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The Beginner's Guide to Cardio Equipment

Cardio Equipment: A Beginner's Guide

This article will provide a brief, beginners overview of all the different types of cardio equipment.

Before we dive into the different types of equipment you can use to get your cardio in, let’s first talk about why cardio is so important! 

Cardio is basically any type of exercise that increases both the heart and breathing rate and  there are countless benefits to cardio. Not only does it help you maintain a healthy weight, it’s beneficial to your cardiovascular system, decreases blood pressure, and can even strengthen your immune system. 

Making cardio a normal part of your routine can also help you sleep and improve your mood. All in all, cardio is an important part of an active and healthy lifestyle. 

Many types of cardio can be performed without any equipment, but having cardio machines at home or in your gym can help you make sure you are able to get cardio in at any time of day during any season of the year. 

There’s plenty of great options when it comes to cardio-centric equipment. Let’s break down a few of them here. 


The exercise bike is an extremely popular way to get the heart rate up! Stationary bikes provide the same benefit that riding a bike outdoors would but are safe and accessible for anyone. Your feet stay on the pedals as you use the muscles in the lower body to power the bike for a low-impact but challenging workout. 

Stationary bikes can be tailored to any fitness needs, as you can move at a pace that is right for you and adjust the resistance to add a little more challenge. 

Some stationary bikes are built to mimic outdoor cycling and are a more active ride. Recumbent bikes have more comfortable seat options and are great for anyone with an injury or limited mobility as they allow the rider to stay seated during their workout. 


Elliptical machines, also known as elliptical trainer or cross trainer is another very popular stationary cardio machine. The feet go on two separate, large pedals and you stay standing while moving the legs in a way that simulates walking, climbing, or running. 

There are usually ski pole like handrails on either side that the user can grip as to move the upper body along with the lower. For this reason, the elliptical can be an efficient way to get a full body workout. 

This is another type of cardio equipment that can be used at all levels. It puts less stress on the joints than running or jogging, and speed and resistance can be increased for those looking for more of a challenge. 


Treadmills are an extremely common piece of cardio equipment in both home and commercial gyms. They simply offer a way to safely walk, jog, or run indoors. 

Treadmills have a motorized belt that a user must walk the same speed of. This speed, of course can be adjusted for slow walking all the way to sprinting. The resistance can be adjusted as well to mimic walking or running up hills. Most treadmills come with safety features like large “stop” buttons and rails on either side. 

Treadmills are easy to use and can accommodate anyone from marathon runners to physical therapy patients and are an obvious addition to any gym setup. 

Rope Trainers

Rope trainers stand out as mult-functional cardio machines built for many different exercises. These are sometimes referred to as “rope climbing simulators” which pretty accurately describes the type of workout they provide. 

Using a rope trainer is a bit like playing tug of war with yourself. The rope comes out continuously as you pull it from the machine. The resistance matches the speed of your movement, so it’s not possible to hurt yourself by jerking too harshly.  

This one will get your heart rate up quickly and can be great for cardiovascular health! In addition, working out with a rope trainer is great strength training as well. 


Rowers are a full body cardio experience. To work out on a rower, the user sits down on a seat that slides back and forth up the frame. The user’s feet strap into adjustable footplates and grip a handlebar or “oar” out in front of them. 

The action is similar to rowing a boat, as you pull the oar towards your body, and straighten the legs to push yourself towards the back of the machine. At first glance, it may seem like the arms are powering the row but it’s important to push off using the strength of the lower body. 

Resistance powered by either water or air makes it feel like you are actually rowing a boat and provides a natural feeling push and pull as you row.  

Stair Climbers and Continuous Cardio Machines

Continuous cardio machines are available in a couple of different options. The most common would be Stair Climbers or Steppers. There are also machine like the  “Jacob’s Ladder."

Continuous cardio machines are high intensity yet low impact. The machines have rungs or stairs that resemble the shape of a staircase or ladder. 

Most have different climbing options, so you can work different muscle groups at various intensity levels. For example, the user can choose to stand and hold the rails, so it more closely mimics walking up stairs, or you can choose to climb the machine like a ladder, bringing hands down to the rungs. 

This is another type of equipment that can be useful for building strength as well as getting the heartrate up! 


Cardio strengthens the heart and lungs and is a necessary part of any healthy and fit lifestyle. Of course, there are ways to get cardio outside of the gym, but cardio equipment provides a convenient way to get high intensity, low impact workouts anytime of the year. 

All of the cardio equipment mentioned above can be adjusted for any fitness level and any fitness goal. Whether you are training for your next marathon or trying to get active again after an injury, a cardio machine is a great way to get moving. 

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