1. Low impact: Ellipticals are extremely low impact. You don’t have the jarring impact from running.
2. Full body cardio workout: With resistance-based arms and foot pedals, you can work out much of your body at the same time (unlike exercise bikes and treadmills).
3. It’s a great workout: You can all out for an intense workout or take it easy like a walk for a moderate workout.
What I don’t like about ellipticals
Every exercise option has disadvantages. Ellipticals are no exception. After much use of many different models I’ve concluded the two main disadvantages to ellipticals (compared to treadmills and exercise bikes) are:
1. Difficult to read a book/magazine: Because your hands are used to hold the arm bars, reading magazines/books or surfing a tablet isn’t very convenient.
2. Not measurable: With running/walking on a treadmill or using an exercise bike, you can compare results to real-world running, walking and cycling. Not so with an elliptical because it’s a machine-dependent exercise.
Front Drive vs. Rear-Drive
There are 2 main types of ellipticals:
1. Front-Drive: The flywheel is located at the front of the machine.
2. Rear-Drive: The flywheel is located at the rear of the machine.
Does flywheel location make a difference? It’s largely a personal preference. However, I find front-drive ellipticals offer more vertical movement in the stride while rear flywheels offer a longer horizontal stride. There are exceptions and this observation isn’t set in stone, but it’s been my experience. I do recommend you try both before buying to discover if you have a preference.
Also, and again I’m generalizing here… I find rear-drive ellipticals more solid because of the larger base.
NOTE: Rear-drive’s tend to be a bit better for taller people (I’m 6’3″) because the stride is longer horizontally, which places you a little further form the arm bars. It’s also good for taller people because the pedels remain closer to the floor. Front-drive ellipticals elevate people quite a bit. This is another reason I prefer rear-drive models; however, as you can see from our list below, there are far more front-drive ellipticals than rear-drive. Generally, front-drive versions are more popular.
Just so you know, overall, I prefer rear-drive ellipticals so I’m a bit biased. Front-drive models do take up less and are more popular than rear-drive models.
What to avoid when buying an elliptical:
I can only tell you what I don’t like about ellipticals based on my experience. I avoid the types where the foot pedals are attached to rails. I find the rail-style elliptical an unnatural motion. These types attempt to replicate stair climbing but it’s often an unnatural angle that results in discomfort in my calves.
Which features to consider when buying an elliptical:
The best piece of advice I can give you other than setting out what I consider to be 10 high quality ellipticals for a reasonable price (under $1,000) is to go out and try several models.
Otherwise, some good features to look for are:
Adjustable foot pedals: We all have unique angles at which our feet sit. Therefore, it helps to have adjustable foot pedals so that your feet sit in the best position for you.
Sturdiness: Without question, you want a well-made, sturdy elliptical machine. Rear-drive (see below) models tend to feel sturdier because of the larger base and foot print. That said,, some front-drive are more than sturdy enough. The key is that the machine’s frame, arms and foot pedals are well made so that it doesn’t wobble or warp.
Flywheel: The heavier the flywheel, the higher quality(generally speaking… it’s a factor in assessing quality).
Great Ellipticals under $1,000
Source: Sole Fitness
The SC200 targets the lower body without too much stress on the hip and knee joints. It features rubber-grip handlebars and corrosion resistant aluminum rails, built-in levers for safety and stability, roll wheels for portability, powder-coated steel tubing, and a high weight capacity of 330 pounds. It also has 7.5” white backlit display screen, 20 levels of resistance to choose from, and a console area with a built-in cooling fan, speakers with an audio jack, and accessories tray, and a reading rack.
2. Sole E25 Elliptical
Source: Sole Fitness
The E25 Elliptical targets the upper body workout and has an electronic console with white backlit LCD display, a built-in cooling fan, water bottle holder, and built-in speakers. It features a whisper quiet drive system, a combination of a heavy 20 lb. flywheel and a high gear ratio, a power incline, stationary handlebars with built-in pulse sensors, a heart rate chest strap, oversize foot pedals, four rear wheels, and a Bluetooth compatibility.
