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Best exercise machine to lose weight

Image shows one of the best exercise machines to lose weight, a treadmill, being used by Live Science writer Harry Bullmore
(Image credit: Future)

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

NordicTrack X22i collage of images

(Image credit: Future)
Treadmills are great if you want to expend a lot of energy – and this is the best one we've tested.

Specifications

Dimensions: 81” x 39” x 76”
Weight: 505lbs (in-box weight)
Tread belt size: 22” x 60”
Max user weight: 297lbs / 135kg
Display: 22” HD touchscreen
Speed: 0-12mph
Incline: -5 - 40%
Other features: Bluetooth connectivity, dual speakers, Runners Flex cushioning, 30-day iFit Family Membership

Reasons to buy

+
High-end features
+
Great incline and decline range

Reasons to avoid

-
 Bulky 
-
 Needs iFit subscription 

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.    

User reviews

We couldn't find any reliable customer reviews for this machine – however, several other publications have reviewed the machine favorably, praising its excellent features and incline range.


Person using yosuda bike

(Image credit: Future)
A cheap yet sturdy machine, this exercise bike is perfect if you need something fairly small that won't break the bank.

Specifications

Dimensions: 40.5” x 21.5” x 45”
Weight: 68.8lbs / 31.2kg
Max user weight: 270lbs (122kg)
Max height: 6’
Display?: Basic 1” x 2” LCD display
Resistance levels: Infinite
Workouts: None
Pedals: Standard toe cage

Reasons to buy

+
Smooth belt driven flywheel
+
Good value
+
Sturdy

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic display
-
No programmed workouts
-
Limited features

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.

User reviews

The bike has netted 4.4 out of five stars on Amazon, with users praising it's low price and easy assembly. Some negative reviews cite issues with the seat not adjusting properly and others stating that the resistance dial on the bike was difficult to move, although these weren't issues we came across in our hands-on testing. 


Concept 2 Model D (RowErg)

(Image credit: Patricia Carswell)
This enduringly popular model is built to last and used in several indoor rowing competitions worldwide.

Specifications

Resistance: air
Display: PM5 performance monitor
Dimensions: Length: 96” (244cm); Width 24” (61cm); Height (to top of monitor): 50” (127cm); Seat height: standard legs - 14” (35cm) / tall legs -20” (51cm)
Storage: Can be separated into two parts and stood on its end
Heart rate monitor: Bluetooth and wireless ANT+ connectivity so PM5 monitor can be synced with your heart rate monitor

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money 
+
Industry standard model used in competitions 
+
Reliable and robust with readily-available replacement parts 

Reasons to avoid

-
No in-built apps, fancy graphics or live workouts 
-
Not the most aesthetically attractive 

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. 

User reviews

This model has netted an impressive 4.9 out of five stars on Amazon, so it's clear that it's a massive hit with users globally. It's hard to find a negative remark about the machine, but one user did complain that the machine is better suited to cardio workouts than resistance training.


Peloton bike in kitchen

(Image credit: Louise Carey)
If you need some motivating classes, then this is probably the best option for you.

Specifications

Dimensions: 59” x 53” x 23”
Weight: 135lbs / 61kg
Max user weight: 297lbs (134kg)
Max height: 6’4”
Display?: 21.5” color touchscreen
Resistance levels: 100
Pedals: Look Delta-compatible cleats (clip in)
Workouts: Live and on-demand via Peloton app (subscription required)

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning build 
+
Large HD screen 
+
No complicated setup required 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Monthly subscription for classes
-
Cycling shoes needed

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. 

User reviews

The bike has a cool 4.8 out of five stars on Peloton's site, with users raving about the classes and instructors available. Some customers have complained about pedals falling off, although this hasn't happened to our test unit which we've been riding for a year.


Mobvoi treadmill

(Image credit: Sam Hopes)
This walking treadmill can easily slot under your desk, allowing you to get some extra steps while you work

Specifications

Dimensions: 42" / 49” / 27", folding size 4.4” / 49” / 27”
Weight: 74.96 lbs
Tread belt size: 16” x 40”
Max user weight: 265lbs
Display: LED touchscreen
Speed: 0-12 km/h
Incline: Fixed 0%
Warranty: Limited 1-year warranty
Workouts: None
Other features: Bluetooth connectivity, foldable, safety key, remote control
Decibel rating: 65 dB

Reasons to buy

+
Saves space
+
Affordable 
+
Well designed  

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic functions
-
Narrow tread belt 
-
Low maximum speed  

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. 

User reviews

Mobvoi has netted 4.5 out of 5 stars from its global Amazon ratings. Users praise the small, compact frame and its foldable design. Some customers have pointed out that it's heavy, so difficult to move around, while others complain that it's noisy at full speed.


Proform Carbon HIIT H7 on white background

(Image credit: Proform)

6. Proform Carbon HIIT H7

This is a combined step machine and elliptical trainer, so you can switch up your workouts.

Specifications

Size: 29.25" x 52" x 66.7"
Weight: 225lb In Box
Max user weight: 325lb
Flywheel weight: 30lb
Stride length: 10” Vertical, 5” Horizontal
Resistance levels: 24
Resistance type: Magnetic
Warranty: 10-Year Frame, 2-Year Parts, & 1-Year Labor Warranty

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-workout machine
+
Decent warranty length
+
Interactive iFit classes available

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Heavy
-
Classes are limited in number

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.

User reviews

There are several comments on the ProForm website praising this machine, with users giving a thumbs-up to the innovative design and intense HIIT workouts. A couple of users do say that it has a slight 'squeaky' noise to it after a while. 

  • 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.  

Ruth Gaukrodger is the fitness editor at Future Plc. She covers everything from fitness trackers to dumbbells for sites like Live Science, Fit&Well and Tom's Guide. When she's not reviewing equipment in our dedicated testing centre, you'll find her racing round the streets of London in her favorite running shoes or working on her yoga skills from the comfort of her living room.


Originally a print journalist, Ruth worked across national newspapers and popular tech sites before coming to Future. She has worked as a commissioning editor across other Future titles too, including Space.com and Top Ten Reviews. Now focused solely on fitness topics, she hopes to demystify the world of exercise with honest, straightforward content.

With contributions from