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For a great cardio workout that’s easy on the joints, the elliptical machine tops the list. Running on pavement or even the best treadmill can be painful for many people because of the force it creates on the knees and hips. Using an elliptical trainer forces the body into more of a gliding pattern as opposed to picking up the feet and putting them down on a hard surface.

I personally tested some of the best ellipticals on the market to determine which could work best for you, based on your needs. While these are often large and expensive machines, they do offer significant benefits for those looking for a low-impact workout at home.

Below are my recommendations for the top ellipticals you can buy right now. 

The Hotsteppers of the Home Gym Equipment Industry

We’ve tested dozens of elliptical machines, exercise bikes, treadmills, and countless other pieces of cardio equipment in our quest to provide you with the best home gym equipment reviews on the internet. We do that because we don’t want to be one of those sites that simply looks at a webpage and spits a bunch of facts at you, and we don’t think you want that either. Nope, we’re here to give you our real-life experience of every machine.

And as personal trainers, CrossFit coaches, and competitive athletes, we also have countless guides on how to make the most of these machines. For example, you can check out our best elliptical workout piece to get a personal trainer’s take on how to reach your fitness goals with the elliptical you decide to purchase.

Best Elliptical Machines for Home Gyms

Best Elliptical Machine Overall: NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

My Top Pick
Nordictrack Commercial 14.9
Nordictrack Commercial 14.9

The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 will give you a highly customizable workout with adjustable pedals, stride, resistance, and incline. The 14.9 also features a heavy 32-pound flywheel to challenge even the most experienced cardio athlete.The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 features a 14-inch, built-in, HD touchscreen enabled with iFIT technology. iFIT will bring shake up your cardio routine with a growing library of on-demand workouts featuring world-class trainers. The iFIT auto-adjust technology will change your elliptical's incline and resistance with the cadence your trainer's cues, so you won't have to lift a finger to kick your workout up a notch.

Good for: Those looking for personalized workout options on a commercial-grade machine

Pros:

  • Free year of iFit programming with purchase
  • Ergonomically friendly
  • Comforts like cooling fans and padded handles
  • 26 digital levels of resistance
  • Heavy 32-pound flywheel

Cons:

  • Complicated assembly 
  • Very large, heavy machine
  • Not much value without the iFit subscription
  • Cannot store this in your garage; the brand will not allow you to use the included warranty if you do

The iFit programming on the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 is the selling point of this elliptical. iFit is interactive, and it plays out on a 14-inch, full-color HD touchscreen. You can pick on-demand, HIIT, or live classes, or go exploring all over the world with runs through countrysides, mountains, and beaches. What I really like is the personal training aspect of iFit, which can cater workouts to help you meet your specific fitness goals. 

When you buy this machine, you get an iFit family membership free for a year. This means you and up to four other people can access your own profiles on the machine. After a year, if you want to keep iFit, you’ll have to fork over about $39/month to keep that family member.

Coop using the best elliptical NordicTrack 14.9

Without the iFit subscription, you can still access a few free workouts, but honestly, I would just point you to a more affordable machine at that point. Priced around $3,000, this is definitely on the higher end when it comes to this type of exercise machine. However, NordicTrack pretty much throws everything at you with this one: Bluetooth speakers, cooling fan, heart rate monitoring, and cushioned foot pedals.

One unique aspect of the 14.9 that you don’t find on many of the best ellipticals is the adjustable stride length. You can set the stride to either 18 or 20 inches. An 18-inch stride is great for people who are shorter than 5’5”, and 20 inches accommodate people up to 6’5”. 

I did put the Commercial 14.9 together by myself, and it took a few hours. You have to do the wiring and lift some fairly heavy pieces, so if you can afford expert assembly, take that route. Also, it weighs 210 pounds and isn’t easy to move, so assembles it where you plan to keep it.

For more on this great machine, check out my full NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 review.

