There are about a million reasons to hop on the elliptical machine the next time you head to the gym.
For starters, you get a great cardio workout while putting less strain on your body.
You get an upper and lower body workout that simultaneously uses your triceps, biceps, back, glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. No other machine works for so many muscle groups at the same time.
Since you’re working so many parts of your body, you burn more calories in less time. And, if you go through the motions and let go of the handles, you can improve your balance and work your core.
For those of you suffering from knee, lower body or hip injuries, the elliptical will still provide a solid cardio workout while protecting your joints from more damage.
But, are you ready to invest in this unique fitness equipment and add an elliptical machine to your home gym?
Buying such a large piece of fitness equipment can be daunting. There are many models to choose from and a lot of features to consider.
With that in mind, below is a comprehensive guide to the six best elliptical machines to help you pick the perfect model according to your fitness goals and budget.
In this comprehensive buying guide, we evaluated the following machines:
|Best Overall||Bowflex Max Trainer M8|
|For Beginners||EFITMENT Compact Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer|
|Best Priced||Ncient Elliptical Machine Trainer|
|Intermediate||ProForm Endurance 920 E Elliptical|
|Hard-core Athletes||Schwinn Elliptical 470|
|Professional Grade||Precor EFX 222 Energy Series Elliptical Crosstrainer|
With so many models to choose from, how do you know which is the right one for you? Which features and functions are the most important? Which model offers the best value for money?
Here are a few things you should consider before splurging on your new elliptical trainer.
Elliptical machines come in different sizes.
There are heavy-duty fitness machines with a large footprint and loaded with features. And, there are compact machines, ideal for apartments, small spaces, and for storing in the corner of the room when not in use.
You can even find some folding elliptical machines out there (though we didn’t include any here) if you’re extremely tight on space.
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need to allocate between 4 and 7 feet for your new machine, and keep in mind the pedals will extend beyond the mainframe when in motion.
If you’re going to keep this in the basement or in an attic-type setup, you’ll have to consider the available headroom.
Figure out how much space you want to allow for your new workout machine and then consider the dimensions before you make your final purchase.
What are the most essential features for you? You might consider the following:
- Noise level – Some machines are obviously more you’re going than others, so it’s a good idea to read reviews and make sure noise is not an issue for the model you’re interested in. Too much noise can wake up your family if you’re doing an early morning workout, and a noisy machine could even bother your neighbors if you live in an apartment building.
- Stride length – A machine with an adjustable stride length will make this a non-issue. Alternatively, you can look for an elliptical machine with an average stride length of around 21 inches to ensure that people of different heights can ride it comfortably. A smaller stride length may make for an uncomfortable ride for a tall person, and vice versa.
- Incline – While some machines won’t have this feature, it’s an excellent addition as it can add a level of intensity to your workout. Some elliptical machines have an automatic option while others offer inclines you can adjust manually.
- Add-ons – How vital is a bottle holder? Do you want to be able to watch your iPad while working out? Is the fan important to you? What about the speakers? Take a good look at these additional features to see which ones you can and can’t live without.
If you’re already pretty motivated, or you want to plug into your iPad and watch Game of Thrones while you’re burning those calories, then preset workout programs may not matter to you.
If, however, you want the elliptical to create a challenging routine for you, based on your fitness goals and performance statistics, or if you want to hop on and connect with a virtual trainer to push you through your workout, you’ll want to assess the workout programs that come with the machine.
Warranty and Customer Service
You don’t want to invest in a brand new elliptical, only to find it gathering dust in the corner a few months later because something isn’t working right, and you can’t get it fixed.
This is a no-brainer, and we can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the company you’re purchasing from.
Read up on the company’s warranty policy and check out customer reviews to find out how the company deals with these kinds of issues. If previous buyers have had bad experiences, it’s probably best to stay away.
How much are you willing to spend? Think about how often you’ll be using your machine, what kind of features are the most important for you, and how much space you have.
These will all be significant factors influencing your final decision.
If you’re looking to spend just a few hundred dollars, that is doable. There are some good elliptical machines on the market that are relatively inexpensive but remember, you get what you pay for.
If you’re ready to make a serious commitment to your home workout routine and money is no object, some exceptional machines are waiting for you.
We look at both ends of the spectrum below.
Are you ready to look at and evaluate the best elliptical machines? Let’s get started!
Best Overall Elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer M8
The Bowflex M8 promises a challenging workout even for people who are in ridiculous shape. This is the latest model and based off the previous M7 Max Trainer.
It comes with 20 levels of computer-controlled resistance so that you can adapt the session to your needs, and 11 workout programs, including power interval, 7-minute interval, and 14-minute interval. It’s jam-packed with features.
While the average elliptical trainer has moving handles so you can get an upper-body workout while on the machine, the Boxflex’s armbars are more effective than those on traditional machines, and it also comes equipped with high-quality ergonomic grips.
Track your performance by syncing it with the brand’s free Max Trainer App, which lets you stream videos from professional trainers (on both Android and iOS) that will help keep you motivated and reach your fitness goals.
