How to Buy Cardio Equipment for Your Home

Ready to take your cardio workout to the next level? Get started with the basics on buying treadmills, elliptical machines and exercise bikes.

Treadmills get a bad rap.

Many devoted runners would much prefer to log miles outdoors, where the air is fresh and the scenery is new. There’s also that unfortunate nickname — deadmill. But trust us, there’s plenty to love about bringing your cardio indoors.

Training on a treadmill, elliptical machine or exercise bike offers a low-impact, convenient means of reaching your health goals. And the latest cardio equipment is outfitted with performance-minded features that help you make the most of your workout.

So give the treadmill — and the elliptical and exercise bike, for that matter — a second chance. Learn more about buying cardio equipment for your home gym with these tips from our experts:

All About Treadmills

Running or walking can be a key component to any effective workout routine. And treadmills allow users to train for a wide range of sports or activities. A veritable gym staple, treadmills help maintain endurance, improve cardiovascular health and torch calories. Plus, they’re easy to use and adapt to your fitness needs. Key treadmill components include:


  • Motorized treadmills have one motor that drives the belt and another (the lift motor) that raises and lowers the running bed to create an incline. Allow you to set a pace and maintain a consistent speed while working out.
  • Treadmill Duty is the amount of power output at which the motor is rated. These motors are specifically designed for treadmill usage.
  • Continuous Duty is the amount of continuous motor power that is consistently delivered during heavy usage over an extended period of time.
  • The power of your treadmill is typically measured in horsepower. Peak horsepower is the maximum a treadmill can generate for a short period of time.


  • Raises the treadmill’s running bed for increased resistance
  • Mimics walking or running up hills, making your workout more challenging, burning more calories and further increasing muscle tone
  • Manual incline means you change the incline yourself. This is typically offered in four different placements, such as 3 percent incline, 5 percent incline, 7 percent incline and 9 percent incline. Treadmills with manual incline are less expensive than those with powered incline.
  • Power incline offers you automatic adjustment so you can change the incline while you’re walking or running to add variety and challenge to your workout. Power incline is convenient and simple to use.


  • Thicker treadmill decks offer more cushioning and comfort to legs and joints.
  • Proprietary deck cushioning systems provide superior comfort and impact absorption as you train.
  • Belts vary in length, depending on whether the unit is geared more for walkers/joggers or runners.
  • Widths range from 16-22 inches. Lengths vary from 45-60 inches.
  • For comfort, look for an extended-size deck or belt.


  • Most treadmills have a speed setting from 1-10 mph.
  • Exercisers often walk, on average, in the 2-4 mph range while runners are in the 5-7 mph range. These figures vary by person.


  • Emergency shut-off stops the machine should you fall.
  • Some treadmills can only be turned on with a specific key or special code.
  • Handrails provide stability.

All About Elliptical Machines

Elliptical machines offer many of the benefits of treadmills, but place less stress on the knees and other joints. These machines move your feet somewhere between the circular motion of a bike and the flat motion of a treadmill, easing joint stress for an effective, low-impact workout. Like treadmills, ellipticals can be customized to dial up speed, resistance and general intensity. There are three types of elliptical machines:


  • Makes you move more efficiently by forcing each leg to move in a forward sloping motion with the pedal.
  • Optimal for lower-body workouts only.


  • The force of one pedal drives the other, forcing your legs to move in the elliptical motion.
  • Minimal impact on lower-body joints.


  • Includes both foot pedals and rotating arms to maximize workout efficiency
  • Trains both legs and arms for a full-body workout.

All About Exercise Bikes

Exercise bikes are the ultimate in low-impact cardio training. They place minimal stress on joints and bones and are an effective workout tool for novices and elite athletes alike.  There are two main types of exercise bikes:


  • Similar in form and structure to regular cycling bikes.
  • Helps provide excellent lower body and cardiovascular workout.
  • Upright bikes take up the least amount of space of all types of fitness bikes, fitting into limited spacing areas.
  • Allows for more intense workouts than other types of bikes.


  • Comes with chair-like seat or “bucket” seat.
  • Help promotes more efficient blood flow throughout the body.
  • Helps prevents you from “cheating” as you pedal, because you cannot stand up.

Get started putting together your home gym with the complete collection of cardio equipment at DICK’S Sporting Goods.