LAST UPDATED: 21 Nov 2021

10 Best Elliptical Machines (Buying Guide) in 2021

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This article was writen by Staying Alive Crew Published at 02:41 pm.

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More and more people are opting for an elliptical trainer to add to their home gym due to the versatility and cardiovascular benefits of an elliptical workout. 

Ideally, you want a fitness machine that allows you to get a full-body workout to maximize your space at home and assist you in keeping trim, tone your muscles, and for energizer bunnies, enable interval training.

An elliptical machine impersonates the motion of running without the harsh impact. Arms get a workout with the upper-body levers and adjustable resistance offers continuously challenging workouts. 

But working out at home comes with a whole different level of consideration, how big is the equipment, how loud is it? Will it disturb your household or your neighbors? How much does it cost?

We’ve summarized the best elliptical machines to add to your home gym. You’re only one workout away from a good mood!

The Best
Elliptical Machine

If you want to workout out with a personal trainer in your living room, the Pro-Form Pro 12.9 Elliptical is the elliptical trainer for you.

It’s a whole new workout experience as trainers take your training all around the world and control your machine’s resistance for you along the way. 

Through connected fitness tracking, you get to track your progress as every training session is automatically recorded and can be used to influence your future workouts and nutrition plans. 

You can hike the mountain of your choice from your living room with the Pro 12.9 Elliptical with impressive incline training available at the touch of a button.

The ramp adjusts your incline from 0 to 20 degrees, allowing you to target specific muscle groups and train for real hikes. 

Equipped with adjustable pedals means the pedals slide into the ideal position when your foot position changes or there’s a change in the incline. 

The ProForm Elliptical brings a smooth, frictionless, and silent ride with ProForm’s patented Silent Magnetic Resistance.

Allowing you to elevate your intensity level without disturbing family members or neighbors. Silence is truly golden.

A good-priced elliptical that is ready to impress any fitness enthusiast. Train higher and harder with the Pro 12.9 Elliptical. The sky’s the limit!

Key Features
  • Includes 1-year iFit family membership
  • 7-inch Smart HD Touchscreen display
  • Heart rate: EKG grip pulse heart rate sensor
  • Front-drive system: High-quality solid steel construction with front-drive testing
  • 20-inch power adjustable stride
  • QuickSpeed buttons: Resistance & incline ramp control
  • Resistance Levels: 24 levels with SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • Resistance incline: 0 - 20 degrees adjustable
  • Flywheel: 32 pounds effective, inertia enhanced
  • Pedals: adjustable, oversized cushion
  • CoolAir workout fan
  • Tablet holder
  • Transport wheels: front-mounted
  • Oversized feet levelers
  • Maximum user weight: 350 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Pro-Form
  • Model: Pro-Form Pro 12.9 Elliptical
  • Size: 25.75 x 79.75 x 66.25 inches
Pros
  • Free shipping with curbside delivery
  • 30-day money-back guarantee & returns permitted within 30 days of purchase
  • 10-year frame, 2-year parts & 1-year labor warranty
  • iFit enabled
  • Adjustable features
  • Great program variety with 35-built in apps
  • Ideal for users looking for steep inclines, with inclines of up to 20 degrees
Cons
  • No warranty coverage on motor
  • Relatively compact 20-inch stride

It’s no surprise that The Nautilus E618 Elliptical Trainer makes our top list when it’s designed for serious competitors looking to up their game. 

The E618 Elliptical is fully loaded with 29 preset programs, for heart training, interval training, and weight loss along with customizable training options.

You’ll never get into cruise control with the E618 Elliptical.

Boasting an adjustable sight light tilting console with blue backlit DualTrack scenes allows the user to tilt the console for the best visibility to workout metrics even when using the media tray. 

Sporting a high-speed, high inertia drive system with a perimeter weighted flywheel for easy start-up and smooth consistent workouts means an optimized drive system is what you get.

With 22-inch stride rails, effectively distributing the load of each stride and increasing your overall balance, stability and smoothness have never been easier.

And just to add some variety you have a motorized incline ranging from 0 to 10 degrees at the touch of a mere button. 

