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You no longer need to go to the gym to get a top-notch workout on an elliptical machine. The best elliptical machines can now be delivered right to your door. This piece of cardio equipment is low impact, but it still gives you great workouts for more than just your lower body muscles. You get a good burn for your upper body, too. It’s also a reliable machine if you’re rehabilitating after an injury.
Many popular brands, including Bowflex and Nautilus, have their own ellipticals, and a handful offer compatible fitness apps to aid you in your journey to better health. And with the promise of smooth motion, impressive stride length and even magnetic resistance to engage muscles in your legs and core (along with a handful of other features), you can burn more calories in your exercise time.
We tested various elliptical models to help you decide which is the best fit for your lifestyle and space. This was a collaborative effort from the team at CNET to determine our top picks for the best elliptical machines. Check out our list below. (If you’re new to using an elliptical, we’ve provided some helpful tips to get you started. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly ellipticals, these are some of our favorites.)
Read more:6 Best Peloton Alternatives: Great Indoor Exercise Bikes
Best ellipticals of 2023
The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 really has it all — an adjustable stride length, a 14-inch color touchscreen, oversize cushioned pedals, auto-adjustment capabilities and Bluetooth connectivity. At 32 pounds, this elliptical machine also has one of the heaviest flywheels on the market. When you combine that with magnetic resistance, the end result is an impressively quiet machine with smooth movement.
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Weight Capacity 325 lbsStats Tracked Heart rate, speed, time, distance, calories burned, and incline/decline stats.Dimensions 29.25″ W x 52″ D x 66.7″ HWarranty 10-year frame and 2-year parts warrantyStride Length 10” Vertical, 5” Horizontal
One of the biggest hesitations in purchasing a traditional elliptical machine is the size. There are a lot of compact ellipticals out there, but as a general rule, you have to sacrifice performance for space. That’s not true of the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7, though. Unlike other ellipticals that take up a lot of horizontal space in your home gym, the Carbon HIIT H7 has a vertical design that makes this home elliptical more reminiscent of a stair stepper machine, rather than an elliptical.
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Weight Capacity 300 lbsStats Tracked Tracks time, distance, speed, and calorie-burnDimensions 55.25” L x 38.0” W x 52.5” in HWarranty 2 yearsStride Length Patented Stride Technology uses a unique stepping motion to create a stress-free workout.
While ellipticals are categorized as one of the lowest-impact cardio machines, they can still be too much for anyone with joint pain, healing injuries or mobility issues. That’s where the Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical comes in. Similar to a recumbent bike, because of its recumbent — or reclined and seated — position, the Teeter FreeStep eliminates stress on your joints and takes the load off your back, so you can get a great workout in without premature body fatigue.
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Weight Capacity 300 lbsStats Tracked Time, distance, calories and transfer metrics via Bluetooth to Explore the World appDimensions 70.1 L x 28.2” W x 63.2” HWarranty Frame: 10 years, Parts: 2 YearsStride Length 20” precision path stride
The Schwinn 470 is the elliptical for you if you’re looking for a comfortable yet intuitive machine. Upon first look you can tell it’s a step up from the Schwinn 411, which we previously recommended. The Schwinn 470 has a more modern aesthetic. This was one of the easier machines to assemble on our own because the manual provided clear instructions with illustrations. The design on this machine is also less bulky than expected, even though it’s larger than the Schwinn 411.
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Weight Capacity 350 lbsStats Tracked Syncs workout stats via Bluetooth to the Explore the World appDimensions 73″L x 27″W x 67″HWarranty Frame: 15 years, Parts: 5 yearsStride Length 22″ dual stride rails
If you want an elliptical that reminds you of the classic ones you find in the gym, then you’ll like the Nautilus E618. This machine offers a smooth ride and the footplate uses a suspension-adjust performance-cushioning system, which lets you adjust the angle from zero to 10 degrees for customized heel support. The stride rails are also designed to create a balanced and stable experience. Assembling this machine took longer than expected because the instructions on the manual were not clear. I’d recommend purchasing the in-home assembly option or having someone assist you if you plan on putting this machine together yourself. During testing, the stride felt natural and effortless. It was even mostly quiet with the exception of a couple of squeaks here and there.
