Elliptical machines are are an effective way of getting cardio exercise while reducing stress on the lower body. Elliptical machines can help people with knee issues, reducing impact during exercise. They put less strain on the joints in the knee, leading to less swelling and pain (1).
Since elliptical machines engage both the upper and lower body, they burn more calories in shorter periods, making workouts much more efficient (2).
Best Elliptical Machines
1. Fast 88 Portable Elliptical Machine
Fast 88 Portable Elliptical Machine is incredibly durable. It can support up to 250 pounds on the pedals, which have been designed with slip resistant material to keep you stable and offer comfort and support. It’s also very quiet, so you won’t wake the entire house when you work out.
The magnetic resistance is completely adjustable and has 8 different resistance levels, to accommodate every different level. It’s digital heart rate monitor and LCD display let you accurately track your distance, the number of calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been training, and how fast you’re going. For these reasons, it’s our #1 pick.
2. Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer can support up to 330 pounds and comes with 16 different program levels that rely on a magnetic resistance to power your workouts.
It also comes with an onboard performance monitor and a backlit display, which lets you track your speed, time, distance, rotations per minute, burned calories, how much power you’ve generated, and the resistance level. The pulse sensors will also track how your heart is changing throughout the workout.
3. Exerpeutic Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical
Exerpeutic Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical is one of the most affordable and compact machines on the market. It can handle up to 300 pounds of weight as they do a heavy workout. The large LCD display computer can track your performance and shows how far you’ve gone, how many calories you’ve burned, how long you’ve been working out, and how fast you’ve been going.
It also includes hand pulse sensors can scan your heart rate and provide monitoring that will keep you in the zone without going over it. Thanks to the precisely balanced flywheel and belt drive, this machine is insanely quiet.
4. Ancheer Elliptical Exercise Trainer Machine
Ancheer Elliptical Exercise Trainer Machine is made with an ergonomic design that reduces impact stress on your body during your workout while providing stability and durability. This elliptical machine contains 8 different levels of magnetic resistance adjustment, and is extremely stable.
The slip resistant pedals will keep your workout flowing smoothly while you’re in the zone, and the 350 pound weight capacity can handle intense workouts with ease. It also comes with a monitor that displays your speed, distance, calories burned, odometer, resistance level, and even your pulse.
5. Schwinn Elliptical machine
Schwinn is a trusted company that started with bicycles and continues to innovate in the sports and fitness market. Their elliptical machine has compact design that makes it easy to store in your home. It comes with great features like stability, weight capacity, and slip resistance and can sync all the date with the RunSocial app.
It also provides 16 different resistance levels, so it’s great for every level of fitness.
6. Nautilis E 614 Elliptical Trainer
Nautilis E 614 Elliptical Trainer comes with 22 programs and is a great option for people who need a durable piece of workout equipment. There are 9 profiles, 8 heart rate controls, 2 customizable workouts, 2 fitness tests, and a quick start option. The elliptical also features 20 levels of resistance so you can vary your workout’s intensity every time.
With automatic goal tracking, this machine lets you set your individual exercise goals and tracks your progress towards success.
7. Ncient Elliptical Trainer
Ncient Elliptical Trainer is compact and easy to use at home, thanks to the quiet technology and magnetically driven smooth flow. It has 8 levels of adjustable resistance so you can alter your workout depending on your level of fitness.
Like some of the other elliptical machines on our list, he Ncient Elliptical Trainer Exercise Machine also has a digital display that will record your workouts and track your statistics. These statistics include your time, distance, burned calories, speed, and heart rate, ensuring you stay in the target zone.
8. MaxKare Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
MaxKare Magnetic Elliptical Trainer is another very affordable option that comes with dual handles containing pulse grip heart rate monitors to target specific muscle groups.
This machine has 8 levels of adjustable resistance so you can increase or decrease the intensity of your workout whenever you want to. It also has convenient holders so that you can have your water bottle nearby while you work out.
9. Snode Elliptical Machine Trainer E 20
Snode Elliptical Machine Trainer E 20 offers a smooth ride and allows for a 265 pound weight capacity. The digital monitor will record all of your relevant fitness information and track your statistics through the LCD monitor.
