The best elliptical machine for your home and workout routine
Looking for a low-impact workout that will you help burn calories fast? An elliptical machine is your best option.
Elliptical machines have a smooth, gliding motion that is easy on the joints while engaging the entire body. They’re often considered the friendliest exercise machine on the market because they can be used by individuals of all ages and fitness levels.
Here’s everything you need to know to find the right elliptical for your home. We’re even sharing a few of our favorite models at the end. NordicTrack FS10i Elliptical Trainer tops our shortlist for its studio-quality build and live interactive training.
Is an elliptical machine right for you?
Treadmills and exercise bikes offer low-impact workouts like ellipticals, though using them can be hard on the joints. Instead, elliptical machines allow you to move in a smooth, gliding motion without putting a lot of pressure on your knees, hips and back.
Many people prefer elliptical machines because they engage the arms more than treadmills and some exercise bikes. As a result, they offer a true, total body workout for all major muscle groups. In fact, according to Healthline, you can burn up to 400 calories in 30 minutes on an elliptical.
Types of elliptical machines
Elliptical machines are divided into three groups based on their flywheel placement.
Front-drive ellipticals have a flywheel at the front of the machine. These models are compact and affordable. Some front-drive ellipticals even offer up-and-down pedaling to function similarly to stair climbers.
Rear-drive ellipticals have the flywheel located at the back of the machine. They offer a natural, balanced stride. These models tend to be the most expensive, though they’re considered more durable than other designs.
Center-drive ellipticals have flywheels located on both sides of the machine. They’re considered durable designs that offer a natural range of motion, though they rarely have incline options.
Size of an elliptical machine
Like other home exercise machines, elliptical machines take up considerable floor space.
Before you buy one, measure the area where you intend to set it up. It’s not enough to cross-reference measurements with the elliptical’s dimensions. You’ll also need to account for overhead clearance as most ellipticals’ average step-up height is between 12-14 inches.
If you have low ceilings, make sure to have a clearing of the tallest person’s height plus 18 inches to use the elliptical safely.
What to look for in a quality elliptical machine
The beauty of elliptical machines is that they offer customized workouts. They’re equipped with adjustable features to accommodate users of all ages, sizes and fitness levels. You can get a low-impact full-body workout or a high-impact exercise to build strength.
Various programs increase in difficulty when they increase in resistance, incline or both. Some ellipticals offer adjustable handle and pedal positioning to help you create an ergonomic configuration to facilitate a smooth range of motion.
If the elliptical machine is to be used by numerous people, consider one with variable stride length.
Users up to 5-foot-3, for example, are best served by stride lengths between 16-18 inches. Those who are up to 5-foot-7 should use a stride length of 18-20 inches. Individuals taller than 5-foot-7 usually require a stride length of 22 inches or greater.
Basic elliptical machines have a simple digital display that shows resistance, incline, program progress and heart rate. More advanced models have smart touchscreen displays that provide a wealth of information, including target zones, best times and real-time stats from live or on-demand workouts.
Premium elliptical machines have high-tech features such as Bluetooth connectivity. These machines integrate seamlessly with smartphones and fitness trackers to help users stay on top of their health and fitness.
Some of the most expensive elliptical machines have built-in smart touchscreens that access various fitness apps, such as iFit or Explore the World. Workouts are either live or on-demand. Access to these apps typically requires a subscription.
Cost of an elliptical machine
Entry-level elliptical machines without high-tech features cost $1,000 or less. Those priced closer to $1,500 are usually better quality and have more program features, while high-end, high-tech ellipticals can cost over $2,500.
Elliptical machine FAQ
How do I clean an elliptical machine?
A. You can use an alcohol-based cleaner to wipe down the elliptical. There also are antibacterial wipes specially made for cleaning fitness equipment. Certain elliptical manufacturers even sell their own line of equipment cleaning products.
Do elliptical machines have weight limits?
A. Yes. This information is typically detailed in the instruction manual. Many entry-level elliptical machines have weight limits of 250 pounds, whereas higher-quality models range from 350-600 pounds.
The best elliptical machines
Top elliptical machine
What you need to know: This high-end model with live interactive classes is ideal for fitness enthusiasts seeking a studio workout experience.
What you’ll love: Enjoy live training classes via iFit on the 10-inch touchscreen. Easy to track workout stats during sessions. Equipped with 24 resistance levels and the ability to reach 10% incline. Bonus points for adjustable stride length.
What you should consider: Rather a large footprint, and there’s an ongoing cost for iFit access.
Where to buy: Sold by NordicTrack
Top elliptical machine for the money
What you need to know: Given its portability and foldable design, this elliptical remains a favorite for those with limited space.
What you’ll love: Operates more quietly than other ellipticals. Has a dock for devices to stream iFit workouts. The display features essential information and integrates with Bluetooth devices like fitness trackers and smartphones.
What you should consider: Somewhat heavy, though this doesn’t affect its portability.
Where to buy: Sold by NordicTrack
Worth checking out
What you need to know: A well-built elliptical with a user-friendly design featuring 29 programs.
What you’ll love: Equipped with multi-position handlebars for an ergonomic design. Compatible with Bluetooth devices. Users enjoy the Suspension Adjust system for comfortable foot positioning.
What you should consider: Some reports suggest that devices and water bottles can affect readings.
Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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