The 10 Best Ellipticals for Training – The Complete Guide to the Best Cross Trainers!

We gave our article on the best ellipticals on the market a complete overhaul, revising our entire top ten chart. Some of the new additions included three higher-end models: the Precor EFX 221, the Sole Fitness E95 and the compact Body-Solid E300.

We also saw some hybrid cross trainers in the Teeter FreeStep and ProGear 9900; a sweet under-desk model, the Cubii Pro; and a good-quality budget unit, the MaxKare Elliptical Trainer. Our elliptical guide and FAQ also saw a big refresh to the content to keep it up to date.

The winner after the latest chart update:
Body-Solid E300-01
  • Stride Length: 21”
  • Incline: None
  • Resistance: 20 levels
  • Folding: No
  • Features: Steel frame, compact build, Center Drive technology, low step-up height (8”), oversized pedals, premium padded handles, heart rate monitor, 7 preset workout programs, dual LED screens

While the treadmill is seen as the king of the cardio world, the mighty elliptical has certainly given it a run for its money.

A full-body, low-impact workout with great potential for increased endurance and serious fat-burning… Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?!

Using an elliptical at the gym is one thing, but buying one for your home takes a lot more consideration. Find the right machine for you and it could literally change your life. Buy the wrong one and you will ultimately have an expensive waste of space.

So, if you are in the market for an elliptical, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article we will be running you through ten of the best elliptical cross trainers out there today – from high-end units to entry-level models – with mini reviews, pros and cons for each.

Whether you are looking for a full-size gym-grade unit for your home gym, or a compact under-desk elliptical for sneaking in a few steps at the office, we have you covered.

We have also prepared a comprehensive guide to ellipticals, outlining the considerations you should make ahead of jumping into a purchase, as well as offering a few answers to your most-asked questions.

The 10 Best Ellipticals for Training:

Pros

  • Excellent variable stride length of 18” to 21”
  • Premium performance with a gym-grade feel
  • Plenty of workout variety
  • Streamlined console with media shelf

Cons

  • Features just one set of stationary handlebars
  • One of the most expensive on this list

Stride Length: 18” to 21”
Incline: Manual
Resistance: 16 levels
Folding: No
Features: Patented CrossRamp incline, fixed handlebars, 5” high-contrast LCD screen, 10 preset workouts, heart rate monitor, SmartGrip media shelf

We start this list with a higher-end unit from the people who introduced the very first elliptical to market more than 20 years ago.

The Precor EFX 221 may fall a little short compared to the British company’s commercial models, but it straddles the line between affordability and premium performance very well indeed. Most notably, it features an adjustable stride length up to 21”, catering for pretty much any user, while 16 levels of resistance and Precor’s patented CrossRamp incline gives scope for serious workouts.

While the secondary features may be less than you’d expect at this price, there is still enough to keep you entertained, including a 5” high-contrast LCD screen and a SmartGrip media shelf.

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Pros

  • Smooth and quiet operation thanks to a 27lb flywheel
  • Generous adjustable stride length
  • Plenty of incline and resistance levels
  • Great secondary features for the price

Cons

  • Heart rate monitors do not feel accurate
  • High price will put many users off

Stride Length: 20” to 22”
Incline: Motorized
Resistance: 20 levels
Folding: No
Features: 27lb flywheel, adjustable cushioned foot pedals, 10.1” color screen, Bluetooth audio speakers, USB charging port, heart rate monitor, multiple workout programs, built-in cooling fan, media shelf, 400lb max user weight

The sleek E95 from Sole Fitness very much impresses in the higher end of the market, boasting style, performance and great secondary features. This all amounts to a solid workout that doesn’t feel like a drag.

Using the E95 is a pleasant experience, with a substantial 27lb flywheel for a smooth performance, and a generous 20” stride length offering freedom for the majority of users. Throwing in 20 resistance levels and 20 levels of adjustable incline enhances the value of a pretty expensive machine.

The impressive secondary features are also built for comfort and convenience, with a 10.1” color LCD screen and integrated media shelf, as well as Bluetooth audio speakers, a USB charging port and a cooling fan.

