When you're looking to invest in one piece of cardio equipment, a home elliptical is a pretty safe bet. It's a little less strenuous than running on a treadmill but will give you a livelier workout than a stationary bike with minimal impact on your joints.
But with so many models out there, finding the best elliptical for you can seem overwhelming. There are plenty of options in just about any size and price range — but at least that means there's definitely a machine out there for you.
If you're considering a home elliptical, you can even skip the exhaustive research, because we've gathered the best home elliptical machines on the market here.
1. Best Overall: Precor Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer EFX 885
If you're used to using an elliptical at the gym, chances are it's been a Precor model. A popular elliptical brand for home and gym use, Precor's EFX 885 is made with Converging Crossramp Technology, which allows you to manipulate the angle of the ramp to isolate different muscles in your legs. As this technology encourages variance, you'll be able to give your legs a more well-rounded workout.
This elliptical also has two sets of handles, including a fixed and free-moving pair, which you can use depending on your preference. You can choose between 20 different machine settings, enabling you to adjust the incline from 10 to 30 degrees.
The EFX 885 has five preset levels — Lose Weight, Be Fit, Get Toned, Push Performance and Test Your Fitness — which break down into 22 different programmed workouts. While you train, the machine's muscle monitor will show you which muscles are being activated, giving you a more precise read on your workout.
"This is a nice feature that is similar to the programming on any stationary bike or treadmill with built-in training programs to allow for guided workouts," says Sam Becourtney, DPT, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $3,699
2. Best Budget-Friendly: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Air Walk Trainer Elliptical
Available on Amazon Prime, the Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical is a great pick if you're searching for a budget-friendly option. This machine is equipped with non-slip pedals, a crucial safety benefit, Becourtney says. You'll also find an attached abdominal pad, which can provide a little more comfort during a long cardio workout.
The machine's LCD monitor is simple, enabling you to track your time, distance and calories. Plus, this elliptical folds up, making it a smart choice if you need to save a little space in your home — all for under $100.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $96.48
3. Best High-Tech: NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer Series FS7i
The NordicTrack's FreeStride takes your session far beyond the average elliptical workout. This machine provides a total at-home personal training experience with iFit, a digital training platform stocked with various workout videos and interactive personal training programs, which you may have seen on some stationary bikes or treadmills.
This elliptical features 24 different resistance levels and allows you to adjust the machine style, simulating a stepmill or treadmill movement.
"[Adjustable resistance] is important to increase the difficulty as you build up your tolerance to the machine," Becourtney says. Plus, if other members of your household expect their turn, it also makes it easier for multiple people to use the machine at the resistance that's right for them, he adds.
As you use this three-in-one elliptical, you can also avoid getting too sweaty with the elliptical's built-in fans.
NordicTrack makes several other ellipticals, including those in the Front Drive and Rear Drive series, but the FreeStride offers the best high-tech experience.
Buy it: NordicTrack.com; Price: $2,499
4. Best for Under Your Desk: Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine
If you spend the majority of your day seated at a desk (you're not alone), this elliptical is a great way to keep your lower half moving. And with more than 2,200 five-star reviews on Amazon, this small, convenient machine is a fan favorite.
Although it's compact, this mini elliptical is certainly powerful, offering more than eight different resistance levels and allowing you to track your time, calories, strides and distance with the built-in digital display.
The Cubii JR1 is one of the more pricey under-the-desk ellipticals, but it's also one of the highest rated.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $249
5. Best Multi-Purpose: ProForm Hybrid Trainer
Whether you're trying to save space or just want some extra bang for your buck, multi-purpose exercise equipment delivers. The ProForm Hybrid Trainer is an elliptical and exercise bike all in one — yes, you can use the machine seated or standing!
"If you are looking for more variety, an elliptical that can shift to a stepper or treadmill-style strider could be a good option," Becourtney says.
"It certainly adds in a varying motion, which will most likely challenge the quads more from a muscular fatigue perspective, whereas a traditional elliptical is more taxing to the cardiovascular system than anything else."
This trainer is built with an LCD screen, which tracks your calories, distance and time, among other metrics. You'll also get a year iFit subscription with your purchase, which you can stream from your personal tablet or cell phone.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $479.78
6. Best for Outdoors: ElliptiGO 8C Long Stride
If you want to take your elliptical workout outside, meet the ElliptiGO 8C Long Stride. A mashup of a bicycle and elliptical, this machine will give you the low-impact workout of a stepper with the movement of a bike.
