When it comes to low-impact cardio training, ellipticals can be tough to beat. Serving as one of the best cardio machines, these units can be ideal for taking some stress off your joints while also facilitating worthwhile caloric burn in a full-body movement. (1) The best ellipticals for your home gym come in a wide range of styles and sizes, with plenty of options to match your training experience and interests.
If you’re considering an elliptical trainer for your training space, you’ll first want to think about how much actual space you can sacrifice for a new machine, as ellipticals aren’t the most compact pieces of fitness equipment. In addition, you’ll need to think through your preferred resistance, how tech-heavy you want your machine to be, and (of course) how much you’re willing to pay. We’ve gone ahead and done some of the heavy lifting for you, though, by testing over 20 ellipticals from top brands and consulting with experts to land on our favorites.
The 7 Best Ellipticals for Your Home in 2024
- Best Elliptical Overall: NordicTrack AirGlide 14i
- Best Elliptical for Home Gyms: Sole E25
- Best Elliptical for Beginners: Horizon EX-59
- Best Elliptical for Streaming: ProForm Pro HIIT H14
- Best Budget Elliptical: Sunny Health and Fitness Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine
- Best Elliptical for Small Spaces: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
- Best Under-Desk Elliptical: Cubii Move
How We Tested and Chose the Best Ellipticals
The BarBend team is made up of competitive athletes, certified personal trainers, and lifelong fitness enthusiasts. To determine the best elliptical machines available today, we got hands-on with 23 different ellipticals from top brands, using a multi-point methodology to rate each profile on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) to determine our top picks. Below are some of the categories and components we looked at to come up with our findings.
Ellipticals can be an excellent form of low-impact training, but that doesn’t mean the workouts should lack challenge. Having an elliptical trainer with multiple levels of resistance can be ideal when trying to practice progressive overload, one of the best ways to support muscle growth and improve fitness performance. (2)
For this round-up, we searched for ellipticals offering no less than 5 varying levels of resistance. We found that available resistance also lent itself to the durability of the machine itself, which makes sense. Heavier flywheels, stable bases, and comfortable tracks are required to support intense training.
We also noticed that machines with wider resistance ranges also catered to more dedicated training. Some of the ellipticals included in this guide offer upwards of 26 resistance levels and look like they’d fit right into a commercial gym setting. Smaller, less capable machines, on the other hand, typically earned their praise through criteria like compact designs, lightweight frames, or budget-friendly price tags.
According to Amanda Capritto, a certified personal trainer, you should also consider how much space you have available for your new elliptical. “This is a good place to start, because you’ll be really frustrated if you buy an elliptical that doesn’t fit in your intended space or, if you need to be flexible with your space, isn’t easy to move,” she states.
In testing, we found that the average elliptical clocks in with a footprint of less than 13 square feet. For reference, that’s a smaller space than your average loveseat, which takes up around 15.31 square feet of your floor plan. (3) We’ve made note of each unit’s individual dimensions below, though, to give you a solid sense of how much space to plan for.
Ellipticals also tend to be taller than other top home gym essentials, so you need to be mindful of your overhead clearance. This is especially important for taller athletes — nobody needs to bonk their head during a low-impact cardio session. All of the ellipticals included in this guide can fit under the standard ceiling height of 8 feet, or 96 inches. (4) To accommodate all heights (and potential clearance issues), we’ve included the height requirements of each machine to ensure you’re not bashing your cranium with each completed step.
Your stride length equates to your in-training comfort. You don’t want to have a machine that makes you feel cramped or locked in atop the pedals, but you also don’t want to train with an elliptical that stretches your gait to the point of potential injury. According to Sunny Health and Fitness, an ideal stride length for most athletes, and one we looked for in testing these ellipticals, sits at roughly 20 inches. (5)
Of course, we understand that everyone’s gait and stride is dependent on their height and personal comfort levels. As such, we’ve included each elliptical’s stride length in our findings to paint as clear a picture of the workout experience.
Aside from the available resistance levels, your elliptical should pose some workout variety in the available programming. These training modules can either be preset across the console or available through a worthwhile fitness app (that will likely cost you a monthly subscription charge between $20 and $50).
We made note of which ellipticals offered engaging, varied workouts across their design, either via preset sessions or compatible workout apps. Naturally, the larger the library, the more versatile these machines could be. While every athlete has specific training interests, having a library of available workouts can help spice up your routine from day to day — and ultimately block any potential burnout or boredom.
