The 5 Best Elliptical Machines for Home Use in 2020
heart rate monitoring
If you want to improve your at-home workouts, considering getting one of the best elliptical machines.
Elliptical machines are ideal fitness equipment for in-home gyms and people wanting to lose weight and be healthy.
These machines have less stress on the joints while you exercise, so ellipticals are excellent for people looking for a low-impact workout. You can burn more calories in less time and enjoy your home fitness program.
When you want to add an elliptical machine to your exercise equipment, you may feel overwhelmed at all the options. Understanding what is available can help you make the right choice.
Here are our top picks for the best elliptical machines to use in your home gym.
#1 Sole 35 Elliptical Machine
The Sole 35 is our favorite elliptical machine for your in-home gym. It offers a smooth, quiet ride, has easy to use controls, and features a handheld heart rate monitor or a chest strap if you’d prefer a hands-free option. Features include:
- 16 resistance levels
- Adjustable 20″ to 22″ stride
- Adjustable incline up to 30 degrees
#2 Nautalis E616 Elliptical Machine
Love to run, but your joints need a break from pounding the pavement? Check out the Nautalis E616 elliptical. It’s our favorite elliptical machine to run on. And with Bluetooth connectivity, it can even connect to RunSocial app so you can synch up with other runners. Features include:
- 20″ stride
- 27 real routes on the LCD screen
- 29 workout programs
#3 NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical
The NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical Machine has a 32-pound flywheel for stability and even has a 0 to 20 adjustable incline! Its interface is super easy to use thanks to one-touch controls and a seven-inch touchscreen. Features include:
- 18-20” adjustable stride
- 26 resistance levels
- 35 preset workouts
#4 Nautilus E614 Elliptical Machine
The Nautilus E614 is our favorite elliptical machine for the cost and has some of the best features we’ve seen. These include a DualTrack LCD Display monitor, 22 workout programs, 30 resistance levels, and a three-speed fan. It has a 300 lb weight capacity and a 10-year warranty. Features include:
- Affordable price
- 6 position incline
- 20” stride
#5 Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
Walking outside is great, but some days you’d prefer to do so inside. Check out the Schwinn 470 elliptical machine. It has a motorized incline, 29 preset programs, and even syncs with the RunSocial app to let you connect with other walkers or runners. Features include:
- 10-degree incline ramps
- 25 levels of resistance
- 29 workout presets
Editors' Choice: Sole 35 Elliptical Machine
The Sole 35 elliptical machine is hands-down our favorite elliptical machine for your in-home gym.
It offers a smooth, quiet ride and easy-to-use controls. It also features a handheld heart rate monitor or a chest strap if you’d prefer a hands-free option.
This machine can incline up to 30 degrees and offers 16 resistance levels.
This machine is large and expensive. But if you have space and are willing to invest a decent amount of money in your fitness goals, this machine in an excellent choice.
It also offers one of the best warranties we’ve come across: a lifetime warranty on the frame, five-year warranty on electrical and parts, two-year labor warranty, and an optional five-year fitness plan warranty from Warrantech with free in-home service.
Sole 35 Pros
- Adjustable include: The Sole 35 inclines up to 30 degrees.
- Adjustable stride: The stride of this piece of equipment is adjustable 20″ to 22″.
- Cooling system: This machine comes with a built-in fan to keep you feeling good while you exercise.
- Grip options: The handlebars feature multiple grip options.
- Heart Monitor: This machine has a handlebar grip heart monitor. You can also use a chest strap to monitor your heart if you’d prefer.
- Low noise: This machine is quiet. You can use it without being disruptive to other people.
- Resistance levels: This machine offers 16 resistance levels. Whether you’re recovering from an injury or aggressively training, you’ll have the resistance you need.
- Water bottle holder: Stay hydrated by keeping your water bottle close while you work out.
- Weight limit: The maximum user weight is 375 lbs.
Sole 35 Cons
- Higher price: This elliptical machine is at the more expensive end of the price range.
