The 10 Best Ellipticals of 2021

Break a sweat in the comfort of your home

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Verywell Fit / Sabrina Jiang

If you’re looking for a low-impact cardio workout, an elliptical is a great option. Whereas other forms of cardio—like running, jumping, and HIIT—can put a lot of pressure on your lower body, ellipticals tend to offer a smooth, comfortable stride, especially when recovering from an injury. This can be good when you want to work up a sweat without overexerting yourself, and it can be particularly great for beginners who want to ease into working out without overdoing it.

Though ellipticals tend to be fairly similar across the board, there is some room for variation. If you’re navigating a small space, you can always opt for a more compact elliptical—or even one that folds up between uses. If you’re planning to use your elliptical with some frequency, you may want to invest in an option with multiple resistance levels, training modes, and other higher-tech features.

Here are the best ellipticals on the market.

Our Top Picks
With 16 levels of resistance and a progress tracker, it allows you to build your endurance before increasing the intensity.
An affordable option for all levels, it provides all of the essential metrics, from calories burned to distance traveled.
Its 22 workout programs will easily get you started while its unique Goal Track feature keeps you motivated over time.
Though a pricier pick, it features a variety of functions, from incline settings to 26 resistance levels to on-demand workouts.
Part elliptical and part recumbent bike, the two-in-one machine can be converted to whatever you're in the mood for.
A hybrid of the elliptical and recumbent bike, the adjustable seat allows you to decide how far you'd like to lean back.
The low-impact machine is an especially great pick for those with a sedentary occupation as it can be used under a desk.
Though not a traditional elliptical, it provides a similar, cycle-like experience that promises to be free of neck or back pain.
If you don't have a lot of space to spare, this magnetic elliptical makes a portable pick that's light and easy to move.
Conveniently foldable when it's not in use, its pedals uniquely hover mid-air, giving you an extra challenge in staying balanced.

Best Overall: Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Bowflex Max Trainer M6
Pros
  • Can recharge while you exercise

  • Easy-to-grip handles

  • Has several resistance levels

Cons
  • Long delivery times

The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 is a compact elliptical that packs a serious punch. The machine’s unique design blends the smooth strides of an elliptical with the strength-building steps of a stair-stepper, giving you a dynamic challenge every time you work out.

The elliptical’s large console makes it easy to track your progress, and its built-in media rack is great for multitasking. Also nice? If your device dies mid-workout, you can plug it into the USB charging port to recharge it as you exercise.

The elliptical’s cushioned handles are easy to grip and its wide pedals offer a smooth, comfortable stride. Take advantage of the machine’s 26 resistance levels as you up the intensity of your workouts over time. Plus, enjoy two months of complimentary access to the Bowflex JRNY app, which will give you access to trainer-led workout videos, virtual coaching, and adaptive workouts that get harder as you get stronger.

Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions: 49 x 30.5 x 65.5 inches | Stats Offered: Burn rate, heart rate | Assembly: Optional assembly service

Best Budget: Plasma Fit Elliptical Machine

Plasma Fit Elliptical Machine
Pros
  • Converts into a bike

  • Cushioned handles

  • Has several resistance levels

Cons
  • Seat is hard and uncomfortable

Part elliptical and part exercise bike, the Plasma Fit Elliptical Machine is a solid two-in-one trainer. And it’s available at a budget-friendlier price point than many more classic ellipticals. If you want to use the machine as a standard elliptical, simply climb onto its wide pedals, grip its cushioned handlebars, and start striding.

If you want to convert it into an exercise bike, adjust the machine’s seat, grip its smaller stationary handles, and start cycling. You’ll use the same pedals, no matter what kind of exercise you’re doing. And you can up the intensity of your workout by turning the tension knob on the machine’s frame. 

Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Dimensions: 21.5 x 35.5 x 58.25 inches | Stats Offered: Pulse rate | Assembly: Some assembly required

Best Budget Runner-Up: Schwinn 430 Compact Elliptical Machine

Schwinn 430 Compact Elliptical Machine
Pros
  • Includes different workout options

  • Tracks your progress

  • Quiet operation

  • Cushioned pedals

Cons
  • Heavy

The Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine is a classic elliptical that covers all your bases. The machine is straightforward, easy to use, and sure to deliver a solid workout every time. The elliptical is equipped with 22 different workout programs, including beginner and advanced options. (It also boasts a “quick start” mode if you prefer a no-fuss option.)

You can use the machine’s Goal Track feature to set goals and track your progress over time, and you can take advantage of its 20 resistance modes to stay challenged as you build strength. No matter what settings you activate, though, the elliptical promises a smooth, quiet ride—and its wide, cushioned pedals promise to keep your strides comfortable.

Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions: 70.1 x 28.2 x 63.2 inches | Stats Offered: Heart rate | Assembly: Optional assembly service

What Our Testers Say

“You’ll definitely want to assemble this machine with two people since the process is complicated and time-consuming and the instructions need to be done in the correct order to make sure you get the most out of your machine. It was so nice for us to have such a high-quality, high-functioning workout machine in our home. With the Schwinn 470, there’s really no excuse to skip a workout.” Deanna McCormack, Verywell writer and product tester

Best Splurge: NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer

NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer
Pros
  • Adjustable stride

  • Converts into a treadmill or stair stepper

  • Has several resistance levels

  • Generous incline range

Cons
  • Doesn't offer any assembly service

NordicTrack's FS14i FreeStride Trainer is a high-tech elliptical that will adapt to your habits, giving you a personalized fitness experience. Hop onto the elliptical and you’ll notice that its 32-inch stride will give you plenty of room to pedal. Over time, you might feel the stride grow shorter and more comfortable. That’s because the machine automatically adjusts to your stride length.

You can also use the machine's ample range of motion to make your workouts more versatile. By sliding your feet forward and back, you can convert the elliptical into a treadmill. And by pressing them up and down, you can use the machine as a stair stepper.

Many ellipticals boast several resistance levels, but this one offers a whopping 26 levels of resistance. It also gives you the option of a ten-degree incline or a ten-degree decline—a rare feature that will let you make your workouts even more dynamic.

The elliptical comes with a complimentary one-year membership to iFit, which you can use to access thousands of on-demand workouts. You can also activate iFit’s automatic trainer control feature to let a personal trainer control your incline and resistance level settings as you work out. 

Weight Capacity: 375 pounds | Dimensions: 58.5 x 29.5 x 74 inches | Stats Offered: Calorie burn, heart rate | Assembly: Self-assembly

Best Two-in-One: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

ProForm Hybrid Trainer
Pros
  • Converts into a bike

  • Everything is adjustable

  • Has several resistance levels

Cons
  • Doesn't offer any assembly service

The ProForm Hybrid Trainer is an elliptical that doubles as a recumbent bike—giving you two exercise machines in one. To use the trainer as an elliptical, slide the seat out of the way, climb onto the machine’s wide pedals, and grip the tall, moving handlebars. To use the trainer as a recumbent bike, slide the seat forward, flip the pedals up, and pull the stationary handlebars closer toward you.

Whereas many two-in-one trainers only let you adjust the seat, this one lets you adjust every part of the machine, giving you a solid and comfortable workout no matter which mode you’re in.

Toggle between the trainer’s 16 resistance levels to keep your workouts challenging, and take advantage of the complimentary 30-day iFit membership that comes with your purchase.

