Do you want a low-impact, but extremely effective machine that works your entire body? Then you need to consider the elliptical, a bundle of fitness equipment in one relatively compact package.
Elliptical trainers are stationary machines that can be used as a stair climber, or to walk or run, without the stress and strain that these exercises typically place on joints. They first hit the market in the 1990s, and are still popular because they’re super efficient and safe to use, even if you’re recovering from an injury. In recent years, elliptical machines have evolved considerably in terms of tech, comfort, and the ability to customize workouts.
Read on for our top picks for the best elliptical machines currently on the market, along with advice on essentials to consider before you shop.
The Best Elliptical Machines
What to Consider
Most of us focus on budget when buying gym equipment, but you should also think about the size of the machine, special features, and the functionality it offers.
Just like under-desk treadmills, there are elliptical machines designed to give you a workout while you work and are about the same size as a canister vacuum. There are also space-saving ellipticals that are tall and have a small footprint. Full-size models can span as much as 7 feet and offer a longer stride than other options. There are also seated elliptical machines that resemble recumbent bikes for zero-impact workouts.
Features on today's elliptical machines include smart HD touchscreen monitors, pre-programmed workouts, and advanced stats that track incline levels, calories burned, time, speed, and more. Things like designated space for a water bottle and personal devices like tablets are just a few bells and whistles you can expect to find. No surprise here: The more it does, the more it will cost you.
How We Selected
We write about elliptical machines from top brands including Bowflex, Schwinn, and Sole Fitness, along with lesser-known brands that offer quality products for those shopping on a budget. To round up models, we drew from our own experience with fitness machines and consulted expert reviewers at publications like CNET and Sports Illustrated. We judged each based on key features relative to price point, and our final selection covers the best options across a range of designs as mentioned above.
For workout accessories that will go with your elliptical machine, check out our roundups on the best workout headphones, fitness watches, and home gym flooring.