Best Elliptical Machine Runner-Up: Sole E25

Runner-Up
Sole E25
Sole E25

The SOLE E25 Elliptical provides effective workouts through its use of comfort and natural feel. The quiet front drive system, inward foot pedal design, and heavy duty steel frame all create a smooth, effective workout. In addition to the challenging workout programs, the E25 also now includes blue tooth audio and technology. Plus, enjoy a 30-day free trial of STUDIO with the purchase of a a SOLE machine. STUDIO is $19.99 per month and allows users to view a variety of workout classes on-demand.

Good for: People who want a durable elliptical

Pros:

  • Lots of conveniences and built-in programming
  • Affordable price with financing available
  • High-quality steel frame construction
  • 350 pound weight capacity
  • Included heart rate chest strap

Cons:

  • Complicated assembly
  • Basic LCD screen
  • Stride length does not adjust

For around $1,100, the Sole E25 is a serious force to be reckoned with. The elliptical is constructed using durable steel and has lots of great features like cooling fans, Bluetooth speakers, 10 preset workouts and oversized foot pedals.

Sole Fitness stands wholeheartedly behind its products, and we also love the Sole F63 treadmill. Not only do you get a lifetime frame warranty, but you also get three-year parts, and one-year labor warranty. Sole Fitness also offers an unbeatable return policy and money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with your machine within 30 days of purchase, you can return it for a full refund. They’ll even pay for the return postage, which is virtually unheard of.

The actual workout experience on the E25 is very pleasant for the price. There is slight shaking when in use, probably due to the lack of floor stabilizers. It definitely wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, but it is worth noting.

I do like the variety of information shown on the LCD screen while I’m working out. It was useful to be able to keep track of things like time elapsed, calories burned, and pace. I usually prefer more advanced technology, but something about the simplicity and easy-to-use functionality of the E25 stood out to me.

My big callout with the E25 is the difficult assembly. Normally, you can pay for white-glove delivery plus assembly for $239 on the Sole website. Unfortunately, with COVID protocols in place, that isn’t currently an option. You’ll have to suffer through the poorly written instructions and difficult to follow pictures like I did.

For more, check out my full Sole E25 review.

Best Budget Elliptical: Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical

Best Budget Elliptical
Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical
Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical

Bring your fitness classes, music and entertainment to your workouts with advanced Bluetooth speakers. Smart fitness technology pushes data to your favorite tracking apps. Ergonomic Six-Star Frame encourages ideal body position and movement for a more efficient and comfortable workout. Achieve better muscle tone and burn more calories with advanced power incline.Read my full Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical review.

Good for: Someone looking to get the most out of an elliptical at a reasonable price

Pros:

  • Priced under $1,000 and comes with a free workout app
  • Conveniences like Bluetooth speakers, heart rate monitoring and rapid-charge USB
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 20-inch stride length accommodated users 5’3” to 6’5”
  • Weight capacity to 325 pounds

Cons:

  • Small, 7-inch LCD display
  • Must “bring your own” technology to use app
  • Weighs almost 200 pounds

Horizon Fitness does a great job of giving you a lot of features at an affordable price. I see this especially in their treadmills and their ellipticals. The 7.0 AE is my favorite in their line because it costs less than $1,000 but still has the feel of a more expensive machine, both in workout performance and in the conveniences it offers.

With a 23-pound flywheel, the workout on the 7.0 is pretty smooth. This isn’t the heaviest flywheel you’ll find on a cross trainer, but it does provide enough stability that you don’t feel like the boat is rocking while you’re exercising. I also really like that the machine has a 20-inch stride length because that’s the sweet spot for most people to be able to comfortably use it.

Horizon machines can connect with a free app called Pro, which not only automatically adjusts things like resistance, but will also send your workout data to other apps like Fitbit. I’ll be the first to say that Pro isn’t anything like the Peloton or iFit apps, but it does still give you guided workouts if that’s all you need. To use Pro on the 7.0, you’ll have to connect the elliptical to your own smart device via Bluetooth. I like the “bring your own” technology machines because you save money but can still get the perks.