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Pros

  • Very compact design
  • Superb core performance
  • Features a roomy 21” stride length
  • Includes 20 levels of resistance

Cons

  • Comes with a very high-end price tag
  • Console design and secondary features are quite basic

Stride Length: 21”
Incline: None
Resistance: 20 levels
Folding: No
Features: Steel frame, compact build, Center Drive technology, low step-up height (8”), oversized pedals, premium padded handles, heart rate monitor, 7 preset workout programs, dual LED screens

Body-Solid’s E300 takes its rightful place as the leader on our chart of the best compact ellipticals, although it still proves a worthwhile choice even if space is not an issue for you.

This premium elliptical measures in at just 50” x 31”, while the 8” step-up height is ideal for places with smaller ceilings. Despite this compactness, it actually offers one of the best stride lengths on this chart at 21”.

The high-end price tag is justified by the performance, which offers close to gym-grade levels of smoothness and quietness. The display options and secondary features are a bit underwhelming – you may expect more for the price. Still, your money goes towards performance here, which makes it a more valuable machine in the long run.

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Pros

  • Very good adjustable stride length
  • Features 20 levels of magnetic resistance
  • Includes a wide LCD display and Bluetooth speakers
  • Great incline settings

Cons

  • Motor errors are not unheard of
  • Speaker system is pretty weak

Stride Length: 20” to 22”
Incline: Motorized
Resistance: 20 levels
Folding: No
Features: 25lb flywheel, 10 built-in programs, magnetic resistance, 7.5” LCD console, up to 30 degrees of incline, adjustable oversized pedals, 350lb max user weight

Another higher-end elliptical from Sole Fitness is the slightly more affordable E35. Despite lacking a few of the more luxury features, it certainly stands up to its premium brother, the E95, in terms of performance.

While the flywheel is two pounds lighter, the action is still smooth and quiet – as you’d expect from a machine in the under $1,500 category. The adjustable stride length of up to 22” is excellent, while there is good workout variation, with 20 levels of magnetic resistance and up to 30 degrees of motorized incline.

Features are pretty good too, with a 7.5” LCD screen that displays all your workout feedback, while Bluetooth speakers allow you to pump out your favorite tunes!

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Pros

  • Folds and wheels away for easier storage
  • Decent stride length of 18”
  • Smooth and quiet operation
  • Good workout variation including resistance and incline

Cons

  • The iFit system can be frustrating to use
  • After-sale support can be equally frustrating

Stride Length: 18”
Incline: Motorized
Resistance: 24 levels
Folding: Yes
Features: SpaceSaver design, adjustable feet, 7” full-color touchscreen display, CoolAire fan, EKG heart rate monitor, transportation wheels, media shelf, iFit compatible

While the 895 CSE from ProForm may seem quite similar to some of the others we feature on this chart, it has one big difference – it folds! Using a rear-drive SpaceSaver design, this midrange elliptical folds vertically to save a considerable amount of floor space.

Despite its changeable nature, it’s a very solid machine in build and specs. The 895 CSE features an 18lb flywheel and an 18” stride length, offering a smooth and quiet operation that will be comfortable for most people.

Adding some variation to your workouts is simple, with 24 digital resistance levels on offer, as well as motorized incline and iFit compatibility. Secondary features for this one include a 7” full-color touchscreen display, media shelf and a CoolAire fan.

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Pros

  • Recumbent design for a zero-impact workout
  • Smooth action and a quiet operation
  • Compact footprint is great for smaller spaces
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Stepping motion may not appeal to traditional elliptical users
  • Secondary features are lacking a little

Stride Length: 10”
Incline: None
Resistance: Adjustable
Folding: No
Features: Compact build, steel frame, variable magnetic resistance technology, adjustable cushioned seat, transportation wheels, adjustable multi-grip handles, LCD display, media shelf

The Teeter FreeStep is an odd one, but it just had to be included as it’s such a popular cross trainer! This hybrid elliptical/recumbent bike allows you to perform a full-body cardio workout as you would on an elliptical, but reclines the movement for zero impact.

At 10”, the stride length is very short, but the action is more of a stepper than elliptical, so it is not a flaw. Multi-grip handles allow you to work out your upper body as much as your legs, while the adjustable resistance offers good workout variation.

For the midrange price, the FreeStep isn’t bursting with secondary features, yet an integrated media shelf offers you a way to use a smart device as you work out.

