Elliptical Machine Buying Guide: What to Look for?

Elliptical machines provide you a great cardiovascular exercise without causing much stress on the joints and the leg muscles caused by other workouts like cycling and squats.

These Elliptical machines use an elliptical shape motion to workout your lower body. Most of these machines come with a dual-motion feature.

This means, there’ll also be a set of motion handlebars that allow you to workout your upper body alongside the lower body.

The Elliptical machines also come with the ability to change the resistance at which you workout. You can workout at any intensity you wish by manually setting the resistance.

Some of these machines also come with preloaded programs for you to workout.

The heavier flywheel and a good resistance system in the Elliptical machine provides a smoother workout.

Let us discuss some of the aspects you need to consider before getting a good Elliptical machine for your workouts.

Elliptical Machines – Buyer’s Guide

Space and Flywheel


The first factor you need to consider before buying an Elliptical machine is the size. Typical Elliptical machines take a large amount of space when placed in your home or an apartment.

If you necessarily need a potentially smaller elliptical, you need to take a second look at the flywheel.

Typically in case of Elliptical machines, the flywheel comes with front-mounted, middle-mounted or rear-mounted.

When the flywheel of the Elliptical machine is rear mounted, it typically takes a large amount of space which is a big NO when it comes to apartments or a condo. But, traditionally the rear drive machines are easier to maintain and are durable.

If you are looking for a compact Elliptical machine, you need to go for a machine that has middle or front mounted flywheel and is preferably foldable.

Nevertheless, you need to go for machines with heavier flywheels to get you a smooth ride.

Here we have a video that shows tips and tricks for elliptical workouts.

Elliptical Workout Tips & Tricks | Fitness How To



Pedals are the important components when it comes to the comfort your Elliptical machine has got to offer you.

Pedals should be as close as possible to simulate a natural walking or jogging motion. If the distance between the pedals is inappropriate and keeps your legs in uncomfortable position, you may harm your legs with improper workouts.

If you are looking to make the most use of an Elliptical machine, you need to make sure that the pedals come with straps for you to easily slip in your shoes for a secure workout at a fast pace.

Some high-end ellipticals come with options to adjust incline or the stride length. Stride length refers to the length between the front and back of the trainer. The longer stride lengths are not suitable for taller people.

Typically, in case of low-end Elliptical machines, the pedals are fixed. If one pedal moves the opposite pedal moves accordingly. High-end Elliptical machines come with pedals that pivot to your natural riding motion, which provides you a realistic natural workout like that of walking or jogging.

How Good is Resistance?

For more challenging workouts, almost all the Elliptical trainers come with some sort of resistance mechanism. The most common are mechanical resistance and magnetic resistance (Eddy current brake).

For more durability, the trainers with magnetic resistance are more preferred.

In case of the magnetic resistance, there will be no parts that witness wear and tear. There will be only three parts – a motor, the magnets, the circuit board that signals when to move the magnets, and also the actual magnets that create resistance to the flywheel motion through the magnetic field.

In the case of magnetic resistance, you can adjust the resistance in the console by pressing buttons or touching the screen.

In mechanical resistance, there will be a rubber pad that rubs against the flywheel to create resistance to the motion of the flywheel. You’ll be provided a tension knob which you need to use to adjust the resistance.

Are Handlebars Positioned Well?


Almost all the Elliptical trainers come with a moving handlebar to offer you a good upper body workout.

The distance of the handlebars should be ideal from your striding position. The handlebars should be easily reachable to your hands so that you don’t have to lean forward to reach them.

While striding, you need to maintain a perfectly upright posture of your body. The position of the handlebar should cooperate with you in this regard. Or else, you may end up not using the trainer at all.

Most of the high-end trainers come with multiple hand grips for you to hold the hands on different handles providing you the flexibility of where you place your hands.

The heart rate monitoring sensors are also located on the handlebars that allow you to measure your heart rate when you place your hands on them.

However, while choosing a trainer you need to make sure that the handlebars are not very large so that they contribute a lot to the machine’s overall footprint and will be difficult to store.

What About Console and Accessories?


Many Ellipticals also feature LCD display. SOme have a backlit display, and some don’t have a backlit display. If you are planning to use the machine in bright sunlight having a backlit display is a no-brainer.

The high-end trainers come with an LCD screen of size around 10 inches. Whereas, most of the regular home ellipticals come with a screen size of 5-7 inches.

The console also comes with accessories like water bottle holder, accessories holder, fan, and much more.

Some also come with built-in speakers for you to plug in your multimedia device to listen to your favorite songs while working out.

Along with the display of basic data like distance, calories burnt, the number of strides, also make sure that the machine displays the pulse rate.

Some Ellipticals need you to put in your body weight for it to accurately track the calories burnt, which is great.

Does the Trainer Come with Good Warranty?

If you are not sure about the durability of the exercise bike, make sure to know about the warranty that the trainer comes with.

Most of the products come with 5 years of frame warranty. Some even come with a lifetime warranty for frame.

Some trainers which come with mechanical resistance requires you to replace the rubber pads every 1-2 years or so. But nowadays, even the entry-level elliptical machines don’t come with mechanical or friction resistance.

Always make sure that the trainer you purchase requires the least maintenance as it adds to the overall durability of the bike.

Wrapping up

These are some of the features you need to consider before getting a good elliptical machine. I have covered almost all the aspects you need to consider.

Investing in a quality Elliptical machine is once in a lifetime investment. So make the wise decision that both renders you a good product and as well easy on your pockets.

I hope you found this buying guide on Elliptical machines helpful.

About Gaurav Dhir

Gaurav Dhir, B. Tech, PGDCM is an engineer and MBA by training. A fitness aficionado, Gaurav follows a strict diet and exercise regimen to keep himself vigorously active. He loves playing sports and being outdoors. Gaurav is responsible for the health and wellness of 4 generations including his son, elderly parents and very elderly grandparents.