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Consider purchasing an elliptical if you are interested in a lower-impact workout that incorporates your upper and lower body. Ellipticals have ski pole–like handles and pedals that work your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. Depending on the model you choose, you can adjust your stride and your incline for an incredibly personalized exercise experience.
The best way to find a great elliptical? Read elliptical reviews. Get the scoop on customer satisfaction, product types and features, delivery and assembly options, returns and pricing.
Data and ratings accurate as of January 2018
Investing in an elliptical machine can yield improved cardiorespiratory fitness and can assist in burning calories, thus serving as a mechanism for weight loss or weight management. But an elliptical machine is more costly compared to a good pair of running shoes. So should you invest in an elliptical?
As elliptical training results in greater activation of the muscles of your buttocks and thighs, if the primary goal of training is to improve that musculature, an elliptical machine is a preferred alternative to walking or other cardiorespiratory options.
Having an elliptical in your home also doesn’t keep you from a good cardio workout when it’s too cold, too hot, or rainy outside to get in a good workout.
Ellipticals provide roughly the same amount of caloric burn as a walking session of a similar length and intensity. But the elliptical machine burns calories with less weight bearing on critical joints, such as the ankles, knees, and hips. Because the elliptical machine provides a very low-impact workout with less joint stress, elliptical machines may be an excellent option for those that struggle with sore joints or who are concerned with the potential of overuse activity.
There are several additional benefits to adding an elliptical to your home, including:
The answer to this question is that it likely depends on your fitness goals and your budget. Treadmills and elliptical machines burn calories at similar rates and offer similar cardiorespiratory benefits assuming the same program is followed—both provide similar physiological changes. But there are key differences between the two. Consider the benefits and downsides of each piece of equipment before making a final purchase decision.
Treadmills offer workout versatility—multiple programmable speeds and inclines—and the ability to set the motor to run the deck at a specific pace. Most elliptical machines rely on the user to pace the workout—not a motor. Treadmills are easier to operate with target training goals in mind—elliptical users are more likely to coast through a timed or programmatic workout without pushing into different cardiorespiratory training zones. Treadmills are often noisier than elliptical machines due to their motor and casing mechanisms.
The mechanics required to use a treadmill are naturally occuring motions like walking, running, or jogging—an elliptical does not mimic these same motions. But that is intentional—running is a high-impact movement that ellipticals are designed to remove. Even top-of-the-line treadmills with shock absorption can still place added stress on the ankles, knees, hips, and spine—particularly in those who are new to high-impact exercise like running or jogging.
If you are just beginning a cardiorespiratory training program or are recovering from an injury to the ankle, knee, or hip, an elliptical is likely a better option due to the low-impact training modality. Consult a medical professional regarding low-impact or high-impact needs.
Treadmills work primarily the lower body and operate in one direction—straight ahead. Many ellipticals are designed with movable handles to incorporate an arm, shoulder, and upper body workout into your routine. The tracking mechanisms for elliptical machines often enable a user to work in either a forward or backward direction—exercisers can work on different muscle groupings and incorporate a new mental task. There are also now elliptical machines that allow for lateral motion which can challenge and strengthen muscles that connect to the knee joint as well as the hips.
If maintaining a regular cardiorespiratory training program has proven difficult for you in the past or you’re the type of person that abhors exercise of any kind, choose an elliptical. A study demonstrates that the rate of perceived exertion on an elliptical fitness trainer is lower than the actual physiological response. In other words, you’re able to do more cardiorespiratory training than you think you’re doing. In theory, this could make exercise more enjoyable.
Elliptical training has been found to increase flexion—range of motion—at the hip, thigh, knee, and to a lesser extent, ankle joint. But these physiological gains can also be made through other cardiorespiratory and strength training modalities. While the elliptical trainer motion resembles walking, the kinematics are different. The elliptical trainer requires less force production and prevented additional joint stress at the expense of greater hip flexion and knee extension when compared to normal gait walking.
Muscle activation patterns of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus were found to be higher when completing exercise on an elliptical compared to walking, whereas the back extensors, latissimus dorsi, and internal obliques were greater only in specially selected conditions. The elliptical machine also works the quadriceps and hamstrings when used in a forward motion and the musculature of your calves when used in reverse.
Most importantly, regular use of an elliptical trainer enhances your cardiorespiratory system. After completing a 12-week cardiorespiratory program, regardless of the equipment used, significant physiological improvements can be made. But this is true for virtually any cardiorespiratory training program, regardless of the modality of training, as long as done at similar intervals, intensity, and training levels.
If you’re looking to maximize the benefits of cardiorespiratory exercise—cardio—adding an elliptical to your home may be an excellent solution. Cardio has been found to:
Aerobic exercise through elliptical training provides an opportunity to train for increasing durations of time to improve cardiorespiratory health and experience weight loss. Anaerobic exercise—or interval training with short bouts of increased intensity—on an elliptical can yield maximal gains in increasing heart rate and fitness.
