last updated: July 28th 2016
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Elliptical machines are very popular machines and are very unique; they come in various styles; some to help workout the lower body, some to help put greater focus on the upper body and some that can tone both upper and lower body. These cardio machines are very good at burning calories as they have been tested several times to be just as good at burning calories and toning muscle as a walk or jog in the park. Additionally, elliptical trainers are popular amongst people with existing injuries. For example, a man or woman with a back injury can take advantage of exercises that target their lower limbs and work to tone their arms all while causing little to no strain on their backs.
Comparison Table: Top 10 Best Elliptical Machines of 2016
|Elliptical||Full Review||Dimensions||Product Weight||Max User Weight||Warranty||Price||Rating|
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|54 x 23 x 63||76 lbs.||300 lbs.||3 Year Limited||$||4.1 / 5|
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|62 x 26 x 71||150 lbs.||300 lbs.||90 Days Parts & Labor||$$||4.2 / 5|
|Best Fitness E1|
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|48 x 30 x 66||215 lbs.||275 lbs.||2 Year Parts & 1 Year Labor||$$$$||4.6 / 5|
|Horizon Fitness EX-59-02|
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|68.2 x 22 x 64.6||145 lbs.||275 lbs.||1 Year Parts & 1 Year Labor||$$$||4.4/ 5|
|AFG 3.1 AE|
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|76 x 24 x 67||198 lbs.||325 lbs.||3 Year Parts & 1 Year Labor||$$$$||4.8 / 5|
|ProForm Hybrid Trainer|
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|45 x 18 x 24||149 lbs.||350 lbs.||90 Days Parts & Labor||$$||4.3 / 5|
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|31 x 63 x 75||222 lbs.||350 lbs.||5 Year Parts & 2 Year Labor||$$$$$||4.4/ 5|
|Life Fitness X5|
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|83 x 26 x 63||250 lbs.||350 lbs.||3 Year Parts & 1 Year Labor||$$$$$$||4.9 / 5|
|Exerpeutic Aero Air|
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|33 x 19 x 46||55 lbs.||260 lbs.||1 Year Limited||$||4.0/ 5|
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|43 x 28 x 53.8||42 lbs.||250 lbs||1 Year Limited||$||4.1 / 5|
Purchasing an at-home exercising a machine is a big investment. You have to consider what is it about yourself are you seeking to fix with a workout machine. Are you seeking to lose weight? Maybe you want to tone some extra fat on your thighs. Maybe your doctor informed you that you may be at risk of serious health problems due to your high cholesterol and that you should really consider your calorie intake. The right exercise machine really starts with the goals you are trying to set for yourself to improve your health and establish a healthier, more active lifestyle.
Read the following guide on elliptical machines, the different types, the various components and how they can benefit you.
Why Should You Buy An Elliptical
Ellipticals are a great investments for numerous reasons. Most importantly, cardio equipment is paramount in burning calories. They are often compared as being just as effective in burning calories as the most basic exercises (i.e. walking) that you may do every day. These machines are low impact and produce little, if any, stress on the joints, which proves to be very important with folks contending with injuries. Here are some more detailed reasons why buying an elliptical is a good choice for at-home exercise machinery.
These cardio machine burns an impressive amount of calories with little impact on your body and produce less joint impact and stress on the body as opposed to many other exercise machines. They work the best on the muscles in quadriceps, hamstrings and other muscles that people usually do not exercise well enough. These machines target muscles in the buttocks and hips as well as, as these muscles are not always utilized to their full capacity. When an elliptical has arm handles to work the upper body, (used on cross-trainer elliptical machines that will be discussed later) it works cardiovascular muscles very well. All of these machines, regardless of the style, are low impact, reducing stress on legs and knees.
Ellipticals without the arm handles or upper body components encourage balance and posture. This is important to people contending with back problems that have trouble sitting upright or have issues with lordosis or swayback. They tone muscle very well, but they are not designed to be build muscle quickly like resistance training. This is not bad because losing weight too fast may cause unnecessary stress. Ergonomically, these machines are much smaller than most at-home exercise machines. The economically sized and price machines often have the ability to be folded and put away for storage, releasing more space in your home.
