In the last few decades, home fitness solutions have been multiplying exponentially. Now, for the price of a gym membership, you can exercise as much as you want in the comfort of their own home. It’s commonplace now for people to have treadmills and exercise bikes at home, so they can get their cardio fix whenever they want, without paying a membership fee! However, treadmills and exercise bikes only exercise half your body.
Enter the elliptical machine! You’ve seen these around your local gym, and they’re the latest piece of equipment to become available to the home user. It’s an exciting time for home workouts, but as with any big piece of equipment, you need to be sure you’re spending your money wisely when you buy one of these.
This guide will help you find your ideal new elliptical trainer. In our in-depth reviews, we’ll compare three of our favorite models, and talk you through all the reasons we think they’re better than the competition. We’ll also talk about why elliptical machines are so effective, and teach you all you need to know to be a savvy shopper!
First, take a quick look at our current most popular elliptical reviews and recommendations:
Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
2 Year Warranty
90 Day Warranty
Why use a home elliptical trainer?
Elliptical machines are popular with everyone from athletes to casual exercisers, from all age groups and at all fitness levels. They provide a simple but effective way of getting an all-over body workout without putting excessive strain on the body. In fact, they have the lowest impact of any exercise machine!
They’re excellent for people who are recovering from injuries or dealing with chronic muscle pain, and they’re also an ideal solution for exercisers who are in search of a whole-body workout solution.
Since they work both your upper and lower body in circular movement patterns, you keep your joints open, and avoid putting stress on any one part of your body. That’s why these are the best solution for people who have a history of injury, or joint issues. They’re also better for your body over the long-term, since you aren’t causing lots of impact as you would while running. You can get just as much fat burned off without jeopardizing knees and hips.
They also promote superior core engagement, which will help you with your posture. Compared with the crouching position you’d have on an exercise bike, the elliptical stance is much better for you. And unlike running, you won’t be wondering what to do with your hands awkwardly by your sides.
All in all, these machines are some of the best investments you can make in your health. They’ll improve your posture, burn fat, and build both muscles and cardiovascular capacity, with practically no downsides!
Top 3 Best Elliptical Trainers
This near commercial-grade machine provides lots of features and onboard amenities to help you get the most out of your workout, without having to leave the house. It has a very sturdy frame, lots of built-in workouts and programs, and connectivity to let you use it with your smartphone and other fitness apps. We think this is the best you can do without spending thousands on a professional machine.
It has two connected display panels, which keep you up to speed on up to 13 different workout stats. The dual panels are great because you can cover one with a book or a tablet, and still keep an eye on your workout.
The 20” stride length is comfortable for most users, and doesn’t have the cramped sensation that comes from shorter stride lengths. You can also make manual adjustments to the ramp height to suit your body.
It’s easy to connect to your phone. The USB charging port allows you to play your tunes through the machine. It has speakers right onboard. They’re acoustically-chambered to help produce richer, deeper sound from inside the elliptical. You can also use the Nautilus workout app to track your workouts and create plans and profiles for yourself on your phone. There’s also a shelf built in, so you can watch shows or do some reading as you work out.
You can have two workout profiles programmed in at once. That’s great for couples, or roommates who share a machine. Each profile stores your workout history and stats, so you can pick up right where you left off.
Both sets of handgrips track your heartrate. The Nautilus has the usual moving arms as well as stationary ergonomic grips in front of you, for when you want to give your upper body a break.
There are lots of onboard options to keep you challenged. The computer has 25 built-in workout programs, and you can customize all of them to suit you. There are also 20 resistance levels, so you can start right where you are and work gradually upwards without making big jumps and getting discouraged.
There’s an adjustable fan built in, to keep you comfortable. It has three settings, so you can find what’s most comfortable for you.
It’s smoother and more consistent than other ellipticals. This machine uses a high inertia drive system with a perimeter-weighted flywheel to keep things balanced and jolt-free. Previous buyers were overwhelmingly impressed with the smoothness of this one, especially compared to other home fitness models. They said it felt comparable to a gym machine, with the smooth and steady stride they expected from a professional machine.
The footplates are cushioned. That’s especially good for people with delicate joints, or a history of joint pain.
It’s built around a heavy duty metal frame. The Nautilus can support users up to 300 pounds. It has a wide base and adjustments on all the feet to keep things stable and level. There are also wheels on the base, so you can move it around the house easily.
It’s insured by solid warranty coverage. The frame is covered for 10 years, the mechanical parts for 2 years, and the electrical components for 1.