The multi-position handlebars with integrated incline and resistance controls permit easy modifications of workout intensity and give you the most comfortable hand grip, no slippy hands here.

Combined with this you get a wireless heart rate chest strap to monitor how well your ticker is beating.

Impressive customized heel support is provided in the pedals with the footplates having tailored angles from 0 to 10 degrees.

All this is rounded off with Bluetooth connectivity, giving you access to your smart devices. 

If all that wasn’t enough to impress the E618 Elliptical is backed by a strong warranty, putting your mind at ease and allowing you to focus on one stride after another!

Key Features
  • Adjustable Sight Line tilting console with blue backlit DualTrack screens
  • 29 Nautilus preset training programs
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Track metrics on free Explore the World App
  • Sync with free Explore the World App
  • Multi-position handlebars with integrated incline & resistance controls
  • Optimized drive train
  • 22-inch dual stride rails
  • Motorized incline
  • Suspension Adjust Performance Cushioning System
  • Wireless heart rate chest strap
  • Maximum user weight: 350 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Nautilus
  • Model: Nautilus E618 Elliptical Trainer
  • Size: 73 x 27 x 67 inches
Pros
  • Frame 15-years warranty
  • Parts & electronics 5 years & Labor 2-years warranty
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed, returns permitted within 2 weeks of the purchase
  • $99 standard shipping in the Contiguous US
  • Bluetooth friendly
  • Adjustable slight line console
  • Ideal for users seeking multi-position handlebars
  • Chest strap heart rate monitor included
Cons
  • 22-inch stride length could be too long for shorter/petite users

The Bowflex M8 Max Trainer is an impressive elliptical combining Bowflex JRNY.

The personalized coaching technology that integrates with your M8 Max Trainer to create daily, custom workouts that automatically adjust time and intensity as your fitness improves.

The subscription for the JRNY app is separate, but for those of you who use your elliptical regularly and want a personal coach in your home, it’s worth the yearly subscription. 

The beauty of M8 Max is that it gets how busy everyone is, so if you can’t work out for 30 minutes, but only have 4 minutes to spare.

It automatically adjusts the workout length and intensity to give you full-body, low-impact motion combined with burning calories. 

M8 Max comes complete with excellent unique motion which can provide greater muscle activation of the upper body from triceps, biceps, anterior deltoids, and pectoral major. 

The sweet spot of the M8 Max is its compact design, which is a fraction of the size of most ellipticals.

The small footprint means you get the perfect elliptical where form meets function whilst saving space in your home. 

The splendid burn rate display puts you in the driver’s seat, showing you how many calories are burned every minute and continuously monitoring all your activity level targets, keeping you motivated every minute of your workout. No time to slack off!

Take your home workouts to the next level with the ergonomically friendly design of the Bowflex M8 Max Trainer.

Key Features
  • Compatible with Bowflex JRNY App
  • Dual-mode backlit LCD/LED screens
  • Bluetooth heart rate compatible
  • Magnetic media rack for tablet/smartphone
  • USB charging port
  • 7 preset workout programs
  • 4 user profiles
  • 20 resistance levels
  • Sports performance pedals
  • Transport wheels
  • Magnetic
  • Multi-grip dynamic handles
  • Maximum user weight: 300 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Bowflex
  • Model: Bowflex M8 Max Trainer
  • Size: 47.9 x 30.8 x 65.2 inches
Pros
  • Compact frame
  • Good option for users looking for preset workout programs
  • Suitable for those looking to save space
  • Support 4 user profiles
  • Straightforward assembly
  • A good option for fitness enthusiasts of all levels with a large range of resistance levels
Cons
  • Short warranty - Frame & parts 3-years warranty / 90-days labor warranty
  • Max intelligence costs an extra $149/year in addition to the cost of the elliptical
  • Expensive

The offering from NordicTrack is a spectacular addition to our list of elliptical trainers with the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i.

The SpaceSaver brings you a powerful combo of interactive training that meets space-saving technology. 

With its formidable 7-inch Smart Touchscreen, it’s not difficult to understand how you get lost in the completely immersive fitness experience.

From high-energy studio workouts to incredible outdoor adventures taking you to greater and greater heights. 

