Here at ellipticaltrainer101.com we have done all the legwork for you, meaning you do not have to go around busy stores looking for an elliptical trainer to try, while shop assistants keep bugging you about millions of worthless features to make a sale. We have the reviews of all the major brands and the best models, specifications and features, pros and cons of each elliptical trainer out there. All you have to do is compare and choose, from the comfort of your home.
Elliptical machines provide a great way to lose weight through a regular cardio vascular workout, much better than to keep on paying fees to your gym and never visiting it as much as you’d like because you don’t have time or the weather just doesn’t allow you to. Having an elliptical treadmill waiting for you in a corner of your home is a great investment. Lose weight, save money in gym fees and gas, and save time for other important things
- 1 Find The Best Elliptical Brands and Types
- 2 Best Elliptical Buying Guide
- 3 Price
- 4 Drive Systems
- 5 Resistance Systems
- 6 Stride Length
- 7 Weight Capacity
- 8 Warranty
- 9 Best Elliptical Trainer Machines
Find The Best Elliptical Brands and Types
Elliptical trainers nowadays come in all sizes and fit everybody’s budget, from as little as a few hundred dollars to thousands; you can find a perfect elliptical trainer that will meet your needs. There are some models from which you should just steer clear, these are prone to break if you pound on them daily, as you should, while other models are a dream lifetime investment that you will never regret. We strive to help you make that dream come true.
Finding all this information is easy as this site is divided into 3 sections including reviews by type, reviews by brand and feature articles.
- Reviews by Type – Use this category if you know what type of elliptical you want e.g manual, electric, home or commercial etc) but just need to compare the best rated models.
- Reviews by Brand – Use this category if you have a favourite brand by need to compare the different types of cross trainer they produce e.g. Smooth, Sole, Nordictrack, Proform, Epic, Horizon or many more.
- Feature Articles – Use this category first if you need more tips and advice on elliptical machine before making a buying decision.
But it isn’t just the price that you should be worried about. There are other features to keep an eye on while buying an elliptical trainer like programs, max user weight, the stride length, extra features and warranty. It can be confusing if you are looking for the best quality for your hard earned money, that is why you can take your time to search and research, compare and shortlist the best elliptical trainers that you can find, no pressures.
You can also browse through our featured articles to learn more about elliptical trainers and get ready to recognize features and benefits on elliptical trainers next time you go to the gym or enter your local fitness store to try or buy your much anticipated elliptical. Buying an elliptical trainer can’t be done in a rush and there are details very important that can make or break a deal for you…
Best Elliptical Buying Guide
As with treadmills, elliptical trainers can be very expensive, but there are certainly budget options in this category as well. Read on to learn about the must-haves, the would-like-to-haves and the could-do-withouts when it comes to buying elliptical trainers.
Elliptical trainers are pretty pricey and, as a rule, when you purchase an elliptical you get what you pay for. These machines can be broken down into two price ranges:
- low-end from $300 to $1,000
- high-end from $1,000 to $5,000
While low-end machines are more financially attractive up front, they can actually end up being more expensive over time. Because the low-end machines are not made to withstand extended use, they tend to have mechanical problems early in their life spans. These machines also tend to be noisy and they aren’t as “joint friendly” as the high-end elliptical trainers.
If you plan to use your elliptical everyday, or you’re purchasing it for family use, your dollar will go further if you invest more money up front and avoid the low-end machines altogether.
But, if you’re a sporadic home gym junkie and you only intend to use your elliptical two or three times a week, you might find that the lower-end machines are adequate for your purposes.
The high-end elliptical trainers offer sturdy construction, extended life and a variety of built-in workout options. These machines generally come with better warranties than the low-end machines and, while costly up front, they won’t continue to cost you over years of use.
Elliptical trainers fall into two main categories, front drive and rear drive. There is also an emerging third category called center drive, which is relatively new and lacks extensive testing of maintenance issues resulting from extended use. The drive system is the main component of the elliptical machine.