Ease for Injuries and Pain
Many people who invest in elliptical machines contend with health conditions that make it hard to use certain muscles and exercises as often as they like. For example, pain from arthritis, when the joints became inflamed due to many reasons (age, previous injury and a lack of exercise are the most common causes), can be eased.. While these machines may “cure” arthritis pain, it certainly will not encourage more pain if the machine is used correctly. People suffering from any type of arthritis can still get a great workout with this type of cardio equipment.
Although they are very popular in gyms and in homes, elliptical trainers have only been around since the 1990s. While studies are limited in number, the findings are promising. Studies have shown that elliptical machines cause greater activation in butt and thigh muscles (but less in calves) than that of a treadmill. A British Journal of Sports Medicine article reported that walking causes 112% of body weight to hit the ground with steps, which could be problematic for people with joint pain, but only 73% of body weight hits the ground (or tread) with an elliptical machine. Elliptical machines are very easy on the joints, and are often compared to treadmills for performance. In fact, the Journal of Strength and Condition Research found that elliptical machines and treadmills burn nearly the same amount of calories.
What Are The Different Types?
There are three basic types of ellipticass, all with each of their own functions and components. They are often called by different names but has some the functions of another. However, it’s worth discussing what each one does. These machines are stationary at-home exercise devices to emulate that of walking, running or walking up a set of stairs while causing very little stress or injury to the joints. In doing this, many devices look similar to bicycles and come with pedals to allow the user to feel like they are indeed pedaling through the park or doing some light hill climbing. These cardio trainers are also designed with different axels. A front wheel drive elliptical positions the user’s weight in the front part of the machine. Most elliptical machines are front wheel drive. Then, there are rear wheel drives that are designed the same way, except the user’s weight is positioned to the rear side of the machine. Back wheel machines have the ability to adjust its ramp, unlike front wheel machines. Then you have center wheel drives where there are two axels; one in the front and one in the back, while the user’s weight is centered. Any of the machines below can be designed with any of the axels listed above, though most machines are front-wheeled.
Elliptical trainers focus on lower body cardio exercises. They are designed for the users to stand on the pedals, pushing down on them so the pedals move in a circular motion as if they were on a bicycle. They are various types of elliptical trainers that simulate exercises like climbing, walking and running without causing stress on joints. This equipment can give a light exercise or an intense one, depending on the resistance settings and the miles walked. Most elliptical trainers have upper and lower body components to them, but many are lower-body workouts. This is because elliptical trainers utilize components to work the legs and thighs, though arm attachments are not foreign. On these machines, the upper body components do not play a huge role in calorie burning but are necessary for tracking calories burned. If there are programs built inside the machine to track calories, the user typically has to grab hold of the arms, as they may act as sensory devices to track vitals. Most elliptical trainer machines can incline and decline for resistance training, which is quite useful for stair stepping.
A cross trainer machine can do different exercises to benefit multiple parts of the body; hence, the “cross-trainer” title. Cross trainer elliptical machines put far more focus on the upper body than the elliptical trainer. While no elliptical machine is paramount in muscle building, the cross trainers do well with arm muscle toning because of the extra components for the upper body. In addition, cross trainer elliptical machines also include the stair climbing. Nearly every cross trainer elliptical comes with built in programs to help you track your progression, including calories lost and target weight loss. There is a better marketing concept to the cross trainer elliptical machines too. You have seen cross trainer gear, including shoes, equipment and clothing. The familiarity of the cross trainer concept helps make the cross trainer elliptical machine one of the most popular at-home exercise machines.
An elliptical glider combines the benefits of an elliptical trainer and a cross trainer. It is often compared to that of a treadmill in functioning and performance. If you were to look at how an elliptical glider works on a video, you get the idea of a skier. The upper body handles work like that of a ski pole. The arm components move back and forth, with adjustable resistance components, for a light or intense “ski” workout. The tread or lower body workout section of the machine can have its resistance manipulated depending on model as well to give more or less strength endurance. There are large versions of elliptical gliders found in gyms but the smaller, economical machines are designed for in-home use. Gliders have elaborate monitors and built-in programs, like the cross trainers, for measuring heart rate and calories, too. Gliders sometimes come with built-in fans to cool you off after a good workout. Gliders are the best for low impact workouts burning calories.
