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Available in just about every gym, elliptical machines are a popular choice among hard-core fitness enthusiasts and beginners alike. Besides being user-friendly, these staples of cardio fitness are an excellent way to get in shape quickly. They do a good job at sparing your body from impact, thus being more knee-friendly than treadmills, but they also burn calories in the same manner. Here is everything you need to know in order to be able to purchase the best elliptical on the market.
We reviewed 36 high quality ellipticals and came to the conclusion that the Cubii Jr. – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical is the best choice for anyone was looking for quality and versatile piece of fitness equipment. A compact ergonomic elliptical that allows you to work out while you sit at your desk, the Cubii Jr. – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical, which we featured as our editor’s choice, is quiet and well build the same time. We also included six more ellipticals in our review so you can find the one that best suits your workout needs.
When looking at the best ellipticals on the market, we considered several important features, including workout programs, resistance levels, stride length, LCD display, dimensions and weight. We spent more than a week reading reviews from professionals and regular users, and the results of our research are available in the comparison table below. You also find detailed reviews of all of the best ellipticals we included, as well as a buying guide to make your choice easier.
"This unit allows you to keep in shape even when you are forced to sit for too long. Designed by professional team of researchers, this elliptical is very sleek and is bound to go unnoticed whether you decide to use it at work or at home."
"This machine comes with multiple apps on your phone so you can track your progress, and that it comes with a 20 pounds flywheel, which is generally the minimum wage recommended in a high-quality elliptical machine."
"This budget-friendly machine features large anti-slip platforms and arms and cons with two sets of handlebars, one of them equipped with a pulse sensor. It also has a rather well-built LCD display so you can track your workout."
"The machine comes with both static and moving handlebars so you can get a complete body workout. And this machine features the 16 levels of electronic magnetic resistance that are very easy to control via a dial knob."
"This model is a quiet and compact elliptical trainer that allows you to work out while in the office. We liked that this low-decibel exercise machine is not very intrusive, so it will definitely not disturb you from your main activity."
Working out while sitting at the desk has become an increasingly popular form of exercise all over the world in the recent years. Our editor’s choice, the Cubii Jr. – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical, allows you to keep in shape even when you are forced to sit for too long. Designed by professional team of researchers, this elliptical is very sleek and is bound to go unnoticed whether you decide to use it at work or at home.
We like that this is a low noise level machine, and its whirring motion won’t get in the way of your work, allowing you to concentrate and acting just like a white noise machine. This is a low impact cardio machine, which means that no additional force is going to be put on your joints. This means that you can use it every day without having to worry about joint pain.
The Cubii Jr. – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical has eight different levels of assistance so you can easily choose one that is suitable for your fitness level. Most of the users who tested it like that it is very easy to get your heart rate up with this elliptical. The machine has a built-in display monitor and it is very easy to assemble so you can start using it straight out of the box. We also like that the customer service got excellent reviews from the vast majority of users.
More features: media shelf, in console speakers with MP3 input port, USB media charging and adjustable fan, Bluetooth connectivity
An affordable elliptical machine that packs a punch in terms of power, the Schwinn 470 boasts many features that are comparable with higher end machines. We like that you can sync it with multiple apps on your phone so you can track your progress, and that it comes with a 20 pounds flywheel, which is generally the minimum wage recommended in a high-quality elliptical machine.
Ideal for low impact exercise, the Schwinn 470 has moving handlebars, no less than 26 resistance levels that you can control digitally, and a 20-inch stride length. Some of the features that you will find in this machine, including the extended stride length and Bluetooth data export are generally reserved for higher-priced machines, which is why we chose the Schwinn 470 as our best value recommendation.
The machine has moving handlebars for upper body exercise, and we like that they are slightly curved for extra flexibility when it comes to hand placement. The resistance of the machine is magnetic with digital control, and you get to choose from 26 resistance levels. There are also six settings for the power adjustable incline, with a maximum of 10% slope. The incline training allows you to burn calories quicker while also targeting different muscles, which results in extra body toning. Another feature that is generally difficult to find in low-cost elliptical machines is the heart rate control that is compatible with the majority of wireless chest straps so you get better accuracy during your workout.
