Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Ellitpicals On The Market:
- Why Ellipticals And Not Something Else?
- Low Impact Exercise
- Full Body Workout
- Different Types Of Elliptical Machines
- Compact Ellipticals
- Folding Ellipticals
- Cheap, Mid Range Or High End - Which One To Go For?
- The Universal Principle
- Entry Level Ellipticals
- Mid Range Segment
- High End Machines
- What Makes A Good Elliptical And What Features To Look For?
- Length Of Stride
- Build Quality
- Primary Features
- Secondary Features
- The Ver(ve)dict!
Top 10 Best Ellitpicals On The Market:
Why Ellipticals And Not Something Else?
Low Impact Exercise
One of the most important reasons why so many people are switching over to elliptical machines is the fact that doing so gives them access to a low impact exercise. The truth is that running, although healthy from a cardiovascular point of view, isn’t really too good for your joints and knees. These side effects can be alleviated by running on a softer surface but only to a certain extent.
On top of that, it is also worth mentioning that a good portion of the people who run don’t really know how to run properly. Running heel first is the default technique for new runners and unless they get some coaching, most never realize just how bad this can be for your knees. Unfortunately even the modern day treadmills aren’t all that great in reducing these risks. No amount of suspension, advanced insoles and soles, or cushioning technology can completely remove the negative side effects of running.
Ellipticals, however can. When you are using an elliptical, your leg never leave the surface of the machine. This is because the inherent design of the elliptical relies on a smooth elliptical motion, hence the name. Comparing ellipticals to running, you will find that former offer all of the benefits that latter do with none of the negative side effects. Once people realized this simple fact, the market for elliptical machines has experienced a large boom.
Full Body Workout
Different Types Of Elliptical Machines
The first interesting subcategory of ellipticals are the compact type. These are also a cause of a good deal of discussion in the community. You will find those who refuse to call these things ellipticals to begin with, while there are also those who consider them to be an integral part of the family. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Compact ellipticals have their flaws but also their benefits. Whenever you try to make something more compact, chances are that you will have to trade off certain features and traits of said product. That also applies to these ellipticials.
On one hand, it is quite awesome to be able to pack your elliptical with you when you are going out of town. On the other, you can’t really expect to get the same level of performance from these as you can from a standard, full sized model. Another good thing about compact ellipticals is that you can get yourself one for cheap. In most cases you can find a great model under $200. If you are interested in learning more, check out our dedicated guide.
Compact ellipticals were designed primarily for those who are dealing with a highly limited space. However it didn’t take long before people found different ways to use these machines. For example, many like to use compact ellipticals at work while they sit behind a desk. Since they are so small, you can fit one under the table and get a good exercise in while you work.
Cheap, Mid Range Or High End - Which One To Go For?
The Universal Principle
Entry Level Ellipticals
Mid Range Segment
High End Machines
Since mid range segment is so great, why would anyone want to go for a high end elliptical at all? Well, there is always room for improvement. On top of that, higher end models bring a whole new package of features which you won’t really find elsewhere, but there are a few other things that really tip the balance in their favor. For the most part, the hardware on these machines is going to be top of the line. Where most mid range models come with what is considered to be enthusiast grade hardware, most high end models feature commercial grade components.
These are designed to be pushed to the limit all day, every day which is exactly why gyms usually have such machines in their inventory. Whether or not you need something like that at home will depend on how serious you are with your workout regimen. Truth be told casual users probably won’t see much difference between a mid range and high end segment aside from the obvious improvement in features. However, someone who takes fitness and cardio very seriously, definitely will appreciate the benefits.
What Makes A Good Elliptical And What Features To Look For?
Flywheels are the integral part of just about any fitness machine these days. Static bikes use them, some treadmills do as well but ellipticals are really dependent on them. A good flywheel can be described as one that has a lot of mass, is machined with a good amount of precision and is balanced correctly. If you can get an elliptical that has such a flywheel, chances are you won’t grow tired of it for quite a while. However, if your flywheel is light, features mediocre craftsmanship and isn’t balanced correctly, you can run into serious trouble.
For starters, your elliptical won’t give you a challenge. Even with magnetic resistance control you will find these ellipticals to be simply too easy. Worst of all, this is the best case scenario. Poorly machined flywheels tend to be very noisy. While it probably doesn’t sound too bad, the whining of a flywheel tends to get very old very fast, especially if you are using the machine on a daily basis.
Length Of Stride
Length of stride is a factor that is unique to ellipticals. It is quite self explanatory. LOS or length of stride defines the range of motion your legs have on an elliptical. While there are rarely machines that have too long of a length of stride, there are plenty of those which have a short LOS. Those are the ones you will definitely want to avoid if possible. Short length of stride prevents you from activating all of your muscles but it also develops bad habits. After all, the whole point of exercising is to get yourself into a better shape. Why would you want to settle for a machine that can’t offer that to you?
When it comes to an average length of stride, we highly recommend that you go for 20 inches at the very minimum. However, it isn’t that simple. Length of stride is going to depend on your height. If you are 5 feet 6 inches, your optimal length of stride is going be around 20 inches. However, if you are say 5 feet 3 inches, 18 inches of stride length might be a much better option for you. Lastly, lets quickly touch upon what happens if your machine has too long of a stride length? Again, this is very rare but it does happen. Trying to handle a length of stride that is too much for your body can lead to injuries. We are talking pulled muscles and that is no fun.
Primary features are those which can help you get in shape more efficiently. This is where you will find your heart rate monitors, your preset workout regimens and so forth. Not every elliptical is going to have these, especially if you are shopping for the more affordable ones. However, if there is one thing you would definitely want to have on your elliptical, it would be a heart rate monitor. Manually setting resistance levels can in theory provide similar results as using preset programs, although it might take a bit more effort.
One more factor that is kind of important is the size of the display unit. Smaller displays tend to become too busy, especially when an elliptical is chock full of various features. If you can find one with a decently sized display, you won’t have a hard time navigating different metrics and stats. Since we are already talking about displays, you might want to get a model with a back-lit display. This simple feature really helps with exercising in low light conditions.
Also known as creature comforts, these features aren’t directly involved in getting you into shape, but are definitely capable of making your journey easier. This is where you will find your Bluetooth support, built in speakers, built in media centers with virtual trail software and more. Whether or not these features are important is pretty subjective. Those who are capable of zeroing in on their workout, pushing through it with utmost focus probably don’t need any of the features we have listed above. However, we are not all robots and we all have bad days. Sometimes being able to listen to music, or talk to someone as you workout might help you get through it faster.
One of the most important features that fit into this category are the media shelves. These are simple pieces of plastic which are designed to hold your tablet or your smart phone as you exercise. This way you can enjoy music, movies or your favorite TV show without having to pay too much extra. In all honesty, there is really no reason for you not to have a media shelf on your elliptical. Unless of course you are going for an entry level model which doesn’t have one.