- Large size: This machine measures 83” long x 32” wide.
- Long stride: The stride isn’t best for people under 5 foot 3 inches tall.
- Workout programs: This machine has only ten preprogrammed workout plans.
Best Value: Nautilus E614 Elliptical Machine
While elliptical machines aren’t cheap, you can find some quality lower-priced models out there.
The Nautilus E614 is our favorite. In addition to its affordable price, it comes with some of the best features we’ve seen.
These include a DualTrack LCD monitor that lets you put your book or e-reader on the support in front of the large monitor while tracking your progress on a second display.
It also offers 22 intensive workout programs, 30 resistance levels, a 3-speed fan, and an adjustable incline.
It has a 300 lb weight capacity and a 10-year warranty.
Nautilus E614 Pros
- Adjustable fan: The three-speed will help keep you from overheating while you exercise.
- Affordable price: The cost is much lower than competitors. It’s much more affordable than you’d expect for a high-quality elliptical machine.
- Comfortable stride: The 20” stride will suit most users. The foot pads will also fit people with feet of any size.
- Incline options: You can choose from six positions.
- Long-term warranty: This elliptical machine will last for years. It has a 10-year guarantee on the frame, a 2-year warranty on parts, a 1-year warranty on electronics, and a 90-day labor warranty.
- Media shelf: The built-in rack is perfect for Kindles, iPads, books, or anything else you like to use while you exercise.
- Resistance levels: The 20 levels of magnetic resistance will keep pushing you to work.
- Transport wheels: Wheels make moving your elliptical trainer simple.
- Workout programs: You have lots of exercise options. The machine comes with nine profile, eight heart rate, two custom, two fitness, and one quick start programs.
Nautilus E614 Cons
- Incline levels: Incline levels need to be manually adjusted. You may need to stop mid-workout to adjust the level.
- Weight limit: The maximum weight is 300 lbs. This limit is lower than others we’ve come across.
Best Features: NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical
NordicTrack has been around for years. We love its C 12.9 Elliptical Machine.
It topped our list because of its great features. It has a 32-pound flywheel for stability, a 20-inch adjustable stride, and 26 levels of resistance. It even has a 0 to 20 adjustable incline!
Plus, it’s interface is super easy to use. It has one-touch controls and a seven-inch touchscreen. The foot pedals are adjustable, as are the upper body grips. It comes with a Bluetooth-enabled chest strap that monitors your heart rate.
Our favorite feature, however, is the iFit technology. It gives you access to trainers who can provide fitness tips and guidance on nutrition and sleep. iFit can be accessed via the elliptical’s console or downloaded to your mobile device.
NordicTrack C 12.9 Pros
- Adjustable incline: This machine adjusts 0-20 degrees.
- Adjustable stride: The 18-20” adjustable stride works for most people.
- Cooling system: The fan keeps you from overheating.
- Heart rate monitor: The built-in heart rate monitor can help you make sure to exercise enough without overstraining yourself.
- Lifetime warranty: There is a lifetime warranty on the frame, a five-year parts warranty, and a two-year labor warranty.
- Max weight: This machine can handle up to 350 lbs.
- Pedal design: The foot pedals are oversized, cushioned, and adjustable.
- Resistance levels: This machine has 26 resistance levels that are suitable for beginners up to fitness buffs.
- Touchscreen design: The seven-inch smart HD touchscreen makes it easy to control the settings.
- Transportation wheels: Front mounted wheels make this machine easy to transport.
- Workout settings: This machine comes with 35 preset workouts. You’re unlikely to get bored or feel unsure of what to do.
NordicTrack C 12.9 Cons
- Higher price: This elliptical machine costs more than many others.
- iFit membership required: You must renew the membership annually.
- Large size: This machine takes up a lot of space. It measures 64.5″ high, 26″ wide, and 80.25″ long.
Best for Serious Runners: Nautalis E616
Running on pavement may feel great for those seeking a runner’s high, but it wreaks havoc on the knees and joints.