RELATED: Peloton Alternative

At almost 200 pounds, this is a heavier elliptical that isn’t as easy to move around as other machines might be. It’s also 76 inches long, so you really need to make sure you have the space for it.

Check out the Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical review.

Best Elliptical for Beginners: Nautilus E618 Elliptical

Best Elliptical for Beginners
Nautilus E618 Elliptical
Nautilus E618 Elliptical

From the Nautilus Performance Series comes the E618 Elliptical Trainer. Designed for serious competitors looking to up their game, the E618 is fully loaded with dozens of training programs, Bluetooth® connectivity and free app-based tracking tools that help maximize motivation and power up performance.

Good for: People new to fitness looking for guided workouts

Pros:

  • 29 workout programs built-in
  • Cooling fans and cushioned pedals
  • 25 resistance levels and 10 incline settings for workout variety
  • Bluetooth chest strap included for heart rate monitoring

Cons:

  • Heavy and hard to move at 210 pounds
  • Very intricate assembly
  • Large footprint not ideal for small spaces

One of the hardest things about starting an exercise program is knowing where to start. If you’re new to the scene, then buying fitness equipment with built-in exercises is a must. The Nautilus E618 has 29 workout programs to choose from, such as heart rate training, interval training and programs that you can customize on your own, if you want to. Nautilus machines come with free access to the Explore the World app, which has additional workouts you can stream from your own device.

I also like that in addition to 25 magnetic resistance levels, you can also adjust the incline of the machine to add intensity and recruit different muscle groups as you exercise. The E618 is great for beginners because it features easy-to-use buttons to adjust incline and resistance. The bright console is simple to navigate and tells you when a hill is coming up or the machine is going to adjust. Fans cool you if you get overheated, and Nautilus throws in a Bluetooth-enabled chest strap for heart rate monitoring.

At just under $1,400, this is the higher-end elliptical from Nautilus. What sets it apart from the E616 is that the E618 has a long, 22-inch stride length, which is great for taller people. The E618 also has cushioned foot pedals and a longer warranty period – 15 years – than the E616.

This is a big, heavy machine with a complicated assembly. It’s like what you might find in a commercial gym. I recommend having experts put it together where you want to use it, because it’s 210 pounds and, despite the transportation wheels on the front, it’s not easy to move.

Best Elliptical for Small Spaces: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

Best Elliptical for Small Spaces
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i features an iFIT-enabled 14-inch HD smart touchscreen to stream the growing library of iFIT on-demand workouts. You can choose from you favorite trainers or you favorite scenic locations—iFIT training sessions are shot all around the globe with world-class trainers. You'll also benefit from auto-adjust technology, which allows you to follow along with the changing incline and resistance levels your trainer cues up, without ever letting your hands off the elliptical handlebars.The SpaceSaver SE9i has a folding mechanism where the upright and console portion of the machine fold downward onto the base. Once folded, the transport wheels make it possible to move it around store it vertically.

Good for: People living in small spaces who want a compact elliptical

Pros:

  • Folding design for vertical storage
  • 30 preset workouts and iFit programming available
  • Bluetooth-enabled speakers and heart rate monitoring
  • Cooling fan and cushioned pedals

Cons:

  • Priced at just under $1,700
  • 18-inch stride not ideal for taller people
  • Heavy at 218 pounds
  • Unfolded, this is still a big machine
  • Do not store this in your garage – the warranty will be voided by the brand.

Ellipticals take up a lot of space. They mimic running, so the stride length of the pedals alone will take up a few feet. This could limit people who live in small spaces to getting compact stair steppers. However, with the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i, you get the perks of a large-sized machine with the ability to fold up to half its size.

Unfolded, the SE9i is nearly 80 inches long. However, with the push of a button, it folds to be about half that and is easily stored upright. The folding mechanism takes the SE9i down to what other compact ellipticals are in the first place, but you don’t have to sacrifice much with this machine.

