Elliptical machines provide a workout that seems to be a mix of running, stair climbing, and cross country skiing. All these are excellent cardio workouts, which is why ellipticals are the most sought-after cardio machines for commercial as well as for home use.
Now, when we talk about cardio workouts, we expect them to be intense and not-so-joint-friendly. But, that's not the case with ellipticals. Since you will not lift your legs from the pedals, elliptical workouts are not going to beat your knees, hips, ankles, and other joints.
Although elliptical trainers provide low-impact workouts, they are highly effective for boosting your stamina and endurance. In fact, a study has proven that elliptical workouts are almost as effective as other high-impact workouts such as running.
Elliptical machines provide a full-body cardiovascular workout and can help you burn more calories than what you could do with other exercise machines such as treadmills and rowing machines. No wonder why they are an extremely popular home gym equipment.
If you have been thinking about buying an elliptical machine for home, this article will help you understand what features that you need to look for in it and why. We will also provide you with our top 5 recommendations, so you don’t have to do a lot of research and brainstorming.
What features to look for while selecting an elliptical machine for home
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Stability and locking features
As obvious, you must not use a machine that feels wobbly when used at a high speed. It may not tip over but you shouldn't take a chance no matter what. Always buy a heavyweight elliptical machine for home that feels safe and stable under all workout circumstances.
If you have kids at home, you should buy the ones that come with a safety pin feature that prevents the pedals from moving when the machine is not in use. This helps keep your kids safe.
Elliptical machines utilize two types of resistance- magnetic and air. In our article on ‘The Best Rowing Machines for Your Home Gym’, we have explained why magnetic resistance is better than the air one. Let us explain it here briefly.
Air resistance is a cheaper technology but the elliptical trainers that use it are very noisy as compared to the magnetic ones. If you intend to use them in your living room or any common area of your home, you will obviously disturb others.
Magnetic resistance is expensive but the machines are much quieter and highly suitable for homes. Cheaper machines may utilize manually adjustable magnetic resistance but if you are looking for the best elliptical for home, buy an automatic one.
Front-drive, rear-drive, or center drive?
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Most top rated elliptical machines for home have their flywheel located at the front. This helps make these machines compact and affordable. But, front-drive ellipticals are noisier and require more maintenance.
The rear-drive ellipticals for home are quieter, provide a more natural motion, and require less maintenance. But, they are expensive and usually have a large footprint.
Center-drive elliptical machines are available too but there aren't many varieties. Plus, they are highly expensive.
Image source: Elliptical Reviews
The standard stride length for elliptical machines is 18”, which is perfect for most people. But, if you are a taller person, maybe above 6ft, you should look for machines that have a 20” stride length.
Never settle for the 14” stride that many cheaper elliptical machines for home provide. 14” is too short, even for people who are 5ft tall. The short, choppy rides are neither comfortable nor as effective as expected. Plus, you can’t pick up your pace when the strides are really short.
The best elliptical machines for home should have large, non-slip footpads with ridges on the surface to give you a grip. They should have articulating foot pedals, so your feet can flex naturally while exercising. The cheaper ones usually have static footpads that restrict the movement of your feet, which could cause discomfort and pain.
Some other features that you may want to have in your elliptical machine
- Do you want your elliptical to support reverse pedalling? If yes, make sure you check with the seller and read the reviews to confirm that reverse pedalling is equally smooth as in forward action.
- Some elliptical machines have heart rate monitoring sensors built into the handlebars whereas some others come with a chest strap. Which one would you like to have? The one with pulse grip sensors in the handlebars are cheaper because they provide a rough estimate.
- The best ellipticals for home usually come with pre-set workouts so you don’t get bored.
- If you are planning to use it everyday for at least two hours or if your whole family is going to use it, make sure you spend a bit more and buy something sturdier and heavy duty. Cheaper models are meant for casual use only.
Now that you have learnt how to choose an elliptical machine for home, let's look at our top 5 recommendations.