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Pros

  • Compact machine with built-in wheels
  • Combines elements of a stepper for greater calorie burn
  • Features eight levels of magnetic resistance
  • Includes LCD screen and media shelf

Cons

  • Incline may be too aggressive for new users
  • Stepping motion may not appeal to traditional elliptical users

Stride Length: 8” (Vertical), 9” (Horizontal)
Incline: Fixed
Resistance: 8 levels
Folding: No
Features: 29lb exposed flywheel, built-in wheels for easy transportation, magnetic resistance, fixed incline, 3.5” LCD display, smart resistance knob, 220lb weight capacity

The 9900 from ProGear is one of the more affordable and unique units on this list, combining aspects of both an elliptical as well as the more aggressive incline of a stair-climber. The benefit of this niche design is that you can burn more calories, while still enjoying a low-impact workout.

In addition to the substantial incline, you’ll find a 29lb flywheel for a smooth and quiet operation. Eight levels of magnetic resistance are available for an added challenge – not as versatile as our higher-end picks, yet the price is hard to beat.

Secondary features stand up to scrutiny at this price too, with a clear 3.5” LCD display, Bluetooth app connectivity and a media shelf. The compact form factor and built-in wheels aid in post-workout storage.

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Pros

  • Mini build is excellent for sliding under a desk
  • Features adjustable resistance
  • Smooth motion and a quiet operation
  • Includes Bluetooth connectivity and app for workout tracking

Cons

  • Workout doesn’t compare to a full-size unit
  • Pretty heavy for the size
  • Feels a little expensive for what it is

Stride Length: Unspecified
Incline: None
Resistance: 8 levels
Folding: No
Features: Compact under-desk design, fan wheel resistance, quiet operation, real-time workout tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, sleek and sturdy design

With so many big high-end machines on this list, you may question the inclusion of such a small unit – can it even be classed as an elliptical?

Indeed, it can. The Cubii Pro is a very popular under-desk elliptical with a reassuringly solid build. While other mini units can be a little cheap, this midrange model feels built to last – certainly not a gimmick.

While the stride length is obviously a little small, the action is smooth and quiet, while adjustable resistance allows for some variation. Bluetooth connectivity and an accompanying app ticks the boxes for workout tracking and motivation. If this feature doesn’t feel necessary, the lower-priced Cubii Jr may be more suitable for you!

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Pros

  • Good choice if you are strapped for cash
  • Features eight levels of magnetic resistance
  • Includes an LCD screen, heart rate monitors and media shelf
  • Lightweight and easy to move around

Cons

  • Short stride length won’t work for taller users
  • Feels less stable at higher speeds

Stride Length: 13”
Incline: None
Resistance: 8 levels
Folding: No
Features: Eight levels of magnetic resistance, LCD screen, integrated heart rate monitor, built-in media shelf, quiet operation, transportation wheels

This surprisingly good elliptical is our favorite pick in the budget range, proving you can end up with a decent machine even if you spend less than $200.

Sure, it pales in comparison to some of the others featured on this chart, yet this entry-level machine features an acceptable 13” stride length, which would cater for both walkers and shorter users pretty well. The eight levels of magnetic resistance offer a little workout variation.

Another plus is that it’s lightweight and sports wheels on the base, so is easy to move around after your workout. Secondary features are naturally lacking, yet there is an LCD screen and media shelf, as well as a heart rate monitor.

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Pros

  • Patented design allows for targeting multiple muscle groups
  • Lightweight and foldable steel frame
  • Offers a smooth ride
  • Includes several extras including DVDs and water bottle

Cons

  • Lack of resistance will put off many users
  • Known to be a bit squeaky when in use

Stride Length: Unspecified
Incline: None
Resistance: None
Folding: Yes
Features: Steel frame, patented split suspension system, LCD monitor, two workout DVDs, nutrition guide, water bottle and holder

The Gazelle Freestyle is a world away from our higher-end picks, yet it still makes it onto this chart as it offers a low-cost and – dare we say it – fun elliptical workout.

Endorsed by ‘America’s personal trainer’ Tony Little, the Freestyle features a sturdy steel build and patented dual-action split suspension system, to deliver an elliptical experience that allows for natural acceleration and a way to reposition your body to work different muscle groups.

While the stride length is good, there’s no resistance, which means the workout can become a little too reliant on momentum if you aren’t careful. Still, for the budget price, this popular unit is a decent pick for those on a strict budget.

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Category Breakdown

Having browsed our chart above, you may have noticed that ellipticals come in all shapes and sizes – literally.

Some big, some small… some tiny! Some fold, some with incline, some basic, some with more controls than a flight deck!

