Best Compact Ellipticals

Brian Using Nordictrack SE9i editor Brian Boyce uses iFit programming for a low-impact cardio burn. Photo by: Oleksandr Kosheliev/

Compact and folding elliptical trainers alike are ideal for home cardio and strength training. Relative to traditional home ellipticals, they take up less floor space and are easier to move. Yet, despite their smaller stature, the best of these models don’t compromise on mechanics or features. They should support full strides and offer comfort as well a variety of resistance options.

Center-drive elliptical machines have the smallest dimensions and are non-folding. Front- and rear-drive ellipticals have longer frames but may be foldable for storage. Check out our top picks for compact elliptical machines below, and read on for an in-depth buying guide for this low-impact fitness equipment solution. In my experience, working out on an elliptical is one of the surest ways to get a burn in those legs. Easy on the joints, whether you’re a senior citizen or a lifter like me, you’ll get all the work without the painful impact of a treadmill.

Why You Should Trust Our Review Of The Best Compact Ellipticals

At, we bring you comprehensive reviews of ellipticals so you can decide which one is right for you. Our staff thoroughly test all the ellipticals we review. We install them, ride them, and try out all of the features. We get to know each and every machine we review extremely well. Our reviewers log miles riding. We listen and record the sound of the unit, try out all aspects of the console and try out the features.

Every elliptical we review undergoes the same rigorous process. That way we can compare and contrast them and give you an honest review of what we think.

Our reviewers are exercise and fitness experts. Brian, the author of this review, is a competitive bodybuilder, and is a 7-time national qualifier in both men’s bodybuilding and classic physique within the NPC competitions. He has coached and been coached on cardiovascular training, HIIT, and nutrition, particularly as it pertains to weight loss for competitions. He is an expert at exercise bikes, has been on these machines, and you can trust his opinion on all of the ellipticals he reviews.

Top by Category

Best Overall: Sole E25
Runner-up: Horizon EX-59
Best Folding: YoungFit
Best Interactive: NordicTrack FS10i
Smallest: Bowflex M6

The Best Compact/Folding Elliptical Trainers

Just like a standard elliptical machine, a compact elliptical can also have a front, center, or rear drive. We’ve included a ‘Best Buy’ option for each category to help delineate the differences. Convenient size and good ergonomics are not the only reasons these ellipticals are so popular. Depending on the machine, highlights include touchscreen displays, wireless heart rate monitoring capability, interactive video workouts, power inclines, built-in speakers, and mobile app compatibility.

How We Picked and Tested

In our goal to help you optimize your home gym, we strategically vet products without bias. There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” piece of exercise equipment. What works great for one person may be a terrible choice for someone else. That’s why we assess a diverse array of aspects including cost, quality, consideration for small spaces, stride length, weight capacity, portability, warranty, and more.

Need something that takes up minimal space? Maybe the best compact treadmill on a tight budget is your primary concern. Or you may be more concerned with programming features. We’ve handpicked products we’d recommend to our friends and family based on specific needs to most accurately match you with the elliptical that’ll cater your best cardio workout.

1. Best Overall Compact Elliptical — Sole E25

New and improved, the Sole E25 is the entry-level model of the Sole elliptical lineup in 2024. The smallest footprint of the group at 24″ x 70″ punches out of its weight class with a 350-pound weight capacity. Like most Sole exercise equipment, the elliptical comes with a nifty device holder for either tablets or phones, but also a 7.5″ backlit LCD screen. A big plus considering the price is seven built-in programs as well as two user-defined, meaning you won’t be locked into purchasing an app if you want workout programming. The 20-pound flywheel offers 20 levels of resistance, and of course the unit has Bluetooth audio speakers, and a USB charging port. The online sale price of $1,099.99 comes with a lifetime warranty on both frame and flywheel, as well as two years for the parts, one year for labor, and 90 days for cosmetic items. Purchased directly from Sole Fitness, the price includes delivery and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Frankly, the Sole warranty is one of the reasons I consistently rank their machines so highly. Lifetime guarantees are tough to beat.

