Elliptical Reviews for 2020 – Best Elliptical Machines with Comparisons

Elliptical Reviews for 2021 – Best Elliptical Machines with Comparisons

Last Updated on February 12, 2021 by JP

To jump to the best ellipticals by price or our top picks, click here:

Best Elliptical Machines by Price

Top Elliptical Picks

Elliptical Machines at Home?ellipticals

Elliptical machines such as the NordicTrack 12.9 and the Sunny SF-905 are among the best low-impact, high-intensity pieces of exercise equipment you can buy.  And the latest generation of ellipticals like the Nautilus E614 are incorporating the most cutting-edge technology like ultra-ergonomic support and downloadable fitness tracking data.

People are increasingly looking to elliptical workouts as a safe way to get fantastic cardio exercise, to help lose excess weight, and to tone up the entire body overall. At the gym, these machines are usually filled up around peak hours, so a lot of people are making the leap and purchasing one for the home. With our in-depth elliptical reviews, we hope to guide you to finding the right machine that fits your lifestyle.  In order to hit your ideal fitness level, the goal is to get you exercising consistently.  It isn’t always going to be easy, but buying the right elliptical machine is a big step in that direction.

Best Elliptical Machines by Price:

Elliptical machines range in price from around $100 to well over $1000.  As you can imagine, you will be getting a different quality elliptical at those extremes and everywhere in between.  To help guide you, we’ve listed our favorites from what we feel are the best elliptical machines by price below. Click the links below for more on these top ellipticals:

PRICE RANGE: $50-$200:elliptical machines

Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic SF-905 Elliptical Trainer – (check on Amazon) – $179 – 5,710 Reviews

Body Rider BRD2000 Elliptical Trainer with Seat – (check on Amazon) – $177 – 1,846  Reviews

PRICE RANGE: $200-$700:

Body Max Cardio Dual Trainer – (check on Amazon) – $279 – 737 Reviews

ProForm Hybrid Trainer – (check on Amazon) – $479 – 788 Reviews

PRICE RANGE: $700-$1300:

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i Elliptical Trainer – (check on Nordictrack.com) – $1,099 – 123 Reviews

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer – $999 – 940 Reviews

Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine – (check Amazon) – $1,299 – 2,969 Reviews

PRICE RANGE: $1300-$2000:

NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical Machine – (check Nordictrack.com) – $1,349

Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine – $1,499 – 293 Reviews

PRICE RANGE: $2000 and up:

NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS9i – $2,199

Our Top Elliptical Machine Picks

Because the prices and features on elliptical machines range so greatly, we’ll offer our top picks from a few price ranges.  You can click the buttons for more in depth elliptical reviews.

#1.  NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical

NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical ReviewThe NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical captures our top slot for many excellent reasons. To start, the machine comes with more features than almost any other elliptical on the market. With the 12.9 Elliptical, NordicTrack has gone the distance to ensure you’re getting an ergonomic, comfortable, exciting workout that keeps you coming back for more.

It’s really the 10″ Interactive HD Touchscreen and iFit membership (1-year free included with purchase) that opens the doors to a dynamic world of workouts with virtual scenery from around the globe, interactive training with elite coaches, real-time tracking of all your workout stats, and even total-body workouts on and off the elliptical. On-demand studio elliptical training sessions feature the trainers increase and decrease your machine’s digital resistance and incline levels. That’s right,  it’s like they’re right there with you in the studio guiding you through every minute your workout.

The NordicTrack 12.9 Elliptical features 0-20% digital incline control, 24 levels of silent, magnetic resistance, a 30lb intertia-enhanced flywheel, and auto-adjustable stride from 17.5″ to 18.7″. You get two speakers, Bluetooth capability, an autobreeze workout fan, and oversized cushioned pedals. It’s really the Cadillac of elliptical machines. Click below for our full review, or click here to see the latest price on NordicTrack.com.