To add some order to the chaos, we have separated the most popular ellipticals into their individual categories to suit both your budget and what you are looking for in a cross trainer.

If you are new to ellipticals – or even fitness in general – this category is where many people start. This group of affordable ellipticals is unlikely to throw up anything exceptional, yet proves a good way to get on the ladder.

You’ll find shorter stride lengths and less features, although the core performance is usually enough to get in a decent workout – providing you are shorter or don’t want to go as fast. If you can afford to spend slightly more, we’d always recommend checking out our next category…

While we are still firmly in the budget zone, there’s a significant step up in terms of quality and features as you add on an extra two hundred bucks.

This category is still unlikely to give you your dream machine, but you can expect more variation in design, as well as slightly longer stride lengths, more resistance levels and some additional secondary features.

Spending up to $1,000 is about as much as most people will ever consider spending on an elliptical – and it’s not a bad place to settle!

This midrange market sees a dramatic increase in quality, performance and features. Stride lengths can reach up to 20”, which is ideal for most users. Things like motorized incline also begin to appear, to offer good challenge and variation to your workouts.

The under $1,500 category is another big step up the ladder in terms of quality, although it’s the features department where the most difference is noticed.

You are likely to find even more motorized incline options with greater gradient flexibility, in addition to more advanced secondary features like bigger screens and Bluetooth speaker systems.

While commercial ellipticals can cost many thousands of dollars, the $2,000 range is the high-end of consumer units. These machines offer near gym-grade performance at a price that won’t destroy your bank account.

These premium units are built for serious users, with great stride lengths, motorized incline and plenty of workout programs as standard. While many units in this range feature excellent secondary features, some overlook the big screens and speaker systems for more streamlined consoles.

Not everybody has room for a full-size elliptical, especially those living in small homes, apartments and condos. Compact ellipticals are the answer – reducing the footprint of the unit while retaining their functionality.

In fact, some of the most compact units prove to be some of the best on the market. Others can be smaller, cheaper and more lightweight units, while you will also find under-desk models that are perfect for use while seated.

If you have the space for a full-sized elliptical when in use, but don’t want it permanently set up, a folding elliptical may be your answer.

These innovative units are bigger than what we consider ‘compact ellipticals’, and offer standard functionality and features. Yet, after your workout, you can fold up the rear of the machine and drastically reduce the footprint.

While seniors can use any cross trainer they choose, some may find it more suitable to use some of these machines.

These ellipticals will feature compact designs with shorter step-up heights, making it easier to get on and off – perfect if you have pre-existing joint conditions. We also focus on ellipticals with simpler consoles, so less time has to be spent navigating complicated controls.

Choosing the Right Elliptical for You

Design

An elliptical is an elliptical… right? Not quite. There are plenty of design considerations to take into account – all impacting how the elliptical looks and performs.

One important consideration is the flywheel and where it is placed. The flywheel or drive wheel is what drives the machine – moving as you push the pedals, adding resistance to the movement, and generally powering your workout.

In general, the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the ride. Wheels can weigh in anywhere from around 13lbs up to 44lbs, and what weight you get will depend largely on where in the market you are shopping.

You will also want to determine where this flywheel sits on the machine – in other words, whether your shortlisted ellipticals feature a front-, center- or rear-drive design.

As the name suggests, a front-drive machine features the drive wheel at the front of the unit. This is the most basic of the three designs and is therefore usually the cheapest. Due to the wheeled pedals being on a track, these also tend to be the noisiest (especially in the cheaper end of the market).

A rear-drive machine naturally features the drive wheel at the back of the unit, behind the pedals. These machines can offer a smoother action, better incline and longer stride lengths, although take up the most room and can be more expensive.

Center-drive machines tend to be smooth when in use and generally more compact, although the pedals and arms will extend beyond the machine when in action – a consideration to keep in mind.

Beyond the location of the elliptical’s drive wheel, you should consider the size of the machine and whether it will fit in your home or garage gym.

There is no one-size-fits-all elliptical – they can measure anywhere from 4ft to 7ft long and up to around 3ft wide. Don’t forget that you will also need to factor in the pedals that usually extend back further than the frame when in action, as well as clearance on at least one side of the machine to allow you to get on and off.

If you need to fit your elliptical into a smaller home, apartment, condo or dorm room, you should look into both compact and folding ellipticals.

Folding ellipticals keep roughly the same dimensions as a standard elliptical when in action, although fold down to a smaller size after your workout.