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Pros Cons
  • Priced under $1,200
  • 7 Built-In Programs and 2 User-Definted
  • 20 levels of resistance
  • Lifetime Frame Warranty
  • Smaller Screen

Key Specs

Flywheel 20 lbs.
Incline 20 degrees (adjusted in 1-degree increments)
Stride Length 20 inches
Folding No
Fans Yes
Weight Capacity 350 lbs.
Dimensions 70″ L x 24″ W x 70″ H
Screen 7.5″ LCD
Warranty Lifetime Frame and Flywheel; 2 Years Electronics & Parts; 1 Year Labor

2. Best Runner Up Compact Elliptical — Horizon EX-59

Coming in at a bargain price of only $699, the Horizon EX-59 sports enough features to keep the whole family in shape. Equipped with a 14-pound flywheel, the Horizon EX-59 features a small 4.5″ LCD screen as well as a built-in media rack. The unit sports an 18″ stride length and 10 levels of magnetic resistance. Measuring 74″ x 25″ x 64.5″ with a machine weight of 145 pounds, the elliptical can hold up to 300 pounds in user weight. With five built-in programs, users can participate in routines including: Calorie, Distance, Intervals, Manual, and Weight Loss. The elliptical features built-in speakers as well as a bottle holder. Purchase includes a lifetime warranty on the frame, as well as a one-year guarantee on the brakes and labor.

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Pros Cons
  • Great Value at $699
  • Compact Size of 74″ x 25″ x 64.5″
  • 18-Pound Flywheel
  • Five Built-In Programs
  • Smaller Screen

Key Specs

Flywheel 14 lbs.
Incline none
Stride Length 18 inches
Folding No
Fans No
Weight Capacity 300 lbs.
Dimensions 74″ L x 25″ W x 64.5″ H
Screen 4.5-inch Backlit LCD
Warranty Lifetime Frame; 1 Year Electronics & Parts; 1 Year Labor


3. Best Folding Compact Elliptical — YoungFit Folding Elliptical

If you’re looking to save space with a folding elliptical, the YoungFit unit is one to consider. Priced at $459, the unit is built to self-assemble in less than 30 minutes. Simple and efficient, the elliptical measures 44″ x 20″ x 63″ and is electricity-free. Although the entire elliptical weighs only 104 pounds, it can support up to 330 pounds and can accommodate users between the heights of 4’5″ and 6’3″ with ease. Engineered with 22 levels of magnetic resistance, the elliptical has a 15″ stride, which might limit the action a bit for some. The YoungFit model comes with a simple LCD screen and nifty tablet holder so you can bring your own device. Another big plus is the lifetime warranty on the unit. The machine folds down into a suitcase-like model and can be rolled easily on transport wheels, which double as levelers.

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Pros Cons
  • Compact Unit at 104 Pounds
  • 22 Levels of Magnetic Resistance
  • Bargain Price of $459
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Shorter 15″ Stride Length
  • Smaller Screen

Key Specs

Flywheel 15 lbs.
Incline N/A
Stride Length 15 inches
Folding Yes
Fans No
Weight Capacity 330 lbs.
Dimensions 40″ L x 20″ W x 63″ H
Screen LCD Screen
Warranty Lifetime Frame

4. Best Interactive Elliptical — NordicTrack FS10i

If you’re looking for interactive training, it’s hard to beat the iFit family of workout equipment. Equipped with a 10″ high-definition touchscreen that is designed to work with that program, users can access both live and on-demand workouts by professional trainers. The biggest benefit to the iFit integration is automatic trainer control. This is a product-unique feature which allows either the program or the trainer to adjust the resistance on the machine in accordance with the workout. The NordicTrack FS10i is Bluetooth-enabled and also syncs with iFit’s ActivePulse program, which can adjust the machine’s resistance in accordance with your heart rate. All in all, it’s one of the smartest programs around and only costs $39 per month for a family plan, or $15 per month for a single. The downside is if you don’t use iFit, the screen loses a lot of value and defaults to a manual mode. No, it won’t work with Netflix.

If you’re the type who’s motivated by metrics, you’ll appreciate iFit’s stat tracking capabilities, and, with a Family Plan, you can add up to five users. The perfect fit for everyone in the household, you’ll never have to do the same workout twice. Priced at $1,899, the unit comes with a 10-year frame warranty.

