Best Elliptical Trainer Reviews 2018 and Comparison Chart
Elliptical trainers are some of the most convenient and comfortable fitness machines that you can choose from, due to many aspects. For example, they offer an excellent training setting for a superior cardiovascular boost, a full-body workout, and a great weight-loss potential, with a minimal impact on articulations. That’s why they’re great for a wide array of users. No matter if you’re completely out of shape, you’re no longer young, you’re recovering from an injury or you’re already at a pretty high level of fitness, a decent elliptical machine should be able to offer you the aerobic workout that you need.
But since there are many models out there, it’s only natural to feel a little bit confused when choosing one, if you’ve already decided that this is the training machine that you want to use in the comfort of your home. There are many specific aspects that you should know about elliptical trainers. Within this post, we’ll put them into view, along with a palette of some of the best ellipticals that you can find on the market at the moment. In fact, to begin with, here’s a table with 10 of the best ellipticals training machines for 2018, featuring their core specs.
Top 10 Elliptical Trainers
|225 lbs||Dynamic||No||No||No||1 year|
|No||No||Frame: 3 years
Labor: 90 days
|Frame: 5 years
Parts: 90 days
|Schwinn MY16 430||L:71.1"|
0° - 10°
|22||Frame: 10 years,
Parts: 2 years,
Electronics: 1 year,
Labor 90 days
0° - 30°
|22||Frame: 10 years,
Parts: 2 years,
Electronics: 1 year,
Labor 90 days
|Schwinn MY17 470||L:70.1"|
|Frame: 10 years
Parts: 2 years
Electronics: 1 year
Labor: 90 days
Parts: 7 years
Labor: 1 year
0° - 30°
Parts: 5 years
Electronics: 5 years
Labor: 2 years
Parts: 5 years
Labor: 1 year
As you can see, the selection of elliptical training machines presented in the table above covers a range of models from the most basic, to some of the most inclusive. You should be able to find one in there that fits your needs and budget. Within the final part of this post though, you’ll find a more detailed recommendation by price, and our final recommendation for the best model for home use.
However, before we get to that, there are several important aspects that must be clarified about ellipticals.
Why Should You Buy An Elliptical Training Machine?
One of the main reasons to invest in a quality trainer pretty much stands for just about any other fitness machine: it’s the possibility to workout from the comfort and safety of your own home. You’ll be able to watch your favorite TV shows or online streams, you’ll be able to listen to your favorite music without bothering anyone, you won’t have to wait in line to use the elliptical, and you won’t be stressed out that others are waiting for you to finish. They are also more appropriate for home use than treadmills as they produce much less noise; the cadence noise, thumping, and stomping sounds usually generated during a run on a treadmill are non-existent when using an elliptical.
During the cold seasons running outside can be risky, or simply impossible; therefore indoor training is the best option. However gym fees may be quite costly, and by saving the money for several monthly subscriptions, you may gather just enough to buy a decent elliptical trainer.
Another important reason to get an elliptical machine is the low impact training that it can offer. Even the most basic models can supply a safer workout, and with a much less impact on the joints than a treadmill or even an indoor cycling bike. When riding an elliptical machine, your feet maintain contact with the pedals at all time, and this way there’s virtually no cadence related shock on knees and ankles. On top of that, many models feature pedals with pivoting mechanisms and extra cushioning, in order to provide maximum comfort. This makes elliptical trainer a great choice for users with articulation problems, or for users recovering from various injuries.
An elliptical trainer offers a full body workout. The elliptical motion engages many groups of muscles, not just the legs and lower body. Also, there are models with pivoting handlebars, such as the Yowza models, which offer a much better workout for the arms, shoulders, and torso. This being said, these machines are great for muscle toning and calorie burning. Depending on your weight and the intensity of workout you’re undergoing, you can actually burn 7-800 calories per hour on this type of fitness machine, or even more.
Since elliptical machines are excellent for cardio training, they can successfully be used in interval workouts. Adding the minimal impact on the joints that they provide, it’s actually recommended to use over treadmills in interval workouts.
Last but not least, an elliptical machine promotes a healthy, upright posture rather than the leaned forward, slouching posture promoted by indoor cycling bikes, which may generate all kinds of back problems.
Main Differences Between Commercial Grade And Home-Use Ellipticals
You ought to know these differences in order to make sure you end up with a durable piece of equipment when it comes to an elliptical. Also, since there are intermediate models, this will help you see better which models have a better price/quality ratio.