Compact ellipticals are designed to have a smaller footprint. Being compact doesn’t necessarily mean it is able to wheel away after use – these can still be big machines. Nor does it mean it’s a cheap machine – some stretch into multiple thousands of dollars!

Another sub-genre of compact ellipticals is mini ellipticals. Also known as under-desk ellipticals, these compact cross trainers cram the elliptical stride of a standard machine into a tiny unit. These are ideal at helping you raise your heart rate and burn a few extra calories while at work.

Of course, whenever you make something more compact, you usually have to make a few trade-offs in the features and quality department. Sometimes these machines won’t give you the most inspiring of workouts, yet they certainly beat not having one.

Stride Length

Besides being able to fit the elliptical into your home, the stride length is probably the most important factor you should pay attention to.

This term refers to the measurement in inches between the toe of the front pedal to the heel of the rear pedal while the pedals are at their widest stride.

This measurement is so important as it determines how naturally you will be able to stride. If you want to be able to run freely but the elliptical doesn’t allow for it, then your machine won’t be doing the job it should.

On the other hand, if the length is too long (and this is rarely a problem), you could end up overextending and causing yourself an injury.

While everyone differs, it is said that a stride length of around 14” to 18” will cater for shorter users (around 5ft). Any taller and you should aim for a length of 18” to 20”, while users taller than 6ft should look more towards 20” to 22”.

If you are only planning on walking or running very slowly, you can get away with a shorter stride length. This is good news if your budget is low, because entry-level ellipticals tend to only offer stride lengths of 10” to 16”. This is too short for the average runner.

The more you spend, the wider the length, with more expensive ellipticals coming in at up to 22”. Some higher-end machines come with an adjustable stride length (e.g. 18” to 22”). This allows you to fit the length to your height, while allowing somebody of a different height to also comfortably use the machine.

Handles

In addition to the low-impact elliptical action of these cross-trainers, what really sets ellipticals apart from many other cardio machines is their handles. You will always find a set of stationary handles, usually equipped with heart rate monitor pads built in.

In addition, you will often find a pair of movable handles. Grabbing hold of these long poles and actively pushing and pulling gives you a full-body workout that few other cardio machines can rival.

However, don’t take it for granted that moveable poles will be included. Some full-size ellipticals only offer stationary handles. This is quite rare, but you will find it happens on both budget and high-end machines.

If, like many users, you are keen to work your upper body at the same time as your legs, then ensure your elliptical design incorporates moving handles.

Resistance

The resistance of a cross trainer is next on the list of importance as this is what gives your workout the challenge.

Some budget ellipticals offer no resistance at all. While these machines have their uses and are very popular, they do come with some caveats. The main one being that if you start going too fast with no resistance, it’s more likely that you are using momentum rather than muscle power to move the pedals.

If you just want a fun way to keep your legs moving, then this may be fine. However, if you are serious about burning calories and building your endurance, then you will need some form of resistance.

Thankfully, the majority of ellipticals on the market feature adjustable resistance. This allows you to tailor the intensity of your workout to match your goals – be it fat-burning, heart rate zones or long-distance runs.

The often-cited rule is that at the lowest setting the resistance should feel too easy, while using 75% of the resistance should be a significant challenge. This will allow you to grow into the machine, building your endurance over time.

It’s tough to say how difficult the endurance will be when buying an elliptical online. However, if the machine offers anywhere between 15 and 25 levels of resistance, you can guarantee it is going to offer you enough of a challenge.

In general, the more levels offered, the more versatile the elliptical. Still, even those budget ellipticals offering eight levels should give most people a decent workout.

As for the type of resistance, it will come down to how much you pay for your unit.

Spending under $500 will usually result in an air resistance system, where your movement powers a fan that blows against blades on the drive wheel. For more resistance, simply go faster. One problem with this basic system is that these machines can be quite loud when in use.

If you spend more on an elliptical, you are likely to find one with magnetic resistance. This more sophisticated system uses magnets to generate smooth resistance as you pedal, resulting in a much quieter experience.

Incline

ncline is one of the more luxury features and rarely found on ellipticals in the lower end of the market. However, as you move into the midrange and, particularly, the high end, incline becomes a prominent feature.

This feature adds a gradient to your workout, shortening your stride, working different muscles and ultimately boosting the intensity – and potential calorie burn – of your session.