Weight Capacity: 350 pounds | Dimensions: 70.5 x 24.5 x 60.5 inches | Stats Offered: Distance, cadence, calorie burn | Assembly: Self-assembly

Best Recumbent: Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical

Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical
Pros
  • Converts into a bike

  • Adjustable seat

  • Includes tablet and water bottle holders

Cons
  • Seat is hard and uncomfortable

Two-in-one trainers are machines that act as ellipticals or recumbent bikes, depending on how you’ve adjusted your seat. But the Teeter FreeStep Recumbent is a different kind of elliptical and recumbent bike hybrid. The machine blends the lean-back style of a recumbent bike with the arm and leg motion of an elliptical, making it a new breed of exercise machine—a recumbent elliptical.

Every time you use your Teeter FreeStep Recumbent, you’ll be seated. And you can adjust the position of your seat based on how much you’d like to lean back while you pedal. You’ll stride the same way you would on a standard elliptical, and you’ll also use the moving handlebars to engage your upper body.

This makes the recumbent elliptical higher-impact than a standard recumbent bike, but lower-impact than a classic elliptical—an excellent option for people who want a workout that’s challenging, but still comfortable. 

Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Dimensions: 54 x 38 x 52.5 inches | Stats Offered: N/A | Assembly: Optional assembly service

Best Under-Desk: Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider

Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider
Pros
  • Small footprint

  • Quiet operation

  • Has several resistance levels

Cons
  • Wheels may begin to squeak over time

The Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider isn’t a bulky machine. Instead, it’s a pair of pedals you can slide just about anywhere—under desks, below tables, in front of couches, and more.

The lightweight, portable machine was designed with multitasking in mind. It promises a quiet, unobtrusive workout, letting you log a little exercise while you work or watch TV. And if you want to adjust the intensity of your workout, you can always turn the built-in tension dial to scale your resistance up or down.

Weight Capacity: 250 pounds | Dimensions: 24.5 x 17 x 11.4 inches | Stats Offered: N/A | Assembly: Self-assembly

Best for Outdoors: ElliptiGO Outdoor Stand-Up Bike

ElliptiGO Outdoor Stand-Up Bike
Pros
  • Easy to grip handles

  • Adjustable steering column

  • Lightweight

Cons
  • Cannot adjust stride

The ElliptiGO Outdoor Exercise Trainer is a stand-up bike that mimics the motion of an elliptical, allowing you to take your favorite indoor workout outside. Simply climb onto the bike’s pedals, grip its textured handlebars, and start striding. The motion will feel familiar. The only difference? You’ll actually be propelling yourself forward, meaning you can log an elliptical workout on-the-go.

If you ever decide you’d rather use your ElliptiGO in a stationary capacity, you can always purchase ElliptiGO’s Fluid 365 Stationary Trainer to convert your ElliptiGO to a more standard elliptical you can use indoors.

Weight Capacity: 250 pounds | Dimensions: 66 x 46.6 inches | Stats Offered: None | Assembly: Shipped 90% assembled

Best for Small Spaces: EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine

EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine
Pros
  • Small footprint

  • Lightweight

  • Has multiple resistance levels

  • Tracks your progress

Cons
  • May not work for taller users

At 41x26x59.5 inches, the Efitment Elliptical Trainer is an incredibly compact machine—making it a great option for small spaces. It's 63 pounds and it's also portable and relatively lightweight. Simply tilt the front of the machine toward you to activate its transport wheels, and roll it out of the way any time you need some space.

Though compact, the machine is still sturdy enough to support you through a workout. Its wide pedals promise a smooth, comfortable ride. Its adjustable tension knob lets you access eight different resistance modes, and its built-in digital monitor makes it easy to track your progress.

If you’re at all concerned about the machine tipping over, there’s no need—it comes reinforced with leg stabilizers that keep it from rocking and swaying as you work out.

Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Dimensions: 41 x 26x 59.5 inches | Stats Offered: Time, speed, distance, calories burned, pulse rate | Assembly: N/A

Best Foldable: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Elliptical Machine

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Elliptical Machine
Pros
  • Has glider pedals

  • Folds up for easy storage

  • Easy to grip handles

Cons
  • Doesn't have any resistance levels

The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer may not look like other ellipticals you’ve seen. That’s because the machine boasts a glider design, where the pedals hover in mid-air, rather than resting on a bulky base. The result is a machine that’s particularly low-profile—and because glider pedals make balancing a little more effortful, you’ll get the added bonus of extra core engagement.