Add variety in your workouts with daily challenges, ensuring there’s no groundhog day fatigue setting in.

With 24 digital resistance levels offered, you won’t be on auto-pilot any time soon. 

With its foldable frame, 18-inch strides, and an effective 18-pound flywheel, you’re getting an abundance of features.

Keep abreast of your ticker through the wireless heart rate monitor with a Bluetooth chest strap included. 

This is a top pick for fitness enthusiasts looking for a light exercise challenge and optimizing space at home along with some snazzy features.

Unfold the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i at your convenience. 

Key Features
  • 7-inch Smart HD Touchscreen
  • Includes 1-Year NordicTrack iFit membership
  • Integrated tablet holder
  • 0 - 10 degrees power-adjustable incline
  • Two 2-inch digitally amplified speakers
  • Integrated, QuickTouch handle controls
  • Adjustable, oversized cushion pedals
  • AutoBreeze workout fan
  • SoftTouch upper-body grips
  • Rear-drive
  • 18 pounds effective inertia-enhanced flywheel
  • SMR - Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 18-inch auto-adjustable stride
  • 24 digital resistance levels
  • 10% power-adjustable incline
  • One-touch controls
  • Commercial solid steel construction
  • EKG grip pulse heart rate monitor
  • iFit Bluetooth 1 smart chest strap included
  • Maximum user capacity: 325 pounds
  • 30 preset workout apps
  • Integrated handle controls for ramp & resistance
  • Rear-mounted transport wheels
  • Water bottle holder
  • Vertical SpaceSaver design
Specifications
  • Brand: NordicTrack
  • Model: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i
  • Size: 78.7 x 31.9 x 66.4 inches
Pros
  • Returns permitted within 30 days of purchase
  • 10-year frame, 2-year parts & 1-year labor warranty
  • The foldable frame helps maximize living space
  • A good number of preset workout programs
  • 24 resistance levels for varying challenges
  • Great automated incline & resistance
Cons
  • Light drive limits the smoothness & force of the ride
  • Not the sturdiest build due to compactness

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine is an excellent entry-level magnetic trainer that enables low-impact workouts in the comfort of your home at an impressive price. 

The SF-E905 Elliptical is designed to provide smooth workouts by engaging both the lower and upper body.

There are 8 levels of adjustable resistance, allowing you to optimize your workouts by constantly kicking them up a notch.

Large anti-slip foot platforms offer welcomed stability allowing you to focus on the LCD display and monitor your workout metrics. 

A cool feature of the SF-E905 Elliptical is that it comes complete with two different sets of handlebars.

You have stationery handlebars with a built-in pulse sensor, allowing you to track your heart rate in real-time.

Alternatively, it has moving handlebars, ideal for you to get an upper-body workout and incorporate strength training into your fitness regime. 

With a modest stride length of 11-inches, the SF-E905 Elliptical may not be the ideal choice for hardcore fitness bunnies, but for those looking to get consistent exercise under their belt, at this price point, the SF-E905 delivers in spades. 

Key Features
  • Monitor displays: scan, time, speed, distance, odometer, calories, RPM & pulse
  • 8 levels of adjustable resistance
  • Pulse sensors
  • Floor stabilizers
  • Padded handles
  • Non-slip foot pedals
  • Full motion handlebars
  • Transportation wheels
  • Magnetic resistance system with micro tension controller
  • Durable steel construction
  • Maximum user capacity: 220 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Sunny Health & Fitness
  • Model: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine
  • Size: 28 x 17 x 57 inches
Pros
  • 3-year frame & 180 days other parts & components warranty
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • For people on a modest budget
  • Compact size
  • Supports respectable user weight of 220 pounds
  • Easy to move
  • Very quiet
  • Easy to read monitor
  • Ideal for anyone looking for a full-body workout
Cons
  • Short stride length of 11-inches
  • Not for people looking for some preset workout programs

The Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine is an accomplished elliptical trainer. Offering fluid natural motion provided by a whisper-quiet drive system. Functioning in both forward and reverse motions.

A heavy 25-pound flywheel combined with a high gear ratio is difficult to find in other comparable models.

With the Sole E35 Elliptical, you get a super smooth feel with plenty of resistance that is often only found in premium elliptical trainers. 

