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Get Your Heart Rate Up With the Best Ellipticals

When searching for cardio equipment, finding a machine that has everything you need can be something of a challenge. Some machines can be too hard on the user’s body while others may not offer a challenging enough workout. Elliptical machines offer both challenging and effective upper and lower body workouts while going easy on a user's joints.

No matter what your budget, experience level, body type, physical capabilities, or space requirement, there’s surely an elliptical out there to meet your every need. We’ve also compiled the list of the best ellipticals in 2021 and a buyer’s guide to walk you through all the basics behind these unique cardio machines.  

Best Ellipticals of 2021 Reviewed in Detail

best CX8 Cross Trainer Elliptical

CX8 Cross Trainer Elliptical - Best Elliptical Overall

The Landice CX8 beats out the competition with their unrivaled second set of arms that move from side to side in order to isolate the core making this a total body machine unlike any other. The stride length can be adjusted between 18 and 26 inches and users can control the incline as well as the shape of the elliptical motion on this machine. With a 400 pound user weight capacity shows just how solid the Landice CX is along with a lifetime warranty to back it up.

Landice may have spent so much time creating a solid and innovative body that they didn’t have a lot left to put into their console. The small digital screen is still easy to read and easy to navigate with multiple buttons located on the console with two separate windows to show resistance and incline levels. The CX8 has 15 total workout programs with five of them being user defined for a more personalized workout. This machine isn’t lacking when it comes to extra features either with a thirty pin iPhone dock, very nice speakers, a  three speed fan, a perfectly placed water bottle holder, and handle and chest strap heart rate monitors.

best EFX Fitness Crosstrainer Elliptical

EFX Fitness Crosstrainer Elliptical - Runner Up

The Precor 447 has a large mostly steel and aluminum body that will last a lifetime because how solid it is. You can tell from the rear casing the flywheel is rather large and helps control the 20 levels of quiet and smooth Eddy Current resistance. This machine isn’t just a cardio machine either as it comes with a special Cross Ramp Technology allowing you to change the path of your feet in order to target different leg muscles during your workout.

The seven inch, full color backlit screen makes it super easy to read all of your key metrics. Below the screen you’ll find two convenient lever switches to control your Cross Ramp position and resistance during a workout. One touch buttons on either side of the screen allow you to scroll through your key metrics and choose from one of the 24 preset workouts that come with this device.

The console allows you to create custom user profiles for up to four users and will even track multiple aspects of your workout like distance and Cross Ramp position. This machine is loaded with gym quality features as well like a tablet/magazine rack, water bottle holder, remote/phone tray, speakers, smartphone charging dock, and handle and chest strap heart rate monitors.

best Fitness Cross Trainer Elliptical

Fitness Cross Trainer Elliptical - Honorable Mention

The Q47XI offers a smaller footprint and lower height without sacrificing anything as evidenced by its adjustable stride length up to 26 inch. A good portion of this machine is hidden behind a polymer casing but rest assured it’s constructed of high grade aluminum and steel for gym-grade durability. Octane offers 20 levels of magnetic resistance to keep you challenged while staying smooth and quite even when changing between resistance levels.

The screen on this device is really nice to look at with a red LCD display making it easy to read all of your key metrics easily. Above the screen is a lighted bar that changes colors to let you know the status of your workout or alert you to changes in your program. Underneath the screen are a host of push buttons that control resistance, workout programs, and extra features.

The Q47XI comes with a unique Smart Link Bluetooth technology allowing you to access 74+ workout programs from your tablet and three places to dock your tablet for your convenience. This machine also comes stocked with a three speed fan, resistance bands, and a wireless heart rate strap.

best NordicTrack Elite 16.7

NordicTrack Elite 16.7 - Consider

Though slightly more expensive than its competitors the NordicTrack Elite 16.7 is well worth the price and still comes in under $2,000. This nearly perfect all around machine offers up to 20 degrees of incline along with an adjustable stride length between 20 and 21 inches. The 16.7 has 26 levels of silent magnetic resistance which are available at the push of a button and when combined with 40 built in workout apps , iFit, and a web enabled screen the workout possibilities are endless.