Read Full NordicTrack C 12.9 Elliptical Trainer Review

 

#2.  Sunny Health & Fitness SF-905 Elliptical 

Sunny SF-905 Elliptical ReviewSunny Health & Fitness is consistently rated one of the most popular brands for affordable, solid exercise equipment, and with the Sunny SF-905 Elliptical they don’t disappoint. An elliptical cross-trainer with 8 levels of magnetic resistance and a digital monitor, the SF-905 has everything you need to get a great workout at a super affordable price.

This compact elliptical machine has pulse sensors on the workout arms so you can track your heart rate. It also has anti-slip handlebars, floor stabilizers, and transportation wheels for storing when not in use. Overall, this is a winner and makes a great addition to any home gym. To see the latest price of the Sunny SF-905 Elliptical on Amazon click here, or click the button below for our full review:

Read Sunny SF-905 Elliptical Review

 

 

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer - elliptical review#3. Bowflex M3 Max Trainer

The Bowflex M3 Max Trainer is an interesting and effective combination of a elliptical trainer and a stair-stepper. This 2-in-1 elliptical machine offers the ability to get a serious calorie burning cardio workout with the muscle-building aspects of a stair-master.  Bowflex is a respected brand name in the exercise equipment market and they know how to create a quality piece of fitness machinery.

The Bowflex M3 Max Trainer’s interactive backlit display features multiple workout programs and eight resistance levels. The burn rate display shows how many calories you’re burning and helps set activity level targets. Click here or the button below to see the best price of the Bowflex M3 Max Trainer on Amazon:

See Price on Amazon

 

Elliptical Machine Features to ConsiderElliptical Machine

An elliptical is an excellent piece of equipment to invest in, but before you buy, you want to make sure you are aware of all the features that make up a great machine. We’ll cover all the key bases below to get you on track:

Stability

As with any piece of equipment, stability is crucial. During a workout you want to be able to concentrate on your session with the machine being almost an afterthought. In fact, the best machines are the ones that seem to disappear because of their stability and ability to fit to you, not the other way around. On average, a heavier elliptical will be more stable. However, with the higher-end elliptical machines, better design trumps weight and can provide ample stability.

Elliptical machinesTension Resistance Levels and Types of Resistance

With more resistance levels, you are able to increase the challenge of your workout more incrementally. Lower increments of resistance levels means you’re forced to make a jump in the workout challenge that you might not be ready for.  As far as types of resistance, there are two main styles:

1. Fan Wheel Resistance

Fan wheels can provide a smooth ride and tend to be employed on lower-cost ellipticals.

2. Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic resistance can provide the quietest, most consistent, and most natural feeling workout.

Sole Fitness E95 Elliptical Machine 3Elliptical Computers

Not all ellipticals come with a computer, but if they do or you want one, here’s what to look for:

1. Display

The display should easy to read. Backlighting is a plus.

2. Data Provided

The best elliptical computers will give you a range of data including distance, stride speed, time of session, and heart rate if you have the necessary adapter or if it’s included.  Some elliptical trainers feature the ability to upload your data to external devices or websites for tracking progress.

Pre-programmed Workouts

Elliptical-reviewsIf the elliptical includes a computer, which most do, they will ideally include programs that give you workout options geared toward weight loss, intervals, cardio, etc.

Incline Adjustment

The ability to change the degree of your incline is at the core of working out on an elliptical. Easy-to-use power incline controls are preferable to manual incline adjustment. The best elliptical trainers have the ability to greatly vary positions for a diverse and challenging workout.

Stride Length

Elliptical stride length varies from machine to machine and matters more for some people than others.  A 15″ length may be fine for some users.  And if you’re tall, a longer stride length is a good feature and common on a lot of machines.  A 20” stride length allows the natural stride almost anyone would have while walking quickly.

elliptical reviewsAdjustable Foot Pedals

Adjustable articulating/pivoting foot pedals are helpful for replicating a natural stride motion and avoiding injury. Additionally, large pedal surface space allows for users of any foot size to comfortably fit their feet in the pedal. Sole Fitness has addressed this and features a two-degree inward slope on their ellipticals that they claim reduces stress on your knees and ankles.