At the press of a button, resistance can be adjusted to vary workouts through a power incline.

The angle of the ramp is fully adjustable from inclines as low as 0 to 20, so you get to focus on all those lower body muscle groups. 

Stationery handlebars with built-in pulse sensors allow monitoring of the heart and if you want to incorporate an upper-body workout, a heart rate chest strap is included for hands-free pulse monitoring. 

The Sole E35 Elliptical is equipped with oversized foot pedals. These unique foot pedals were designed in collaboration with physical therapists and sports enthusiasts.

Engineered in a two-degree inward slope to the foot pedals, helps reduce ankle and knee stress giving you a super comfortable workout.

As if all this wasn’t impressive enough, the Sole E35 Elliptical is backed by an industry-leading warranty.

Leaving you to enjoy an elliptical constructed from the highest-grade steel, operating as quiet as a mouse. 

Key Features
  • Front-drive system
  • LCD console with a 7.5-inch display
  • Built-in fans
  • Adjustable pedals & console
  • Power adjustable stride & incline
  • 20-22-inch maximum stride length
  • 10 preset programs
  • 25-pound flywheel
  • 20 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Custom designed pedals
  • Multi-grip handlebars
  • Bluetooth speakers
  • Bluetooth compatibility with fitness apps
  • Chest strap heart rate monitor included
  • USB charging port
  • Integrated tablet holder
  • Maximum user weight: 375 pounds
Specifications
  • Brand: Sole Fitness
  • Model: Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
  • Size: 27 x 58 x 83 inches
Pros
  • Lifetime frame warranty
  • 5-year electronics & parts, & 2-year labor warranty
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Free shipping with curbside delivery for all equipment
  • Reputable brand
  • Very quiet operation
  • Great features: tablet holder, Bluetooth audio speakers, water bottle holder
  • Perfect elliptical for the home
Cons
  • Stride length is not adjustable
  • Cannot download new workouts

If you’re looking to increase activity at work or at home whilst sitting down, look no further than the Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical.

This under-the-desk elliptical trainer has robbed you of every creative excuse you may have for not working out. 

Designed as a lightweight and compact elliptical, it can be used anywhere from home to office.

The gliding movements are whisper quiet, ensuring you’re not ruffling any feather whilst on that conference call or fellow colleagues.

After you’ve finished using Cubii JR1, simply slide it out of the way. Moving it is super easy with the carrying handle at the front, located between the foot pedals. 

Whilst the Cubii JR1 offers low-impact workouts, don’t be mistaken with them being easy.

It provides excellent cardiovascular workouts, elevates your heart, and helps get your legs moving. A great workout for all ages and fitness levels. 

You can elevate your resistance level from 8 different adjustable magnetic responsive resistance via a tension control knob on the front. 

Equipped with a built-in display monitor located at the front allows you to remain on top of your workout progress.

The LCD monitors calories burned, strides pedaled, distances traveled, and workout time. 

With the Cubii Under Desk Elliptical, you get a compact trainer that you can slide into your busy schedule whilst sitting down at a very very affordable price. 

Key Features
  • Rehab & fitness exercise peddler
  • Compact seated elliptical
  • Built-in LCD display
  • Whisper-quiet
  • 8 levels of resistance
  • Sleek ergonomic design
  • Access to the Cubii Communitii
  • Exclusive live workout classes lead by one of three fitness trainers
Specifications
  • Brand: Cubii
  • Model: Cubii JR1 Under Desk Elliptical
  • Size: 23.15 x 17.56 x 10 inches
Pros
  • 1-year warranty
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed
  • Ideal to fit into any busy schedule, you can do it whilst you work
  • Great low-impact elliptical
  • Compact & adjustable
  • Quiet & durable
  • Ideal for those looking for something to use whilst sitting
Cons
  • No Bluetooth features
  • Can't be used whilst standing

The Stamina Peddler InMotion E1000 Elliptical Trainer offers an abundance of cardiovascular and lower body workouts at a price tag that’s a steal.

Ideal for anyone looking for an under-the-desk elliptical trainer or whilst you’re at home watching TV, the E1000 Elliptical Trainer delivers in spades.

