If you’ve been to a gym, then you’ve probably laid eyes on an elliptical machine. They’re those weird-looking contraptions that have foot pedals and handlebars. Ellipticals simulate a hybrid running, biking, and stair-climbing movement. These machines also known as a cross-trainer, offer a cardiovascular workout with very low impact on your joints.
When purchasing an elliptical for your home gym, buyers should educate themselves on the benefits of a cross-trainer and the different features to consider. We’ve compiled this information, along with reviews and buying guide to help you choose the best elliptical for you.
Top 10 Best Elliptical Machines Comparison Table
Levels of Resistance
Max Weight Capacity
|Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer|
|Sole Fitness E35|
|Exerpeutic Aero Air Ellipticals|
|Exerpeutic 1000Xl Heavy Duty Magnetic Ellipticals with Pulse|
|Schwinn A40 Elliptical Machine|
|Body Rider Fan|
|Sunny Health and Fitness Pink Magnetic|
|Body Rider BRD2000 Elliptical Trainer with Seat|
The elliptical trainer was designed to replicate running motion, but with less strain on your joints. Your feet don’t really leave the foot pedals, so there is very little impact. Great for those starting an exercise regimen or for those recovering from injury.
Compared to walking on the ground, walking on the treadmill and riding on a stationary bicycle, exercising on a cross-trainer utilizes your quadriceps to a significantly greater degree and challenges your quadriceps and hamstring coordination.
Build Strong Butt and Hip Muscles
Runners and cyclists are notorious for having weak butt and external hip muscles. The elliptical effectively targets these areas.
Upper Body and Core Workout
If the elliptical machine is equipped with moving handlebars, then your cross-trainer workout also includes shoulder, chest, biceps and triceps. Because the elliptical is upright, it also works your core muscles.
Elliptical trainers take up significantly less space in your home than a treadmill. Portable ones can fold up and even fit into the trunk of a car.
Most of the trainers on the market are 6’ by 2.5’. Make sure you have a ceiling in your home that is high enough to accommodate you on the elliptical. Also, you need space around the trainer to get off and on safely.
Make sure the elliptical fits you well. Do the hand grips feel comfortable? Or the foot pedals too far apart? Do the stride and elliptical motion feel natural?
Some elliptical trainers are very “barebones” with little technological features. Others have docks for iPods, USB ports and wireless Internet connectivity to download data and track progress, along with the usual monitor that displays workout data. Workout programs are also available on some models.
Ellipticals differ on how resistance and incline are adjusted. The more advanced models have quick keys that adjust with little interruption to your workout. Others may need to be adjusted manually.
Pedal Arm Safety
If you have children in your home, a trainer with this safety feature is important to have. The pin locks the machine so unsupervised children aren’t able to use it.
Top 10 Elliptical Reviews
Schwinn 430 Review
The Schwinn 430 features 22 different programs, a Schwinn DualTrack two LCD window system that has 13 different display feedbacks to choose from, goal tracking (time, distance and calories) with USB data transfer capability, a USB charging port, multiple user set-up capabilities, 20 levels of eddy current resistance aligned with a weighted flywheel, 10 resistance quick keys, large footplates, 3 LED tracking lights, your choice of moving or static handlebars, a 3-speed fan, water bottle holder, wheels and sealed acoustic chamber speakers. The maximum user weight is 300 lbs.
The Schwinn 430 is reliable, built with a sturdy design and has easy-to-use features. This elliptical offers plenty of programs so you won’t get bored and offers a good range of display feedbacks so you can chart all different kinds of statistics. It’s even compatible with MyFitnessPal and Schwinn Connect apps so you can track your progress. However, users have to adjust thee incline manually, unlike the resistance quick keys, and the machine itself is very heavy, over 200 lbs.
Stamina InMotion Elliptical Trainer Review
The Stamina InMotion features adjustable tension, non-slip foot pedals that go forward and in reverse, an electronic fitness monitor that display strides per minute, total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned, a sturdy steel construction and a total weight of 24 lbs.
The Stamina InMotion is a very simple machine that weighs very little for easy transport and storage. It is basically foot pedals attached to a small steel base. However, the base is fairly small, so balance and stability become an issue, especially with no handlebars to hold on to. Also because there are no handlebars, you don’t get to work out your upper body as much. Also there is no console, exercise programs or digital feedback.
Sole Fitness E35 Review
The Sole Fitness E35 features an electronic console with a backlit LCD display, a built-in cooling fan and water bottle holder, built-in speakers, a heavy 29 lb flywheel and a high gear ration, quickly adjustable resistance and incline levels, stationery handlebars, built-in pulse sensors, a heart rate chest strap, and oversized, adjustable foot pedals designed by a leading physical therapist.
The Sole Fitness E35 is a high-quality, commercial grade exercise device. The controls for changing incline and resistance are located on the handlebars, so there’s no break in your routine. This elliptical can also go up to a 30 degree incline, much more than most ellipticals which only go up to 20 degrees. Stride can be adjusted from 20 to 22 inches, so most people can exercise comfortably despite their stride differences. The foot pedals have a special design that give them a slight inward slope of 2 degrees to take the stress off your knees and ankles, great for those rehabilitating an injury. However, this elliptical only comes with 10 workout programs, which is less than some of its competitors.
Exerpeutic Aero Air Review
The Exerpeutic Aero Air features 8 easy dial magnetic resistance levels, a 12” stride length, a maximum user weight of 250 lbs, and an LCD display which shows distance, calories burned, time and speed. The machine weighs a total of 51 lbs. This is great for someone who wants just the basics in an elliptical.
