Best Elliptical Machines

Elliptical machine buyers guide

Elliptical machines were first introduced in the early 90’s as an alternative to the ever-popular treadmills. Also commonly known as “cross trainers”, ellipticals offer an excellent cardiovascular workout without putting the stress on your joints that running can.

The best ellipticals are not just great for burning calories and losing weight, they target the arms, legs, chest, back and shoulders, which makes them great for toning your muscles and increasing overall body strength.

When you own an elliptical machine, you can get a full body workout all from the comfort of your own home. However, with so many of these cross trainers to choose from, it can seem like an overwhelming task at first. That is why we have compiled this guide on the best elliptical machines in order to help you on your search!

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What are the best elliptical machines?

Here we will take a look at our best elliptical machines from the hundreds of elliptical machine reviews that we have researched and analysed in great detail.

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How to choose the best elliptical machine for you

If you are in the market for an elliptical machine, chances are you are looking to lose weight whilst improving your overall cardiovascular fitness and body strength. That’s great! All ellipticals will allow you to do this with frequent use. However, with so many elliptical machines on the market, you must decide what features you would like the elliptical to include as this will help you with your choice.

If you are a beginner and just looking for generally fitness, a budget elliptical should do the job just fine. However, if yourself or anyone else who will be using the elliptical has more demanding needs, you will want to search at the higher end of the market for something with advanced features and functionality.

Here we will take a brief look at some of the key things worth considering when choosing the best elliptical machine for your individual needs.

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Elliptical trainers come in all shapes and sizes. You may want to measure up the space that you have available and check the ellipticals dimensions to ensure that it will comfortably fit within the allocated space.

Also consider how easy it would be to move around and if you can do it without assistance. Some cross trainers will have wheels on the bottom which can make them easier to manoeuvre.

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Weight Capacity

The weight capacity determines how much the elliptical can hold without causing any damage or safety issues. Check the weight capacity to make sure that it can easily hold the weight of anyone who will be using it. Generally speaking, the more weight that the elliptical can hold, the more stable it will feel during use.

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Height Range

In addition to the weight limit, take a look at what height range the elliptical machines is suitable for. This is especially important if there are taller users as it can impact the stride length and therefore potential impact on the knees and other joints. Whatever your height, you will want to make sure that you will be able to comfortable reach the handles and view the monitor display.

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Physical Limitations

If you have physical limitations such as joint problems, you will want to make sure that the cross trainer in question can accommodate your specialist needs. There are elliptical machines commercially available that have been designed specifically for users who have disabilities or are rehabilitating.

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One of the most important things to consider is how comfortable the elliptical will feel when you are using it. You can have the best elliptical machine in the world but if it is not comfortable enough, you will probably be less willing to use it.

The pedal size is important as you don’t want your feet slipping off and the handles should provide a soft yet stable grip.

Have a look out for fully adjustable ellipticals as these will allow you to alter them into a position that is ergonomic according to you.

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Now that we have sorted out the size and comfort of the elliptical machine, it is time to take a look at the features that it has. One of the main features to look out for is the resistance. The greater the levels of resistance, the more variety it can bring to your workout sessions. The ellipticals with the highest levels of resistance are sure to give you the most challenging workouts.

Resistance levels can usually be adjusted manually via a knob on the machine or by using a button either on the monitor display or even the handlebars on the more premium models. Check that the resistance can easily be adjusted without over exerting yourself or having to stop mid-routine.

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Display Monitor

This is where all your performance data is stored and displayed. The monitor should at least tell you how many calories you have burned, your time, speed, heart rate and distance. This is likely to be more than enough information for the average user.

However, if you are a fitness enthusiast and love tracking your data, you will want to ensure that the display monitor has all your required information. If you use any third-party fitness apps, you may need to check for Bluetooth compatibility in order to link them up.

Display monitors should ideally have some preprogramed workout built-in to them. These can be for various times and difficulty levels. If you are not that experienced, you will probably need these in order to make sure you are putting in sufficient work.

The location and layout of the monitor display is also worth consideration. Make sure that it is located in a place where you can clearly see it and read the numbers. Is it battery or mains powered? If it requires a mains socket, you will need to consider if you have a socket near by that will not cause a trip hazard.

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OK, we now know what we are looking for when choosing the best elliptical trainers, the final and perhaps most important step is to narrow the options down according to your budget.

Thankfully, with so many cross trainers on the market, you do not need to break the bank for a strong and reliable machine. Even the most basic elliptical will hep you to lose weight and get in shape. Although if you are willing to spend that bit extra, you can get something with a few extra fancy features to spice up your exercise routine.

