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An elliptical trainer is a stationary exercise machine. A person uses an elliptical by placing their feet on platforms and moving them forward or backward in an elongated circle or gliding motion. Elliptical machines are available at most fitness centers, but people can also purchase them to use at home.

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For people with certain fitness goals, an elliptical trainer can play a valuable role in a home workout regimen. For instance, using an elliptical can help burn calories for those trying to lose weight or maintain their weight. It can also provide an excellent aerobic workout to boost cardiovascular capacity.

An elliptical may also be a good choice for someone who is recovering from injury or needs to avoid high impact exercises, as it does not put pressure on the arms, knees, hips, and ankles. For home workouts, an elliptical is also a good cross-training option. For example, a runner may benefit from using an elliptical for a low impact workout if they wish to rest their joints.

There are pros and cons to using ellipticals for home workouts.


  • Low impact: An elliptical machine puts less stress on the knees and hips than other forms of cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging. Research from 2016 found that the vertical impact during running is about 2.5–2.8 times a person’s body weight.
  • Suitable for rehab after an injury: In a 2014 study, researchers compared the weight-bearing distribution of ground walking, ground jogging, treadmill jogging, and elliptical exercise. They found that elliptical training reduced weight bearing compared with other activities, which could benefit people returning to activity after injury or leg surgery.
  • Work the arms and legs: The elliptical motion allows the user to work not only the legs but also several other muscles. Moving both the arms and legs can increase the number of calories burned per workout. The muscles that the elliptical works include:
    • hamstrings
    • quadriceps
    • calves
    • biceps
    • triceps
    • back
    • deltoids (shoulders)


  • Less effective for strengthening: While lower impact exercises like using an elliptical machine can put less pressure on the knees and joints, weight-bearing exercises can help strengthen the bones and build muscle. Using an elliptical machine may be less effective in achieving these outcomes.
  • May cause numb feet: Some people may experience numb feet after using the elliptical for several minutes. The repetitive motion when using the machine can place some pressure on the feet, reducing blood flow and leading to numbness.
  • May feel unnatural: To some, the motion that moves the elliptical trainer may feel unusual. Using the upper body while simultaneously using the lower body may feel awkward at first.

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Size and capacity: MNT selects products to suit people of different heights, weights, and strength.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If setup is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a setup or installation service.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and that offer reliable customer service and support.

Below are some of the elliptical machines currently available on the market.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best for a foldable machine: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

  • List price: $1,499
  • Tracking abilities: calories, time lapsed, cadence, and watts
  • Resistance levels: 24 resistance levels
  • Incline: 10% incline
  • Pros: offers thousands of streamed workouts with an iFIT membership
  • Cons: an iFIT membership is necessary to access workouts

NordicTrack makes several types of home exercise machines, including the SE9i elliptical.

This machine folds vertically to save space. It has padded foot pedals to reduce impact and a fan to keep a person cool when working out. The trainer has a 350-pound (lb) maximum user weight.

The SE9i also offers 24 resistance levels and comes with 10% incline-matching technology. It also has a 7-inch touch screen console that connects to iFit — a membership-based interactive personal training and fitness experience offering thousands of streamed workouts.

The NordicTrack SE9i has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 78.7 inches (in)
  • Width: 31.9 in
  • Height: 66.4 in
  • Boxed weight: 218 lb

The product comes with a 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year parts warranty, and a 1-year labor warranty.

Best for heart rate tracking: Sole E25

  • List price: $1,799.99
  • Tracking abilities: heart rate tracking and additional tracking with a subscription
  • Resistance levels: 20 resistance levels
  • Incline: 20 incline levels
  • Pros: has an integrated heart rate tracking feature
  • Cons: people must purchase a Studio subscription to access all tracking features

The Sole E25 has 20 resistance levels for a varied workout.

The company states that physical therapists designed the foot pedals to decrease strain on the ankle, hips, and knees. It has a 350-lb maximum user weight.

The E25 has 20 incline levels and a power incline feature that provides additional resistance. The stationary handles include built-in pulse sensors for monitoring heart rate.

The latest model of the E25 comes with an integrated tablet holder with a USB port and Bluetooth audio speakers.

The machine includes a cooling fan, Bluetooth speakers, and a water bottle holder to ensure that a person can maintain sufficient hydration throughout their workout.

The Sole E25 has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 70 in
  • Width: 24 in
  • Height: 71 in
  • Item weight: 212 lb

Sole Fitness provides a lifetime frame warranty, a 3-year electronics and parts warranty, and a 1-year labor warranty.

Best for customizable programs: Nautilus E618

  • List price: around $1,130
  • Tracking abilities: distance, calories, and heart rate
  • Resistance levels: 25 resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: offers 29 customizable programs
  • Cons: some reviewers state it is difficult to assemble the machine

The Nautilus E618 has 25 resistance levels, and users can customize 29 programs, with the tracking system displaying details such as distance and calories.