Their advanced tracking technology allows you to track how far you’ve traveled, how many calories you’ve burned, how fast you’ve been going and, thanks to the pulse monitors, whether or not your heart has remained in the target zone.
10. Aceshin Elliptical Machine Trainer
Aceshin Elliptical Machine is compact piece of training equipment that is perfect for home gyms. It’s affordablwhile remaining durable and effective. With 8 levels of resistance adjustments, you can step up your workouts as your fitness improves.
The steel construction and wide base keeps it stable and secure during your workout and the pulse pads can monitor your heart rate. That data gets sent to your LCD workout tracker, which shows a variety of useful data points including your calories burned, distance, time, and speed.
How We Rank
Although we’ve included several affordable models, all of the elliptical machines on our list, like the Aceshin Elliptical Machine Trainer and Nautilis E 614 Elliptical Trainer include a stable base and slip resistant pedals to prevent injury while working out or training.
We also considered the weight capacity. It was very important for elliptical machines to accommodate overweight individuals, since these types of individuals may prefer at home elliptical machines. As such, any elliptical machine with a weight capacity under 200 pounds was axed. Products like the Exerpeutic Heavy Duty Magnetic Elliptical and the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer, that could hold over 300lbs were ranked highly.
It was important to find ellipticals that measured various data, so that you could track your progress overtime. We insisted on finding elliptical machines, like Fast 88 Portable Elliptical Machine and the Ncient Elliptical Trainer that could handle data points like speed and distance, but more importantly, we wanted to ensure that all of these ellipticals could also track your heart rate and measure your pulse regularly. This was very important since heart rate is a strong indicator of a healthy heart. In addition, workouts can be far more effective when you’re able to keep your heart in the target zone.
Finally, we made sure that there were various resistance levels. Not all people are at the same fitness level and it was important that different people, with varying levels of fitness could use a machine. Any product that had less than 5 settings was axed, as we found that to be insufficient based on the competition. Companies like Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E3912 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer, were rewarded for including up to 16 levels of resistance. After all this, we determined the top 10 best elliptical machines on the market.
1. Elliptical machines help reduce the strain on joints. Elliptical machines are designed to follow the natural motion of your ankles, hips, and knees as you exercise. This prevents wear on the joints, reducing strain as you move.
Studies show that people who have arthritis in their knees have less pain if they exercise three times a week (3).
However, running can worsen arthritis by putting too much strain on joints. Elliptical machines make it easy to get the proper amount of exercise each week without further damaging cartilage in the knees. Exercise on an elliptical increases blood flow to the knees and strengthens muscles, reducing pain in people with arthritis (4).
2. Elliptical machines provide varying levels of difficulty. Many elliptical machines are designed with multiple resistance levels, allowing you to adjust the difficulty of your workout as needed. To get the most from workouts, it’s important to vary your exercises constantly. Elliptical machines make this easy, leading to more effective workouts.
3. Elliptical machines combine upper and lower body workouts. Unlike most other cardio workouts, which only target the lower body, elliptical machines also work out major muscle groups above the waist. Elliptical machines engage the abdominals and lower back muscles, helping you improve your core strength (5).
This can also lead to better posture, which in turn has been shown to improve breathing and energy levels. Since they target muscles all over the body, elliptical machines also lead to faster calorie burning. This makes workouts more efficient, and you won’t have to stay on the machine as long to burn the same amount of calories as you would on a treadmill.
4. Elliptical machines can help prevent osteoporosis. Regular cardio has been shown to improve heart health and slow the effects of aging on the body. However, cardio alone is not enough, with research indicating that weight-bearing exercise is also crucial for healthy aging. Elliptical machines allow you to combine cardio and weight-bearing exercise into one workout. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to improve bone density, reducing the chances of developing age-related osteoporosis (6).
Since elliptical machines are low impact, they are one of the best ways for those with fragile bones to get enough weight-bearing exercise.
5. Elliptical machines can supplement running for more effective training. If you are training for a marathon, the constant running can put a significant amount of strain on your knees. Elliptical machines are an effective way to continue training without extra impact on your joints.
Although elliptical machines cannot fully replace running while training, they make an effective supplement on rest days, allowing you to workout while your body recovers.