[Related: The 8 Best Fitness Apps of 2024]
Best Elliptical Overall: NordicTrack AirGlide 14i
With 26 levels of resistance, incline and decline capabilities, and an adjustable stride length that toggles to your personal preferences, the AirGlide 14i is one of the most tech-savvy and feature-rich ellipticals on the market. Plus, like other NordicTrack machines, this elliptical is compatible with iFIT, unlocking over 17,000 live and on-demand workout programs for a fresh sense of training each time you hop on for a session.
- Price: $1,799
- Resistance Levels: 26
- Stride Length: 17.8″ to 18.5″ auto-adjustable
- Weight Capacity: 300lbs
- Product Dimensions: 69″ L x 25″ W x 71″ H
- Display Size: 14”
- Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor
- This elliptical is compatible with iFIT, which gives you access to over 17,000 live and on-demand workouts along with Automatic Trainer Control.
- Despite the 244-pound machine weight, our tester said maneuvering this elliptical was easy with its front transport wheels.
- Its 300-pound weight capacity and 32-pound flywheel make for a sturdy workout.
- The internal motor is somewhat loud when changing resistance levels and inclines.
- Our tester recommends the white-glove assembly add-on — setting up this elliptical can be quite the undertaking.
- There is no media shelf or console storage to keep your smartphone during training.
When it comes to home gym equipment, NordicTrack does it right. This AirGlide 14i stands out as our favorite elliptical overall for multiple reasons, including its compatibility with the popular iFIT platform of live and on-demand workouts, a maneuverable front-drive design, and lockdown stability that cuts down on shakiness during training.
Our tester, a certified personal trainer, rated this NordicTrack elliptical at 5 out of 5 for durability. “Everything felt solid during my workouts,” they stated. “I’d credit the heavy 32-pound flywheel at the front of the machine for keeping things well-balanced.”
Additionally, the AirGlide 14i impressed us when it came to its tech capabilities. We scored this machine at 5 out of 5 for the category due to its robust library of 26 available resistance levels, as well as its -5- to 15-percent incline range. Also, this elliptical features an adjustable stride length, which can be changed to match your training incline or personal preference (as well as to match your iFIT training program).
Our tester did notice some loud hums as the motor worked through these settings, though, so be prepared to experience some audio feedback as you take advantage of the available ranges.
Plus, since this profile is compatible with iFIT, that integration also brings NordicTrack’s popular AutoAdjust technology into play. Dubbed “Automatic Trainer Control” (they’re one and the same), this allows you to focus more on training as the machine automatically toggles your resistance and inclines in step with your on-screen instructors.
The AirGlide 14i is also packed with some added conveniences, including a center-mounted water bottle holder and a wheeled base for added maneuverability. “I also appreciated the handle at the rear, which gave me a better sense of control when wheeling this machine into position,” added our tester.
We did have to knock a few points off our convenience rating for this machine, mostly due to the absence of an integrated media shelf. This NordicTrack treadmill doesn’t support entertainment apps across its 14-inch HD touchscreen display, so if you prefer to stream shows rather than workouts during training, it’s best to set this unit up in front of a nearby smart TV.
Finally, NordicTrack does offer a white-glove assembly package, which our tester highly recommends. They spent hours piecing this machine together before their first workout, so maybe let the installation to the pros.
Best Elliptical for Home Gyms: Sole E25
The E25 is a high-quality, no-frills elliptical. It features a budget-friendly price tag, a 350-pound weight limit, and a 20-pound flywheel.
- Price: $1,199.99
- Resistance Levels: 20
- Stride Length: 20”
- Weight Capacity: 350lbs
- Product Dimensions: 70″ L x 24″ W x 70″ H
- Display Size: 7.5”
- Warranty: Lifetime frame, lifetime flywheel, 2-year parts, 2-year wear items, 1-year labor, 90-day cosmetic items
- Our tester said this elliptical is quiet during use, making it a great pick for those training in full households.
- An integrated tablet holder helps you follow along to streaming workouts and shows.
- The frame and flywheel come with a lifetime warranty.
- The center console has no HD touchscreen and can’t stream or mirror digital platforms.
- An 11.67-square-foot footprint may be too large for athletes in tight quarters.
