Interested in purchasing one of the best possible pieces of exercise equipment on the planet?
Elliptical machines (also called cross-trainers or x-trainers) were born in 1995 by Precor, but the research was actually done in 1988 when researchers were studying the benefits of low impact training. They found that the same level of exercise could be had by low impact exercise as high impact exercise (if you are confused here, high impact are fitness routines that put a lot pressure on your joints such as running).
Usually when we hear “better for you” in the fitness world, it also means it is going to be A LOT harder for us to do the exercise. After all, exercising is all about pushing our limits and growing our bodies which doesn’t happen when we are just sitting around. Ironically, elliptical trainers actually make you feel like you are doing far less than if you were on a treadmill running your heart away (and killing your joints).
Something we will dive into here in just a little bit.
Since their introduction in the mid 90s, cross-trainers have become synonymous sightings at gyms. Usually the sole red-headed child of the gym when compared to the stationary bicycle or treadmill, these machines are undeserving of such a reputation.
In fact, if you are looking to start up a home gym, forget about the bicycle and the treadmill. This is one of the best cardio machines around for improving cardiovascular health. Read on through our elliptical machine reviews and you will soon be able to pick the best elliptical for your home.
Top 10 Best Ellipticals Comparison Table
|Product Name||Programs||Levels of |
|Max Weight |
|None||Not adjustable||250 lbs||$|
Body Rider Fan
Exerpeutic Aero Air
Why Should You Get One?
As mentioned earlier, when you are using an x-trainer, you will often feel like you are working out less than if you were doing the same amount of exercise as on a treadmill. This process is called Relative Perceived Exertion or RPE. It happens because of the fluid motion of the cross-trainer. Unlike a treadmill, your feet are never leaving the couplers (the two floating links & platforms that your feet stand on). Part of why this is happening is because you are not exposing your joints to a lot of terrible pain, so it feels easier on you than running because it actually IS easier on you.
The great thing is, it provides the exact same level of cardiovascular workout as running on a treadmill does.
Minus, you know, wrecking your body.
We want you to get in shape, and that is why we made this website and publish the information we do. It is likely if you are reading this though, you don’t need too much information on the benefits of performing cardio exercises.
Just in case though, cardio can produce all kinds of benefits for you, and cardio is at the center of using a piece of equipment like this. If you stay diligent, you find yourself having a stronger heart, more powerful lungs, increased bone density (and again no joint damage!), reduced stress (exercise is a great mental cleanser), and of course if your goal is weight loss you will definitely start shedding pounds with a good cardio routine practiced regularly.
There are tangential benefits that often are not talked about with cardio too. A lot of people that experience bouts of depression or anxiety can find themselves suddenly feeling more confidence in themselves both mentally and physically. And of course, my favorite activity, is the better sleep you get from a healthy dose of cardio exercise which by the way leads into a healthier life in almost every possible aspect.
Cardio is the gateway to all these benefits, the elliptical is the key.
What are the Best Home Elliptical Features? What Should You Look For?
While having a good warranty is always nice, it is not the biggest on my checklist. I want my equipment to be solidly built and sporting a few physical features, if there is a warranty backing it though than all the better.
The first thing I want is to know I can “grow” with my x-trainer.
This means as I work out more and more, there are higher resistance levels that I can scale myself up to and make myself work even harder. While your goal might not be to become insanely strong, I still recommend buying an elliptical with a lot of resistance levels as it will save you money in the long run from having to replace it and if you’re buying this for a family home gym, it allows people at different fitness levels to experience a good routine for their specific bodies.
The next thing is that a machine like this needs to be fluid. Obviously, that is one of the main selling points here.
That is why you should look for a 25 pound flywheel at the minimum.
The flywheel is what allows the elliptical to move smoothly and gives you that nice “rowing” feeling. The heavier the flywheel, the smoother it will move.
Speaking of smoothness and fluid motions, make sure the thing is quiet when you turn up the resistance. This piece of equipment operates with magnetic braking. When you switch between resistance levels, this magnetic braking increases or decreases and should be quiet. If it is making a clunky noise, that is a bad sign.