3. Horizon Fitness EX-59
Source: Horizon Fitness
The EX-59 elliptical features a tighter Q factor, an 18-inch stride length, 10 workout programs, 10 levels of magnetic resistance, built-in speakers, tablet rack, water bottle holder and wireless Bluetooth speakers.
Ellipticals under $500
4. Weslo Momentum G 3.2 Hybrid Trainer
The Weslo Momentum G 3.2 Hybrid Trainer is an upright bike and a total-body elliptical. It features horizontal and vertical seat adjustment, StepThru design, transport wheels, and inertia enhanced flywheels. It also has an LCD window, eight fully-loaded workout apps, integrated tablet holder, adjustable manual resistance, EKG grip pulse, and 250 lb. weight capacity.
5. Sunny Magnetic Elliptical Bike
The Sunny Magnetic Elliptical Bike has size and weight dimensions of W 27″ / D 38″ / H 60″ / 66 lb. It targets low impact cardio exercise and features an LCD monitor to track workout statistics.
6. Sunny Health And Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
The Magnetic Elliptical Trainer has size and weight dimensions of W 28.5″ / D 44″ / H 63″ / 65 lb. It features large anti-slip footpads, eight levels of adjustable resistance, hand pulse sensors, built-in wheels for portability, and LCD display to track time, speed, distance, calories, Pulse, and odometer.
7. Sunny Health and Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Bike, 24.6″x44.5″x65.6″
The Sunny Health and Fitness magnetic elliptical trainer targets both the upper and lower body. It features a hand pulse monitoring system built into the stationary bars; eight levels of resistance; large, slip-resistant platforms and handlebars and LCD to display time, speed, distance, calories, pulse, and odometer.It has a maximum user weight of 220 lbs.
8. Sunny Flying Wheel Elliptical Trainer
The Sunny Flying Wheel Elliptical Trainer features a 44 lb flywheel and an LCD monitor to track workout statistics. It has size and dimensions of W 22″ / D 40″ / H 64″ / 125 lb.
9. Stamina InStride E-1000 Elliptical Trainer (Brown Box)
The Stamina InMotion; E1000 Elliptical trainer features a compact and lightweight design that’s easy to tuck away under the desk or in a closet. It targets cardiovascular fitness and designed to tone the lower body. It has silver frame construction and large black non-slip pedals. It also has adjustable resistance and an electronic fitness monitor that displays the number of strides per minute, the total number of strides, exercise time, and calories burned or scan all stats.
10. Stamina Inmotion Compact Strider
The Stamina InMotion Compact Strider features an elliptical motion for low impact exercise. It has a carry handle, large, non-slip pedals and heavy-duty wheels that roll on the steel base. It also has an adjustable tension and a fitness monitor to keep track of distance.
11. ProForm Hybrid Trainer
The ProForm Hybrid Trainer is two machines in one (a cardio recumbent bike and a total toning elliptical). It has an adjustable, cushioned seat; oversized, adjustable pedals; inertia-enhanced flywheel; water bottle holder; and transport wheels. It features iFit technology, 16 workout apps, watts power meter, iPod-compatibility, 15 elliptical stride, EKG Grip Pulse, soft grips upper-body workout arms, and 350 lb. weight capacity.
12. Sunny Health And Fitness Motorized Under Desk Elliptical
This motorized elliptical is portable and can easily fit under the desk or chair. It targets increasing blood circulation and incorporates hip and knee extension with very little impact. It features a manual exercise mode, three levels of resistance, three levels of speed, and a digital LED. Anti-slip floor mat is included in the package.
13. Magnetic Elliptical Trainer Bike
The SF-E3609 Magnetic Elliptical Trainer targets the arms, waist, hips, and legs on a full body exercise. It’s equipped with large anti-slip foot pads and built-in transportation wheels. It features eight levels of adjustable magnetic resistance, an integrated tablet holder, hand pulse sensors, and a digital monitor that displays time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate.
14. Harvil Elliptical Trainer 2-in-1 Exercise Bike With Pulse Rate Sensors
Harvii Elliptical Trainer targets all fitness levels for improved body strength and coordination. The 2-in-1 machine is a space-saver and is equipped with foam-padded non-moving handles with built-in pulse rate sensors and an LCD monitor that displays speed, time, distance, and calories burned.
