With the weather getting colder, we have indoor cardio workouts in our minds. So unless you’re an avid winter runner, it’s about time you look into the best ellipticals on the market right now (after perusing our guide to the best treadmills, of course). Widely regarded as an essential piece of home fitness equipment, a high-quality elliptical can provide you with a low-impact workout that you can adjust to your desired level of resistance and difficulty. That makes it a great addition to your home gym, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned exerciser. But, as is the case with treadmills, exercise bikes, and other major cardio machines, this is a big purchase that you don’t want to rush into—so we consulted personal trainers and fitness experts to get the low down on finding the best elliptical machine for you.
What are the benefits of using an elliptical?
As SELF has previously reported, elliptical workouts are a great alternative to running and high-impact activities: They get your heart rate up without aggravating any injuries or putting stress on your knees. Plus, they can be surprisingly versatile. For example, you can work muscle groups in your lower body and upper body at the same time if you use the handlebars as much as the foot pedals.
Some elliptical models emulate the feel of a stair-stepper, if you really want to give your glutes a workout. And most ellipticals come with an interval training setting, for those who love a quick HIIT session. In short, it’s a great piece of exercise equipment if you want to mix up your home workouts and challenge yourself.
What should you look for in an elliptical?
Fyt personal trainer Carla Baccio, and executive vice president of marketing and branding at Crunch Fitness Chad Waetzig, tell SELF shoppers that they should prioritize their budget and space when looking for a home elliptical. Waetzig says to make sure there’s extra room around your machine of choice, in case its moving parts swing out past its footprint. As far as preloaded workout programs go, Waetzig says a good elliptical should have hills, intervals, and a manual setting, at the very least. Baccio notes that it’s also nice to have a machine that tracks your steps and offers heart rate monitoring.
Beyond those details, Waetzig says ellipticals for home use don’t necessarily need many more bells and whistles. When you have access to Netflix and the rest of your home streaming services, you might not need an elliptical with internet connectivity and a huge LCD display with streaming capabilities, he says as an example. But, if you are interested in smart home gym equipment, Waetzig says to seek out machines that are compatible with your activity tracker. “Finding equipment that can connect to your Apple Watch or Fitbit is a great motivator. Seeing the numbers displayed without breaking your stride really can be an encouraging thing,” he says.
You can also take features like incline, resistance, and stride length range into consideration—some models are more adjustable than others. And those who have housemates or live in apartments may need to find an elliptical that’s on the quieter side. Baccio recommends making a list of your must-have features before shopping—and we’d recommend perusing our full elliptical buying guide too.
With all that in mind, we’ve highlighted our top picks for the best ellipticals you can order right now from major brands and retailers like Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Schwinn, Sole, Proform, and more. Not only did we consult our experts on their favorites, but we also looked at models that consistently sell and garner glowing reviews from cardio fans like yourself.
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