We’re not going to tell you to stop running. But if you’re looking for a little something extra to add to your running routine that delivers similar benefits, consider an elliptical.
The best elliptical for runners is the Nautalis E616. With 29 programs, 27 routes (similar to a Peloton bike), and an LCD screen Bluetooth connectivity, it can even connect to RunSocial app so that you can synch up with other runners
Nautilus E616 Pros
- Average stride: The 20″ pace works for most people.
- Bluetooth connectivity: Synch your phone to the machine to view your workout stats and see available options.
- Real routes: The LCD screen shows 27 actual routes to run.
- Runners group: The machine synchs with the RunSocial app. Connect with other fitness lovers while you exercise.
- Workout programs: The 29 different workout programs, including twelve profile, nine heart rate control, four custom, two fitness test, one recovery test, and one quick start programs.
Nautilus E616 Cons
- Higher price: This machine costs a lot of money.
Best for Walking: Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
If your goal with an elliptical machine is to walk long (or short) distances, you don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.
That’s why the Schwinn 470 elliptical machine is our favorite for walking.
It’s simple, and it’s affordable, it has a motorized incline, 29 preset programs, and even syncs with the RUnSocial app to let you connect with other walkers or runners.
Schwinn 470 Pros
- Heart rate monitor: A pulse grip monitors your heart rate while you exercise.
- Incline ramp: The 10-degree incline ramp helps you get a sufficient workout.
- Lightweight build: This fitness equipment weighs just 164 pounds.
- Resistance levels: The 25 levels of resistance let you go at your pace and improve when you’re ready.
- Small in size: This machine measures 70.1″ long x 28.2″ wide x 63.2″ high
- Synching abilities: This machine syncs with seven fitness apps such as Schwinn Trainer, My Fitness Pal, Apple Health, and RunSocial.
- Workout programs: This machine comes with 29 workouts and stores up to four user profiles.
Schwinn 470 Cons
- Warranty length: The 10-year warranty on the frame is lower than most.
Types of Elliptical Machines
Elliptical machines are similar to treadmills. They’re cardio machines that help you build and tone muscle to lose weight.
However, while treadmills are high-impact exercise equipment, elliptical machines are low-impact.
Because your feet stay on the pedals rather than pound the mat, elliptical trainers are better for your knees, legs, and feet.
If you have past injuries or prefer low-impact cardio exercises to high-impact, an elliptical may be one of the best cardio exercise equipment for you.
There are three main types of ellipticals: front drive, center drive, and rear drive.
The drive systems differ based on the placement of the flywheel:
- Rear drive elliptical machines feature the wheel at the back.
- Front drive has the wheel in front.
- Center drive elliptical machines feature a flywheel that is on either side of the pedals.
Learn more about the different types to determine which is best for you.
Best for people with limited space and budgets.
Front drive elliptical machines are the most basic type of elliptical machines and also the cheapest. As such, this is the type of elliptical machine many people tend to select for their home gyms.
The flywheel is in the front, which requires you to lean forward a bit, similar to a stair machine. For some, this can be a drawback, as the glide isn’t as smooth. Front drive elliptical machines also tend to have more moving parts than other types of elliptical machines and as such may require more maintenance. They also tend to be a bit noisier than different sorts of elliptical machines.
- Typically the cheapest type of elliptical machine
- More parts, which may require more maintenance
- Noisier than center drive and rear drive elliptical machines
Best for people with ample in-home gym space and who want a smooth ride.
Rear drive elliptical machines feature a flywheel in the back of the equipment. Most gyms and fitness centers have this type.
Rear drive elliptical machines provide a smoother ride than front drive machines. You’re able to stand up straighter than you can on front drive machines, which enables a more natural feeling stride comparable to running or jogging.
Unfortunately, these machines take up the most space. Unless you have a large home gym, you may not be able to accommodate it.
On the bright side, if you do have space, rear drive elliptical machines have fewer moving parts than front drive. Therefore, they are quieter and require less maintenance.
