If you’ve been looking into getting an elliptical trainer you most likely have a few questions and not sure where to start. We have provided an elliptical machines buying guide to help point you in the right direction for what you need. These fitness machines can work the upper and lower body at the same time, while the low impact nature of the workout is easier on the joints. If you are serious about attaining your fitness goals then an elliptical trainer could be just the thing you need to add to your home gym.
What to look for
Things you want to look for when buying an elliptical trainer are stability, ease of use, and easily support your natural movements. Because elliptical trainers are designed to work a variety of muscles in the leg, it is crucial that you find a model that matches your strides, and that is comfortable for your needs. This is much better rather than depending on what you can find at the gym or from using someone else’s machine.
There are many different brands of machines that range dramatically in price. Bear in mind also that some are bigger than other models because they are made to endure constant usage in a fitness center which are generally more expensive. You may need to go for a more compact model for your home or garage. We’ve taken the time to research these different brands to narrow down the best choices for your needs. Below we’ve categorized the best rated machines into four categories:
The Best of the Best in Elliptical Machines
When it comes down to price, your more expensive brands will feature the best stability, performance, and better warranties with additional features such as heart rate monitors, adjustable stride length, and pre-set programs. If money is not an object for you and you’re looking for the top of the line product then a Life Fitness Machine is likely for you.
Life Fitness Club Series Elliptical Cross-Trainer
Life Fitness elliptical trainers are durable and constructed for heavy use. This home-version elliptical provides a smooth feel while pedaling, an innovative console and pedals and handlebars that are ergonomically accurate.
Features: This machine comes with multiple settings for different workouts that allow you to choose your own speed and resistance level from hills to EZ incline, large console with 2 accessory holders, contact heart rate sensors and wireless chest strap monitor and a built-in reading rack.
Other Specifications: A 350lb weight capacity and oversized foot pedals to accommodate various shapes and sizes, LED message center, race-mode, 18 workout programs, 7 customizable programs, and alternator resistance system.
What others have said:
“Solid as a rock. This commercial model flows like running water. Glides smoothly and quietly with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a high end unit.” See Review
The Midrange Elliptical Trainer
If you’re wanting a machine that offers the same features as the high-end models but with a more reasonable price then you may want to consider Sole Fitness.
Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
This elliptical machine has many features that allow you to customize and track your workout for multiple options.
Features: A quiet drive system with forward and backward motions, adjustable ramp angle for power incline, adjustable foot pedals and console, built-in pulse sensors in stationary handle bars and heart-rate chest strap, built-in fan and console with speakers for an MP3 player or iPod.
Other Specifications: Maximum 375lb weight limit, adjustable 20-22” stride length, six basic programs and 2 customizable programs, four rear-wheels to minimize foot pedals from moving side-to-side.
What others have said:
“It feels pretty solid, smooth, and stable. Long stride length = Awesome. It brings a great workout at multiple levels.” See Review
The Entry-Level Elliptical Trainer
If you’re looking for a durable elliptical machine that is within your budget but without compromising quality or performance you may find this Horizon Fitness Trainer more your speed. It’s great for beginners or even experienced fitness enthusiasts who can’t make it to the gym everyday and just looking to use one once or twice a week.
Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer
This elliptical trainer delivers a smooth performance for minimal impact to help maximize your workout. It has a SIXstar Certification to provide the most natural feel that offers the best posture and fluid movement for comfort and delivering better results.
Features: It has Sonic Surround speakers which are compatible for an MP3 player, a built-in fitness fan to keep you cool, ideal handle bar spacing that is suitable for large or small frame types, rubberized contact grips on foot pedals and handlebars, and a magnetic break resistance.
Other specifications: Weight capacity of 275lbs, 18” stride length, 10 programming options, low step-on height of foot pedals for ease of use getting on and off, quiet performance when starting and stopping, and electronic resistance ranging from 0-10.
What others have said:
“It’s easy to put together. Space efficient. No batteries, this uses a real electrical plug.” See Review
Of all the elliptical trainers we looked at this was the one that made our best pick. We chose this trainer for its quality features and multiple workout programs that are suitable for different users. It delivers an incredible smooth performance, has a really nice selection of programs to choose from to mix up your work out, and best all-around for the price.
Schwinn 431 Elliptical Trainer
If space is a concern, you may find yourself paired nicely with this compact elliptical that easily accommodates different body types. You get all the features of higher-end models without the price or the bulkiness.
Features: Some features include forward/backward pedaling motion option, a variety of workout programs available, heart rate sensor, MP3 capabilities, extra large cup holder, built-in towel hook and a fan, cushioned foot plates for added comfort, programmable computer for inputting data to monitor and keep track of your work out.
Other specifications: 300lb weight capacity, includes AC power adapter, computer-controlled drive system, 16 levels of resistance, backlit LCD display.
What others have said:
“The machine is so smooth and quiet. It feels very sturdy even at a quick rate. The programs are fun and easy to use.” See Review
10 Frequently Asked Questions About Elliptical
So now you have an elliptical trainer in mind, but you’re still a little unsure. We have answered commonly asked questions when it comes to elliptical machines to help you make an informed choice. Let’s take a look at some of the many concerns people often have.