The machine has a cooling fan, a shelf for a tablet, and adjustable foot pedals that allow a person to get the best possible heel support. The maximum user weight is 350 lb.

The elliptical has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 51.2 in
  • Width: 22 in
  • Height: 34.3 in
  • Assembled weight: 231 lb

The Nautilus E618 comes with a 15-year frame warranty, 5-year parts warranty, 5-year electrical warranty, 15-year motor warranty, and 2-year labor warranty.

Best for a stepper elliptical: Bowflex Max Trainer M9

  • List price: $1,999
  • Tracking abilities: time lapsed, calories, burn rate, heart rate, and rotations per minute (RPM)
  • Resistance levels: 20 resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: people can use this machine as a stepper or an elliptical
  • Cons: people must purchase a JRNY membership to unlock all features

The M9’s design combines the motions of a stepper and an elliptical trainer and allows different handlebar positions.

The machine has a 10-in touch screen console and 20 resistance levels. The maximum user weight is 300 lb.

The M9 has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 49 in
  • Width: 30.5 in
  • Height: 65.5 in
  • Assembled weight: 148.8 lb

The Bowflex Max Trainer M9 comes with a 3-year frame and parts warranty and a 90-day labor warranty.

Best for working: DeskCycle Under Desk Elliptical Machine

  • List price: around $259
  • Tracking abilities: RPM, time lapsed, and calories
  • Resistance levels: eight resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: compact and suitable for use while sitting down
  • Cons: some reviewers state it is noisy

This elliptical fits underneath a desk and people can use it while sitting down. It features eight resistance levels.

People can track their fitness metrics on the elliptical’s LCD screen. The screen is removable so people can place it on a table for easier viewing.

The DeskCycle has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 23 in
  • Width: 18 in
  • Height: 10 in

People can add a 2-year protection plan for around $25.

Best for HIIT workouts: Body Power Step Trac Elliptical

  • List price: around $450
  • Tracking abilities: time lapsed, speed, distance, and calories
  • Resistance levels: eight resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: ergonomic crank to adjust resistance levels
  • Cons: does not offer competitive warranties

This two-in-one elliptical machine and stair stepper uses curve-crank technology to build constant tension and efficient motion for optimal cardio workouts. An ergonomic crank allows users to adjust resistance levels mid-workout.

The elliptical also features an LCD screen that shows time, speed, distance, and calories burned.

The Body Power Step Trac has the following dimensions:

  • Width: 24 in
  • Height: 62 in
  • Assembled weight: 250 lb

The Body Power has a 1-year warranty for the frame and a 90-day warranty for all parts.

Best for multiple workout programs: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3912 Elliptical

  • List price: around $480
  • Tracking abilities: speed, time, distance, calories, and RPM
  • Resistance levels: 16 levels of programmable resistance
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: 24 workout modes
  • Cons: some reviewers state it is squeaky when in use

This elliptical features 16 levels of programmable magnetic resistance and a belt-driven mechanism for smooth strides.

The elliptical has 24 different workout programs, such as manual, heart rate, body fat, and customizable.

The Body Power Step Trac Elliptical has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 55 in
  • Width: 23 in
  • Height: 64.5 in
  • Assembled weight: 104.8 lb

Sunny Health & Fitness offers a 3-year structural and frame warranty and a 180-day parts and components warranty.

Best for Bluetooth connectivity: Schwinn Fitness 470

  • List price: around $1,299
  • Tracking abilities: calories, heart rate, time, speed, and distance
  • Resistance levels: 25 resistance levels
  • Incline: 10 degrees
  • Pros: comes with 29 workout programs
  • Cons: some reviewers state it is difficult to assemble

The Schwinn Fitness 470 has 25 resistance levels and an adjustable ramp with incline control so users can adjust the intensity of their workouts. The Schwinn allows users to track calories burned, heart rate, time, speed, and distance.

This elliptical features 29 different workout programs and also comes with Bluetooth so users can track progress with app-based tools such as MyFitnessPal and Explore the World.

The Schwinn 470 has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 63.2 in
  • Width: 28.2 in
  • Height: 70.1 in
  • Assembled weight: 186 lb

The Schwinn Fitness 470 comes with a 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year parts warranty, a 1-year electronics warranty, and a 90-day labor warranty.

Best for on- and off-elliptical workouts: ProForm Carbon EL

  • List price: $799
  • Tracking abilities: watts, calories, time, and distance
  • Resistance levels: 18 resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: offers workouts for both on and off the elliptical
  • Cons: requires an iFIT membership to unlock all features

This elliptical features adjustable resistance and Bluetooth connectivity. It has oversized pedals and a 19-inch adjustable stride. It also comes with dual speakers and a tablet holder.

