Among the many exercise machines currently being used today, one of the most recognizable is certainly the elliptical machine. This particular exercise equipment comes in various sizes and, depending on the manufacturer, comes with various attachments and extras. Try looking up some elliptical machines online and browse the product descriptions. You just might become overwhelmed with the (all too often) very long list of features and specifications that appear on the product pages. However, if you want to make sure you are investing your money in the best elliptical machine, here are the key features and specifications that you must look for.
Length of Stride
“Stride” is the longest distance between the pedals of the elliptical machine while in motion. It could be anywhere between 12 inches to as much as 22 inches, depending on the brand and the make of the elliptical machine. It is basically what gives users of the machine the workout that they are looking for.
When checking out the stride length of the elliptical machine, two main considerations must be taken into account: the user’s height (or, to be more precise, the length of the user’s legs) and the preferred workout intensity. Machines with shorter strides are ideal for younger children; meanwhile, adults with an average height will normally go for one with an 18- to 20-inch stride. Those who are taller will most likely choose one with 22 inches. For users who like to challenge themselves and prefer to have more intense workouts on the elliptical trainer, the best elliptical machine would be one with a longer stride.
Not only will a lengthier stride give you a more thorough and intense workout, it will also make you feel more comfortable since the range of motion will be smoother and more fluid.
The part of the elliptical machine that pretty much dictates, or controls, how smooth it will feel and perform, is the flywheel. Therefore, when choosing an elliptical machine, pay extra attention to the flywheel, particularly its weight. A too light flywheel won’t let you maximize its elliptical machine benefits. Choose one with a heavier flywheel, since it will be able to provide more inertia to ensure the drive system keeps on turning. However, make sure it is not too heavy for you since it could result to too much difficulty and a not-so-smooth performance. A flywheel could weigh as light as 13 pounds. However, the best elliptical machine would have a flywheel that weighs around 25 lbs.
Resistance and Its Levels
If you are wondering what the main component of the machine that gives you the elliptical machine benefits is, it is the “resistance”, or the opposing magnetic force built into the machine. The higher the resistance, the more elliptical machine benefits you’ll get.
What should you look for when it comes to an elliptical machine’s resistance? It’s the range of resistance levels it offers. How many levels of resistance does it have? The best elliptical machine offers several levels, not just one, two, or three. This gives the user more control over the intensity of the workout; if he wants a challenge, he can just choose the high resistance levels. If it’s just a moderate workout, he can set it on the lower levels. Generally, elliptical trainers offer at least 16 resistance levels. If you want more, look towards the high-end models, which come with around 20 to 22 levels.
You should also look into the adjustability of the resistance. Of course, you want to be able to shift the resistance levels easily, so one with a button instead of a dial will be preferable.
Maximum User Weight
It is not enough to look into how solid or heavy duty the construction of the elliptical machine is. There are seemingly ultra-durable units that will falter the moment a user gets on them for the simple reason that they cannot accommodate the user’s weight. Look into the user weight capacity of the elliptical machine, as indicated in the specifications. What is the maximum user weight that it can hold without affecting its performance? Choose one that can easily hold your weight, and that of the other people you expect will also be using the machine.
Does the elliptical machine have built-in programs or workout modes that you can use on your training sessions? Fortunately, many elliptical machines now have preset programs that you can choose from. But if you are looking for the best elliptical machine, it would be a great idea to choose one that has preset programs but also lets you customize your workouts.
We’re talking about the user console which almost always comes in an LCD window, displaying data regarding your workout and letting you track your progress, letting you know whether or not you are getting the elliptical machine benefits that you are aiming for. Basically, you want a console that indicates the Time, Speed, Distance, Heart Rate, and Calories Burned. More sophisticated models include more feedback, and some even design the console with backlighting, so it can be used even in the dark.
Smooth and Quiet Operation
For this one, you have to test it yourself. You want the pedals of the elliptical machine to be able to move smoothly – no tugs, no jerks. Since almost all elliptical machines utilize magnetic braking systems, they tend to have some jerking motions. Make sure that the braking system works and adjusts smoothly between the various resistance levels. Listen closely to the machine; does it produce a humming noise, or is it quiet? If there is some noise produced, is it distracting, or is it negligible? As much as possible, you want an elliptical machine that you can use comfortably, and that includes freedom from distracting noise or potential accident-causing movements.
Machine Incline or Ramp
The best elliptical machine is one that will let you work as many muscle groups as possible during each session. That’s why you should also take note if the elliptical machine comes with an adjustable “incline”. You will be able to burn more calories with a higher workout slope, and more muscle groups will be targeted.
You don’t want to constantly be looking out against potential injuries while working out, do you? You want to concentrate on getting as much elliptical machine benefits as you want, instead of letting your wariness hold you back. Look for one with safety features such as handrails. Convenience features such as water bottle holders, reading racks, cooling fans and accessories trays are also definite pluses. Of course, for buyer or user security, the warranty terms of the machine – the frame, the components, and labor – should also be looked into. This is one manner of protecting your investment.
When in doubt, ask for help. Trying to choose the best elliptical machine can be downright confusing, so there is nothing wrong with looking to the experts for assistance. Ask any questions you may have, and even request for their suggestions and recommendations. This is one way to ensure that you get the machine best suited for you, and one that will help you get the elliptical machine benefits that you want.