15. Sunny Flywheel Elliptical Trainer
The Sunny Flywheel Elliptical Trainer targets low impact cardio exercise and has size and dimensions of W 26″ / D 33″ / H 61″ / 64 lb. It also features 16 lb flywheel and an LCD monitor to track workout statistics.
16. FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical
The FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical features a shuffle motion and hands-free tension adjustments. It’s equipped with grab handle and built-in transport wheels and comes with a desk stand for the digital meter.
The NS-40501E Marcy Elliptical is equipped with oversized pedals, transport wheels, vinyl-covered foam handles, large flywheel, and small footprint design. It features a magnetic resistance with eight preset levels and an LCD computer screen displays time, speed, distance, calories, odometer, and scan-through.
18. Cubii Smart Under Desk Elliptical, Chrome
Cubii Smart Under Desk Elliptical is meant to be used only when sitting. It won the 2016 Good Design Award, NEAT-certified by the Mayo Clinic for active sitting, and has an estimated assembly time of 3-5 minutes. It features eight resistance levels; an exclusive app that tracks calories, RPM, distance, strides and time; syncs with FitBit and Apple HealthKit, and Bluetooth compatible.
19. Air Walker Glider Fitness Exercise Machine Workout Trainer Equipment
The Air Walker is constructed with silver steel frame, non-skid foot platforms, and ABS handlebars, pedals, and bottom base. It targets improved cardiovascular performance and has an LCD display that tracks time, count, total distance, and calories burned.
20. Air Walker Glider Elliptical
The Air Walker Glider Elliptical is designed for cardio workouts. It’s constructed with solid, thick steel frame and comes equipped with extra-wide, non-slip footrests and pulse sensors integrated into the handlebars. It features a folding frame, space-saving design; variable stride; quiet operation; and a fitness meter that can track speed, distance, time, calories, and pulse.
21. 9Lb Flywheel Stationary Workout Exercise Bike Black
The Xtremepower Pro 9LB Flywheel 2-in-1 Workout Exercise Stepper is a two-in-one exercise machine (elliptical trainer and a stationary bike). It has a sturdy, over-sized steel construction, a pass-through frame design, and adjustable seats. It features a patented elliptical motion design technology and an advanced magnetic resistance system and a programmable LCD console with preset workout programs, heart-rate-driven programs, and user-customization programs.
Let’s take a look at 10 Great Ellipticals that Cost Less than $1,000
ProForm Smart Strider 935 Elliptical
Here’s one of two rear-drive ellipticals on our list. It’s the ProForm Smart Strider 93. It’s a beautiful and sturdy machine. It’s also a very high tech machine with an incredible 7-inch touchscreen.
Another very nice feature is that you can adjust the resistance and incline with buttons placed at the top of the handlebars. This way you can adjust your workout without taking your hands off the armbars.
Specifications include up to 10% incline, adjustable pedals, and an 18 lb. flywheel.
Sole Fitness E25 Elliptical
The Sole E25 is a front-drive elliptical. While it’s a lower end model from Sole, it’s important to know that Sole equipment is known for building solid, sturdy workout machines. Their equipment does not have all the high-tech bells and whistles other brands offer, but you will read over and over from Sole customers how strong and sturdy Sole cardio machines are.
Key Specifications: Adjustable stride, 25 lb. flywheel and power incline.
Schwinn 430 Elliptical
The Schwinn 430 does really well in the customer review department with an average 4 out of 5 stars from 150 customer reviews, it’s both extremely popular and highly rated.
This elliptical includes articulating foot pedals, a 20″ Precision PathTM stride and a host of other “usual features”. The best part about this popular elliptical is that it costs quite a bit less than $1,000.
Horizon Fitness EX-69
Coming in at well below $1,000, the Horizon Fitness EX-69 is a great balance of features, quality and price. It averages a 4 out of 5 stars rating (out of 69 customer reviews).
It’s a front-drive elliptical and Horizon invested a great deal of money and research into building this machine to comfortably and effectively accommodate everybody. With adjustable positioning options, its design “maintains ideal body positioning throughout your workout.”
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