Purchasing an elliptical machine depends solely on you, your goals and your wallet. As discussed before, what would be your goals for getting an elliptical machine? Is it to lose weight or be more mindful of cardiovascular condition? Do you have a history of high cholesterol in your family and want to monitor your calories better? Have you experienced an accident that had you on your back for several weeks and now you want to burn the lazy fat you gained or tighten-up muscles? Purchasing an elliptical machine should be a careful investment just like anything else. Some of the top name, best performing elliptical machines are unfortunately the costly ones. Elliptical machines can run anywhere from $200 to $2,000 dollars. If you need a basic workout, you can afford to purchase a machine for several hundreds of dollars. However, if you want all the bells and whistles of a cross trainer (the built in computer, upper and lower body components, iPod station, etc.) get ready to spend least $500! A good thing is that most top name elliptical machines come with good lifetime warranties so fixing or repairing them is not too painful on your wallet. Ergonomics, loudness, size and weight capacity are all some of the considerations you will need to know about, too.
Most at-home ellipticals are smaller than a treadmill. They usually weigh anywhere from 50lbs. to 500lbs., depending on the make, model and design. Smaller and more economical cardio machines are often foldable and easy to store under your bed or behind your couches. While a first time buyer may be tempted to purchase a commercial sized machine, like the ones found in gyms, he or she can still obtain a very impressive calorie burn with a smaller machine. Because smaller machines do not come with most of the computerized components of the larger ones, it makes the workout less complicated. On the flipside, the smaller machines cannot always fit heftier people. Therefore, if you are contending with some weight issues, making sure the machine can hold your capacity is a necessary pre-purchase consideration. Because many of the smaller machines do not come with built in programs, tracking your performance might be challenging.
As stated earlier, elliptical machines can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand depending on the make and model and its component. Cost also depends on your health goals and bank account. Do you really need the computerized programs and iPod station that comes with a commercial machine? Bottom line, the more elaborate the programming and exercise parts are, the more expensive the machine will be. Additionally, a name brand machine will cost far more than a generic brand, even though a generic brand will not come with the same reputation (good or bad) as a well-known brand.
Most brands offer the following in their warranties: a lifetime warranty on the brakes and the body frame. If your machine does not contain a lifetime or long-term warrantee at least for the body frame, be warned: the equipment may fail far sooner than you think. Additional coverage should include repairs for parts and the computer for 10-5 years. A popular and common warranty for parts is 5 years. Moreover, for actual labor, a common warranty may cover the machine for 2 years. At all cost, avoid elliptical trainers that promise a 90-day or 1-year warranty for anything. Often times, whatever part that needs to be replaced you will have to pay the shipping charge just to mail the machine or at free cost to you, they can mail you the part but you will be responsible for assembling it yourself.
These machines are certainly not dead silent, but clatter may mean two things: something is working well or wrong. Noise from a machine can be bothersome. It can be a distraction when doing something that is supposed to help you relax. Additionally, the noise level can be so annoying, one may not want to contend with it at all, reducing their desire to want to use the machine. Some noise is to be expected; that’s how you know it works! Other times, it may be a sign that something internally is wrong. It could mean a part is loose, a single component is malfunctioning or the entirely machine was poorly engineered. Ultimately, a good elliptical should run smoothly with the noise of a monotone “hummm” sound.
It will be important to read some detailed reviews of the machine to see how effective it was for other users. As stated before, studies have shown that these machines are just as effective at burning calories as a treadmill and work very well for users with health conditions related to arthritis. Built in computer programs help you stay abreast of your goals so you can get the better bang for your health. Remember, the smaller the machine you purchase, the more limitations it will have and the less productive it may be. Purchasing the right equipment for your body’s needs will be the best way to ensure you have the most effective machine.
