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6 top-rated elliptical machines for home workouts

Ellipticals offer a low-impact home workout. Here’s how to find the best one for you.
Ellipticals can provide low-impact cardio and endurance workouts.
Ellipticals can provide low-impact cardio and endurance workouts.Bowflex; Proform

Working out at home has its perks: No hectic parking lots, no membership fees and no crowds. There are tons of great options for home gym equipment, and we’ve spoken to experts to better understand what goes into the best dumbbells, treadmills, stationary bikes, indoor rowers and more. But who should consider an elliptical for a home gym?

SKIP AHEAD Top-rated ellipticals to consider | How to shop for an elliptical

We spoke with fitness experts on what makes ellipticals better than other workout machines and how to shop for the perfect one for you.

Why use an elliptical?

Our experts were quick to point out how ellipticals are uniquely low-impact, full-body workout machines. “They offer a full-body [exercise] experience with very little load,” said Zachary Moxham, a certified personal trainer at Physical Equilibrium in New York City. While ellipticals are commonly associated with cardio, they are also excellent for full-body warm-ups, to increase stamina or even HIIT (high-intensity interval training), according to our experts.

Clair Mason, the owner of Elliptica Studio in Westport, Connecticut, said that ellipticals are especially useful for “people with hip, knee or lower-back issues or injuries.” “[They] are able to push to a higher level of cardio on an elliptical due to it being low (zero) impact,” she said.

Top-rated ellipticals to consider

We leveraged our expert guidance to find top-rated products from reliable brands within the fitness space. For each machine, we noted key specifications, like weight capacity, flywheel weight, resistance levels and more. We mostly focused on ellipticals under $2000.

Best overall: Sole

Sole Fitness E35

Sole makes some of the most recommended ellipticals under $2000. The E35 is one of their mid-tier models and offers a great experience for most people, according to professional and consumer reviews.

With the built-in monitor, you can select workouts, adjust 20 levels of resistance or play audio with the Bluetooth speaker. It also has many different hand-hold positions, with inner and outer handlebars.

Dimensions: 82” (L) x 31” (W) x 71” (H) | Weight capacity: 375 lbs | Stride Length: 20” | Resistance: 25 lbs flywheel | Built-in monitor: 7.5-inch LCD | Membership: Downloadable Studio app free trial | Warranty: Lifetime frame, five years parts, two years labor

Most versatile: NordicTrack

NordicTrack FS10i Elliptical

The NordicTrack FS10i bills itself as a “hybrid” trainer, able to mimic elliptical, stair-stepper and treadmill movements thanks to a long stride length, 24 levels of resistance and an adjustable incline. According to professional reviews, it succeeds at the elliptical and stair-stepper movements, making it a good pick for shoppers seeking versatility and variety in their workouts.

It is also a good option for those that appreciate classes: the built-in screen can be used to watch iFIT programming.

Dimensions: 58.5” (L) x 29.5” (W) x 74” (H) | Weight capacity: 375 lbs | Stride Length: 32” | Resistance: 20 lbs flywheel | Built-in monitor: 10-inch touchscreen | Membership: iFIT Membership free trial | Warranty: 10-years frame, two years parts, one year labor

Most affordable: Sunny Health & Fitness

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical

This elliptical from Sunny Health & Fitness is one of the most affordable top-rated machines available. It’s much more basic than our other recommendations, but still has multiple hand-holds, eight levels of resistance, and a basic built-in monitor. It’s also very compact, and has wheels on the bottom for easier transport, according to the brand.

Dimensions: 28” (L) x 17” (W) x 57” (H) | Weight capacity: 220 lbs | Stride Length: 11” | Resistance: Magnetic | Built-in monitor: Yes | Membership: N/A | Warranty: Three years frame, 180 days parts

For small spaces: Bowflex

Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Bowflex’s Max Trainer series is part elliptical, part stair-stepper, hence its very vertical shape. It comes with a ton of different hand-hold positions, which helps it perform both elliptical and stair-stepper duties. Unlike our other recommendations, the Max Trainer M6 comes with a full year-long membership to Bowflex’s JRNY training app. You can use the M6’s magnetic media rack to stack your smartphone or tablet and watch classes, according to the brand.

Dimensions: 46” (L) x 26” (W) x 64.2” (H) | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Stride Length: 16” | Resistance: Magnetic | Built-in monitor: Yes | Membership: One year JRNY membership included | Warranty: Two years frame and parts, 90 days labor

Professional quality: Octane

Moxham recommended Octane for a professional, gym-quality feel that “has the best experience for resembling running.” He highlighted the brand’s “Real Running Motion” as the key differentiator that “does a great job in providing a running experience with very little impact to the joint.”

The Q37Xi one of Octane’s best-selling models, with a detailed built-in screen, multiple hand holds, and the brands “Real Running Motion.”

Dimensions: 65” (L) x 30” (W) | Weight capacity: 300 lbs | Stride Length: 20.5” | Resistance: Magnetic | Built-in monitor: Yes | Membership: N/A | Warranty: Lifetime frame, five years parts, one year labor

For under your desk: Cubii

As recommended in our guide to under-desk ellipticals, the Cubii JR2 is a top-rated mini elliptical for use when sitting at a desk. Its small size and light weight are its biggest strength: it can fit almost anywhere, and can easily be moved. It offers eight levels of resistance, and tracks basic stats on the built-in LCD monitor.

Dimensions: 17.8” (L) x 24.41” (W) x 8.78” (H) | Weight capacity: 250 lbs | Stride Length: 6 | Resistance: Magnetic | Built-in monitor: Yes | Membership: N/A | Warranty: One year, two years if registered online

How to shop for an elliptical

When shopping for an elliptical, Moxham suggested trying out as many as you can before making a purchase. “Take a tour of your local gym and try out as many as they have,” he said. “Unlike stationary bikes and treadmills, each elliptical has its own unique swing to it. Some feel like your natural running pattern and others feel like you’re gliding.” Making sure your elliptical feels right for you should be your first and top priority.

Outside of feel, here are a few other, more technical features to be aware of.

Flywheel vs magnetic resistance

When using an elliptical, resistance is provided by either a flywheel or an internal magnetic system.

Flywheels are more traditional and rely on friction to increase and decrease resistance. A heavier flywheel general creates a more stable machine, which is why our experts advised aiming for a flywheel around 20 pounds. Flywheel ellipticals typically require a faster pedaling pace to maintain resistance when compared to a magnetic system.

Magnetic systems use electromagnets near a flywheel to adjust resistance levels. They are quieter, and less costly to maintain, but are typically more expensive than flywheel ellipticals, according to Moxham.

Metric tracking

Most ellipticals will have some form of progress tracking. Many have built-in programs or classes you can select to give yourself more guidance in your workout. Some require a subscription to use these programs. You can, of course, forgo the routines built-in to the machine in favor of your favorite fitness app.

Meet our experts

At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.

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