The 6 Best Ellipticals of 2021

Break a sweat in the comfort of your home

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Our Top Picks
"With 16 levels of resistance and a progress tracker, it allows you to build your endurance before increasing the intensity."
"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’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. 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.

What to Look for in an Elliptical

Resistance Levels

Most ellipticals offer a range of resistance levels, which will increase the tension of your stride, helping you build strength. Some (typically higher-end) ellipticals offer a wider range of resistance levels than others, so if you prefer more nuance in your tension, 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 the option of a preset routine, be sure to look for a machine equipped with a handful of workout modes. 

Use

Though ellipticals tend to be fairly similar to one another, there are some more unique options. There are 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.

Here are the best ellipticals on the market.

Best Overall: Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Bowflex Max Trainer M6

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.

Best Splurge: NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer

NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Trainer

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. 

Best Two-in-One: ProForm Hybrid Trainer

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.

Best Recumbent: Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical

Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Elliptical

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. 

Best Under-Desk: Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider

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.

Best for Outdoors: ElliptiGO Outdoor Stand-Up Bike

ElliptiGO Outdoor Stand-Up Bike

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.

Final Verdict

If you want an upgraded pick, the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 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.

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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