More features: batteries included, weight capacity up to 220 lbs, 1-year warranty on frame
Our budget choice is the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905, an entry-level magnetic elliptical trainer that provides a low impact complete lower and upper body workout. Suitable for smaller spaces such as a bedroom, this machine is ideal for a daily workout if you are not keen to spend a lot of money.
The machine features large anti-slip platforms and arms and cons with two sets of handlebars, one of them equipped with a pulse sensor. It also has a rather well-built LCD display so you can track your workout. The LCD displays multiple stats including calories, speed, time, and distance. The rubber foam padding of the handlebars allows for better grip and most of the users who tested and reviewed this machine mentioned that the grip is fine even when your palms become sweaty.
The magnetic resistance of the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-9090 offers a quiet and smooth word out and you can choose from eight different levels of resistance. There are only three buttons present on the machine so you can start working out right away without having to fiddle with the controls too much. The auto scan function comes in handy if you want to automatically cycle through the various stats displayed on the LCD monitor, displaying each of them for six seconds. This machine is one of the best performing low budget ellipticals on the market and is an excellent choice for those who want to buy their first fitness machine to work out at home.
More features: high speed, high inertia drive system with a perimeter weighted flywheel, 10-year warranty on frame, 2-year warranty on mechanical parts, 1-year warranty on electronics
If you’re looking for an elliptical machine that comes with lots of workout programs, the Nautilus E614 would definitely fit the bill. This elliptical incorporates a cutting-edge design and dual displays that allow you to prop up your tablet or a book over the main display and still be able to view your workout data comfortably.
We like that the frame of the Nautilus E614 comes with a 10-year warranty, and that you get a wider range of features that might not always be present in other machines in this particular price range. Besides the regular stuff you might expect from any elliptical, such as a water bottle holder or a fan, you also get a media tray that allows you to recharge your gadgets via USB ports.
The main selling point of the Nautilus E614 is the wide range of programs available for beginners and fitness enthusiasts alike. With a total of 22 programs, you can select from nine profiles, eight heart rate programs, as well as several custom programs and a quick start function to get peddling right away. The profile programs include fun rights, mountain rides, and challenges, and you can also take one of the two fitness test programs that allow you to measure your fitness improvements. The LCD screen received a lot of positive reviews from users, and it allows you to see work out data that includes distance, time, level, RPM, heart rate, and calories.
More features: MP3 & iPod compatible music system, water bottle holder / storage rack, oversize pedal, weight capacity up to 300 lbs
The GOELLIPTICAL V-200 is the ideal choice for those who are looking for an elliptical machine that offers superb gadget compatibility. This machine features a current resistance system with digital adjustment and has a lot of extra features that come in handy during the workout, such as pedal and arm adjustments. We like that the machine is very solidly built, combining ABS and steel parts in its construction. Most of the structure is made of steel tubing, and the main unit is coated with corrosion resistant paint for extra durability.
This is a compact elliptical trainer that would work well in apartments or if you don’t have much room for it in your home. The machine comes with two extra-large pedals with a nonslip, ribbed surface. It also has two sets of handlebars, one mobile and one fixed, both of them featuring a rubberized surface and multi-grip design. Because the GOELLIPTICAL V-200 is a rear drive cross-trainer, you will feel like descending on a soft ramp when you ride on it. Many users consider this an advantage because this is an easy way to put more focus on your glutes.
The GOELLIPTICAL V-200 includes an LCD console with LED backlight that is easy to use and read. It tracks the most important workout data, including distance, time, calories, speed, and heart rate. This elliptical is not compatible with online apps and it doesn’t have a Bluetooth connection. However, it comes with a sound system in the form of two small speakers placed on the bottom corners, and it also has a tablet holder.
More features: Bluetooth Smart Technology with free iconsole app available on iOS/Android, 1-year warranty, weight capacity up to 265 lbs
The SNODE E20i is one of the best choices on the market for users who are interested in the design of their elliptical machine. This is a lightweight machine that comes with an automatic resistance system, and features a durable steel frame. We like that this machine is very quiet and stable at the same time, overall feeling very nonintrusive.