Even though it’s a sturdy, feature-loaded machine, it’s still relatively inexpensive. This is half the price of many “commercial” ellipticals, and it offers comparable features and performance. Reviewers were overwhelmingly impressed by the value for money and overall quality of this model.
Some previous buyers found it had a slight wobble. They said that while the movement and features felt like a gym-level model, the sturdiness was slightly lacking for heavier users. However, we didn’t find any issues with the frame actually tipping or feeling unsafe.
While previous buyers said it was simple and easy to assemble, there were a lot of steps, and some of them weren’t obvious. You’ll want to be extra careful following the instructions with this one.
2. Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
The Schwinn 430 has proved itself to be the best selling elliptical model in the online marketplace. This high quality product has a solid reputation for comfort and ease of use, with a reasonable price tag. Retailing at a few hundred dollars, the Schwinn 430 is a great example of the kind of fitness experience that users can expect from a reputable brand like Schwinn.
What we love about the Schwinn 430 is that it offers two LCD displays. These allow users to monitor as many as 13 different feedbacks. The SchwinnDualTrack™ system means that users can see everything that is happening during their workout, as it occurs. This data is useful in assuring that you’re reaching your fitness goals.
But that’s not all you will love about the Schwinn 430. Let’s have a quick look at some of its many other benefits.
Programs and Tech: The Schwinn 430 offers an enormous 22 different programs, as well as two user settings, and goal tracking. All of these aim to give users the most workout variation. These programs, and the tracking, allow users to undertake different workouts everyday, keeping their interest in fitness up. The Schwinn 430 also has a USB data exchange built in which allows users to download their workout data, and upload it to the SchwinnConnect website. Here, users can get weekly, monthly and yearly tracking of their fitness, to help them reach their goals.
Incline and Resistance: The Schwinn 430 offers a 10-degree manual ramp range in six incline positions. This means that users have six potential options when it comes to choosing their incline, all of which are key in an all-over body workout. The Schwinn 430 also has 20 levels of resistance. This is more than enough for most users to experience a fitness increase over time, while being consistently challenged.
One of the most important things to consider before purchasing the Schwinn 430 is that this is big. With a shipping weight of around 200 pounds, the Schwinn 430 is not a space-saving model, and it will not fold for storage. One aspect of this is that the Schwinn 430 is a challenge to put together. It is best done with two people, or by a professional installer.
But despite these issues, users overall have rated the Schwinn 430 much higher than other ones on the market. Their satisfaction with the performance, quality and experience using it is great, and the positive elliptical reviews makes the Schwinn 430 a recommended buy.
3. Gazelle Edge
For buyers with a very low budget looking for a no-frills option, the Gazelle Edge is a clear winner. With an affordable price tag, this exercise glider is a minimalist take on the traditional choice. Certainly, for buyers who are more worried about cost than about having a high-tech gadget, the Gazelle Edge is the perfect solution.
What we love most about the Gazelle Edge is although it is very basic, it still provide options to monitor your workout. A simple, easy-to-use, workout computer tracks your speed, distance and time, as well as estimating the calories burning. This means that, even at that budget price, users are still able to estimate and track their fitness levels over time.
But there are so many other things to love about the Gazelle Edge. It has a range of benefits, some of which we’re going to look at now.
Space Saving: For at home fitness lovers without space to spare, the Gazelle Edge is a perfect solution. This is foldable, and when tucked away the Gazelle Edge measures just 10 inches in width. This makes it ideal for smaller apartments, or spaces where the user doesn’t want the equipment to dominate.
Smooth and Easy: The Gazelle Edge is able to provide users with a very smooth workout, at the same time as offering resistance through user weight. The Gazelle Edge has a dual-action split suspension system that allows users to have a full range of movement, and the freedom to stride as far as they need. This means it is ideal for a range of users, from those looking for low impact exercise, to those seeking cardio.
Obviously, there are some things to consider before buying the Gazelle Edge. As an exercise glider, the Gazelle Edge may not be as durable as a traditional treadmill. Its simple construction means that it is likely to wear down through consistent use over a period of years. For users wanting a product that will last for several years, this may not be the best option. Another common issues with the Gazelle Edge is that it does not offer a high level of resistance. Many users have countered this without issue using resistance bands, so it isn’t a deal breaker. Your own resistance needs will depend on your own fitness levels.
But despite these issues, the Gazelle Edge remains the best option elliptical on the market at such an affordable price. Users can bring fitness into their lives every day, without clogging up their houses, or emptying their bank accounts. In that way along, the Gazelle Edge is highly recommended.