Even though small elliptical trainers have more limitations than their larger counterpart machines, it does not mean they are not rigid and firm. Many small trainers on the market can hold as much as 350lbs. The larger ellipticals, like the cross trainers and gliders, can hold up to 700 lbs.! It is likely that people who purchase these machines will not be morbidly obese, but it does not mean you want a cheap machine either. Additionally, consider your weight capacity if you have not exercised in a long time. Luckily, most machines are quite rigid, usually made of hard steel or a similar material. Even flimsy machines can hold a lot of weight. If you are concerned about weight capacity, make sure you buy a machine with a warranty. Just in case too much weight is placed on the elliptical and something breaks, you know some of the repair will be covered.
Heart Rate Monitoring
Depending on your fitness level, if your heart responds too rapidly while exercising, you could potentially faint…or worse. Many affordable at-home elliptical trainers come with built-in elements that allow you to input your vitals so it can track your heart rate activity. The key question to ask when tracking your heart rate is much many beats per minutes should you heart produce to burn the right amount of calories? Finding out what your heart rate before using cardio equipment is simple: take your pulse for 15 seconds and multiply that figure by 4. The product will be your base heart rate per minute, which is generally 65-90 BPM for an average healthy person. You want to stay between 130-160 BPM to be in a fat burning zone.
Most elliptical machines have many built in programs to allow you to achieve your fitness goals. One of the main programs is the heart rate monitor. This allows you to see how much your heart rate gets elevated while on the machine. Additionally, it informs you how high your heart rate will have to be to achieve your goals. Many elliptical machines have built-in memory to show trending data of your performance. Some other popular built-in programs for elliptical machines include fat burning monitors, calories burned, time and distance.
At-home exercise equipment is not always cheap. Purchasing a cheaply priced machine may mean you get cheap results in performance. Only you can decide your budget, depending on what you want out of it. However, not all elliptical machines that are inexpensive are bad. Below are details on some of the best elliptical trainers for specific price points.
If you are looking for a very basic workout, save your pennies and get an elliptical under $200. These machines are very likely not to come with detailed programs, if they come with any at all. They are likely to be equipped with basic sensors like distance and time. You may luck up and find a machine for under $200 that’s on sale that comes with a little more to offer to the customer.
The Exerpeutic 1000XL is a popular elliptical machine for under $200 because it comes loaded with many ideal components for an at-home machine. First, the machine itself is a small unit that is easy roll and store away. The Exerpeutic comes with many built in capabilities and you can see these all on its impressively sized LCD screen. It can measure distance, calories burned, time, speed, scan and target zone heart rates. The conveniently placed arm pole sensors allow the user to comfortably exercise while the machine calculates their vitals. This machine comes with arm resistant attachments so one can exercise his or her upper body as well. Another important aspect about this machine is that it is quiet. Recall the discussion about loud machines causing a user to get discouraged and distracted from enjoying the machine. If you want a more strenuous workout, the Exerpeutic 1000XL comes with 8 tension adjusters to ensure your muscles get the strengthening and toning they need. The wide and rigid pedals are designed to prevent slipping. Impressively, the Exerpeutic 1000XL is designed to hold a capacity of over 300lbs. A downside of the Exerpeutic 1000X1 is the 3-year limited warranty.
Some folks who have used and purchased the 1000XL have made the general review about how easy it was to put the machine together and get started right away. Other people detail similar feedback, stating how they appreciated the short time it took them to start taking advantage of the machine. Others who were not big fans, complained that the machine only works temporarily, breaking down after several months. Others griped about how the directions for assemble where ambiguous. Overall, consumers have great things to say about the Exerpeutic 1000XL.
It is hard to beat a machine like the Exerpeutic 1000X1 that comes with so many great elements at a decent price. However, some may be looking for a little more, like a more attractive warranty plan or more built-in programs. Machines in the ball park of $500 are more favorable of those in the gym, but can still be fit for your home.
The Schwinn 425 a solid choice for an elliptical machine under $500. The Schwinn 425 has 12 levels of resistance to give you the lightest workout or the toughest challenge. The monitor is 5’’ x 2.25’’ with a stereo and a 3-speed fan so you can listen to your favorite tunes while staying cool. The Schwinn also comes with transportation wheels for ease to use and storage. It is a small front wheel machine and much emphasis is placed on the lower body. However, it does come designed with handlebars that can be fixed or moveable for resistance training too. You can have up to 6 different profiles and the machine will give feedback to at least two of them to keep you on track with your fitness goals. The full length of the stride is at 18 inches, which can be manipulated for resistance. The LCD display is encased in such a way that there is space to place your iPad or tablet to watch the news, play music or even check email! It comes with a better warranty as opposed to its cheaper competitors: 5 years warranty for the frame and 1 year on parts and electronics.
