Best Ellipticals for 2017
Finding the best elliptical machine or cross trainer can be a daunting task. There are well over 30 brands that manufacture these low-impact machines, so how can you possibly know which is the best elliptical for you? To make the research process easier, we’ve created lists of the “best ellipticals” in different categories to help you quickly narrow down your options for the ideal elliptical machine. By popular request, here are the top three overall best elliptical machines.
Buying Guide for Home Elliptical Trainers
The quality of home elliptical trainers varies widely. Low quality machines sometimes cost less than $500, and some of the highest-rated home ellipticals cost thousands more. How much should you spend? Here are some tips about residential elliptical machine performance, parts warranties and more. You can also see our lists of best ellipticals by price.
Some of the finest home ellipticals perform like health club fitness machines. Very cheap ellipticals on the other hand are poor imitations. Here are some performance essentials to know when shopping.
Resistance: The highest-rated home ellipticals offer wide ranges of resistance. They can challenge trainees in peak condition as well as those getting gentle physical therapy. A heavier flywheel makes a machine cost more, but it makes a big difference to performance quality. Look for a flywheel weight of at least 20 pounds if you want an elliptical to carry you beyond the beginner's level. Also choose heavier resistance if an intended user is rather heavy. Otherwise the elliptical motion might not feel sufficiently smooth.
Stride: The best ellipticals for home gyms have stride settings for every intended user. In some families one size fits all, but in others it's wise to choose an adjustable stride elliptical. This feature isn't available on the cheapest ellipticals but becomes more common in the middle and higher price categories. Some of our favorite ellipticals have especially generous stride ranges. These are considered hybrid trainers because they work as low-impact treadmills and/or steppers as well as ellipticals.
Upper Body Training: Most but not all home ellipticals have moving arm bars. The best elliptical handlebars are angled to comfortably fit people of different sizes. On the top home ellipticals the coordination between the upper body and lower body training feels especially natural, whereas on cheap cross trainers the movements might feel awkward.
At the low end of the price spectrum, the highest quality home ellipticals have rather simple electronics. Most resources are put into essential components for durability. But when you spend an average or higher amount on an elliptical, you can expect great features along with long-lasting high performance. Here are some factors that help make an elliptical durable.
Metal vs. Plastic: Durable ellipticals have metal parts instead of breakable plastic. The metal also contributes to the higher weights of better machines, which makes them more stable during exercise.
Sealed Bearings: One problem with cheap ellipticals is that their rollers need frequent maintenance (oiling) to keep running smoothly. Durable ellipticals have sealed bearings that are self-lubricating for low maintenance ownership and better machine longevity.
Rear Drive Design: Rear drive ellipticals are generally associated with the fewest maintenance needs. Still, durable ellipticals with center drives and front drives are easy to find. An advantage of center drive and front drive ellipticals is that they're more compact.
Maximum User Weight: Maximum user weight is a great clue about elliptical durability. The better quality home elliptical trainers have user weight capacities of at least 300 pounds.
Warranty: Read the product warranty to get an idea about durability. The top ellipticals include electronics warranties as well as coverage for the moving parts and frame. If an elliptical parts warranty is for just 90 days or six months, then overall low quality is very likely.
Best Elliptical Picks of 2017 Summary
|Bowflex Max Trainer M5||5-stars||N/A||16 Levels||Under $2,000||See best price »|
|NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i||5-stars||20 LB||24 Levels||Under $2,000||See best price »|
|Sole E95||5-stars||27 LBS||ECB||Under $2,000||See best price »|
The home ellipticals that we rank highly have just the right amount of features to keep you motivated with training variety and entertainment. Here are some popular features.
Adjustable Incline: While some ellipticals have adjustable stride, others have adjustable incline. These let you simulate climbing at different angles for targeted muscle toning and faster calorie burn. In general the incline options increase with cross trainer prices. Some of the most popular home ellipticals pair the incline training with interactive video so you can simulate outdoor exercise. Look for ellipticals with iFit, Passport or similar technologies.
Customized Programs: The quality and variety of exercise programming can contribute a good deal to the overall cost of a home fitness machine. On cheap elliptical machines there might be many programs but little variety. Our favorite home ellipticals have excellent preset program variety and can also supply personalized workout programs.
Heart Rate Control: The leading home elliptical trainers also work with chest straps for wireless heart rate monitoring. Besides that, they have exercise programs for heart rate control. These adjust the pedal resistance to help you work within a target heart rate zone.
HDTV: Premium home ellipticals have widescreen high definition TV screens. They make it easy to track workout data and watch your favorite programs at the same time.
iPhone/iPod Compatible: Home ellipticals at all price points have speakers for MP3 players. The better ellipticals have higher quality speakers and convenient console controls for mobile devices. Secure holders, sometimes with charging ports, are also built into some of the best ellipticals for 2017.