Designed for easy portability and complete convenience, allowing you to get your cardio workout in no matter how hectic your schedule is. 

Non-slip pedals hold your feet in place, so you can power through a low-impact and lower-body focused workout. Once you’ve used it, you can stow it away, it’s that simple. 

The E1000 Elliptical Trainer allows you to get into shape without all the endless gym membership fees, crowds, and arduous travel time to the gym. 

The electronic fitness monitor displays the number of strides per minute, the total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned and you can adjust the temp via the adjustable resistance. 

This is the ideal mini elliptical for those users who want something small, compact, and cheap, which allows them to use it at home or the office amidst a hectic schedule.

Let the Stamina InMotion Elliptical get you sweating, start pedaling now. 

Key Features
  • Adjustable tension to control the workout intensity level
  • Reverse-motion foot pedals
  • Electronic fitness monitor
  • Free online access to two workout videos with purchase
  • Textured pedals
  • Sturdy steel construction
  • Large, non-slip pedals
  • Silver frame, black pedals & feet
Specifications
  • Brand: Stamina
  • Model: Stamina Peddler InMotion E1000 Elliptical Trainer
  • Size: 24.5 x 17 x 11.38 inches
Pros
  • Free standard shipping for the continental US
  • Great for cardiovascular and lower body workout
  • Compact mini strider
  • Ideal for users looking for a lightweight trainer
  • A great option for exercising at the office and/or home office
  • Suitable for people looking for a lower body workout
Cons
  • Short warranty: 1-year frame & 90 days parts warranty
  • Not for people seeking upper body workout

If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line elliptical then the NordicTrack FS14i Elliptical is an awe-inspiring trainer offering a wide variety of workout options to whip you into shape. 

Boasting a spectacular 14-inch Smart HD Touchscreen makes working out a truly cinematic experience on the FS14i Elliptical. Go big or go home right?

Whilst most ellipticals today will have the incline capability, the feather in the FS14i Elliptical’s cap is it has a -10% power decline, allowing you to vary your workouts going downhill and uphill.

No time for your mind to drift away, you need to focus on where you are going!

Sporting a completely adjustable stride of up to 32 inches means the stride adapts to your body, not the other way around.

Since your body is not locked in a fixed stride, it enables your body to adapt, constantly challenging you and helping you to torch unwanted calories. 

The adjustable stride enables you to go for longer jogging strides, or hurdling type strides like a treadmill or short up and down strides mimicking a stair climber.

It’s like having three different machines rolled into one elliptical trainer. 

The center drive design, with two smaller wheels on either side of the pedals, ensures you stay upright and balanced more easily with no subconscious leaning forward or over the handlebars. 

Hundreds of workouts are accessible from the comfort of your home with the Explore the World iFit coach or select a workout focusing on specific fitness goals, such as fat burning, strength training, and interval training. 

The NordicTrack Elliptical comes with a steep price tag attached, if your budget allows, don’t be afraid to shell out for the FS14i Elliptical.

What you’ll get is a free stride trainer with all the bells and whistles!

Key Features
  • 14-inch Smart HD Touchscreen
  • 1-Year iFit membership included
  • Bluetooth audio capabilities
  • Two 2-inch digitally amplified speakers
  • Center drive
  • 20-pound effective inertia-enhanced flywheel
  • SMR - Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 32-inch auto adjustable stride
  • 26 digital resistance levels
  • -10% decline to 10% incline
  • One-touch controls
  • Commercial solid steel construction
  • Oversized levelers
  • Maximum user capacity of 375 pounds
  • AutoBreeze workout fan
  • Soft-touch upper-body grips
  • Oversized cushion pedals
  • Integrated handle controls for ramp & resistance
  • Transport wheels
  • Water bottle holder
Specifications
  • Brand: NordicTrack
  • Model: NordicTrack FS14i Elliptical
  • Size: 58.5 x 29.5 W x 74 inches
Pros
  • 10-year frame, 2-year parts & 1-year labor warranty
  • Returns permitted within 30 days of product purchase
  • More resistance levels than other models
  • Ideal for users looking for a fully immersive workout experience with a huge range of on-demand & live iFit classes available
  • Great for users looking for a quiet elliptical with Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • An impressive adjustable stride of 32 inches enables three workout styles
Cons
  • Returns will be charged a return shipping fee of $250 plus a 10% restocking fee
  • Expensive

If you want an elliptical that ticks all the right boxes in all the right areas for a very affordable price, look no further than the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

You get a well-built, sturdy elliptical trainer that is smooth and comfortable and enables moderate to high-octane workouts.