NordicTrack offers one year of iFit programming for free on top of the 30 preset workouts that already come on the machine. If you choose not to renew iFit, you can still use the SE9i and all its benefits (this is rare, as other pieces of NordicTrack exercise equipment aren’t really worth it without iFit).

I don’t like that the stride on this elliptical is just 18 inches. That still fits most people, but really tall people, like those over 6’3”, would need a 20-inch stride to be more comfortable. Also, this is a pricey machine at just under $1,700. You could find a very compact elliptical for far less than that, but you wouldn’t get all the perks this one has.

RELATED: Best Compact Exercise Equipment

Best Elliptical for Comfort: Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Best Elliptical for Comfort
Bowflex Max Trainer M6
Bowflex Max Trainer M6

The Bowflex Max Trainer delivers full-throttle, high-intensity cardio that progressively gets harder as you get stronger. Challenge yourself with addictive, fast-paced, HIIT-style workouts that skyrocket your heart rate and propel you into the best shape of your life.

Good for: Someone looking for a quality machine with guided programming

Pros:

  • Large, comfortable pedals
  • 5 built-in programs and infinite options with JRNY app
  • Pretty easy to move around and fairly compact
  • Very intense, HIIT-style workouts
  • Fixed and moving handlebars for full body workout options

Cons:

  • You need your own smart device to take advantage of JRNY
  • Warranty is just two years on frame and parts
  • More of a stair-stepper than a full-stride elliptical
  • Priced around $1,500
  • 300-pound weight capacity

Ellipticals are inherently a low-impact cardio option, but the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 makes it even more low-impact with the addition of large, cushioned pedals, padded grips, and an adjustable media rack. So yeah, you’ll be sweating but at least you’ll feel good doing it.

Over the years, Bowflex has put out a number of Max Trainer ellipticals, each one building on the last. Today, they have the M6, the M9 and the Max Total. The biggest difference, other than a jump in price, is that the M9 and the Total have a large, 10-inch color touchscreen, and a few additional resistance levels.

Kate on the Bowflex M6 Trainer best elliptical for comfort

I recommend the M6 because I like the price point at under $1,500, and you still get nearly all the benefits as the more expensive machines. You have to use your own tablet or phone to sync your workout with the JRNY app, which gives you endless options for workouts. JRNY actually customizes your workouts based on your performance, so the fitter you get, the more advanced the workouts become.

The M6 has many of the conveniences you want: water bottle holder, Bluetooth capability for a heart rate monitor, and even a USB charging port so if you use your own smart device, you don’t have to worry about it dying. From a footprint perspective, the M6 is only 46 inches long, which is nearly half the size of many other ellipticals.

If you’re looking for a full gliding machine, this isn’t it. The entire Max Trainer line is more of a stair stepper with just a small stride. It will still make your quads burn and leave you breathless, make no mistake about that. But it won’t simulate running the way some ellipticals do. I’m also disappointed that the warranty on this machine is just two years. Most machines have at least a five to 10-year warranty.

Check out our full Bowflex M6 review.

Best Elliptical for Bad Knees: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

Best Hybrid Elliptical and Bike
ProForm Hybrid Trainer
ProForm Hybrid Trainer

Now you can access the benefits of two machines in one. In two quick steps the Hybrid Trainer XT evolves from an elliptical to a recumbent bike. Simply adjust the pedals and console. And with the latest in fitness technology at your fingertips, you can enjoy daily motivation like never before with workouts designed to get you started and keep you motivated.

Good for: People who want a 2-in-one machine

Pros:

  • Easily adjusted to fit different body sizes
  • 14 preset workouts
  • Ability to work upper and lower body muscle groups
  • Simple assembly
  • Priced under $1,000

Cons:

  • Five-year warranty on frame (This cannot be used if you store the trainer in your garage as it violates the warranty)
  • No media shelf
  • Very basic console to display metrics
  • No frills and extras

The Proform Hybrid Trainer combines a recumbent exercise bike with an elliptical, which means your legs are in front of you. This puts less stress on your knees, reducing the impact they receive during a workout.