If you like the exercise style of an elliptical trainer, but don’t have the space for one in your home, this compact option might be a good alternative for you. It has the same motion as an elliptical, without arms and a big base.
The Stamina In-Motion isn’t going to compete with a full-size elliptical in terms of whole-body engagement or intensity, but it’s a great alternative for people who are cramped for space. You can take it out for your workout session, and then stow it on a shelf or in the closet. We also like it as an under-desk exercise option for people who have to spend most of the day sitting and want to avoid the health issues that can produce.
This one has the same elliptical motion as the full-size models, with a smooth step cycle and rotating pedals. The only difference is there’s no arm assembly for your upper body. That saves lots of space, and doesn’t mean your upper body isn’t getting any workout. In fact, you’ll be engaging all your balance muscles as you work out. Plus, many users say it’s a great way to integrate little weights, like you would speed-walking.
You can work out standing or sitting, depending on your space and preferences. We like having the option, because you can go full-bore standing while you watch TV, or get a light cardio workout while you’re sitting at your desk. You can also choose to pedal in forward or reverse directions, to work different muscles. It’s even built like the full-size ones, around a sturdy metal frame.
We’re especially impressed by how versatile this one is, especially given the compact design. It has adjustable tension, so you can change the intensity of your workout. Even though it’s super compact, it still has a basic workout display. That lets you track calories, speed, strides, and workout time.
The best part, though, is the convenience of the InMotion. It’s light, compact, and very inconspicuous. It’s super compact, at just 24×17”, and easy to carry to the closet when you’re done with your workout. It’s also extremely quiet, which makes it a great solution for shared spaces like apartments or offices. Overall, we recommend it as a low-impact solution to people who need to work out in a compact space, or on a tight budget.
How to Choose: What To Consider When Buying
There are always a few different things to think about when you’re looking at making a purchase. For ellipticals, these considerations are an important part of ensuring that you get the best option for you.
Stride Length: The first thing that elliptical buyers should be looking at is stride length. Most models have slightly different stride lengths, and it’s important to know what lengths will make it uncomfortable to use. An ideal stride length is between 17-inches and 21-inches, for people of average height. Anything less or more than this will only be suited if you are above or below average height. There are a growing number of options offering an adjustable stride length, so keep an eye out for these. This is especially true if it will be used by more than one person.
User Experience: It is important that your choice is both quiet and smooth during use. This can be hard to ascertain if you’re purchasing online, and it does pay to read some user reviews. A high quality product shouldn’t feel jerky, or make excessive motor noise during use. As well as reading reviews, buyers can also look into the features of it to see if the manufacturer has taken steps to ensure the trainer is both smooth and quiet.
Resistance and Incline: To get the most out of your machine, you’ll want to be able to make adjustments. One of the most common kinds of adjustments is adjustable resistance and incline. Both resistance and incline allow users to add more variation into their workout, and provide more opportunities to improve fitness. Of course, both are not a necessity. But at the very least your choice should provide a few resistance levels to allow you to build fitness.
Reverse Capabilities: Running an elliptical machine in a forward motion has a number of accepted muscular fitness benefits. However, we now know that there are just as many benefits to running it in reverse. By working the muscles from the opposite direction, users are able to tone and build on muscles in the legs that are not as targeted by the forward motion. If you are interested in testing this theory on yourself, you’ll need to look for one that is capable of reversing. This is a common features, but some budget choices do not allow for it.
Height: One of the most often overlooked aspects of buying an elliptical is taking into account its height. By this we mean the maximum height that a user will reach while standing on the peak of the elliptical. In general, these are much taller than treadmills, and when you’re at the peak of the cycle, you could be an extra foot or two off the ground. You should check the maximum height of the treadmill against the height of the room you’ll be using it in. This will ensure you won’t be hitting your head on the ceiling.
Cost: Cost will always be the biggest factor in which product you will end up with. Obviously you will have a set idea of your budget from the beginning. What you’ll need to do through the process of looking for the right one for you is to see what that cost will get you in terms of quality and features. When it comes to elliptical machines, as is true with most fitness equipment, you will get what you pay for. If your budget is very low, you will end up with a low quality machine. That being said, a growing elliptical market means that brands are often trying to beat their competition by offering items at discount. This can result in you owning a very high quality product at a much reduced price.
