If you’re looking to save time and money without compromising your fitness levels, why not start working out at home?
You don’t necessarily need acres of space and a huge budget for a home gym. Simply invest in some well-chosen equipment and you can kick the gym commute to the curb while ratcheting up your training from the comfort of home.
Choosing the right equipment is the key to your new regime standing or falling. Get it right and you won’t need to head to the gym ever again. Get it wrong and you’ll end up with a closet full of metal gathering dust.
Luckily, we’re here to help as usual. We’ll walk you through how to buy an elliptical machine the easy way and what to look out for when you’re in buying mode. We’ll also be guiding you on how to torch the most calories when you’re training on your elliptical.
Before anything else, a few words on these unusual machines: what are they and why should you consider adding one to your home gym?
Table of Contents
- I. Our Top 5 Picks for Elliptical Machines
- II. What Is an Elliptical Machine?
- III. Benefits of Elliptical Machine for Home Use
- IV. Top 7 Best Elliptical Machines For Home Use
- V. Things To Consider When Purchasing An Elliptical Machine for Home Use
- VI. Guide to Burning Maximum Calories on an Elliptical Machine
- VII. Conclusion
I. Our Top 5 Picks for Elliptical Machines
Bowflex Max Trainer Series at AmazonOur #1 Pick
Schwinn Elliptical Machine at AmazonBudget Pick
II. What Is an Elliptical Machine?
Think of an elliptical as a tweaked version of a treadmill.
The drive system and cushioned pedals mean you sidestep the jolting you get with a treadmill so you can work out hard but with minimal impact on your joints. As your feet never lose contact with the pedals, you can hammer it without hammering your knees and ankles into the bargain.
Where elliptical machines were once the preserve of the professional gym, more and more home users are appreciating the benefits of an elliptical.
Where do these machines come into their own, then?
III. Benefits of Elliptical Machine for Home Use
One of the key selling points of ellipticals is the way you can work out your upper and lower body either together or in isolation.
If you use an elliptical wisely, you can get a full body workout hitting the abs, glutes and arms through to your legs and back.
You can fine-tune both resistance and incline so you’ll be able to get precisely the workout you need.
While the design of an elliptical might pull you up, if you incorporate one of these low-impact cardio machine into your home gym, you can enjoy a broad spread of super-powerful workouts.
Just pump with your legs and grasp the handlebars of the elliptical to give both your upper and lower body a sound workout.
Greater stride lengths and more severe inclines will bring more pressure to bear on your hamstrings and glutes. Target your calves and quads by lowering the incline.
Since using an elliptical can be exhausting, stick to shorter sessions until you’ve raised your endurance levels.
Right then, with that background in place, you should have a decent overview of why it makes sense to add one of these machines to your home gym.
We’ll highlight 7 of the finest ellipticals intended for home use next so you can scope out what’s up for grabs and how much you’ll need to budget.
IV. Top 7 Best Elliptical Machines For Home Use
1. Our Pick: Bowflex Max Trainer Series
What can you do if you want to train at home but you’ve got very little space at your disposal? One alternative to a rowing machine that takes up even less space is this compact but super-powerful elliptical trainer. The legendary Bowflex has a hard-won reputation for producing top-tier fitness equipment and this elliptical continues that winning tradition.
If you’re just starting out, punch one of the 11 preset workout programs so you can get going right out the box. Well, not quite…
Assembly is relatively involved so pack plenty of patience and set aside a couple of hours to get the job done right.
If you have ambitious goals ahead for your training program, you’ll appreciate the 20 grades of resistance available on the Bowflex. Keep pushing yourself that little bit further each time you hit the machine and keep on smashing your fitness goals. With targeted programming, the machine will learn your habits and monitor your fitness levels so training is optimized automatically.
The LCD is crisp and easy to read from a distance. You’ll see all the metrics you need prominently displayed and backlit.
If you need an added push when you’re training, you can watch free content from personal trainers on the app available for iOS or Android.
If you want an unbeatable cardio workout without needing a huge home gym to accommodate the machine, this ultra-compact elliptical from Bowflex deserves a place on any shortlist.
