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Best elliptical machines 2021: Top cross trainers for home workouts

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Best elliptical machines for home 2021: Top cross trainers for full-body workouts
(Image credit: Getty)

The best elliptical machines are a good choice for exercising every parts of your body in one workout. Cross-trainers increase your heart rate, improve your cardio health, burn energy, work your arms, legs, cores and glutes and much more. Elliptical trainers also have broad appeal because they combine the low impact experience of using an exercise bike with the same motion as running. 

You can get your whole body moving on an elliptical machine, and enjoy a hefty dose of cardio without the high impact of running on the road or treadmill. Because your feet never leave the pedals, you save your joints and knees because you’re not pounding the pavement. This is why the best elliptical machines are a solid option if you’re starting out, recovering from injury, or want a varied workout. You can adjust the incline and resistance depending on your preference and level of fitness too.

If you want one of the cross-trainers in this guide, you’ll need space. That’s because even the most compact options in our best elliptical machines guide aren’t as space-saving as other types of home gym equipment. Budget is also a key consideration. Some elliptical machines cost under $500, but you can pay around $1,000 for high-end options. The more expensive cross-trainers often have lots of built-in features, including workout tracking and heart rate monitoring. 

Or you could go with a cheaper elliptical trainer and wear one of the best fitness trackers instead. So there’s a lot to consider if you want one of the best elliptical machines for your home, but it is a low impact, high energy way to work out in your own space at your own pace. Here are our top picks… 

1. NordicTrack FS7i: Best elliptical machine for home

Best elliptical machines: NordicTrack FS7i Cross Trainer

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

NordicTrack FS7i FreeStride Cross-Trainer

A versatile elliptical trainer for beginners with big fitness goals

Weight: 240lbs
Dimensions: 58.5” L x 29.5” W x 74” H
User max weight: 375lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 35
Resistance levels: 24
Top features: Heart rate monitoring, calorie tracking, built-in speakers, auxiliary music port, bluetooth, AutoBreeze workout fan, one touch controls, 1-year NordicTrack iFit membership, live interactive training, Google Maps
Touchscreen: 7” Smart HD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Quiet in use+Free iFit subscription+Low impact cardio workouts
Reasons to avoid
-Lighter max resistance

If you’re looking for a versatile piece of workout equipment that combines the movement of an elliptical, treadmill, and stair stepper, the NordicTrack FS7i is the best elliptical machine for you.

This flexible and low-impact cross-trainer offers an impressive 32-inch stride length, glider-like motion, and light to moderate resistance across its 24 levels. The center-drive design promotes balance and also helps keep the footprint of this elliptical small so it’s great if space is an issue.

The FS7i also comes loaded with 35 built-in workout programs, so you can choose a routine optimized for your specific goals, whether that’s calorie burning, endurance training or both. You also get a year’s free membership to iFit, which offers Google Maps workouts so that you can push yourself to your limits all over the globe, from the golden sands of a Hawaiian beach to the challenging climb of Japan’s Mt Fuji.

Want a more personalized approach? Join one of the on-demand workouts and an iFit trainer will use LIVE resistance and incline control to help you meet your goals and make sure you’re getting the best fitness experience possible. 

Granted it’s not the cheapest cross-trainer on the market, but given the versatility and impressive array of programs and features, we reckon you’re getting serious bang for your buck with the FS7i. 

2. ProForm Carbon HIIT H7: Best elliptical machine for small spaces

Best elliptical machines: ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

(Image credit: ProForm)

ProForm Carbon HIIT H7 Elliptical Trainer

Save on space with this hybrid cross-trainer machine

Weight: 180lbs
Dimensions: 66.7” L x 29.25" W x 52" H
User max weight: 325lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 32
Resistance levels: 24
Top features: Heart rate monitoring, calorie tracking, built-in speakers
Touchscreen: 7” Smart HD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Total-body training+30lb flywheel+Compact

High-Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is a popular training technique that involves working out at 100% of your maximum capacity, followed by short bursts of recovery. This hybrid fitness machine combines the smooth, low-impact motion of a cross trainer with the intensity of a stair climber. The result? An intense workout that’s also kind on your joints.

If you like to challenge yourself then the Carbon HIIT H7 is the perfect choice for you. It 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. 

Not only is this machine impressive when it comes to helping you burn the maximum amount of calories in the minimum amount of time but it’s also a winner if you’re short on space. Its compact footprint takes up half the space of a normal elliptical, making it a great option for your home gym, and the 24 levels of magnetic resistance offered by the 30lb flywheel create a smooth and silent workout. 