Top ProForm Ellipticals
ProForm has been a recognized and reputable fitness brand for decades, and is always a smart option when you’re buying for your home gym. The company offers a wide range of options, with a number of price brackets to suit all users. We like their machines because they combine aspects of different pieces of equipment to come up with some really great hybrids.
Of the ProForms currently on the market, our favorite is the ProForm Hybrid Trainer.
The ProForm Hybrid Trainer is not actually just an elliptical trainer. It’s a hybrid machine that melds an elliptical trainer and seated exercise bike into one high-performing machine.! There’s a lot of features to love about the ProForm Hybrid Trainer. As well as coming from a great brand, the ProForm Hybrid Trainer offers a unique user experience that has seen it become a best selling ProForm model, as well as one of the best-selling machines on the market period!
We’ve written a full, in-depth review of this beast of a machine, which you can find along with our recommendations for other ProForm products by visiting our ProForm Elliptical Reviews page!
Top Schwinn Ellipticals
Schwinn has been an iconic part of fitness in America for more than a century. At first, this well-known brand made its name through bicycles, before starting to make home exercise equipment in 1965. In the years that have followed, Schwinn has made a name for themselves in the fitness industry for everything from recumbent bikes to ellipticals.
Schwinn’s best choice in our book is the Schwinn 430. This high quality product has already made our list as the top rated model currently available on the market.
Users interested in purchasing the Schwinn 430 will enjoy some patented Schwinn technology with their workouts. As well as the Schwinn DualTrack system, which offers two LCD screens to monitor your workout, the Schwinn 430 has SchwinnConnect functionality. SchwinnConnect is an online fitness tracking system that allows users to download their workout data, and upload it to get more detailed workout information.
You can read a full review of the Schwinn 430 and other Schwinns in our Schwinn Elliptical Reviews page.
Top Octane Ellipticals
Octane may not have been on the market as long as some other fitness brands, but they have more than made up for that with their quality products. They are the only fitness company dedicated exclusively to zero-impact cardio machines, that are easier on users regardless of their fitness level.
The Octane Fitness Q35x is a perfect example of the Octane brand. An entry level model for Octane, the Octane Fitness Q35x brings together all the best features, with Octanes patented design and software. Octane machines are designed by the best fitness scientists to be as close to a real running motion as possible while eliminating all impact issues. The close spacing of the pedals reduces strain on the lower back, while the handlebars have a low pivot point to increase calorie burning. The Octane Fitness Q35x has been consistently high rated for performance and user experience.
See more Octane recommendations and reviews in our guide on the Octane Elliptical Reviews.
Top Rated Elliptical Trainer (price range: a few hundred $)
If the name of the Schwinn 430 seems familiar, it definitely should be. This high quality machine already made the top three in this guide as the best rated elliptical machine on the market, as well as the best machine from Schwinn. Just shell out a few hundred dollars — the Schwinn 430 is a steal for buyers looking for a machine with all the bells and whistles. Much cheaper than our winning Sole Fitness elliptical model, the Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine still offers a range of great features that users will love.
Along with some of the features we’ve already mentioned in our full review above, users can expect a fantastic warranty. The Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine comes with a full 10-year guarantee on the elliptical frame, two-year mechanical coverage, one-year electrical and 90-days labour coverage.
Top Rated Elliptical Machine under $500 or so
As you will likely remember, the Gazelle Edge already came in the top three in our guide as one of the best budget elliptical machines on the market. The Gazelle Edge is by far the cheapest elliptical machine on the market. A simple model with a minimalist design, the Gazelle Edge offers users all the basic features that are needed to have a daily exercise routine, without the frills and without the cost.
Users of this machine laud its price above all else, but we would caution that it comes with basically no features. Although there is a small battery powered computer, most buyers were less than impressed by it. If you’re looking for more features, you’ll have to pay more money. It’s that simple. On the other hand, one very large upside of the basic design for many users is that it does fold up flat (relatively), and weighs under 50lbs. If you’re worried about space that may be a huge advantage. As always, do your research, and know what you want, but if you’re on a budget – this may be perfect.
It can be a challenge to choose a fitness machine that works for you. In this guide we’ve tried to show you the best elliptical machines that are currently available on the market, from a range of brands and price brackets. Of course, after reading through this guide you may not be sure an elliptical machine is the right fit for you. If you are, don’t worry, there are so many other options for you to look at. Treadmills are a solid option, and there are a growing number on the market, see our Guide to the Best Treadmills and other home workout options at homefitnessintel.com. Reputable brands like ProForm, Welso, Lifespan and Horizon are all worth considering in this regard.