Simply put, the drive system is what makes the trainer “go”. If it’s made with cheap parts or shoddy engineering, you’ll be able to feel it in the performance of the machine.
Front drive trainers place the drive axel in front of the user on the machine. The front drive models are typically more affordable than rear drive models; however, there are some drawbacks to the front drive machines.
The motion of the front drive is relatively flat, which requires users to take longer strides to get maximum benefits from their workouts. Additionally, front drive machines usually require more maintenance than rear drive machines and they don’t operate as smoothly.
One good aspect of the front drive elliptical trainer is that the flatter motion lends itself nicely to individuals who are restricted in motion or prefer a lighter workout.
More advanced athletes will get a greater benefit out of the rear drive system.
The rear drive trainers place the axel drive, as you might have guessed, behind the user on the machine. Rear drive models were the first types of elliptical machines produced so their maintainability and quality have been proven over the years.
Rear drives are more expensive than the front drive machines; however, if you can afford it, it will be worth the investment to purchase a rear drive elliptical trainer since you won’t have to do as much maintenance on it; it will provide a much smoother motion and you won’t end up paying repair fees a year after you buy it.
When looking for resistance features in elliptical trainers you’ll have to choose between three different types.
- The most basic type is manually-adjustable
- Middle of the road is the electromagnetic system
- The most advanced type is eddy – current resistance
Let’s take a look at what you’ll get for your money when it comes to each of these options.
This resistance system is exactly what it sounds like. There’s a knob on the console that you’ll have to turn to increase or decrease the intensity of your workout. This system is found in low-end, inexpensive machines and generally has a choppy motion that’s not good for extended use.
As you increase the intensity on a manually-adjustable machine you’ll hear a noticeable increase in noise from the drag of the brakes. This can be a big deterrent for a user who’s intent on passing their cardio time while watching television!
The electromagnetic brakes are adjusted with the touch of a button. These can be found on low-end and high-end machines, depending on the quality of other features on the machine. This system uses friction created by a particle brake to create resistance which increases intensity. As with the manual brake system, this machine doesn’t provide the smooth function that you’ll find in high-end machines and many of the models are noisy as the resistance is increased on them.
Eddy-current brakes use magnetic resistance to increase the intensity of your workout. This type of resistance system is the most desirable and, of course, the most expensive. With eddy-current brakes, as you increase intensity, you’ll get a much smoother motion than with other resistance systems. The eddy-current brakes are also excellent for those people who like a quieter machine, as the magnetic resistance doesn’t work through friction, but through electromagnetic induction.
As with other advanced features, if you intend to use your elliptical trainer often, or you have a whole family that will be using it, the eddy-current brakes will last longer and provide a higher quality workout.
Stride length on an elliptical trainer is the distance between your front foot and your back foot during full extension of your legs. The machine you choose should accommodate your individual stride length in order for you to get an effective, pain-free and injury-free workout.
If your height is at the mid to low end of 5 feet, you’ll need a machine with a stride length between 16” and 17”. For someone who’s height is at the high end of 5 feet or above, you’ll need a machine with a stride length between 18” and 19”.
Many people purchase elliptical trainers with the intention of having the whole family use it. If you’re one of those people, you’ll want to try to find adjustable-stride machines. They are a little more expensive than fixed-stride machines, but it’s worth the extra money to avoid potential injuries.
The maximum weight capacity of an elliptical machine is very important since, if that weight is exceeded for any length of time, the machine will inevitably break down. It’s important to note that most elliptical trainers designed for home gym users have a maximum weight capacity of 250 lbs. You can get higher capacity machines; however, it will definitely cost you.
Most of the less expensive elliptical trainers will begin to feel unstable after a few months of use even for users that are within the maximum weight capacity.