What’s more, this “smart” machine has performance-targeted programming, which means that it’s able to learn and adapt to every user’s fitness level and establish new personal best records.
Monitor your heart rate using Bluetooth wireless technology. Alternatively, you can use the contact grip system that comes built right into the handlebars.
For such a heavy-duty machine, the Bowflex Max Trainer is actually on the smaller side when compared with other elliptical machines – it also has transport wheels for easy storage.
The high contrast dual backlit LCD/LED display is easy to use and will keep you well-informed with all your workout statistics.
The whole family can use this fitness equipment, as it can store up to 4 user profiles. Each user can additionally establish customized training goals.
Other exciting features include Bluetooth compatibility, a select button to add extra time to your workout, stainless steel racing pedals, a water bottle holder, and a media rack.
It’s also worth noting that Bowflex offers a 3-year warranty on the whole machine.
- Heart rate monitor
- 20 levels of increasing resistance
- LCD/LED high-contrast display
- Racing pedals
- USB charging port and magnetic media rack
- Not well-suited for shorter people
Best Elliptical for Beginners: EFITMENT Compact Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer
For fitness fans looking to make a small investment of less than a couple hundred bucks, this elliptical machine by Efitment is a great option for any home gym.
It’s on the smaller side, with a stride length of just 11 inches, so it’s perfect for people with limited space.
Even better, it can be moved around the house easily thanks to the transport wheels on the front of the unit. Pull it out into the middle of the living room for your workout, and then wheel it back to the corner for storage.
Track your session on the digital LCD monitor, which reports all of the typical metrics: speed, distance, calories, pulse rate.
Use your phone or tablet with ease, thanks to the particular slot it has to support your device of choice.
This elliptical machine has a belt-driven flywheel so that you can expect a smooth ride. And, it has eight levels of magnetic resistance so you can easily step up your workout by simply turning the knob.
To monitor your heart rate, you can use the hand pulse sensors, which are built right into the stationary bars.
The non-slip foot platforms are large and textured to ensure safe use, no matter how vigorous your workout.
This machine also has leg stabilizers to make sure that the machine doesn’t rock, tip, or sway on uneven surfaces.
As for the warranty, the company offers three years on the structural frame and 90 days on other parts and components.
Without a doubt, this is a great entry-level elliptical machine.
- Phone and tablet holder
- Portable and compact
- Easy to assemble
- No preset programs
- Not entirely quiet
Best Priced Elliptical: Ncient Elliptical Machine Trainer
If you’re just getting into the elliptical scene and don’t want to bet the house on this new piece of equipment, then this model from Ncient is the way to go.
This battery-operated elliptical lets you change up your workout routine depending on your fitness goals with eight different levels of magnetic resistance. Use the tension knob to adjust the intensity and make your session more or less challenging.
This is a compact machine, which makes it perfect for smaller spaces, apartments, and studios. And even though it has a small footprint, it’s still extremely sturdy and well-made.
Track your stats, like calories burned, speed, heart rate, distance, and time, on the LCD monitor and enjoy the smooth and quiet ride, thanks to the precision balanced flywheel and V-belt drive.
The pedals have a unique non-slip design to ensure safe pedaling as well as comfort and stability. You’ll get a full workout with minimal impact on the body, thanks to the 13-inch stride length.
One fantastic feature of this machine is that it’s easy to move around the house, thanks to the transport wheels. Move it from the living room to the office with ease.
If you’re still on the fence, this will help: the company offers a 100% risk-free satisfaction guaranteed policy, plus a 1-year warranty and stellar customer service.
- Durable and high quality
- Easy to use
- No pre-set exercise plans
Best Intermediate Elliptical Machine: ProForm Endurance 920 E Elliptical
This is an excellent option if you’re looking for a machine with lots of bells and whistles.
It comes with 24 resistance levels, and adjusting your intensity is both smooth and silent thanks to ProForm’s patented SMR™ Silent Magnetic Resistance technology.
The 25-pound effective inertia-enhanced flywheel ensures that pedal strokes are steady, and you’ll enjoy a more natural stride as a result of a faster gear ratio and effective weight placement.
The front-drive design allows for a smooth ride, and the machine comes with 32 programmed workouts, which you can utilize on the 7-inch full-color touchscreen display.
These exercise programs include several video workouts where a trainer will lead you on a course of your choosing, and as the terrain changes, the elliptical’s incline adjusts automatically.
Ready to hike a mountain? Take it up a notch with the 0-20° adjustable incline ramp for realistic trail training. This allows you to better target specific muscle groups, such as your calves, quads, or glutes.
Don’t worry about slipping, as the pedals are oversized, cushioned, and adjustable, providing extra stability.
The EKG Bluetooth compatible heart rate monitor will give you heart measurements in seconds. Just grab onto the hand-grip sensors built into the handlebars while you’re working out and monitor your heart rate while you train.