And the perks don’t stop there. Purchase a 3-year iFit membership for up to 4 users ($39/month over 36 months) and the H7 is free. With access to Google Map trails, outdoor workouts with personal trainers, and an unlimited library of workouts, iFit is one of the best online fitness programs, making this a pretty outstanding deal.

3. Bowflex BXE216: Best elliptical machine for multiple users

Best elliptical machines: Bowflex BXE216 Cross Trainer

(Image credit: Bowflex)

Bowflex BXE216 Cross Trainer

This elliptical trainer tracks in-depth workout data for four people

Weight: 263lbs
Dimensions: 77” L x 31” W x 70” H
User max weight: 400lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 11
Resistance levels: 25
Top features: Heart rate monitoring, Bluetooth enabled, 4 user profiles, built-in speakers, cooling fan, 2 year warranty
Touchscreen: 9” LCD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Provides detailed workout feedback+Can support 400lbs in weight+Stores up to 4 user profiles
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy machine weight

Bowflex’s top of the line elliptical machine, the beastly BXE216 Cross Trainer is the perfect addition to your home gym. Offering a low impact workout for any skill level, this trainer can accommodate up to 400 pounds in weight and comes with a heavy 35-pound flywheel, a 22-inch stride path, 11 built-in workout apps, and a 0 to 15 percent motorized incline adjustment. 

The magnetic resistance means there’s no friction and makes for a smooth and quiet operation. With a front-drive design that helps maximize living space, an adjustable stride path, and support for up to four user profiles, this is a great trainer for both individuals and families. 

You’ll love the extensive feedback the Bowflex BXE216 elliptical machine offers, including readouts for time, distance, speed, calories burned, and heart rate, along with sprints, intervals, and resistance. It also comes with a generous two-year warranty and if you’re not satisfied, you can return the trainer within six weeks for a full refund.

4. Sunny Health SF-E3912: Best affordable elliptical machine

Best elliptical machines: Sunny Health SF-E3912 Cross Trainer

(Image credit: Sunny Health and Fitness)

A mid-level home elliptical machine at an entry-level price

Weight: 104.8lbs
Dimensions: 55” L x 23” W x 64.5” H in
User max weight: 330lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 24
Resistance levels: 16
Top features: Calories, speed, distance, pulse sensors to monitor heart rate, device holder, non-slip foot pedals, 15.5 inch stride length, transportation wheels, floor stabilizers
Touchscreen: Performance monitor LCD display with LED backlight
Reasons to buy
+High weight capacity+Full-motion arm exercisers+24 unique workout modes
Reasons to avoid
-Short 14-inch stride length 

If you’ve been after an elliptical machine that offers an impressive amount of built-in workout programs, a variety of resistance levels, and an ability to offer you a full-body workout without the huge price tag, then you’re in the right place.

This top of the line model will keep both your waistline and your wallet happy coming jam-packed with features at an affordable price. The solid construction and magnetic resistance make for a sturdy and quiet machine and the SF-E3912 comes with one of the most advanced monitors in its price range, 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 and 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.

We love the double set of handlebars, with the moving set being perfect for full-body workouts and the fixed set being great if you’re a beginner and feel safer with the extra stability. 

The one drawback is the short stride length. At just 14-inches we wouldn’t recommend this if you’re over 6-feet tall but that aside, this cross trainer offers a great array of features without the huge price tag. 

5. Horizon Fitness EX-59: Best elliptical machine for beginners

Best elliptical machines: Horizon Fitness EX-59 Cross Trainer

(Image credit: Horizon Fitness)

Horizon Fitness EX-59

The best cross-trainer to kickstart your fitness journey

Weight: 145lbs
Dimensions: 74" x 25" x 64.5"
User max weight: 300lbs
Resistance levels: 10
Top features: Bluetooth, device holder, USB port, built-in speakers, calories, heart rate, intervals, lifetime frame warranty
Touchscreen: 4.5” LCD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Low price+iPod-compatible+30-day money-back guarantee
Reasons to avoid
-Small 14lb flywheel

While the Horizon Fitness EX-59 elliptical machine is a great buy for fitness enthusiasts of any skill level, it’s been manufactured with beginners in mind, making it the perfect choice if you’re new to ellipticals and want to test the waters.

Unlike many other cross trainers in this price range, the EX-59 comes with a comfortable 18” stride and a strong and sturdy frame, ensuring you stay upright as opposed to leaning forward. You have the choice of 10 resistance levels and 10 built-in workout programs so you can focus on anything from calorie burning to interval training.

