Elliptical Trainer Information:
If If you’re new to Elliptical Trainers, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know on how to buy the right Elliptical Machine for your needs.
What is an Elliptical Trainer? Elliptical trainers (also called a cross-trainers) are stationary exercise machines used to simulate walking or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries. Whereas treadmills primarily work out the lower body, most elliptical machines offer moving handlebars which increase upper body workouts ideal for weight loss.
Their popularity is quickly gaining on Treadmill Machines and now represents the fastest growing category in fitness equipment. Cross Trainers emulate walking or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints, hence decreasing the risk of impact injuries. These machines are also more compact than most treadmills, making them ideal for smaller spaces.
Compare Ellipticals by Price:
Cheap Ellipticals Under $500
Budget Ellipticals $500-$1,000
Performance Ellipticals $1,000-$2,000
High Performance Ellipticals $2,000-$3,000
Premium Ellipticals $3,000 & Over
Use the comparison matrix to quickly view and compare cross trainer freatures for any given price range. Comparison Guides provide pricing & features by Brand & Model.
Understanding the Basics:
Understanding the basics will help you quickly compare machines against one another. Here's what you need to know to get started:
Elliptical trainer Braking Systems
Elliptical Foot Pedal Design
All about Elliptical Program Types
All about Elliptical Displays
Understanding Elliptical Stride Length
All about Elliptical Frames
Elliptical Pricing considerations
AFG Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings – Smooth Operation & Unique Design With some of the most sophisticated manufacturing facilities in the industry you are getting quality fitness equipment in your own home, guaranteed.
BodyGuard Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Feature Packed Designs from Canada sturdy, high quality machines built to last and made to be worked to the max. These mid-range ellipticals from Canada are only mid-range when it comes to price.
Body Solid Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Compact Footprint and Reliable Design They offer smooth performance, solid construction, and are convenient in their out of the way size. These cross trainers are a great compact option.
Cybex Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Professional Quality, Premium Pricing These innovative machines are a culmination of research and advanced exercise science. In less time, you can burn even more calories without even realizing how hard your body is working.
HealthRider Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Above average ratings & value Get great performance, great design, and great choices at an even better price when you go with the Healthrider Ellipticals.
Horizon Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Budget Ellipticals with Extra Bang for your Buck These efficient elliptical trainers can fit into any room, including low ceiling basements. The smooth and fluid motions are meant to keep the workouts low impact.
Image Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Entry Level Machines with a Price to Match You will get the best out of your exercise for an amazing price. The extraordinary console can access your home internet and use iFit workouts.
Ironman Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Durable, Budget Priced Machines Ironman Elliptical Trainers have solid materials, are built to last, and the large LCD display is easy to see and use.
Kettler Elliptical Trainers Review & Ratings - German Engineering. Smooth and Quiet Kettler manufactures a wide range of elliptical trainers that start selling at a fairly economical price point of about $700 for home use models and up to $5,000 for commercial equipment.
Landice Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Premium Machines, As good as it gets Hands down this is one of the best, most expensive options out there.
Lifecore Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Extremely Adjustable and Well Deisnged Machines Lifecore offers innovative machines such as the ‘center drive’ elliptical trainers while they strongly emphasize on providing high quality customer service.
Life Fitness Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Premium Machines at a Price to Match Large foot pedals make it easy for users with all kinds of foot sizes to work out while the solid construction and innovative design make for heavy use and provide a smooth workout experience.
LifeSpan Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Ergonomic Design Problems If you are looking for reasonably priced elliptical that are small yet solid, then the Lifespan Ellipticals will fit the bill.
Livestrong Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Comfortable Ergonomics, Smooth Operations & Value from this newcomer to the market In summary, the Livestrong Elliptical Trainers are a fine piece of fitness equipment to have in your own home, and you can have it at a reasonable price.
Nautilus Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - High End Machines with Space Saving Design These machines are going to last, especially the commercial grade steel frame meant for the utmost stability and durability.