- According to our tester, the assembly process can take a while due to complicated instructions and poorly-labeled components.
If you’re looking for a home elliptical, you’ll want to purchase a machine with a nice balance of price and performance. The Sole E25 is our favorite elliptical for home gyms thanks to its approachable price tag, as well as its ability to deliver high-quality workouts regardless of your fitness level.
This impressive machine also earns its moniker of “Best Elliptical for Home Gyms” thanks to its quiet operation. Our tester said the Whisper-Quiet Drive System purred seamlessly through the 20 available resistance levels and 0- to 20-percent incline range. This can be especially beneficial for athletes wanting to work out without disturbing other home dwellers, like a napping child or a roommate on a business call.
Additionally, the value at hand with the E25 is top notch. We rated this Sole offering a 5 out of 5 for the approachable $1,199.99 price tag, as well as the robust warranty package. Sole supports this machine with lifetime coverage for the frame and flywheel — two components prone to wear and tear — as well as 2-year coverage for parts and wear items, 1-year coverage for labor, and 90-day support for cosmetic items.
We also liked this elliptical for home workouts because of the integrated tablet holder. This allowed us to keep tabs on our favorite fitness apps or streaming services mid-workout — an action that would otherwise be nonexistent across the more basic 7.5-inch LCD display. Still, though, we rated the E25 at 4.3 out of 5 for its tech capabilities thanks to its seamless toggling through the available ranges.
While this Sole E25 can be great for a variety of home gyms, we still recommend breaking out the tape measure before ordering a unit for yourself. You’ll need 11.67 square feet to house this machine, and there aren’t any foldable features for more convenient storage. While this footprint is below the average 12- to 13-square foot spatial requirements of other ellipticals, it can still leave a noteworthy impact on your floor plan if you don’t plan ahead.
Speaking of planning, our tester also recommends clearing your schedule before setting up this machine. They rated the setup process at 3 out of 5 due to the rather confusing instructions, as well as the mix of small and large components alike.
Read our full Sole E25 Elliptical Review.
Best Elliptical for Beginners: Horizon EX-59
This Horizon Fitness elliptical can be a great starter machine for budding home gym enthusiasts thanks to its approachable price tag, intuitive controls, and comfortable handlebar setup. The stride length is also accommodating at 18 inches, which can be great for athletes of most sizes.
- Price: $999
- Resistance Levels: 10
- Stride Length: 18”
- Weight Capacity: 300lbs
- Product Dimensions: 74″ L x 25” W x 64.5″ H
- Display Size: 4.5”
- Warranty: Lifetime frame, 1-year brake, 1-year parts, 1-year labor
- Beginners can get accustomed to a cardio routine with its 5 preset workouts.
- This sub-$1,000 elliptical is more affordable than the $1,200 average cost, yet still provides a lengthy stride length and 10 resistance levels.
- Our tester appreciated the lightweight 145-pound design of this machine.
- This elliptical does not feature any incline or decline adjustments for higher-intensity training.
- There is no warranty coverage for the flywheel.
Beginner athletes don’t always need the latest and greatest machines to curate a worthwhile training setup. Oftentimes, a cheaper unit can be just as effective (and much less intimidating) when it comes to getting your feet wet in fitness. For athletes on the brink of their fitness journey, we recommend the EX-59 from Horizon Fitness. Rather than overload you with a plethora of workouts and settings, this machine keeps things simple with an intuitive display, five preset workouts, and an affordable yet high-quality design.
Our tester, a certified personal trainer, rated the EX-59’s value at 4 out of 5. “I think this is a really good elliptical for what the device offers,” they stated. “The programs are a little basic for more experienced individuals, but I still feel they have some merit, especially for those just getting started in home gym training.”
What the EX-59 lacks in tech features and dynamic programming, it makes up for with built-in conveniences. We rated the elliptical at 4 out of 5 for the category thanks to its integrated Bluetooth speakers, tablet holder, water bottle holder, and USB port for charging your device mid-workout.
Additionally, our tester appreciated the multiple handles strewn across the layout. This Horizon elliptical features both moving and fixed handlebars, so you can rest your hands at different angles during sessions. Also, the fixed grips near the center of the machine also have pulse sensors for monitoring your heart rate mid-workout, although we recommend pairing a heart rate monitor via Bluetooth connectivity for more accurate readouts.