The built-in Bluetooth speakers are a nice touch for an entry-level model and means you can wirelessly connect your phone or tablet and blast your favorite tunes while you work out. And the USB port means you won’t drain your battery’s juice while you do it. 

We love that by gripping the handlebars you can get a rough idea of your heart rate and you can also track time, speed, distance, and calories burned on the 4.5” screen. The 14lb flywheel is light so you’ll likely want to upgrade to a more advanced machine down the line but the EX-59 is a great budget-friendly cross trainer for beginners that offers more than enough features to get you started on your fitness journey. 

6. Nautilus E618: Best elliptical machine for guided workouts

Best elliptical machines: Nautilus E618 Home Elliptical Trainer

(Image credit: Nautilus)

Nautilus E618 Home Elliptical Trainer

A great cross-trainer if you need a wealth of workout data

Weight: 210lbs
Dimensions: 52” L x 33” W x 22” H
User max weight: 350lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 29
Resistance levels: 25
Top features: Heart rate monitoring, performance tracking, built-in speakers, built-in fan, tablet/book reading rack, Bluetooth, USB port
Touchscreen: LCD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Comfortably cushioned footplates +Power incline up to 15 percent+Wireless heart rate monitoring
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed 22" stride length

While it may not be the cheapest machine in our lineup, the heavy-duty Nautilus E618 Elliptical Machine offers exceptional value when compared against some of the more expensive models on the  market. Aimed at those wanting to achieve at a higher level, the Nautilus E618 certainly lives up to its description with its 30-pound flywheel that’s a good 5 pounds heavier than other trainers in this price range.

If you’re a data-orientated exerciser, then this elliptical will appeal to you thanks to its Bluetooth connection, wireless heart rate monitor, pulse grips, built-in tracking app, and ability to sync with a variety of fitness apps. The reading rack can also accommodate an iPad or tablet and since this model has two LCD consoles, one will remain visible while you’re reading.

The elliptical machine offers 25 settings and an incline of up to 15 percent. The 22-inch stride is 2 inches longer than most models and while fixed, it’s a great choice for taller users. You can customize the heel support with the adjustable pedals and the console, while not as engaging as other machines, is loaded with useful training programs.

7. Sole Fitness E25: Best home elliptical machine under $1,000

Best elliptical machines: Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical Machine

(Image credit: Sole Fitness)

Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical Machine

A gym-level cross trainer without the premium price tag

Weight: 212lbs
Dimensions: 70” L x 24” W x 71” H
User max weight: 350lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 10
Resistance levels: 20
Top features: Bluetooth audio speakers and technology, USB port, Heart rate monitoring, cooling fan, adjustable foot pedals, power incline
Touchscreen: 6.5” LCD touchscreen
Reasons to buy
+Industry-leading warranty+Oversized foot pedals for a comfy workout+Wireless heart rate monitoring
Reasons to avoid
-Stride length isn’t adjustable

Powerful, durable, and affordable, the Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical Machine offers an impressive combination of functions and features. Sole has earned an outstanding reputation over the years for making high-quality fitness equipment and this cross trainer is no exception.

With a 20” stride length and a 350lb weight limit, this cross trainer will comfortably fit most users. You’ll love that the moving handlebars have built-in incline controls making it super easy to swap between the 20 incline settings on offer and work different muscle groups. 

We like that the oversized articulating and adjustable foot pedals work to reduce stress and injury to the knees and joints by creating a more natural movement and while there aren’t as many built-in workout programs as other models in this price range, the usual mix of strength training, interval training, and fat burning are all on offer. 

The inclusion of Bluetooth means you can connect your mobile device with the Sole Fitness app to store your fitness data and track your progress, and the integrated tablet holder allows you to safely dock your smart device so you can watch shows, read, or follow your workout data.

8. Schwinn 470: Best elliptical machine for a varied workout

Best elliptical machines: Schwinn 470 Home Elliptical Trainer

(Image credit: Schwinn)

Schwinn 470 Elliptical Trainer

A smooth and quiet-running cross trainer from a trusted brand

Weight: 164lbs
Dimensions: 70.1” L x 28.2” W x 63.2” H
User max weight: 300lbs
Number of built-in workouts: 29
Resistance levels: 25
Top features: Heart rate monitoring, built-in speakers, 3 speed fan, USB connection, Bluetooth data export, compatible with RunSocial, performance tracking
Touchscreen: DualTrack 2 Backlit LCD displays
Reasons to buy
+29-item program menu+Smooth striding+User-friendly LCD
Reasons to avoid
-Short labor warranty

When you buy a Schwinn you know you’re getting a quality product and this model is no exception. Offering 25 resistance settings and 29 different programs, this is a great choice if you want lots of variety to keep your workouts interesting. It also comes with a 20-pound flywheel, a 20-inch stride length, and 4 different user settings, making it a solid investment for families. 