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Pros Cons
  • Automatic Trainer Control
  • 24 Levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance
  • 32″ Adjustable Stride
  • 10% Incline
  • Without iFit the screen loses value

Key Specs

Flywheel 20 lbs.
Incline 10%
Stride Length 32″
Folding No
Fans No
Weight Capacity 375 lbs.
Dimensions 58.5″ L x 29.5″ W x 74″ H
Screen 10″ Touchscreen
Warranty  10 Years Frame

5. Smallest Compact Elliptical — Bowflex M6

This is a Bowflex Max Trainer M6 in a black and silver body frame with a 2 sets of hand grips and LCD console centerpiece plus a tablet holder and a water bottle pocket atcched to it.The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 offers full body workouts with no impact on joints. Its unique design features the motion of a stair stepper and elliptical, making low impact workouts more intense, toning muscles, building cardio endurance, and burning calories effectively and efficiently. It comes with 16 levels of resistance, a wide range that would challenge devout marathoners or dedicated fitness enthusiasts. It’s a good option for athletic training and conditioning (easily includes high intensity interval training). You can monitor vitals on the M6’s unique burn rate display as it shows how many calories you are burning each minute while it increases activity level targets throughout your workout. The multi-grip handles also make for comfortable, agile movements, and the unit has a magnetic media rack for the user’s own screen devices. Track your heart rate monitor by simply holding the integrated contact grips. The machine itself comes with five pre-programmed workouts: Max 14 Minute Interval, Calorie Burn, Fat Burn, Stairs, and Manual. One of our favorite additions to the Bowflex M6 Trainer is the Bowflex JRNY App, a platform that functions on artificial intelligence. Purchase of the machine includes a one-year free trial. This means the JRNY program will assess your fitness level, monitor your workouts and logically suggest and increase your fitness competence to get to your goals. Essentially it’s akin to having your own personal trainer with you every time you jump on the M6.  And, with the 16 levels of resistance combined with the available workout videos, your workouts will be new, challenging and exciting for a long time coming.

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Pros Cons
  • Smallest Footprint
  • Burns More Calories
  • Stepper/Elliptical Hybrid
  • Available Video Workouts
  • More Strenuous Than Standard Elliptical
  • Short Warranties

Key Specs

Flywheel N/A
Incline No
Stride Length 15″ non-adjustable
Folding No
Fans No
Weight Capacity 300 lbs.
Dimensions 46″ L x 26″ W x 64.2″ H
Screen LCD Screen
Warranty  2 Years Frame & Parts; 90 Days Labor

Buying Guide: What to Look for in Compact Elliptical Trainers

What am I looking for in a compact or folding elliptical trainer? My goal when shopping for one is to get all the functions of a traditional cross trainer plus the space efficiency of a home exercise piece. What I don’t want is to sacrifice quality for cost or space. Here are some tips to keep in mind to avoid confusion when shopping.

Benefits of Compact Ellipticals

Buying gym equipment requires a sizable investment, but it’s an investment that’ll pay off, so it’s important to make sure you get it right. About 10 years ago I built my own gym inside a barn on my property, and it’s been the best investment I’ve ever made.  But even if you live in a small space and want a way to enjoy low-impact cardio, a compact elliptical is a great place to start. Other signs this could be your perfect fitness solution include:

  • You’d appreciate a way to get in a full body workout on your machine.
  • You want a way to strengthen glutes, hamstrings, quads, chest, back, biceps, triceps, and core in a single piece of equipment.
  • You’re recovering from an injury.
  • You want a machine that requires little maintenance.
  • You have minimal space in your home gym.


Varied performance levels are available with compact ellipticals to meet the needs of all types of shoppers. Compact, non-folding ellipticals are sold in every price class from budget-friendly models to commercial health-club quality machines. Folding ellipticals aren’t built for commercial use. It’s not that they’re flimsy, but in my experience, they’re just not built for the repetitions of that many people. That said, you can still find a wide range of performance quality throughout the category. Here are some important factors to consider.

Resistance: The best elliptical machines provide enough resistance to support smooth motion. This is important, because the smoother the exercise, the longer a person can work before tiring. Smooth resistance also helps minimize the risk of injury. For most elliptical brands, the flywheel weight is an excellent clue to determine this aspect of performance. It can also tell you the top skill level that’s supported on that machine. Although beginners may be satisfied with a flywheel weight of just 18 pounds, intermediate and advanced trainees will want more heft. Individuals who weigh more will also need relatively more resistance to gain a comfortable momentum.