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Weight Capacity 300 lbsStats Tracked Time, heart rate, calories, burn rate, intervalDimensions 49.3″ L x 30.8″ W x 65.7″ HWarranty 3 years
The Bowflex Max Total 16 is the only elliptical on the list with all the bells and whistles. We previously recommended its predecessor, the Bowflex Max M9 and this is a slightly improved version. The at-home assembly was simple and easy to follow – you may need an extra person to help you unload the machine from the delivery box, but it’s possible for one person to put it together.
The machine is sturdy and still has the same stepper motion as the Bowflex Max M9, though it requires a little breaking in at first. The handlebars on the Bowflex Max Total 16 have six grips instead of the original four, making it easier to change up hand positioning. The resistance dial is still conveniently placed in the center and it has over 20 resistance levels.
Compared to the Bowflex Max M9, the touchscreen is bigger this time, measuring 16 inches instead of 10 inches. It’s still Bluetooth compatible, so you can connect your heart rate band or other compatible device, and it requires a Wi-Fi connection as well as a membership with the Bowflex program, JRNY. The good thing is you’ll get a free year of JRNY so you can take full advantage of the elliptical. After your trial is over, it’s $149 for the year or $20 a month.
Other ellipticals we tested
Cubii Total Body: Smart Seated Elliptical: I had a pleasant experience using this mini elliptical and could see it being used by those recovering from an injury, the elderly or those with certain physical limitations. It’s not heavy and it’s easy to move around on its wheels. I definitely broke a sweat, which I didn’t expect from a low-impact workout you can do while sitting down. It also included resistance handles so you can include upper body workouts. The reason it didn’t make our list is because it’s a newer version that was sold out on Indiegogo, but there are older versions on the Cubii website if you want to get a similar experience. This mini elliptical is one of many that exist on the market and would make a good candidate for a future mini elliptical best list.
How we evaluated ellipticals
We understand that purchasing an elliptical is an investment and we narrowed it down to these important factors to make our picks.
Price: We made an effort to include ellipticals of various price points to fit your budget.
Functionality: An elliptical has one fluid motion, but there are different designs, including standing or sitting options. We also observed how easy the machine was to use once it was set up.
Comfort: Besides ease of use and functionality, we also looked at how comfortable it was to use the machine according to stride and user experience.
Features: Some elliptical brands have improved the technology on its consoles, so we looked at how that adds to the user experience.
How to choose an elliptical
Browse around to get an idea of how much an elliptical may cost you and then budget accordingly. Machines range from $500 to over $2,000.
Consider the space you have in your home to fit one and make sure you account for those measurements when purchasing an elliptical.
Decide if you want a machine with all the bells and whistles (like streaming TV or guided workouts) or if you’d be content with a standard machine.
Determine whether you’d be willing to assemble the machine or if you’d prefer white-glove service. If it’s the latter, find out if that’s included in your order for free or at an additional cost.
Are home ellipticals worth it?
Whether having an elliptical machine at home is worth it or not depends on a few factors. If you’re looking for a low-impact exercise machine that provides a full-body workout, an elliptical is a great option. Also weigh how often you expect to use it versus other types of exercise.
What muscles do ellipticals work?
Exercising on an elliptical machine can work a number of muscle areas, including the chest, back, biceps, triceps, core muscles, glutes and hamstrings, according to CNET’s sister site Healthline. Ellipticals offer a low-impact alternative to running, while still providing a full-body workout.
How many calories do you burn on an elliptical?
How many calories you burn on an elliptical will vary depending on your weight and the intensity and duration of the workout. According to Harvard, 30 minutes of exercise on an elliptical can burn an average of 270 calories for a 125-pound person, 324 calories for a 155-pound person and 378 calories for a 185-pound person.
Is the elliptical good cardio?
The elliptical is a good cardio workout because it works your heart and lungs. It can be performed as a steady-state workout or as a high intensity interval training workout. As a result, it helps you build up your endurance.
CNET writers Lindsay Boyers and Megan Wollerton also contributed to this story.