Flywheel

As on indoor exercise cycles and Spin bikes, the flywheel helps create a fluid and natural momentum that keeps your elliptical workout from being jerky and jarring. It helps mimic actual motion. Dual Direction Flywheels – Dual direction is a nice feature that allows for switching your rotation for a workout of the opposite muscles.

Hybrid Trainers

Machines like the ProForm Hybrid Trainer combine elliptical machines with recumbent bikes or exercise bikes. With this type of dual trainer, you’re getting a two-for-one (or even three-in-one) piece of equipment.  These trainers feature a seat that is more upright like an exercise bike or reclined like a recumbent bike.  This style of elliptical can be a good option, but be sure to do your research to ensure the quality is there.

Other Considerations:exerpeutic 1000XI elliptical

  • Transportation Wheels
  • Ease of Assembly
  • Fans
  • Power supply (external or batteries required)
  • Step-on height
  • Water bottle holder
  • Speakers with inputs
  • Tablet/book holder
  • USB Port for Charging and Data Transfer
  • Warranties

Benefits of Ellipticals and How They Work

Elliptical machines mimic a motion and muscle use that is similar but not identical to cross-country skiing. That’s where the comparison ends, however, as modern ellipticals are high-tech powerhouses of exercise equipment.  You’re going to be getting an incredible cardio workout as well as hitting most of your major muscle groups.

The incline of your machine dictates which muscle groups you will be engaging the most. Higher incline and stride length targets your hamstrings and glutes, while lower incline focuses on giving your quads and calves a great workout. While your legs are pumping away, the long upright handles engage your upper body muscles including pecs, arms, shoulders and back. Also, the upright pole grips give you something to hold onto while you’re swinging your legs front to back. This offers key stability since a good workout is going to be challenging your leg muscles and you may feel a bit of a wobble from muscle fatigue after a 20 minute workout.

Full Body Workout

It’s important to note that ellipticals provide an excellent full-body workout. When using an elliptical machine, you’re working your legs, back, glutes, abs, arms – just about every major muscle group. And with the best ellipticals, you can tailor the workout to your desired challenge level by increasing the resistance, adjusting the incline, and moving your arms and legs faster or slower.  With on-board computers that supply all the data you could ever want, you’re going to be able to track your progress.  This is very motivating whether you’re slimming down, toning up, or just getting your heart rate up and looking to sweat out some calories.

Other Elliptical Machine ConsiderationsExerpeutic Aero Air Elliptical

Home Elliptical Workout

The best elliptical machines generally include just about everything you’ll need to have a challenging yet comfortable workout at home. Normal running shoes will be fine for striding on the foot pads. Also, while working out at home, a nice benefit is that you can place the elliptical in front of your TV to be able to watch workout DVDs, workouts on Youtube (see below) or enjoy your shows and movies while losing the extra pounds.

Elliptical Maintenance

Since there are a lot of moving parts some machines will need some maintenance such as lubrication from time to time. Squeaky parts and uncooperative resistance levels should be fixable with a quick call to the manufacturer. And the best ellipticals have solid warranties incase anything goes wrong.

Wipe it Down to Keep it Up

This goes along with the previous suggestion, but it’s worth mentioning that after a sweat-inducing workout, you want to wipe down the elliptical.  Sweat can corrode the elliptical machine’s parts and reduce its lifespan.  A quick wipe with a towel to get the moisture should do it.  Then from time to time, wiping with a damp cloth will keep your elliptical looking great.

Workout Clothes

It’s important to wear appropriate clothes when working out on an elliptical.  Baggy clothing can get caught in the machines moving parts, so wear tighter-fitting clothes if possible.  And always wear rubber-bottom, close-toe sneakers or running shoes while exercising.

Final Word on Elliptical Trainers

The most important things to consider when looking at elliptical machines for the home, is if you are going to get a comfortable, stable, low-impact, and challenging workout. Thanks for reading our elliptical reviews and best of luck finding the elliptical machine that works best for you.

Note:  We keep this overview and our reviews updated with the latest information, so be sure to keep this site bookmarked and check back in periodically for the latest on the best ellipticals.

