The 6 Best Ellipticals of 2020

Break a sweat in the comfort of your home

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Our Top Picks
"Features 29 different programs."
"Sync it to your a smartphone app to track your weekly progress."
"Will have you sweating it out at an affordable price."
"Move around your home whenever workout time strikes."
Best for Under Desk:
Stamina In-Motion at Amazon
"A great fit for anyone with back or knee troubles."
Best for Outdoors:
ElliptiGO 8C at Elliptigo.com
"Used by Olympic athletes, so you know it is a good workout."

Elliptical trainers are one of the most popular machines in the gym. They provide a low-impact cardio workout that simulates running, but the machine reduces the impact.

The motion of an elliptical helps protect your joints from damage, which is important for anyone with knee, hip, or lower body injuries. Beyond that, an elliptical can make workouts fun, so it's no wonder that it's a popular choice for home workout equipment.

Here, the best ellipticals on the market.

Best Overall: Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine

If you are on your elliptical every day, you might find yourself getting bored with the same routine. With the Schwinn 470 Elliptical, you'll be able to mix it up with 25 levels of computer resistance, 29 different programs, and four different user settings for each family member. It also has a USB charging port so you can charge your phone while you sweat, speakers to blast your favorite tunes, and a fan to help you cool off. Best of all, it is Bluetooth-enabled so you can transfer your data seamlessly between your devices helping you stay on track with your goals.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine

Though not the cheapest among seated ellipticals, the Cubii Pro is a powerful pick despite its small size. This Bluetooth-connected option conveniently syncs to the mobile app so you can track your daily progress and distance. 

It can be especially beneficial if you have a sedentary job or want to boost your heart rate while doing your preferred leisure activity. For those who are disabled or recovering from surgery, it proves a low-impact option that targets the lower body. Simply prop the machine under your desk or in front of your favorite chair, and get ready to lose up to 125 calories per hour.

No pressure if it ends up not being the right fit, Cubii offers a 30-day risk-free trial and free returns.

Best Budget: Exerpeutic Exerpeutic 260 Air Elliptical

You don't need to shell out the big bucks to get an efficient workout. The Exerpeutic 260 Air Elliptical will have you sweating it out at an affordable price. With this ​machine, you'll get a full-body workout with the moving arms, and you can change the resistance with a dial. It has an LCD screen to track time and distance, but not a heart rate monitor. When you are all done working out, you can roll the machine away for easy storage.

Reviewers love the feel of this, but some note it is not suited for tall people or anyone over 220 pounds. It took about an hour for most to put together.

Best for Small Space: EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer

If you’re in the market for something more compact than a typical elliptical trainer, EFITMENT has made a small machine for you. This model fits in tight spaces and is also portable to move around your home for whenever workout time strikes. With its small size, you'll still work up a sweat with its eight levels of magnetic resistance. It also has a pulse monitor so you know how hard your body is really working, which will help you track results more easily. The LCD display also measures all you need including time, speed, distance, and more.

Assembly is easy according to reviewers, but they note the sensation takes some getting used to since it has a shorter stride than most gym ellipticals you might be more accustomed to.

Best for Under Desk: Stamina In-Motion

While this might not look like your standard elliptical, it performs similar functions but is tailored more to someone who has limited mobility, wants to workout at their desk, or is looking for a small, affordable machine. To use, just place your feet into the foot pedals and "run" your feet back and forth in the similar motion of an elliptical. You can do this motion either sitting or standing, whichever you prefer! This provides a low-impact workout, so it's a great fit for anyone with back or knee troubles.

This model takes up a small amount of space and serves a purpose for those looking for something easy on the joints. Reviewers love to use this at work, and older people have found they have actually lost weight while sitting and using this machine.

Best for Outdoors: ElliptiGO 8C

Get the same movement outside as you do inside with this elliptical bike that has you taking your workout to the streets. A smart buy for those who like to run but need a calorie burner that is a lesser impact on the joints. This bike comes with a high price tag but has been used by Olympic athletes, so you know it is a good workout. With this, you can log 20 miles a day without bearing the brunt of running on pavement, and it can have you clocking speeds of up to 23 MPH on flat terrain.

Reviewers remark this a great machine for injured runners and many report sore muscles, not sore joints, which is a major plus in our book.

Our Process

Our writers spent 30 hours researching and testing the most popular ellipticals on the market. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

What to Look for in an Elliptical

Size: Naturally, you’ll want to consider where you plan to put the elliptical and how much space it requires. In general, ellipticals measure around 6’ long by 2.5’ wide, but you’ll want to ensure you have adequate space on each side to get on and off. Don’t forget that ellipticals are more elevated than treadmills, meaning they might not fit in a room with low ceilings.

Configuration: There are three common elliptical configurations: front-, center-, and rear-drive. These refer to where the machine’s drive wheel is located. Center-drive units are typically the most compact, while rear-drive units are usually longer and provide a smooth, quiet ride. Front-drive options may be a bit louder and vibrate more.

Programs: If you regularly use an elliptical and have a set routine, you might be fine buying a machine without any built-in programs. However, if you get bored of doing the same workout or simply need guidance, an elliptical that offers multiple programs will guide you along your fitness journey.

Before You Buy an Elliptical Trainer

By Paige Waehne

Elliptical trainers are one of the most popular machines in the gym. They provide a low-impact cardio workout that simulates running, but the machine reduces the impact.

