We all want to improve our fitness for one reason or another. Perhaps you feel that you’re starting to settle into a lifestyle that is too sedentary, or you want to shed a few pounds to feel better about your body.
Perhaps fitness is one factor that will positively affect your health either now or in the future. Or maybe you simply want to set a good example to those around you.
Whatever your reason for wanting to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle, the fact remains that choosing how to accomplish that can be confusing, to say the least.
If you’re concerned about your joint health either because of your age, a medical condition, or because you are recovering from an injury then it can be hard to know what sort of exercises would help your fitness levels and general health without putting strain on your joints.
If you are a beginner and aren’t used to vigorous exercise then you wouldn’t want to commit to something that is beyond your capabilities to start with.
Also, you would want to do something that makes you feel good and confident in yourself or the reasons why you haven’t regularly exercised up until now might take your time over again if you feel silly or embarrassed.
If you’re looking for a full-body workout system that delivers results without being high-impact on your joints then you need to look no further than the elliptical.
They’ve been around for a while now in gyms and they are one of the most popular pieces of equipment in that setting. Now we see them as a staple part of home gyms very frequently too, so if you haven’t got one, you should definitely consider it.
The Home Gym Struggle
We have found that home workout equipment is becoming a more frequent purchase in recent years.
Possibly because during the height of the pandemic, people became accustomed to working from home and many workplaces now encourage working remotely or hybrid work systems in which their employees work from home part of the time and travel to the office for the other half.
If people aren’t physically leaving their houses to go to work half as much as they typically used to, then hitting the gym on the way home or before work, is no longer as convenient.
Time constraints aren’t getting any better with modern life, so having exercise equipment in your own home can save a substantial amount of time if your nearest gym or fitness facility isn’t just over the road.
The biggest problem with choosing to work out at home over making a trip to a dedicated gym is that you probably don’t have the floor space and funds to kit out your house with the same range of equipment that you might see in a typical gym.
You have to prioritize which key pieced you will use the most and balance that with the costs of buying them and the space they take up.
For many years people considered a fitness DVD or two as a reliable home gym equivalent, but the majority of people struggled to stay consistent with a workout regimen if they got bored and felt their workouts were repetitive.
Accountability is a big issue in home workouts too. It’s like dusting up high in the house where no one can see. You could just not do it, say you did, and no one will ever know.
For this reason, some people find it’s more effective to invest in something that will force them to make use of it. This could be a new pair of workout pants or trainers, a fitness tracker watch, or something bigger that will force you to notice it and make use of it like a new piece of fitness equipment.
Now, we’re not into this whole consumerism mentality that the western world still seems to be into. We don’t believe in buying things that we don’t need, but sometimes investing in yourself is what it takes to make a real change for good and that’s what you want, right?
You want to live in a healthier way, be responsible for your own health and wellbeing, and you want to do it in the comfort of your home where there are no judgmental eyes.
If this is you, then male, female, or other; old, young, or somewhere in between, the elliptical is for you.
If you can make room for only one big piece of fitness equipment in your home, make it an elliptical or cross trainer because that’s all you’ll ever need for a cardio, strength, and full-body home workout.
What Is An Elliptical?
An elliptical or cross-trainer is a piece of popular fitness equipment used to improve health through combining cardio exercise with strength training.
Ellipticals come in many shapes and sizes but they all have in common the fact that you hold two handles or bars and place your feet on the footholds. Then you walk, climb or run on it depending on the kind of workout you want that day.
In other words, it is sort of like a bike, but you stand up straight, and they don’t typically offer a seat.
Ellipticals are often called cross-trainers because they train across two completely separate muscle groups at the same time.
As you walk on the elliptical the handles will also move, so to make it easier on the legs you can engage your biceps and pull with your arms more or you can give your arms a rest and engage your thighs more.
That’s is why they provide a real full-body workout that saves time. They are typically very good at burning calories because of their multi-functional design.
Imagine that you are burning the same amount of calories as you would if you spent a similar amount of time on a treadmill or an exercise bike but you are also getting the benefits and calorie burn of doing curls with hand weights on top of that.
They are popular in gyms because they are so efficient at working all areas of the body while burning serious amounts of calories.
Some elliptical trainers have adjustable incline heights and resistance levels so there are plenty of options to explore. It’s completely possible for you to experience two entirely different workouts on the same elliptical on different days.
One day you may decide that cardio is the aim of the game and the next day you might decide to amp up the resistance and get toning those muscles. The choice is yours, but it’s pretty safe to say that this is one piece of fitness equipment that won’t let you get bored easily.
