Trying to pin down the best exercise machine to lose weight is not an exact science. While certain machines might help you burn more calories, they won’t necessarily be the best option for you – there’s no point splashing out on one of the best treadmills (opens in new tab) if you hate running, for example.
If you really want to lose weight, you’ll need to achieve a calorie deficit. This means you’ll need to burn through more calories than you consume. Studies – such as this one published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism (opens in new tab) – have shown that it doesn’t matter how you achieve this. If weight loss is your goal, a sustainable calorie deficit is a must.
With this in mind, it’s important to adopt a personalized approach to weight loss. You can gently increase your energy expenditure by using one of the best walking treadmills (opens in new tab), or burn through calories by blasting out a session on one of the best exercise bikes (opens in new tab). Whichever you prefer is fine – just pick something that you’re going to enjoy using.
Below, we’ve compiled a collection of premium machines that impressed our in-house testers with their durability, ease of use and innovative features.
Best exercise machines to lose weight
Some small studies – including this one published in the Journal Of The American Medical Association (opens in new tab) – have suggested that treadmills are the best machines when it comes to energy expenditure. And if you’re looking to get a thorough workout on a running machine, then we’d recommend our favorite model: the NordicTrack X22i.
It’s a market leader in the treadmill space, perfectly blending function and form. Provided you have both the budget and space for it, don’t overlook this incredibly sturdy machine with its pleasantly surprising range of incline (and decline) options.
Purely on specs alone, the X22i is a truly impressive piece of kit. Its powerful 4.0 CHP motor offers smooth and quiet power output, even if you’re hammering away at a steep incline. With regards to inclines in particular, the X22i offers an especially huge range of options with options from -5% to 40% meaning you’ll be able to replicate hill runs of any type, even downhills, a rare feature on treadmills.
The wealth of options extend to workouts too, with 40 pre-programmed ones available, and over 16,000 on-demand classes ready to access. Do bear in mind that you’ll need an iFit subscription to access this content though, which will add a monthly subscription cost of $39 USD to the premium price of the kit itself. The NordicTrack X22i is undoubtedly a premium treadmill though, whether you find yourself marvelling at its gorgeous design, huge 22” display or generous size. Yes, it’s a sizeable investment but if you have the space and the budget, you won’t be disappointed.
The Yosuda Indoor Stationary Cycling Bike won’t blow you away with a wide spectrum of whizzy features, but nor will it blow a hole in your budget. At under $300, it offers sturdy construction and a smooth and comfortable ride for you to get your sweat on, all at a very reasonable price indeed.
It’s clear that Yosuda’s budget-conscious entry into the market isn’t aiming to be a baby Peloton. While the bike’s small LCD display offers basic metric tracking, you won’t find anything in the way of live classes or advanced real-time feedback. For those out there wishing to be guided by routines though, the fitted phone holder means there’s always YouTube or other workout apps. And if you’re looking for more advanced real-time feedback beyond calories, distance and speed, you can always use a fitness tracker.
In short, although the Yosuda Indoor Stationary Cycling Bike may be light on features it offers a comfortable, quiet ride on a machine that boasts impressive build quality for such a modest price. If you’re shopping on a budget or are simply one of those motivated types who just longs for a simple but sweaty spin session, this reasonably-priced, no-frills bike is the best choice in this particular category. It also boasts the best-cushioned bike seat that we’ve tested so far, so you can workout in comfort.
Step into a gym almost anywhere in the world and there’s a good chance that when you head over to the rowing machines, you’ll find yourself faced with a Concept2 RowErg. Concept2’s classic design is a mainstay of gyms and rowing clubs everywhere, and with good reason too. Packing trademark sturdiness into a unfussy design, the RowErg has long been considered as the industry standard for rowing routines, renowned for being great full-body workouts that are low-impact on the body.
You won’t find any top-end features on the RowErg, such as live classes or interactive routines and if that’s what you’re looking for in particular, you might want to check out some fancier models. Its backlit LCD screen does provide lots of data though, plus there are global rankings, options to program your own workouts and an accompanying app for those who wish to carefully scrutinise their performance.
What the Concept2 RowErg undoubtedly offers is a smooth, comfortable row on a durable, well-designed machine. At between 70-100Db, it might not be as quiet as a magnetic rowing machine, nor is it as aesthetically-pleasing as a solid wood rower, yet if you’re looking for straightforward bit of kit that does its job well for a competitive price, look no further.
If you’re shopping at the premium end of the workout machine market, the Peloton Bike will likely already be on your radar. While the cost of the bike is high, with a $39 monthly subscription also required to access the live classes which truly make the bike shine, it’s a hugely impressive workout machine with superb classes that are both fun and intelligently-designed.
