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The best elliptical trainers on the market provide a comfortable, quality workout and a few high-tech perks to keep you motivated.
There are hundreds of elliptical machines available on the consumer market, so how do you tell which is the right one? With so many kinds of options, it can be tough to sort the wheat from the chaff.
That's where we come in! At BestReviews, we want to help you pick the perfect elliptical machine for your home.
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At the top of this page, you'll find our five favorite elliptical machines on the market. These highly rated products all qualify for our top-contender list.
An ergonomically designed elliptical trainer provides an effective, efficient workout. Upper/lower body stability and the proper coordination of muscles and joins help create a pleasant, refreshing exercise experience.
The top elliptical machines include features like simple/dynamic LCD displays, multiple resistance levels and incline increments, heart-rate monitoring, and an effective flywheel. Other perks include built-in speakers, fans, and audio inputs/outputs.
Denise has a background in healthcare and physical therapy. She also has the unique experience of raising three boys. Through the years, she has coached her sons and many of their friends through their share of childhood health problems and accidents. When not helping others recover from their injuries, you may find Denise working in her garden or reading.
The warranty is a critical feature that may sway consumers one way or the other depending on its time frame and what it covers.
Elliptical trainers encompass a wide price range. The varying degree of high-tech features, stability and smoothness, build quality, the extent of the manufacturer's warranty, and overall ease of use all figure into the end price for the machine.
The Diamondback Elliptical Trainer is designed with protection of the joints in mind. Low-impact exercise is one of its perks, but those who seek a high-intensity workout can still achieve their goals, too.
The wide pedals are padded with EVA foam to protect the ankles, and there are rubber comfort grips for the hands. Heavy-duty steel supports the body for a smooth, easy ride. A person of up to 325 pounds can ride this machine. That weight limit is not as high as the SOLE or the Precor commercial elliptical, but for many people, it will suffice.
The Diamondback must be assembled, and assembly is not always easy. To minimize problems with durability down the road, we advise those buyers who are less mechanically inclined to hire a professional to do the job for them.
Assembling the Schwinn A40 is not as difficult or time-consuming as assembling a complex machine like the Sole E35, but to be safe, you should still plan on spending a couple of hours on the project. Once put together, you’ll enjoy eight levels of resistance and six workout programs. Our research turned up no complaints about this machine’s resistance (unlike some other products), but we did find a few taller people who weren’t happy with the comfort of the 17-inch stride. The takeaway from this is that a person who is five-foot-eight might find that the Schwinn suits them better than a person who is over six feet tall.
When choosing an elliptical, keep in mind where in your house the machine will go. Even models with rubber padded legs will leave an indentation on your carpet or scratch your hardwood floor. If you plan to place your elliptical on a bare floor, use an equipment mat.
Historically speaking, NordicTrack is a reputable manufacturer of exercise equipment. The C 7.5 is yet another example of the company's quality workmanship. This particular model is a “front drive” elliptical with 22 resistance levels that can be controlled with the touch of a button. The incline can also be adjusted to change the focus from the glutes to the hamstrings, etc. We’ve heard from people over six feet tall who find this unit extremely comfortable, as well as those who are of a more average height. The maximum weight capacity is quoted by the manufacturer at 325 pounds.
The machine arrives unassembled, but it’s not as complicated to put together as some others, and the instructions are clear. Most buyers can expect to spend 3-4 hours putting it together.
The Sole Fitness E35 is one of the more accommodating ellipticals around in terms of body weight; the manufacturer says that a person of up to 375 pounds can use it. The elliptical itself weighs approximately 300 pounds, and according to one owner, your “first” workout will be getting this machine set up. It doesn’t come assembled, and we’ve heard time estimates from 90 minutes to eight hours to put it together, depending on your degree of mechanical expertise.
Once assembled, some owners have not been happy with the amount of resistance supplied by the E35. They say the resistance is too light and that a previous model, the SOLE E95, provided more resistance because of its heavier flywheel.
The commercial-grade Precor Elliptical is the cream of the crop here, but it costs far more than any other machine on our list. It sells fo the kind of price a commercial gym would pay for a piece of equipment, but that unfortuantely means it’s out of reach for many consumers. (See our “Price” section for more on this.)
A person weighing up to 500 pounds can safely use the Precor while taking advantage of any of 20 resistance levels and three handlebar positions. Our consumer research reveals no problems with stride or resistance. Owners love the way this machine feels on the body! For some, it’s akin to “walking on the moon.” One owner said that anyone who pigeonholes this machine as just an elliptical is “uninformed.” That’s because you can actually transform it into a stair stepper or a treadmill just by changing the way you move your limbs. So in terms of both ergonomics and versatility, this is a big winner.