Things We Like
- Benefit from 11 training programs as presets
- Extremely compact footprint ideal for apartments or small homes
- Push-button function to extend workout time when you’re in peak flow
Things We Dislike
- Set aside at least 2 hours for assembly
2. Budget Pick: Schwinn Elliptical Machine
Perhaps most famous for their cool and laid-back bikes, Schwinn brings that cycling expertise to bear on this mighty elliptical ideal for any home gym or workout space.
Schwinn smash most of the opposition firmly out of the park in terms of raw functionality. You kick off by navigating an enormous range of 29 routines comprised of the following:
- 12 x profile
- 9 x heart rate control
- 4 x custom
- 2 x fitness test
- Quick start
Once you’ve decided how you’re planning to train, you can then climb through 25 resistance levels so there’s no excuse not to be training at full capacity. As soon as you find yourself cruising, simply ratchet up the intensity.
LCDs come with MP3 and USB ports along with an onboard fan on the console.
If you prefer the social aspect of working out but don’t have time to attend class, train at home in-app and head out on varied international routes with some virtual competitors. Train how you want when you want with this elliptical at home.
The Schwinn line is broad and deep so if this elliptical piques your interest, it’s worth exploring the rest of the range, too.
While you couldn’t describe this unit as cheap, think how much you’ll be saving if you cut out that gym membership. As long as you have the motivation to get yourself on those pedals, you’ll have the next best thing to a personal trainer at home without needing to spend a fortune for the privilege.
Things We Like
- Social element to training with app-driven programs to keep things varied
- Class-leading 25 levels of resistance to drive you harder
- A huge 29 training programs covering all tastes and fitness levels
Things We Dislike
- Assembly instructions could be improved and, as with most ellipticals, expect to take 60-90 minutes over set-up
3. Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine
You should prepare yourself for a hefty package with this bulky unit weighing in at over 230 pounds. You’ll likely want some assistance with assembly, too.
Once you’ve got everything installed, you’ll be all set for some really hard-hitting cardio without needing to leave home. This elliptical makes the perfect investment for anyone who’s time-poor yet not prepared to sacrifice health and fitness.
Now, as with all elliptical machine for home use, you’ll need to make sure you have room to accommodate this bulky piece of kit.
If you have health problems, you’ll appreciate the heart rate monitor so you can train safely while keeping tabs on those key metrics.
You can also take advantage of standard and custom programs and you can monitor proceedings on a generous 7.5-inch display.
If you’re larger, you’ll find the 375-pound load-bearing capacity ideal. Overall dimensions of this elliptical are 27 x 58 x 83 inches.
In terms of extras, you’ll get a sound system baked in so you can pound those pedals to your favorite playlist. There’s also a water bottle holder so you’ve got no excuse not to remain hydrated.
With the frame guaranteed for life, and electronics and parts covered for 5 years, you can buy with complete confidence.
Things We Like
- Tweak stride length and incline to vary your workouts and keep them challenging
- Chest strap and heart-rate monitoring onboard
- Generous 375-pound upper weight limit
Things We Dislike
- You’ll almost certainly want some help with assembling as solo set-up is demanding
4. NordicTrack Commercial Elliptical Machine
NordicTrack forces you to dig deep for this pro-grade elliptical machine but is it any good?
Well, the first thing we’d point out is that this machine might be labeled commercial but it works best in a home gym. While the NordicTrack can take regular and sustained use, it would struggle in a commercial gym.
So, if you’re looking for an elliptical machine for home use, you’re in luck with this poky unit.
The tablet-sized display lets you enjoy immersive workouts from the comfort of home. If you consider the price of this machine set against annual gym membership, it suddenly starts looking like great value.
With incline training, you can get the advantages of hitting the road without the same damaging impact to your joints and without the adverse weather conditions. Adjust the platform through 20 degrees and add an extra layer of intensity to training.
Cushioned pedals, an integrated fan, and bottle holder provide you with a comfy and stable workout environment with everything you need close at hand. All that remains is to choose your program and hit those pedals. You’ll be amazed at just how many calories you can torch with a vigorous session on the elliptical and you don’t even need to leave home.
