The 10 Best Ellipticals

Updated April 30, 2018 by Quincy Miller

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Jogging is one of the best exercises you can do, but it can be extremely hard on your joints. These ellipticals allow you to get all the benefits of running — such as improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and more energy — without putting undue strain on your body. These models will help you get an awesome workout from the comfort of your own home, so no one ever has to see you sweat. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best elliptical on Amazon.

10. Nautilus E614

The Nautilus E614 is good for maintaining current fitness levels, but its frame is too slight to handle heavier weights, so if you're just starting out you might want something more sturdy. Still, with 22 programs and 20 resistance settings, it's a versatile option.
  • can store two user profiles
  • usb port for exporting data
  • not the most durable model
Brand Nautilus
Model pending
Weight 186 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

9. Horizon Fitness

This offering from Horizon Fitness doesn't track every single detail about your workout, but it has more than enough bells and whistles for the casual user. The stride is extremely smooth, so you won't have to deal with any herky-jerkiness while putting the miles in.
  • convenient headphone jack
  • good for shorter users
  • cupholder is too low
Brand Horizon Fitness
Model HEP0501-01
Weight 170.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. ProForm Smart Strider 735

The adjustable foot pads on the ProForm Smart Strider 735 are great for ensuring it accommodates your preferred walking style, so you won't feel like you're tip-toeing your way to a six-pack. The pedals are also quite large, which users with big feet will appreciate.
  • 300-lbs weight capacity
  • functions well on carpet
  • can be extremely loud
Brand ProForm
Model pending
Weight 190 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Stamina In-Motion

The Stamina In-Motion is small enough to fit in your car, so you can take it to the office and have virtually no excuse not to exercise. It is designed to be used while sitting or standing, and though compact, it gives the same intense workout as a full-size model.
  • safe nonslip pedals
  • simple tension control knob
  • too tall for many desks
Brand Stamina
Model pending
Weight 30 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Efitment Magnetic

Apartment dwellers should consider the Efitment Magnetic, as the short 11-inch stride doesn't require you to have a ton of space in which to work out. The motion does take some getting used to, though, so don't expect it to feel like the model you use at the gym.
  • good budget option
  • assembly is a breeze
  • have to retighten screws often
Model pending
Weight 63 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

5. Universal E40

At just 90lbs, the Universal E40 is one of the lightest full-sized models available, while also being easy on the wallet. Despite this, however, it still offers a wide variety of features, including a grip heart rate monitor, eight resistance levels, and multiple programs.
  • good for low ceilings
  • can work on 4 d batteries
  • can't adjust stride length
Brand Universal
Model 100478
Weight 112 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Schwinn 470

After a few hours on the Schwinn 470, you'll feel like the machine knows more about you than you know about yourself. It has two LCD screens that display up to 13 streams of data, and up to four people can share the 29 different fitness programs it offers.
  • usb port can charge phones
  • high-quality speakers
  • good for users of all heights
Brand Schwinn
Model 100517
Weight 300 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Cubii Under Desk

If you have the Cubii Under Desk, you won't need to let work stop you from working out. It's Bluetooth-enabled, so it can sync to a FitBit or other health tracking app, and it's extremely quiet, so the only noise your colleagues will hear is your own huffing and puffing.
  • 8 resistance levels
  • sturdy and durable construction
  • requires little under-desk height
Brand Cubii
Model F3A1
Weight 33.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Sole Fitness E35

The Sole Fitness E35 is a good choice for athletes, with adjustable pedals, a large range of incline options, and an adjustable console that you can move to match your eyeline. For the cardio conscious, it includes a chest strap and pulse grips to monitor your heart rate.
  • lifetime warranty on the frame
  • built-in water bottle holder
  • doesn't squeak or hum
Brand SOLE
Model E35-2013
Weight 300 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

1. Precor EFX 576i

The Precor EFX 576i is the type of machine you'll see in a high-end commercial gym, with one of the smoothest motions you'll find anywhere. You can adjust both your stride length and incline, allowing you to customize the difficulty to your liking.
  • display is intuitive and vast
  • wheels allow for easy movement
  • can operate in reverse
Brand Precor
Model PHFCE1480210EN
Weight 429 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

What Do I Need to Consider Before Purchasing an Elliptical?