Of course stride length is important. The standard rule of thumb is that you’ll get into better shape with the longer stride, so make sure this range is a solid fit for you. This goes double if you are tall. Luckily, a few x-trainers have adjustable stride lengths as a feature included with the equipment.
Now onto probably one of the weirder things I would recommend, at least weird until you are the brand new owner of one of these machines… and that is having comfortable handlebars.
Probably the #1 complaint users have is that their handlebars are not comfortable. The last thing you want to do is get sweaty, out of breath, and feel awkward as hell.
So if you are looking online then see if anyone is talking about the handlebar situation. It is important. Trust me.
Alright, I told you this was a consumer’s guide, so let’s dive into the different aspects of some selected models.
10 Best Home Elliptical Machine Reviews
1. Schwinn 430
Schwinn is a trustworthy brand, so when buying big purchases that lend some credence as to why you might want to choose them. There are somethings I really love about this machine, for instance it has a whopping 20 levels of resistance. Another nice bell and whistle kind of feature is that you can plugin your ipad and watch movies or shows while you are working out – a bit of habit stacking where you can still get some “couch potato” time in without the negative effects.
One negative thing with this trainer is that the legs can wear down from hard daily use. If this happens, you might start hearing some awful noises from the legs rubbing on metal. Though this can be solved with some mild application of lithium or petroleum grease, so is not a terribly big deal and certainly not a dealbreaker for us.
This is a kind of strange x-trainer. There is no actual chassis to hold onto. If you are into the whole portable fitness equipment, then this isn’t a bad choice. It can easily fit under your desk or tucked away quietly in a closet. No need to worry about comfortable handlebars either, considering this baby has none, only has the foot pedals.
Unfortunately, while portable fitness equipment is pretty hip, the Stamina has some glaring problems here. For one the foot pedals do not look the sturdiest. When you are going hard on a machine, the last thing you want is flinging yourself off it because a pedal breaks. The real issue here though is stride length, the length is very short and thus the exercise you can get out of this is not as ideal as other ellipticals.
The FX-59-02 on the other hand has a pretty good stride length for someone around 5’9”-6’1”. For someone shorter, you might want to look elsewhere if you are significantly shorter as the stride length is not adjustable. The other benefit to is that is nice and quiet, it acts a lot like a more expensive brand might (minus some bells and whistles) while delivering on super value considering it is significantly cheaper than some of the bigger brands out there.
One thing to note here, while it can operate like a more expensive brand it is certainly not to the same quality. There might be some frequent wear and tear, and you may not get as long of a lifespan out of this machine than if you had splurged for something a little more expensive.
A solid choice for a piece of home fitness equipment. While if you are heavier than 220 lbs, we would recommend investing in a heavier duty option, this one is perfect for the typical average user and has 20 levels of resistance for a good range of performance. However, if you like to watch movies or the likes on your ipad while using these trainers, your device is probably going warble to the point of annoyance.
This is especially true if you didn’t follow my advice and bought this machine and weigh over 220 lbs (shame on you).
However, this is a very good trainer and is worth looking into despite this.
A bit beefier version of the previous offering, this one boasts 25 levels of resistance and a good stride length at 20”. Alas, it is not an adjustable stride so make sure this matches your height to stride ratio. It has a color backlit screen, which is nicer on the eyes than your standard grey backdrop. Plus the handles monitor your heart rate, it is even equipped for for telemetry with a chest strap if you prefer that route.
However, this elliptical takes a little while to set up since the guide is not exactly clear and leaves something to be desired for. This shouldn’t stop you from making this part of your list, since this is another solid choice for someone looking for a high quality x-trainer.
6. Schwinn A40
Another Schwinn, this one is much more lightweight. If you are looking for rapid muscle growth, then please be aware that this one only has 8 resistance levels. However, it is a great option for someone looking to get back into a cardio routine. Since it is a lighter frame and very quiet, this is ideal for people in apartments who can’t get a treadmill due to the noise that treadmills can generate.