Adults need at least 150 minutes of accumulated moderate-intensity aerobic exercise and two muscle strengthening sessions per week. An elliptical machine can help you meet the aerobic exercise goal—even if it is just 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Adding body weight strengthening sessions that can be done in the space near your elliptical machine can help you meet the second requirement—meaning you’d never need to pay for a gym membership again.
There are benefits to treating serious cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular diseases with cardiorespiratory training as well. In addition to helping mitigate cardiorespiratory diseases, cardio exercise can positively influence risk factors like obesity and hypertension.
Coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis, and peripheral arterial disease are all conditions that impair physical function and increase risk of mortality. These cardiorespiratory diseases can be mitigated with proper amounts of cardio training.
Cardiorespiratory diseases are best treated in conjunction with a medical professional and anyone suffering from these conditions ought to discuss a treatment plan and exercise prescription with their doctor. Elliptical machines provide a low-impact, home-based training opportunity and can be an excellent option to assist with cardiorespiratory treatment or cardiac rehabilitation—speak with your doctor about this.
Elliptical machines are an investment and require ample space within your home gym. The more features a machine possesses, the more expensive it will be. There are four important factors to consider when selecting an elliptical machine for your home:
Elliptical machines have three basic configurations that influence your workout—as well as the price of the machine. These three configurations are:
When selecting an elliptical machine, you’ll also need to consider these three factors for home delivery and installation:
A final consideration for your machine—safety. If you have children at home, ellipticals are a potential injury risk, even if the machine is not turned on or operational. Plan your home gym so that it is easy for you to access but difficult for your children to access. Ensure that the only people that use your machine are those that have been shown how to operate and use it.
The House Method editorial team provides objective ratings on the products and services our readers care about. We want to offer quick, digestible facts about elliptical providers to help you make an informed decision when purchasing an elliptical.
Our elliptical reviews include a summary of the elliptical manufacturer, an elliptical comparison chart, and details about pricing, white glove services, shipping and installation, returns, and warranty information.
Within each elliptical review summary, we provide a brief history of the elliptical provider, information on the types of ellipticals offered by the company, and details of each product.
2. Elliptical provider comparison chart
The elliptical comparison chart comprises a House Method elliptical review rating, a House Method price rating, the cost of the provider’s white glove services, and a link to the elliptical company’s complete review page.
3. House Method elliptical rating
House Method elliptical review ratings are awarded based on a weighted 10-point scale that scores elliptical providers on free delivery, Bluetooth compatibility, the promise of a money-back guarantee, free information or consultation about the product, the length of return window, easily discoverable warranty terms (on the website), and compatibility with fitness programs.
We score elliptical companies on these items because we believe these are most valuable to the consumer and give a clear review of the overall quality of a brand.
4. House Method price rating
A House Method price rating is a relative score that compares the price of a brand’s products or services to its peers that we’ve reviewed. The prices of products and services are based on our independent research. Each dollar sign represents an objective tiered amount of money, depending on the category of the product or service being reviewed.
In addition to a House Method price rating, we also include pricing of individual ellipticals in each elliptical review.
5. White glove services
All of the elliptical providers listed provide white glove services and set up your elliptical at an additional cost. In our comparison chart, we outline the pricing of these services for each provider.
6. Shipping and installation
Shipping and installation information is provided to inform the consumer about additional costs when buying an elliptical. We also include expected shipping and installation times to give a clear picture of what to expect during the ordering process.
Return information is provided to inform the consumer of the return process and additional costs associated with a return. This information also helps answer questions consumers may have about getting their money back from the elliptical provider.
8. Warranty information
Our House Method elliptical reviews provide information about an elliptical provider’s warranty term and length to let the consumer decide if a particular elliptical brand stands by the quality of their workmanship.
House Method rating methodology
Our ratings are based on information found through our independent research, including information found on the website of the company being reviewed as of the date of most recent review or through contacting the subject company as an anonymous prospective customer. We aim to update our ratings on a systematic and periodic basis and to disclose the date of most recent review on pages where the rating appears. Please read our rating methodology for additional information.
Bowflex ellipticals come with integrated contact grips and chest straps to monitor heart rate, Bluetooth features, and color LCD screens.
Most Life Fitness models offer QuickGrip Handles and resistance band attachment points for a total-body workout.
LifeSpan Fitness elliptical cross-trainers have premium components and ergonomic designs to provide smooth, low-impact training for years of safe, effective workouts. They also include a 22 programs, varying levels of ramp and resistance, and Bluetooth-enabled features.
NordicTrack ellipticals include adjustable incline levels, heart rate monitoring, and customized training settings.
ProForm ellipticals feature an EKG heart rate monitor, different workout apps, and resistance levels that help you track each workout.