Last updated: September 6, 2021

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The use of elliptical machines has grown to become a trend among fitness enthusiasts. Its sudden increase in popularity is due in large part to its multiple benefits and all its functionalities. This type of cardio machine offers a simple and very effective workout that allows you to train like a professional without leaving the comfort of your own home. Today, there are many models and styles of ellipticals on the market.

Throughout this article, we aim to answer any questions you may have about these machines. Thus, enabling you to make the most informed decision at the time of purchase. We hope to help you find the model that best suits your needs, but first, it's important to know what those needs are to make sure you don’t end up spending more money than necessary on things you don’t need.




Key Facts

  • One of the most important things to consider when browsing is the amount of weight it can bear which is usually between 260 and 300 pounds. If you are at the higher end of that weight range, always choose a model with a higher weight-bearing capacity. If you weigh 290 lb, don't choose an elliptical that supports that exact weight, choose one that can hold 320 lb.
  • The position of the steering wheel is important when exercising. Ellipticals with the steering in the middle are smaller. Machines with rear steering tend to offer the smoothest and most comfortable movement. If you have experience and are looking for a challenge, opt for front-wheel steering which offers more resistance and a more complete exercise for the body.
  • There are many different models of elliptical machines. They can be divided into two main categories: machines for professional use or domestic use. Household equipment tends to be smaller, for obvious reasons, they are also designed to be folded or stored.

Our Selection: The Best Ellipticals

Next, we will show you the best ellipticals you can find. In this section, you will discover which one is the most suitable for you or your loved ones. You can also choose the resistance you like best and the type of equipment that's right for you.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Elliptical Trainers

If you've read this far, it's because you're seriously thinking about buying an elliptical trainer. Here's a complete shopping guide for you to know everything you need to, in order to get the right bike for your needs. Why should you be informed? Very simple: buying an elliptical bike is a financial investment towards your health.

Attractive woman working cardio exercises with trainer

Cardiovascular exercise is the key to keeping your heart strong and healthy.
(Source: Budjoso: 80782651/ 123rf.com)

What is an elliptical trainer exactly?

Elliptical exercise trainers are cardiovascular exercise machines that work out the whole body. They are designed to exercise all the muscles of the body simultaneously. It's a good choice and a great alternative to running for those seeking gentle exercise for the body. This is because elliptical trainers don’t require to place much impact on the joints.

With the consistent use of one of these machines, you will achieve all of your health goals. If you’ve been to a gym’s cardio room, you have probably seen different types of these apparatuses. You can even find classes that revolve around the use of ellipticals. It should be noted that these machines are popular for how easy and comfortable they are to use.

Did you know that ellipticals can be used by people with all sorts of fitness levels? Because they are easy to use and have a low impact on the body, they are ideal even for beginners.

What is the difference between an elliptical and other fitness machines?

Elliptical trainers offer cardiovascular exercise based on oval movements. Hence the name of ellipticals, because of their elliptic movements. This movement is similar to that of a traditional bicycle but involves many more muscle groups to be active. This movement also means that the leg joints do not receive any aggressive impact.

This machine is ideal if you are new to fitness and also if you're an experienced athlete. Using these machines will help you reduce pain and injury caused by recurring impact on the joints. With this machine, you will exercise the upper and lower body simultaneously as you also gain cardiovascular endurance. Check out the following table for a list of all it’s benefits:

Advantages
  • Promotes fat loss
  • Increases metabolic rate
  • Increases endurance
  • No hard impact on the joints
Disadvantages
  • Exercise is mainly focused on the lower body

What types of ellipticals are there?

Did you know there are different types of elliptical machines? Each type of elliptical trainer has specific and differentiating characteristics. These differences affect the way in which we will carry out the exercise and also the different training options that we will be able to get out of it. Let's see what some of these differentiating characteristics are:

  • FWD: The steering wheel of these type of ellipticals is located at the front of the structure. The movement it provides is flatter than that of other types of machines. It offers the widest stride of all the designs. This is a decisive factor for those who are looking for more demanding training or those with longer limbs.
  • Rear-wheel drive: With this style, the steering wheel is located at the rear of the machine, which provides more inertia. This translates into a more ergonomic, smooth and comfortable step. They have fewer moving parts, so they require less maintenance. They're very practical models for gyms and homes alike.
  • Central traction: These ellipticals are considerably smaller than the rest. The structure is very sturdy since it has the main mechanism in the center. This model offers a more natural position for the user's body.
  • Folding Elliptical: These are characterized by the fact that they can fold in order to be stored. This is an important feature for users who are looking for competitive models but don’t have much space. These machines still offer the same features as normal models.
  • Outdoor: The best option for those who do not want to train indoors. If you like to run, you should know that with one of these models you can do it without pain. They provide the same performance capabilities as indoor models but they can’t be used if the weather is harsh outside.

elliptical-trainer

Cross-trainers offer many different functionalities: you can count the calories you burn and track your blood pressure.
(Source: Rakin: 32463693/ 123rf.com)

How much space do elliptical trainers occupy?

The dimensions of these trainers will depend on the model and the type of machine. To find the right machine, you must first ask yourself how much space you have at home. The answer to this question will give you the parameters for which model you need. Size matters when considering comfort in small spaces.

It’s not the same to finish the exercise and leave the machine where it is, as having to fold it and store it. For this reason, domestic ellipticals are smaller than professional ones. We recommend that you take into account the transport and transfer capabilities of each model. For example, making sure it has wheels and that the grips are foldable.

