Although many people have returned to the gym this summer, others (like me) have spent the past two years perfecting home gyms and refuse to separate from them so easily. We’ve consulted with experts to find great additions like treadmills, stationary bikes and indoor rowers. If you’re looking for an at-home cardio workout and aren’t sure which machine to buy — or you already have the machines mentioned and you want to add to your collection — you may want to consider the elliptical. Using an elliptical offers a low-impact workout that experts told us puts less stress on your bones compared to other workout machines.
And sure, higher-end ellipticals can offer a variety of additional features — from different resistance levels and customizable training modes to heart rate monitors and high-tech displays. But good quality doesn’t always mean an expensive price tag, and meeting your fitness goals should have more to do with your determination and consistency than with an expensive machine. That’s why we found a handful of well-rated affordable options without the bells and whistles of more expensive machines.
How to shop for an elliptical
When shopping for an elliptical, it’s important to consider the style and size that’ll fit your home. There are two styles of elliptical, determined by the location of the flywheel, which manages resistance levels.
- Front-drive ellipticals: This type of elliptical has the flywheel located in the front and simulates a slight climbing motion. Front-drive ellipticals tend to be less expensive and smaller than other elliptical trainers, allowing them to fit in tight, power outlet-accessible spaces around your home. They are the noisier option, however, which could be a major downside for apartment dwellers or or those in shared living spaces.
- Rear-drive ellipticals: These ellipticals, on the other hand, have the flywheel located in the back. They’re generally bulkier, but tend to be a lot quieter and offer a smoother workout than front-drive ellipticals. Because of this and a typically heavier flywheel, they’re also more expensive, making them less common for home gym users.
Best ellipticals for under $500
To help you find the elliptical that’ll complement your at-home workout routine without breaking the bank, we recommend seven highly rated options, all under $500.
If you’re hoping to track your workouts and progress while using your elliptical, the Domyos EL500 Exercise Fitness Elliptical from Decathlon may be your best option. The elliptical is compatible with the Domyos E Connected app, which tracks your individual stats and weekly goals, including calories burned, workout time and speed. It also contains adjustable pedals and ergonomic handlebars to prioritize your comfort, while the heavier weight of the flywheel allows for smoother pedal strokes. It has a 4.6-star average rating from upwards of 6,000 customer reviews.
Looking for an affordable way to stay fit while sitting at a desk all day? This 55-1602 Inmotion Elliptical by home fitness brand Stamina lets you pedal while sitting at your desk. It’s compact, lightweight and quiet, making it a great option for continuous use underneath your at-home work station. With a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 10,000 reviews, the device includes an adjustable dial that controls resistance levels and a display that keeps track of exercise time, calories burned and number of strides per minute.
This Body Rider Elliptical Trainer and Exercise Bike, gives you two staple pieces of home exercise equipment in one — a front-drive elliptical and an exercise bike. While it’s not as durable as higher-end exercise machines (the instruction manual tells users to secure both pedal hinge bolts every 30 days, for example), it’s a low-cost, low-impact option for beginners and has a 4-star average rating from customer reviews.. The adjustable seat can fit different body types by moving horizontally and vertically, and the brand claims the device provides a gentle workout without putting stress on the joints, legs or hips.
With a 4.4-star average rating from nearly 4,000 reviews, the Gazelle Edge Glider is a classic when it comes to exercise equipment — the brand has been around for more than 20 years. It offers a complete range of motion that allows users to smoothly transition from a walking to running motion without stopping, putting less stress on the knees and joints. And it folds flat, making storage quick and easy.
For under $150, this portable SF-E905 from Sunny Health & Fitness has a 4.1-star average rating from more than 15,000 reviews. It contains eight resistance levels to help build up to a more challenging workout routine with continuous use and pulse sensors on the handlebars to simplify monitoring target heart rate, which can help meet fitness goals and improve cardiovascular health.
The Body Power Exercise Machine can serve as an elliptical, an upright bike or a recumbent bike for a varied cardio workout. There are three integrated handlebar options to use based on the exercise method you choose: U-shaped with a built-in heart rate monitor system, moving elliptical style and a wraparound style for a reclined seat. In order to transition to more challenging workouts, the resistance level can be adjusted using a handy dial knob without having to dismount. However, the stride of this machine is 13.5 inches according to its manufacturer. This means it may be uncomfortable for users with longer legs, who won’t be able to stretch them like they might on a machine with a longer stride. It has a 4.1-star average rating from around 1,000 customer reviews.
Though the Schwinn is technically $550, it’s worth mentioning for those building a home gym with less space at their disposal. The brand says that the machine is a fraction of the size of other ellipticals, offering an 18-inch stride and 16 levels of adjustable resistance. The Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical also has moving and fixed handlebars, which include contact grip heart rate sensors to monitor heart rate, and a console that displays time, calories, speed and distance. It has a 4.1-star average rating from nearly 2,000 customer reviews.