Despite delivering such powerful performance, this elliptical is super-quiet when it’s running. This is a nice bonus if you have a home gym close to neighbors or your elliptical is set up where others in the house would be disturbed by a noisy unit.
While this machine isn’t exactly cheap, slash that gym subscription and use that money toward investing in a home gym instead: problem solved.
Things We Like
- 24 resistance levels to give even competent athletes a robust workout
- Incline training to replicate real-world conditions
- Smooth and quiet trainer so ideal in apartments
Things We Dislike
- Assembly is tricky and instructions could be radically improved
5. Nautilus Elliptical Trainer
Nautilus is a legend in the elliptical trainer vertical. Indeed, all their training equipment comes bringing their expertise and precision engineering to bear.
We should preface this review by pointing out that this Nautilus is best reserved for more experienced athletes. If you’re just starting out and looking for a casual cardio session, this is not for you. If, however, you’re looking to take your training to new levels this year, why not push yourself?
29 programs mean you won’t hit plateaus with your body not getting chance to accustom itself to specific routines. Keep it mixing it up and you’ll keep pushing your muscles in ways they’re not used to. Watch your gains increase.
With 25 different resistance levels, you’ll find this especially challenging. Bear in mind what we said about even the lower levels proving quite tough. Ramp things up and you’ll start hitting new heights without heading to the gym or paying that stiff monthly fee.
Hook this elliptical up to your favorite fitness app and you can accurately and easily chart your goals.
Build quality is impressive and, while you might need to stretch the budget slightly, you’ll end up with an elliptical capable of giving you years of heavy cardio sessions from the comfort of your home gym. What’s not to love?
Things We Like
- Great fitness tracking potential with trainer utilizing fitness apps for interactive sessions
- Outstanding 29 programs so never get bored and never fail to push yourself
- Pair of LCDs so see data you need at a glance
Things We Dislike
- Not for beginners as even the lower resistance settings prove challenging unless you’re pretty fit
6. Octane Fitness Zero Runner
Whether you’re a beginner to elliptical training or you’re a hardened athlete, this cost-effective but versatile machine is well worth your further investigation.
The first thing we’ll point out is that functionality is underwhelming on the console. You’ll get better results training in-app. Even this could be improved but it’s fit for purpose.
Elliptical training is ideal if you’re looking to achieve the benefits thrown up by running without subjecting your joints to such a jarring experience as the sidewalk provides. This machine allows you to carry out everything from a light walk through to a full sprint so there’s something for everyone.
Unlike some ellipticals, you’ll get practically no noise in operation making it a perfect fit for home use.
Stride tracing and the data served up allows you to hone your technique further.
There’s a strap supplied for heart rate monitoring and you can take care of this wirelessly using Bluetooth.
An innovative cross-circuit program baked in brings you the best of strength interval training and cardio combined if you’re really looking to push yourself.
As we always advise when scoping out workout equipment for your home gym, consider the price set against the time and money saved by no longer needing a gym membership.
Things We Like
- Crisp display shows you everything you need to see at a glance
- Runs with no noise whatsoever so perfect for home gyms
- Use for gentle or vigorous exercise and suitable for all fitness levels
Things We Dislike
- Console connectivity is a letdown at this price-point
7. ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer
Training at home allows you to slot in workouts when you otherwise wouldn’t have had time to hit the gym. If you’ve got all your weights laid in, you might want to consider adding an elliptical trainer to your arsenal. Space-saving is crucial in home gyms where real estate is at a premium and budget a factor. Invest in a multi-purpose unit like an elliptical and you can stretch both space and budget.
The ProForm comes with a free month trial of iFit so you can see whether this virtual gym membership offers you enough value to consider paying for a subscription. Try it and see what you think. You’ve got nothing to lose.
24 resistance levels ensure there’s enough of a challenge for even determined athletes.
You’ll be able to sync this machine with all the leading fitness and workout apps. If you like working out while watching videos or listening to podcasts, there’s a tablet holder built in and you also get iPod-compatible audio.
