Walk into most gyms and you’ll see row upon row of elliptical machines dominating the cardio area.
The elliptical machine has replaced the treadmill as one of the most effective, time-efficient ways to burn off calories, while also sculpting the butt and legs. The huge growth of the home fitness market has made the elliptical machine available to the home fitness enthusiast. The quality of such ellipticals, however, runs the gamut from atrocious to awesome. In this article, we go deep inside the home elliptical trainer market to bring you the best elliptical machines for home use.
Why trust us? We have spent more than 40 hours researching and reviewing the top elliptical machines on the market. We’ve considered the durability, stride distance, monitor technology, resistance system, and ergonomic design, and now we present our line-up of the top elliptical trainers so you can have the ultimate cardio workout experience in your home.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Best Elliptical Machines Comparison Table
- 2 1. Nautilus E618
- 3 2. Nautilus E614
- 4 3. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
- 5 4. Schwinn 470
- 6 5. NordicTrack E 7.5 Z Elliptical
- 7 6. Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine
- 8 7. Exerpeutic 1000XL Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical
- 9 Buyer’s Guide
- 9.1 Features To Consider When Choosing Your Elliptical Machine
- 9.1.1 Tension Resistance Levels and Types of Resistance + Adjustment to Incline and Resistance
- 9.1.2 Stability
- 9.1.3 Elliptical Computers & Pre-Programmed Workouts
- 9.1.4 Natural And Smooth Movement Of The Machine
- 9.1.5 Heart Rate Monitor
- 9.1.6 Stride Length/Adjustable Foot Pedals/Handles
- 9.1.7 Flywheel
- 9.1.8 Elliptical Maintenance
- 9.1.9 Forward And Reverse
- 9.1.10 Price
- 9.1.11 Benefits Of Elliptical Machines
- 9.2 What Exactly Is An Elliptical Machine And How Does It Work?
- 9.1 Features To Consider When Choosing Your Elliptical Machine
- 10 Frequently Asked Questions
- 11 Conclusion
Best Elliptical Machines Comparison Table
1. Nautilus E618
Editor’s choice: The Nautilus brand is a fitness institution, so it comes as no surprise that they make excellent ellipticals. The E618 is a great machine that features a huge stride distance, 30-pound flywheel and nearly 30 workout programs.
22-Inch Precision Stride
The Nautilus E618 features a 22-inch stride distance. That is the ideal stride distance for a home-use elliptical. It will cater to even the tallest of users. The precision design of the stride motion on this top-of-the-line machine simulates your natural, ergonomic motion better than most of its competitors.
This elliptical trainer features a 30-pound flywheel. That delivers a whole lot of energy and functionality. It ensures that you get a very smooth and natural motion with every elliptical revolution.
The footplates on the E618 elliptical trainer are individually adjustable from 0 to 10 degrees. This allows you to get the ideal ankle positioning throughout your workout. It also optimizes your heel support.
29 Workout Programs
The 29 workout programs on the E618 provide you with a huge amount of training variety to work all your muscle groups. Each program has been designed by a certified personal trainer to produce specific training outcomes. In addition to the fat loss, cardio, lower body focused and pulse rate programs, there are also a number of user profiles. This allows different family members to record and maintain their training data.
Nautilus Connect App
The E618 is Bluetooth enabled, allowing you to make use of the Nautilus Connect workout apps. This provides you with an entire library of training options and analysis options to enhance your workout experience. You can also connect with a range of other related workout apps.
2. Nautilus E614
Editor’s choice: The E614 is a mid-priced pared-down version of our top-rated Nautilus E618. Though not quite as powerful or feature packed, it still delivers the renowned Nautilus quality at an affordable price range.
22 Workout Programs
The Nautilus E614 provides you with 22 workout programs, built into the LCD display. These include 9 profile programs, 8 heart rate, 2 fitness tests, and one quick start trainer. This allows for a huge range of training variety and eliminates the guesswork on what type of training is best for fat loss, cardio efficiency and body shaping. The huge range of programming also makes the E614 great to meet the fitness goals of all family members, from newbies to dedicated athletes.
20 Resistance Levels
The E614 machine features 20 levels of eddy current resistance. This allows for continual progressive resistance as you get fitter. It also enhances the usability of this elliptical for people of different fitness levels. The eddy current resistance ensures that you get a smooth transition between resistance levels.
Dual Track LCD Display
The monitor of the E614 impresses with a pair of high-resolution LCD monitors. This provides you with extensive coverage of all of your workout diagnostics. Thirteen training data points are presented on the screens, along with a screen to follow virtual training courses.
The E614 features a 20-inch stride distance. This is pretty good for an elliptical machine within its mid-price range. For an extra couple of hundred dollars, you can get a 22-inch stride distance which will cater for people over 6’2”. However, a 20-inch stride will allow most users to achieve a natural, full stride motion.