 

23 Comments

  1. Naga

    Hi1
    I am a female and turning 40 this year. Over past two years I have been gaining weight steadily and now I am 80 kgs (height 5’7″).I do not have an exercise regime . I eat moderately. Not fond of sweets/ fries. I feel my metabolism has slowed down and not walking anywhere has caused this. Can You suggest a good elliptical trainer? I need to burn more fat thats on my belly and thighs. Is an elliptical enough for this?
    -Thanks!

    Reply
    • David

      Precor 225- smooth as ice, very stable and well made

      Reply
  2. Annie

    Stroke patients need a lot of excercise they cannot get……What is suggested for those who need strength training and building muscle back….one for home that is compact or easily folded….stroke on left side, foot drop due to busted foot…..hammer ties from this injury…left arm and hand need excercise for blood flow and grip…….but need strength to stay mobile………slowly build back all body parts……can walk but not strong enough to walk far or long periods of time….if you can help please advise on good equipment….thank you…..Annie

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Hi Annie, thanks for writing! I can’t immediately tell you what would be the best equipment for a stroke patient with a situation like you’re describing. However, you’ve inspired me to seek out an expert who can answer your question. Hopefully we’ll have a good solution for you soon.

      Reply
  3. Tasha

    Hello, great info in your reviews. Can you suggest an elliptical for home that has a significant incline ability (to feel like I’m climbing stairs, as high as 2 steps at a time?). I don’t like the ellipticals that feel like you are marching in place, I like it to feel like I’m taking strides and climbing stairs in a smooth motion. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Hi Tasha. Yes, we can recommend the SOLE E35 Elliptical which has electric incline control and goes up to 30% incline (very high range). The Nautilus E614 also features 6 levels of adjustable incline.

      Reply
  4. Alex M

    I purchased my first elliptical two years back….the Sole E95 elliptical. It is completely noiseless and I like the large pedals. It’s a nice sleek elliptical and has a 400 pound weight capacity. I got it from a local store and the installation cost me around 85 dollars. The delivery did not cost me anything.

    Reply
  5. R. Harms

    This is an excellent web site, very informative, comprehensive information, links to additional information are appreciated, best site I have found so far! My compliments. REH

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Thanks R.!

      Reply
  6. Dan

    This is perhaps a silly question, but how quiet are elliptical machines at home? I have used many in a gym where noise isn’t such a concern, but I now live in an apartment with a neighbor beneath me and adjacent. I am also somewhat of a morning person, so I am curious as to how much sound they make when in use from the perspective of a neighbor.

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Not a silly question at all. But it is hard to say since there are many variables including the model of the elliptical and the construction of your apartment. That said, in general, ellipticals can be very quiet since there is little to no impact when exercising. You’re not going to have the banging hits from footfalls on a treadmill for example. The elliptical’s noise might be comparable to a clothes dryer depending on the model. Good luck!

      Reply
  7. Greg

    Thank you very much for sharing this information. There’s a lot of good stuff.

    Reply
  8. Wendy

    Hi, are ellipticals helpful for knee injuries?

    Reply
    • Jeff

      Hi Wendy, since knee injuries can be very different from person to person, we recommend seeing a doctor to get a better answer. That said, ellipticals are known to be easier on the joints than other higher-impact exercises and can help strengthen the leg muscles around the knee to help protect it. But it’s best to see a professional first when it comes to any injuries.

      Reply
  9. linda

    What do you know about the SOLE E35 elliptical trainer?

    Reply
  10. David

    This is a great article thanks for sharing this informative information

    Reply
    • TFM Staff

      Thanks David.

      Reply
  11. Vern

    I’m looking to buy an elliptical for my home gym, I’m having a hard time choosing between the Sole elliptical and the Bowflex trainer.

    Reply
    • Brian

      I would go with the Sole. The E95 looks cool although a bit more than I want to pay right now.
      I’ve heard bad customer support issues with Bowflex and the other associated brands.

      Reply
  12. riya

    Thank you for sharing this information about Elliptical Machines!

    Reply

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