- Provide a smoother exercise than front drive machines
- Typically quieter than front drive elliptical machines
- Fewer parts than front drive elliptical machines
- More expensive than front drive machines
- Larger than front drive machines
Best overall machine for people with sizeable budgets.
Center drive elliptical machines are the newest model in the world of elliptical machines and the most expensive.
The flywheel is centrally located on either side of the pedals and allows you to stand up straighter than front drive machines do. These models usually come with onboard entertainment such as televisions and fitness programs.
Unfortunately, they do not have an incline option. If you want an elliptical machine that can mimic hills and target different muscle groups, this will not be the best elliptical machine for you.
- A more balanced ride than front drive machines
- Onboard entertainment options
- Small enough for most in-home gyms
- The latest technology
- Inability to incline
- More expensive than other models
Elliptical Machine Buyer’s Guide
Some people love going to the gym and find inspiration sweating out the toxins with a group of like-minded people.
You might prefer to work out in the comfort of your home, whether it’s due to time constraints, the high cost of gym memberships, or for other reasons.
If you fall into the latter category, there are a few essentials you should have in your home gym:
- A good weight bench
- A set of free weights or kettlebells
- A sturdy exercise ball,
- Something you can use for cardio
Our favorite cardio options are treadmills, stationary or recumbent exercise bikes, rowing machines, and elliptical machines. Some people with space like to get more than one of these or additional types of equipment like a Pilates reformer machine.
An elliptical machine is an excellent option if you want a tool that can give you a lower body workout. Some even have handles that can give you upper body exercise.
If you’ve decided that the cardio machine you’d like is an elliptical machine, you want to make the right choice.
Look at the following factors to help you pick your machine.
Some elliptical machines offer an adjustable incline while others don’t.
Adjustable inclines allow you to tone different muscles and burn more calories. Typically, more expensive elliptical machines have adjustable inclines with the cheaper models do not.
However, the incline is by no means a factor in a “good” or “bad” elliptical machine. It’s a personal preference.
If you think you’d like to simulate climbing hills on your machine, then consider magnetic ellipticals with an adjustable incline. If not, don’t.
Care and Maintenance
Some elliptical machines require more care and maintenance than others. In general, they are low maintenance machines.
The most important thing you can do to care for your elliptical machine is to keep it clean:
- Wipe it down after each use. Clean any sweat you may have dripped on the console and grips.
- Use a damp cloth or antibacterial wipe.
- Make sure to dry the machine.
- Clean the pedals, especially if you use your running shoes outside and on the machine.
- Never use spray cleaners. These can damage the console.
You’ll also want to put a rubber mat beneath the machine. A mat will protect your floors and prevent dust and debris from getting inside the flywheel.
Also occasionally check that the nuts and bolts are still tight. They may get looser with each workout, especially if you like intense exercise sessions.
Customizable Training Programs
Some people like to workout at their own pace while others prefer a bit of guidance.
If you fall into the latter category, you’ll likely prefer an elliptical with as many pre-programmed workouts as possible. These can include cardiovascular routines, interval training, or weight loss routines.
You can also find ellipticals with user profiles. If more than one person in your household uses the elliptical machine, you can set up multiple profiles. You can create customized workouts for each user.
If you want to track your workout, you’ll need an elliptical machine with a screen.
Almost all elliptical machines can show you your:
- Calories burned
Some can even show you how many times you’ve run a ¼-mile track and how many watts you’ve generated.
When looking at ellipticals, make sure you can see the display and change settings.
Our favorite displays are one-touch touchscreen displays. With one tap, you can rotate between different screens.
If you’re looking for more, consider an elliptical machine with built-in wireless connectivity or Bluetooth settings. You can sync your workout to your smartphone or smartwatch. You can also stream your favorite workout videos or TV shows while you work out.
No matter what kind of elliptical you buy, it’s going to be a decent sized investment. Even the cheapest ones cost hundreds of dollars.
Thus, make sure the machine you use is durable.