Nordic Track Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Many models to choose from Many models to choose from with great options. Most of the new Nordic Track ellipticals come with the SpaceSaver function that allows the user to fold their ellipticals.
Octane Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Some of the best machines on the market Priced on the higher range and appealing to serious fitness seekers the Octane machines are solid builds with excellent user reviews.
PaceMaster Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Commercial grade at home use prices With a reputation for building outstanding treadmills, it will be good to have such reliable ellipticals on the market as well. Your feet won’t slide around, your machines won’t sway.
Precor Elliptical Cross Trainers Review - Pricey but high quality & Smart Design Higher end machines that receive an overwhelming amount of praise and live up to the brands solid reputation.
Proform Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Affordable and Easily Transportable A great option for budget minded consumers looking for a feature packed machine that will put you on track to better health while keeping your workouts comfortable.
Reebok Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Intersting Options and Economical Pricing Reebok elliptical machines are positioned at customers looking to buy ellipticals with a reputable brand name but don’t want to spend too much at the same time.
Schwinn Elliptical Trainers Review & Ratings - Great Features, Excellent Ratings at a value packed pricing These are some of the most affordable fitness machines on the market. In addition, the modern and user-friendly design makes them an attractive choice.
Smooth Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Great Design, Warranty and Value Tremendous value and considered some of the best Mid-Level ellipticals. Smooth cross trainers are sold directly through the manufacturer.
Sole Fitness Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Users Love these machines for the value they offer Top reviews and a very respected brand name in fitness make this another great option.
Spirit Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - great buy in terms of their price range, warranty, stride length Stylish designs and engineered to give a smooth and optimal body workout.
ST Fitness Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Smooth Operation and Ease of Use Great workouts and smooth operation are a few of the highlights.
Star Trac Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Great Displays and Made in USA Super top notch machines with price points to match. Only consider these if your budget can afford it.
Tunturi Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Good Value and Compact Design Their designs are small and stylish with a fully encased rear fly wheel based on a tubular steel frame.
Weslo Elliptical Trainers Reviews & Ratings - Great price but Questionable Quality Low end machines for very budget minded consumers. Don’t expect a lifetime of use but could be a good option for the entry level user.
Understading Various Components & Options:
- (Commercial Grade) Self-Generating Induction Brake: This braking technology is reserved primarily for commercial elliptical trainers. It offers all the benefits of electromagnetic braking systems without the need for an electric cord. It helps reduce clutter in gyms and allows cross trainers to be placed anywhere in the room, regardless of outlet positioning.
- (High End) Electromagnetic Brake: Expect to pay a premium for this technology, because Electromagnetic (Requiring cord/outlet) braking systems are extremely smooth and offer a variety of resistance levels. Without a deep dive in physics, Electromagnetic brakes operate electrically, but transmit torque mechanically. Because there are NO MOVING parts, maintenance is rarely required.
- (Most Common) Magnetic Brake: This is a lower cost alternative to electromechanical breaking systems and is by far the most common type of braking system on the market. Don’t be turned off by the fact this is most common. It’s proven technology, smooth, dependable and 90%+ of users are completely satisfied with this.
Foot Pedals: Seemingly uncomplicated, there are now many options when it comes to cross trainer foot pedals and most manufactures are using it as a differentiating tool. Foot pedals can be broken down as follows:
- (Premium) Ergonomic Pivoting Pedals: Designed to reduce joint stress and eliminate heel slap, ergonomic pivoting pedals are designed to stay in constant contact with your sole while completing elliptical motion. Reduced heel slap helps mitigate numbness and aching.
- (High End) Oversized & Cushioned Pedals: Oversized pedals allow for foot float during workouts and provide less constricted foot positioning during workouts. If you like to get that extra little workout in, consider oversized pedals. A must for sensitive feet or users with arch support issues.