At 61KG, the bike itself is pretty heavy although it does come with two front-mounted wheels which makes moving it much easier. In terms of design quality and looks, the Peloton Bike is first-rate with its matte-black finish looking truly very luxurious. The saddle can take a little getting used to, so do prepare yourself for some initial soreness but that will soon subside though your enthusiasm for the experience won’t.
You will need Delta-compatible cleats to clip inside the bike’s pedals which is another expense, but if you’re seriously considering the Peloton experience, that won’t faze you too much. The overall and ongoing price really is the only potential drawback here in what is otherwise a supremely enjoyable and effective workout experience.
We all lead busy lives and finding ways to get in that quick workout can sometimes be tricky. If you’re looking for the last word in versatility when it comes to burning calories, then look no further than the Mobvoi Home Treadmill. Pop it under your work desk and sedately whittle away some calories as you focus on other things. Ready to go at it with a little more vigour? A quick lift of the Mobvoi’s riser and suddenly it resembles a slim and sleek running treadmill, ready for you to get your heart rate ticking with a gentle run.
Besides the appealing flexibility of the Mobvoi Home Treadmill, the cost is impressive too. At under $400 USD, its sturdy design and quiet motor offer great value. However, its limited speed means it won’t work as a treadmill for those looking for maximum exertion from their runs. Likewise, due to its smaller profile, those with a longer stride could also find it less useful. However, if you’re simply looking to get basic use from your treadmill in the form of gentler runs and high-tempo walks, the Mobvoi Home Treadmill’s price, versatility and build quality make it very worthy of your consideration.
The ProForm Cabon HIIT H7 is an intriguing piece of kit that can double as both an elliptical trainer and a stair master machine. The compact vertical design won’t take up too large a footprint in your personal space either. While the machine’s versatility is undoubtedly one of its strong points, those seeking guidance through classes and workouts may be a little underwhelmed by the range of iFit workouts dedicated to the machine, as opposed to more general purpose running-style workouts.
Build quality for the ProForm Cabon HIIT H7 is very good, with the high-quality materials offering a durable feel and great tactile experience, although the lack of a phone holder will irk some users who wish to have unfettered access to their screens during a workout. At the time of writing, ProForm are offering the Cabon HIIT H7 for free with a three-year iFit subscription, which is a great deal, providing you’re planning to make the most of the subscription app’s features.
With the 10-inch vertical elliptical stepping path able to simulate stair climbing and boxing, you’ll certainly find new ways to push yourself with the Cabon HIIT H7, whilst the magnetic resistance system offers quiet workouts, even when you’re pushing the pace. If you’re looking for a low-impact, high-intensity form of indoor training, the Cabon HIIT H7 is a model that you won’t want to overlook.
- This machine is currently in the process of being reviewed. Once we have tested it, this guide will be updated accordingly.
Resistance training vs cardio exercise
Most of the machines outlined above are cardio machines, which means they’re focused on getting you hot and sweaty during a workout. This kind of exercise leads to a high calorie burn – but your best bet for a fit and functional body is to combine this kind of cardio workout with resistance training.
“Both aerobic and resistance training have benefits outside of pure energy burn that make them helpful for fat loss,” explains Emily Servante, global trainer education manager at Ultimate Performance (opens in new tab).
“For example, both will improve your body’s ability to process, store and utilise carbohydrates rather than store them as fat. Both types of exercise also have a sort of ‘after burn’ effect that means your body carries on burning energy at a higher rate for several hours after you’ve finished the exercise.”
Resistance training will also help ensure that you maintain muscle while you lose fat. Servante recommends incorporating it two to three times per week in your schedule.
Calorie intake and output
If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to achieve a calorie deficit. This means you need to burn more calories through exercise and your day-to-day activities than you consume through food. But is it better to focus on increasing your energy expenditure or lowering your calorie consumption?
“In terms of fat loss, restricting food intake alone is not very effective as it requires severely cutting calories and small errors can knock you off course,” explains Servante. “Likewise, only increasing your output would require a super high level of activity, which is unrealistic and unsustainable for most people. This is why we use a combination of the two to create the calorie deficit you need to create weight loss.”
Weight loss vs fat loss
“Any form of exercise that burns calories will help you lose weight,” says Servante. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean it will help you lose fat.”
If you want to make sure you’re shedding fat while maintaining muscle, Servante says it’s crucial to include some resistance training in your workout schedule. Make sure you’re hitting each body part multiple times during the week, to ensure you’re retaining muscle – aim for two to three sessions over seven days.
Accompany this with a calorie reduction of around 15-20% and a gentle increase in your activity levels, either through informal activities (such as upping your step count) or structured cardio (using one of the above machines). You can also try a combination of both types of cardio.
How will you know you’re on track? Well, you should see your weight gradually drop by 0.5 – 1% each week according to Servante, although bear in mind that all bodies are different so your progression might look different. Creating a sustainable, realistic and enjoyable routine is key to staying fit and healthy.