5 Best Elliptical Machine for home gyms that we recommend
|Name||Dimensions||Stride length||Resistance level||Drive type||Our Rating||Price|
|Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 Advanced Programmed Elliptical Machine Trainer||55 x 23 x 64.5 inches||15.5”||16 level of magnetic resistance||Rear drive||4.5||Check price|
|Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine||28.2 x 63.2 x 70.1 inches||20”||25 level of magnetic resistance||Front drive||4.5||Check Price|
|Nautilus E618 Elliptical||73” X 27” X67″ inches||22”||25 level of magnetic resistance||Front drive||4.4||Check Price|
|Bowflex Max Trainer M6 (hybrid elliptical)||46″ L x 26″ W x 64.2″ H||15”||16 level of magnetic resistance||Front drive||4.4||Check Price|
|Proform Carbon HIIT H7 elliptical for home gym(hybrid elliptical)||29.25″ W x 52″ D x 66.7″ H||10” vertical path and a 5” horizontal path||24 level of magnetic resistance||Front drive||4.4||Check Price|
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 Advanced Programmed Elliptical Machine Trainer– Our best affordable pick for beginners
If you are looking for an elliptical under $500, this is a great option.
Sunny Health & Fitness never fails to amaze us by offering an impressive array of features at an unbelievable and enviable price. The SF-E3912 Elliptical Trainer is no exception. It is an entry-level machine best suited for casual trainers and light to moderate workouts. Despite the smaller price tag, it comes with 24 pre-set workouts and enough resistance to challenge you every day.
Short stride length
The SF-E3912 elliptical from Sunny Health and Fitness has a stride length of just 15.5”. If you fall within the average height bracket, this should be enough. But, if you want a longer stride length, you can go with the SF-E320001 model which offers 18 inch of movement. If you are a senior citizen or someone suffering from mobility issues, you can go with the SF-E320002 model that has 11.5” stride length.
Other than stride length, the weight capacity also differs in all these three elliptical machines. Please read the product description thoroughly before ordering.
Features and specifications of Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 elliptical machine for home
- Dimension: 55 x 23 x 64.5 inches
- Weight- 105lbs
- Weight-bearing capacity: 330lbs
- Flywheel- 13lbs
- Stride length-15.5”
- It is a rear-drive machine
- Resistance mechanism: Magnetic with 16 resistance levels
- Comes with a Backlit display, pulse sensors on the handlebars, a bottle holder, and full-motion exercise arms
- Comes with 24 preset workout programs
- Warranty- 3 years on frame and 180 days on parts and components
What we like about it
Almost all buyers have agreed that this elliptical machine from Sunny Health & Fitness is pretty easy to assemble. It comes with a detailed instruction book that lists step-by-step processes, so even if you have never assembled anything you would still be able to do it in less than an hour. You may have to ask a friend or family member for help though.
Two sets of handlebars
Since this elliptical machine is meant for beginners and casual trainers, the manufacturer has included a pair of stationary handles. If you are new to it, it might be difficult to work both your legs and your arms at the same time. Stationary handles help you practice some balance before you pick up some speed and start using it for a full body workout.
What we don’t like about it
To be honest, this is the best elliptical machine for home for people who are on a budget. There isn’t really anything that we don’t like considering its low price tag, but here are few things that this elliptical machines misses out on:
No backward pedalling
The manufacturer has stated that backward movement may loosen the pedals and the crank arms. All the three models of Sunny Health and Fitness Elliptical machines that we have listed here are only meant for forward pedaling.
Difficult to get in touch with the customer service team
Some buyers, in their reviews, have stated that the team is not very responsive. They take days to respond to emails and it’s hard to get in touch with them over the phone.
Louder than expected
Since it utilizes magnetic resistance, we had expected it to be quiet and smooth. But, unfortunately, it is noisy and may not be suitable for common areas as it will obviously disturb others. No complaints though because such issues are expected at this price.
Our Rating: 4.5/5
The SF-E3912 elliptical from Sunny Health and Fitness is counted among the top rated elliptical machines for home. But, as we have mentioned above, it is just an entry-level machine and may not be enough if you have been exercising for some time. The 16 levels of resistance sounds tempting but actually, they won’t be enough if you already have decent strength and stamina. You should buy the Schwinn 470 Elliptical instead.
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine– best option for intermediate-level trainers on a budget
The 20” stride length of Schwinn 470 makes it the best elliptical for home for people who want to train hard and do not mind spending $900-$1000. Other than the stride length, we love that it comes with 29 pre-set workout programs, each of which offers a different level of challenge. The workouts are automated and they automatically change the resistance to provide you a more realistic feel.
