The Best Elliptical Machines for Training in Your Home Gym

The elliptical machine is one of those foundational cardio machines you can find in most training centers next to the treadmills, indoor cycling bikes and rowing machines. Its low-impact nature and full-body experience can be a comfortable yet effective way to work up a sweat. But these perks don’t require a trip to your local brick-and-mortar gym anymore — they can be reaped right at home. All that’s needed is a suitable home gym space, access to a power outlet — and a desire to change up your cardiovascular training.




  • BEST OVERALL ELLIPTICAL

    NordicTrack AirGlide 14i Elliptical

    Read More







  • BEST BUDGET ELLIPTICAL

    Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical

    Read More




  • MOST COMFORTABLE ELLIPTICAL

    Schwinn 470

    Read More




  • BEST ELLIPTICAL FOR BEGINNERS

    Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical

    Read More

As you might suspect, though, there’s more than one elliptical to choose from — and the differences between models can be difficult to interpret for novice athletes. In order to help keep your home gym machine from turning into an expensive coat rack, we’ve taken to our studios, training centers, basements and beyond to determine the best ellipticals on the market today.

How We Tested

collage of elipticals

Ben Emminger

While personally comparing ellipticals side-by-side simply wasn’t feasible, given my tight living conditions, I have been able to train atop a handful of these machines for the sake of this guide. Sessions were conducted to get a feel for functionality and comfort, along with how convenient and effective the embedded features are. I also noted the overall footprint of each machine, because there’s no sense in investing in an expensive piece of equipment if there’s no room to house it. Adjustability and durability were also considered in building out this roundup, too.

The Best Elliptical Machines

NordicTrack AirGlide 14i Elliptical

BEST OVERALL ELLIPTICAL

NordicTrack AirGlide 14i Elliptical

nordictrack.com

$1,799.00

  • 14-inch touchscreen display is one of the largest in the category
  • 18-inch stride length may be too compact for taller athletes

Thanks to a monstrous 14-inch Smart HD Touchscreen as well as incline and decline capabilities, this AirGlide 14i elliptical from NordicTrack is one of the highest-quality silhouettes in the category. I appreciate how easy it is to follow along with the brand’s vast library of iFit-backed workouts, and the auto-adjustment features take the strain out of mid-training tweaks.

I also enjoy the map-style workouts powered by Google Maps that allow you to roam and walk through destinations like Egypt, Argentina and more. I would be mindful of the shorter stride length, however; while it may be suitable for a number of athletes, those with longer gaits may feel a little cramped once in the throws of training.

Sole E35

BEST UPGRADE ELLIPTICAL

Sole E35

dickssportinggoods.com

$2,999.99

$1,499.99 (50% off)

  • Multiple app integrations for streaming and on-demand workouts
  • Self-assembly can be difficult for some

Looking to mix your binge-watching with your workouts? This high-quality elliptical from Sole is capable of streaming your favorite movies, TV shows and more from a slew of the top providers including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and HBO MAX. Additionally, this behemoth of an elliptical can connect to Sole+ for instructor-led workouts, free of charge.

While the workout potential is definitely there with the E35, I will admit that the true workout lies in the installation of this machine. There are a bunch of parts and fixtures across this silhouette, and the directions aren’t the most detailed I’ve come across. I’d recommend either clearing a day for build time to avoid any hasty headaches pre-training … or simply opt for white-glove installation services to avoid the stress.

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical

BEST BUDGET ELLIPTICAL

Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical

  • Pulse sensors at the handles are accurate enough for trustworthy metrics
  • Weight capacity is not as expansive as other ellipticals in this roundup

If you’re just looking to test the waters with an elliptical for your home gym setup, consider this compact model from Sunny Health and Fitness. The SF-E905 is a no-frills profile that delivers a modest display for tracking vital metrics, while the eight varied resistance levels can be enough to give your training sessions some versatility.

Additionally, athletes have said this profile is easy to put together after unboxing, so there’s less strain in putting together another Rubik’s cube of home gym equipment. With that said, however, this may not be the best solution for larger athletes. Naturally, the cheapened cost is viable through less durable materials, so the weight capacity for this SF-E905 elliptical is listed at just 220 pounds.

Schwinn 470

MOST COMFORTABLE ELLIPTICAL

Schwinn 470

amazon.com

$1,299.00

$1,099.99 (15% off)

  • Smooth movement during training regardless of resistance chosen
  • Larger footprint may not be ideal for smaller apartments and training spaces

I appreciate this Schwinn not just for its sturdy nature, but also its natural stride pattern that makes exercising easy. Plus, the 470 profile is easy to assemble after unboxing thanks to clear and concise instructions — there’s no need to improvise with power tools or a trip to the hardware store.

Unfortunately, though, all the comfort and performance of this rig eats up a good chunk of space. Sure, the 20-inch stride length can be an accommodating gait for many athletes, but with a machine sitting over 5’ long, a few extra arrangements may need to be made in your home gym to properly house such a structure.

Horizon Fitness EX-59

BEST ELLIPTICAL FOR BEGINNERS

Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical

horizonfitness.com

$999.00

$699.00 (30% off)

  • 10 magnetic resistance levels offer variety without the noise of other models
  • Shorter stride length can be uncomfortable for some

I find this Horizon Fitness elliptical a good fit for novice athletes: there’s a solid mix of versatility and conciseness across the resistance options; assembly can be a breeze with the right skill set; and the profile doesn’t consume a whole room. The EX59 also showcases a lower-than-average pedal setup, which can be great for keeping your head out of the ceiling tiles.