Offering workouts for everyone, whatever your choice of poison and fitness goals. 

With a motorized incline and a generous 20-inch stride length, you’ll be mimicking a natural running motion with the precision path foot motion technology. 

For all you fitness geeks, 25 levels of varying resistance will ensure you continue to push yourself and climb new heights. 

The Schwinn 470 can support 4 separate user profiles, allowing all your family members to get into shape and stay fit.

There’s a three-speed fan to provide a welcome breeze and keep you cool when the going gets tough. 

The Schwinn Elliptical boasts 29 preset workout programs, from programs that target heart rate control, custom, fitness test, or quick start to name a few.

Allowing the Schwinn 470 to set the tempo and you simply go along for the ride, galloping like a graceful antelope. 

Key Features
  • 29 preset workout programs
  • DualTrack blue backlit LCD window system
  • Track time, distance & calorie goals & transfer metrics via Bluetooth
  • UBS charging port
  • 4 users capability
  • Telemetry heart rate enable (chest strap not included)
  • 25 levels of eddy current resistance
  • 5 incline & 5 resistance quick keys
  • 20-inch stride with precision path foot motion technology
  • 10 degrees motorized adjustable ramp
  • Large footplates
  • 3-speed fan, water bottle holder & transport wheels
Specifications
  • Brand: Schwinn
  • Model: Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
  • Size: 70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches
Pros
  • 10-year frame, 2-year parts & 1-year electronics warranty
  • $99 standard shipping in the Contiguous US
  • Returns permitted within 2 weeks of the purchase
  • A great choice for users looking for a smooth & comfortable ride
  • Well-built
  • Reasonably priced
  • High-end computer display
  • Supports 4 users
Cons
  • Short labor warranty of 90 days for this price point
  • No stride adjustment

Elliptical Machines
Buying Guide

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the different types of elliptical machines on the market, and the different features you may want to consider, and the various benefits of an elliptical, before making your purchase. 

Allowing you to go ahead and buy with confidence and know-how. 

DRIVE SYSTEM

The main differentiation is the position of the flywheel in relation to the footpads, which is the core component that enables the elliptical motion. 

Broadly speaking there are four different categories and which type you opt for can impact the cost of the elliptical. 

Front Drive Ellipticals – The flywheel in these ellipticals are located at the front of the machine. This can make users lean slightly forward when exercising, as though climbing stairs. 

Front-drive ellipticals are simple and budget-friendly. 

Rear Drive Ellipticals – As the name suggests rear-drive systems place the flywheel behind the exercise machine. With the wheel behind you, you are pulling it to make it turn, driving force through your feet.

Rear-drive ellipticals ensure that a user maintains an upright position at all times, which minimizes strain on your lower back and keeps good posture during the workout. 

Overall a rear-drive system is smooth, entails a circular pedal movement, which mimics the motion of running.

Rear-drive systems are more expensive models.

Center Drive Ellipticals – The flywheel is at the center of the elliptical, resulting in compact designs and saving space. 

Many center-drive systems can mimic the feeling of walking or jogging, which many users find very therapeutic and less aggressive.

Center-drive systems are a somewhat new design for a drive system.

Hybrid Ellipticals – Hybrid machines combine several functions and typically they incorporate features of a stationary bike. 

This is a good option if you like the idea of sitting on a seat. Alternatively, some users may find this harder on their posture if exercising for extended periods of time. 

TYPES OF ELLIPTICAL RESISTANCE SYSTEMS

Manual Friction Brake – Manual friction brake systems are controlled by a user, by turning a knob that secures the brake pad on the flywheel. 

This is an economical and easy way of creating resistance.

Manual Magnetic Brake – Manual magnetic brake systems use a magnet when friction is applied. 