The E614 has a high-speed inertia drive system that features a perimeter weighted flywheel. This ensures that you get a smooth, natural elliptical motion, without the stuttering that is common for less functional models.
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
The Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic elliptical machine provides you with 24 workout programs, including manual, pre-program, watt, body fat, pulse rate, and one quick start program. That provides you with a whole lot of user functionality. It takes the guesswork out of how to train for specific training outcomes.
The monitor on the Sunny Magnetic trainer is large, clear and bright. It is easy to read while exercising, though it is not backlit. The LCD display console is fitted with a tablet holder so that you can enjoy your favorite online entertainment as you train.
You get 16 levels of computerized magnetic resistance with the Sunny Magnetic elliptical trainer. This is a plug-in machine, so you will have to keep it close to a power source. The magnetic tension system provides a pretty smooth, natural resistance and a stagger-free transition between levels.
This elliptical machine features non-slip footpads. This ensures that you get a secure foot-hold to eliminate sweat slippage. The large ergonomic foot pedals will accommodate users of all sizes.
4. Schwinn 470
The Schwinn 470 elliptical machine comes with an impressive 29 built-in training programs. These include 12 profile, 9 pulse rate control, 4 custom, 2 fitness test, and one quick start. That provides you with access to a huge number of training options. In fact, it is probably more than you will ever need.
25 Resistance Levels
The Schwinn 470 also excels when it comes to the number of resistance levels that it provides. The 25 levels provide a smooth way to transition your intensity level to meet your needs. This is great for all members of the family and allows for almost infinite training variation.
The flywheel on the Schwinn 470 is positioned at the front of the machine. This allows for a closer foot placement, which is more ergonomic and hip friendly. This machine also has a 20-inch stride distance, which will allow most users to get a free, unrestricted range of motion. The Run Social app provides you with 19 virtual training locations and 27 routes from around the world.
5. NordicTrack E 7.5 Z Elliptical
The NordicTrack E7.5 provides you with an adjustable stride distance from 17 inches to 19 inches. This allows for adjustment between users so that each person can achieve the most natural stride distance for them.
The NordicTrack E7.5 elliptical trainer features a manually adjustable ramp. This allows you to set the level between 0 and 20 degrees, to increase the intensity of your workout. This means you can specifically target the muscles of your glutes, thighs, hamstrings and calf muscles.
The NordicTrack ER7.5 is enabled for iFit. This allows you access to a huge range of training options from all over the world. However, iFit does require a subscription, which is not included when you purchase this elliptical.
6. Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine
This budget model Schwinn offering provides you with 7 workout programs. Though not nearly as many as you find on the more expensive models, this machine does provide you with all of the basics needed for a complete workout experience in a budget price range. Included are Quick-Start, Pulse Rate and Fat Burn programs, which have been created by certified fitness experts.
17.5” Stride Length
The stride-length of the Schwinn Compact Elliptical is 17.5 inches. In terms of a budget-priced elliptical, that is pretty good. However, it will not allow people who are over 5’10” to get a full range of elliptical motion. However, it will meet the needs of people who are shorter than that.
8 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
This elliptical machine has 8 levels of magnetic resistance to provide for progressive training intensity. It also allows for people of different abilities to use the machine. The magnetic resistance on this trainer runs smoothly and naturally.
The Schwinn Compact Elliptical trainer provides you with a high spec console. It features a large LCD screen that tracks your RPM, distance, calories, and heart rate.
7. Exerpeutic 1000XL Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical
The Exerpeutic 100XL features pulse sensors that are built into the handlebars. This provides a readout of your training pulse rate. As a result, you are able to keep within your training zone. It is not common to find a budget manual elliptical like this with built-in heart rate monitoring.
300-Pound Weight Capacity
The Exerpeutic 100XL has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. That indicates that the frame is sturdy and robust, giving you confidence that it will last for many years.
This is a compact, foldable manual elliptical that can be easily stored away when not being used.
Features To Consider When Choosing Your Elliptical Machine
These are the features to look out for when choosing your elliptical machine:
Tension Resistance Levels and Types of Resistance + Adjustment to Incline and Resistance
The best ellipticals provide at least 8 levels of resistance. This will allow you to progressively increase your training intensity and allow users of different abilities to use the machine. There are three types of resistance used in ellipticals:
Electromagnetic resistance will provide the smoothest type of resistance. It will provide the best braking, along with the smoothest and most natural elliptical motion.
You need an elliptical that is sturdy enough to stay rigid when you are training at full intensity. Check the max user weight to assess stability. The best ellipticals support 300+ pounds.
Elliptical Computers & Pre-Programmed Workouts
The computer onboard your elliptical controls the number and quality of the inbuilt workout programs. You want a computer system that is powerful enough to provide at least 8 inbuilt programs. It should also provide readouts of your key training diagnostics and, ideally, provide Bluetooth integration with training apps.