- Dimensions: 28.2 x 63.2 x 70.1 inches
- Weight: 164lbs
- Weight-bearing capacity- 300lbs
- Flywheel- 20lbs
- Front-drive elliptical machine for small home gyms
- Resistance type- magnetic with 25 resistance levels
- Stride length-20”
- Comes with 4 user profiles and 29 preset workout programs
- Has bluetooth connectivity so you can pair it with app-based tracking tools of your choice such as Explore the World, MyFitnessPal
- Offers 10 degree motorized incline
- Also comes with inbuilt speakers, media rack, heart rate monitoring option, and water bottle holder
- Warranty- 10 years on frame, 2 years on parts, 1 year on electronics
What we like about it
Counted among the top rated elliptical machines for home, the Schwinn 470 machine makes the least possible noise and vibration. If you are planning to use it in your drawing room, do not hesitate. It won’t bother others watching TV.
20” stride length
Most low-cost elliptical machines for home come with 14” stride length. Only a few have an 18” stride. Now, the main problem with shorter stride length is that they give you a very limited range of motion, as if you are marching in place. Longer ones help you engage more muscles, which is why the Schwinn 470 elliptical machine is a top-rated home gym equipment.
A 20lbs flywheel is a rare find in this price range. Usually ellipticals that cost less than $1000 come with 13-15lbs flywheels. Only a few products like this one utilize a heavy flywheel, making the whole setup stable and durable. Plus, a heavier flywheel provides more resistance and a smooth motion. No wonder why it has made it to our list of 5 best ellipticals for home.
What we don’t like about the Schwinn 470 elliptical machine for home
The readings are inaccurate
A lot of buyers have stated that the calorie count is nowhere close to what the fitness trackers display. Some have stated that the heart rate monitoring is also faulty and unreliable. If you have a heart disease and you are required not to go beyond a specific heart rate, you must not trust the device solely. Use a wearable watch instead.
Bluetooth works only with the Schwinn app
A lot of buyers were surprised to learn that the bluetooth feature of this elliptical machine works just with its own app and not with other devices or apps. For example; you can’t pair your iPhone and play music from spotify or connect it to your iWatch to get heart rate monitoring data on it.
It is only meant to work with Schwinn’s own app ‘Explore the world’, which apparently gives a lot of glitches. It is hard to synchronize the app with the machine and the customer support team is not really interested in helping buyers fix it.
Our Rating: 4.5/5
We don’t really mind the inaccurate calorie meter and the bluetooth issues because this elliptical machine excels in its fundamental areas. If you want a cheaper option, you may opt for the Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine, which costs $200 less. It comes with a lesser number of preset workouts and lower resistance levels. Almost everything remains the same.
Nautilus E618 Elliptical– Best affordable heavy-duty elliptical
Powered by a 30lbs flywheel and a 22” stride length, Nautilus E618 elliptical machine is suitable for people who prefer challenging and fulfilling workouts.
It provides a bunch of other features and bluetooth connectivity with popular fitness apps that can help you stay motivated and do something new every day. The articulating footplates is another noteworthy feature that helps justify its heavy price tag. They help engage more muscles as well as keep yourself comfortable during long workout sessions.
Please note: Due to its long stride length, it is not suitable for shorter people. Nautilus E616 Elliptical is a better alternative as it has a 20” stride. Almost everything remains the same for both these models.
- Dimension: 73” X 27” X67″ inches
- Weight: 210lbs
- Weight-bearing capacity: 350lbs
- Stride length- 22”
- Resistance type- magnetic with 25 resistance levels
- It is a front-drive elliptical machine
- Motorized incline up to 10 degree
- Comes with 29 preset workouts
- Two sets of handlebars with multi grip positions
- You can create 4 user profiles
- Come with bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair it up with Nautilus tracking app or any other fitness app of your choice
- Comes with media shelf, wireless heart rate monitoring, water bottle and towel holder, inbuilt speakers, angled footplates, and a cooling fan
- Warranty: 15 years on frame, 5-years on parts and electronics, and 2 year son labor
What we like about Nautilus E618 Elliptical machine for home gym
Multi grip handlebar
The 22” stride length can be too much, especially if you are less than 5.5 ft tall. To compensate for that, Nautilus has added multi grip stationary handlebars. So, if you are tall and your partner is short, both of you can comfortably use it, while maintaining your balance.
You can download the Nautilus app and sync your workout data on it. This will help you track your progress. You can also share your workout data with your friends and earn rewards for achievements; some of the cool features that people love.