The Schwinn 470 Home Elliptical Trainer comes with a USB charging port so you can keep your phone juiced up while you sweat and the speakers ensure you can blast your favorite tunes to keep you motivated while you stride it out. If you’re looking to burn calories fast, then this model also has six settings you can choose from and a slope of up to 10% to help you target different muscle groups.

The 3-speed fan will help you keep cool while you workout, and we like that this Schwinn elliptical machine syncs with a variety of fitness apps and is Bluetooth-enabled so you can transfer your data between devices to help you stay on track with your fitness goals.

Best elliptical machines FAQ

What is an elliptical machine?

Elliptical machines, also called elliptical trainers or cross-trainers, are stationary exercise machines that are designed to help you work out your upper and lower body at the same time. 

Your arms push and pull large handles, which looks like you’re skiing, while your legs move in a striding motion on the large pedals. Your feet never leave the pedals, so it feels like you’re walking through the air. 

Although there are some differences, the stride of an elliptical machine mimics the natural motion of walking. Even though it might seem strange at first, it doesn’t put unnecessary strain on your body. You can also set the resistance to make it as hard or as easy as you like.

This sets cross-trainers apart from other kinds of home gym equipment. It’s helpful to think of an elliptical machine as a cross between an exercise bike and a treadmill. You get the same low impact workout as an exercise bike, but the same running position as a running machine. 

This is why it’s suitable for people who want a complete workout that’s low impact, smooth and less likely to cause injury – the best elliptical machines can improve strength and help with rehabilitation. 

Should you buy a row machine or elliptical trainer for a full body workout?

Row machines and elliptical trainers offer you a different experience than cycling and running. But which is right for you depends on what kind of workout you need. Both of them work your whole body. Both are good options if you’re looking for cardio that puts many different muscle groups to work. 

But there are differences. You’ll get more of an arm, back and chest workout from a rowing machine. Your legs do move, but rowing is ideal for both cardio and building strength in your upper body – especially with high resistance. However, you need to have the correct form to get the most from a row machine and avoid injury.

By comparison, the best elliptical machines work your legs and the workout is distributed more evenly. So we'd argue that cross-trainers are better for your whole body and offer gentler training overall. But rowers do get most of your major muscle groups moving, too, just with a focus on your arms, back and chest.

Best elliptical machines: two women exercise using elliptical machines at a gym

(Image credit: Getty)

Health benefits of elliptical machine training

Some research has argued that using an elliptical machine revs up your pulse higher than if you were using a running machine. According to guidance shared by the Mayo Clinic, elliptical training is also less stressful on your knees, hips and back. As cross-trainers come with movable handlebars, not only are you getting your heart rate pumping, you’re also giving yourself an upper body workout. 

You can adjust the intensity of an elliptical machine to suit your energy levels. The fact that it’s low-impact means it could help you rehab an injury if you have your doctor's permission to do so. 

An elliptical machine is a great time saver too. If you have a busy schedule, this single piece of equipment can give you a total body workout in 30 minutes or less.

Finally, there’s evidence that exercise benefits your sleep, helping you to fall asleep more quickly . A good night's sleep also boasts recovery, so check out our guide to the best mattress online to ensure you’re getting the best sleep possible so you can reap the maximum benefits from those elliptical machine workouts. 

Best elliptical machines: What to look for

Before you buy any type of exercise equipment, 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 should reflect your goals,” says physiologist Tom Holland

"Elliptical machines 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 elliptical machines have adjustable stride lengths, adjustable pedals and heart rate monitoring straps. They also have connected consoles that sync with popular fitness apps like iFit and MapMyRun

You’ll also want to think about incline and resistance. Varied incline levels target the muscles in your calves, quads and glutes and provide a more realistic trail-training experience.

Kathryn Rosenberg

Kathryn is a freelance health and wellness writer who is passionate about the mind-body connection, the role of food as medicine, and exploring how we can live in more sustainable and humane ways. A lover of the natural world, she’s at her happiest when walking the beach, staring out at the ocean, or when sat amongst lakes and mountains. For Top Ten Reviews, Kathryn covers more of our in-depth health content, ranging from diabetes news to vision care. And it isn’t just human wellness Kathryn is interested in - she also writes about the health of our furry friends over at our sister site PetsRadar.