[Related: Best Heart Rate Monitors]
This Horizon elliptical is also plenty portable thanks to its 145-pound frame weight and wheeled base. This can be great for athletes needing to move their equipment around their space often to make the most of their floor plan. For these reasons, we rated the EX-59 at 4 out of 5 for portability.
Lastly, this machine does offer a warranty for certain components, including lifetime coverage for the frame itself. However, there is no support for the flywheel. It’s still a worthwhile unit to add to your setup, especially if you’re not ready yet to dive headfirst into the upper echelon of home gym equipment.
Best Elliptical for Streaming: ProForm Pro HIIT H14
This unique profile combines a stair stepper and elliptical for a space-saving, high-performance training experience. The Pro HIIT H14 is also integrated with the iFit online workout program, giving you access to over 17,000 live and on-demand fitness classes.
- Price: $1,799
- Resistance Levels: 26
- Stride Length: 10” vertical, 5” horizontal
- Weight Capacity: 325lbs
- Product Dimensions: 52″ L x 29” W x 66″ H
- Display Size: 14”
- Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor
- The 14-inch smart HD touchscreen provides a clear picture ideal for iFIT-enabled workouts.
- This elliptical’s hybrid design moves you in a vertical and horizontal plane, which studies show can help bolster knee strength over regular training. (6)
- The vertical orientation allows for a compact 10.47-square-foot footprint — as opposed to 12 or 13 square feet.
- While the display supports iFIT’s roster of digital workout programs, it is not compatible with entertainment streamers like Netflix.
- Athletes wanting a more traditional elliptical experience can find less expensive profiles.
- According to our tester, the assembly process requires a helping set of hands and at least 2 hours of time.
Looking to refresh your strides with some engaging, interactive visuals? The ProForm Pro HIIT H14 can give you crisp, clear visuals through the machine’s iFIT-compatible 14-inch smart HD touchscreen. Additionally, this home gym machine isn’t your traditional “elliptical” — the stair stepper/elliptical hybrid moves you both vertically and horizontally for a new take on getting your body in motion.
In trials, our tester, a CrossFit Level 1 instructor, found these ergonomics to be unique yet impressive, rating the Pro HIIT H14 at 4 out of 5 for the category. “The 5-inch horizontal stride definitely feels shorter than the 20-inch standard I’ve experienced with other ellipticals, but the 10-inch vertical climb makes up for it with a comfortable, stepper-like sensation,” they noted. “I also liked that the foot pedals were oversized and well-cushioned, and the multiple handlebars had a nice sense of padding, too.”
Like other ProForm products, the Pro HIIT H14 is compatible with iFIT, which — after signing up for a $39 monthly iFIT membership — grants you access to over 17,000 live and on-demand workout programs. We loved this integration, scoring the machine at 4 out of 5 for its tech capabilities.
Another cool function brought to the Pro HIIT H14 through iFIT is the scenic “live” workouts powered by Google Maps. From the comforts of your own home, you can essentially explore the world and step through some of the globe’s most beautiful landscapes. We also feel this is where the 14-inch touchscreen flexes most — the picture quality is top-notch.
That said, the iFIT-enabled screen does not support other streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+. If you desire this form of mid-workout entertainment, you’ll need to set this machine up near a screen (there also isn’t an on-unit tablet holder). Thankfully, the vertical orientation does shrink the Pro HIIT H14’s footprint to 10.47 square feet, so you won’t be sacrificing your full floor plan for such a layout.
[Related: The 7 Best Compact Ellipticals of 2024]
As far as assembly and setup goes, we rated this ProForm profile at 2 out of 5. Our tester noted that getting this machine built and unboxed was a true pain. “You definitely need an extra set of hands, as well as a clear schedule. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of the $199 white-glove assembly package,” they added.
Best Budget Elliptical: Sunny Health and Fitness Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine
This machine is both a strider and a climber. You can climb to a vertical height of nine inches and stride a horizontal distance of five inches. You can choose from eight levels of magnetic resistance, and track your heart rate on the grip monitors.
- Price: $499.99
- Resistance Levels: 8
- Stride Length: 9”
- Weight Capacity: 260lbs
- Product Dimensions: 44″ L x 25” W x 64″ H
- Display Size: 9”
- Warranty: 3-year, 180-day manufacturer warranty
- At less than $500, this elliptical is well below the average $1,200 price tag of many ellipticals.