Many people prefer ellipticals over treadmills because it is easier on their knees. However, always try to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise.
The Diamondback features a whopping 20 levels of gradual resistance and15 workout programs. This large menu of options allows both beginners and seasoned exercisers to tailor their workout just how they want it.
As mentioned before, this machine is designed to render a low-impact ride that is beneficial for all sorts of exercisers, from those who require a gentle workout to those who desire high-intensity action. Seniors and those prone to injury are just as at home on this machine as those who are in it for body sculpting, fat burning, and major weight loss.
Heart rate is measured via a chest strap, and the Diamondback’s console gives feedback on this as well as calories burned, time, distance, pulse rate, speed, RPM, and more. Warm-up and cool-down periods are both built into the exercise programs, and there’s a reading rack for those who like to stay entertained while they’re exercising.
The Diamondback is unique in that it takes up only 5 ½ feet in length. Many owners say they like this smaller “footprint.” If you live in an apartment or cramped quarters, this space-saving machine could be just the thing for you.
The Schwinn A40’s large LCD window tracks the essentials you want to measure: calories, time, speed, distance. However, some people find the display difficult to read, as it's not backlit. Furthermore, the display is powered by batteries, and there is some confusion as to whether an adapter could be used instead.
Exercisers can monitor their heart rate via the grips as they progress through any of seven different workout programs provided on the Schwinn. Speakers are also included. We’ve heard complaints about occasional squeaks from the machine, but overall, it doesn’t seem to be an overly noisy ellitpical.
Make sure that your elliptical machine is sitting on top of a gym mat so that it does not slip and tip over when you are using it.
The NordicTrack comes with 26 workout applications that focus on calories, intensity, and performance. There is a sturdy shelf for your tablet, oversized foot pedals that are cushioned for comfort, and a workout fan that intuitively adjusts its output based on your workout intensity.
Exercisers can track their progress on the backlit display, which is Bluetooth-enabled for those who want to connect their tablet and enjoy customized training programs. (Note: this particular feature requires membership at an additional cost). Without membership, the backlit display still shows the typical stats you want to know while exercising, including pulse rate, calories burned, time elapsed, and distance traveled.
Noise does not seem to be a deterring factor with this machine, according to those who have purchased it. In fact, apartment users say they can use it confidently without fear of disturbing their neighbors.
The SOLE Fitness E35 comes with a decent package of features which include six standard exercise programs and two programs targeted specifically at heart rate. Pulse is measured with both the hand grips and the chest strap, and to keep you cool, there’s a built-in fan. There’s also the obligatory ledge where you can set your book or tablet, as well as a built-in sound system and water bottle holder. Owner reviews of these last two features are iffy. The sound system may be a bit low in volume, and the water bottle holder may not be the most practical feature on the E35.
The E35’s backlit LDC screen tracks the essential data you want to measure when you’re exercising. However, more than a handful of owners have had problems with the screen displaying an error message. If this happens to you, you can contact SOLE’s customer support for assistance. Some owners have had a better experience than others with the company's customer service department, but this is actually true for many companies out there.
Overall, the SOLE E35 elliptical provides a decent set of features for the money, but given the lighter flywheel, potential buyers should consider what kind of resistance they seek before investing in this one.
The Precor runs like a dream. The ride is smooth and noiseless, and it places very little impact on the joints. What's more, it includes a larger menu of features than any other machine here.
There are heart rate sensors on the handlebars and a host of data options on the console. In-depth data is the name of the game here. The Precor provides readouts on distance traveled and distance left to go. Similar comprehensive measures are provided for heart rate, calories burned, stride averages, time, and much more. In short, you get the kind of information from the Precor that you’d expect to see on a piece of professional gym equipment.
You also get a great charging dock on the console where you can rest your tablet (or other device), comfort-enhanced foot rests, and the freedom to tailor your stride as you go. There's a library of pre-programmed workouts if you prefer to go that route, too.
The great thing about elliptical machines is that you can work every part of your body, depending on what movement you make.
Some people have had trouble getting the Diamondback out of “pause” mode. Diamondback’s customer service department has been helpful in resolving this issue, according to consumers. Other than the pause problem, concerns about durability and break-down are few with this machine.
There is a five-year limited warranty on workmanship and materials and a two-year warranty on all “other” parts. (This is a bit confusing. We recommend visiting the manufacturer’s site if you have questions.) Labor is covered for a year.
The Schwinn A40 comes with a two-year warranty on the frame and six months for select (not all) parts and electronics. Notably, this is a much cheaper elliptical than some of the others on our list. As such, buyers should not expect it to necessarily last as long as the products that cost five to ten times more. According to one customer, the A40 was “great while it lasted,” but “poor engineering” eventually did it in. If you’re looking for a short-term exercise solution that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, this could suit your needs.