Recumbent bikes are great for people who need an ergonomic seat and the ability to get their legs moving. They won’t give you much of a cardio workout. But, on this hybrid trainer, that’s what the elliptical is for.

The console on this machine is a very basic LCD display. And there is no media shelf where you can put a phone or a tablet to watch a show, no cooling fans, no Bluetooth speakers. However, the LCD display does rotate down for easy access when you’re biking, and up for when you’re using the elliptical.

Also, there are 14 preset workouts – 7 elliptical, 7 bike – you can access. Proform is also in the ICON Fitness family, so you get a 30-day free trial of iFit with your purchase of the Hybrid Trainer. When you connect your own smart device to the Hybrid Trainer with Bluetooth Connectivity, iFit will actually automatically adjust resistance settings for you.

This is still a very basic machine. The assembly gave me no issues, as Proform has clear instructions. All in, it only took me an hour to put together this machine. Although the footprint itself is big (70.5 inches long and 24.5 inches wide), the Hybrid Trainer features transport wheels on the front that made it very easy to move.

Read our full ProForm Hybrid Trainer review.

Best Elliptical Under $1,000: NiceDay Elliptical Machine

Best Elliptical Under $1,000
Niceday Elliptical Machine
Niceday Elliptical Machine

Arriving 90% pre-assembled, the Niceday Elliptical Trainer is an easily installed, sturdy, and quality elliptical for someone looking for a low-impact, efficient workout. Equipped with large pedals and constructed with steel, the Niceday Elliptical Trainer supports weights up to 400 pounds and is designed for users between 4 feet, 9 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches tall. But, the 15.5-inch stride will likely feel too small for those over 6 feet tall.A 16-pound flywheel offers 8 levels of magnetic resistance without the need for any electrical source. A battery-powered digital monitor displays time, speed, distance, and calories so you can stay on track towards your fitness goals. According to Niceday, all data is dual-calibrated by algorithms to ensure accuracy of fitness metrics provided.The magnetic resistance is intended to reduce noise emission, which is recorded at only 20dB. There are some reports that the machine is noisier but often this is because of poor maintenance. Should there be any part that is damaged or making noise, Niceday offers a life-long promise and pays for all replacement costs.

Good for: People who want a lot of conveniences for less than $1,000

Pros:

  • Costs under $1,000
  • Parts come pre-assembled for easy assembly
  • 16 resistance levels
  • No electrical source needed

Cons:

  • Stride length of only 15.5 inches
  • Display reportedly breaks very easily
  • Slightly shaky while in use

Since this machine costs under $600, we weren’t expecting much from it but we were quickly surprised by how good it felt during our testing period. For one, it’s made with steel instead of plastic (which is what you see on most budget cardio equipment), which not only makes it more stable than other budget ellipticals but more durable as well.

Nice Day Elliptical in use best elliptical under $500

It also comes with magnetic resistance instead of friction resistance, which, again, you’ll often see on budget equipment in an attempt to cut down costs. The steel construction and magnetic resistance mean you’ll be able to keep this machine in your home gym much longer, giving you much more bang for your buck.

But is it worth buying in the first place? Honestly, if you just need an elliptical and aren’t looking for anything fancy then we’d say yes. Yeah, you’ll only get a basic LCD display, won’t have any water bottle holder, and the flywheel is only 16 pounds, but there’s also a lot to like about this machine.

For one, it’s impossibly quiet, doesn’t require any electricity, has 16 resistance levels, and has a user weight capacity of up to 400 pounds. There are ellipticals that cost twice as much as this one that don’t have half of those features. In other words, it’s not one of the best ellipticals but as we like to say it will get the job done (and then some).

We should note that it is a little shaky during use, but nothing that’s going to make you feel unsafe.

Check out our full NiceDay Elliptical Machine review for more information.