Some lower priced machines may feature manual incline, but the ideal form is motorized – allowing you to adjust the gradient degree from the central console. You can switch from a flat run to a thigh-burning hill climb in a matter of moments!

Like with other aspects, don’t assume spending more on an elliptical will guarantee you an incline feature. Even some high-end ellipticals don’t offer it – especially if they are particularly compact.

Control Module

Unless you are buying a particularly low-end elliptical, most will feature a central console of some sort. This may be as simple as something with a tiny LCD screen and a few buttons to scroll through your workout feedback, or something much more substantial.

The more expensive your machine, the better equipped your control module is likely to be. Some high-end control modules can be pretty complex, with a multitude of buttons to tend to all sorts of things.

The most basic controls you will need are increment controls for your resistance and incline, allowing you to step up or down in resistance levels/gradient degrees. You may also find quick controls, which allow you to make more drastic jumps (level 5 to level 25, for example).

More advanced cross trainers sometimes add controls for resistance and incline on the handles, so you don’t need to take your hands off the machine to change the intensity.

Other controls will depend on what features your elliptical offers. This may be something like selecting workout programs or things like adjusting the speed of your cooling fan, speaker volume and so on.

The other main thing you will find on a control module is a screen of some sort. We’ve mentioned LCD screens, which can be very small and basic, or much bigger and more detailed. In fact, you may find 10” full-color HD touchscreen monitors as you shop in the higher end of the market.

As with the controls, the size and quality will come down to what price range your elliptical is in.

Secondary Features

An elliptical’s secondary features are those that are not considered essential to have the workout (such as a good stride length and ample resistance), but are capable of making the journey to peak fitness a lot nicer.

For example, cooling fans. With adjustable speed settings, these blow cool air into your direction, tuning a sweaty session into one that’s slightly more bearable.

Another example is a heart rate monitor. The vast majority of ellipticals in all price ranges will feature a heart rate monitor built into the handles. You will then be able to see your heart rate data on the accompanying LCD screen.

It’s worth noting that many machine-based heart rate monitors are quite inaccurate. Use them as a guide to gauge how hard you are working, but don’t rely on them for things like heart rate zones – you would be better off using a chest strap for this purpose.

You will also find media-related secondary features, such as speaker systems, USB charging ports and media shelves, holding your tablet or smartphone as you exercise. This all means you can plug in your iPad, load up NetFlix and binge watch some box sets as you power through a long-distance run.

Bluetooth connectivity is also something you see in the higher end of the market. This may be to connect your smart device to the machine’s speaker system, or it may be to connect the machine to a workout app such as iFit, RunSocial or Daily Burn. It may connect to both – check the individual specs closely.

Secondary features are a good way to help you separate two very similar ellipticals.

For example, you may have two on your shortlist, both priced $1,399, both with 20” stride lengths and both with 25 resistance levels. However, one has Bluetooth speakers, while the other connects to iFit. Choose what means the most to you and you will have your winner!

Frequently Asked Questions

If you are shopping for an elliptical online, the good news is that there is an abundance of excellent machines to choose from – regardless of your budget or requirements. Honestly, when it comes to quality fitness gear, there’s never been a better time to buy!

However, it’s difficult to say which is the best home elliptical for you. It all depends on what you want from an elliptical, how much space you can dedicate, and how much you can afford to spend.

Starting with what you actually want – are you looking for something to simply keep your daily step target on track? Or are you after something that will allow you to perform serious HIIT sessions? A casual user’s needs will be a lot different to somebody who is using their machine to achieve peak physical fitness.

The available space you have is another big consideration. For example, if you live in a studio apartment with barely enough room for a bed, a high-end rear-drive elliptical that comes in at 6ft long probably won’t be the best model for you.

In this scenario, you would probably be better off with a compact elliptical or even an under-desk unit.

If, however, you have a three-car garage that you are dedicating solely to a home gym, then an under-desk elliptical would probably be the worst thing you could buy!

As for budget, only you know what you can afford. If you only have two hundred bucks to play with, then that’s not a bad thing – you can still find a great entry-level elliptical for that price.

We always suggest you stretch your budget as far as you can though. If you can push to three or four hundred dollars, then the amount of machine you will end up with will probably serve you better and for longer than the budget models you are considering.

When you have your budget, your space requirements and your goals in focus, you can then look towards certain categories and ignore others.

To help, we have listed individual categories in the above guide – heading to one of these will give you more guidance.