When a user pulls a handlebar or knob, a bracket with a magnet attached to it moves closer or further away from the flywheel. The resistance is greatest the closer the magnet is to the flywheel. 

Some magnets are more powerful than others. Try out whether an elliptical magnetic resistance provides a sufficient level of intensity for you in the long run. 

Eddy Current – Eddy current systems are similar to manual magnetic systems, except the magnet moves via the push of a button. 

The system is controlled electronically and any additional magnets will enable greater resistance than you would get in a manual system. 

Eddy current systems are of good quality and durable and relatively quiet.

Electronic Induction – If you are looking for power and elegant resistance systems available on the market then it has to be the electromagnetic induction brake systems. 

There are no moving parts as the magnets are fixed in place with the flywheel spinning between them. 

When resistance is increased by a user, the wheel is harder to turn due to the higher electrical current emitted to the magnet. You get more powerful resistance with an electromagnetic system. 

Any changes in resistance intensity are done instantaneously. 

KEY FEATURES

Frame Construction – If you are planning on doing intense workouts, the elliptical you choose needs to be able to withstand high levels of intensity and be able to support and absorb that force. 

The general weight of the frame is a good reference point to how well the elliptical is constructed and how robust it is. What kind of steel is used for the frame construction?

Whilst foldable models may be great space savers and built to be compact, they may not be the best choice if you intend to increase the intensity to various levels.

Stride Length – When looking at various ellipticals look at whether the elliptical has an adjustable ramp. 

If the elliptical does have an adjustable ramp, the stride length will change automatically based on the ramp angle. An elliptical with an adjustable stride allows you to achieve comfort at a given pace.

If an elliptical does not have an adjustable ramp, the motion is fixed and the stride length will not change. 

Which is best for you depends on your personal preference.

Stationary or Movable Arms – The lion’s share of elliptical arms have moveable arms that allow a user to get a lower and upper body workout all at the same time. 

There are two types of arms, the first is standard arms. These are fixed straight ahead of the body when a user pushes and/or pulls. 

The second type of arms are converging arms, towards the center of the body and impersonate the motion of walking or running. 

Whilst there are elliptical machines that have no moving arms and are essentially pure lower-body workouts. These are quite rare nowadays.

If you want to work your whole body, burn more calories, and want to get some strength training in, you want an elliptical with moving arms. 

Adjustable Incline – Adjusting the incline varies the focus on which muscle groups are being worked and mixes up your workout. A great way to avoid plateauing. 

Adjustable Resistance – Good quality ellipticals allow a wide range of resistance levels that can be adjusted electronically and with ease. 

Adjustable resistance makes your workouts challenging, fun and allows you to incorporate interval training into your fitness regime.

Forward and Reverse Motions – Moving forwards or backward mixes up your workouts and works different muscle groups. For many people doing reverse motions is not automatic, they have to concentrate a lot more.

Smooth Motion – You want an elliptical that provides a smooth experience. Many machines have a so-called “kick” in the motion where a user’s heel comes off the platform. 

Ideally, you don’t want to have any “kick” in your motion. You want a seamless moving experience whether you are moving forwards or in reverse.

Heart Rate Control – You want an elliptical that monitors your heart rate, allowing you to focus on working out within your optimal range. 

The higher-end ellipticals have heart rate control programs that adjust your workout variables whilst measuring your heart rate, to ensure you stay within your optimal zone. 

This is a great feature and means you don’t have to do anything the elliptical trainer makes all the modifications for you.

Preset and Custom Programs – Everyone starts exercising on a fitness machine full of enthusiasm and very quickly boredom can set in from doing the same workout over and over again. 

An elliptical trainer that has the ability to customize programs tailored to your needs is invaluable. 

Having several programs such as manual, random, interval, hill climb, target heart rate are just a few examples of the type of preset programs that many ellipticals come equipped with. 

Electronic Features – What kind of electronic features are important for you to have and will motivate you? Do you want to see the number of calories burned? The distance traveled? Strides per minute?

Do you want Bluetooth and wireless connectivity that connects to apps or you can connect to your mobile device?

Safety Features – If you have children in the house, you might want to consider safety features, when not using the elliptical trainer. 

