NordicTrack Elliptical Hard to Pedal

If you have stumbled upon this article, you are probably wondering ‘why is my NordicTrack Elliptical so hard to pedal?’ Well fear not, this article is here to save the day! 

The short answer is that most problems that involve difficulty pedalling on an Elliptical trainer stem from an issue with resistance, so in the next few minutes I am going to talk you through some basic troubleshooting you can easily do at home to try and rectify the resistance issue on your NordicTrack machine.

Difficulty Pedalling on NordicTrack Elliptical

Before we dive into the nitty gritty technical fixes, there are first a couple of less ‘mechanical’ options for you to try. 

First and foremost, ensure you have your resistance set at a low level, sometimes, if you are new to a NordicTrack Elliptical trainer, it could be that you simply have it on a setting that is not suitable for you. 

The second thing to try is to turn the console off and on again, this soft reset will hopefully resolve any issues where the machine appears to be ‘stuck’ on a certain resistance level. 

If neither of these options is giving you any joy, then take some oil (please ensure the oil you are using is appropriate for mechanical devices and purchased from a fitness store.) and lightly spray the mechanisms in the fly wheel and runners. WD40 works fine for this:

WD-40 Specialist Protective White Lithium Grease Spray with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS, 10 OZ

How do I fix the Resistance on my NordicTrack Elliptical?

Most of the NordicTrack Elliptical trainers have the same mechanism for magnetic resistance, so your first port of call is to remove the plastic side plates, from here the mechanisms inside will vary slightly between models. 

Refer to your individual model manual to find the location of the resistance system switch. 

If you have tried this to no avail, or your particular model doesn’t have this switch, then the chances are your resistance problems are stemming from the console and it not ‘talking’ to the mechanics of the machine. 

Just because the console is turning on and appears to be working, it doesn’t always mean it is functioning in the way it should. Think of the console as the brain of your machine, sending messages to the body. 

NordicTrack Elliptical Resistance Not Working

While there are some tests you can do at home to check the console and resistance is performing correctly, some of them involve almost pulling your machine apart, and so if your unit is still under warranty you are far better off contacting NordicTrack and having them look at it. 

nordictrack elliptical hard to pedal

If you’re unit is out of warranty, and you need to fix the resistance. You may want to attempt to check the voltage of your machine. 

  1. Remove the plastic side shields
  2. Remove the crank arms (you may need a crank puller for this)
  3. Locate the tension motor
  4. Use a 9 Volt battery and attach a wire to positive and negative side, then touch the yellow and blue wired of the motor. 
  5. Let the motor run until it swaps then switch the wired the alternate way.
  6. If the motor works both ways, you’re motor is not defective.
  7. Next check the console harness using a volt meter. (Attach the volt meter to the wires from the console to the harness)
  8. Lastly, check the voltage being supplied through the blue and yellow wires to the console when the tension buttons are pressed. This should be approx. 6 vdc.
  9. If you find you have no voltage then the console is defective and this is your issue.

Clearly this process is not simple and takes some mechanical know – how, so ensure you try the easier options in the first section of this article before attempting to take your machine apart. 

If you have a NordicTrack Elliptical trainer that uses a friction resistance as opposed to a magnetic resistance (which some of the older machines do) then changing the friction pad is going to be a great option for fixing a resistance issue. 


There could be a handful of reasons your resistance on your NordicTrack is proving troublesome. 

Oiling the machine and turning off the console for a soft reset is always going to be your first option before attempting to unfold and open the machine up. 

I would never recommend opening the trainer unless absolutely necessary as it can invalidate your warranty, so if your machine is still under warranty I would suggest calling NordicTrack for advice before taking any further action.

If however, you have problems with your NordicTrack which is out of warranty, then it is definitely worth testing the voltage to the console and the tension adjustment setting that many machines have under the hood.

YouTube has some great tutorials which can give you a visual demonstration of how to do these tasks on your specific machine. 

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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!