Make no mistake about it – using an elliptical is an excellent way to burn calories and boost stamina while subjecting your joints to very little impact.

However, are you making the most of your time when using one, or could you be getting more bang for your buck?

Many people will jump on, press play on their iPad and stride along carelessly for 30 minutes. Not a terrible use of your time, but the simplest thing to do to improve your workout is to tune into what you are actually doing.

Is your workout actually hard enough? If it’s not, how do you expect to make progress?

If you are a beginner, don’t be afraid to keep adding resistance. It may seem easier to stride along with low resistance (because it is…), but you probably aren’t working your body hard enough doing things this way. With too little resistance, momentum takes over and your muscles take a back seat.

Add enough resistance and it will be down to your arms and legs to power your workout, helping you burn more calories in the process.

The same goes for incline, if your machine has this feature. Adding incline changes your stride and the way your muscles have to work, upping the intensity and benefits.

If you are more advanced, then consider adding interval training to your weekly schedule. It could be one of the best things you ever do for your training.

While there are many ways to perform interval training on an elliptical, an example would be to work as hard as you can on a high resistance for 30 seconds, then recover with a lighter jog for a full minute. Repeat this for around 10 to 20 minutes.

By doing this you can not only match, but exceed the calorie burn of regular steady-state cardio performed over 30 to 60 minutes. Just remember to warm up and cool down properly before engaging in any high-intensity cardio.

Using an elliptical as part of your weekly exercise plan is a great way to lose weight (or, what you are actually looking to lose, fat).

The theory is that being in a 3,500-calorie deficit every week will burn one pound of fat. This equates to a 500-calorie deficit per day, which is easy enough to achieve, providing your diet is in check.

Of course, you can boost this deficit by using an elliptical.

The number of calories you will burn while using an elliptical will differ depending on many factors, such as your gender, current weight and how much of that weight is muscle.

However, on average, using an elliptical for 30 minutes will burn around 300 calories for a 120lb woman and around 450 calories for a 180lb man.

By eating a healthy diet that puts you in a slight calorie deficit and topping this up with a 30-minute daily elliptical session, you will hit your 3,500-calorie deficit with relative ease. Keep this consistent and you will see positive changes in a matter of weeks.

One word of advice – while using the elliptical, make sure to keep your feet flat on the pedals as opposed to being on your toes. By keeping them flat, you activate more leg muscles and therefore burn even more calories!

This guide has been dedicated to the ins and outs of ellipticals – so, it should be no surprise by this point to know that we love them. But are they a better cardio machine than a treadmill?

The answer is up for debate, but let’s go through what each machine can offer and allow you to make your own decision.

Starting with the elliptical, one reason so many people use them over treadmills is that they offer an unrivalled low-impact workout. With an elliptical, your leg never leaves the surface of the machine, so there is no impact as you move.

Compare this to running on a treadmill. While treadmill running is very good from a cardiovascular point of view – and better than road running for your joints – it still isn’t great in terms of the impact absorbed by your knees.

On top of this, unless you run with correct form – and many people do not – you can cause further knee problems.

Unfortunately, even some of the best modern treadmills aren’t effective at eliminating these risks. No amount of suspension or cushioning technology can completely remove the negative side effects of running.

Ellipticals also offer a full-body component that running simply can’t contend with. Providing you are actively pulling and pushing the handles as you move your legs, you can work out your upper body just as much as your lower body.

However, treadmills still have their place and remain one of the most popular cardio machines out there for good reason.

In addition to replicating outdoor running indoors (where no weather or traffic can affect you), the slight impact can help strengthen bone density, which becomes crucial as we age. You are also likely to burn more calories on a treadmill than using an elliptical for the same amount of time.

So, both machines have their place. You can take a side, or use both to complement each other. For example, on one day take advantage of the calorie-burning potential of the treadmill, then the following day use an elliptical for a full-body workout while giving your joints a break.

The Ver(ve)dict!

There we have it – the complete guide to ellipticals! If you are in the market for a good cross trainer, you will hopefully now have the knowledge and confidence to go shopping.

The models we have highlighted are some of the best on the market in their individual categories, although these ten just scrape the surface of what is actually out there.

Take our top ten chart as inspiration, then go ahead and do your own research. You may find something even better for you and your fitness goals.

Whatever your budget and whatever your ambitions, keep our advice in mind and you will undoubtedly end up with a great machine that gives you a solid low-impact full-body workout in the comfort of your own home.

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