What Cardio Machine Burns The Most Calories?

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Cardio machines can help you burn calories and fat. But which one is the most effective when it comes to burning calories?

what cardio machine burns the most calories

As a personal trainer, I get asked this question a lot. And honestly, it’s a hard one to answer.

The reality is that there are so many factors that go into how many calories you burn when exercising, including your weight, gender, age, and fitness level. 

And I keep telling my personal training clients that the most important thing is that you like the exercise. So, pick the cardio exercise you enjoy. 

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some insight we can glean from studies like Harvard Health’s calorie burned chart.

So let’s take a look at what it has to say, and then I’ll give you my recommendations.

Also, remember that strength training is as important when it comes to calorie burning. Because the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be [1].

To my personal training clients, I advise them to do cardio training at least twice a week and strength training 2 to 3 times a week. 

Keep reading below.

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What Cardio Machine Burns The Most Calories?

According to a Harvard Health article, some activities are more efficient calorie burners than others [2]. Here is the calorie breakdown of exercises with cardio machines.

ActivityRecommended Cardio MachinePace or SpeedCalories Burned
RunningTreadmill6 mph (10 min/mile)495
SkiingSki MachineGeneral285
WalkingElliptical TrainerGeneral270
RowingRowing MachineVigorous255
BicyclingStationary BikeModerate210
Stair ClimbingStair Step MachineGeneral180

The table above shows the calories burned by a 125-pound person during half an hour of activity.

If you carefully choose your exercise equipment, you may burn more calories in less time.

Here are six pieces of equipment, ranked according to calorie burn (highest to lowest).

1) Treadmill


Running significantly burns calories and is an active form of aerobic exercise. It can help you get quality sleep and feel refreshed waking up.

On average, running at a pace of 5 mph (approximately 12-minute miles) can burn 240 calories in 30 minutes if your weight is 125 lbs. A faster pace, like running 6 mph (10-minute miles), can burn 495 calories 

Naturally, the caloric burn can be much higher if you run longer or at a higher intensity. A treadmill is the answer, regardless of the weather. 

Treadmills have various settings for you to choose from. You can determine your pace and speed based on your fitness level or workout goals. You can also adjust the incline of the treadmill for a more challenging run.

You most likely notice treadmills right away when you go to a gym. It’s easy to use, comfy, and gets the job done.

Treadmills target your legs, glutes, and hamstrings. You can also burn calories while watching TV or listening to music.

The treadmill is a winner if you want to lose weight fast.

2) Ski Machine

Skiing is the second best way to burn calories quickly.  So I recommend adding a ski machine to your home gym space. 

The ski machine has a mechanical arm that pushes and pulls the bar during a workout. Ski machines are great if you prefer staying indoors during winter or skiing on summer days.

Ski machines can strengthen your back, chest, arms, and shoulders muscles.  It burns around 285 calories in about 30 minutes, depending on your current weight and speed.

3) Elliptical Trainer

elliptical machine

An elliptical machine will work your upper and lower body muscles. A comprehensive workout targets your arms, chest, back, and leg muscles.

Regular workouts using the elliptical trainer can improve your cardiovascular fitness. It is also suitable if you suffer from knee and ankle problems.

Like treadmills, an elliptical trainer is an excellent choice if you want to lose weight quickly. You can burn 270 calories in half an hour. 

When you use an elliptical trainer without holding the handles, it can improve your balance and mobility. It has an incline setting to tailor your fitness goals and level.

If you exercise on an elliptical trainer, you engage your core muscles for stronger abs, obliques, and lower back muscles. It can also increase your overall health.

These machines cater to many users. You can find an elliptical machine for heavy people, seniors and even short persons.

4) Rowing Machine

Rowing Machine

A rowing machine engages all your body parts. It is a balanced and comprehensive workout for you to lose weight fast.

If you regularly work out using a rowing machine, you will lose weight and increase muscle mass.

An intense workout can burn up to 255 calories in 30 minutes. So a rowing machine is ideal for weight loss and fitness.

Rowing has a minimal impact on your joints if you have knee or ankle issues. When you regularly use the rowing machine, it automatically improves your endurance and strength.

Rowing machines have adjustable resistance settings to customize your workout preferences. 

The rowing community is composed mostly of tall people. So you’ll find a lot of rowers for tall people, but these models are suitable for short people too.

5) Stationary Bike

Stationary Bike

Indoor cycling using a stationary bike can improve your balance and mobility. It can help your weight loss due to increasing resistance on the flywheel.

You can burn 210 calories in half an hour. And it doesn’t strain if you have sensitive joints.

Adjusting the resistance levels to customize with your desired speed is available. Adding a stationary bike at home gives you convenience regardless of weather conditions.

6) Stair Step Machine

Stair step machines can support your weight loss goals, it targets your upper, lower body, especially your core muscles.

You can burn 180 calories by using a stair stepping machine. It requires you to have a proper posture and rhythm during a workout.

Stair stepping can improve your bone density to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, with a customizable intensity level to adjust based on your endurance.

A stair stepper can increase your stamina to help you reach the next fitness level.

FAQs About What Cardio Machine Burns The Most Calories?

What exercise machine burns the most calories?

According to Harvard Health, running is one of the exercises that can benefit you and burn the most calories. So I recommend a treadmill, as it can help you burn up to 495 calories in half an hour if you run at 6 mph.

Is jogging or treadmill better for weight loss?

Jogging is one of the best forms of exercise for weight loss. It helps burn more calories than a treadmill. You can burn 180 calories in less than 10 minutes of jogging, compared to 165 calories on the treadmill.

What to do next?

Although the treadmill is the best exercise machine for weight loss, running outside is a good alternative if you don’t have access to a treadmill. You can lose weight in 30 minutes every day by running in your neighborhood or at the park.

You should also incorporate healthy habits into your life: eat a balanced diet, drink sufficient water, and get enough sleep. If you stick to this routine, your chance of losing weight will improve greatly.

I hope this article helped you gain awareness of which cardio machine burns the most calories. 

Remember that the best exercise machine for your weight loss journey is the machine that you enjoy using and will motivate you to keep going.

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Inge van Haselen is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritional Coach. For over 17 years, she has been coaching hundreds of clients in her gym. Inge published several programs on health and fitness. It is her passion to help you have the best Home Gym for your needs, so you can be in the best shape of your life. More info: About Us

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