You can also pair the Nautilus E618 Elliptical machine with other apps such as Runsocial or MyFitnessPal. These reality training apps can display a virtual scenery on your screen, which will help you stay motivated instead of staring at the boring display panel. These apps can help you set up workout events and invite people, so you can workout together and compete against each other.
Dual slide rails
This is a very interesting feature but Nautilus hasn’t promoted it enough. Instead of just one set of rollers, which is the standard design in most of the top rated elliptical machines for home, this machine features two roller sets. Now, four wheels obviously provide better balance, stability, and smoothness, making it suitable for intense workouts.
What we don’t like about it
Handles are closer than they should be
By providing a 22” stride length, Nautilus has targeted taller people. So, obviously, they will have longer arms and broader torsos. However, Nautilus perhaps ignored this fact and ended up placing the handlebars too close. A few buyers have stated that they are so close that you have to keep your arms tucked in carefully when you are not doing an upper body workout or else the arms will litellay ‘hammer’ you.
Not meant for beginners
Well, that’s not something that we dislike but thought you should know that this elliptical for home is designed for people who are quite active and strong. If you are a beginner or someone who needs just a light workout, maybe just to stay a bit active, the Nautilus E618 Elliptical machine will not be a good investment. This is because its resistance is rather strong. Even the lightest resistance is tough for a beginner.
Well, that's what is the USP of this elliptical machine. It is meant for people who need a commercial-grade machine.
The calorie reading meter is inaccurate
This seems to be a major issue with almost all elliptical machines for home. Since the Nautilus E618 elliptical isn’t affordable, we expected it to provide accurate measurements.
Our Rating: 4.4/5
This cross-trainer is the best you can buy for under $1500. However, make sure you are ready for the long stride and tough resistance. Well, if you really want something that you will not be able to outgrow for at least some years, this is your best bet.
Bowflex Max Trainer M6– best hybrid elliptical under $1500
This is a hybrid elliptical machine i.e. it is a blend of stair stepper and an elliptical. The manufacturer claims that this design helps you get a maximum amount of workout in minimum possible time.
It also comes with BowFlex JRNY app, an artificial intelligence based app that works like your virtual personal instructor. It assesses your goals and stamina and accordingly it guides you. You can get on-demand instructor led videos if you want.
Bowflex Max trainer is available in various other models such as M3, M5, M7, and M8. We recommend M6 because it offers the best value for money.
- Dimension: 46″ L x 26″ W x 64.2″ H
- Weight capacity: 300lbs
- Front drive elliptical machine
- Uses magnetic resistance. 16 levels of resistance available
- Comes with complimentary member of JRNY app for 1-year
- Multigrip handlebars have sensors for heart rate monitoring
- Stride length: Bowflex hasn’t mentioned this information on its website but various buyers have stated that the stride length is about 15”. It might sound short but remember that it is a hybrid elliptical that also works like a stair. So 15” is pretty decent.
- USB charging port, media rack, bluetooth compatibility, burn rate monitor display are some other interesting features
- Warranty- 2 years of frame and parts. 90 days on labor
What we like about it
Ellipticals aren’t compact. Rather, they need a good amount of space plus some clearance area. If you live in a rather small home where space is a real issue, the BowFlex M6 will be a good choice. While the other elliptical machines for home listed above measure around 70”-75” in length, this one measures just 46”. If you have a small home gym and you want to have multiple equipment there, we are sure this elliptical machine will fit in.
As we have mentioned above, The MAX trainer app i.e. the JRNY app can come up with customized workout programs based on your current stamina and overall fitness level. It eliminates all forms of guesswork and helps you make gradual progress with every workout.
Well, there’s a catch here. The free membership is only for one year and then you will have to pay for it. Plus, you will have to enter your credit card details to activate it even for using it during the free period. However, a lot of buyers have mentioned that the app is great and worth its price, especially if you are quite serious about your fitness routine.
What we don’t like about Bowflex M6 Max trainer
Short warranty period
A $1500 product with just 2 years warranty doesn’t sound convincing enough. To be honest, BowFlex is a good company and its products are built to last. Buyers have stated their elliptical machines work like new even after 5 years but a longer warranty duration will obviously make us feel more confident while making your purchasing decision.