- (Most Common) Ergonomic Pivoting Pedals: While many manufactures play up how their pedals are superior to others, all you really need is a pedal that generally matches foot contour and pivots during an elliptical cycle. Pivoting pedals are really import for reducing joint stress and should be considered a must.
- (Low End) Fixed Pedals: Most budget minded ellptials offers fixed pedals. Extensive use of fixed pedals can lead to foot numbness and fatigue. If you plan to log many elliptical machine hours, upgrade to a pivoting pedal.
Programs Types: Another big differentitiator, every manufacturer claims to have the perfect blend of program types to achieve optimal results. Obviously, higher end machines offer more programs and increased variety. You should really think of more programs in terms of keeping your workouts interesting. More programs means a smaller chance of getting bored during workouts. Here’s how elliptical trainer programs breakout:
- (Basic) Manual Programs: Every elliptical machine will offer manual programs. The concept is simple, do what you want, at the intensity level you want, for as long as you want. Simple.
- Target Elliptical workout programs: Target programs focus on establishing goals around Distance, Time or Calories. You can customize your workout based on these parameters by either selecting a preset option or entering in your own custom goal.
- Interval Programs: Interval training programs offer highly sophisticated of structured training to achieve desired athletic result. Interval programs alternate between high-intensity periods with periods of cool-down. Interval programs are generally preset but can also be adjusted at will.
- Fat Burning Programs: Longer periods of exercise at lower intensity levels help burn fat. These programs are very common and sought after by most users looking to loose weight.
- Endurance Programs: The goal here is to gain stamina and endurance programs are preset to warm up your body and then ramp intentisity.
- Heart Rate Control Programs: Maximum target heart rates are calculated by the machine using different parameters such as sex, age, height. Workouts are then designed to best meet those requirements. Think of it as a personal trainer built into your elliptical trainer. Even though most of these workout are preset, they can still be overiden or customized at any time.
Display Systems: In this iPhone world, sky appears to be the limit when it comes to elliptical trainer visual displays. At its core, you need an interface which is easy to use and view. Options abound, Cross Trainer displays can be broken down into the following categories:
- LCD Display: Know as liquid crystal displays, this technology has been around for a long time. LCD displays are very energy efficient and can be viewed at all viewing angles and under most ambient light conditions. LCD displays are very stable and reliable.
- LED Display: Commonly found in alarm clocks, this is technology requires more energy than LCD’s.
- Touch Screens: The biggest change in displays over the last 5 years can be found in touch screen technology. Touch screens offer unlimited flexibility a can be found on higher end machines.
- Static Screens: Found on low end models allow basic control of cross trainer functionality with minimal interaction. Flexibility is restricted.
Stride Length: Shorter users will find most elliptical trainer strides lengths adequate. Taller user should consider machines offering larger stride lengths. Length ranges by model and generally can range anywhere from 16” – 26” in length. Most elliptical trainers offer “Fixed” stride types so make sure fixed length is a happy medium for all potential elliptical users. For households with multiple users consider machines offering Adjustable stride lengths.
Frame: Most elliptical trainer frames are constructed from steel or aluminum. Higher end models will consist of more welded joints (Connections) whereas less expensive machines will have more bolts connecting separate pieces. Welding is more expensive and will reflect in pricing with higher end models. Welded frames will be more rigid and offer added longevity to your investment. If you are heavier user or intend to put down many hours on your machine, opt for higher end models with welded components. Smaller models are easier to move and generally weight less but they are prone to more movement during workouts. If you focus on intense workouts or weigh over 250lbs, consider purchasing a heavier elliptical machine with a wider base.
Price: As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Many factors play into elliptical trainer pricing, including: Brand Name, Display Features, Program Settings, Resistance Levels, Heart Rate Monitors, Max Capacity, Stride Length, Warranties along with Other added features. If you are serious about working out and wish to buy a quality machine, expect to pay around $1,000 and up. Pricing ranges from about $200 on the low end to $6,000 for Top of the Line models.