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Other Key Features

In addition to the above elliptical features we would look out for, there are a few more things to keep in mind during your search;

  • Are there any pulse grip sensors for accurately tracking your heart rate?
  • Is there a bottle holder to help keep you hydrated during your workout?
  • Is there a smart device holder where you can place your phone/tablet to watch as you train?
  • Is there a safety stop should you lose control of the elliptical?
  • Is there anything on the underside of the elliptical to prevent the floor from damage?
  • Does the elliptical come assemble and if not, will you be able to assemble it?
  • Does it include assembly instructions and tools?
  • What materials are used? The better the materials, the more durable it will be.
  • Is there any warranty and what does it cover?
  • How is the customer support?
  • What are the customer reviews from existing users like?
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Types of elliptical machines

Believe it or not, there are a variety of different elliptical trainers that can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, with various features that might be important to you. One of the primary differences between the types of ellipticals involves the style and location of the flywheel.

As we all approach fitness with our individual goals and backgrounds, it can be good idea to learn more about the different types of machines to help identify what will be the best elliptical for you. Let’s take a quick look at them here;

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Standard Elliptical Trainers

This is the standard cross trainer that most of you will already be accustomed with. It has foot pedal that you stand on with handlebars in front of you. However, as the handlebars do not move, you are mainly working your lower body muscles as you pedal away in a circular motion.

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Elliptical Cross-Trainers

The next step up is the elliptical cross trainer which gives you a full body workout as the handlebars move which allows you to work your upper body and lower body simultaneously.

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Elliptical Glider

The elliptical glider machine is similar to a standard elliptical with the main difference being that the pedals move up and down in a backward motion rather than in a circular motion. You are more or less gliding, hence the name. These can give you a good lower body workout especially when used with higher resistance.

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Recumbent Elliptical

These operate the same as a standard elliptical machine with the difference being that you can sit down when working out. This can be beneficial for anyone who has suffered from an injury or for seniors who are not able to stand whilst exercising. You can pop a recumbent elliptical Infront of the TV and pedal away without putting unnecessary strain on your joints.

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Center Drive Elliptical Trainers

Center drive ellipticals are a newer type of elliptical where the flywheel is usually on either side of the pedals. Center drive ellipticals can offer a more vertical range of motion and almost resemble the movement of a stair climber machine. The user tends to remain more upright throughout the workout. They can be more compact and give less strain on the joints. However, they tend to cost slightly more.

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Front Drive Elliptical Trainers

This type of elliptical machine is again similar to the motion of a stair climber but the location of the flywheel is at the front. These models are often referred to as the “shuffle trainer” and feature a stepping motion.

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Rear Drive Elliptical Trainers

This is the oldest type of elliptical trainer that was patented by Precor back in the ‘90s. Just as the name eludes to, the flywheel is in the back of the machine. This means that it can support a longer stride in the front and generally features a smoother, natural heel-to-toe motion that is often seen on commercial elliptical machines.

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Benefits of elliptical machines

Elliptical machines can give you the best of both worlds when working out. Not only do you get a great cardio session, you can also work your upper and lower body muscles. This makes them a complete piece of fitness equipment and an excellent addition to any home gym. What’s more, they are easier on the joints than treadmills and can give you a more varied and enjoyable workout.

Here are some of the main benefits of elliptical machines;

  • Burn calories
  • Reduce body fat
  • Improve your balance
  • Strengthen your muscles
  • Increase your stamina
  • Boost mental health
  • Easy on your joints
  • Fun!
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Tips for using your elliptical machine

After you have finally made the positive decision to improve your health and fitness, you will have purchased your elliptical trainer and be raring to go! However, before you start your fitness regime, here are a few tips to help you get the best elliptical machine experience;

  • Take your time to set it up and find a comfortable position
  • Keep the elliptical in a place where you will feel like using it
  • Make sure that you warm up and warm down for a few minutes
  • Choose a fitness program that caters towards your own goals
  • Start slowly and increase the difficulty as your fitness improves
  • Stay hydrated throughout and stop if you feel any severe pain or discomfort
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Whilst there are many ways to get your cardio exercise, some are more enjoyable than others. An elliptical machine is a fun and effective way to get your exercise. Not only will you burn those calories but you will also strengthen your muscles. Not many other pieces of fitness equipment give such a good all-in-one full body workout.

If you have limited space, then an elliptical could be a great choice for you. Even with an abundance of space, you can diversify your routine to great effect with an elliptical machine if you don’t already own one. There are many ellipticals on the market to suit all shapes, sizes and budgets.

Hopefully this elliptical trainer guide has helped you on your search, now go get that machine you have always dreamt of!

Happy exercising!

Rich is an avid bodybuilder who has dedicated over 20 years of his life to the sport. He has a strong passion for health and fitness, living a clean lifestyle with a commitment to helping others educate themselves and fulfil their true potential.

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