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Published Jul. 26, 2021

If building out your home gym with low-impact cardio workout machinery has been on your to-do list but you just didn’t know where to start, consider the elliptical machine. An at-home workout on an elliptical trainer provides numerous health benefits. Like any good cardio exercise, it builds stamina and endurance by strengthening your heart, muscles, and lungs. This device trains both your lower and upper body and burns body fat if you approach it the right way. Plus, it puts way less stress on your joints in comparison to running. So, if you’re all warmed up and ready to race in place, here are some of the best elliptical machines on the market now to give you a headstart on your at-home workouts.

What to look for when shopping for the best elliptical

A spec sheet with lots of bells and whistles can be hard to resist. But, you’ll want to make sure that the features offered to match your needs and your budgetary constraints. If you want something basic, paying extra for connectivity can be counterproductive. That’s especially true if you have to pay for a monthly app subscription to get the most out of your machine. Those programs work great for some, but add needless extra cost for others.

Will there be multiple users?

Exercise equipment typically doesn’t embrace the one-size-fits-all mindset. Different bodies require different setups. Opting for an adjustable elliptical machine will make it much more versatile, especially if multiple people will use it to work out. This allows you, roommates, and/or family to get the best use out of the machine. If you’re using an app like iFit, it’s a great idea to create multiple profiles in order to avoid confusion with workout metrics and preferences. That way, everyone can track their progress individually without having to rely on outside apps like Strava.

Do you have space to spare?

If you have lots of room in your home for an at-home gym or workout nook, then you will have few limitations on which elliptical is best suited for your home. However, if space is tight, you might want to consider an elliptical that folds so you can store it when you’re not using it to optimize the space that you do have. Even if the machine’s footprint will fit into your space, you want to make sure you have some extra room around it. Working out is a dynamic process and you don’t want to feel boxed in or bang your elbow against the wall during an intense interval. Extra space will also improve air flow so you’re not roasting in your own sweat as you churn away at your workout.

How important is workout variety to you?

Versatility when it comes to working out is key, not only for health reasons but to keep your exercise routine fun and exciting. A hybrid elliptical machine is a great way to make sure you have options. To keep your mind and body active, you can jog on the elliptical one day and cycle on the recumbent bike the next day. It’s almost like a two-for-one deal. There are trade-offs, though. Hybrids typically include more moving parts, which can wear out over time. Versatility typically comes with a cost.

Do you prefer manual or automatic workouts?

While some people like to create their own workout routine, others prefer to follow workout programs. If you’re in the former group, then you might not need an elliptical that offers multiple workout programs—although having the option is nice. If you fall into the latter category, then an elliptical that offers automatic and customizable options would be a better fit for you. Some brands, like NordicTrack tie into a full-on workout system like iFit. In addition to suggested workouts, you can get pre-programmed sessions that guide you over the course of multiple days. For some users, this kind of consistency makes a huge difference.

What’s your budget?

There are plenty of ellipticals that offer great workouts without breaking the bank. While the more affordable options may not have an LCD display screen, they will still track your workout metrics. Plus, many have Bluetooth connectivity so you can sync your phone or tablet to follow along with workouts, listen to music, or watch TV.

Do you want to connect your phone or tablet?

To enhance your workout, you probably want to listen to music or catch up on your favorite TV shows, so bluetooth connectivity is key. When your phone or tablet is synced to the elliptical speakers, you’ll be able to enjoy entertainment options  with great sound quality.

Pop Sci Picks

It can feel overwhelming choosing the right elliptical for your home gym, but deciding which features are most important to you—from LCD display screens to foldable designs to workout programs—will help to limit the scope.

Best elliptical machine overall: Schwinn 420 Elliptical Machine

Top-Notch Design

By downloading the free app, Run Social, you can run through 19 locations with 27 routes. Schwinn

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With the 10-degree motorized ramp offering the option of adjustable incline and Precision Path technology, the Schwinn 420 Elliptical Machine provides a great workout. Choose from the twenty-five levels of resistance for a range of intensity and 19 workout programs that make this elliptical tough to beat. Features like the dual track LCD, Bluetooth connectivity, in-console speakers with MP3 input port, USB media charging, and adjustable fan are will make your workout that much better.