To begin with, most commercial grade ellipticals are equipped with shock absorbing mechanisms and cushioning, eliminating completely the stress on ankles and knees, and maximize the contact of the pedals with your feet during your training. This also generates a more stable and smooth feel. On the other hand, the cheaper models have simple pedals, without any shock absorbing system, and in general, without any articulation. Don’t get this wrong though, using a fitness machine of this type, with simple pedals still offers a workout with much less stress on the joints than running. But the more advanced machines improve the elliptical motion by a lot.
All gym-class ellipticals feature a motorized, automatic incline, offering more or less incline percentage. On top of that, they offer various onboard workout routines which will automatically adjust incline and resistance. Conversely, the basic ellipticals don’t offer this feature. However, there are mid-level ellipticals, such as the Nautilus E614 or ProForm 520 which feature a manual incline. In case of a manual incline system, even though you won’t be able to adjust the slope during your workout, you can still have this possibility, which leads to a more diversified workout spectrum.
Footprint and overall assembled weight are pretty large in gym-grade ellipticals. Most of them have a length and width of approx. 80″ x 26″, taking quite some space, and weighing over 200 lbs, which may render transport and assembly rather problematic. On the other hand, many basic models have a much smaller footprint and a weight lower than 80 lbs. Maximum user weight is also an aspect to look at, especially if you need to shed several dozens of pounds. If some of the basic models can only support 220 – 250 lbs of user weight, most commercial grade ones are made to support users of 400 lbs or more.
There are huge differences between the consoles of basic models and commercial models. Basic models typically feature a basic computer, which tracks calories, time, speed, distance, and some of them can track pulse as well. However, gym grade models have quite advanced and multifunctional consoles, with multiple workout apps, built-in cooling fans, sound systems, Bluetooth, and online connectivity.
Advantages of a Variable Stride
One really important aspect with regards to ellipticals is stride length. And we dedicate a whole title to it because this aspect really needs clarification.
In general, in most ellipticals with an incline mechanism, the stride is more or less variable. As incline is increased, so is the stride. Therefore, at a maximum incline, the stride also reaches a considerable increase, and sometimes the pedaling motion becomes closer to a stair climb, rather than a walk, or jog.
The stride length of an elliptical machine is really important as it directly influences the consistency of your workout. For example, a machine with a short stride, of 13″ isn’t exactly fit for an intense workout. Exercising with such a stride pretty much resembles a light stroll, at a small pace. Commercial ellipticals usually offer an adjustable stride, beginning at 19″ – 20″, and up to 32″. It goes without saying that such an elliptical can also offer a heavy-duty workout, for a maximum cardio burn.
Now, it’s important to realize that by using the same stride length, and maybe with the same training routines, may lead to a certain acclimation of your body to that specific training. Thus, the final rewards may be reduced over time. But by adding to incline and stride, or alternating stride lengths and training intensity, you can maximize the efficiency of your training. That’s why, if you’re going to opt for an elliptical trainer, it’s a good idea to invest in one model which offers a decent incline capacity.
Our Best Recommendations by Price
For the final part of this page, we’re going to put into view some recommendations by price. And when it comes to price, elliptical trainers can actually be divided into four major categories:
- under $200 – basic machines and gliders, made for home use;
- between $200 and $500 – also trainers for home use, but with a sturdier build and more workout applications;
- between $500 and $1,000 – trainers within the light-commercial range of specs or pretty close to it;
- over $1,000 – elliptical trainers featuring a very sturdy construction and a wide array of training applications.
Therefore, here are 3 recommendations for each price interval:
Price: Under $200
Most of the Efitment equipment is relatively new, dating from 2017, so many of the items of fitness equipment available under this brand name don’t have a wide array of user reviews. However, the Efitment E005 elliptical trainer is one of the machines that has gathered an impressive amount of 5-star user reviews, and therefore it simply has to be on our recommendation list.
To begin with, the Efitment 005 is a light-capacity trainer, made for users only up to 220 lbs. It features a rear drive and a manual magnetic resistance system. It offers 8 resistance settings and is equipped with a console which is a bit above the basic models as it can track your pulse. The console unit is not telemetric, though, so it can only track your pulse via the sensors in the machine’s handlebars… Read Full Review.
The ProGear 360 is an “air walker” elliptical trainer which means that it doesn’t have any resistance system. However, as opposed to conventional elliptical trainers it allows you to vary your stride as much as you like. Therefore, you can exercise at a small pace or push your stride to the limits in order to obtain a more consistent workout. Also, it allows you to extend your legs sideways, a feature that many standard ellipticals don’t have.