If you’re in the market for a virtual personal trainer, subscribe to iFit Coach (for a fee) and start training as you “travel” to incredible destinations around the world on the console, all from the comfort of your living room. This machine comes with iFit technology already built-in.
Additional features of this machine include the CoolAire workout fan, the water bottle holder, a tablet holder, and an integrated sound system that works perfectly with your phone.
The dual 2-inch speakers ensure that you’ll be able to hear your music or videos perfectly, and the front-mounted wheels make it easy to move the machine from one room to another.
The ProForm comes with a few rock-solid guarantees: a lifetime frame warranty, a 3-year parts warranty, and a 1-year labor warranty.
- EKG Bluetooth technology
- High incline option
- Responsive, high quality touch-screen
- Real-time data
- Great customer service
- Bluetooth has limited features
Best Elliptical Machine for Serious Workouts: Schwinn Elliptical 470
If you’re a fan of the iconic brand’s bicycles, then you’re going to love their elliptical machine.
The Schwinn 470 has 29 workout programs in total to choose from, 12 of which are profile, 9 let you control your heart rate, 4 are custom, and 2 are fitness tests.
Follow the program of your choosing on the DualTrack blue backlit LCD system.
For the data-philes out there, you can transfer your workout data to a range of apps via Bluetooth, including RunSocial, MapMyRunRide, Apple Health, UA, MyFitnessPal, GoogleFit, and the Schwinn Trainer App.
A particularly exceptional feature is the Mixed Reality Training.
Using the RunSocial App, you can run with people all over the world, on 27 routes and in 19 locations, while you track both pace and distance. Given that there are proven benefits in working out with a crowd, this function is especially interesting.
This elliptical also uses a unique 20-inch “Precision Path” foot motion technology, which simulates a natural running motion to ensure that movement is smooth on your joints.
Vary the level of intensity with 25 different levels of resistance, or take your workout up a notch by using the 10° motorized adjustable ramp to control the incline.
This elliptical machine will let you store four user profiles, and you can monitor more than a dozen feedback categories, including calories, distance, and time.
Other notable features include a USB port and a holder for your phone and iPad so you can charge them while you’re working out, an adjustable fan, a bottle holder, and an MP3 input port.
As for the warranty, the company offers 10 years on the frame, 2 years on mechanical parts, 1 year on electronics, and 3 months on labor.
This elliptical machine is a beast, and it deserves very high consideration!
- Backlit LCD system
- 29 workout programs
- Easy to assemble
- Mixed Reality Training
- Sturdy and very solid
- Requires periodic maintenance
- Workout programs have a learning curve
Best Professional Elliptical Trainer: Precor EFX 222 Energy Series Elliptical Crosstrainer
Precor is synonymous with quality home-gym equipment. This brand has been in the elliptical business for more than two decades — you can rest assured you’re taking home a quality product when you buy a Precor.
This fitness machine is in line with the quality you’d find at your local gym or health club, and it has a distinctive, patented design that makes sure you’re in a posture-perfect position throughout your entire workout.
The Precor uses patented CrossRamp® technology. This technology lets you adjust the height of the path your foot travels.
Possible inclines on this machine are 15°, 20°, and 25° — using the ramp allows you to isolate or focus on a specific muscle group. This elliptical also offers three stride lengths.
You’ll be able to assess your workout based on 11 different metrics by using the 5-inch high-contrast blue and white LCD screen, including heart rate, resistance, calories, and strides per minute.
If more than one person is using this elliptical, you can assign user IDs to return to your most recent workout.
You can also store your preferences and information, and be rest assured; this model offers the most accurate data about calories and heart rate.
There are 12 pre-programmed workouts, from gluteal and cross country to hill climb and weight loss. And, all come with beginner, intermediate, and advanced options, as well as 16 resistance levels.
As for the add-ons, this machine has an accessory holder, a tablet computer holder, and a water bottle holder, as well as a headphone jack and a music volume control.
This machine comes with plenty of guarantees, including a lifetime warranty on the frame, a 5-year warranty on the parts, a 3-year warranty on the console, and a 1-year warranty on labor.
- Professional quality gym equipment
- Maximum incline availability
- Extremely quiet
- No USB port
- Does not have a cooling fan
Clearly, there are a lot of factors to consider when buying an elliptical trainer.
And, if you’re torn between buying a treadmill and an elliptical, keep in mind that, while there are lots of reasons to get a treadmill, the elliptical is an excellent investment for a full-body workout while providing less impact on your joints.
If you’re just looking to use it occasionally, you can most likely get by with one of the less expensive models.
Our top pick is by far the Bowflex Max Trainer M8 model — if you’re looking for the best!
However, if you’re truly serious about getting in shape or staying in shape, it makes a lot of sense to purchase one of the higher-end options mentioned.
The high-end models are built-to-last and come with plenty of features to ensure a comfortable, challenging, and engaging exercise workouts.
Whatever you decide to do, what’s most important is that you stick with your workout routine and remain healthy.
All the many reasons outlined here and so many more, are why you need to consider purchasing an elliptical for your fitness goals!