6. Elliptical machines can burn more calories in shorter periods. One of the main benefits of using an elliptical is efficiency. Unlike a treadmill, an elliptical works to engage muscles in the upper body, including the biceps, triceps, and abdominals. This means that you could burn more calories (depending on the intensity) as you workout, as more of your body is active.
Elliptical machines also are better at evenly spreading out the work during exercise. That means that the muscles in your lower body don’t have to expend as much energy, leading to less stiffness and fatigue after a workout.
7. Elliptical machines provide less strain on ankles. Many runners suffer from pain and stiffness in their ankles, as repeated high impacts damage joints. Elliptical machines prevent any impact on the ankles, reducing strain and stiffness.
Many elliptical machines also come with foot pads that pivot as you move, preventing stiffness and pain in the ankle joints.
8. Elliptical machines easily integrate HIIT into your workouts. Research has shown that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the most effective forms of exercise, burning more calories and leading to quick weight loss (7).
Elliptical machines make it easy to integrate HIIT into your workouts. Most elliptical machines have preset HIIT workouts, with short sprints at high resistance alternated with longer periods of lower speed exercise. These workouts also tend to be much shorter than normal cardio training. This allows you to squeeze more exercise into your schedule.
9. Elliptical machines increase your heart capacity. Studies have shown that regular cardiovascular exercise can increase heart capacity, leading to more efficient blood flow (8).
This lowers the risk for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.
Elliptical machines are just as effective as other forms of cardio for increasing heart and lung capacity, as well as reducing the risk of mortality (9).
10. Elliptical machines provide a good cardio workout with less effort. Elliptical machines are one of the most efficient ways of burning calories. Although other training methods can lead to more calorie burn, they often require significantly more exertion.
People working out reported that they felt less tired after using an elliptical than running. This allowed them to exercise for longer, leading to more calories burned.
11. Elliptical machines activate the quadriceps and hamstrings better. Elliptical machines are often used as a replacement for treadmills or for running outdoors. Studies have shown that they are more effective at activating the quadriceps and hamstrings, leading to increased calorie burning (10).
12. Elliptical machines are more compact than a treadmill. Elliptical machines are smaller than most treadmills, making them a better option for those who want an exercise machine to use at home.
Elliptical machines are also much quieter than treadmills, making them more suited for use in dense areas where you don’t want to bother nearby people.
13. Elliptical machines increase the range of motion in the hips. Elliptical machines are often used during the recovery period after injuries, as they put significantly less stress on joints in the legs. Research has also shown that elliptical machines are an effective way of increasing the range of motion after an injury.
14. Elliptical machines make it easier to read. Many people like to multitask as they workout. However, it can be difficult to stay focused while on a treadmill, as the bouncing motion constantly moves your head. Elliptical machines keep your head in a stable position, allowing you to easily read as you workout.
15. Elliptical machines strengthen the calves. Although running will target the calves, it relies much more on other muscles in the legs. Elliptical machines allow you to engage all of the main muscle groups in your lower body, including the calves.
Most elliptical machines also move in reverse. This motion uses the calves and hamstrings more, making it easy to target muscles that are often ignored during workouts.
16. Elliptical machines may extend your lifespan. Researchers have long believed that regular cardio exercise was crucial to a healthy life. Studies have confirmed this, showing that runners have a much lower risk of mortality compared to people who do not workout. Other studies have shown that these same results apply to anyone who gets cardio exercise multiple times per week.
Studies have shown that it only requires 5 to 10 minutes per day of moderately-paced cardio activity to significantly reduce the risk of mortality from a number of cardiovascular diseases (11).
Cardio exercise also greatly helps elderly people with hypertension, reducing the risk of mortality, and improving quality of life. (12).
17. Elliptical machines can be more affordable than treadmills. Most elliptical machines are significantly cheaper than treadmills, making them a more affordable machine for getting your cardio. Since elliptical machines often run on the power generated by rotation, they also don’t use any electricity, making them, even more, cost-effective than treadmills.
1. Elliptical machines can catch clothing and cause injury. The most common accidents with elliptical machines occur due to clothing or other items getting caught in the machine. Avoid wearing loose-fitting shorts or tops, and always make sure that headphones won’t get caught as you move.
