The best elliptical machines are more versatile than you think, and are designed to give you a full-body workout that incorporates cardio and strength exercises. Cross trainers are in high-demand right now, and are the perfect home exercise machine if you want to work your arms, legs, glutes and core in one single workout. The benefits of an elliptical machine include cardio health and increased stamina, and they are suitable for most people who don’t need a doctor’s permission before starting a new exercise regime.
The best elliptical machines are made by the likes of NordicTrack, ProForm and Bowflex, which also makes some of the world’s best home gym systems for proper weight training. Elliptical machines also place less stress on your joints, as the motion of the cross trainer offers a degree of protection. So, how much do the top-rated elliptical machines cost? While you can find cheap cross trainers for around $500 or less, the sweet spot seems to be around $1,000 if you want decent features without paying through the nose.
The very best elliptical machines are designed to do more than give you a full body workout: they also monitor different aspects of your workouts and performance. This includes heart rate monitoring, how many minutes you’ve been active for, and an estimation of how many calories you’ve burned; handy if you don’t yet own one of the best fitness trackers. Of course, workout monitoring tech is also found on other types of home exercise equipment, including the best treadmills and the best exercise bikes.
Before we unveil our selection of elliptical machines for home use, here are a few things to keep in mind before spending a dime: How much space do you have for a cross trainer? These things aren’t small! Will it be just you using it, or will others in your home exercise with it too? If you do plan on sharing, we’d recommend investing in a durable elliptical machine that can support multiple workouts from multiple people (of different body weights too) each week.
1. NordicTrack FS7i: Best elliptical machine for home overall
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
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.
- Read our ProForm Carbon H7 HIIT review
- Buy the Carbon H7 Elliptical Machine at ProForm
- Buy the Carbon H7 Elliptical Machine at Best Buy
3. Bowflex BXE216: Best elliptical machine for multiple users
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.
- Read our Bowflex BXE216 review
- Buy the Bowflex BXE216 Cross Trainer at Best Buy
- Buy the Bowflex BXE216 Cross Trainer at Amazon
4. Sunny Health SF-E3912: Best elliptical machine on a budget
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
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
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
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
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.
Health benefits of elliptical machine training
It will probably come as no surprise that a study comparing the enjoyment levels of people exercising on an elliptical machine versus a treadmill showed that the treadmill users found their workout more enjoyable and natural than elliptical users. But we reckon it’s time to set the record straight because cross trainers can be just as much fun as other pieces of equipment, especially when you consider the benefits to your body.
Did you know that research has proven that using an elliptical machine revs up your pulse higher than if you were using a treadmill? Or that it’s less stressful on your knees, hips, and back than running is? And if it comes with movable handlebars then not only are you getting your heart rate pumping and protecting your joints, you’re also giving yourself a wicked upper body workout. Not to mention that your lower body sees similar improvements to if you were spending the equivalent amount of time running up flights of stairs.
Still not convinced? Let’s face it, some days you simply don’t have the energy to be running on the treadmill or building up your guns on the rowing machine and that’s where a cross trainer can be a great alternative. You can adjust the intensity to suit your energy levels and the fact that it’s low-impact means it’s a no-brainer if you’re returning to exercise post-injury.
Cross trainers are also one of the least intimidating pieces of workout equipment and super easy to use so if you’re new to exercise, they’re a great place to start. Pair your elliptical workout with one of the best fitness trackers on the market to help you stay motivated, monitor your health and fitness goals, and celebrate your achievements.
An elliptical machine is a great time saver too. If you have a busy schedule then this piece of equipment can give you a total body workout in 30 minutes or less and if you love reading then the motion your body uses on a cross trainer makes it far easier to devour a chapter or two of your favorite novel than running on the treadmill would. There’s nothing better in our book (see what we did there?!) than killing two birds with one stone.
Finally, there’s solid scientific evidence that exercise benefits your sleep, helping you to fall asleep more quickly and improving sleep quality. A good night's sleep also helps with exercise recovery so check out our guide to the best mattress online to make sure you’re getting the best sleep possible so you can reap the maximum benefits from those elliptical workouts.
Best elliptical machines: What to look for
Before you buy any type of exercise equipment, such as elliptical machines, or the best treadmills, the best exercise bikes or the best home gyms, 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, author of Beat the Gym, is a nationally-acclaimed lifestyle and fitness expert, chief fitness advisor for Nautilus.
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, 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.