Best elliptical machine—splurge: Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical Machine

Studio-Level Home Workout

The brand collaborated with a physical therapist and sports enthusiast to design foot pedals to reduce ankle and knee stress. SOLE

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For ultra-smooth performance and a guaranteed full-body workout every time, the Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical Machine features a 19-pound flywheel and a high-gear ratio. To target different muscle groups, you can change the incline from flat level to 30 degrees with the push of a button. Track your workout metrics—time, distance, calories, pulse, and resistance—with the 6.25-inch blue LCD display. For switching up your workouts, the elliptical offers a number of workout programs, including nine automatic and one customizable option. Built-in speakers, a water bottle holder, and cooling fans are just the icing on the cake.

Best elliptical machine—foldable: NordicTrack Spacesaver SE7i Elliptical Trainer

Space Saver

With an innovative vertical space-saving design, you can fold up this elliptical and store it when not in use. NordicTrack

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With the purchase of the NordicTrack Spacesaver SE7i Elliptical Trainer, not only are you getting a fantastic machine with SMR Silent Magnetic Resistance for a quiet workout and built-in CoolAire fans with multiple speed settings. You’re also getting a free 30-day membership for iFit (after 30 days, membership renews automatically unless canceled). Connect via Bluetooth from your phone or tablet to the 5-inch backlit display, the app (available in Google Play and the App Store) to gain access to interactive studio classes and global workouts. Plus, your iFit trainer will automatically adjust your resistance from the 22 available levels, so you can focus on your workout. Finally, you can easily track your workout metrics on the LCD display to watch yourself improve session after session.

 Best hybrid elliptical trainer: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

Take a Seat

This two-in-one machine provides the benefits of an elliptical and a recumbent bike for a low-impact workout. ProForm

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If you love cycling and elliptical training, then the ProForm Hybrid Trainer is worth a serious look. Perfect for multiple users and those who like to switch up their exercise routine, this trainer offers an adjustable seat and pedals with a unique design so that you can choose between a recumbent bike or a rear-drive elliptical (or both!), giving you two cardio machines in one. The grip sensors keep you informed of your heart rate, while the LCD display tracks your distance, cadence, and estimated calorie burn. The Silent Magnetic Resistance and Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel keeps your ride smooth from start to finish. Plus, with 16 levels of resistance, you can vary the intensity of your workout. Purchase includes a free 30-day iFit trial membership for access to interactive training and on-demand studio classes (auto-renews without cancellation). 

Best budget elliptical trainer: Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical

Affordable Home Workout

The Bluetooth connectivity syncs your phone or tablet to the integrated speakers so you can enjoy music or TV with great sound quality. Horizon Fitness

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For just under $650, you can enjoy a great workout on the Horizon elliptical from the comfort of your own home. The Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical’s Ergonomic Six-Star Frame encourages ideal body position and movement so you can enjoy a more comfortable and efficient workout without any wear and tear. Plus, the tighter Q factor (i.e. distance between pedals) reduces stress on the hips and back. In order to better focus on your workout, one-touch keys allow you to easily switch up your resistance and speed. Plus, with a device holder and a rapid-charge USB port, you won’t have to worry about running out of battery mid-workout. If you prefer an elliptical with a LCD display, this isn’t it; however, you can easily use your phone or tablet.

FAQs

Q: Do elliptical trainers help lose belly fat?

In short, they can if you integrate them into a healthy overall lifestyle. Since you’re working both your lower and upper body, using more muscles at once, you burn more calories. In fact, you can burn ample calories. Ramping up your intensity as well as incorporating speed and interval training will help you burn more calories and in turn, lose belly fat. It’s important to note that you can’t out work a bad diet and you shouldn’t try.

Q: Is an elliptical machine better than walking?

Using an elliptical machine will likely burn more calories than walking through sheer intensity. Plus, it can be easier on your joints due to its no-impact nature. If you’ve got sensitive joints or arthritis, you’re better off using an elliptical trainer or elliptical bike. However, walking may provide a better workout for hamstrings, calves, and small muscles in the ankle. All of these muscle groups are important for balance. 

Q: How much should I spend on an elliptical machine?

On average, a good elliptical trainer with all the bells and whistles will cost somewhere between $1000 and $2000. Depending on your budget and if there are certain features you’re willing to do without, you can find good elliptical machines in the mid-hundreds. 

The final word on shopping for the best elliptical

The best elliptical for at-home use will be easy to set up (hopefully!), a breeze to use, and will track your workout metrics so you can keep an eye on your improvement or focus on certain target areas. Plus, with a wide range of resistance and speed levels, you can decide how intense you want your workout to be that day. If you want a piece of exercise equipment that strengthens your heart, lungs, and muscles, builds stamina and endurance, and burns fat whilst putting less pressure on your joints, then an elliptical machine will provide a good at-home cardio workout for you.

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