Elliptical Buying Guide – What to Look for in an Elliptical Machine

We have created this page as the ultimate elliptical buying guide, and have covered all the key features that you should consider when choosing your machine. Directly below you can find my top two recommendations, and then you can continue to see each feature that should be considered as you choose the best elliptical for you.

What is an Elliptical?

An elliptical is a type of exercise machine that mimics the movements of running, cycling, and climbing stairs. It is a popular choice for those looking for a low-impact cardiovascular workout. There are several types of ellipticals available on the market, including front-drive, rear-drive, and center-drive models. Front-drive ellipticals tend to be less expensive and are commonly found in gyms, while rear-drive models offer a smoother and more natural elliptical motion. Center-drive ellipticals are compact and take up less space, making them ideal for home use. The choice of elliptical can greatly impact the effectiveness and comfort of your workout. Different types of ellipticals offer varying stride lengths, resistance levels, and motion patterns, allowing you to customize your workout to your fitness level and goals. It is important to consider these factors when choosing an elliptical to ensure that you are able to achieve a challenging and enjoyable workout. Selecting the right elliptical can also help to prevent injuries and minimize strain on your joints, making it an essential consideration for anyone interested in incorporating elliptical training into their fitness routine. 

Elliptical buying guide – our recommended elliptical

Niceday Elliptical Machine

Niceday Elliptical Machine – Elliptical Trainer for Home
Niceday Light-commercial Grade Elliptical is a remarkable fitness machine, impressing with its precision-engineered magnetic system for a smooth, silent workout. With a 15.5-inch natural stride accommodating users up to 6’4″, it reduces knee stress, making workouts comfortable. The ultra-silent Magnetic Drive system ensures quiet operation, ideal for early morning or late-night routines. Durability is a highlight, with a 100-pound mainframe supporting users up to 400 pounds. Its 16 dynamic resistance levels suit various fitness goals, while the digital monitor tracks essential data. Setting up is easy, and its compact design is user-friendly. Niceday offers a lifetime warranty and responsive customer service.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  • Silky-smooth, quiet workout
  • Impressive durability and weight capacity
  • Versatile resistance levels
  • Easy setup and compact design
  • Lifetime warranty and responsive customer service

What Could Be Better:

  • Not suitable for extremely limited spaces
  • Consideration for budget-conscious buyers

Best budget elliptical:

HASIMAN Elliptical Exercise Machine
The HASIMAN E30503 Elliptical Exercise Machine is designed for users between 4.9′ and 6′ in height, offering an effective workout with its 8 levels of adjustable magnetic resistance and 13″ stride length. It operates almost silently thanks to its high-quality flywheel and magnetic resistance system, making it suitable for home use without disturbing others. With a 350lbs weight capacity and large non-slip foot pedals, it ensures a safe and comfortable exercise experience. The LCD monitor tracks essential data, and the built-in tablet stand allows for entertainment during workouts. Easily movable with transport wheels.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  1. Wide height range accommodates various users.
  2. Whisper-quiet operation.
  3. Multiple resistance levels for diverse workouts.
  4. Sturdy construction with a high weight capacity.
  5. LCD monitor and tablet stand for convenience.
  6. Excellent customer service with quick responses.

What Could Be Better:

  1. Batteries for the monitor sold separately.
  2. Some users may find it wobbly during use.
  3. Short stride length may not suit taller individuals.

What to consider when buying an elliptical?

When buying an elliptical, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, it is important to evaluate your fitness goals. This will help determine the type of elliptical machine that is most suitable for your needs. If your goal is to lose weight and burn calories, you may want to look for an elliptical with adjustable resistance levels and incline settings. On the other hand, if you are primarily focused on conditioning and improving cardiovascular health, a machine with varied workout programs and heart rate monitoring capabilities may be more beneficial. 

what to look for in an elliptical

Size of elliptical

One of the first things to think about is the size of the elliptical itself. It is essential to measure the space available in your home or gym to ensure that the elliptical will fit comfortably. Additionally, consider the weight and dimensions of the machine, as you want to ensure that it can be easily moved or stored if necessary. 

Stride length

Another important factor to consider is the stride length of the elliptical. The stride length refers to the distance between the pedals, and it can vary from machine to machine. It is crucial to find an elliptical with a stride length that suits your height and natural stride. A longer stride length is generally more comfortable and provides a more natural range of motion. Furthermore, it is important to consider the resistance levels and workout programs offered by the elliptical. Look for a machine that has multiple resistance levels to challenge yourself as you progress in your fitness journey. Additionally, having various preset workout programs can help make your workouts more diverse and interesting. Finally, don’t forget to consider the durability and warranty of the elliptical.

Look for a machine that is made from high-quality materials and has a solid warranty to ensure its longevity and protect your investment. Taking these factors into account will help you make an informed decision when purchasing an elliptical. 

Front Drive vs. Rear Drive – What’s the Difference? Is One Better than the Other?