So, if you’re planning on using your elliptical on a fairly regular basis, or if you’ll have more than one user in your home, you should consider spending a little more money in order to be sure that your machine will withstand extended use.
As with the treadmill warranties, the elliptical trainer warranties give you a good idea of the quality of the product you’re purchasing. If the manufacturer knows that the durability of the product is lacking, you’ll probably only get a 90 day warranty with it. On the other hand, if the equipment is of high quality, it will be reflected in a warranty of at least a year.
Okay, now you know about all of the things you should look for when purchasing an elliptical trainer. These are typically some of the more expensive home gym options; however, as I pointed out earlier, these machines are wildly popular because they burn fat fast and they are easy on your joints.
Best Elliptical Trainer Machines
Elliptical trainers were invented sometime in the 1990s as an alternative to the treadmill to provide cardiovascular exercises. By then treadmills were very popular and were actually quite extensively used in most gyms. People also started buying them to be used in their homes where they could get their quota of physical exercise at home itself.
They are actually very very simple machines and at its most basic is just two pedals attached to two handles. You stand on the pedals and move your legs forward and backward. The handles serve the twin functions of providing stability as well as being a secondary source of motive power.
This basic design can incorporate drive motors so that you can choose different speed settings and the more upmarket you go, the more features they have. In fact the really upmarket ones give you a variety of motions that the basic ones cannot give you.
The reason why they are called elliptical trainers is because of their movement which follows an elliptical path.
Advantages wise, there are many, primary among them being that as an alternative to a treadmill that only gives your lower body a workout, this also gives your upper body one. It is also much simpler in design and you will have no reliability issues as long as you keep the moving parts greased. The really simple ones that do not even come with a motor require only that.
The problem is that as an exercise trainer it is a little difficult to choose which one you want to buy with any degree of authority unless you have already used them all before. For the vast majority of us this is not the case and we just go with the advise of some sales man or after seeing some ad on TV. At the end we will be stuck with something that we paid quite a bit for even though a much simpler one would have been sufficient.
We have therefore split these elliptical trainers into three categories based on price. Under each category we give a short review on the top bestsellers so that you can basically choose which one you want to go with. We also let you know where exactly to go to get the best price. Read on.
Budget Elliptical Trainers
The low end trainers are those that cost less than $200. These machines are the bare basics that you need to work out and if used properly actually give you quite a good workout. Of course they do not have the same functionality as do the more upmarket ones, but most customer reviews are positive simply because for the price they are very effective.
The only problem with them is that many people say that they fall off because they are so unstable on it. Some people also complain of shaky legs after using it for 10 minutes, but that is supposed to be a good thing right. Your legs shake because you have used them, not because the trainer has given you the “shaky leg” syndrome. The falling off is because to be perfectly honest, it is a little unstable, but then you are supposed to hold the frame while getting on and off.
It is actually this instability that forces your body to tighten up as all the work is done by your muscles.
The understanding is that if you want a workout there is really no sense behind you getting a motor to do half the work for you.
The top three best sellers are given below.
1. Stamina 55-1610 InMotion E 1000
This model is actually not a full fledged elliptical trainer and only has the pedals. This means that it is a very small compact unit that is only a little larger than your feet. There is a motor in the center that you can set to different resistance levels and the pedals go in an elliptical path.
This model is actually more than enough if all you want is to get some exercise for your legs. You push it up against a wall so that you can lean on your arms for support, step on it and away you go.
The flip side to this is that it does not give you a full body workout, but if you are trying to reduce weight, it may be better for you to go with this, especially if you do not want to go for a walk as you can basically continue to do other work with your arms while you work your legs.
2. Gazelle Edge
This is the most basic full body workout elliptical trainer that you can get. It is nothing but two pedals hung on sturdy cords that are attached to a frame and the handles. This makes it a little unstable, but it also ensures that you get a wider range of motion than on any other machine in the market. Plus you get a CD that takes you through the different exercises that the machine is capable of assisting you with.