Not a beginners-friendly option
This stair-stepper hybrid elliptical for home is not meant for people recovering from injuries or those who require a very light workout. It is best suited for active people who want to make progress and build strength and stamina. This is because just like the Nautilus elliptical machine we have listed above, this too offers a decent amount of resistance even when you use it at its lowest settings.
We were surprised to learn that despite being a top rated elliptical machine for home in the mid-price segment, the Bowflex M6 didn’t have any audio option. While using the preset workouts or Bowflex app, you will have to either rely on your device’s audio or use some external speaker.
Our Rating: 4.4/5
Shorter warranty period and lack of an audio output are the only reasons why we have rated it a bit low. Otherwise, it truly provides a joint-friendly, killer cardio HIIT workout.
Proform Carbon HIIT H7 elliptical for home gym– Best vertical elliptical
Yes, you read it right. It is a vertical elliptical!
The H7 is the updated version of its popular but discontinued HIIT trainer. It is a blend of a stair climber and an elliptical because it provides you a 10” vertical and 5” horizontal movement path. The manufacturer claims that this design not just makes it compact but also helps enhance the effectiveness of your workouts and provide you with better results in less time.
- Dimension: 29.25″ W x 52″ D x 66.7″ H
- Weight- 225 lbs
- Weight-bearing capacity- 325lbs
- Magnetic resistance with 24 resistance levels
- Stride length- 10” vertical path and a 5” horizontal path
- Flywheel weight- 30lbs
- Comes with 3-year complimentary iFit membership
- Comes with multi-grip handlebars, 32 preset workout programs, heart monitoring through sensors in handlebars as well as using chest strap, bluetooth compatibility, and audio speakers.
- Warranty-10 years on frame, 2-years of parts, 1-year on labor
What we like about it
Access to personal trainer and virtual outdoor workouts
The HIIT H7 elliptical machine is enabled with Proform’s own iFit app. The app is available for free for 3 years, which is a significantly long time because most top rated elliptical machines for home offer just a 12 months free subscription.
iFit allows you to stream outdoor workouts. For example; you could stroll the streets of Spain or enjoy the visuals of Hawaii or maybe hike a popular mountain range. There are endless trails to explore, so you will never be bored.
You can even stream workouts of personal trainers or join them live. They can then control your resistance using live control technology but you can cancel that if you don’t like.
Provides much more than what you can expect from other competitive products
3-year iFit membership has already justified its hgh price. Plus, you get a 7” touchscreen display, an additional wireless chest strap, and heavy 30lb flywheel equipped with silent magnetic resistance technology. SMR is a high-end technology that ensures super quiet operations. So, even if you are using it in common areas or at odd hours, you won’t be disturbing others.
The design helps you get super-intense HIIT workouts, which can make you burn 4 times more calories. It is suitable for intense workout sessions. But, just like a standard elliptical, it won’t impact your bones.
The smaller footprint makes it suitable for even cramped up spaces.
What we don't like about it Proform Carbon HIIT H7 elliptical
Vertical stride may be too much for some people
A lot of buyers found the design contradictory. They have stated that it is very close to that of a stair and there is no point paying a whopping amount of money for it except for the iFit compatibility.
The whole reason why people use ellipticals is because they want a low-impact workout. They wouldn’t be interested in using something that offers 10” vertical stride! This could be too much, even if you have decent strength and stamina.
Our Rating: 4.4/5
We can’t actually believe that this machine can help you burn 4 times more calories than the standard elliptical machines. Maybe the manufacturer's claim is true because it does provide an intense workout, which may not be suitable for you if you already have bone and joint issues or if you are a beginner and need something basic to start with. So, buy it only if you are absolutely sure about it.
In this article, we wanted to include a wide variety of elliptical machines for home, so you can choose something that suits your fitness level and your preferences. We have chosen some that are so simple that you just hop on them and start exercising. Some of them are advanced elliptical machines featuring top-of-the-line technology that enables you to workout using virtual reality.
Our objective was to educate you about the various options you have but you have to make sure that you choose something based on your needs and budget. If you are someone who can’t use a full-size elliptical because of mobility issues, do check out our list of best mini ellipticals that you can use while seated.
If you want a full body, joint-friendly workout, do check out our list of some of the best rowing machines for home. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-RW5639 full motion rowing machine is a good option for beginners and casual trainers.
Not sure how much space you need for creating a small home gym? Check out this informational article of ‘How Much Space Do You Need for a Home Gym?’.