Users can track their power output, calories burned, time, and distance.

People who purchase an iFIT membership can access simulated outdoor workouts and an extensive library of on-demand classes. These classes also offer exercises people can perform off the elliptical.

The ProForm has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 68.5 in
  • Width: 25 in
  • Height: 67.75 in
  • Assembled weight: 250 lb

The ProForm comes with a 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year mechanical parts warranty, a 1-year electronics warranty, and a 90-day labor warranty.

Best for smaller spaces: Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

  • List price: around $550
  • Tracking abilities: heart rate, distance, speed, time, and calories
  • Resistance levels: 16 resistance levels
  • Incline: no information available
  • Pros: compact for smaller spaces
  • Cons: no adjustable incline

This elliptical features a compact design, 16 resistance levels, and heart rate tracking. While it does not come with a touch screen, it has a device holder to allow people to stream media.

The machine has a console that shows a person’s fitness metrics such as calories burned.

The Schwinn 411 has the following dimensions:

  • Length: 53 in
  • Width: 23 in
  • Height: 68 in

The Schwinn 411 comes with a 10-year frame, 2-year mechanical parts, 1-year electronics, and a 90-day labor warranty.

The following table compares the ellipticals in this article.

List priceTrackingResistance levelsIncline
NordicTrack SpaceSaver$1,499• calories
• time lapsed
• cadence
• watts
Sole E25$1,799.99 • heart rate
• additional tracking with Studio subscription
2020 levels
Nautilus E618around $1,130• distance
• calories
• heart rate
25no information available
Bowflex Max Trainer$1,999• time lapsed
• calories
• burn rate
• heart rate
20no information available
DeskCyclearound $259• RPM
• time lapsed
• calories
8no information available
Body Poweraround $450• time lapsed
• speed
• distance
• calories
8no information available
Sunny Health & Fitnessaround $480• speed
• time
• distance
• calories
16no information available
Schwinn Fitnessaround $1,299• calories
• heart rate
• time
• speed
• distance
2510 degrees
Proform Carbon$799• watts
• calories
• time
• distance
18no information available
Schwinn 411around $550• heart rate
• distance
• speed
• time
• calories
16 no information available

Everyone has different needs when looking for the best elliptical for home use. Some people may need something that takes up minimal space, whereas others may consider the cost to be the most important aspect. However, general factors to keep in mind include:

  • Hand placement: Some machines offer two hand placement options. These allow a person to choose between using moveable handles to engage the upper body and holding onto stationary handles for balance.
  • The number of programs: The number of preloaded programs varies among different elliptical machines. For instance, some elliptical machines offer programs that include intervals, hills, or a steady climb.
  • Incline and resistance level: Some trainers have a control panel that allows a person to change between several incline and resistance levels.
  • Stride length: Stride length will typically differ for each person, depending on their height, so an adjustable stride length could be a useful feature.
  • Tracking ability: Certain elliptical machines track a range of metrics, such as distance, heart rate, and calories burned, and display them on an LCD screen.
  • App connectivity: Some ellipticals link with fitness apps that can track progress over time or connect the user to an online community, personal trainer, or training program.

As with any exercise equipment, an elliptical machine carries some risk of injury. People can take certain precautions, such as:

  • maintaining good posture, including keeping a straight back and a tight core
  • making sure that the feet are securely in place on the foot pedals
  • holding on to the handles to maintain balance
  • ensuring that the elliptical is well-balanced and on a stable surface
  • starting slowly and gradually increasing the resistance, intensity, and duration of the workout

Are home ellipticals worth it?

Home elliptical machines offer a combination of low impact cardio and strength training. People may find that these machines are cheaper in the long term than paying for a gym subscription and any traveling costs to and from gyms.

Some machines also offer on-demand and live studio classes, increasing the benefits a person may gain from exercising at home.

What are the benefits of using a home elliptical?

These machines provide low impact cardio exercise at home. Most ellipticals offer fitness metric trackings, such as calories burned and distance, and some machines may offer on-demand and live classes.

Are home ellipticals safe?

It is possible to become injured during any exercise. People may sprain muscles or injure themselves by falling off machines.

However, ellipticals offer low impact cardio workouts that minimize strain on the joints. As long as a person follows all safety instructions from the manufacturer, the risk of injury is minimal.

An elliptical trainer provides a complete, low impact cardiovascular workout. When choosing a machine for home use, a person should consider how much space they have for it. They can also compare the features of different machines and check for the option to adjust the resistance levels and stride length.

Using an elliptical trainer has pros and cons. It can be a good choice for post-rehabilitation exercise after an injury or surgery but may be less helpful for bone strengthening.