Intro elliptical machines
LAST UPDATED: 24 Mar 2022
The

Best Elliptical Machine

Staying Alive - Buying Guide

More and more people are adding elliptical machines to their home gym, due to their versatility for high-intensity interval training and cardiovascular benefits. 

Ideally, you want a cardio machine that allows you to get a full-body workout and accommodates smaller spaces in your home, and assists your health fitness to keep you trim, toning your muscles, and for you, energizer bunnies, enabling a great elliptical workout. 

An elliptical machine impersonates the motion of running without the harsh impact or joint pain. Arms get a workout with the upper-body levers and resistance that can be adjusted offers continuously challenging training. 

Intensity can be dialed up for you to get a real sweat on right at home. You just ran out of excuses to work out!

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

We’ve summarized the best ellipticals to add to your home gym to improve your health. You’re only one workout away from a good mood and less stress!

This article was written by Staying Alive Crew Published at 04:09 pm
Contents

The Best Elliptical Machines

  • If you want to workout out with a personal trainer in your living room, the Pro-Form Pro HIIT H14 is for you. 

    ProForm offers a whole new workout experience as trainers take your training all around the globe and control your machine's resistance and workout modes for you along the way. 

    Through connected physical training 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. 

    Unlike other stepper machines, the Pro HIIT H14 is designed for your feet to travel on a 10-inch vertical and 5-inch horizontal elliptical path. This motion puts you on track to burning more calories and building more strength.

    Combining a 10-inch vertical elliptical stepping path with powerful, upper-body punching actions, the Pro HIIT H14 simulates stair climbing and boxing, allowing you to activate your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, biceps, and triceps—all in a single movement.

    Experience cutting-edge convenience at your fingertips with 14 inches of high-definition technology. 

    This touchscreen beautifully displays your workout stats, programs, and entertainment. Large, easy-to-press buttons make it simple to change your resistance level in an instant. 

    Control your workout effortlessly by managing your audio, fan, workout programs, and much more.

    Forget noisy air resistance trainers. The Pro HIIT H14 brings you SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance. It’s quiet, smooth, and durable so you can focus on your workout—without disturbing your home.

    With the Pro HIIT H14, your feet never leave the pedals, giving you a zero-impact experience to help reduce stress on your legs and back.

    Finally, the compact footprint takes up half the space of a normal elliptical exercise machine, leaving you with room to roam.

    A good-priced elliptical that is ready to impress any fitness enthusiast with the complete iFit experience. Train higher and harder with Pro HIIT H14.The sky's the limit!

    Key Features
    • iFit Enabled, 30-day iFIT Family membership Included
    • Display: 14-inch Smart HD touchscreen
    • EKG grip pulse heart rate sensor
    • Stride: 10-inch vertical, 5-inch horizontal
    • 26 resistance levels with Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR)
    • Inertia-enhanced Flywheel
    • Oversized, cushioned pedals
    • Multi-function handlebars
    • CoolAire fan
    • Audio auxiliary port with dual 2-inch Bluetooth speakers
    • Front-mounted transport wheels
    • Wattle bottle holder
    • Oversized leveling feet
    • 325 pounds weight capacity
    Specifications
    • Brand: Pro-Form
    • Model: Pro HIIT H14
    • Specifications: 29 W x 52 D x 66 H inches
    Pros
    • 26 resistance levels
    • iFit enabled
    • Smooth steady pedal stroke with the flywheel
    • Total-body-elliptical experience with multi-function handlebars
    • The dual 2-inch speakers enable you to hear your own music or videos
    • Comes with a bottle holder
    • Oversized leveling feet caters to all feet sizes
    • Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts & 1-year labor
    • Free shipping
    • 30-day money-back guarantee
    • Unique 10-inch vertical & 5-inch horizontal elliptical path
    • Quiet elliptical with SMR
    Cons
    • No warranty coverage on motor
    • Must have iFit subscription in order to use iFit
    Show Product Details
  • 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 cardio for weight loss, along with customizable training options. You'll never get into cruise control with the Nautilus model.

    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 physical training sessions 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 upslope ranging from 0 to 10 degrees at the touch of a mere button. Challenging your legs.