2. Elliptical machines may not be safe for individuals with a heart condition. If you have a heart condition, speak to your doctor before using an elliptical or doing any other cardio exercise. They are usually safe, provided that you go at a slow pace and don’t raise your heart rate too much. Consider wearing a device that monitors your heart rate to ensure you stay within a safe range.
3. Elliptical machines can cause dehydration. Make sure to stay properly hydrated throughout your workout, as you may lose more fluids than you expect, especially while on high resistance settings.
4. Elliptical machines can strain muscles and joints. Avoid hunching over as you workout on an elliptical. This leads to less engagement of your core, and it can also put a strain on your back. Elliptical machines are much safer than treadmills for people who have recently had a knee injury. However, you should still take extra caution while using the machines, as they can cause further damage to your knee if used in excess. Avoid stopping suddenly while using an elliptical, as this can cause your knees to jam. Let the machine slowly come to a rest before getting off.
When starting your workout, make sure you input the proper weight. This allows the machine to track calories more accurately. Start with slow speed and low resistance as you adjust to the machine, working your way up as you feel more comfortable.
One of the biggest benefits of using an elliptical is that it allows you to customize your workout. Take advantage of this by changing your workout throughout the week. This will make your workouts more effective and help you target different muscle groups.
Make sure to hold on to the handlebars as you exercise. This will give you support, as well as engage muscles in your arms and abdomen. Avoid locking your knees, as this can increase strain and cause injuries.
Avoid leaning on the handlebars as you exercise. This curves your back, which can worsen posture and lead to pain. It also keeps the upper body muscles from getting engaged as you move, putting added strain on your legs. Monitor your heart rate throughout exercise to make sure it does not rise too high. Speak to your doctor before using an elliptical if you have a heart condition.
Are elliptical machines more effective than treadmills? Elliptical machines and treadmills will both engage many of the same muscle groups, and they are both an effective cardio workout. However, elliptical machines will engage more upper body muscle groups, making them more effective for people who want a full-body workout.
Since elliptical machines engage more muscles throughout the body, they tend to burn more calories in shorter periods than treadmills. However, the effectiveness of either machine largely depends on the intensity of your workout.
Do elliptical machines require maintenance? Yes, although most maintenance is fairly simple. Most elliptical machines will come with instructions on how to properly maintain the machine. This usually involves adding lubricant to ensure that the machine moves smoothly.
Are elliptical machines safer than treadmills? Yes. Elliptical machines have a much smaller risk of falling, making them a safer machine than treadmills. However, there are some safety risks, and you should avoid wearing any loose clothing or using headphones with long cords, as these can get stuck in the machine.
Do elliptical machines engage arm muscles? Yes. Elliptical machines engage both the upper and lower body as you move, including the biceps and triceps. However, elliptical machines will not serve as a replacement for weight exercise. Although they engage the upper body, most of the work is still done by muscles in the legs.
How long will an elliptical machine last? How long your elliptical lasts will largely depend on how much you use it. The average lifetime of elliptical machines is around 12 years. You can extend this by taking care of the machine, making sure to regularly lubricate the parts so that they rotate fluidly.
How many calories does an elliptical machine burn? The rate of calorie burn will depend on the specific workout you choose, as well as your weight. However, the standard rate is around 800 calories per hour.
How often should you work out on an elliptical machine? The exact workout schedule that is right for you will depend on your fitness goals. Research has shown that just 10 minutes per day of moderate-paced cardio on an elliptical is enough to reduce mortality. However, there are added benefits from working out more than this. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends working out at least 3 to 5 times per week for around 30 minutes for weight loss. If you would like to lose a significant amount of weight (more than 20 pounds), you may need to workout up to an hour per session.
What’s a safe heart rate while using an elliptical machine? The maximum safe heart rate while exercising varies widely depending on your age and fitness. A standard rule is to take 220 and subtract your age to find out your max heart rate. While working out, you should try to stay around 60% of your max heart rate. If you are during interval training, try not to raise your heart rate above 90% of your max heart rate.
Does using an elliptical machine burn belly fat? The treadmill burns slightly more calories compared to the elliptical machine, but it also puts stress on your joints. Elliptical devices provide a low-impact workout and allow you to use your arms. As long as you stick to your workout and eat clean, your belly fat will melt away.