1. Why choose an elliptical over a treadmill?
Many people contemplate over choosing a treadmill versus elliptical trainer machine. These are the most extensively purchased types of exercise equipment on the market so to clarify the differences we’ve listed the key benefits each one offers.
Easy to utilize-You simply get on and go, unlike an elliptical which can take a little getting used to. Moreover, it facilitates the easiest exercise to do – walking.
Space Efficient – If you’re pressed for space or lack a workout area treadmills are designed that they can be folded up for easy storage and freeing up space. Elliptical trainers do not.
Easy on the joints – unlike treadmills where regular pounding on your joints while running can strain your knees, ankles, hips and back, elliptical trainers present an extremely small impact workout. The rotation follows the movement of your foot on an elliptical to reduce strain.
Works out multiple parts of the body -You can train both arms and legs at simultaneously and obtain an enhanced overall body exercises as most ellipticals come with stationary and moving arm bars. You can also move two ways with bi-directional units to cross train other muscle groups, whereas a treadmill is just forward motion. Many elliptical trainers feature an incline or ramp to which you can alter the slope of the elliptical motion.
2. How can I increase the intensity of my workout?
As with any cardio workout, the ideal way to maximize the intensity of your workout is through speed and resistance. By increasing the speed and raising the resistance you push your body to work harder. This in turn increases your heart rate as it tries to maintain the pace of your body. When you move at this pace without slowing down you are adding more strain onto the muscle groups which keeps the elliptical in motion thus recreating an environment similar to running against the wind or uphill if you were outdoors.
3. What is the purpose of the moving and stationary arm handles?
Most elliptical trainers feature two sets of arm handles. The stationary handles help provide more stability during your workout while the moving arm handles provide an upper body workout for your arms. This helps to optimize your cardio workout while burning more calories.
4. In what other areas are elliptical machines beneficial over alternative workouts?
In addition to the benefits mentioned above as opposed to a treadmill, the elliptical offers essential physical benefits including:
- Improved balance and coordination
- Better toning for upper body
- Better muscle control
- Stimulates main muscle groups
- Less chance of injury with controlled parts of machine
5. How much should I spend on an elliptical machine?
This will depend on your intended use and your budget. If you visit a gym regularly and just want to have an elliptical trainer in your home for occasional use than you probably won’t want to spend too much on it as with a higher priced machine. Your more expensive brands are designed to withstand heavy use, therefore it would be unnecessary to spend the extra dollars if you’re not expecting to get excessive use out of it. However, if you are have intentions of using it to reach your fitness goals and maintaining them as well as other members in your home you may want to invest in a more expensive model. Also pay attention to weight capacity if you are overweight as many of your less expensive models are not designed to withstand users over 300 pounds.
6. What is the recommended length of time to use the elliptical?
On average, 30 minutes per day is the recommended time that the elliptical should be used for by a single person. If you wish to workout for a prolonged length of time or there are other members in your household who will be using the machine as well on a regular basis, consider purchasing a higher quality brand. Also know your limits keeping your physical endurance in mind when working out to avoid injury.
7. What does the drive system on an elliptical machine indicate?
You may have noticed I mentioned drive system in some of the above descriptions. The drive system is the most important element of the elliptical machine. It indicates the strength of the machine. In order to determine whether the drive system is ideal or may result in poor performance over time due to cheaper components look for these cues:
- Smoothness – when properly assembled you shouldn’t hear noise such as clunks, rubs, squeaks or other sounds
- Price – the price may indicate a quality drive system. While some less expensive models have a decent enough drive system to get by off of because they’re made with good components, you can count on higher priced models to be made of top quality materials.
8. Should I buy an extended warranty?
The simple answer is NO. Many companies offer extended warranties to consumers primarily for the sole purpose of making money off of you. If you really want to ensure the life of your machine, obtain an extended warranty through Universal Technical Services as they are the most reliable and trusted service for warranties. The standard in warranties for elliptical trainers are as follows:
Frame – lifetime
Parts – 3 years
Labor – 1 year
9. What should I do in terms of maintenance for my elliptical machine?
General maintenance of your machine is to be sure to keep it clean. You can do this by wiping it down after each use and thoroughly cleaning it from time to time. You can help keep your machine clean as well as protect your floors by using an elliptical mat. You may also want to apply a recommended lubricant periodically to keep your machine in top shape.
10. How can I get the best workout with my elliptical trainer?
If you’re going to make the purchase of an exercise equipment get your money’s worth. In order to see results you should use your machine to its fullest potential. Follow these steps for a better workout to achieve better cardio and lung function as well as weight loss:
- Input your data. In order to get an accurate feedback in calories burned you should put in your information.
- Utilize the moving arms at least twice a week. By using the stationary arm handles every time you are not getting the full upper body workout the machine is designed for.
- Increase your resistance. Though it may be much easier to spin at a resistance of zero and you feel as though you’re making some type of effort, you won’t see optimal results without setting your resistance. Challenge yourself to reach your potential.
- Watch your posture. You should stand up straight to properly work out your core and upper body while using the elliptical.
- Change directions. Going forward every time you work out will become boring and only works out your quads. By mixing it up and going backwards you are also working out your glutes and hamstrings for an optimal workout.
We hope these tips will help you to make an informed decision when you make the purchase of your new elliptical machine and successfully answered any questions you may have!