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Which elliptical machine is best?

Looking for a low-impact workout that will you help burn calories fast? An elliptical machine is your best option. They have a smooth, gliding motion that’s easy on the joints while engaging the entire body, and are often considered the friendliest exercise machines because they can be used by individuals of all ages and fitness levels.

The best elliptical is the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 for its studio-quality build and live interactive training. 

Is an elliptical machine right for you?

Low-impact workouts

Treadmills and exercise bikes offer low-impact workouts like ellipticals, though using them can be hard on the joints. Instead, elliptical machines allow you to move in a smooth, gliding motion without putting a lot of pressure on your knees, hips and back.

Many people prefer elliptical machines because they engage the arms more than treadmills and some exercise bikes. As a result, they offer a true total-body workout for all major muscle groups.

Types of elliptical machines 

Elliptical machines are divided into three groups based on their flywheel placement.

  • Front-drive ellipticals have a flywheel at the front. They’re compact and affordable. Some front-drive ellipticals even offer up-and-down pedaling to function similarly to stair climbers.
  • Rear-drive ellipticals have the flywheel located at the back. They offer a natural, balanced stride. These tend to be the most expensive, though they’re considered more durable than other designs.
  • Center-drive ellipticals have flywheels located on both sides. They’re considered durable and offer a natural range of motion, though they rarely have incline options. 

Size of an elliptical machine

Like other home exercise machines, elliptical machines take up considerable floor space. Before you buy one, measure the area where you intend to set it up.

It’s not enough to cross-reference measurements with the elliptical’s dimensions. You’ll also need to account for overhead clearance, as ellipticals’ average step-up height is 12 to 14 inches. If you have low ceilings, make sure to have a clearing of the tallest person’s height plus 18 inches to use the elliptical safely.

What to look for in a quality elliptical machine


The beauty of elliptical machines is that they offer customized workouts. They’re equipped with adjustable features to accommodate users of all ages, sizes and fitness levels. You can get a low-impact full-body workout or a high-impact exercise to build strength.

Various programs increase in difficulty when they increase in resistance, incline or both. Some ellipticals offer adjustable handle and pedal positioning to help you create an ergonomic configuration to facilitate a smooth range of motion.

Stride length

If the elliptical machine is to be used by numerous people, consider one with variable stride length. 

Users up to 5-foot-3, for example, are best served by stride lengths of  16 to 18 inches. Those who are up to 5-foot-7 should use a stride length of 18 to 20 inches. Individuals taller than 5-foot-7 usually require a stride length of 22 inches or greater.


Basic elliptical machines have a simple digital display that shows resistance, incline, program progress and heart rate. More advanced models have smart touchscreen displays that provide a wealth of information, including target zones, best times and real-time stats from live or on-demand workouts. 

High-tech features

Premium elliptical machines have high-tech features such as Bluetooth connectivity. They integrate seamlessly with smartphones and fitness trackers to help users stay on top of their health and fitness.

Some of the most expensive ellipticals have built-in smart touchscreens that access fitness apps such as iFit or Explore the World. Workouts are either live or on-demand. Access to these apps typically requires a subscription.

Cost of an elliptical machine

Entry-level elliptical machines without high-tech features cost $1,000 or less. Those priced closer to $1,500 are usually better-quality and have more program features, while high-end, high-tech ellipticals can cost over $2,500.

Elliptical machine FAQ

How do I clean an elliptical machine?

A. You can use an alcohol-based cleaner to wipe down the elliptical. There also are antibacterial wipes specially made for cleaning fitness equipment. Certain elliptical manufacturers even sell their own line of equipment cleaning products.

Do elliptical machines have weight limits?

A. Yes. This information is typically detailed in the instruction manual. Many entry-level elliptical machines have weight limits of 250 pounds, whereas higher-quality models range from 350 to 600 pounds. 

The best elliptical machines

Top elliptical machine

Best NordicTrack Commercial 149

NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

What you need to know: This high-end model with live interactive classes is ideal for fitness enthusiasts seeking a studio workout experience.

What you’ll love: You can enjoy live training classes via iFit on the 14-inch touchscreen. You’ll see easy-to-track workout stats during sessions. It’s equipped with 24 resistance levels and can reach a 20% incline. It gets bonus points for adjustable stride length. 

What you should consider: It has rather a large footprint, and there’s an ongoing cost for iFit access. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top elliptical machine for the money

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

What you need to know: Its portability and foldable design mean this elliptical remains a favorite for those with limited space.

What you’ll love: It operates more quietly than other ellipticals and has a dock for devices to stream iFit workouts. The display features essential information and integrates with Bluetooth devices such as fitness trackers and smartphones.

What you should consider: It’s somewhat heavy, though this doesn’t affect its portability.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Nautilus E618 Elliptical

Nautilus E618 Elliptical

What you need to know:  This well-built elliptical with a user-friendly design features 29 programs.

What you’ll love: It’s equipped with multi-position handlebars for an ergonomic design and compatible with Bluetooth devices. Users enjoy the Suspension Adjust system for comfortable foot positioning. 

What you should consider: Some reports suggest that devices and water bottles can affect readings. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Sian Babish writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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