What is better treadmill or elliptical? Neither is better or worse. An elliptical trainer combines arm and leg motion. Some studies have shown that you can burn the same number of calories with an elliptical as you can with a treadmill, only it may actually feel easier. The lack of impact gives you the impression that you’re putting in less effort, which is not the case.
Does the elliptical help flatten your stomach? Even though elliptical trainers don’t focus on your stomach muscles, they are still effective for flattening your abs. That’s because they provide an effective cardio workout, an important aspect for losing weight.
Do elliptical machines work abs? Keep in mind that an elliptical workout is, in essence, cardiovascular. It uses your muscles, but won’t sculpt and tone them in the same way resistance training will. You’ll burn calories, which helps you lose weight to reveal flat abs, but it can only do so much when it comes to building a better backside.
Is elliptical better than walking? Minute for minute, using an elliptical machine is likely to burn more calories than walking. On the other hand, walking provides a substantially better workout than elliptical machines for the hamstrings, calves, and small muscles around the ankles, according to biomechanical studies.
Do elliptical machines help with preparing for a marathon? Yes, you can certainly use the elliptical to keep up your cardio conditioning and shed some weight. But only running will properly prepare your body—bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments—to pound out 26.2 miles. Once you’re within four months of race day, try to get your scheduled runs in.
Do elliptical machines help tone the buttocks? An elliptical machine is one of the best ways to tone your buttocks. An elliptical machine works the same muscles as a stair climber, but with less stress on the knees. When targeting the buttock muscles, you must increase the resistance to at least level three.
Is an elliptical good for knees? Using an elliptical machine is generally considered a low-impact activity, and it shouldn’t cause knee pain if you are using it correctly. Since elliptical machines provide low-impact aerobic activity, they can be a good alternative to running or jogging for someone who has joint pain due to arthritis.
Does the elliptical work the core? Elliptical trainers are popular ways to exercise because they are low-impact, total-body, and easy to use. Although they don’t target the core specifically, there are ways that you can work your entire body and engage your abs on the elliptical. But you need to be aware of your core throughout your workout.
Are elliptical miles accurate? On a treadmill, distance generally is accurate. It’s a measure of the revolutions of the belt over time. On elliptical trainers, stationary bicycles, stair climbers and other cardiovascular machines, the distance is an estimate from a formula worked out by the manufacturer.
Which exercise machine burns the most calories per hour? Machines which work the big powerful leg muscles burn the most calories. Stationary bikes burn 500-1000 calories an hour, rowing machine 700-1100 and treadmills 600- 1200 calories, or 100 calories per mile.
Do elliptical machines work the upper body? Elliptical machines engage muscles in the upper body, making them more useful for people who want a full-body workout. They can help tighten your core by strengthening the abdominals and muscles in the lower back.
Do elliptical machines cause workout soreness? Elliptical machines put less strain on muscles in the legs, leading to less soreness and pain after exercise. Elliptical machines are one of the safest cardio machines, and they have a lower accident rate than treadmills. However, do take caution while on an elliptical if you have a heart condition.
Elliptical machines are one of the most widely used pieces of workout equipment. They are a safe and efficient alternative to treadmills, engaging more muscle groups while putting less strain on joints in the lower body.
Research has shown that low impact cardio three times a week can significantly reduce symptoms in those with arthritis (13). Elliptical machines can help slow the progression of arthritis by improving blood flow to cartilage, as well as reducing impact on joints.
Other studies have shown that elliptical machines are equally as effective as treadmills for reducing the risk of mortality. Just 10 minutes of cardio per day using an elliptical reduced the risk of death from a wide range of cardiovascular diseases (14).
Elliptical machines are also more efficient than many other forms of cardio exercise, as they engage both the upper and lower body at the same time. This leads to more calorie burn as you workout, as well as less strain on muscles in your legs.
Although generally considered safe, there are some risks associated with the use of elliptical machines. Avoid wearing loose clothing while on an elliptical, as it may get caught in the machine. People with a heart condition should speak to their doctor before using an elliptical, and monitor their heart rate as they exercise.
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