    The multi-position handlebars with integrated ascent and resistance levels permit easy modifications of 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 slight line tilting console with blue backlit DualTrack screens
    • 29 Nautilus preset training programs
    • Bluetooth connectivity
    • Track metrics & 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
    Show Product Details
  • The Bowflex M8 Max Trainer is an impressive piece of exercise equipment that combines Bowflex JRNY, the personalized coaching technology that integrates with your M8 Max Trainer to create daily, custom keep-fit sessions 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 complete-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 physical training to the next level with the ergonomically friendly design of the Bowflex M8 Max Trainer.

    Key Features
    • Compatible with Bowflex JRNY company’s 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
    • A 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 exercise 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
    Show Product Details
  • The offering from NordicTrack is a spectacular addition to our list of cross trainers with the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i. The SpaceSaver brings you a powerful combo of interactive training and space-saving technology. 

    With its formidable 7-inch Smart Touchscreen, it's not difficult to understand how you get lost in the completely immersive physical training experience from high-energy studio physical training to incredible outdoor adventures taking you to greater and greater heights. 

    Add variety in your keep-fit sessions 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 exercise enthusiasts looking for a light exercise challenge and optimizing space at home along with some snazzy features. 

    Unfold the SpaceSaver SE9i at your convenience. 

    Key Features
    • 7-inch Smart HD Touchscreen
    • Includes 1-Year 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
    • Holder for a water bottle
    • 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
    Show Product Details
  • The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine is an excellent entry-level magnetic trainer that enables low-impact keep-fit sessions in the comfort of your home at an impressive price. 

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

    There are 8 levels of resistance that can be adjusted, allowing you to optimize your physical training by constantly kicking them up a notch.

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

    A cool feature of the Sunny Health SF-E905 Elliptical is that it comes complete with 2 different sets of handlebars. 

    You have stationery handlebars with a built-in pulse sensor, allowing you to track real-time your heart rate. Alternatively, it has moving handlebars, ideal for you to get an upper-body workout and incorporate strength training into your physical exercise regime. 

    With a modest stride length of 11-inches, the SF-E905 Elliptical may not be the ideal choice for hardcore exercise 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 resistance that is adjustable
    • Pulse sensors
    • Floor stabilizers
    • Padded handles
    • Non-slip foot platforms
    • Full motion handlebars
    • Transportation wheels
    • Resistance is magnetic with a 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 head to toe workout
    Cons
    • The short stride length of 13-inches
    • Not for people looking for some preset workout programs
    Show Product Details
  • The Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine is an accomplished cross-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 ellipticals. With the 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 gradient. 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-physique workout, a heart rate chest strap is included for hands-free pulse monitoring. 

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

    Engineered in a two-degree inward slope so the footplates reduce stress on the ankles and knees, giving you a super comfortable workout.

    The 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 resistance that is magnetic
    • Custom designed pedals
    • Multi-grip handlebars
    • Bluetooth speakers
    • Bluetooth compatibility with exercise 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 physical training sessions
    Show Product Details
  • 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 feathers 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 footplates. 

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

    It provides excellent cardiovascular training, elevates your heart, and gets your legs moving. A great workout for all ages and physical training levels. 

    You can elevate your resistance level from 8 different magnetic responsive resistance which can be adjusted 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 & 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 led by one of 3 exercise 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
    • Embrace life fitness with classes
    • Excellent for the user’s not a fan of an indoor exercise bike
    Cons
    • No Bluetooth features
    • Can't be used whilst standing
    Show Product Details
  • The Stamina Peddler InMotion E1000 Elliptical Trainer offers an abundance of cardiovascular and lower physique exercises at a price tag that's a steal.

    Ideal for anyone looking for an under-the-desk elliptical machine or whilst you're at home watching TV, the E1000 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, enabling you to 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 Trainer allows you to get into shape without all the endless gym membership fees, crowds, and arduous travel time to the gym. 

    The electronic physical training monitor displays the number of strides per minute, the total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned and you can adjust the resistance to set your own pace. 

    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. 

    Unlike other machines, the Stamina Peddler InMotion E1000 has no handles, so it gives your abdominal muscles a solid workout. 

    Let the Stamina Peddler InMotion E1000 Trainer make you sweat, start pedaling life fitness now. 