Best Elliptical Under $500: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine

Best Elliptical Under $500
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical
Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical

Pack a cardio workout in the comfort of your home with the SF-E3912 Pre-Programmed Elliptical Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness. Stride 15.5 inches when you step onto the wide and textured foot plates. Grab onto the handlebars to engage muscles in your upper body and maintain balance during your exercises. Grip the pulse sensors to keep tabs on your heart rate as you stride. Alternatively, you can link a compatible wireless heart rate belt to this cardio trainer to take advantage of heart-rate targeted workout programs and features. Maintain stability on any ground surface when you adjust the front and rear stabilizers on this elliptical cross trainer. Control workout resistance when you increase and decrease the 16 levels of programmable magnetic resistance when the elliptical is plugged in to a power source (adapter included).

Good for: People on a budget who don’t want a machine that feels cheap

Pros:

  • Just 105 pounds and easy to move
  • Supports up to 330 pounds
  • Fixed and moving handles for upper body workout
  • 24 built-in workouts

Cons:

  • Assembly process is unnecessarily complicated
  • Three year frame, 180-day parts warranty is a little short but to be expected
  • Small, basic LCD screen to show metrics
  • Stride is just 15.5 inches
  • Motorized, no flywheel

It can be hard to find good budget fitness equipment that still is of great quality. I have been on cheap cardio machines, and it’s awful. They don’t feel sturdy and they break down easily. The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine surprised me with how smooth the workout was. It’s a rear-drive elliptical, which means the wheel is in the back of the machine as opposed to the front. Rear-drive machines tend to have a more natural feel than front-drive machines, but most people barely notice a difference.

Of all the best ellipticals on the market in this price range, I like this one the most because it has 24 built-in workouts, which is a lot for a machine that doesn’t have an accompanying app. Also, it’s lightweight at 105 pounds but still has a weight capacity of 330 pounds. However, this is a motorized elliptical, as opposed to having a flywheel. The issue here is that a motor may be more susceptible to breakdown or require more maintenance. But, you get what you pay for.

I put this machine together myself, and the instructions weren’t the greatest. This is one of those companies that tries to put three assembly steps into one, so you really have to pay attention to the drawings to make sure you go in order. It took me a little over an hour to do on my own. Doable, but again, not the easiest process.

Check out my full Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine review.

Other Elliptical Machines We Tested and Researched

There are quite a number of elliptical machines on the market today, but not all are worthy of being named one of the best ellipticals. Here are a few we came across, what we thought about them, and whether we think you should give them a go.

Stamina Inmotion Elliptical: If you’re one of those people who are looking for the best ellipticals that can be used under a desk, our choice goes to this one. We haven’t tried it out for ourselves yet, but at $150 and more than 500 5-star Amazon reviews, it seems like a good option. We just wouldn’t standing up on it as you can see a woman doing in one of the photos.

Sole E35: This is the souped-up version of the Sole E25, and it’s a fine machine but it costs $600 more than its sibling. Is it worth it? Really, only if you’re a bigger person who needs an elliptical with a large weight capacity (the E35 can hold up to 375 pounds, compared to the E25’s 350). It also has a slightly larger screen and an additional two years on the warranty.

Bowflex Max Trainer M9: The Bowflex Max Trainer M9 comes with more tech capabilities and resistance levels than the M6, but it’s also nearly $2,000. We think most home gym owners will be fine with the M6.

Horizon EX-59: At under $500, this looks like an incredible value: A nice screen, Bluetooth speakers, water bottle holder, and 10 levels of magnetic resistance. It does have only a one-year warranty plan.

Nordictrack FS10i: This 3-in-1 machine can be used as an elliptical, stepper, and even a treadmill. We liked it, but the treadmill functionality wasn’t like any treadmill we’ve been on and the machine costs $1,900. There are better value options out there.

Nordictrack FS14i: This is just like the FS10i, but with more resistance, decline training capabilities, and a bigger console. It also costs a whopping $2,500!