- Customers note that assembling this exercise machine is quick and painless.
- The 95-pound frame and wheeled front base make this a highly portable elliptical.
- This elliptical’s 260-pound weight capacity is below the 300-pound average.
- The foot pedals are made of hard plastic with little cushioning.
- Taller athletes may feel cramped atop this machine given the shorter 9-inch stride length.
We get it — exercise equipment isn’t always the most wallet-friendly topic of discussion. While most ellipticals will run you around $1,200, there are some units that fall below that market yet can still fill your space with worthwhile, low-impact training potential. The Sunny Health and Fitness Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine is one such machine (and one of our favorites), coming in at nearly $500 — less than half — the average cost.
This sleek, compact machine can be ideal for athletes paying close attention to their finances, but the available workouts are also great for a slew of training-focused individuals, too. There are 8 levels of magnetic resistance to choose from, and the stepper-like plane of motion can also be an efficient way to improve knee strength, according to studies. (6)
We also appreciated how Sunny Health and Fitness kept this machine’s footprint to a minimum through the vertical orientation, rating it 4.5 out of 5 for the category. This unit takes up just 7.64 square feet of space — a sliver of the average 12- to 13-square-foot profile of other ellipticals — and the 95-pound wheeled frame is easy to move in and out of position before and after training. You could easily store this in a nearby corner, roll it to the center of your training area for a quick session, and maneuver it back into storage post-workout without much effort.
Additionally, customers liked how simple this machine was to set up. “It arrived quickly and was very easy to put together. I did it by myself in one afternoon,” adds one positive customer review. For these reasons, we rated the setup at 4 out of 5.
That said, however, you will need to make some sacrifices in some key areas like durability to achieve such a minimalist, lightweight design. The Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical can only support athletes up to 260 pounds, which falls shy of the average 300-pound weight capacity. We rated the durability at 3.5 out of 5.
Also, the 3-year, 180-day manufacturer warranty is less than the average coverage we’ve seen, which usually warranties the unit’s frame for 10 years, at least. At less than $500, though — and with the machine being available on Amazon (typically at an even more discounted price) — we’re betting you’d be more inclined to replace this unit more so than a more expensive elliptical.
Best Elliptical for Small Spaces: Bowflex Max Trainer M6
Tight on space but still want to experience the low-impact benefits of elliptical training? The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 boasts a vertical orientation that shrinks the overall footprint to 8.31 square feet, yet the plane of motion can still be ideal for comfortable training with a heightened sense of muscle-boosting potential, especially across your posterior chain and legs.
- Price: $1,299
- Resistance Levels: 16
- Stride Length: N/A
- Weight Capacity: 300lbs
- Product Dimensions: 46″ L x 26” W x 64.2″ H
- Display Size: N/A
- Warranty: 2-year frame, 2-year mechanical parts, 90-day labor
- The M6 takes up 8.31 square feet of space and features a vertical orientation — many ellipticals measure around 12 or 13 square feet.
- According to our tester, the stepper-like movement is great for high-intensity training that targets your leg and posterior chain muscles.
- The speedometer-style display ramps up when training harder for added motivation.
- Unlike other Bowflex Max Trainers, this machine does not feature a smart touchscreen display capable of streaming.
- The warranty coverage is underwhelming with just 2-year support for the frame and parts.
- Our tester stated that signing up for the JRNY online workout program was tedious.
Want the benefits of an elliptical trainer but don’t have 12 or 13 square feet of space to spare for a traditional machine? Consider the Max Trainer M6 from Bowflex. Rather than parceling its profile out horizontally, this unit takes a vertical approach to its design, resulting in a compact 8.32-square-foot footprint that can be easier to fit within your given floor plan.
We rated the M6 at 4.5 out of 5 for its footprint due to its lightweight, portable makeup. The entire unit weighs 136 pounds, and the front wheels make maneuvering a breeze. There are also adjustable floor stabilizers at the feet, which can be ideal when moving this unit from hard floors to softer surfaces like carpet without sacrificing your sturdy setup.
As far as mid-workout ergonomics are concerned, the M6 is one of our favorites thanks to its elliptical-stepper hybrid profile. According to our tester, a certified personal trainer, “I like how the vertical motion works your legs and posterior chain muscle groups. This makes the entire experience feel like a nice cardio workout with a good mix of muscle-building strength training.”