Stride Length: Narrow foot spacing is part of a healthy, natural stride. You can identify this when slowly walking across a room. When your feet move past each other, they should be separated by no more than 2 inches. Thus the best compact elliptical trainers have virtually no gaps between their pedals. Another aspect of healthy stride is length. The best ellipticals for adults of average heights have about 20” long footpaths. People with shorter inseams might prefer ellipticals with 18” strides, but should probably avoid anything smaller. Some of the best ellipticals have adjustable strides such as 18″-22″ to fit a variety of users (or at least more dramatic ranges to also serve as stair climbers and treadmills).

Incline: Adjustable stride is useful for enhanced calorie burn and targeted muscle toning, but an incline can also help meet these needs. Many ellipticals and hybrid trainers have power inclines. A maximum tilt of about 20 degrees is typical, but specialty trainers have even steeper slopes. There are even workout programs that can pair the incline training with scenic interactive video for a more immersive exercise experience.


The best compact ellipticals are long lasting and rarely need maintenance. Here are some features to consider when assessing durability.

Drive Design: The only potential drawback of a rear drive elliptical is the floor space required, but choosing a folding model could be an easy fix for those with a space problem.

Weight Capacity: A good compact elliptical trainer can safely hold at least 300 pounds. Some of the best ellipticals on the market (compact or not) have 400-pound maximum user weights. In most cases, the higher the maximum user weight, the more durable the product.

Warranty: The parts warranties on compact and folding ellipticals vary greatly. Moderately-priced machines generally have parts warranties of two to five years. Lifetime coverage is usually included for the frame, and labor costs are typically free during the first year or two.

Footprint and Portability

Since you’re reading this article, footprint and portability are important features to consider. The nature of elliptical motion is friendly for smaller spaces. Unlike treadmills that have to lie flat on the floor, ellipticals typically take up less space. To be considered compact, we like to look for products around 54″ x 30″ with some being even smaller.

Vertical space must also be considered. You’d hate to excitedly wait for your shipment only to find out your ceiling’s too low to accommodate! The key consideration here is step-up height. On an average elliptical machine, this will be around 12″-14″. Add the height of the tallest person who’ll be using the machine along with another 4″-5″ for a safety buffer. If the step-up height isn’t listed, it’s usually safe to add 18″-20″ to tallest user’s height.

Hopefully you won’t have to move your elliptical around much, but, if you anticipate the need to move yours from room to room or to a new home entirely, portability will come in handy. Transport wheels make it simple to roll the machine around without having to take it apart every time you need to move it.


The best compact home ellipticals have the same features as larger machines, just with a less bulky frame or the option of foldability. Here are some features to look out for.

Folding: Adjusting a folding elliptical is easy. Hydraulics or electronics do most of the work, so little physical strength is required. It typically folds into half the size, saving significant space in the process.

Interactive Workouts: Some of the best compact ellipticals support interactive workouts as well as classic workouts. Interactive workouts use technologies such as Google Maps with Street View to take you around the world without ever leaving your elliptical. Some workouts offer ambient sound as well as visuals to deepen the immersion.

App Integration: These days, the top elliptical trainers include built-in apps or are WiFi-enabled. This allows you to sync your machine with a variety of mobile or tablet apps for fitness stats tracking, interactive workouts, and entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best compact elliptical for home use?

We're going with the Sole E25 as the Best Overall, although depending on one's budget and specific needs, any on our list here are certainly top tier.

Are compact ellipticals as effective as regular ones?

Yes, and in some ways more so. As more space-friendly machines, they're actually more effective.

Do ellipticals help lose belly fat?

Yes. By affording users a total body workout, these machines can help one burn up to 400 calories in an hour and reduce bodyweight.

What brand of elliptical is the best?

All of the brands represented here are top picks and a lot depends on which model one is checking. One can't go wrong shopping for Sole, Bowflex, NordicTrack, or Horizon.

How long should I use the elliptical each day?

Ultimately that depends on the individual. We know people who use their elliptical for an hour a day, while others use it for 15 minutes at a time. As with any exercise equipment, be sure to work your way up and don't rush progress.