The motion of an elliptical helps protect your joints from damage, which is important for anyone with knee, hip, or lower body injuries. Beyond that, an elliptical can make workouts fun, so it's no wonder that it's a popular choice for home workout equipment.

Buying a home elliptical trainer can be confusing because there are a lot of options available. They range from a basic machine for a standard aerobic workout to beefy models that can offer high-intensity exercise. Beyond that, there are many bells and whistles available. 

Your Budget

For many people, money is the biggest factor in buying any piece of home gym equipment. 

Elliptical trainers vary in price depending on equipment condition and features. Plan to spend anywhere from $200 to $5000 for a used or new model.

You can certainly find inexpensive models at discount department stores and they may work okay. However, they generally don't last as long and they may not be as sturdy as higher quality models.

You should also take into account your workout needs and body type. If you have a smaller build and will use the machine for your weekly run, a small machine may be sufficient. Then again, if you have a larger build or want to use the machine as part of your HIIT training, you'll want something sturdy that can stand up to you and your goals.

If you cannot afford the machine that meets your needs right away, it might be worth your while to save up for a higher quality machine. Some of the recommended elliptical makers to look for include Precor, Nautilus, Sole, and ProForm.

Your Workout Space

Elliptical machines are not small. They can take up quite a bit of space, so you need to ensure your home can handle the machine you're buying.

When considering placement in your home, expect for an elliptical machine to be between four and seven feet in length.

You can expect for an elliptical machine to be between four and seven feet in length. You'll also need to leave room for the pedals while you're in motion. For some machines, these can extend a foot or so behind the main frame. You'll also want to account for about 20 inches of free space on either side.

The last thing to consider is your ceiling height, especially if you're hoping to put it in the basement. Some ellipticals can have a maximum pedal height of a foot or more at the apex. If you're tall or don't have much headroom in your space, you could be hitting your head.

Elliptical Styles

There are three basic designs in elliptical machines and each has their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Front-Drive: Typically, these have a large wheel housing at the front of the machine. They tend to be the most affordable because it's a basic design, though they can be noisy and vibrate quite a bit.
  • Center-Drive: The design is similar to a treadmill, but with pedals where the track would be. These offer a very gentle workout. They also tend to be the most compact design, but you need to account for the pedal reach in the back.
  • Rear-Drive: A smaller wheel housing is located behind the pedals, making these the longest design. The pedals may be on a track-and-roller that allows for an incline. Some use a suspended arm system instead and offer the smoothest workout.

Must-Have Features

Some of the features you want to look for in an elliptical machine include:

  • Stride Length: Some machines only offer a 14-inch stride which would be too short for someone of average size. Look for one with a stride around 21 inches instead. An adjustable stride is available and would be good if multiple people will be using it.
  • Smooth Motion: Make sure the pedals move smoothly and quietly. It shouldn't feel jerky and it should fit so you're comfortable through the entire movement. None of the pieces should impede your motion, either.
  • Upper Body Comfort: You don't need arm handles, but it's a nice option for more intensity. Also, you want to make sure that the handgrip movement is comfortable for you.
  • The Quiet Factor: Some machines can be quite loud. You don't want your workout to sound like a freight train, especially if you enjoy one in the morning when your family's trying to sleep.
  • Adjustable Resistance: Most elliptical machines offer adjustable resistance and a broad range can offer maximum benefits. It should be very easy at the lowest setting and be quite a challenge at about 75 percent, with noticeable changes at each level. This allows you to go further as you gain strength and endurance.
  • Adjustable Incline: This isn't necessary, but being able to adjust the ramps can add intensity to your workouts. Some machines offer automatic adjustments while others must be done manually.

Safety Features

To keep your workout both safe and effective, look for an elliptical trainer that offers warm-up and cool-down periods. Handrails that provide balance should not get in the way, either. You'll also want an easy-to-read console so you know how hard you're working.

To protect your investment, look for a maintenance-free elliptical trainer and a good warranty (one year for labor, one to three years for parts) just in case something happens. It's also wise to ask the dealer if they have trained staff to service your equipment.

If you have children, an elliptical machine can look like a fun toy. Some machines include a pin lock so the pedals can't move and others let you lock up the screen and operations. These are safety features to consider, though many parents simply close the door if one's available in the room.

Bonus Features

This is the fun part because your elliptical machine can have all sorts of bonus features. Some will help with your workout while others can make it more enjoyable. For instance, a water bottle holder is good for staying hydrated while a tablet holder can keep you entertained.

heart rate monitor is one useful feature to consider. An interactive version can even automatically adjust your workout to keep you in your zone. Many machines include pre-set programs, though the more you spend, the more you'll get. Some also allow you to create your own customized workouts.  

Features like wi-fi, a fitness tracker app, and a great variety of motivation software can be useful as well. Keep in mind that the more features you choose, the more money you'll need to spend. Yet, if it keeps you on track and enjoying your workout, it may be worth it.

Try Before You Buy

Before you buy anything, visit a few retailers—preferably those that specialize in fitness equipment—and try several models. Wear your workout gear and use each machine for 10 minutes so you get a feel for it.

While testing things out, pay attention to the console. Is it easy to see and use? Make sure the motion is smooth and that nothing impedes your movement. Measure it to make sure you have enough space at home.

A Word From Verywell

Buying an elliptical machine is not an easy decision. And yet, if you think that adding one to your home gym will keep you motivated and you can find one in your budget, it can be a great asset that keeps you fit and healthy.

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Article 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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