An elliptical machine allows you to log a solid cardio workout without overly taxing your joints. And while they’re a staple at most neighborhood fitness centers, it’s no surprise if you want to get your stride on in the comfort of your own home. Choosing one of the best ellipticals for your place is a sizable investment, so there are some important features to consider before you open your wallet.
If you’re a regular elliptical user, you already know that these workout machines can—like a treadmill—get your heart rate up and improve your endurance while working both your arms and legs. (If not, consider yourself informed.) But there’s a wide range of options on the market and choosing the right one for you depends on several factors (more on that at the bottom of this story).
Like today’s other hot trend in workout tech—a fitness mirror—some ellipticals deliver curated and live workouts. Others have fewer bells and whistles (and a lower price point) while still allowing you to get in solid exercise. There’s even a range of footprints: Some ellipticals are larger machines that consume an entire corner of your home gym, while others fold up easily to allow you to pull them out when you want them and stash them out of sight when you don’t. Naturally, there are plenty of machines in between, too.
To choose the best ellipticals, we analyzed the bestselling machines on the market and narrowed things down by factors like workout options, easy of use and value. With that in mind, these are the best elliptical machines you can buy for your home use.
Best Elliptical Overall
A Crowd-Pleasing Option That Has All The Features You Need
Best Full Body Workout Elliptical
A Sweat-Inducing Machine With An Intense Calorie Burn
Best Compact Elliptical
A Space-Saving Elliptical That Rolls Away When You Need It To
Best Value Elliptical
A Well-Built Machine That Won’t Break The Bank
Best Elliptical For Beginners
An Easy-To-Assemble Machine With Just Enough Features
Best Budget Elliptical
A Budget-Friendly Option That’s Built To Last
Best Elliptical For Sensitive Joints
A Smooth Machine Designed By Physical Therapists
Best Commercial-Grade Elliptical
A Splurge Option That Rivals The Machines At Your Favorite Gym
Best Under-Desk Elliptical
An Elliptical That Lets You Work Out At Your Desk Or Couch
Best Cordless Elliptical
An Option That Doesn’t Require an Outlet
What To Consider When Buying An Elliptical Machine For Your Home
All ellipticals provide a low-impact cardio workout, but the right one for you depends on your size, fitness level and home gym space. You’ll want to consider additional features, too. Some ellipticals come with large, Wi-Fi connected touchscreens that let you follow along with a personal trainer, while others skip those bells and whistles. Here’s how to choose the best elliptical for you.
First off, consider your fitness and experience level, as well as your usage intentions, before purchasing an elliptical machine. For instance, someone looking to be challenged long-term should consider ellipticals with 20-plus resistance levels, and daily users will want to forego the budget picks and opt for one that’s sturdy and long-lasting. If you’re a beginner looking to try one out without making a huge financial commitment, there are several user-friendly machines under $1,000 that offer just enough features to get you started. For occasional or casual users, a lower-cost elliptical—or an under-desk unit that lets you move while you work—will get the blood flowing.
“Home gym” means something different to everyone, and if you’ve got a dedicated space for exercise equipment, a high-tech, heavy-duty machine could be the way to go. But if you’re lacking square footage, check out compact or foldable ellipticals that can collapse and roll out of sight when they’re not in use.
The stride length of an elliptical machine impacts your comfort level while using it. Specifically, stride length is relative to height: Shorter users are generally more comfortable with a shorter stride length, which can make tall users feel restricted. According to Sunny Health & Fitness, as a general rule, users around five foot to five-foot-three should aim for a 14- to 16-inch stride length, while those closer to six feet should seek machines with a 20-inch stride length. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. If you want some flexibility, make sure you get an elliptical with an adjustable stride length feature.
Ellipticals are excellent cardio machines for people of all fitness levels. Heavier users looking to begin or continue their workout journey should be aware of weight maximums so they can safely work out and preserve the longevity of their machine.
Just like any modern exercise machine, feature options run the gamut. If an immersive experience will drive your motivation, look for an elliptical machine with a big, built-in screen that’ll let you stream workouts or your favorite shows while you work up a sweat. (Note that some built-in screens are only compatible with partnering subscription-based services while others support a whole range of apps, including Hulu and Netflix.)
Maybe you’d rather save some cash and get a model with a deck and charging port where you can secure your own iPad for entertainment while you exercise. Other features worth considering include models that are foldable and those designed for whisper-quiet operation, perfect for early-morning or late-night workouts.
Elliptical Machines FAQ
An elliptical machine is a big purchase, and it’s understandable to have questions about how to choose the right one for you. These are some of the most common ones people face.
Should I get an elliptical or a treadmill?
It’s important to consider your personal needs—and limitations—when making this decision. If high-impact exercise is tough on your joints, an elliptical may be more your speed. Ditto if you want to mix up your indoor workouts from what you’d typically do outdoors. However, if you like to pound the pavement and want the option to flip between indoor runs and walks, a treadmill could be a good option.
Can an elliptical help me lose weight?
Typically, you get out of fitness equipment what you put into it. An elliptical can help you lose weight if you use it regularly and choose workouts that get your heart rate up, like intervals or using the machine for longer periods of time.
Is an elliptical a low impact workout?
Ellipticals have a solid reputation for providing a great low impact workout. Running or other high-impact workouts like HIIT can be tough on your lower joints and hips. However, your feet stay on the pedals when you use an elliptical, so there’s no pounding to bother your knees, ankles, and hips.