Be sure to stand up straight while using the elliptical machine in order to protect your back from strain, as well as to improve your calorie burn.
The NordicTrack comes with a two-year warranty on parts and a lifetime warranty on the frame. In addition, there’s a one-year labor warranty guaranteed with purchase. Our research turned up very few concerns about product durability, but this is a fairly new product in the NordicTrack line.
We’ve heard about some durability concerns regarding the E35. One of the biggest issues is the error message that sometimes displays itself on the LDC screen. We’ve also encountered owners who say their machine broke down much sooner than they expected it to. To that end, the electronics/parts warranty lasts for five years, and there is a two-year warranty on labor and a lifetime warranty on the frame.
The Precor comes with a 10-year warranty on parts, both electronic and mechanical. Our consumer research turned up isolated incidents of broken machines that needed repair, but fortunately, every customer was satisfied by the provisions of this lengthy warranty. There is also a lifetime warranty on the frame and a one-year warranty on labor.
Most elliptical machines let you input your weight and height, which you should do in order to properly track calorie loss.
At a cost of $2699, the Diamondback is certainly not the cheapest elliptical machine available. However, it is an extremly respectable model. If you're looking for a high-quality workout on a reliable machine—and price is not a huge issue—we recommend this one. Customers are highly satisfied with it, and the host of features you get is extensive. Furthermore, the Diamondback doesn't garner the number of durability and workmanship complaints that some other popular ellipticals do. This means you're more likely to use the machine continuously to attain your fitness goals.
At a cost of $215, the Schwinn A40 is one of the cheaper ellipticals on the market today. For the money, you get a decent machine that is fairly comfortable for most people. (Note: taller people are not always satisfied with the stride. Those with longer legs may want to test a machine with a 17-inch stride before buying this one.)
The Schwinn A40 will measure the factors you want to keep track of, such as calories burned and time spent exercising. But if you’re looking for a heavy-use piece of home equipment, this might not be the right solution. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with this one, but it is a cheap elliptical machine, not a pro-grade piece of equipment. And, as they say, you get what you pay for.
As with all workout equipment, be sure to stretch before and after in order to prevent injury.
At a cost of $799, the NordicTrack isn’t the cheapest offering on the market, but it certainly isn’t the most expensive, either. When you consider the reputation you’re buying into, it’s a great deal. This particular model has incurred mostly positive reviews from buyers, although the model itself is still rather new. We doubt you’d be disappointed with the NordicTrack’s long list of great features, its quiet performance in the home, and its versatility as an elliptical for users of multiple heights, weights, and body types.
Considering that you would pay $1779 for this machine, the number of durability concerns may give you pause. However, we’d like to point out that any mechanical errors during owner assembly could contribute the durability of the machine. If you’re really interested in the SOLE E35 — the features are great and the price is right — we recommend having it professionally assembled. This will relieve you of the job (which can be quite time-consuming), and it will go a long way toward ensuring that the machine is properly put together. Proper assembly may, in turn, minimize your chance of experiencing a breakdown later on.
This is the type of commercial-grade elliptical you would see at a fitness club. In fact, you very well may have seen a Precor at a fitness club! For that reason, the $9395 price tag shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Indeed, this cost is out of scope for the average home exerciser, but if you have the funds for a Precor, our research indicates that you would be very satisfied with the quality and versatility of your purchase.
The Best of the Best product is the Precor Commercial Series trainer, but it is a pro-grade machine that you see in exercise clubs far more often than in a person's private home. Besides that, it costs about four times as much as the Diamondback, and the Diamondback isn't cheap.
If you're so inclined to buy the Precor, we certainly wouldn't discourage that, either — it's an amazing model.
The Precor AMT 835 is a top-of-the-line machine that provides a smooth ride and plenty of biometric data to enhance your workout.
For a moderate price of $799, the NordicTrack C 7.5 provides owners with a great entry-level workout opportunity. As you would expect from a reputable company like this one, the machine has garnered many positive reviews and few complaints.
The biggest two drawbacks, if you could call them that, are that this is a basic machine with fewer bells and whistles than the Diamondback and Precor, and the fact that the digital display screen is on the smaller side. Other than that, you get a lot of great features from the C 7.5, including a smooth, quiet ride with plenty of exercise and resistance options. The fact that you can get this reputable machine for such a low price definitely adds to its appeal. Although the warranty doesn't last as long (two years maximum) as some others, we've found very few complaints about this product on the whole.
You could spend less on an elliptical for your home, but with this particular product, you're buying into the confidence that comes from a seasoned, reputable equipment manufacturer. Other options are cheaper, but they could turn out to be more "rickety" and far less reliable than this one.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.