Plus, it is not terribly expensive when compared to other ellipticals while still being manufactured by a big brand that typically offers good warranties. Since this is a lighter framed machine, I would advise getting the warranty to fix any kind of unexpected wear and tear if you plan on using it heavily.
7. Schwinn 470
Unlike our last Schwinn, this one has 25 levels of resistance and is built for the person looking to really grow their muscle and cardio game. You can have up to 4 user profiles and 29 different program routines to choose from.
One thing to watch out for is that if something does break, it might take a while to get the part from Schwinn to fix it.
Not always the case, but there have been outliers where people had a broken piece shipped and had to wait up to a couple months to receive the correct part to fix the it.
Overall though, this elliptical has a solid build that will last you and help you get into amazing shape. Plus it is a smooth ride.
Initially, I am not a fan of the seat with this unit as I want a full on elliptical for my home gym. Though I understand many people love the combination of also being able to turn their x-trainer into a stationary bicycle unit as well, so that is really just preference more than anything else.
The machine is incredibly inexpensive too which is a big bonus for someone on a tighter budget. If you’re a taller person, you might want to move on as this one is a more compact trainer. The other thing to mention here is the handlebars not being the best position and can be awkward using.
Outside of that though, this is a solid cheap solution to getting a good piece of fitness equipment in your home. For the right person, this could be a perfect introductory piece of equipment as though you are sacrificing resistance levels by going with this one, it is not terribly expensive.
If you are just starting to work out and are taking things slow, this could very well be the best pick in the lot.
A more robust rendition from Body Rider, this x-trainer is also a great inexpensive option for people who are out of shape and just starting to work out. You could drop over a $1,000 easily on a good machine, but if you want to test the waters and see how you like this kind of exercise, then this is a good starting point.
Since this trainer is not as high quality as the others on this list, if you plan on using it with some heavy routine use, you may want to select a pricier elliptical here. As the Body Rider Fan Elliptical Trainer has been known to break down for a few users.
But again, if you are just starting out, this is not a burden of an expense to have a machine within reach you can work out on and get the blood flowing.
This little device is a good fit for someone who is shorter and has a slight build. Out of all the trainers, maybe minus the Stamina model, this one is likely the most compact and takes up the least amount of room.
You will make some sacrifices in stride and resistance levels for that convenience, but in comparison to the other models the Aero is insanely inexpensive. The pedals do sport a slight downward incline, which can be annoying for some people.
As far as the actual workout goes though, it will get the job done for most people and is a very cheap price that offers an introductory level to home gym equipment for people just starting out.
You probably know more about ellipticals that 99% of the people on this planet, which is a good thing because that is exactly what we aimed for with this consumer guide.
At the end of the day, ellipticals are better trainers that give you the same workout minus the joint damage associated with running and other high impact cardio exercises. They are also very quiet in comparison. So if you live in an apartment building, this is a huge benefit or if you enjoy working out at weird hours of the night and do not want to wake up your family.
Now since you have this list of options to choose from, you can look at each with some confidence on which one is right for you. Remember, the most important parts of a good x-trainer machine is stride length, resistance levels and of course… comfortable handlebars!
What you need in will be different based off your height and personal fitness goals (and for the handlebars, I guess palm sensitivity).
Regardless of what your goals are, the elliptical reviews listed above are a good selection that covers a range of different possibilities. One of them will be the right fit for you.
Just remember, buying the machine is only the first step in the battle. The real work comes after you set it up and start using it. Don’t buy an elliptical thinking they are going to be a magical spell that suddenly makes you fit.
You need to put in the effort, so make sure it is a priority in your life once it does arrive. Set up a solid routine you can stick to.
To help with your motivation, you can set up mini-goals, take before and after pictures, and measure/weigh your body to see how well your progress is coming along.
Hopefully this guide has helped you pick the best elliptical machine, and I look forward to hearing about your results!