The console boasts a 10 inch web-enabled touch screen which is like having a tablet in front of you when you work out. You can even access iFit and Google Maps to perform “real road” running programs to actually watch where you go, adding an outdoor feel to your workout. On either side of the screen are quick press buttons which allow you to quickly jump to the resistance and incline levels that fit your needs and below the screen you will find buttons to navigate your key information and activate iFit.

Nordic Track pulled out all of the stops when it comes to features on this device including a water bottle holder, media tray, a large three speed fan, heart rate monitors, speaker system, and an integrated 15 inch TV. This machine offers gym quality manufacturing and features at a home gym price.

best AFG 4.0AE

AFG 4.0AE - Best Elliptical Overall

It is surprising AFG doesn’t get more attention for their products when they offer machines like the 4.0AE which blows away most of the competition. At under $1400, this machine offers a small footprint but still has a fix stride length of 20 inches. It offers 20 levels of smooth and quiet magnetic resistance and up to a 16 degree incline for increasing challenge as your goals progress. The screen is large and colorful which makes it easy to read and 5 separate windows which make recording your key metrics incredibly easy.

Quick press buttons on either side of the console allow you to immediately jump to your favorite resistance and incline settings while buttons underneath the screen allow you to choose from seven presets and one custom workout. AFG doesn’t go overboard with the features with only a water bottle holder and chest and hand heart rate monitors, but it makes a better all around fitness machine for the price.

Buyer's Guide

Elliptical Buyer's Guide

Choosing an elliptical can be a difficult task as they come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and price points.  You’ll also need to consider ergonomics, adjustability, and extra usability features. You also need to decide whether you are going to save a little bit of money up front with belt resistance or guarantee a lower cost of ownership overall with magnetic resistance. Yes, selecting your dream elliptical machine can seem a little overwhelming because of all of their moving parts but they don’t have to be if you know what you are looking for. 

Physical Considerations

Size

When it comes to ellipticals, size matters more than any other piece of equipment because of how tall and long they can get; therefore, make sure you measure your space for the stride length instead of the base length. Bigger ellipticals take up more room but they also offer a higher weight capacity and a sturdier base than their smaller counterparts.

Ergonomics

Elliptical manufactures put a lot of thought into making sure their devices are ergonomically sound. This Features like oversized, textured foot plates, comfortable grips on the handles, and adjustable stride lengths allow for natural, comfortable movement during your workout.

Dashboard Features

Just like any other cardio machine today, there are multiple types of dashboards displays available. These include traditional LED readout screens which show only your key metrics all the way up to advanced touch screen monitors which show your metrics and offer other features like built in workouts. Some even function as fully functioning computing tablets which offer all of the preceding capabilities as well as video and internet capabilities. Depending on the model you’re also likely to find speakers, three speed fans, and USB ports to plug in your MP3 player.

Adjustability

Like most treadmills, some ellipticals allow you to change the incline of your movement which add difficulty to your workout and allows your elliptical to better serve you longer. 

Warranty

A quality elliptical machine should be backed by a solid warranty to ensure long, reliable service life.  While a lifetime warranty is always the best option, always try to aim for three year minimum coverage which includes the frame and dashboard. 

Ellipticals only offer two different types of resistance and even though one is slowly becoming obsolete, it’s good information to know regardless. 

Types of Resistance

Belt Resistance

This resistance works by tightening and loosing belts around two separate flywheels and works fairly well but wears out the belts over time which adds to cost of ownership. Belt resistance is on its way out as magnetic resistance becomes the dominant resistance technology. 

Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic resistance is popular because it’s smooth and quiet with easy transitions between resistance levels. This resistance works by polarizing different magnets at different times in order to increase or decrease the resistance level. 

Using Your Elliptical

Ellipticals are an awesome tool for anyone looking to get in some cardio without putting the hurt on your joints. Always be sure you get an elliptical with a proper stride length or one which is adjustable in order to ensure proper comfort and form. Ellipticals are not great for sport specific training purposes, but if you are looking to lose weight and preserve your knees they may be your best option.

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