Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide in 2023

Enjoying gym equipment from the comfort and privacy of your home is a convenient way to get in shape. Elliptical trainers are preferred by many people who seek cardio exercise because they offer a low impact motion. Buying a home elliptical machine can be a challenge. So, here is a Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide for you.


There are many options out in the market – from basic elliptical machines to more complex models that offer innovative features. Some of the major factors in choosing the best elliptical for home depends on your exercise needs, space at home, and budget.  


You’ll find major manufacturers such as ProForm, Nautilus, Precor, and Sole elliptical that create quality equipment for home use. It is worth your time doing your homework before you settle on which elliptical trainer you’ll enjoy for years to come.  


Choosing the Right Elliptical Style For You – Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

Elliptical trainers have three basic designs, each with their pros and cons. The way the flywheel and footpads are positioned determine the way the machine moves and its cost. 


These are the three basic configurations:


This design has a large housing where the drive wheel resides at the front of the machine. It is known to be the most affordable because of its basic arrangement. Due to the pedals being on wheels that slide back and forth on a track, it is a bit noisy and it vibrates. In general, it is still a pretty quiet piece of equipment, it is a matter of personal preference.  


The center-drive style is similar to a treadmill, with pedals where the track is located and the drive wheel at the center of the machine. It offers a very gentle motion and it is the most compact model, although the pedals reach backward beyond the machine, which glides on a crankshaft and cylindrical rollers.  


This is the longest design with the pedals on a track-and-roller for an incline option. It offers the smoothest and most quiet workout. The smaller wheel housing is located behind the pedals. Some machines offer a suspended arm system.  

Space Required – Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

Elliptical trainers are not small machines. You’ll have to consider the space you’ll dedicate to it so that you can comfortably exercise. When setting up the machine in your home, you’ll have to take into account that it may be between four to seven feet long.  


You’ll also have to leave some extra room for the pedals when the machine is in use, which may require about one extra foot depending on the model you choose. It’s a good idea to leave about 20 inches on each side so that you can comfortably move around it. 


Other factors to consider are the height of your ceiling and how tall you are. This is especially important to measure if you plan to install the machine in a basement. You want to have plenty of space so that you don’t hit your head or feel claustrophobic.  

Must-Have Features – Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

These features are essential for a complete workout. Be sure you look for these when shopping for your elliptical machine:

  • Adjustable Resistance: Choose a machine that gives you the option of a broad range of resistance levels. The lowest resistance level should be very easy and the hardest should be very challenging at 75 percent. You should be able to notice incremental changes in each setting.  

  • Adjustable Incline: Your workout will be enhanced with this option. Adjusting the incline of the ramps will change the intensity. Some machines have a manual incline setting and others do it automatically.

  • Comfort for the Upper Body: Having arm handles adds more intensity to your workouts. The handgrip must be comfortable for you. Although not necessary, it is a great option to have.  

  • Smooth Motion: The beauty of an elliptical is the smooth movement and low-impact motion. Be sure the model you choose feels smooth and is quiet. Avoid machines that feel rough.  

  • Length of Stride: The average stride length should be about 21 inches. An adjustable stride option would be ideal if multiple people will be using it. Some machines only offer a 14-inch stride, which is too short for the average size person.

  • Quietness: Your workout will be more enjoyable if your machine is quiet. Some can be loud and may deter you from using it, especially when others in the house are asleep.

Look for Safety Features – Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide

Your elliptical trainer must offer features that will keep you and your family safe. If you have kids, it is important that they know the machine is not a toy. Some machines offer a pin lock to prevent the pedals from moving and the screen from allowing the machine to run.


Choose an elliptical trainer that offers warm-up and cool-down periods as this will allow you to begin and end your workouts safely. Getting familiar with the handrails will help you find support in case you lose your balance.  


Find a dealer that offers equipment support in case something breaks down. Ideally, you’ll choose a model that doesn’t require maintenance. Look for manufacturers that offer good warranties such as three years for parts and one year for labor.  


Innovative Technical Features – Elliptical Trainer Buying Guide


Innovative features can make your workouts much more fun and effective. The basics are a water bottle and a tablet/device holder.


More sophisticated features include a heart rate monitor, some are interactive and will adjust your settings to keep your heart rate on target. Look for pre-set programs if you prefer not to customize your own.  


Other fancier models include a fitness tracker app and motivation software. Some machines are connected to the cloud and offer competitive challenges, social networks, and a library of workout routines.  


Elliptical machines now have WiFi capabilities with browsers, Bluetooth, and even USB drives to interact with other devices. Of course, the more features you choose, the more money you’ll spend.  


This could be well worth it as it is going to be a piece of equipment you’ll use often for many years ahead. 


Exercise Programs

Having a variety of workouts will keep your routines varied and entertaining. You’ll be able to adjust the programs as your endurance levels improve.  


Different manufacturer use different names for the programs, but essentially you’ll have these basic options:

  • Manual

  • Target Heart Rate

  • Hill Climb

  • Long Slow Distance

  • Interval

  • Random


You may also choose to create your resistance profile to design customized programs for yourself.  

“Test Driving” Elliptical Machines

Just as you would a vehicle, elliptical machines feel different for each user. Visit dealers that have the models you are interested in-store and “test-drive” them before you purchase.  


It is recommended you try several models in your workout gear for at least 10 minutes to get a real feel of what a workout would be like. Sole elliptical is a trusted brand with many features you’ll want to consider. 


Be sure you like the features and that you find them easy to use. Tune into the sound the machine makes and how smooth it feels. Bring measurements from your space at home to make sure the dimensions will work.  


Delivery and Return Policies

Some reputable dealers offer easy delivery options and return policies. Ask about all the details and additional costs. You may be able to assemble the machine at home on your own, be sure to ask about what tools may be necessary or if they will assemble the machine for you.


Whether you purchase it in the store or online, be sure to ask about the return process and additional associated costs.


Your Budget

An elliptical trainer is a significant investment for most people. You may shop around for new and used machines from approximately $200 to $5,000. Remember that quality means your machine will last longer and may require less maintenance.  


Consider your workout needs and how large of a machine your body requires. It all comes down to your fitness goals and the size that will be able to handle your activity. 


Even if you have to wait to accumulate savings, getting a quality machine will provide the best elliptical for home use.


Having exercise equipment at home saves you time and money compared to going to the gym. Take all of these elements into consideration. See it as an investment in your health and the quality time you spend with yourself.


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