There are also moving handlebars, which can be great for creating a full-body experience within your sessions. Overall, we rated the M6 at 4.5 out of 5 for ergonomics.
While we admired the workout experience with this machine, the tech is underwhelming. The on-unit display is basic, resembling a speedometer and LCD screen you’d find in your car. However, there is an integrated media shelf that can be ideal for a DIY streaming setup. Plus, our tester said that the “speedometer” actually revs up as you push through workouts, which can be a fun way to stay motivated in training.
We also had some experience with the JRNY online workout platform, Bowflex’s paired digital training service and the M6’s intended companion app. While we found the workouts to be enjoyable (streamed through our own devices, of course), our tester did state that signing up for the service was a bit of a hassle. After putting in their credit card, there was a slight delay in account activation, so don’t expect to sign up and immediately hop into a workout.
Still, though, we think this M6 can be just as effective without the membership, especially if you’re trying to make the most of a less spacious home gym layout.
Best Under-Desk Elliptical: Cubii Move
The Cubii Move can be a great solution for athletes that want a way to stay active from the confines of their home office. The sleek, 17.6-pound frame fits easily under a desk, giving you access to low-impact resistance training as you power through your daily step counts, email responsibilities, and Zoom calls.
- Price: $199
- Resistance Levels: 6
- Stride Length: 12.25”
- Weight Capacity: 250lbs
- Product Dimensions: 21.7″ L x 19.7” W x 9.7″ H
- Display Size: N/A
- Warranty: 1-year
- The compact design fits easily under your office desk for getting in an at-work workout.
- This under-desk elliptical is incredibly portable at just 17.6 pounds.
- Our tester appreciated how this machine tracked stride count, mileage, duration, and calories burned.
- This small intra-work novelty may not be ideal for athletes wanting a full-body training experience.
- While lightweight and portable, there is no handle on the frame.
- The one-year warranty is lower than the 10-year average of other ellipticals.
Crunched for time and space? An under-desk elliptical can be ideal for keeping your body in-motion, even while you answer emails or attend Zoom meetings. For our money, the Cubii Move is one of the best in the category thanks to its extremely portable design, intuitive tracking capabilities, and quiet demeanor.
Admittedly, we haven’t had much experience with the Move, but our tester, a CrossFit Level-1 instructor, has logged plenty of mid-day workouts with the Cubii JR — a discontinued unit from the brand that has since been replaced by the Move. The workout experiences are virtually the same, so we’re basing our Move findings on those past JR notes.
As far as setup and footprint, there isn’t much to speak of with this under-desk elliptical … and that’s a good thing. We loved the 17.6-pound frame that could be easily set under our home office desk for a quick session during the day. Plus, there’s virtually no setup required to get the machine running (outside of maybe moving some power cords from your laptop and monitor). Overall, we rated the Move at 5 out of 5 for setup.
Naturally, you won’t get the full-body experience or more involved training regimens with this under-desk elliptical. It’s designed to act more as a filler than a standalone training vessel. Still, our tester noted, “I liked the 6 levels of manual resistance, and the LCD monitor is a nice way to keep tabs on your calories burned and mileage.”
There’s also a companion Cubii app that grants you access to over 300 expert-guided workout classes. While this can be great for giving your mid-meeting strides a sense of direction, we feel like it could be complicated to stay focused on a workout while also tending to emails and other work duties.
We also rated the value of this under-desk treadmill at 3.75 out of 5. The Move is definitely a fun way to stay active throughout the day, but some may not want to spend nearly $200 on a machine that’s more of a novelty than a home gym staple. Plus, the one-year warranty is shorter than the 10-year average we’ve found in other ellipticals, but what can you expect from such a small device?
[Related: The 6 Best Under-Desk Treadmills of 2024]
Benefits of Ellipticals
According to Amanda Capritto, a certified personal trainer, “Ellipticals are a wonderful option for individuals who want to increase their cardio exercise volume but need a low-impact way to do it.” As such, there are a few benefits that can be had from adding one of these machines to your home gym. Below are a few of our favorite perks associated with elliptical trainers.