The machine comes with both static and moving handlebars so you can get a complete body workout. Most of the users who tested and reviewed this machine liked the 16 levels of electronic magnetic resistance that are very easy to control via a dial knob. The digital LCD console shows you real-time workout data while also featuring an eye protection Blu-ray screen for easy view.
If you like to be able to track your workouts online, this elliptical is an excellent choice because it is compatible with a free app you can download on your iOS or Android phone or tablet. You also get a media shelf on the elliptical’s console so you can watch a movie or read the book while you train. We also liked that the design of the SNODE E20i is very compact and the machine is very easy to move around thanks to the front mounted transport wheels.
What makes it stand out?
Fixed and mobile handlebars
Transport wheels on the front base
Easy to assemble
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Placing a tablet on the console will cover the LCD display
More features: suitable for office use, weight capacity up to 250 lbs, massage pedals, 1-year warranty
The ANCHEER Mini Elliptical Machine Indoor is a quiet and compact elliptical trainer that allows you to work out while you are watching TV or working at a desk. We liked that this low-decibel exercise machine is not very intrusive, so it will definitely not disturb you from your main activity. It comes with an integrated display monitor so you can track things such as calories, time, distance, speed, and more.
The compact elliptical machine comes with a remote control that allows you to start it and turn it off with the touch of a button, and also change functions, modes, and speed. The pedals move both forward and backward, allowing you to target different muscles during your workout. There are five levels of manual speed and three automatic programs available, and you can easily switch between them with the help of the remote control.
The ANCHEER Mini Elliptical Machine Indoor boasts large, textured anti-slip pedal with a superior design that makes it feel like you’re getting a foot massage as well while you exercise. The base is solid and stable, but it is not recommended to use this elliptical machine while standing. The machine requires absolutely no assembly at all, which means that you can start using it straight out of the box.
Ellipticals are some of the most popular machines in every gym, and the reason behind their popularity is the fact that they provide a low impact cardio work out that has the same benefits of running but without taking a toll on the knees. Buying a home elliptical trainer can be a confusing matter though, mostly because there are numerous models available out there. Ranging from basic machines that you can use under your desk, the full-sized models similar to those that you can find in a gym, there are numerous ellipticals available. This buying guide and find the best elliptical to get in shape at home.
Health benefits when using elliptical
One of the main health benefits of using an elliptical machine at home is the fact that you can get a full body workout and the cardio session all in one, all while protecting your joints from damage. Running is one of the most popular cardio workouts in the work, but because it is a high-impact sport, it makes you prone to knee, hip, or lower body injuries. With an elliptical machine though you can eliminate this risk and still get the same results in terms of cardio fitness.
Besides protecting your knees and joints from damage caused by impact sports, there are other health benefits of using an elliptical machine as well. Training on an elliptical will boost your cardio capacity and stamina while also allowing you to burn between 270 to 400 calories per half an hour, depending on body weight. Because it does such a great job at burning calories, an elliptical machine can help you lose body fat and tone up your entire body.
If you choose an elliptical machine with handles, you would also be able to get a full body workout that engages your upper body as well. As such, you can target not only your hamstrings and glutes, but also your chest, back, triceps and biceps at the same time.
Finally, most elliptical machines allow you to change the incline and the resistance of the pedals, so you can target different muscles in your lower body. Ellipticals are also a great choice for maintaining fitness after injury because the machine puts a lot less stress on your joints than running.
But if you still have a feeling that according to your doctor or you age you might need some kind of lighter workout, then we advise you to look for the best treadmills for seniors, which are even more health-friendly.
Features to consider while choosing an elliptical
From the type of workout you prefer to your budget, there are numerous features to consider when shopping for the best elliptical machine for your workout at home. Some of the most important of them include the number of workout programs, resistance levels, stride length, weight capacity, LCD display, dimensions and weight, as well as price and warranty.
Getting bored with a particular workout is one of the main reasons people quit a fitness program. By having a fitness machine that provides numerous programs, you can keep your workouts fresh and customize them for your specific needs.