Is it important for you to have locking features on the pedals, prohibiting them from moving, even if your young child gets on and tries to pedal?

Folding – Whilst there is an abundance of choice in the realm of treadmills and rowing machines, the concept of a compact elliptical is a somewhat novel concept.

Think carefully if you want a folding machine. The majority of ellipticals are not foldable. The few models that do allow this feature, will be built for lighter, less intense workouts and will most likely not be the most robust or durable elliptical out there. 

Noise – All elliptical trainers make some form of noise, however, you want an elliptical machine that is relatively quiet when being operated. The last thing you want is to annoy your neighbors with unwelcome noise. 

You don’t want to compromise on the intensity of your workout, if the elliptical trainer gets progressively louder the greater the intensity of your workout.

Screen for an elliptical that is smooth and quiet when operated, this also indicates the quality of the engineering. 

You may also look at buying and putting a mat underneath the elliptical, which will help to absorb noise and protect your floor. 

Size – The majority of ellipticals require a fixed spot in your home/gym. They are quite long ranging from 50 to 84 inches in length and during operation, the pedals may extend beyond that length.

Ensure you have free space on the sides and there is no obstruction at the front or the rear of the elliptical.  

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Price – How much are you able and willing to spend? An average elliptical trainer can cost as little as $200 and go as high as $5,000. 

You can definitely find cheaper models, but they often don’t last that long, and may not offer a smooth experience. 

It’s better to save up and buy a mid-range elliptical to ensure you get a robust trainer that is durable. 

Delivery – Is the cost of delivery included? Elliptical trainers are heavy and most likely entail delivery and assembly of a two-person job.

Will the delivery be curbside? In your home? If you wanted in-home assembly, how much would this cost?

Return Policy – Is there a trial period? If you are unsatisfied with the elliptical, are you permitted to return it and get a full refund? 

What is the process for a return/refund and would you have to bear the cost of the return along with a restocking fee?

Warranties – On average most manufacturers provide a warranty in the range of 3 to 7 years on parts and at least a 1-year warranty on labor. The high-quality models often offer a lifetime warranty on the elliptical frame. 

What components are covered within the warranty? The cheaper the elliptical, the shorter the warranty periods often are. 

Elliptical Machines
FAQ

  • What is an elliptical cross trainer?
  • Many people call elliptical machines that have movable arms cross-trainers, as they provide an upper body workout as well as a lower-body workout.

    These days the majority of elliptical machines have movable arms and some brands refer to them interchangeably as cross-trainers.
  • What are the benefits of an elliptical trainer?
  • Elliptical trainers provide a range of benefits, from offering cardio, full-body workouts to strength training for the upper body, to name a few.

    Ellipticals are great in providing low-impact exercise through steady and continuous contact with the pedals.

    Full-body workouts are enabled as nearly every major muscle group is moving from glutes and quads to delts and chest and abs.

    Ellipticals allow you to vary your workouts with bursts of intense exertion through interval training and then exercise for a defined period and a low steady pace.

    They are ideal for all types of exercises, irrespective of your fitness level.
  • What kind of Drive System should you go for?
  • Rear-drive systems have the flywheel located at the rear of the elliptical and they provide a smooth experience. They are usually on the more expensive end of the spectrum.

    Front-drive systems in comparison can feel rougher and not as smooth as a rear-drive system. Price-wise they are more affordable.

    Which option you go for depends on your budget and preference.
  • What is the best type of resistance system?
  • This very much depends on your budget and fitness goals.

    Having said that the eddy current resistance system is a standout for being relatively silent. The elliptical trainers that have this resistance system are expensive.

    The system is controlled electronically and any additional magnets will enable greater resistance than you would get in a manual system.
  • Is an elliptical good for the knees?
  • An elliptical trainer is an ideal machine to avoid stress on the knees for the simple reason it removes contact with the ground.
  • Do ellipticals work your arms?
  • If you buy an elliptical trainer that has movable arms it works the shoulders, the biceps, the triceps, and all the other major muscle groups in the arms.

    To acquire the best results vary between pulling and pushing the arms levers and varying the resistance from low to high.

Elliptical Machines
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