the best ways to get fit, and if you find that it’s not particularly exciting to use the same implement day after day, there are tons of affordable options to choose from.
Even big pieces of equipment don’t have to be expensive.
One thing expensive cardio machines offer is comfort – but hey, couches exist for that.
We've suggested the best equipment for cardio, but what about the best workout for cardio? Check out this post from Any Time Strength for the best cardio workout.