How I Tested the Best Ellipticals

Through a variety of research and talking to the Garage Gym Reviews community, I compiled a list of ellipticals for me to get my hands on. Once they arrived, I began the rigorous testing I had laid out for each machine. A big part of that includes using the machines for multiple workouts to assess the points below:

Ease of set-up

How easy are the instructions to follow? Are all the pieces labeled clearly? How long did it take me to set up? Will you need more than one person to assemble? Are there extra tools needed that aren’t included? To give you the most complete picture in preparation for assembly, I take plenty of notes while setting up. I make sure to include the ease of assembly and if it would be best completed with a helper.

Price

Comparatively speaking, how competitive is the pricing? Is it worth the money or a good value? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not always looking for the cheapest option. I want to see what performs best for the money. If it is a more expensive machine, I’ll want to know if the features included make it worth the price.

Included technology

What tech features make this special? Does the included technology always work? Technology is great when it works, but a pain in the butt when it doesn’t. I want to make sure the tech on a product is consistent before singing its praises.

Adjustability

What on this machine is adjustable? What heights can this machine support? Machine adjustability is important for me to look at when reviewing an elliptical. I can’t recommend an elliptical as the best overall if it can’t adjust to accommodate a variety of heights. Specifically, I take into account stride length and if the handles move or not.

Durability

How heavy is the machine? What is the overall weight capacity? Has anything felt loose or like it would easily break? Is the machine wobbly or unstable? Are the materials used quality?

Resistance levels

How many resistance levels are there? How does this compare to the average treadmill? Is this both easy enough for a beginner and challenging enough for someone advanced?

Built-in workouts

Are there any built-in workouts included? If so, how many are included? Is there a compatible app? Do you have to pay for the compatible app?

Ergonomics

How comfortable is this machine? Some ellipticals have padded foot pedals and grips on the handles. Are there extras that make this machine easier to use for a variety of people?

Portability

Can I easily move this machine from room to room? Can it be folded away and stored? Do I need another person to assist? Knowing everyone doesn’t have unlimited space, this is an important thing to consider and report on.

Customer Service

How easy is it to reach customer service? What methods are available to get answers to my questions? How long does it take for them to respond? Do they go above and beyond typical customer service?

Warranty

What is the warranty? Is this warranty better or worse than the average elliptical? Is it a limited warranty? You’ll want to shoot for at least 5-10 years of warranty on parts and 1 year on labor.

Customer Reviews

What have other customers had to say about this elliptical? Have I noticed any of the pros or cons mentioned within my own machine? Reading what others have to say as a whole can be beneficial to my review. Although I may have not run into a certain problem with my elliptical, plenty of others may have. It’s best to include other’s opinions (when appropriate) to give you the most honest information.

What to Consider When Buying an Elliptical Machine

There are countless ellipticals on the market that could be great for your home workout routine. However, an elliptical is really only good if you’re actually going to use it.

Make sure you spend your money wisely by considering the following:

Price

There is a big price range on ellipticals, because you can go for cheap and basic, or expensive and overdone. The most affordable ellipticals are just a few hundred dollars on Amazon, but they are often cheaply made and break down easy. Stay away from those.

I find that the best ellipticals tend to sit somewhere between $700 and $2,000, just depending on what you really want out of your machine. The big companies, like NordicTrack and Bowflex, offer financing on their products, which make the big-ticket items a little easier to swallow and/or offers sales on holidays like Black Friday or Labor Day.

Workout Features

There are basically two adjustable workout factors on ellipticals, with the first being resistance. Resistance levels make pedaling harder, hence giving you a more intense workout. The more levels there are, the more variety you might have in your exercise. Typically, most machines have at least 12-15 resistance levels.

Incline levels are a bonus feature found on maybe just 20 to 30 percent of the machines out there. Pedaling on an incline is great because it recruits more muscle groups in your legs. Keep in mind that an incline usually indicates a separate motor in the machine, which could, in turn, require more maintenance.

