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The Best Cardio Machines You've Never Seen Before


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Ready to take your cardio workout to the next level? Shift your focus to your upper body. Krankcycle was developed by Spinning creator Johnny G when a virus severely damaged his heart , leaving him unable to ride a bike. Kranking is basically a cycling workout that you do with your arms instead of your legs.

Don’t be fooled: It's a lot harder than it looks. And it’s a great way to mix up your routine or fit in an intense cardio session when you're injured. Check out Kranking® in action here.

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Rope Trainer

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Talk about some serious rope burn! Machines like Marpo’s V-Series Rope Trainers let you replicate rope climbing without ever actually leaving the ground!

“With these machines, you can practice pulling at different angles with different resistances and velocities,” says Rick Richey, a certified master trainer and owner of R2 Fitness in New York City. “This is done with a rope that runs through a series of pulleys that can be pulled without running out of rope—and it can BURN so good!”

Check out Marpo’s Rope Trainers in action here.

The Woodway Force Treadmill

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This definitely isn’t your typical treadmill, so don’t expect to hop on and go. With no motor to rely on, staying in motion is all up to you. “The Woodway Force Treadmill is a non-motorized treadmill where you have to apply force in order for the belt to move,” Williams says. “You have to be the motor that will make it run."

There are a few ways to do this, Williams says. "The machine has a stationary post where you can attach a belt around your waist and run freely as if outdoors, or you can hold onto the treadmill itself and run.”

What’s the benefit of ditching the motor? You’ll burn more calories because you have to work much harder to get the belt to go, Williams says. Check out the Woodway Force Treadmill in action here.

Jacob's Ladder

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The Jacob’s Ladder is an angled, self-paced, ladder-like piece of equipment that provides a killer cardio workout without the lower-back stress that hunching over on the Stairmaster can cause.

"It’s great for incorporating tough, effective cardio with an added benefit of working your core and coordination all at the same time," says Edward Williams, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and Director of Continuing Education at Peak Performance Gym in New York City.

Since this piece is self-propelled, you decide how quickly you can climb and whether you want to use just your legs or work your arms and legs at the same time. An added perk: The 40-degree angle means you don’t have to worry about ‘falling off’ or straining your back as you climb.

Underwater Treadmill

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While you can get a great cardio workout on the regular treadmill, it can also do some damage to your joints. The obvious solution: an underwater treadmill!

Submerging your treadmill workout in water is an excellent way to build stamina, strength, range of motion, and to be able to perform plyometric movements without a lot of impact. Most look and function just like a traditional treadmill, except that they are used in a pool. Check out an underwater treadmill workout (used by the NFL) in action here.

The VersaClimber

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“The VersaClimber is a total-body, non-impact cardio beast!” says Juan Carlos Santana, owner of the Institute of Human Performance in Boca Raton, Florida. This extremely versatile, easily adjustable piece of equipment allows for a variety of different uses for almost anyone. Plus, it can easily be adjusted to target specific areas of the body, which is why Santana says it’s "the best cardio machine there is!"

“The VersaClimber can race your heart rate to its max within 45 seconds or sometimes even in less than 30 seconds. So when it comes to intensity, the Versa Climber has no match,” Santana says.

Check out some of the different ways you can use a VersaClimber here.

The RealRyder Indoor Bike

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The RealRyder Indoor Bike is perfect for cycling fans who are ready to take their workout to the next level. Described by ACE Fitness expert Todd Galati, M.A., as “taking the training wheels off indoor cycling,” the RealRyder creates a more realistic riding experience by leaning, turning, and rocking back and forth—just like a real road bike does.

"The RealRyder Indoor Bike was purposely designed for functional indoor cycling by incorporating tri-planar movement, dynamic balance, core stability, and full-body engagement for a time-efficient, total-body workout,” says Colin Irving, CEO and Inventor of the RealRyder ABF8 Indoor Cycle. Check out the RealRyder bike in action here.

The Helix

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This elliptical alternative offers a low-impact cardio workout with an added bonus: It zeroes in on those hard-to-tone leg and glute muscles by using a "sideways figure 8" motion.

“The Helix is a great cardio machine because it is not only a great way to burn calories and lose weight, but it also targets the inner and outer thighs and glutes,” says Mark Siegel, NASM certified personal trainer and president of Siegel Performance Systems in Huntington, New York. “If you are going to burn calories, you might as well work the muscles that make your butt and legs looks great."

Check out the Helix in action here.

Fan Bike

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“The Fan Bike (when used properly and effectively) is one of the best and hardest pieces of equipment you can use for cardio/interval work,” Williams says. The machine consists of a large air-resistance flywheel and two long handlebars that you move back and forth as you pedal.

Because the resistance automatically adjusts based on how hard and fast you're pedaling and moving your arms, it's almost impossible not to challenge yourself on the Fan Bike—no matter what your current fitness level is. And since you never need to touch a button, it's easy to vary the intensity of your workout fast.

"This bike is a great low-impact cardio option that uses your upper and lower body and can help you burn a tremendous amount of calories," Williams says.


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