It is worth noting, however, that the stride length across this silhouette is somewhat short. So if you’re planning on really opening up your movements to mimic those on-road sprints, you may feel underpowered from an equipment standpoint at times.

NordicTrack FS10i

MOST VERSATILE ELLIPTICAL

NordicTrack FS10i

nordictrack.com

$1,999.00

$1,499.00 (25% off)

  • center-drive resistance helps keep this silhouette more compact than most
  • Heavier frame can be difficult to move around, even with wheels

This NordicTrack FS10i uses a center-drive resistance, which changes up the trajectory and flight pattern of each step. The result? A unique stride that’s a mixup of an elliptical, stepper and treadmill in one. Add in the fact that NordicTrack loads this puppy up with over 55 onboard workout sessions and it’s easy to vary your training from one day to the next.

I also like this FS10i silhouette because of its higher weight capacity and stride adjustability, both help cater this machine to a bevy of body types. Granted, the stride adjustment isn’t seamless, but the notion of personalization is a nice touch that adds to the versatile nature of this mechanism.

BowFlex Max Trainer M9

BEST ELLIPTICAL FOR SMALL SPACES

BowFlex Max Trainer M9

  • Textured, over-pronounced pedals are easy to maneuver and balance on in training
  • Incline and stride length adjustments are not feasible

The Max Trainer M9 is a unique profile in its own right, thanks to its more upright frame that turns this elliptical into a pseudo-stair machine, too. That vertical posturing helps lessen the machine’s overall footprint, which can be great for athletes wanting a low-impact workout without the required floor space. I do caution, though, that the ceiling requirements may be a little higher with this unit than others, so plan accordingly.

In addition to the compact silhouette, the BowFlex Max Trainer M9 is also efficient and intuitive thanks to its large display and easy-to-maneuver pedals. While I wish there were some adjustment points across the pitch and stride length, I feel this is an excellent elliptical option for anyone needing to balance training efficiency with floor arrangements.

Cubii JR2

BEST UNDER-DESK ELLIPTICAL

Cubii JR2

  • Compact design allows for training while working from home
  • Does not provide the same upper body resistance as traditional ellipticals

Okay, so you’re looking to get some training in throughout the day, but your schedule has you filled with assignments, meetings and other requirements that take time away from your regimen. This sleek, under-your-desk profile from Cubii allows you to reap the low-impact benefits of elliptical training while sitting at your desk. There’s six levels to choose from, too, so there’s room for growth and advancement as you work out your lower body while working through afternoon emails.

Of course, though, there are limits to this shrunken elliptical profile. For one, the lack of arms limits how engaging this Cubii JR2 can be across your user body during movement. Additionally, some have said that the entire silhouette can jostle during training, so be sure to place this “elliptical” on flat ground before pedaling away the day.

Why Use an Elliptical Over Other Home Gym Equipment?

Like other cardio-based home gym equipment, ellipticals can be great for keeping your heart rate pumping through workouts without the need for trekking outside. There’s no need to bundle up for inclement weather or plan your training around sunlight. You can get a quick session in whenever you please.

Ellipticals can also be worthwhile fitness tools due to their low-impact design that can take the strain off your joints mid-movement. There’s less gravity and impact across your frame than, say, a given stride atop a treadmill because your feet never leave their intended stirrups or plates. This can make elliptical training a top pick for older athletes or those coming back from injury.

What to Consider When Choosing an Elliptical

Resistance

Your elliptical should have enough resistance levels across its range to provide a variety of training intensities. There’s no sense in choosing a machine that’s too difficult or easy from the start, or caps off way before your workout potential has been reached.

Workout Library

Your time spent on the elliptical can get dull in a hurry if you’re not careful, so to make sure you aren’t digging a rut with training, opt for a machine that offers a good amount of workout sessions, either built-in through it’s on-unit display or via a connected training service offering on-demand sessions. It’s also important to ensure your display is capable of tracking desired metrics like calories, heart rate, time, speed and others.

Ergonomics

Working out can be a pain at times, but that’s no reason for your machine to create an uncomfortable setup from the start. When thinking of your elliptical’s ergonomics, be sure to consider how comfortable and fitting the footpads are, along with the angle and comfort of the handles. This can go a long way in creating a setup that’s engaging, effective and inviting.

Footprint

It’s no secret that ellipticals are larger pieces of home gym equipment, so before you even think of adding one to your setup, it helps to ensure you have the floor space available to accommodate the vessel. Lengths and widths can vary from machine to machine, but roughly 17.5 square feet of available space should be a good enough foundation to start from. It’s also important to have a little room at the front and back of your machine, as the arms and pedals can extend beyond the profile while in motion.

Extra Features

Most ellipticals will boast a display unit monitoring key metrics along with a water bottle holder and storage shelf for your smartphone or other must-haves. In addition to these foundational add-ons, you can even find machines boasting Bluetooth-capable speakers, integrated cooling fans, charging ports for your devices and other perks. All of these aren’t vital to your workout experience, though, so be sure to weigh your wants and needs accordingly.