The handlebars allow you to train in multiple postures so you can push yourself to your limits and never get bored.
The frame is guaranteed for life showing you the confidence the manufacturer places in this rock-solid elliptical machine for home use.
Things We Like
- Multi-functional handlebars help you to mix up your workouts
- Heart rate monitor baked in with EKG grip pulse on the handle controls
- Highly cushioned pedals to create a comfortable training environment
Things We Dislike
- A few reported issues with quality control so check your package carefully upon receipt
Right then, with those reviews in place, you can assess at a glance some of the most effective ellipticals at a range of price-points.
What really counts when you’re on the buying trail, then?
V. Things To Consider When Purchasing An Elliptical Machine for Home Use
Elliptical machines have a reasonable range of elements you should consider when you’re ready to buy.
Focus on these areas to get the most suitable machine with consummate ease.
- Tension and Resistance
- Stride Length
- Onboard Computer
- Price/Performance Ratio
Tension and Resistance
You should look for resistance levels close together to avoid any jarring leaps in effort.
Elliptical machines come in 2 main types:
- Fan Wheel Resistance: Cheaper machines can nevertheless still offer a smooth experience with fans wheel resistance
- Magnetic Resistance: Magnetic resistance elliptical machines give a great ride with a premium on consistency
The more resistance levels on the machine, the more you’ll be able to hone your workout to deliver exactly what you need.
The benchmark for elliptical machines is a 20-inch stride. This more or less resembles the average person when walking.
Stride length should be fit for purpose on most of the common ellipticals but, if you’re particularly tall, you should look out for something that makes allowances for this.
Think long and hard about whether you want to adjust the incline using a manual control or a much handier programmable alternative.
If you want to stave off workout boredom while pushing yourself to the very limit, the more you can vary the incline the better.
The flywheel helps to create a natural and fluid movement.
This works in much the same way as on exercise bikes or spinners and eliminates any jerking and jarring from your workout.
Some ellipticals come with dual-direction flywheels allowing you to get further flexibility from your workouts.
A good set of adjustable pedals is essential.
If your feet are especially large, make sure you look for ellipticals with pedals to match.
While many people are looking for a fairly lightweight elliptical, this should never be prioritized over stability. After all, you’ll use the machine every day whereas you’ll only move it from time to time.
To generalize, heavier ellipticals tend to be more stable. When you enter the realms of the much more expensive models, the wonders of technology can compensate to some extent for raw weight.
Think carefully about the size of intended users and make sure you choose in line with these requirements.
If you want an onboard computer to help out with tracking your fitness goals, look for a display that’s sensibly positioned and easy to read even in dimmer conditions.
Some ellipticals allow you to connect to third-part devices in order to further interpret data like stride speed, calories burned and overall timing of training.
Price is always a factor in any buying decision but it should never be the prevailing factor.
Linked to price is overall value. The overall cheapest elliptical is not the best if it falls apart after months. Think about price related to lifespan to get a good general view of value.
When you’re buying equipment for your home gym, you should also consider the cost compared to monthly memberships and travel expenses.
Bottom line: think about more than just the bottom line.
Now, with the basics in place, how can you ratchet up your workout so you extract the very most from your elliptical machine? We’ve got you covered there!
VI. Guide to Burning Maximum Calories on an Elliptical Machine
To round out today, here are 10 tried-and-true method of burning the maximum number of calories during your elliptical machine workouts:
- Increase Resistance and/or Incline
- Boost Your Heart Rate
- Increase Speed
- Increase Motion
- Really Work Your Legs
- Make Full Use of Handlebars
- Follow Preset Training Programs
- Push Yourself To The Limit Occasionally
- Train to Upbeat Music
- Use a Virtual Trainer Online
1) Increase Resistance and/or Incline
By boosting either resistance or incline on your elliptical, you’ll force yourself to work harder.
With your muscles treating calories as fuel, the harder you push those muscles, the more calories you’ll torch.
You only need to picture riding a bike. It’s much tougher climbing a steep hill than a moderate incline. The same applies with elliptical machines.