Why Are Ellipticals So Good for Fitness?
Ellipticals have a well-earned reputation as one of the best pieces of fitness equipment ever invented, but what are they actually good for?
Everyone has a different reason for engaging with a fitness regime so you’ll want to be sure this item is aligned with your goals before you fork out any money for one. Here’s how Ellipticals can benefit you:
Cardio refers to working your cardiovascular system which essentially means your heart. Regularly getting your heart rate up has been proven to benefit coronary health and reduce the risk of certain diseases later in life.
If your long-term health is a priority then regularly engaging in cardio exercise is a must.
Ellipticals are extremely efficient at burning high numbers of calories in a short amount of time. This is primarily because you are actively working several muscle groups at once.
You could burn the same calories as you would on an elliptical if you spend the same amount of time on an exercise bike and then the same time again doing static presses or curls with a set of medium to light hand weights.
If you want to burn calories and work several muscles simultaneously then the cross trainer will be ideal for you.
We would hazard a guess that this is one of the most common reasons to implement a new exercise routine. Plenty of Americans want to lose a few pounds but aren’t really sure how to go about it.
The basic science of weight loss is that if you consistently burn more calories than you eat, you will lose some weight over time. Severe diet restriction isn’t much fun, so it’s best to combine a healthy diet with some form of exercise to help burn some extra calories on top of the ones your body uses to power your body each day.
As we have said, the Elliptical is super-efficient at burning those calories.
Ellipticals are known as low-impact which does not imply they don’t have an impact on your body, they do. What the term ‘low-impact’ means is that they do not put stress on your joints in the same way as comparative exercises do.
Running on a treadmill sends repetitive blows of impact each time you put a foot down. The impact travels upwards through the leg which can damage your ankles, knees, and hips. If joint health is a consideration for you then we advise you to pay attention.
Ellipticals work in the same way as bikes in that they operate through continuous circular motions. This means that there is no stress on the joints as you move because the cycle is continuous.
There are no jerky movements or sudden stops involved in this method of exercise so it is gentle on the bones, ligaments, and joints of the whole body.
Toning And Strength
Ellipticals aren’t just great for cardio fitness, they also include an element of strength training that can help achieve toned arms, shoulders, back, and chest areas as well as working all the leg muscles too.
We mentioned before that you can adjust the resistance of most ellipticals. This controls how hard you’ll have to work your muscles to operate the machine.
If you want to build up your strength then you can turn up the resistance and the incline if that’s an option and go for a tough uphill cycle or climb that your glutes will definitely feel in the morning.
How Much Do Ellipticals Cost?
This can vary a lot as with most types of fitness equipment. Commercial ellipticals for gyms probably start around the $3000 mark and go up from there.
Don’t despair though, because there are plenty of less complicated and less bulky models on the market designed for home use. These can start from around $150 and go up to over a thousand.
We’re focusing on some of the more budget-friendly options out there right now, so you know where you can find a quality piece of workout equipment that can deliver a full-body, varied workout at home, at any time.
Here are some of our top picks:
Last update on 2022-10-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best Budget Elliptical Trainer: Marcy Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
This basic elliptical is available at a little over the $200 mark. That is some serious value but it still has some fancy features you can play with.
Featuring eight resistance levels and a battery-powered LCD screen display, it’s got a lot of the features of a much higher-end product.
The display allows you to keep track of the time you’ve been working out, how far you’ve virtually traveled, and the number of calories you have burned each session. It also comes with a 2-year limited warranty from the manufacturer so that gives you peace of mind.
- 300 lbs user weight limit
- Wheels assist in its transportation
- 8 levels of resistance
- Track time, distance, speed, and calorie burn with the display
- Easy to operate
- 2- year warranty
- The machine weighs in at a light 77lbs
- No incline or height adjustments
- No heart rate tracker
This Elliptical is a great choice if you’re pinching pennies but still want a product that will work and will last without all the bells and whistles of the higher-priced items.
Best Elliptical For Beginners: Horizon Fitness EX-59
This is a pretty reasonable price if you look at the included features. If you are new to working out on an elliptical or working out period, then you’ll want a machine that’s going to guide you through it and help you find the most effective workout options for you.
This horizon elliptical has ten resistance levels that you can access from the main console, not a rudimentary knob you have to reach down for mid-workout.
You can also benefit from the six pre-set workouts which will automatically adjust the resistance levels throughout a timed workout.
This will help introduce you to different ways of using the elliptical and help you get to grips with the benefits of interval training where you space periods of working out vigorously with periods of more gentle recovery.
