The 10 Best Ellipticals

Updated December 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Ellipticals
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
Get a high quality upper and lower body workout as good as at any gym in the comfort of your own home with one of these ellipticals. Designed to help you improve your fitness, strength and stamina, while minimizing impact on your joints, these are the ideal machines for anyone looking to safely get into better shape. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best elliptical on Amazon.

10. Xterra FS 3.0

The Xterra FS 3.0 has long handlebars for comfort and an audio jack for your music, all in a sleek design. You also have the option of creating multiple profiles in the workout preferences, in case several people want to use it.
  • easy to adjust levelers
  • wheels for convenient transport
  • tends to squeak while exercising
Model XTERRA FS3.0 Elliptical
Weight 111 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Body Solid Best Fitness E1

The Body Solid Best Fitness E1 was designed to follow your natural body movements, ensuring a comfortable but genuine workout. The machine's low center of gravity lets you push your body to its limits, without putting too much strain on your muscles.
  • close-set pedals reduce hip fatigue
  • bottle holder is in an awkward spot
  • doesn't offer a wide range of motion
Brand Best Fitness
Model BFE1
Weight 215 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Schwinn 430

The Schwinn 430 boasts a sporty design, with bright red markings around important mechanisms, and broad pedals for secure footing. Designed to keep you motivated, it has 22 different programs, goal tracking, and 20 levels of resistance.
  • integrated usb charger
  • three-speed fan keeps you cool
  • media stand for books or tablets
Brand Schwinn
Model 100516
Weight 182 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 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.
  • electronic stride tracking
  • good for those with limited space
  • simple tension control knob
Brand Stamina
Model pending
Weight 30 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Universal E40

At just 90lbs, the Universal E40 is one of the lightest full-sized models available. It offers eight resistance settings, seven workout programs, and has a grip-style heart rate monitor so you can stay abreast of your fitness level.
  • puts almost no stress on the joints
  • can work on 4 d batteries
  • power adapter is sold separately
Brand Universal
Model 100478
Weight 112 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. ProForm Smart Strider 735

The ProForm Smart Strider 735 is surprisingly quiet for this type of workout machinery, so if you expect that you will be using it when another family member is sleeping nearby, it is a good choice. Its 18lb. flywheel works up a good amount of inertia to keep you going.
  • plenty of foot room
  • 300-pound max weight capacity
  • lots of exercise options
Brand ProForm
Model pending
Weight 190 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. Sanibel i35

The Sanibel i35 offers you a gym-quality workout in the comfort of your home, with Surefit pivoting foot pedals to keep your ankles moving, and Cardio Core motion built to target the muscles that are usually tough to exercise.
  • tablet docking station
  • ideal for interval training
  • detailed assembly instructions
Brand Yowza Fitness
Model Sanibel i35
Weight 250.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

3. NordicTrack E 7.0 Z

The NordicTrack E 7.0 Z is a reasonably priced model that has an adjustable stride length and ramp height, allowing you to target your glutes, calves, quads, or all of the above based on your personal toning goals. It comes loaded with 20 different workout programs.
  • flywheel rotates smoothly
  • brightly lit display
  • feels extremely stable
Brand NordicTrack
Model NTEL05915
Weight 206 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Nautilus E614

The Nautilus E614 has two LCDs to show up to 13 vital workout statistics at any given time. It also features two built-in speakers so you can workout and jam out at the same time without having to worry about earbuds falling out or wires getting tangled.
  • 20 resistance settings
  • usb port for exporting data
  • can store two user profiles
Brand Nautilus
Model pending
Weight 186 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Sole Fitness E35

The Sole Fitness E35 is right for any athlete, 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
  • smooth frictionless movement
Brand SOLE
Model E35-2013
Weight 300 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 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 December 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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