This ProGear elliptical trainer is a light capacity model; it can support users only up to 225 lbs. However, it features a folding frame, while its fixed handlebars integrate pulse sensors. It’s equipped with a small fitness meter which doesn’t have any preset workout programs but monitors your distance, calories, time, step count, and pulse… Read Full Review.
Although the extended title of this particular elliptical machine suggests that it’s a “heavy-duty” one, it’s far from the sturdiness of gym-class models. It also supplies a rather short stride, of 13″, which it’s not adjustable, these aspects placing it into the category of models that can only offer a “stroll ride” at a small pace, in other words, a light workout. On the other hand, it can support users up to 300 lbs and has quite a decent construction.
It’s a machine with manual magnetic resistance, pretty quiet and easy to use. Like most other models in this price interval, it comes with a basic console, for tracking speed, time, scan, calories, and pulse. It has two sets of bars, for mobile action and for fixed action, the fixed ones featuring built-in pulse sensors… Read Full Review.
Price: $200 – $500
The Gazelle Supreme is also an air-walker type of elliptical, similar to the ProGear 360. However, this model doesn’t allow you to extend your legs to the side, but when it comes to stride there are no limits; you should be able to maximize the length of your pace during your workout.
The Gazelle Supreme offers a weight capacity of 300 lbs, which is rather impressive for an exerciser of this type. It also has a resistance system. It comes with two hydraulic cylinders which you can attach to the mobile arms of the machine to add tension to the workout. The cylinders don’t have adjustments or “clicks”. You simply can exercise with them attached for more resistance, or disconnected, for a lighter workout. This being said, the trainer offers two levels of resistance. There’s also an exercise meter included with this Gazelle trainer; this unit tracks speed, distance, time, pulse, and calories… Read Full Review.
The Body Power BFX8000 is a friction resistance elliptical trainer, similar to the Sunny SF-E2310. It’s equipped with a large flywheel which is considerably heavy for an elliptical trainer. The flywheel precision balanced, steel-made wheel, which delivers a steady and consistent momentum. The machine’s resistance functions in a similar way to most spin bikes. It consists of a felt pad attached to the tension dial on top of the frame. As you tighten the dial, the pad applies more friction to the flywheel.
Despite its sturdy aspect and steel construction, the Body Power BFX8000 only has a weight capacity of 250 lbs. It delivers a maximum stride length of 13″. It’s equipped with an exercise meter that can track time, speed, distance, and calories, but also gives you the possibility to select countdown target goals for time, distance, and calories… Read Full Review.
The ASUNA 4300 elliptical trainer is made by Sunny Health & Fitness. Just as the other ASUNA products, it’s a machine that offers a heavier construction than the other Sunny models in this price range, and also comes with a 5-year warranty for the frame.
The Sunny ASUNA 4300 is one of the most affordable trainers with a motorized magnetic resistance system. It offers 16 tension levels. The lower resistance settings are fairly light, great for recovery training or for elderly users, while the top levels do offer the possibilities of more intense workouts. The machine is equipped with a mid-range console which offers 5 preset workouts, a Recovery function and a BMI… Read Full Review.
Price: $200 – $500
In general, Schwinn offers only top-quality fitness equipment, and when it comes to ellipticals, there’s no exception. The best price/quality ratio is offered by the Schwinn MY16 430, as its price is only a little above $500, but offers almost as many features as the commercial, gym models. Also, this model is one of the newest from Schwinn, released in the second part of 2016.
The Schwinn MY16 430 is a trainer with automatic magnetic resistance, featuring 20 tension levels and 22 onboard programs. Needless to say, it’s quite a sturdy machine, being able to support users up to 300 lbs. Pedals feature cushioning, while the fixed handlebars incorporate sensors for pulse reading. This model is also equipped with an incline system, but just as for the ProForm 520, its incline system is manual. It has a standard 20″ stride… Read Full Review.
The MY17 470 is one of the newest ellipticals from Schwinn, released at the beginning of 2017. It’s a more inclusive version of the MY16 430. So far, it actually stands better than the 430 model as it benefits from more positive reviews than it.
As opposed to the 430 model, the Schwinn MY17 470 offers an automatic incline system, 25 levels of eddy current resistance, and a more performant console, which has 29 workout application, plus, it’s Bluetooth enabled. The Bluetooth feature allows you to sync the machine with your smartphone or tablet, in order to directly stream your workout data to the Schwinn Trainer app or to Schwinn Connect, MyFitnessPal, and Under Armour Connected Fitness… Read Full Review.