This can really help with calorie burn rate too, so it’s worth investigating in our opinion.
- 300 lbs user weight limit
- Inbuilt console and Bluetooth speakers
- 10 levels of resistance, controlled from the console
- Track time, distance, speed, heart rate, and calorie burn with the inbuilt console
- 30 minute or less setup and user friendly
- 1- year warranty but lifetime frame warranty and warranty boosts are available at extra cost
- 6 pre-set workouts that are ready to go
- No incline or height adjustments
- A non-portable 145 lbs weight measurement for the machine
If you are looking for an easy-to-use elliptical with a great range of features, then Horizon can deliver. You can get financing options through their website to help with the cost, and there are also options for it to be professionally assembled at your home should you wish.
Buy on the Horizon website
Best Mid-Range Priced Elliptical: Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic SF E3912
Sunny is known as a budget fitness company, but that isn’t always a bad thing.
This is one of their more advanced ellipticals and its features include sixteen levels of resistance, a 330 lb user weight capacity, and a great selection of 24 inbuilt workouts to make your fitness goals easily attainable without having to think too hard about it.
This elliptical sells for around the $500 mark and it has some great features for that price.
- 330 lbs user weight limit
- Inbuilt performance monitor
- 16 levels of resistance, controlled from the console
- Track time, distance, speed, heart rate, RPM, and calorie burn with the inbuilt console
- 24 pre-set workouts that are ready when you are
- Transport wheels
- No incline or height adjustments
- Customers say it is not the most durable item on the market.
- 3-year frame warranty but only 180 days for parts and components.
This has excellent performance tracking features for a reasonably priced motorized elliptical but buy with caution as the standard warranty is not up to scratch with the industry standard.
You can get an extended warranty for an additional cost and we suggest you do so, given some of the complaints about product durability online.
Best Top End Elliptical: Horizon 7.0 AE Elliptical
This is our favorite because it has something that none of the others does and fits just inside our designated price range. It has adjustable incline heights and twenty of them!
That’s a great feature if you are serious about a multi-faceted workout because nothing works those glutes like a stiff jog uphill and since the glutes are known to be the biggest muscle in the body that matters if you’re trying to burn calories.
The bigger the muscle, the more it can burn, at least in theory.
If you’re interested in joining the latest fitness craze with the likes of Peloton and similar apps offering online classes where you can measure your performance against others in real time then listen to this.
The 7.0 AE is able to sync and connect with many fitness apps so you don’t have to work out on your own. You can virtually join others as they work out from their homes too.
This elliptical also features Bluetooth speakers and twenty levels of resistance. This really is a one-stop shop for all your fitness needs. It has an adjustable device holder with a charging port so you can charge your phone or tablet as you get rid of your energy.
- 325 lbs user weight limit
- Inbuilt performance monitor with 7” screen, device holder, and charging port
- 20 levels of resistance, controlled from the console
- Track time, distance, speed, heart rate, incline, calorie burn, and fat burn with the inbuilt console
- Too many pre-set workouts options to count. You can connect to their free app for on-demand custom workouts as well as connect
- the elliptical to one of the many fitness apps it is compatible with
- Built-in fan
- Built-in Bluetooth Speakers and Fitness app compatible
- Lifetime frame and brake warranty, 1-year flywheel, and 3-year parts
- Apart from price, nothing
If you have the money to spend on a piece of fitness equipment, you couldn’t hope to find one with more versatile options for a varied and effective workout than this elliptical.
It is rare to find a good elliptical trainer for under $1000 with variable incline options, especially ones that are controlled from the console.
Some less advanced options will boast adjustable incline levels but you have to break your stride in order to change them manually. That’s a waste of some good workout time, we think.
The Horizon 7.0 AE has got pretty much everything you could ask for in a home workout machine and with so many options to connect it to you don’t need to ever do the same exact workout twice, which is great if you get bored with the same workout routine as we do.
This will ensure you never get bored and you’ll be smashing your fitness goals in no time at all.
Buy on the Horizon website
In our experience, there is no greater piece of home gym equipment than an elliptical. Weights are just as bulky but don’t offer cardio benefits.
Treadmills are good for cardio but not for toning and they will put much more stress on the joints. An exercise bike will give you the same cardio element, but no toning or strengthening options.
The elliptical really is the king of the workout world as far as we’re concerned. Even if you just want a budget model with basic features, you can still get the benefits of combined cardio and strength training as long as it has reliable, adjustable tension resistance levels.
You may even be able to find a model which folds up for compact storage, so there are options out there for every budget and every space if you look.