Broadly speaking, the standard measurements of an elliptical trainer are usually around the following numbers:

  • Length: 70/80 inches
  • Width: 20/25 inches
  • Height: 60/65 inches
Before choosing a particular model of the elliptic trainer you must keep in mind who will be using it. A tall person won't be able to use it as a short person.

For this reason, you should keep the stride length in mind. Ideally, you’re looking for a stride length of 50/51cm, which is the average stride of most people.

Where can I buy an elliptical trainer?

You can buy them in the sports section of any large department store. You can find a variety of elliptical trainers for sale in places like They are also available in most of the large wholesale stores like Costco and Fitness Superstore.

We should note that on the Internet you'll find more models, brands, and types of ellipticals to choose from. You can find them on Amazon, eBay or Etsy. If you prefer something more specific, you can search in pages specialized in sports machinery.

Purchase Criteria

There’s no doubt that buying an elliptical trainer is a financial investment. If you’re not a fitness expert you may not know what features to look for in one of these machines. This is why we have prepared this complete shopping guide so that in this one place you’ll find all the information about the most important features of an elliptical. This next section goes over all the most relevant purchase criteria to keep in mind at the time of purchase.

Inertia Flywheel

Also known as the inertia wheel. This is one of the most important parts of elliptical trainers. It determines the type of machine it is and the way you will have to pedal. The flywheel is the modern version of the traditional bicycle chain. It consists of an iron disc that starts the movement when the user begins to pedal.

This disc always goes faster than the pedaling speed, which explains how it feels so smooth. The faster the motion of the wheel, the smoother the pedaling will feel. The resistance of an elliptical is determined by its steering wheel. The heavier the weight, the greater its resistance. Keep in mind that this has an impact on the wear and tear of the joints, remember to choose a lightweight flywheel to minimize the harmful impact.

Working out with an elliptical trainer is an excellent cardiovascular exercise.
(Source: Soler: 11982212/ 123rf.com)

Magnets

Before magnets where used, ellipticals worked with friction straps to increase the output of resistance. The straps wore the machine down quickly and were very noisy. Magnetic resistance was invented as an answer to these problems. Magnets have a much longer working life and are a lot easier to configure and exchange than straps.

The movement of the steering wheel transmits heat to the magnets which then turns into force. This is what makes them work and pick up speed. That's why they must have good heat resistance to function well and have a longer service life. We can categorize them into two types of ellipticals:

  • Aeromagnetic: With higher quality magnets. The structure has holes for air to pass through, allowing it to cool down easily.
  • Electromagnetic: These incorporate transformers that convert electricity into magnetic energy. They must be connected to a power outlet. They incorporate ventilation holes as well.

Resistance

The resistance of elliptical trainers is their main differentiating characteristic. It's what separates them from treadmills and other cardiovascular exercise machines such as exercise bikes or rowing machines. Resistance increases the difficulty of the exercise. Adequate resistance is essential for proper training.

Depending on the results you desire, you should provide more or less resistance to your training. It's not the same to train for a race as it is to burn calories or increase your metabolism. Each type of exercise requires a different degree of resistance. We can differentiate between two types of resistance when ellipticals are concerned:

  • Mechanic: A simple mechanism that unlocks when the central button is turned. It activates the tension cable that brings the magnet close to the steering wheel.
  • Motorized: Allows you to adjust the difficulty of the workout from a screen. This model has a greater variety of resistance settings, these usually have preconfigured training programs as well.

Transmitter Belt

The drive belt connects the flywheel to the pedals. It plays an important role in the functioning of the machine: the higher the quality of the belt, the more use you will get out of it. Before you choose a model, think about how you're going to exercise. If you are going to train every day, choose a model with a quality belt.

It’s very important that you take into account how many times a week you are going to train. The transmission belt is in charge of supporting the most intense part of the exercise. If you're going to use the elliptical occasionally, you don't have to look for a strong transmission belt. However, if you want to train often and hard, you'll have to invest in a stronger belt.

Stride Length

The stride length has a direct influence on the smoothness of the pedaling. The longer the length, the more beneficial the machine will be to your work out. The length usually varies from 7 inches in the simplest models, to 21 inches in some of the more professional equipment. There are also models especially for tall users with a 26-inch stride length.

The size of the pedals usually indicates the stride distance. In addition, they enable the continuous movement of the trainer. Pedals can usually be adjusted to different resistances and to move in different directions. Make sure you look for designs that are comfortable and pleasant for you.

Summary

As you can see, elliptical machines are some of the most complete cardiovascular training equipment out there. There are different types depending on the position of the flywheel or the resistance you desire. Each type serves a function and is appropriate for a particular style of training. There are many types of machines to perfectly suit your needs.

If you want to stay in shape or lose those extra pounds from the comfort of your own home, you can opt for a folding model. These are very practical because they allow you to store them anywhere. They are ideal for domestic use and can be just as good as professional models. You also have the option of choosing a more professional machine if you plan to train daily.

Gym rooms are full of different styles. They usually have models of high resistance and with front wheels. Keep in mind that If you're looking to improve your training performance, you'll need to look for more sophisticated models. Some, with electromagnetic magnets, allows you to set resistance, time and tilt.

You are now ready to choose an elliptical trainer. Just follow our guidance and advice and you'll get the best elliptical to suit your needs. If you liked this guide, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment with your thoughts.

(Source of featured image: Bujdoso: 80782650/123rf.com)

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