    Key Features
    • Adjustable tension to control the workout intensity level
    • Reverse-motion foot pedals
    • Electronic exercise 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 physique workout
    • Compact mini strider
    • Ideal for users looking for a lightweight trainer
    • A great option for exercising at the office, home office
    • Suitable for people looking for lower physique workout
    Cons
    • Short warranty: 1-year frame & 90 days parts warranty
    • Not for people seeking upper physique workout
    Show Product Details
  • 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 cap is it has a -10% power decline, so you can vary your physical training by 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 or recumbent bike. It's like having 3 different machines rolled into one cross-trainer. 

    The center drive design, with 2 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 while working your abdominal muscles.

    Hundreds of keep-fit sessions 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 FS14i 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
    • Bottle holder for water
    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 receipt of the product
    • 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 resistance that is magnetic & silent
    • 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
    Show Product Details
  • If you want an elliptical that ticks all the right boxes for your home gym at a very affordable price, look no further than the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine

    You get a well-built, sturdy cross trainer that is smooth and comfortable and enables moderate to high-octane keep-fit sessions. Providing exercises for everyone, whatever your choice of poison and exercise goals. 

    With a motorized gradient motion with the precision path foot motion technology. 

    For all you exercise geeks, 25 levels of varying resistance will ensure you continue to push yourself and climb new heights with this impressive exercise equipment. 

    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 470 boasts 29 preset workout programs, from programs that target heart rate control, custom exercise test, or quick start to name a few.

    Let the Schwinn 470 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 LC 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
    • Displays time
    Specifications
    • Brand: Schwinn
    • Model: Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
    • Size: 70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches
    Pros
    • 10-years frame, 2-year parts, 1-year electronics
    • $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 Bluetooth console
    • Supports 4 users
    Cons
    • Short labor warranty of 90 days for this price point
    • No stride adjustment
    Show Product Details

Elliptical Machines Buying Guide

If you’re not a fan of the treadmill or exercise bike, an elliptical or cross trainer is the right choice of equipment to improve your health either at your commercial site or your home gym.

We’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the different types of ellipticals on the market, and the key features you may want to consider, before making your purchase.

Elliptical Machines

Many people call elliptical machines that have movable arms cross trainers, as they provide an upper and lower body workout. 

These days the majority of elliptical machines have movable arms and some brands refer to them interchangeably as cross-trainers.

Benefits of Elliptical Machines

Elliptical machines provide a range of health benefits, from cardio, head-to-toe physical training sessions to strength training for the upper body, to toning the legs to improve your overall fitness levels.  

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

Workouts are enabled as nearly every major muscle group is moving from glutes and quads to delts, 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 physical training level, and are an excellent way to improve your health.

Features of a Best Elliptical Machine

Drive System

The main differentiation in the drive system 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 4 different types of drive systems: the type you opt for can impact the cost of the elliptical.

Front Drive Ellipticals

The flywheel in these ellipticals is 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 on a treadmill.

Rear-drive systems are more expensive models.

Center Drive Ellipticals

The flywheel is at the center of the elliptical, resulting in compact designs and space-saving. 

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

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

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

Hybrid Ellipticals

Hybrid machines combine several functions and hybrid ellipticals typically incorporate features of a stationary recumbent bike. 

This is a good option if you like the idea of sitting in 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 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 a resistance system that is magnetic 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 durable, good quality, 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. 

Frame Construction

If you're 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 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 ellipticals have moveable arms that allow a user to get lower and upper body exercise all at the same time. 

There are 2 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 motion 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 machine makes all the modifications for you.

Preset and Custom Programs

Everyone starts exercising on an exercise machine full of enthusiasm and very quickly boredom can set in from doing the same workout over and over again. 

An elliptical machine 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 is 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 own device?

Safety Features

If you have children in the house, you might want to consider safety features, when not using the elliptical machine. 

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 foldable ellipticals 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 machines 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 machine 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. 

Price

How much are you able and willing to spend?

An average elliptical machine 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 machines are heavy and most likely entail the delivery and assembly of a two-person job.

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

Return Policy and Warranties

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?

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 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 machines 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?

Elliptical trainers are ideal for avoiding stress on the knees for the simple reason they remove contact with the ground.

Do ellipticals work your arms?

Elliptical trainers that have movable arms work 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. 

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