This elliptical has a very small footprint of under 2’ x 3’. It is fairly light and, with wheels, can be stored easily. This elliptical motion is very fluid as well. However, its stride is fairly short, so this machine is not recommended for taller folks who want to get full extension during.
Exerpeutic 1000XI Review
The Exerpeutic 1000XI features an easy-to-read large LCD display that shows distance, calories burned, time elapsed, heart rate and speed, large pedal design with ribbed texture, 8 levels of resistance, dual action workout arms, wheels, dual direction flywheel, and pulse pads to monitor heart rate. The maximum weight capacity for this one is 300 lbs.
The Exerpeutic 1000XI is very stable and has a high weight capacity. However, assembling it is not easy due to hard-to-follow instructions. It also requires continual maintenance with use. This elliptical also has a 13” stride, which is frustrating for those with longer legs. It is not recommended for taller people.
Schwinn A40 Review
The Schwinn A40 features biomechanically-designed linkages for a more comfortable and natural foot motion, ergonomic handles, a compact footprint, a perimeter weighted flywheel, an electromagnetic resistance system, oversized stabilizers and levelers, 8 resistance levels, 6 fitness metrics, and an integrated grip heart rate monitoring system.
The Schwinn A40 has easy-to-use workout programs, doesn’t use up a lot of space, is easy to move and made of a sturdy design. However, the built-in fan could be stronger, the placement of the pulse grips is not convenient, and the AC adaptor is not included with the purchase.
Body Rider Fan Review
The Body Rider Fan weighs in at 57 lbs and features a chain-driven fan wheel, dual action handle bars, a multi-function console monitor that shows time, speed, distance and calories burned, a sturdy design with steel materials, no electricity input needed, a modifiable, knob-controlled fan resistance and a video workout guide for beginners.
The Body Rider Fan is very compact, and at 57 lbs, it’s also easy to transport. This elliptical has the basics and nothing more, so it’s easy for those not technologically advanced to use. Due to its shorter stride length of 12”, this machine is great for shorter people. It is quiet and easy to put together. However, some users complain their feet slide off the foot pedals from time to time due to the downward slant design. Also, the foot pedals are smaller than other elliptical machines on the market, so those wearing a size 10 or larger may find the fit quite snug.
Schwinn 470 Review
The Schwinn 470 features 29 programs, a Schwinn DualTrack two backlit LCD window system that monitors 13 different display feedbacks, USB data transfer functionality, a USB charging port, 4 user capability, telemetry heart rate enabled, 25 levels of eddy current resistance with a high speed, high inertia perimeter weighted flywheel, 5 incline and 5 resistance quick keys, a 20” stride with Precision Path foot motion technology, a 10” motorized adjustable ramp, large footplates, 6 LED tracking lights, moving and static handlebars, a 3-speed fan, mounted water bottle holder, transport wheels, and sealed acoustic chamber speakers. The maximum user weight for this one is 300 lbs.
The Schwinn 470 is strong, durable and solid. Users love the ability to change resistance and incline almost automatically with the use of quick keys. The computer is very advanced with the ability to set up four different profiles, download your workout performance, and transfer the data to Schwinn Connect or MyFitnessPal. However, it can only go up a maximum incline of 20 degrees while other machines on the market can go up to 20. Although the user can use a heart rate chest strap in conjunction with this machine, it is not provided.
Sunny Health and Fitness Pink Magnetic Review
The Sunny Health and Fitness Pink Magnetic weighs in at 68 lbs and features a multi-function workout computer with scan, elapsed time, speed, distance, calories, total distance and heart rate feedback, large, anti-slip foot pedals, magnetic resistance with micro-tension controller, moving handlebars, and a hand pulse monitoring system.
The Sunny Health and Fitness Pink Magnetic is compact, so it’s great for those living in apartments or don’t have that much space to spare. It has enough levels of resistance for a good workout. However, this elliptical does not come with a warranty. It has a shorter stride length of 13” which is not comfortable for those with longer legs. Lastly, the it does not come with workout programs.
Body Rider BRD2000 Elliptical Trainer with Seat Review
The Body Rider BRD2000 is a two-in-one elliptical trainer and exercise bike. It weighs in at 66.2 lbs and features high momentum fan blades, an easily adjustable tension knob, an electronic console that tracks distance, time, speed and calories burned, and a fully adjustable seat (both horizontally and vertically).
The Body Rider BRD2000 is made of a sturdy heavy steel frame. It is made to fit people of a wide variety of ages, size and skill level. The simple electronic console is easy to read, follow and understand. It requires a small footprint, so it is easy to store. However, the stride length is short, which is not comfortable for taller people. For some, the handlebars are designed too uncomfortably close, and the seat provided is not very comfortable.
Time to Pick your Best Elliptical Machine
Ellipticals are great for those getting back into exercise, rehabilitating an injury or for those who want to cross-train. These machines are low impact, strengthen your quadriceps, quad/hamstring coordination, butt, hip, upper body and core muscles while using up a fairly small space in your home. When purchasing a cross-trainer, please keep in consideration size, ergonomics, computer features, adjustability and pedal arm safety. Armed with this knowledge and our reviews of the top ten elliptical machines on the market, you can be confident that you’ll choose the right one for you and your lifestyle needs.
Related reading: Simple Exercises to Strengthen Your Hip Flexors