The best elliptical machines, also known as cross trainers, help improve your lower-body strength while offering an upper-body workout. Cross trainers are also low impact, with the motion of the elliptical protecting your joints. This means they’re a good choice if you’ve had a knee or hip injury in the past (you will need to get sign-off from your doctor first), or simply want to reduce your risk of injury in the future.
Compact with full features
The Schwinn 470 elliptical machine is a powerful machine with an 18-inch stride and a front flywheel and 16 resistance levels. It features two sets of handlebars, one stationary and one moving, with heart rate monitoring strips located on the fixed set. This elliptical connects to the Explore the World app that takes you on virtual walking paths and exercise courses around the world to give you variety and a more fun workout experience. The digital display screen gives you all the metrics you need to keep track of including speed, calories burned, heart rate, time, and distance. The Schwinn 470 has a built-in media rack and a water bottle holder.
A mid-level home elliptical machine
The solid construction and magnetic resistance of this elliptical make for a sturdy and quiet machine. This Sunny Health & Fitness cross trainer comes with one of the most advanced monitors, with the large LCD screen offering excellent readability. There’s no online connectivity or Bluetooth with this model but you can track your workout data and heart rate. With 24 in-built workout programs, focusing on everything from body fat to watt generations, you’re bound to find plenty to keep you challenged. The double set of handlebars includes a moving set for full-body workouts and the fixed set that is great for beginners and for feeling safer with the extra stability.
Space-saving hybrid cross trainer
The Bowflex Max trainer keeps your heart pumping, burns more calories than a regular elliptical machine, and activates a wider range of muscle groups by simulating stair climbing and boxing. Its compact footprint takes up half the space of a normal elliptical while still giving you two preprogrammed workouts and eight resistance levels. The Bowflex hybrid cross trainer targets unique muscle groups with different shaped moving handles. The display screen gives you important information including calories burned, burn rate, and heart rate. A heart rate chest strap is included and you can save information for two different users.
Relax and exercise
The DeskCycle elliptical is perfect for working out a little bit while working. It fits underneath your desk and can be positioned so you can work out your lower body and leg muscles while remaining seated. It’s also a good solution for at home. You can workout while sitting and reading or watching TV. The flywheel is quiet, so it won’t be heard or bother anyone working or sitting near year. It uses a magnetic resistance system with six resistant levels. The DeskCycle Ellipse also features an LCD screen that keeps track of your metrics including calories burned, distance, and time of your workout.
Best elliptical trainers: What to look for
Before you buy any type of exercise equipment, such as elliptical machines, a treadmill, an exercise bike, or a home gym, fitness experts recommend first thinking about what you hope to accomplish.
“Is your goal to build muscle? Lose weight? Prepare for a specific sport? Rehabilitate an injury? The machine you choose” said exercise physiologist Tom Holland, “should reflect your goals.” Holland, the author of Beat the Gym, is a nationally-acclaimed lifestyle and fitness expert, chief fitness advisor for Nautilus.
Elliptical trainers provide a great aerobic workout without stressing your joints. All the ellipticals we reviewed have the most important features we identified – heavy flywheels for smooth momentum, cushioned pedals, moving handlebars, interactive consoles, and built-in speakers.
The best ellipticals have adjustable stride lengths, adjustable pedals, and heart rate monitoring straps. They also have connected consoles that sync with popular fitness apps like iFit, Viafit, and MapMyRun. You’ll also want to think about incline and resistance.
Multiple levels of resistance add variety and intensity to your workouts and can help you stay focused and motivated. Varied incline levels target the muscles in your calves, quads, and glutes and provide a more realistic trail training experience.