Front-Drive Elliptical

When it comes to elliptical trainers, there are three main types: front-drive, center-drive, and rear-drive. Each has its own distinct features, positives, and negatives. Starting with the front-drive elliptical, these machines have the flywheel located at the front, which creates a more compact design. The front-drive design also tends to be more affordable compared to other options. However, front-drive ellipticals can sometimes produce an uneven stride motion, which may not be suitable for everyone. 

Center-Drive Elliptical

Moving on to center-drive ellipticals, they have the flywheel placed in the middle, ensuring a more balanced workout experience. This design also tends to be more compact, quiet, and easy to maintain. Center-drive ellipticals are often praised for providing a smooth and natural motion, simulating a true running experience. However, they may not offer as many resistance levels or as challenging incline options as other designs. 

Rear-Drive Elliptical

Lastly, rear-drive ellipticals have the flywheel situated behind the user. This design promotes a longer stride length, making it a great choice for taller individuals. Rear-drive elliptical machines provide a more comfortable and fluid motion, with less strain on the knees and joints. They also usually come with a variety of resistance and incline options, allowing users to customize their workouts. However, rear-drive ellipticals tend to be more expensive and take up more space compared to the other designs. In conclusion, there isn’t necessarily a “better” option when it comes to front-drive, center-drive, or rear-drive ellipticals. It all depends on individual preferences, specific workout goals, and budget. 

Resistance levels and types

Another important aspect to take into account is the resistance levels of the machine you are looking at. Different models offer varying levels of resistance, allowing users to increase or decrease the intensity of their workouts. It is crucial to choose an elliptical that offers enough resistance options to match your fitness level and goals. Another important factor to consider is the type of resistance system the elliptical machine utilizes. 

There are typically two types: magnetic resistance and air resistance. Magnetic resistance systems provide a smooth and quiet operation, allowing for a more comfortable workout experience. On the other hand, air resistance systems tend to be noisier but mimic the feeling of outdoor cycling and provide a challenging workout. Hence, it is essential to determine which type of resistance system aligns best with your preferences and fitness goals.

Stability and durability

When buying an elliptical machine, there are several factors to consider to ensure you make the right choice. One of the most important aspects to look for is stability. A stable machine will not only provide a safer workout experience but also prevent any potential injuries. It is crucial to check the build quality and construction of the elliptical to assess its stability. Another crucial point to consider is the durability of the machine. Investing in an elliptical that is built to last will ensure longevity and value for your money. Look for models that are made with high-quality materials and have a strong frame.


Additionally, considering the comfort level offered by the elliptical machine is essential. Look for features such as adjustable pedals, padded handlebars, and a comfortable seat if applicable. The machine should allow you to exercise in a natural and comfortable motion without straining your joints or causing any discomfort. It is also recommended to test the machine before purchasing it to ensure it feels comfortable and suits your body posture. Overall, considering stability, durability, and comfort when buying an elliptical machine will help you choose the right one that meets your fitness goals and provides a satisfying workout experience. 

Maximum user weight

Another factor to take into account is the maximum user weight that the machine can support. It is essential to choose an elliptical that can comfortably accommodate the weight of the intended user to ensure safe and effective workouts. Most machines start at a minium of 250lbs, and often they can safely handle weights of 350-400lbs. Overloading the machine with excessive weight can lead to premature wear and tear, as well as potential safety risks. Therefore, carefully checking the maximum user weight capacity before purchasing is imperative for selecting the right elliptical.

What to look for in an elliptical: Additional features to choose from

Heart rate programs

One key additional feature to consider is if the elliptical has heart rate programs. These programs can provide numerous benefits, such as monitoring your heart rate during workouts and helping you to stay within your target heart rate zone for optimal cardiovascular conditioning. Heart rate programs can also provide valuable feedback on your fitness level and progress over time. On the other hand, there may be instances where you would prefer an elliptical without heart rate programs, such as if you already own a heart rate monitor or prefer to manually adjust your intensity levels.

Built-in workout programs

Another feature to consider when purchasing an elliptical is if it has built-in workout programs. Having a variety of workout programs to choose from can help to keep your workouts interesting and challenging. These programs can offer a range of intensity levels, incline settings, and time intervals to provide a well-rounded workout experience. When considering built-in workout programs, it is important to think about your fitness goals and preferences. For example, if you are training for a specific event or have a set workout routine, you may want an elliptical with programs that align with your goals.

Safety features 

When it comes to safety features, there are a few important factors to think about. One key safety feature is sturdy construction and stability. Look for an elliptical that has a solid frame and a stable base to ensure that it will not wobble or tip during use. Additionally, consider if the elliptical has safety handles or grips that can provide added stability and support, especially for individuals who may have balance concerns or require additional assistance. Another safety feature to consider is a safety key or emergency stop button. This feature allows you to quickly stop the machine in case of an emergency or if you feel uncomfortable during your workout. By carefully considering these features, you can confidently select an elliptical that meets your fitness needs and promotes a safe and effective workout experience. 

