Best Ellipticals for 2020

Finding the best value elliptical machine or cross trainer to suit your workout needs is a daunting task. With well over 30 brands manufacturing these low-impact machines, how can you know which one is right for you? 

We’re here to help! To simplify your research process, we’ve crafted the following lists of the best ellipticals on the market in a variety of categories. It will narrow down your options and help you find your ideal elliptical experience.

We’ve also included a handy buying guide for home elliptical trainers below the lists so you know what to look out for when shopping. This will help you compare your options.

Here are the best overall elliptical machines for 2020

ModelRatingFlywheelResistancePriceLowest Price
Sole E95 5-stars27 LBSECBUnder $2,000See best price »
NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i 5-stars20 LB24 LevelsUnder $2,000See best price »
Bowflex Max Trainer M65-starsmagnetic and fan based resistance16 LevelsUnder $2,000See best price »

Best Ellipticals For Home Use

Having an elliptical machine in your home provides instant access to a variety of cardio and strength workouts. More and more people are adding elliptical trainers to their workout routines. Some even make it their primary home fitness machine since the exercise is low-impact and works the whole body. See three of the year’s best elliptical choices for home use below.Learn More...

Best Compact / Folding Ellipticals

Compact ellipticals are perfect for those with smaller workout areas. Although the dimensions are smaller, compact ellipticals are sometimes just as heavy as traditional elliptical machines designed for home use. Fortunately, most of our favorite cross trainers in this category are easily folded for storage between workouts.Learn More...

Best Front Drive Ellipticals

Front drive elliptical trainers have the flywheel, or drive system, housed at the front of the frame. This is the most popular elliptical design for home gyms because it's typically the most affordable. Low quality machines feel choppy, more like stair climbers than elliptical cross trainers -- but our favorite front drive machines support your natural stride and are good values. Learn More...

Best Center Drive Ellipticals

A center drive machine could be your best elliptical for home use. Other ellipticals have long footprints, but center drive ellipticals have smaller square footprints to help maximize your living space. Don't be misled by the space-saving dimensions though… Some of the best ellipticals in this category allow especially long strides. Another benefit is easy balance; this style of cross trainer makes it easy to keep a healthy posture as you stride.Learn More...

Best Rear Drive Ellipticals

Rear drive trainers tend to earn the most favorable elliptical reviews. These are larger than the other kinds of ellipticals, and they tend to be more expensive. Rear drive machines are some of the best elliptical trainers for people who want to mimic the feel of outdoor walking or jogging, not stair-stepping or climbing. Some rear drive elliptical trainers can be folded for storage. Learn More...

Best Hybrid Ellipticals

Some of our favorite cross-trainers are called "hybrid ellipticals" because they work in two ways. One example shown here can double as an elliptical trainer and recumbent exercise bike (adjustable seating makes it easy to switch the machine from one workout mode to the other). Other hybrid ellipticals offer the benefits of a treadmill, letting you "run" intensely but with very low impact on sensitive joints, ligaments and tendons. Learn More...

Best Elliptical Bikes

Elliptical bikes are the only outdoor elliptical trainers on our review site. These are clever crosses between traditional outdoor bikes and standing elliptical trainers. Like an outdoor bicycle, an elliptical bike has brakes built into the handlebars. But like a traditional elliptical, it keeps you in a standing position and uses oversized pedals. Here are our three favorite examples of this fun new ride. Learn More...

Best Ellipticals for Runners

With occasional elliptical training instead of running, serious runners can avoid the pains of too much high impact motion. The highest quality ellipticals for runners have heavy drives for ultra-smooth cross training. Many have variable stride, which ensures they fit anyone's natural gait and also helps you target specific muscles. For cardio guidance the top-rated elliptical machines have wireless heart rate tracking… and unlike treadmills, they also provide strength training for your whole body. Burn more calories, sculpt your body, and save your knees with one of these low-impact fitness machines. Learn More...

Best Ellipticals for Seniors

Elliptical machines are popular with seniors because they allow full body exercise without harsh impact. They're efficient too: Also called elliptical cross trainers, they combine cardio exercise with strength training. Elliptical trainers can be fun, safe trainers for flexibility, help with heart health, muscle strength and bone density. See below for three home ellipticals recommended for seniors in 2020, plus a buying guide with tips about the parts of an elliptical machine. Learn More...

Buying Guide for Home Elliptical Trainers

Wondering which elliptical machine would be best for your home? These days there are so many choices, and the quality of home ellipticals keeps getting stronger every year. Quality machines start at the $500 price point and can go all the way up to a few thousand dollars (or more) for a top-of-the-line machine. 

Ready to start your search? Let’s begin with some guidelines to help make your decision a bit easier. After familiarizing yourself with these guidelines, you can then look at our list of the best ellipticals sorted by price to make your final decision.