Consumer reviews show that the Schwinn 425 is a great buy. Most boast of the ease of assembly and use of the computer. Other reviews do not exactly rave about the machine but they state how impressed they were with overall use and customer service. One individual stated it works great for his wife and even his small daughter. A common praise of the machine is that it is sturdy and built strong. A common complaint; however, details how parts are often missing from the package. While this is not a performance problem, it certainly may not play well for the companys’ logistics. Others complain that they had difficulty assembling the machine because the directions were off or were not included in the box at all.
An elliptical machine closer up to $1000 is of the same quality you may find in a gym. These machines come with all the components of the previous mentioned machines, and more. Pricy elliptical machines may come with other components for leisure and entertainment like an iPod station or a drink carrier. Let’s explore some components of a well-known elliptical machine in the $1000 range and below.
One of the first things you may notice about the Best Fitness E1 is the lengthy warranty. For 15 years, you machine’s frame is protected and the motor is covered for 10 years. The frame is made of steel so destruction to the machine is a difficult task! 17 resistance levels mean plenty of manipulation for you to control how hard or light your workout to be. 12 built-in unique fitness programs allow the user to constantly be challenged to not only meet and exceed goals but to pursue new ones. The machine is portable for ease of storage in your home. The Best Fitness E1 has a patented center drive, allowing the user’s weight to be distributed through the machine so overused limbs do not get sore. The arm handles offer both upper and lower body cardiovascular workouts for a full body challenge. The Best Fitness E1 Elliptical Trainer was designed in an ISO-9000 certified facility to reassure the consumer that the machine was designed and engineered under the highest standards. The Best Fitness E1 can hold 275lbs. of user weight.
The consumer reviews for the Best Fitness E1 Elliptical Trainer are excellent. Consumers have praised the machine for being well built, with one user describing the machine as being built like a “tank.” Others praise the machine for doing exactly what it was advertised to do. Many reviewers state the machine was very easy to put together. The very few common complaints included the instructions being printed unclearly and the warranty was dissatisfying.
Overall Best Elliptical Machine for Home Use
This machine is an excellent device for the price of just over $1000. One of the first things that should impress you about the Horizon Fitness is its special certification. An elliptical device with a SixStar™ certification means it has met the highest standards, according to biomechanics and engineers. This means the machine will deliver the smoothest and most natural feel for the user. The elliptical machine comes designed with 3 LCD screens, 10 programmed resistance levels and 10 program exercise plans designed for targeting, customized and basic workouts. With a built-in MP3 player deck, a user can enjoy their favorite jams, too. The 18-inch pedals allow comfort and little to no episodes of sliding. The Horizon Fitness can hold up to 275lbs. and has an incredible warranty plan: lifetime warranty for the frame, 20-year warranty for the brakes and 1-year warranty for parts and labor.
There were little to no complains found about the Horizontal Fitness. People love the ease of use and the 3 LCD screens that display their performance very brightly. Majority of people love that the machine is small but sturdy; a strong machine gives a user a piece of mind that they are operating a well-crafted device. The only common complaint found was that after several months of use, users started hearing a cranking noise in the tread. Luckily, it would be something the warranty could take care of!
First, you will need to know what you want to get out of the device. Do you want lose weight and tone muscle? Are you trying to find a convenient way to burn calories at home? Knowing what your health concerns are will put you in a better position to purchase an elliptical. You need to know exactly how much you can afford for the device as well. A big thing to consider when buying an elliptical is the warranty. Obviously, a longer warranty is better, as no machine lasts forever. Whether you buy an economical or a lavish higher-priced device, when it comes time for repairs, you do not want to have to pay that bill!
Know your current and prior health concerns, decide what components are necessary for you and read consumer reviews before buying an elliptical. Once you do, you will be put in the most optimal position to enjoy your machine and get healthy again!