The Nautilus E614 is a model similar in design and specs to the Schwinn 430. In fact, they’re almost the same machine. It costs a little more than the Schwinn model though, but pretty much the only difference is the construction of the front base. This model features a front base consisting of a triangular tube with rubber feet, while the Schwinn has a cylindrical tube base, with caps on the ends, rather than feet.
Nonetheless, the Nautilus E614 is also an excellent fitness machine, with a solid build, and quiet, eddy current brake, with 20 levels of resistance. The onboard programs are 22 in number, also offering 2 user profiles for multiple users. The console on this machine is quite a multifunctional unit, including 3-speed fan, sound system, tablet rack and a dual LCD monitor combo… Read Full Review.
Price: Over $1000
Although the XTERRA Fitness FS5.9e doesn’t have any online connectivity features, it does have the construction and range of features of a light-commercial model. To begin with, it offers an impressive weight capacity of 400 lbs. It’s equipped with a motorized incline system which offers 20 levels of incline. It uses a motorized resistance system which also makes available 20 distinct levels of resistance, delivering light to intense workout possibilities.
In terms of console, the one included with this XTERRA elliptical trainer can be considered a mid-range one. It features a 7.5″ diagonal LCD display, with blue LED backlight. It shows RPM, speed, time, distance, laps, calories, heart rate, the current resistance level, and the current incline level. It has 20 workout programs including 15 preset, 2 custom, 2 heart rate, and the manual mode… Read Full Review.
The Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 benefits so far from a decent amount of 5-star reviews on various retailer and fitness websites, despite the fact that it doesn’t have an incline system. However, it still is a heavy-duty machine with a maximum user weight capacity of 300 lbs. The length of its stride is 20″ (51 cm), which means that the machine can accommodate comfortably users between 5’2″ (152 cm) and 6’2″ (190 cm).
The main advantages of the Evolve 3 elliptical are its ViaFit™ and Passport™ capabilities. It has Wi-Fi connectivity and allows you to stream your workout data directly into your ViaFit account for better tracking. Passport is a Virtual Active technology which can make your workout more enjoyable, providing high-definition footage from various places around the world, with coordinated ambient sounds. However, even if you won’t be using ViaFit or Passport, the machine still offers 32 pre-set workouts… Read Full Review.
Just about any elliptical trainer over the mark of $1000 should offer a solid construction, at least a fair amount of onboard workout apps, shock-absorbing pedals, power incline, and of course, a higher user capacity. The Sole Fitness E35 is actually one of the most affordable ellipticals that fit this category. It’s a model with a front drive system, and the incline situated at the rear. It actually offers an incline up to 30°, which also adjusts the stride between 20″ and 22″.
One of the best aspects with regards to this Sole trainer is that it has a double gliding rail on each side, supplying a much smoother and stable feel during workouts. Needless to say, this machine comes with a multifunction console, with a built-in cooling fan, sound system, and other comfort factors… Read Full Review.
Final Pick: The Best Elliptical Trainer for Home Use
Although the Schwinn MY17 470 doesn’t have a clean 5-star rating sheet (it currently stands at an average rating of 4-4.5-stars on most retailers and fitness websites), it still remains our top selection for 2018. That’s because it offers an exceptional price/value ratio, and a construction and weight capacity pretty close to light-commercial models. It’s also one of the newest fitness machines from Schwinn; it was released at the beginning of 2017.
As opposed to the older Schwinn 470 (which is still available, by the way), it features a console with an interface that is more user-friendly and also has Bluetooth connectivity, being compatible with the “Schwinn Trainer” app. This trainer has an eddy current resistance system, offering 25 resistance levels and 29 workout programs. It also has an automatic incline system, offering a ramp up to 10°.
There are actually very few aspects that keep this trainer out of the commercial category. These are its 300 lbs weight capacity (while commercial trainers offer a greater capacity) and its non-adjustable stride. However, it offers a stride of 20″ which can accommodate users up to 6’3″… Read Full Review.
Choosing a fitness machine to use in the comfort of your home may not be quite an easy task, as there are many types out there, which can supply a similar training setting. But if you’re looking for one that can supply a great aerobic training and help you lose weight with a minimal impact on the joints, an elliptical trainer is an excellent choice. Therefore, if you’ve decided upon this type of exercising machine, the selection of models we’ve pointed out in this post should help serve you as a starting point for choosing the model that fits perfectly to your needs and budget.