The best part of the Gazelle is the price. It is simple, gives you a good work out, and what is more, it can be used by everyone starting from the beginners to the really advanced. The levels of difficulty are all dependent on your own levels of fitness.
3. Gazelle Freestyle
This model is a ditto of the previous model except that it incorporates a pulse meter on the hand-grips. There is a small monitor that is attached in front that gives you details of your heart rate and such. It is still good value for money because any good heart rate monitor will cost you between $60 and $80 in itself and here it comes integrated with the machine.
Economy Elliptical Trainers
The mid range ones are the ones that cost between $200 and $500. Although the gazelle is actually one of the top sellers in any category, machines in this price range offer a number of advantages because of which they run a close second in terms of sale. They usually come with a motor assembly which provides the resistance levels that you desire, along with digital display readouts that gives you various information including pulse rate and calories burned.
These machines are a very good compromise because for a little more than the freestyle you get many more functions. The only drawback to them is that they do not allow the same range of motion that the Gazelle does like the stretch where you can actually use the machine to stretch your muscles either before or after a workout. The top selling ones are given below.
1. Body champ BRM 3671 cardio dual trainer.
This model is the top seller and it is very easy to see why. It is a dual trainer which means that you get the elliptical trainer as well as a pseudo cycle too. The same foot pedals are used and with just the addition of a bicycle seat it becomes a dual trainer. This gives you the option of you doing two different workouts with just the one trainer enabling you to exercise two different muscle groups. Plus you also get the digital display that gives you all the information that you need.
2. Schwinn A40 Elliptical
This is a deceptively simple looking machine and looks very basic. The difference between this and the previous model is that it gives you a reverse function too if you want to add some change to your exercise. As to whether this actually makes it worth the extra you pay is something that you will have to decide for yourself.
3. ProForm 850 Elliptical trainer with game fit technology
This machine is really high tech (or at least it looks high tech) and everything is concealed inside a large casing where all the working takes place. All that sticks out are the foot pedals and the hand levers. Why this model makes sense is for those who get easily bored while they exercise. This trainer gives you the option of plugging in your music player and listening to it via speakers. It also gives you 12 different personal trainer workout programs. The biggest USP for this model though is their large display where you can play games. The games are connected to your training so that they actually get easier as you workout harder. As a way to distract you from the strain in your legs there is nothing to beat this.
High End Elliptical Trainers
The high end trainers are those that cost more than $500. These trainers are really high end because they come with a number of features that are integrated, like a reverse action, a very quiet operation, different resistance settings, pods for your music system, plus any advancements in technology that has not yet tickled down to the cheaper models.
1. Schwinn 420 elliptical trainer
This model is the best selling in the high end category because it is gives you a very wide range of motion but with a lot of stability. All the connections are are made using metal connecting rods which means that there is very little shake. There is both a good and a bad side to this and while this model gives you the most stable platform there is, it also weighs a ton (figuratively speaking of course).
2. Sole E35 Elliptical
Sole is a very well known brand when it comes to personal fitness equipment and have a name for making very good quality machines that last you a lifetime without any problems. When you go with a Sole, there is no way that you can go wrong and there are very few negatives in this sense. Of course they do not have any offering in the low and mid range, but then for the kind of quality that they give you, they are good value for money.
3. Horizon fitness EX-57
This model is one of the best all rounders and the only reason that it is the third in the list is because it does not look as high tech as the other two, and we all know how important looks are. this category and is a very good option if all you want is a really good quality machine and are not very particular about the way it looks.
When it comes to personal fitness equipment the common sensical thing is to choose one that gives your body a full workout. Unfortunately many people prefer to make exercising as easy as possible which is why there are three different categories anyway.
This is more apparent in the high end versions than in the low end ones as it looks like buyers are more discerning about their money when they pay less. Maybe when you have more money to spend it is the brand that is more important in which case there is really nothing to beat getting a very expensive one.