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Best Cardio Equipment for Small Apartment

Best Cardio Equipment for Small Apartment

Want to know the best cardio equipment for small apartment?

There are plenty of great options to choose from, but which is the best?

The best cardio machine for a small apartment must meet all of the requirements I mention below.

Plus, it must still give a great full-body cardio workout.

Most people will have different requirements and may require a special feature like, needs to fit under the bed or cannot make any noise.

Below I will go over a few questions you need to ask yourself before buying. Then I will answer these questions and give you my choice for best cardio equipment for a small apartment.

When looking to buy the best exercise equipment for a small apartment you must ask yourself:

  1. What are my size requirements?
  2. What is the maximum noise level I can have?
  3. How much will the equipment cost and is it good quality?
  4. Does it give a full-body cardio workout?
  5. If I buy one option, what other items am I passing on?

Below I will go over these 5 questions and then give you my suggestion for the best piece of cardio equipment for your small apartment.


You will first have to measure the space you have in your apartment for using the exercise equipment.

I’ll assume there is at least 7 feet by 4 feet of space, which is pretty common if you were performing push-ups or body weight exercises.

When buying the cardio machine, you will want to make sure the dimensions can fit in your designated workout area.

You will also want to look at the storage capabilities of the exercise equipment. Can it fit in a closet after use or can it fit under a bed?

Obviously space is an issue in an apartment, so we want to make sure it can be moved out of the way after the workout is complete.

Cardio Equipment for Apartment

We don’t want our cardio equipment sitting in the middle of the room becoming a clothes rack!

Noise Level

When living in a small apartment you have to worry about disturbing your neighbors or suite-mates.

Having a piece of exercise equipment that makes very little noise is crucial. You want to be able to exercise without worrying if you are disturbing anyone else!

Also, think about what time you will be exercising. Many times people feel like cardio equipment doesn’t make much noise until they work out at 5 a.m. and everyone is sleeping. Then, all of a sudden every movement sounds like thunder!

Best Cardio Machine for Small Apartment

Don’t make the old lady below you bang on the ceiling with a broom stick! Buy a quiet cardio machine for your apartment.


Many times when buying exercise equipment for a small apartment, the products are low cost and low quality.

We want to look for a piece of cardio equipment that has a lot of different options.

If you want to purchase something low cost with less quality, then perfect! However, you should have options that are also higher quality that will cost more and last a long time.

Full-Body Workout

You also want to think about if the cardio machine is providing a full-body workout. Some exercise equipment for small apartments only target one or two areas of the body and neglects all the others.

For example, some pieces of equipment like a Mini-Stepper machine only works out your lower body and neglects the upper body. A pull-up bar can target the upper body but doesn’t work out your legs.

We want to make sure our entire body is receiving a workout, while also giving us great cardiovascular benefits.

Another key component is that the cardio equipment should be able to perform aerobic and anaerobic exercises.

Meaning you should be able to do shorter “sprints” (anaerobic) to elevate your heart-rate quickly. You should also be able to perform slower but longer workouts (aerobic) to keep your heart rate raised for long periods of time.

There are many benefits to both aerobic and anaerobic exercises, so you should be able to perform both!


When buying one piece of cardio equipment, it means you are turning down all the rest.

Here is a list of popular cardio equipment for small apartments and my reason why they are not considered the best.


  • Does not fold up small for storage
  • Running on treadmills is very loud, especially if you have neighbors below you
  • Only exercises legs


  • Does not fold up small for storage
  • Exercises mostly legs

Step Machine:

  • Exercise only your legs
  • difficult to perform anaerobic exercise (sprints)

Stationary Bike:

  • Does not fold up small for storage
  • Exercises only your legs

Dumbells, Pull-Up Bar, Kettbell:

  • More weight-lifting than cardio
  • Cannot perform for long periods of time (aerobic)

TRX, Resistance Bands:

  • More weight-lifting than cardio
  • Cannot perform for long periods of time (aerobic)

While some of these pieces of equipment are great for exercise and cardio, I don’t believe they are “the best”. I even recommend adding some of these to your mini-gym in your apartment, like a pull-up bar, kettlebell, or TRX!

Did you notice one piece exercise equipment that wasn’t on the list? If so, it may be my choice for the best cardio equipment for small apartments!

Best Cardio Machine for Small Apartment

After reviewing all of the questions above, there is only one piece of equipment that can be considered “The Best” cardio machine for a small apartment!

