Best Ellipticals for Runners in 2019

Let an elliptical protect your joints and improve your race performance! This article explores the best ellipticals for runners in 2018. We list three favorite in-home ellipticals for runners, and we explain what to consider as you compare elliptical machines. The article ends with a longer list of runners' ellipticals with links to reviews and sale pages.

Three Best Ellipticals for Runners

Shopping for an elliptical you'll see that many brands compete for your attention. Some brands use simple electronics. Others show off cutting-edge technology. But before you're wowed by touchscreens and elliptical TVs, remember that the best ellipticals for runners have some mechanical basics in common: long strides, heavy flywheels, and well-synchronized handlebars.
Here are three favorites that fit the description. They have moving arm bars, stride paths at least 20″ long to avoid choppy motion, and flywheels weighing 25 pounds or more to let runners at all ability levels build strength.

To summarize, the ellitpicals shown above have the distinct advantage of having long pedaling paths and heavy flywheels, which will help really enhance the overall user experience. They are great for the biomechanics of most people and will ensure that you are using the machine with ease each time you step on.

These ellipticals are a far better potion than treadmills because you’ll not only get a killer lower body workout, but you’ll also be working your upper body as well. This saves you time and energy as you won’t have to separate weight lifting in the gym. Even for a runner, having a strong upper body helps to give you balance in your body and may help you fend off fatigue while you are out on your run.

If you are looking for more recommendations on the best ellipticals for runners, scroll down past this guide and you’ll find some of our top machines listed.

Why Choose Ellipticals For Runners?

You might be asking yourself why. Why choose an elliptical over a treadmill. Isn’t a treadmill more sport specific? It is, for sure, but you also need to take into account that your body is already doing the movement of running each time you lace up your shoes and head outside.

It’s very important to include cross training into the mix, which can be done on days you don’t run to still help you maintain your fitness level and burn calories.

They’re also a great option for any runner who is overcoming an overuse injury as the zero impact feature means your joints can rest easy as they are healed.

Here are, what we believe, are some of the key reasons to look at the best ellipticals for runners.

  • Low Impact: The low impact nature of these machines alone should be enough to get you to give them a try. Each day you head out for a run, you are subjecting your body to loads of forces coming down, so it’s a very good idea to give your joints a break every once in a while. That way, on those days you do the elliptical, you can go into deeper recovery mode, ensuring that injuries don’t take place.Rehabbing an injury is never a fun time so prevention is the best medicine. You’ll still be using all the same muscles while doing the elliptical as you would on a run just in a different movement pattern. This can also help you overcome muscle imbalances and weaknesses also, ensuring you are the best runner you can be.
  • Build Strength: Which brings us to the next benefit, strength building. While running will really help you build your cardiovascular endurance, it doesn’t do much to help you build strength.But yet, building strength is so important. Not only will it help you become a better runner, but it’ll also help you ensure that you are preventing injuries and making your everyday life easier as well.Many elliptical trainers have up to 20 different resistance settings, so put it on the higher settings and you’ll instantly be feeling it in your glutes, thighs, hamstrings, and upper body.It really can replace a full body weight training session if need be. While you may not get quite the strength gains that you’d make lifting free weights, for most people it’s going to be sufficient.
  • Whole-Body Training: Once again, while running is a great activity to take part in, the problem with it is that it really only trains half your body. The entire upper body gets left out.Not with the best ellipticals for runners. With these machines you get a full upper body workout as well, which also allows you to burn far more calories.If you are looking to lose weight, you’ll find great advantages to including elliptical training in your workouts. Many of these ellipticals also contain multi-varaible hand positions you can, which allows you to use the machine with greater comfort while also ensuring that you are targeting the upper body from many different angles.Take a look at the best ellipticals in order to see this feature. Not all models have it, so you will want to seek it out.

To summarize, it’s a great time to take the opportunity to get acquainted with the best ellipticals for runners and use them in your regular running routine for cross training purpsoes. They can boost your fitness level, burn more fat, and help you prevent injuries down the road. You can find many models for just $999, or if you want to step it up and go for a more deluxe model, you can for under $2000. Think of it as an investment in your long-term running career. You can’t see great results if you are always sidelined with an injury.

Ellipticals for Runners Buying Guide

How much should you plan to spend

Ellipticals for runners generally have a commercial feel, even if sold with home use warranties. That's because the lower quality alternatives just can't deliver effective workouts for people who are already pretty fit! Here are some performance-related basics to keep in mind when shopping.

Resistance: The highest rated ellipticals for runners have wide ranges of resistance. Usually they offer 20 settings. You might like the lowest setting for physical rehab or warming up, and higher settings will help tone and strengthen your muscles. Look for a flywheel weight of at least 25 pounds. A machine with lighter maximum resistance could leave you under-challenged, and it won't perform as smoothly.