Natural And Smooth Movement Of The Machine
The smooth and natural movement of an elliptical will ensure that your workout is productive and hassle-free. It depends on the size of the flywheel, the stride distance and the method of propulsion. The best combination is a 30-pound flywheel, a 20-22-inch flywheel, and an electro-magnetic propulsion system. Check elliptical reviews to see how smoothly the elliptical works for others.
Heart Rate Monitor
Most ellipticals will feature an onboard heart rate monitor. Most of them are built into the handlebars with sensors that read your pulse through your palms. These are not as accurate as monitors that use a telemetry chest strap to read your pulse. The best elliptical trainers will be enabled for chest-based pulse monitoring.
Stride Length/Adjustable Foot Pedals/Handles
The stride length of a home elliptical will determine whether or not you are able to get a full range of motion when exercising. The best stride distance is between 20 and 22 inches. Realistically, you will only get a 22-inch stride on the more expensive models. Ellipticals that have stride distance under 17 inches will not provide a decent stride motion for many people.
Ellipticals with adjustable foot pedals allow the user to slightly adjust their foot positioning as they are performing the exercise. This allows for the best heel and ankle flexion and positioning.
Expert Tip: Look for a machine with adjustable stride length. This will allow for individual customization.
The best elliptical machines provide you with two sets of handlebars. One set should be fixed and extend from the base of the unit. These allow you to focus on lower body training. Full range of motion movable handlebars provide a full-body workout.
The bigger the flywheel, the smoother and more natural the elliptical motion will be. Flywheels that weigh less than 15 pounds will probably produce a stuttering jagged motion. The best poundage to achieve a smooth motion is 30 pounds+.
Ellipticals are relatively maintenance-free. Machines that offer self-lubricating parts will only require regular cleaning and the changing of batteries.
Forward And Reverse
Ellipticals that offer both forward and reverse motion offer the best potential to work your lower body muscles. The reverse action more directly targets your hamstrings and calf muscles. You will probably have to pay a bit extra for this feature, but it will be well worth it.
Expert Tip: To get complete lower body development, spend half of your workout pedaling in reverse!
When it comes to price, ellipticals are offered in budget, medium and high price categories. A basic, beginner model will cost less than $500. Medium price units will go up to $1000. For premium features, such as forward/reverse pedals, chest pulse monitoring, and auto-incline, expect the price to be between $1000 and $2000.
Benefits Of Elliptical Machines
There are some unique benefits of elliptical machines over exercise bikes and treadmills. They allow you to burn a lot of calories, and they can be used for both steady-state and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Elliptical trainers will burn between 240 and 400 calories in 30 minutes.
An elliptical machine is one of the most joint-friendly forms of cardio workout. Your knees, hips and ankles don’t have to endure the jarring impact that you experience on a treadmill. That’s because your feet never leave the foot pedals when you exercise on an elliptical. A 2014 study showed that training on an elliptical machine significantly reduces weight-bearing, compared with running on a treadmill. If you don’t have room for an elliptical machine, consider the smaller alternative, the mini stepper. Check out our reviews of the best mini steppers next! Other forms of low impact cardio include indoor cycling, which you can do with your road bike using a set of bike rollers; click here to learn more.
What Exactly Is An Elliptical Machine And How Does It Work?
An elliptical machine (also known as a cross trainer) is a stationary cardiovascular training device. It provides an elliptical foot motion that allows a full stride motion without having to lift your feet from the pedals. This provides an impact-free workout. The machine is primarily driven by the user’s legs. At the same time, the user undertakes a push-pull motion to engage the upper body as well. The oscillating handle motion is coordinated with the constrained pedal motion.
Frequently Asked Questions
The best device to buy depends on your budget. If you want to keep your budget under $500, we recommend the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer. Our favorite mid-priced elliptical is the Nautilus E614. The best premier elliptical model on the market is the Nautilus E618.
Yes, ellipticals are good for losing belly fat. They burn more calories than most other forms of cardio so that you get a more efficient fat burning workout. When combined with a calorie-reduced diet and resistance training, an elliptical will help get you to your fat-loss goals.
Yes, the elliptical does tone buttocks. By gripping the stationary handles and pushing through your glutes, you will target this area. A reverse pedal motion will further enhance this effect.
No, the elliptical is not bad for your knees. It offers one of the best knee-friendly alternatives to the jarring effects of using a treadmill or cycle.
The elliptical may be better than walking for people with ankle, knee or joint difficulties. That’s because you do not lift your feet from the pedals, meaning that there is absolutely no impact.
An elliptical is one of the smartest home cardio choices you can make. It provides an enhanced calorie burn that targets both the upper and lower body, while being impact-free. Our elliptical reviews have revealed that the best budget elliptical on the market right now is the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer. Nautilus offers the best medium and high-priced ellipticals, with the Nautilus E614 and E618.