Reduced Joint Impact
One of the main terms you’ll hear thrown around when talking about ellipticals is “low-impact.” This refers to the amount of stress your body experiences during training. When working out atop an elliptical, your feet are in constant contact with the pedals, meaning there’s no room for gravity to take hold and give your feet, joints, and posterior chain a sense of shock upon impact, like you’d experience when landing on, say, a treadmill deck or hard asphalt. (1)(7)
As a result, ellipticals can be a comfortable training method that doesn’t tax your body as much as other disciplines like running. In layman’s terms, this simply means that elliptical workouts can be more comfortable. But don’t let the low-impact experience fool you — there’s still plenty of potential for heart-pounding, sweat-inducing performance.
Higher Caloric Burn
Training atop an elliptical can also be a great way to facilitate positive caloric burn. According to studies, a 155-pound athlete, on average, can burn up to 324 calories during a 30-minute elliptical workout. (8) That’s roughly the equivalent of a 30-minute sparring session in a boxing ring, and more calories than you’d burn when running at a 12-minutes-per-mile pace. (8) Combine these metrics with the lesser impact on your joints, and you have an accommodating discipline that can be ideal for athletes of all shapes and fitness levels.
Don’t get us wrong — ellipticals are still large pieces of fitness equipment. That said, the average footprint of an elliptical sits between 12 and 13 square feet. In contrast, the average treadmill can consume upwards of 23 square feet of your floor plan.
This is the result of a more narrow silhouette than you’d see in other cardio machines — you’re locked into a specific plane of motion, so there’s no need to account for wider side steps or arm swings like you’d need with a treadmill. As a result, ellipticals can be a more approachable machine for athletes living in tight quarters.
Ellipticals can also take a page from the best vertical climbers by employing a vertical orientation that sees you stepping upward and outward in a given stride. This methodology can shrink the machine’s footprint while still creating a worthwhile movement for caloric burn and energy expenditure.
How Much Do Ellipticals Cost?
Like other cardio machines on the market, there are a wide range of price tags out there tied to ellipticals from various brands. You can typically expect to pay around $1,200 for a worthwhile machine, but naturally, there are outliers on both ends of that median, each with their own unique features and components related to their cost. Below, you can compare the prices of our favorite elliptical machines included in this guide.
|Best Elliptical Overall
|NordicTrack AirGlide 14i
|Best Elliptical for Home Gyms
|Best Elliptical for Beginners
|Best Elliptical for Streaming
|ProForm Pro HIIT H14
|Best Budget Elliptical
|Sunny Health and Fitness Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine
|Best Elliptical for Small Spaces
|Bowflex Max Trainer M6
|Best Under-Desk Elliptical
We did our best to include elliptical trainers at different price points, as we understand that every athlete’s budget is different. What we did find in testing, though, was that price was often related to the machine’s on-unit features and durability. Ellipticals boasting large, sturdy flywheels, or those with integrated touchscreen displays, often cost more than their more basic brethren. Smaller machines with a more portable footprint were also typically less expensive, but the savings experienced were often at the mercy of lighter, less durable components.
What to Consider Before Buying an Elliptical
When you’re thinking about buying an elliptical machine, there are a few factors to consider outside of your available space and budget. Naturally, these components are still important, but below are some additional items that should be top of mind before confirming your order.
The stride length of your elliptical can determine how lengthy your gait is in a given revolution. According to Sunny Health and Fitness, the average athlete standing between 5 feet 3 inches and 6 feet should fit comfortably in a stride length of around 20 inches. (5) Of course, not every elliptical will offer such measurements, especially those with a more vertical orientation that combines the aesthetics of an elliptical with a stair climber.
When thinking about your machine’s stride length, take your height into consideration. If you’re taller than 6 feet, it may be best to err on the side of caution and shoot for an elliptical with a longer range of motion. Athletes shorter than 6 feet can have more accommodating options, but in the end, your personal comfort is the best indication of a proper fit.
On average, you can expect an elliptical trainer to take up between 12 and 13 feet of space. These measurements can vary from brand to brand, though, so it’s always good practice to break out your trusty tape measure and confirm your available space before deciding on a machine for your home gym.
It can also be wise to search for an elliptical with portable conveniences like a wheeled base or rear handle for enhanced maneuverability. This can be especially vital if you plan to use your given area for multiple scenarios — an elliptical in the living room is fine, but are you really going to be happy with your setup if you can’t move your machine out of the way when not in a training mindset?