Whether you are a beginner who can’t find their way through custom fitness routines or fitness enthusiasts likes to track their progress and mix up their workouts to avoid getting bored, having multiple workout programs available on your machine is always a good idea.
Some machines offer custom programs that allow you to create your own resistance profile so no two workouts are the same.
Many of the models we tested and reviewed come with a range of workout programs, with the Nautilus E614 being the recommended one if you want to have no less than 22 different programs available, together with the ability of customizing your own fitness routines.
In order to be able to customize your workouts as you gain strength and endurance, you need an elliptical machine that has adjustable resistance. Most quality models come with this feature, which means that you will work out will be very easy at the lowest setting and become more and more challenging as you increase the resistance. You can generally control the resistance of the machine via the LCD screen or a dial knob. In the case of under desk elliptical machines such as the ANCHEER Mini Elliptical Machine Indoor, you can do it via a remote control.
Low end ellipticals have a manual magnetic brake system that you can control by a dial knob on the machine. This system is generally very noisy, so if you want a quiet machine you should make sure that you get one that adjusts the brakes at the push of a button. Sometimes these machines are marketed as having silent magnetic resistance.
The stride length of the elliptical is important because it is closely related to your height. While some machines only offer an 11- or 14-inch stride, this would be too short for people of average size. As such, it is always a good idea to look for an elliptical machine that comes with a stride length of 20 inches or more, like the Schwinn 470, for example.
Some models have an adjustable stride, which comes in handy if multiple people in your family will be using the machine.
Heart Rate Measurement and Interactivity
Measuring your heart rate accurately while exercise is the best indicator of intensity and progress. To get the most of your workout, you need to identify the target heart rate range which you should work with. If the heart rate is too low, you will have issues reaching your goals, but if it is too high, you’re putting yourself at risk of injury. For accurate results, quality ellipticals, equipped with heart rate control programs that adjust your workout for your heart rate to make sure that you remain in the range that is recommended for best results. To do so, all you have to do is enter the desired heart rate and the elliptical will adjust the workout to match it. Some of the models reviewed come with heart rate interactivity and measurement, with examples being the Schwinn 470 and the GOELLIPTICAL V-200.
Elliptical machines that don’t come with a heart rate program cannot adjust the intensity of the exercise automatically based on your target heart rate. However, some models might be connected via Bluetooth with a chest strap heart rate sensor so you can see your heart rate on the screen and monitor it manually. Those who know their target heart rate can easily achieve their exercise goals with this type of machine.
Weight capacity is an important factor for every type of exercise machine, so it is essential to check the minimum and maximum weight capacity an elliptical machine has before purchasing it. Most of the ellipticals we included in our top have a minimum 125 lbs weight capacity and between 250 and 400 lbs maximum capacity, which makes them suitable for heavyweight users.
If several people in your household are going to use the elliptical and their weight varies significantly, it’s always a good idea to buy a machine that has a higher maximum capacity allowance.
An LCD display is an essential part of an elliptical machine because it allows you to get all the information about your workout in real time. Many of their high-quality ellipticals on the market have an LCD screen, sometimes backlit for easy reading, like in the case of the GOELLIPTICAL V-200. In most of the cases, the data will contain time, distance, heart rate, number of calories burned, and RPM. High-end machines may have a touchscreen display, but generally the LCD is easy to control via the side buttons that are all assigned to different programs and specifications.
Dimensions and weight
Unlike in the case of other fitness machines such as treadmills are stationary bikes, ellipticals need more space because their pedals extend out during use. The average elliptical machine is about 6 feet long by 2.5 feet wide, but this may vary from one model to another, so it essential to measure the space you have available carefully. As a rule of thumb, you will need a minimum of 20 inches of free space from any wall or piece of furniture on both sides of the machine and either the front or the back.
When it comes to weight, some models are heavier than others, particularly if they have a heavy flywheel. As such, it might be necessary to have help during installation, particularly when it comes to attaching the frame to the flywheel. Some others, such as the SNODE E20i have wheels so you can transport and move the elliptical easily.