There are a few key things that affect the durability of an elliptical machine:
- Drive type: We’ve already taught you about the rear drive, front drive, and center drive options. In general, rear drive elliptical machines are the most durable and have fewer maintenance needs.
- Material: We recommend not buying a machine with plastic parts. It’s not going to last very long. Instead, look for an elliptical machine with metal and resin parts. These materials reduce the risk of breakdowns and make the equipment more stable.
- User weight: The more strain put on an elliptical machine, the harder it has to work. Ellipticals with higher maximum weights are typically more durable than those will lower limits. Most home elliptical machines have a weight limit starting at 300 lbs. If you see equipment with a lower weight limit, we wouldn’t recommend it.
Look for these things when you shop to get a good quality machine.
It doesn’t matter if you get the best budget elliptical machine or the most expensive. Al elliptical machines have varying degrees of resistance.
Test the resistance system before you buy an elliptical to make sure that the lowest setting is easy enough for you and that the highest is challenging enough.
If it’s too challenging, that’s okay. You can make a goal to work up to it.
Safety should always be at the forefront of your mind when working out. You need to use caution so that you don’t injure your muscles while working out.
You also need to use caution when using machines. You could fall and injure yourself, catch your finger in an unpleasant area, or worse.
Elliptical machines come with a variety of safety features to help you stay safe when working out. These features can include:
- Adjustable stride length: Most elliptical machines have an adjustable stride length. A suitable stride enables you to avoid overextending your muscles or not extending them enough.
- Electronic monitors: The handles of most elliptical machines have sensors. They can measure your heart rate, the intensity of the workout, calories, and miles covered. Heart rate monitoring can help you make sure you’re exerting the appropriate amount of effort.
- Handles: All elliptical machines come with handles. These handles provide additional stability. Some stationary handles can also give you an arm workout.
- One or two-way motion: All ellipticals let you pedal forward. Some allow you to pedal backward to work different muscles. Backward pedaling is also a safety feature if anything gets caught in the flywheel or pedals.
- Water bottle holders: While this doesn’t make the machine safer, the reminder to hydrate can help keep you from overheating or becoming dehydrated.
While an elliptical machine doesn’t need these features to be safe, look for these and other features that will help you avoid injury.
If you have a large in-home gym, you can get any size elliptical machine you want.
For most people, however, that’s not the case. Space constraints can dictate what size elliptical machine is the best for your in-home gym.
Elliptical machines typically range in length from 50 inches to 84 inches. Common ones are about six feet long and two and a half feet wide.
They also elevate you more than treadmills or bikes do. Make sure your ceilings are high enough. At their apex, pedals can reach up to 25 inches off the floor.
You’ll also need space in front of or back of the machine and about 20 inches on either side.
Stride range is one of the most important aspects to consider when looking at elliptical machines:
- If the stride is too short, your legs can move in too short of steps. That’s uncomfortable and will not provide the fitness you seek.
- If the stride is too long, you can overextend your legs and pull a muscle.
In general, one of the best ways to determine the best elliptical machine stride length is by height:
- Most people are comfortable with a 20-inch stride length. This is the stride found on most ellipticals in private gyms.
- If you are shorter than 5’3″, you’ll likely feel best on an elliptical machine with a stride length of 16-18 inches that can extend up to 20 inches.
- If you are taller than 5’7″, you’ll want an elliptical with a 20-inch stride and increase from there until you find your ideal stride length.
Elliptical machines are expensive, so you want to make sure it will last.
Most in-home elliptical machines come with a limited warranty that includes standard parts and electronics. Some have lifetime warranties on the frame, while others have 10-year warranties. Warranties on the electrical parts tend to be less.
We came across some elliptical machines that had only 90-day warranties. If you’re purchasing from a reputable company, shouldn’t they guarantee their elliptical to last for more than three months?
Look for a longer warranty if you can.
If you want to add to your at-home fitness equipment, an elliptical machine gives you lots of possibilities.
Use this buying guide and our top picks to help you pick the best elliptical machine for your needs.Read More