Performance

The most important factor to consider is performance. You obviously want a machine that will stand up over time, and one that gives you the craving to work out time and time again. When considering this, don’t just think about the machine; also consider your workout sessions. Ask yourself:

  • How long do my workouts usually last?
  • What exercise intensity do I need?
  • How much variation is necessary in my program?

All these factors will come into play when determining the best elliptical for you. If you’re primarily a recreational exerciser that doesn't need particularly intense workouts, you probably don’t need a very advanced elliptical. If you’re doing high intensity interval training, endurance sessions, and you like to mix it up, finding a high-performance machine that can keep up with this is important.

Here are some key factors relating to performance that you should consider.

Resistance: Next you’ll want to consider resistance levels. Some machines only offer a few resistance levels; these are designed for beginners or those using the machine to help with rehab during physical therapy. There are also more durable ellipticals designed to withstand a lot of wear and tear during intense workouts; these are for advanced exercisers and offer more resistance for a greater challenge.

When thinking about resistance, you’ll want to check the weight of the flywheel. That’s going to determine the stability of the machine and how smooth of a ride it will provide. A flywheel should be at least 20 pounds for anyone other than beginners.

Stride: Stride length is another important consideration. Almost all gym ellipticals come with an adjustable stride length to suit a variety of users. The best at-home ellipticals offer this as well. This is particularly important if more than one person in your home uses the elliptical because it allows everyone to adjust the machine to meet their own ergonomic needs. 

Stride length plays a huge part in how comfortable you will feel while using the machine as well as ensuring that you do not expend energy on anything other than your workout. Some of our favorite ellipticals offer a very generous stride range and are considered to be hybrid trainers because they are a cross between low-impact treadmills and steppers. These are quite unique machines and are rather popular.

Upper Body Training: You might be surprised to learn that not all home ellipticals have moving arms. Some are fixed in place; however, this is rare and limited to the cheapest of models. More often than not, you’ll look at ones that have both a moving arm and handlebars. The best ellipticals have handlebars designed so that you can position your hands a number of ways, making them more customizable and comfortable for the user.

You can also identify a quality machine by the feeling of the movement pattern. If you start using the elliptical and things feel awkward or unnatural, that's a problem with the machine and it is likely a cheaper model. The best ellipticals feel comfortable immediately. You should be putting all your effort into pushing yourself on the machine rather than wasting energy stabilizing your body.

Durability

One of the most important considerations when buying an elliptical for your home is durability; you want a machine that lasts. This is where it can really pay to purchase pricier models. Cheap out on a lower cost elliptical and you may find that it breaks down in a few short months, then you’ll have to buy another one and won't have saved any money at all!

So, don’t just think about the initial cost of the elliptical; also consider the cost of maintaining it. Here are some of the main things to look out for when identifying the durability of your elliptical.

  • Metal vs. Plastic: Is the machine made from plastic or metal? This will give you an insight into how likely the machine is to break down during use and how sturdy it will feel.
  • Sealed Bearings: The best ellipticals have sealed bearings that are self-lubricating so the machine is low maintenance and holds up well.
  • Rear Drive Design: If you have a rear drive machine, you’ll likely have the lowest total maintenance costs. This said, centre and front drives are more common and also take up less space.
  • Maximum User Weight: Usually, the higher the user weight, the more durable the machine. Machines that only support a light body weight are more likely to shake and wobble during use, so try to find one that supports at least 300 pounds.
  • Warranty: Make sure that you read the fine print on the warranty so that you know exactly what you’re getting into with your machine. The shorter the warranty, the less durable the machine. There’s usually a reason the company only offers a warranty for a certain time frame.

Features

Now that you know what to look for in terms of durability, what extra features should your home elliptical have? The following features add a lot to the machine, if you can afford it.

  • Adjustable Incline: The best ellipticals allow you to increase the incline, which can drastically change your workout session by targeting different muscle groups. The maximum incline is typically higher on more expensive machines, so if you prefer a high incline make sure you factor this into your buying decision. Top-of-the-line models support interactive training that simulate a real life running trail and add varying levels of incline as part of their program.
  • Customized Programs: The best ellipticals have many preset programs installed that will help mix up your workout routine. These can increase your progress and help you to exercise more efficiently.
  • Heart Rate Monitoring: Top-of-the-range ellipticals come with chest straps for wireless heart rate monitoring, or are at least compatible with wireless telemetry technology. You can use this to accurately track your workout stats and help remain within your target heart rate zone. Cheaper machines come with metal sensors usually placed on the handlebars.
  • Smartphone Compatibility: In addition to touchscreens or HD displays, the best ellipticals are also compatible with your iPhone or other smart device, allowing you to plug in and listen to your workout playlists and podcasts from the comfort of your machine. Although this may not be a 'must-have' feature for everyone, it beats wearing headphones while you workout.

Want to learn more about what to look out for when shopping for a new elliptical machine? Read our handy Buyers Guide