Tech Features and Programming
While there’s nothing wrong with hopping onto an elliptical and going about a manual workout, every now and again, we all need to revamp our training routine. This can be accomplished through preset workouts built into the console of your elliptical, or by access to a digital platform loaded down with streamable sessions and classes. Be sure to look for an elliptical that supports your training needs and wants in either of these methods.
If you opt for an elliptical with streaming capabilities, you should also consider any extra fees or subscription costs associated with the digital platforms. On average, most online workout programs operate on a monthly billing cycle with prices ranging between $20 and $50. Don’t forget to account for this added expense when thinking through your budget.
Like other pieces of cardio equipment, ellipticals can vary in prices. Some budget-conscious profiles can cost $500 or less, while other, more feature-rich designs can come close to $2,000. In our research, we’ve found that the average cost of a high-quality elliptical sits around $1,200, so this can be a good starting point for your purchase journey. Naturally, though, be sure to be mindful of your budget throughout the process and opt for a machine that fits your space and your wallet comfortably.
Elliptical machines can be excellent for athletes wanting a full-body workout experience, and studies indicate that training on an elliptical can facilitate a high caloric burn while also being less impactful on your joints. (1)(7)(8) Additionally, there are plenty of feature-rich profiles on the market today equipped with expansive resistance and incline ranges, crystal-clear HD displays, lightweight and maneuverable silhouettes, and (possibly most importantly) affordable price tags.
When searching for an elliptical trainer of your own, you’ll first need to account for how much space you have available for such a machine. You should also take your stride length — how long your steps are — and training preferences into consideration, as well as how much you’d like to spend on a given unit. Use this round-up as a guiding light in your process, and soon enough, your training can be impacted for the better without the stressful impact you’d feel across your joints in other workout disciplines.
What is the best elliptical available today?
Determining the best elliptical is a subjective ordeal, but in our opinion, the NordicTrack AirGlide 14i reigns supreme thanks to its iFIT compatibility, impressive resistance and incline ranges of 26 and -5- to 15-percent, respectively, as well as its auto-adjusting stride length that ensures every revolution is as comfortable and performance-laden as the last.
How much do ellipticals cost?
Ellipticals can vary by price, much like every other piece of home gym equipment, but on average, you can expect to pay roughly $1,200. More budget-friendly options can come in around $500 or less, while tech-heavy luxury options can push the price tag closer to $2,000. In the end, however, the best elliptical for your needs is the one that fits most comfortably within your budget.
Which body muscles does an elliptical work?
Elliptical training does tend to focus mainly on the lower body, hamstrings, and posterior chain, given your strides throughout a session, but these machines also commonly feature moving handles that allow you to move your arms and upper body as well. This full-body experience is still a low-impact workout, meaning despite all components getting some room to roam, the constant contact with the machine itself leaves less room for gravity to create a shock across your joints, like you’d experience when landing your feet during a running stride.
- Long, C. (2023, November 8). Elliptical benefits: Advice from an exercise physiologist. Hospital for Special Surgery. https://www.hss.edu/article_elliptical-benefits.asp
- Plotkin, D., Coleman, M., Van Every, D., Maldonado, J., Oberlin, D., Israetel, M., Feather, J., Alto, A., Vigotsky, A. D., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2022). Progressive overload without progressing load? the effects of load or repetition progression on muscular adaptations. PeerJ, 10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36199287/
- Jaramillo, C. (2022, December 29). A guide to sofa dimensions & sizes. SeatUp, LLC. https://seatup.com/blog/guide-to-sofa-dimensions/
- Rybczynski, W. (n.d.). Ceiling Heights in Homes and Offices. Ceiling Heights in homes and offices – Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center. https://realestate.wharton.upenn.edu/working-papers/ceiling-heights-in-homes-and-offices/
- Bueckert, S. (2021, May 19). What is the ideal elliptical stride length to best fit you?. Sunny Health and Fitness. https://sunnyhealthfitness.com/blogs/products/best-elliptical-stride-length
- Choi, M., Yoo, J., Shin, S., & Lee, W. (2015). The effects of Stepper exercise with visual feedback on strength, walking, and stair climbing in individuals following stroke. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 27(6), 1861–1864. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499999/
- Egaña, M., & Donne, B. (2004, June). Physiological changes following a 12 week gym based stair-climbing, elliptical trainer and treadmill running program in females. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15470311/
- Calories burned in 30 minutes of leisure and routine activities. Harvard Health. (2021, March 8). https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights