The Ultimate Elliptical Machines Buyers Guide

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An elliptical trainer is the right mix of a series of workout requirements that need attention during a regular session.

A good 15 to 30 minutes spent on an elliptical trainer would stimulate the fat loss mechanism and energize the individual.

It also has the ability to tone the calf muscles, the Achilles tendon, work over the lower back, and develop core breathability.

Hence, an elliptical trainer is the right choice for all those who look at core endurance build-up and increase their workout capacity.

The elliptical trainers at the gym are more universal, whereas the household setup shall need more exclusive ones.

However, the wrong choice of a trainer can be a mere waste of precious money and even more precious floor space.

To emphasize the right pick, it is essential to shortlist the perfect trainer based on a relevant guideline.

Moreover, the designs might be attractive, but the result shall also be an equivalent product.

Every feature is equally contributive towards a higher and more efficient workout and needs prior consideration and understanding.

What Should You Consider Before Buying an Elliptical?

The set of key features that need emphasis and attention when it comes to the purchase of an elliptical trainer are:


Not every elliptical trainer is the same, and to understand, and it is necessary to decide what would suit a person.

For example, when needed to choose a design, the points worth extra consideration are:

  • Space occupied
  • Freedom of movement
  • Suitability to the user
  • Workout efficiency
  • Quality of the product

While some points are cared for by the manufacturer, certain others would need individual discretion.

Moreover, the design features are also essential to ensure that they have the right fix for their individual problems.

Not only must it fit right but also work right to be of high utility in an intense session of workout. If the designs are to qualify as per their mobility, the main categories would be:

  • Rigid or fixed elliptical trainers
  • Foldable elliptical trainers
  • Compact elliptical trainers

To emphasize briefly, the rigid or fixed elliptical trainers are heavy, need space, and consume efforts to be moved.

These are heavyweight machinery equivalent of the modern-day workout techniques.

However, the most common choice for an elliptical at professional outlets is the fixed one due to its robust and durable tendency.

The size may vary up to 7 feet for length and 3 feet for width.

The foldable elliptical trainers are small, easy to fold, and easy to store underneath a shelf or a free space.

Meanwhile, these are ideal for mediocrely intense workout sessions due to their delicate nature. They prove to be a good partner for office and dense spaces.

The compact elliptical is neither foldable nor rigid. These designs stand right in-between.

These occupy a moderate amount of floor space, produce an above-average workout intensity, and are user-friendly. However, certain automation features and screen display features are reduced to compensate for space.

These also have a lower height of extension at the maximum stride.

Another important aspect of the consideration of a perfect elliptical trainer purchase is the flywheel design and location.

A flywheel is that part of moving machinery that would store the amount of energy and produce the necessary output in the form of motion or movement. In an elliptical trainer, the flywheel could be essentially located at the:

  • Front half
  • Middle of the trainer
  • Rear half

Front Flywheel designs have a track-like appearance for the pedals with the flywheel located at the front.

The rear end of the stride might exceed the overall dimension of the elliptical. Due to their basic nature of work, they are often a cheap option to pick.

Mid-way or Center Flywheel has the shortest distance for the linkage between the pedal and the flywheel

Hence, efficiency loss and noises are the lowest in the mid-way design.

These have an equal extension of the stride on either side of the elliptical.

The Rear-end Flywheel design is where the flywheel is at the back.

Because of the linkages involved, they are more cumbersome and require more space. However, the noise levels are also at the lowest with this design.

A typical flywheel with ambient weight (15-40 lbs.) and the proper motion smoothness would increase the workout efficiency through multiple folds.

Hence, the design aspect for the elliptical trainer needs high relevance while the choice is made.

Stride Length

Another important consideration, perhaps the most important one, is the stride length for an elliptical trainer.

In general, the distance between the front foot toes to the end rear foot heel tip is a single stride.

When a fully-extended movement is made on an elliptical trainer, it accounts for a stride.

It is easy to understand that the userspace or leg extension shall be cramped up with a low stride length.

Hence, the user would not derive the maximum workout efficiency and result through the trainer.

However, if the stride is too long, it would create safety and other hazards.

For example, the tendon might get cramped, or the foot bottom (plantar fascia) has a possibility of damage too.

This would provide an important understanding to match an elliptical trainer’s stride length specs with individual height.

For example, a person with a height in the lower 5 ft. the range would efficiently work out over a 14 inch to 18-inch stride.

However, for people between higher 5 to 6 ft. ranges, the stride would go up to 20”.

For the rare tall ones, the stride shall fit around 22” or so.

An ideal length of stride would ensure better flexibility for both lower and higher intensity sessions.


The whole idea of using an elliptical trainer is to work out and lose weight. Moreover, the endurance factor is also important to be accounted for.

To accommodate these goals, the resistance feature is essential.

The resistance of an elliptical trainer is the hindrance it creates for a user to exert more effort during a stride.

This hindrance or resistance is a result of two basic mediums:

  • Air resistance
  • Magnetic resistance

For the energized elliptical trainers, magnetic resistance is the way to go. It will provide higher levels and more versatility in resistance too.

For example, a magnetic resistance-based trainer would show up to 20 or 25 levels to increase resistance.

In comparison, the air resistance is lower but good for people who need a moderate workout. The air resistance is primarily created through the movement on the elliptical trainer itself.

Moderately expensive elliptical trainers provide resistance with an increase of up to 25% to 30%. However, little costly ones have modes that would move up to 75% from the base limit.

The more number of modes for the set resistance, the more versatile an elliptical trainer is.

Hence, all aspects, such as budget, physical limits, flexibility, etc. Together contribute to the final selection of resistance.


The incline feature for an elliptical trainer is not one to be found in the lower or middle category of budget easily.

The feature basically includes the machine’s ability to increase the gradient against which the person has to train.

Hence, the more the gradient, the more is the amount of effort required to overcome the resistance imparted due to it.

Moreover, the incline increase will also simultaneously result in a decrease in stride length, just like climbing a hill.

The manual mode for incline would include the ability to set and work only on a given configuration.

In comparison to it, the motorized principle would provide the flexibility to adjust the incline on will during the workout.

The rigid or the heavy elliptical trainers have this as an integral feature.

The foldable and compact version may or may not have an incline solely at the manufacturer’s discretion.

Handle Bars

Elliptical trainers have handlebars as an integral part of their structure to provide stability and full-body motion.

Through the handles, the user would extract upper body leverage for a wholesome workout regime.

However, the type or the structure of the handle associated with an elliptical trainer can be either of these two:

  • Fixed Handle
  • Moving Handle

The fixed handle, as the name suggests, is rigid and fixed at a place. This means the hand would range from 0 extensions to full extension through the stride.

However, the movable handle moves along the trainer movement and integrates the upper-body movement actively into the stride.

Hence, the movable handle is the one that is most searched by the users when following up on a design configuration.

The handles, both of them, have the integral heart rate monitor sensory probe.

This creates an easy feature for the user to monitor the amount of effort in and its toil on the body.

Control Modules

The control module for an elliptical trainer is an integral and essential part of the whole deal.

Most of the budget, as well as high-end elliptical trainers, feature some control modules.

The idea behind providing these is to enable the user to control and regulate their workout.

For example, certain features that a module would provide are:

  • The start and stop option for the dynamo powered or electrically operated trainer
  • The ability to control features such as the incline or the or the resistance of the elliptical trainer
  • Manual control of a workout regime through selective workout profiles
  • Quick access to increase or decrease the level of training through the whole task

While the basic ones are less futuristic, the expensive elliptical trainers have more control modules.

For instance, control buttons integrated into the handle can easily enable the user to regulate parameters while the workout is on.

The user needs to focus on the individual type of control module they find appropriate for themselves during the final purchase.


The additional or secondary features are an essential part of every purchase in the modern-day market.

As such, the elliptical trainers more or less integrate the basic features almost every time.

However, the additional features are not mandatory but do surely regulate the buyer’s interest.

Certain secondary features that are found in the more established elliptical trainers are:

  • USB charging points for the console to connect and charge mobiles
  • Jack points for enabling the audio headphones or earphones
  • Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity for the console to connect to the network
  • Fan in the front to cool down the user after an intense workout session

These additional features dictate a lot of market value, while they also increase the budget overall.

The more reliable a brand is, the higher number of features they integrate on the secondary level.

Drive Systems

The drive system of an elliptical trainer is what makes the trainer run through.

The flywheel and the linkages involved are the decisive factors for the finalization of the pivot point.

These together comprise the drive system of an elliptical trainer for the user to work on.

In general, the drive system is mainly identified based on the location of the flywheel itself.

For example, the main categories of the drive systems are:

  • Front-Drive
  • Center-Drive
  • Rear-Drive

With the front-drive elliptical in place, the forward inclination of the user during the exercise regime is natural.

Hence, the front located flywheel would provide a drive that is more useful for inclined trainers.

Due to the front-heavy nature, the machine occupies a larger space and has intermediate linkages connected to the pedal’s drive.

For center-drive elliptical machines, the friction and the loss in the intermediate parts reduce drastically.

This means almost no noise or rusty movement and a smoother transition of the motion.

In most designs, the single flywheel is replaced by two smaller ones on either side for each pedal.

The rear-drive elliptical machines are more famous in the big gym outlets, and it has higher diversity options.

For instance, the rear-drive can provide more incline and resistance as compared to the other two variables.

Moreover, these are a little higher on cost as compared to the other two variants.

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