When fully extended, the elliptical consumes 27,025 cubic inches. And when folded in half, it only demands 17,527.5 cubic inches. (For context, a standard elliptical takes up about 127,705.5 cubic inches—so this is an incredibly space-efficient option).

Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Dimensions: 25 x 19 x 57 inches | Stats Offered: Time, count, total distance, calories | Assembly: Includes tools required for assembly

Final Verdict

If you want an upgraded pick, the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 (view at Bowflex) is worth the investment. Because of its unique design, the elliptical offers a dynamic blend of cardio and strength training. But every workout will still be smooth, comfortable, and low-impact—the way elliptical exercise should be.

Schwinn 470 Elliptical

Verywell Fit / Deanna McCormack

What to Look for in an Elliptical

Resistance Levels

Most ellipticals offer a range of resistance levels— increasing the tension of your stride to help you build strength. Some (typically higher-end) ellipticals offer a wider range of resistance levels than others, so if you prefer to engage in endurance, high-intensity, or training exercises, look for a machine with more resistance options. 

Workout Modes

Many ellipticals offer a range of workout modes in addition to their resistance levels. These may include hill climbs, fitness tests, and other training programs. If you prefer to control your own workout, you may not take advantage of these, but if you like having preset options, be sure to look for a machine equipped with a handful of workout modes. 

“I would suggest buying one that allows you to change the angle and degrees of the glide,” says Adrien Deffes, CPT. With the ability to make manual adjustments, people can engage in a variety of exercises even if their machine doesn’t come with multiple included workout modes.

Use

“In my opinion, an elliptical is one of most user-friendly machines anyone can own,” says Deffes. He notes that they can be great for beginners and the older population, in addition to seasoned athletes or people who engage in regular workouts. 

Though most ellipticals tend to be similar, there are some that are unique—like foldable ellipticals, under-desk ellipticals, outdoor ellipticals, and ellipticals that convert to other fitness machines. Consider your use case before selecting an elliptical—there’s likely an option that meets your precise needs.

Schwinn 470 Elliptical

Verywell Fit / Deanna McCormack

FAQs

What muscles does the elliptical work?

When used properly, the elliptical targets the major muscle groups of the leg, including the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. “If the moveable handles on the machine are also used, muscles of the upper body are also worked, including biceps, triceps, pectoralis, and latissimus dorsi,” says Nicole Thompson, an ACE certified personal trainer. 

Which is better: an elliptical or a treadmill?

Both the elliptical and treadmill have benefits. Whether you pick a treadmill or an elliptical at the gym may depend on a few factors, such as your fitness level, goals, and injury history.

If you’re prone to injuries or you’re recovering from one, you may want to choose the elliptical, since it’s lower-impact than the treadmill. “The elliptical machine requires both a leg and an upper-body movement, which could make it a better workout for your upper body compared to running,” says Thompson.

However, you’ll most likely burn more calories and get a more intense workout on the treadmill, so it may be a better option for those trying to lose weight or training for a race.

How many calories does an elliptical workout burn?

The number of calories burned during an elliptical workout depends on your weight, as well as the intensity and duration of your workout. As an estimate, using a moderate effort, a 200-pound person burns about 470 calories per hour on an elliptical, and a 140-pound person burns about 325 calories per hour. Most elliptical machines have a calorie counter on the console, but the number is usually a rough estimate.

Is the elliptical good for cardio?

Yes, using an elliptical properly and regularly can help improve your cardio capacity and stamina. “Since the elliptical uses large muscle groups that require blood and oxygen, using an elliptical for 20 or more consecutive minutes can be considered an effective cardio workout for some individuals,” says Thompson.

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them.

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3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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