Another inbuilt advantage of jacking up the incline is that you’ll force different muscle groups into action giving you an even more thorough session with increased calorie burn.
The object of increasing resistance is to minimize any time spent coasting. Your body will burn calories when engaged in intentional movements. By pushing your body harder, you’ll ensure it stays in calorie-burning mode and you’ll hit your weight loss goals more easily. Don’t go over the top, though. If you increase resistance or incline too much, you’ll be unable to train at capacity. It’s a delicate balance to strike so experiment until you find that ideal calorie-burning sweet spot.
2) Boost Your Heart Rate
Your heart rate gives you a decent indication of how much calorie-burning potential your training program has. The harder you push yourself, the quicker your heart rate and correspondingly greater calorie-burn.
If you want to hit the fat-burning band of exercise, you need to be operating at roughly 70% of your maximum heart rate. To work this out, use the following formula:
220 – <your age> = maximum heart rate
Make sure you spend your time on the elliptical occupying this fat-burning zone and you’ll see those pounds slide away and your goals being smashed.
3) Increase Speed with HIIT
HIIT (high-intensity interval training) can help you burn more calories than other types of exercise.
This form of training consists of short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of light exercise or rest.
HIIT on an elliptical can temporarily increase your metabolic rate helping you to see off more calories.
4) Increase Motion
By varying the pace and occasionally going in reverse, you’ll prevent your body from becoming accustomed to one form of training. Vary the length of your stride as well so you keep your body guessing and keep fat-burning at optimal levels.
5) Really Work Your Legs
When you’re training on an elliptical, working larger muscles like those in your legs can aid in burning more calories.
If you rest your arms across the handlebars, you’ll force your legs to bear more of the load. Push yourself hard enough and this can boost calorie loss.
6) Make Full Use of Handlebars
You can then switch gears and use your arms on the handlebars to enjoy a full-body workout. Again, the key here is stopping your body from getting used to any one form of exercise.
Involve as many muscle groups at the same time as you possibly can if you’re looking to lose as many calories as possible on your elliptical.
7) Follow Preset Training Programs
If you follow programs using fitness apps, you’ll be better placed to start pushing yourself harder. This is especially true when you’re just starting out so don’t neglect the presets.
8) Push Yourself To The Limit Occasionally
As long as you maintain correct form, pushing yourself to the absolute limit occasionally will give you an intense burst of cardio with maximum calorie-burning potential.
9) Train to Upbeat Music
Listening to motivating and energetic music as you work out can make things more enjoyable while giving you that extra edge. If you’re looking to lose weight through cardio sessions on an elliptical combined with a healthy diet, crank up the tunes and you might find you start edging closer to those weight loss goals.
10) Use a Virtual Trainer Online
Last but certainly not least, there’s more than a social element attached to utilizing an online trainer.
Whether you opt for one-on-one sessions or group training, you can get valuable insight from an expert and the encouragement you need to keep shifting those stubborn pounds.
Remember: If you’re looking to use an elliptical machine as part of your weight loss plan, bear in mind you need to accompany adequate exercise with the right food. All your training for the purposes of weight loss is in vain if you don’t follow through in the kitchen.
With all these elements in place, you should be perfectly positioned to pick up the most appropriate elliptical machine for your training goals.
Remember: all that counts is getting the right elliptical for you. This is not to say you shouldn’t take advice from friends, family, and gym partners. Strip everything away, though, and you need to double down on finding an elliptical that will give you the training programs you need to help you hit your goals.
When you’re investing in equipment like this for a home gym, investment is the operative word. Rather than being resistant to spending money, you should outlay as much as you can comfortably afford. Buying cheap gym gear is generally a route to disappointment and underwhelming build quality. Opting for reputable brands and solid equipment should generate significant savings compared to paying for a monthly gym membership.
Finally, don’t forget to bookmark the PrinceLA for all your home and garden needs. Whether you’re kitting out the lounge, the bedroom, or the home gym, we’ll bring you a combination of stellar products and sage buying advice to make your life easier every step of the way. See you soon!