Guided Workouts

Yes, you can just hop on a machine and get going, adjusting the resistance on your own. However, there are experts who put together workout modes that help you reach your fitness goals, such as fat burning programs that have you exercising at about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. Quality ellipticals will come with at least a few built-in programs, ranging from interval programs to hill workouts to heart rate-based exercise.

You can find machines that go the extra mile with interactive programming through apps, like NordicTrack’s iFit membership or the Bowflex Explore the World app. These are almost like having a personal trainer in your home because the app can automatically adjust the machine for you and customize workouts to your fitness level.

Durability

If you’re going to make a sizable investment in an elliptical, then that machine should be built to last. Look for a heavy flywheel, at about 20 pounds or more. Heavy flywheels help keep the machine from rocking all over the place. Also consider the weight capacity of a machine. Cheap cardio equipment sometimes can’t even accommodate a full-grown adult. Make sure the equipment you’re buying can hold your weight.

Conveniences and Tech Capabilities

The price tag goes up with the more you add on, but some conveniences almost feel necessary. For example, having a water bottle holder and a console that shows workout metrics should be the bare minimum. On the higher end, you’ll find 14-inch HD touchscreens and cooling fans. There are also machines that have:

  • USB port for charging your phone or device
  • Media holder or shelf
  • Bluetooth-enabled speakers
  • Folding designs
  • Transportation wheels for moving

Ergonomics

You don’t really ever want to be comfortable in a workout, right? You should be at least a little outside your comfort zone. However, you also don’t want a machine that puts your body in ergonomically unsound positions. On an elliptical, make sure that the stride length matches your height. Generally speaking, a 20-inch stride accommodates people between 5’3” and 6’5”. If you fall outside this range on either end, you might look for either an adjustable stride or a different size.

Other ergonomic considerations:

  • Fixed handlebars, moving handlebars, or both?
  • Big footpads to accommodate larger feet
  • Cushioned foot pedals for comfort
  • Padded handlebars
  • Easy to read screen

Best Elliptical Machine FAQs

What brand of elliptical is the best?

That’s going to depend on your training goals, budget, and space constraints. Here are our picks for the best ellipticals for a home gym:

Best Elliptical Machine Overall: NordicTrack Commercial 14.9
Best Elliptical Machine Runner-Up: Sole E25
Best Value Elliptical Machine: Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical
Best Hybrid Elliptical and Bike: ProForm Hybrid Trainer
Best Elliptical for Small Spaces: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i
Best Elliptical Under $1,000: Schwinn 470 Elliptical
Best Elliptical for HIIT Workouts: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
Best Elliptical Under $500: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine
Best Elliptical for Beginners: Nautilus E618 Elliptical

Is buying an elliptical worth it?

Absolutely! Ellipticals are a great low-impact cardio alternative, can help work your leg muscles, and improve your balance.

How much does a good quality elliptical cost?

You can get a good quality elliptical for under $1,000, or even under $500. For example, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Machine is only around $430 on Amazon and is a great cardio machine with dozens of built-in workouts and a weight capacity of more than 300 pounds.

How do I choose an elliptical for home use?

You’ll want to consider price, durability, conveniences, ergonomics, and workout features into consideration when looking for an elliptical for home use.

Further reading

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How to Clean a Treadmill: 5 Tips and Clear Instructions on What To Do

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NordicTrack X11i Review (2022): All the Incline You Could Ask For

In our NordicTrack X11i review, we take a look at the specs of this now-discontinued treadmill. Read more

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For a great cardio workout that’s easy on the joints, the elliptical machine tops the list. Running on pavement or even the best treadmill can be painful for many people because of the force it creates on the knees and hips. Using an elliptical trainer forces the body into more of a gliding pattern as opposed to picking up the feet and putting them down on a hard surface.I personally tested some of the best ellipticals on the market to determine which could work best for you,  » Read more about: The Best Elliptical Machine for Home Gyms in 2022  » Read more

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