Stride: Healthy stride length is critical to a comfortable workout. Typical choices range from 18 to 22 inches. Favorite ellipticals for runners can adjust to fit different stride lengths. Adjustable or variable stride is useful for accommodating different family members, plus it allows workout variation; change the stride length to recruit your muscles in different ways. Some machines with wide ranges of elliptical motion are advertised as "three-in-one fitness machines" or "hybrid trainers." They work as ellipticals, steppers and/or low impact treadmill alternatives.

Incline: Sometimes an elliptical lacks adjustable stride length, but it has adjustable incline to help you train for outdoor routes. The maximum incline on a high-end elliptical is typically 15 or 20 percent.

Upper Body Training: Most home ellipticals have moving arm bars. Typically the handlebars support a swinging sort of motion, letting your arms move as they would during a brisk walk but with more resistance. On good quality ellipticals the handlebars synchronize naturally with the pedal motion, and on cheap ellipticals the movement isn't as well-coordinated. Bowflex Max Trainers are unique for having handlebars that create a boxing motion.

Durability

Will your elliptical deliver its money's worth? If you follow the advice above -- choosing a trainer with a long stride and heavy flywheel -- then you'll likely get a product that lasts. Here are some other elements to look for when judging durability.

Warranty: Fitness machine warranties are usually excellent indicators of durability. Machine frames are almost always under lifetime warranty, even on cheap cross trainers; the frames are steel and not easily broken… but fitness machine parts get separate warranty deals. Avoid buying an elliptical that has a short residential parts warranty. If the parts are only guaranteed for a year or less with home use, hassles are likely on the horizon!

User Weight Limit: A fitness machine's maximum user weight is another important clue about durability. The best elliptical machines for runners can safely hold 300 pounds or more. If a machine can't hold much weight, it's probably made of substandard parts.

Metal vs. Plastic: The best elliptical machines are built mostly from metal and other sturdy materials. Cheaper ellipticals have unreliable plastic parts, such as thin pedals, that are prone to snapping.

Sealed Bearings: Sealed bearings help support quiet and stable machine performance. Cheap ellipticals lack sealed bearings, so their frames might never be sturdy and squeak-free... or else they require frequent maintenance (tightening the bolts) to perform as intended.

Rear Drive Design: Elliptical trainers are categorized according to where their flywheels or drives are stored. The categories are rear drive, center drive and front drive. Rear drive ellipticals are usually low maintenance -- they have fewer ways to fail -- but tend to cost more. Center drive ellipticals can be durable alternatives, plus they take up less space. Front drive ellipticals can be strong and reliable too, but some runners prefer how rear/center machines position the body. These ellipticals could make it easier to exercise without "cheating" by leaning forward into the console for support.

Features

As described above, the best ellipticals for runners have some common features to allow healthy motion. Additionally some have the following digital features.

Wireless Heart Rate Monitor: Most elliptical machines for 2018 are built with grip heart rate monitors; you can squeeze the stationary handlebars to get a readout. Although the grip sensors might be convenient, it's best to buy an elliptical that also supports wireless pulse readings. Wireless readings are more accurate, particularly when you're training intensely. Furthermore the best built ellipticals for runners allow heart rate control. This means that the machine automatically adjusts the challenge (speed/incline/resistance) to help you exercise within a given heart rate zone.

Data Sharing: Many runners are motivated by data, and the best ellipticals make it easy to track your progress with mobile apps. Bluetooth capability lets you export heart rate information, calorie burn, step counts and more. Ellipticals with iFit Coach Plus (see NordicTrack Ellipticals) can use this data to make personalized and ever-adapting training recommendations.

Personalized Workouts: Elliptical machines arrive with built-in workout programming to help you exercise efficiently. The best ellipticals let you create and save a user profile, which increases the accuracy of feedback you receive (such as calorie burn). Our favorite ellipticals also let you adjust the preset workouts and save your own routines. Many ellipticals for 2018 give access to video workouts and can simulate outdoor tours as they adjust the incline/resistance to mimic topography.

TV, Music and Internet: Most products in our elliptical reviews are iPod-compatible, which means they have built-in speakers. High-end machines might let you control the volume and make music selections directly from the workout screen. Even better, in most price categories ellipticals are available with touch screens for accessing standard workouts, video workouts and the web. Some have secondary screens just for TV programming too. Competing with these well-stocked machines, lower-priced alternatives that lack video/web capability might provide a small shelf for holding your mobile device at eye level.

Best Ellipticals for Runners

Once again, our three favorite ellipticals for runners in 2018 are the following:

Best Ellipticals for Runners

Model Rating Flywheel Resistance Price Lowest Price
Precor AMT 835 with Open Stride 5-stars N/A 20 Levels Over $2,500 See best price »
NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i 5-stars 20 LB 24 Levels Under $2,000 See best price »
Octane Zero Runner ZR7 4-stars N/A Resistance Bands Over $2,500 See best price »