The more options an elliptical machine offers, the more likely you will be to use it on a regular basis. In that spirit, top-of-the-line ellipticals should feature several pre-programmed workouts, along with the ability to save - and repeat - past workouts at the touch of a button.

Any high-grade elliptical should also feature a comprehensive display with a real-time readout, including speed, incline/resistance, calories burned, and time elapsed. Certain ellipticals may allow you to chart progress by syncing the machine up to a mobile app, while others may offer a docking station for an iPod, or a clamped stand for mounting any digital tablet or device.

Most ellipticals weigh more than 200 lbs, which is essential given the amount of movement that an elliptical requires. Based on industry standards, if an elliptical weighs less than 200 lbs, it makes sense to question - and perhaps even research - whether that machine is lacking some type of component. Along those lines, it's worth keeping an eye out for phrases such as "frictionless movement" in any elliptical's description. Friction between an elliptical's belts, gears, and other parts can, and probably will, result in wear and tear, if not an irritating noise.

As a precaution, be sure to compare an elliptical's dimensions against whatever space you have mapped out for it in your home. This is especially important if you happen to be ordering an elliptical online, as a big-ticket item like this could be a headache to return.

Several Basic Workouts That You Can Do On an Elliptical

Ellipticals are like treadmills in that once you have a rudimentary understanding of the machine, you're essentially prepared to do a full workout. While the ease of an elliptical may seem reassuring, chances are you'll want to vary your routines to break up the monotony. The easiest way to do this is by introducing some type of interval training.

Intervals are based on increasing the speed and/or resistance on an elliptical for an abbreviated period of time, before returning to a baseline speed and resistance for an equivalent period of time. A 20-minute interval workout, for example, could be comprised of 10 hard minutes (broken down into one-minute segments), which are sandwiched in between 10 easy minutes (also broken down into one-minute segments). Interval training is exhausting, and it is for this reason that you should only focus on doing intervals for a few days out of every week.

You can focus on toning your thighs, glutes, and obliques by completing a full workout on the elliptical with the resistance raised (choosing a gradient based on your fitness level). You can work the biceps and flexor muscles by using your arms, as opposed to your legs, to thrust the elliptical forward. You can work your stomach by letting go of an elliptical's handlebars altogether. Doing so forces your abs to work harder, coordinating the movements between your upper- and your lower-core.

A Brief History of The Elliptical

In 1988, researchers at Purdue University published a study showing how elliptical movement could be used as the foundation for developing a seatless bike. These researchers not only demonstrated how such a bike could be built, but how its upright design (centered around a flywheel) could provide tremendous benefits for the lower-body.

This concept was further explored by executives at a little-known fitness company called Precor, and - after seven years of development - Precor introduced the world's first elliptical trainer during 1995. Marketed as a high-end piece of gym equipment, the elliptical combined various aspects of a treadmill, a stair climber, and a ski machine (among other things). More importantly, the elliptical was easy to use. Aerobic enthusiasts immediately gravitated toward this machine because it provided them with a complete cardio workout, while adding in certain benefits of resistance muscle training, as well.

One of the assets of an elliptical was that the low-impact movement enabled a person to keep his or her heels resting on the pedals at all times. For years, people had been experiencing numbness as a result of having their heels dangle behind the pedals of a stationary bike. Either that or having their posteriors remain static on the bicycle's seat. Ellipticals solved both problems by requiring users to remain upright, while operating pedals that out-measured the length of their feet.

Despite only being on the market since the nineties, elliptical trainers have already become a fixture in every major gym, fitness center, and YMCA across the country. More importantly, ellipticals are the second-highest-grossing piece of home gym equipment on the planet (behind the treadmill). To put that in perspective, consider that home fitness equipment accounts for more than $4 billion worth of annual sales in the United States alone.

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Last updated on April 30, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.

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