The answer is, if you haven’t guessed already, a Rowing Machine!

I will briefly touch on why it is the best exercise equipment for a small apartment based on the questions above.


Rowing machines come in many different sizes and most can be folded after use to store in a closet and some can fit under a bed.

They are also fairly lightweight and come with wheels for easy portability.


While some rowing machine resistance types make noise, like water and air, others are virtually silent.

Magnetic and hydraulic-piston rowing machines make zero noise and can be used in an apartment setting without disturbing any neighbors. Some people even use them in a room next to their sleeping baby!

Rowing is also a back and forth movement along a seat rail, so there is no pounding up and down like on a treadmill.


There are great apartment rowing machines offered in every price range, from under $100 up to $1,000.

The higher in price you go, the higher the quality and the better the features.

Full-Body Workout

Rowing is one of the best full-body workouts that exercises 84% of the muscles in your body! There is no other exercise machine that can boast these numbers.

best exercise equipment for small apartment

It is also low-impact, so there is no added stress on your knees, hips, or other joints.

Rowing is also great for aerobic and anaerobic exercise. This is the main reason why rowing machines have become so popular in Crossfit gyms.


There is no other piece of equipment that is as versatile as a rowing machine. If I had to choose only one piece of cardio equipment I could use the rest of my life, it would be the rowing machine.

I will admit, I do enjoy using some of the other competition like kettlebells, pull-up bars, and even a stationary bike.

However, the rowing machine is the best “all-around” piece of cardio equipment for a small apartment.

Best Rowing Machine for Small Apartment

There are plenty of different magnetic and hydraulic-piston rowing machines available. Each has their own unique benefits and features.

Hydraulic-piston rowing machines are great for having “free-motion” arms, being very compact, and low cost.

However, they also have lower build quality and are not good for doing very intense workouts or sessions longer than 20 minutes.

Magnetic resistance rowing machines are more popular than hydraulic-piston rowers due to their higher quality and better resistance. Their one downside is they are slightly larger than hydraulic-piston rowers.

Below are my choices for “Best Budget” and “Best High-End” magnetic rowing machines.

Best Budget Magnetic Rowing Machine

The best budget magnetic rowing machine is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5515. This is one of the hottest sellers and has a lot of great reviews.

It has excellent resistance, with great build quality, and a very low price. It is fairly compact and can fold for storage.

You can read my Best Budget Rowing Machine for an Apartment review here or check consumer reviews and pricing below.

Best Cardio Equipment for Small Apartments

Best High-End Rowing Machine

The best high-end magnetic rowing machine is the Stamina Avari Programmable Magnetic Rower. This is great for people looking to have a few advanced features.

The Stamina Avari has a monitor that can automatically adjust resistance and record heart rate. It can even adjust the resistance to keep your heart rate at a certain level!

It too can fold for storage and the great thing is the cost isn’t that high and not nearly as high as some other models!

Check out my Best High-End Rowing Machine for an Apartment review or read consumer reviews and pricing below.

Best Cardio machine for Small Apartments

Final Thoughts

Trying to find the best piece of cardio equipment for you small apartment can be tough. There are many things to take into consideration, plus there are size and noise constraints.

I believe a rowing machine is the best piece of exercise equipment for apartments and is the only piece of fitness equipment you need to stay in shape.

I gave two great options above, but there are plenty of other options available as well. You can visit my compare rowing machine models page and sort by resistance type to look at other magnetic and hydraulic-piston models.

You will find photos of each model, the size, and price range.

I hope you enjoyed my article on the best cardio equipment for small apartments. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comment section below.

Recommended Reading 

Is the Rowing Machine Good for Cardio?

13 Amazing Rowing Machine Health Benefits

What is the Best Cardio Machine?


  1. Hello from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada! Well, winter has arrived with a colder than normal jolt 4 weeks early this year, which has brought me indoors. I am now considering purchasing a medium quality rower (NordicTrack RW200 Rowing Machine) that is currently on sale at a local retailer. My goal is to exercise aerobically with little impact to my joints in the comfort of my own home when the weather is too inclement for outdoor activity. We are waiting for a decent snowfall so XC skiing can begin.
    I quite like that this model has a folding option. Does anyone have anything reasonable positive to say about this machine before I commit to it? The sale ends this Sunday (Nov 26)
    Thank you (I really enjoy this group)!

    1. Hi Tania,

      Thanks for the questions! I also received your email so I will respond back there with a detailed response :)

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