Hills are no problem for the ElliptiGO, as the machine can shift gears like a bike. The pedals are also fully customizable, allowing you to adjust the stride length for a smooth, comfortable ride.
Plus, you can attach your ElliptiGO to the company's Fluid 365 Stationary Trainer, which transforms the machine into a stationary elliptical.
Buy it: ElliptiGO; Price: $2,699
7. Best for Small Spaces: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i
Home ellipticals aren't exactly petite, and if you're exercising in a relatively small space, you may be hesitant to invest in a big machine. But don't be fooled by the NordicTrack's SpaceSaver machine's full size. This elliptical actually folds up vertically, instantly freeing up major space.
Unlike most smaller, space-saving elliptical machines, the SpaceSaver is equipped with a 5-inch display, also featuring iFit, which means you'll have plenty of workout videos at your disposal.
This machine offers 22 different levels and a silent resistance system, so you won't disturb any sleeping family members during an early workout.
Buy it: NordicTrack.com; Price: $1,299
What to Know Before You Buy a Home Elliptical
There are a few factors you'll want to consider before you decide on a home elliptical. Workout equipment isn't one-size-fits-all; especially if you're considering a pricier machine, make sure it ticks all the right boxes.
1. Look for the Best Size for Your Space — and Your Body
Yes, finding a machine to suit your home is important, but you also want to find a machine size that's best for you, explains Mathew Forzaglia, certified personal trainer and founder of Forzag Fitness. You don't want to end up with a home elliptical that feels rumbly or shaky under your feet.
"Buying an elliptical that feels stable and comfortable for your size is always something to look out for," Forzaglia says. "You want to have full range in your arms and legs — but most have extra room in the foot beds to move forward or back for any person."
You'll likely need to take some measurements at home before making a purchase. But once you know your stride length, arm length and weight, you can compare these values to an elliptical's specifications, which can be found on the manufacturer's website.
An elliptical's handles should feel sturdy, too. These are typically pretty similar across machines, Becourtney says, but they may vary in width or grip placement. "Sometimes the handles will have multiple grips to allow for the most comfortable wrist position and provide variety if you're performing longer-duration workouts," he says.
And of course, don't forget to compare the elliptical's frame size to the space where you plan to put it in your home.
2. Consider Machine Configurations
Ellipticals can be powered by a wheel in the front, back or center of the machine. These configurations are called front-drive, rear-drive or center-drive, Becourtney explains. There's no one configuration that's necessarily better than the others, he says.
Usually, ellipticals in a gym are rear-drive. These machines are larger and longer, equipped with a track and roller setup inside the elliptical, which allows for the smoothest ride and makes them the most quiet of the three options, he says.
Front-drive machines are smaller and typically less expensive, which makes them a little more efficient for in-home use. However, they are a bit noisier, too, which may be a concern if you don't want to disturb your family or roommates.
The smallest, most compact ellipticals are usually center-drive, Becourtney says. The wheel on these machines is located at the center of the elliptical, so they are usually upright and look a bit more like a stepmill.
3. Weigh Your Technology Options
Ellipticals range from no technology to an impressive amount of special features. Generally, you'll want a machine that can at least track your distance, calories and workout time.
Heart rate tracking is another key feature to look for, Becourtney says. "It's very important if using this machine for cardiovascular and aerobic conditioning, especially if someone is newer to exercise, so that they can monitor their heart rate and ensure there are no abnormal spikes," he says. (You may need to stop your workout if your heart rate gets too high.)
If you want a more interactive cardio workout, look for an elliptical that's equipped with a screen and provides built-in training programs, like iFit. But if these options are out of your price range, you can download an app or elliptical workout plan onto your phone or tablet, too.
4. Prioritize Customization
The more you can customize or adjust the setup of a home elliptical, the more effective (and enjoyable) your exercise is going to be, especially if more than one person in your home will be using the machine, Becourtney says.
Adjustable resistance levels are a must-have feature, he adds, because being able to make your workouts harder over time will help you consistently progress toward your goals.
Some machines also offer adjustable stride length, which is less critical, but a bonus. "This is not a necessity, but it can be a nice feature on some ellipticals that allow you to adjust stride length based on desired distance, shoe size and leg length," Becourtney says.
If you want your machine to be extra personal, you can look for a model that allows you to adjust the pedal size, too. This will guarantee an even smoother ride, helping you lock your feet into place.