Noise levels

Firstly, noise levels should be taken into account. Ellipticals can produce varying levels of noise, with some models being virtually silent while others, especially those that use fan resistance, may be louder. It is important to test out the machine and read reviews to ensure that the noise levels are acceptable for your home environment.


Warranties are another important factor to consider. Many ellipticals come with warranties that cover the parts and labor for a set period of time. These warranties can provide added peace of mind and protection against any potential defects or malfunctions. However, it is important to note that some models may not come with a warranty, particularly if they are lower-priced or sold second-hand.

Return policy

When purchasing an elliptical, it is also crucial to look into the return policy. Some retailers offer generous return windows, allowing you to try out the elliptical and return it if you are unsatisfied. It is important to carefully read and understand the return policy in case you need to make use of it.

Delivery and assembly

Finally, delivery and assembly can be potential issues to consider. Ellipticals are often bulky and heavy, requiring professional delivery and assembly services. However, some retailers may offer free delivery and assembly, while others may charge an extra fee. It is important to factor in these additional costs and logistical considerations when purchasing an elliptical.

Best-Selling Elliptical Machine Reviews

Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine 

SCHWINN Fitness 411 Compact Elliptical Machine
The Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine offers low-impact cardio workouts in a space-saving design. With an 18″ stride length and 16 levels of variable resistance, it caters to fitness enthusiasts of all levels. The integrated Bluetooth connectivity allows you to sync with iOS and Android devices for an enhanced workout experience. It comes with a streamlined console displaying essential workout metrics, including time, distance, calories, speed, and heart rate. Additionally, you can explore over 200 virtual courses with the “Explore the World” subscription. Assembly is manageable, and it’s suitable for smaller spaces.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  1. Compact and space-saving design.
  2. Bluetooth connectivity for device syncing.
  3. Versatile resistance levels.
  4. Virtual course exploration.
  5. Essential workout metrics tracking.

What Could Be Better:

  1. Missing silicone lubricant for smooth operation.
  2. Lowest resistance level may feel challenging for beginners.
  3. Assembly instructions could be clearer.
  4. Limited head clearance for taller users.
  5. Calorie counter accuracy could be improved.

The YOSUDA BE-5003

YOSUDA Elliptical Machine – Elliptical Machine for Home Use, Total Body Fitness Cross Trainer with Hyper-Quiet Magnetic Drive System
The YOSUDA BE-5003 Elliptical Machine is an excellent choice for home exercisers, offering easy assembly, 16 levels of adjustable resistance, and a whisper-quiet magnetic drive system. It’s designed to provide a smooth and low-impact full-body workout, making it suitable for users of various heights and fitness levels. The LCD monitor displays key workout metrics, including heart rate, and it even features a tablet holder for entertainment during workouts. Sturdy construction and a weight capacity of up to 235 lbs ensure durability. YOSUDA offers a one-year warranty and responsive customer service.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  1. Simple assembly with clear instructions and video guide.
  2. Wide range of resistance levels for versatile workouts.
  3. Virtually silent operation.
  4. LCD monitor with pulse tracking and tablet holder.
  5. Compact design with easy maneuverability.
  6. Excellent customer service and warranty.

What Could Be Better:

  1. Some assembly confusion with incorrect parts received.
  2. Shorter stride length compared to gym ellipticals.
  3. Limited stride may not suit taller individuals.

The MERACH MR-E17 3-in-1  Elliptical Machine

MERACH 3 in 1 Cardio Climber Stepping Elliptical Machine with Exclusive App
The MERACH offers a unique fusion of three fitness functions: elliptical, climbing machine, and stair stepper. With a 45° slope and 11″ vertical stride, it provides a mountain adventure experience in the comfort of your home, targeting fat reduction, leg slimming, and hip lifting. Enjoy free MERACH courses and immersive game experiences that make workouts engaging and effective. The machine features an ultra-quiet magnetic resistance system, a 16lbs stainless steel flywheel for enhanced resistance, and high-density carbon steel construction for stability. Compact and stylish, it’s backed by a one-year warranty.

Last update on 2024-07-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What We Like:

  1. Versatile 3-in-1 fitness machine.
  2. Free courses and immersive games.
  3. Whisper-quiet magnetic resistance.
  4. Enhanced resistance with a stainless steel flywheel.
  5. Sturdy construction with a 300lbs weight capacity.
  6. Space-saving design with transport wheels.
  7. Stylish appearance with woody grain finish.
  8. One-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What Could Be Better:

  1. Although easy to move, some users may prefer a more compact design.
  2. Game features may require additional setup or subscriptions.
  3. While user-friendly, clear instructions for game integration could be beneficial.
  4. The 45° slope may not be suitable for all users; adjustable slope could add versatility.
  5. Additional padding or cushioning on handlebars and pedals might improve comfort.
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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!