The price of an elliptical machine is determined by the quality of construction as well as the number of features it comes equipped with. You can expect to pay anything from $200 for an under desk or budget model to well over $1000 for a high-end model with all the bells and whistles. When choosing an elliptical in a particular price range, make sure that you are actually going to use all its features because if the machine offers lots of features you’ll never use, you would be better off with a more affordable model.
Because an elliptical trainer is an electronic piece of equipment that is bound to last for years, it’s important to look for a model with a long-term warranty, mostly because you are bound to need service at some point. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty on the frame, but you might find models with a 10-year warranty on the frame more often, like in the case of the Nautilus E614. The other components are generally covered by at least one year and sometimes up to three years of labor for labor and parts. Before purchasing the new elliptical, do some research to find out what components are covered and make sure that the warranty includes all the key components and electronics as well.
Because you are likely to spend multiple hours a week on your elliptical machine, it’s essential to pay attention to how comfortable you feel when using the machine. Look for a machine with handgrips that are specially designed to protect your fingers and palms. The moving handlebars should be easy to reach so don’t overstrain yourself unnecessarily, and the pedals should feel comfortable. Always look to purchase an elliptical that allows him to maintain and operate posture when moving the handlebars so you can maintain a correct balance for your body.
Ellipticals are very safe training machines, but it’s always important to look for models that come with some sort of safety features. One of the most basic of them is warming up and cool down periods.
You should also make sure that the handlebars do not get in your way when you work out, and it’s always a good idea to have an easy-to-read console so you don’t mess with your posture and balance during the workout trying to figure out the numbers on the LCD screen. Locking features that keep the paddles from moving when you haven’t started your workout is another safety feature present in some elliptical trainers.
Some ellipticals come with the paddle arm safety pin that prevents the machine from being paddled or makes it impossible to increase paddling resistance. Others have safety features controlled by software, meaning that you can disable the keypad on display, which comes in handy when you have small children who might get curious about playing with the elliptical when you’re not in the room.
Most manufacturers don’t recommend ellipticals for children because these machines are generally designed for adult sized humans. Especially when it comes to children under 12, their legs are not long enough to reach the stride length of the ellipticals and as such, their feet will begin to slip back and forth, which is damaging for their balance. Moreover, children may fall off when attempting to use the machine, and because ellipticals are not suitable for their height and weight, using the elliptical may result in joint or muscle pain or even more serious trauma.
Besides not allowing your children to use an elliptical machine by themselves, you should also make sure that they are not around when the machine is used by an adult. This is because children, particularly smaller ones, may attempt to lean against the arms of the machine and get caught in the movement, which may result in broken fingers or arms. This is also a caution that you should apply for any pets you might have.
Assembling an elliptical trainer by yourself is possible, but in the case of very heavy machines, you might need the help of another person. Most of the elliptical machines on the market, with all the necessary tools for assembly, and in the majority of cases all you need to complete the installation is a hex wrench. The heaviest part of an elliptical is the drive assembly, and it is always a good idea to have help in removing it from the box. Depending on the design, you might need help to attach to the drive assembly to the frame. It takes about an hour to put an elliptical trainer together, but some models, such as the ones you can use under a desk, for example the ANCHEER Mini Elliptical Machine Indoor don’t require any assembly at all and can be used straight out of the box.
After testing and reviewing dozens of the best elliptical machines available on the market, we concluded that the Cubii Jr. – Seated Under-Desk Elliptical is the best choice for the majority of users, and we decided to feature it as our editor’s choice. This sturdy and very quiet machine is an excellent choice to keep in shape while sitting and working at your desk and it also has handy features such as a built-in display monitor.
On second place is the Schwinn 470, which offers excellent value for the money, and comes with no less than 25 resistance levels and 29 workout programs. It also boasts an LCD screen and into the connectivity so you can sync your workout with your preferred apps on your phone. Finally, if you are looking for an affordable choice, the Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 is the best elliptical on a budget that we could find. The machine features an LCD display and eight resistance levels, and it is very easy and intuitive to use. No matter what kind of elliptical you decide to go for, make sure that it is a suitable choice for the type of work out you intend to do.