Elliptical Buying Guide: How to Choose an Elliptical?

An elliptical provide a fantastic cardio workout with amazing health benefits. Workout plan with an elliptical can be an excellent way to protect your joints from damage. Finding a new elliptical can be both an exciting and frustrating experience. People would be puzzled easily as so many different brands and models of elliptical are available in the market. 

Every brand claims that they have the best features elliptical for workout which makes the decision difficult for the potential buyer. Before you make your decision, read this article on “How to choose an elliptical” to learn everything you need to know about finding the best elliptical for you. 

For your easy understanding, the elliptical buying guide is discussed in two-part.

The first part is designed based on a few warm-up questions about workout space, elliptical size, and your financial plan (budget).

The second part is designed based on elliptical configurations, features, safety, and warranties you must have to meet your specific workout goals.

When you finish reading the elliptical buying guide and understand crucial elliptical terms and features, you’ll be able to look into which brands and models are best for you.

Part-1: Warm-Up Questions Before Buying an Elliptical

Why do you warm up before going shopping on the elliptical? There are two key reasons that come to mind. 

First and foremost, to stop twisting of your brain. You will be puzzled easily after seeing the availability of a large number of brands, models and styles of elliptical in market. Warming up will help you to narrow down your choices and gain a better understanding of what you want. 

Second, price wars involves in elliptical business. If you don’t know the rules, you may feel cheated rather than satisfied with your choice. With these easy tips and tricks, you’ll be able to understand “How to buy an elliptical” wisely.

1. Select your Workout Space & Elliptical Size

Where are you going to put the purchased elliptical? Is the room dimension is sufficient to place it? Measure the floor space or go through architectural design of your room (hope room dimensions are mentioned there) where you want to put the elliptical. Measuring the room dimension before going for shopping will save your time. 

Elliptical machines are large machines. Generally, ellipticals are about four to seven feet long and 2.5 feet wide. When moving, you’ll also need to make space for the pedals. These may stretch a foot or two behind the main frame on certain machines. You can also leave about 20 inches of free space on both sides. So, make sure your home can accommodate the elliptical you’re buying.

The last thing to think about is the height of your ceiling, particularly if you are planning on putting it in the basement. At the apex of the elliptical cycle, certain ellipticals may have a maximum pedal height of a foot or more from the floor. 

You could be hitting your head if you’re tall or don’t have much space above your head.  So make sure you have a room with at least 20 inches of free space from the head during optimum raising of elliptical pedal.

Elliptical measurements are commonly available online and having this knowledge on hand, you can shop more efficiently.

2. Set Your Budget (Financial Plan)

When purchasing any piece of home fitness equipment, particularly anything as large and costly as an elliptical, your budget is likely to be the most important factor to consider. It’s important to invest in the best elliptical you can afford. 

The cost of an elliptical varies depending on the condition and features of the machine. The price of a higher quality elliptical may be between $1000-$2000. High quality ellipticals are good, comfortable, durable, quiet, simple to operate & packed with excellent features and warranty. 

You can also get used and inexpensive models but generally don’t last as long and they may not be as robust as higher quality models. 

Part-2: Configurations & Features of Elliptical

Don’t be in a hurry to go out and purchase the first elliptical that you see. Take just a few minutes to read elliptical configurations, features must have to achieve your fitness goal.

1. Elliptical Configurations (Style)

Elliptical machines are found in three basic configuration. Each configuration have its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Front-Drive Elliptical
Center-Drive Elliptical
Rare-Drive Elliptical
Front-Drive Elliptical
Center-Drive Elliptical
Rare-Drive Elliptical

The drive wheel is usually located in a wide housing at the front of the elliptical. Front drive designs give you a sloped elliptical path, which is more like stair stepping. Because of their simple nature, they are the most economical, but they can be noisy and vibrate a lot during workouts.

The configuration is identical to that of a treadmill, except instead of a track, there are pedals.  The center drive ellipticals put you in an upright position. These include a low-intensity workout. They’re also the most lightweight, but you’ll have to account for the pedal reach in the back.

The drive wheel is housed in a smaller housing at the back of the elliptical. The pedals may be on a track-and-roller that allows for an incline. Instead, some people opt for a suspended arm device, which provides the most comfortable exercise. Rear designs tend to be flatter, more like walking.

2. Features of Elliptical

Adjustable Incline: This is one of the features that makes elliptical as a genuine cross-trainer. Some of the less expensive models have an incline that can be adjusted manually. That means you won’t be able to change it with a click of a button during your workout. 

To change the incline, you’ll have to get off from the elliptical. Some make it simple by removing a pin from the hole and adjusting it to the desired height to change the incline. By changing the incline of the elliptical, you’ll give emphasis on different muscle groups.

Smooth Elliptical Motion: The feel of the motion during workout on elliptical is an important consideration. It should not have “kick” or “bounce” tendency during its motion in both forward and backward directions. 

Search for an elliptical that gives you an alike simulation to walking and running so that you’re in comfortable through the entire movement.

Adjustable Resistance: Resistance is the feeling of hindrance which makes pedaling of elliptical difficult. The higher the level of resistance at a steady running pace, the more difficult it will be to pedal and the more energy you will consume. 

A good elliptical would have a wide range of resistance that can be easily adjusted. Always search for an elliptical that offers quick and intuitive adjustments of resistance.

Stride Length: Stride length is the length between the pedals on an elliptical when they are at their farthest distance from one another. Stride length plays an important role in both comfort and safety of each workout.

This length should correlate to your height for the best workout experience on any elliptical machine. A taller person will have a longer stride length while shorter individuals have a shorter stride length. 

Some ellipticals have a fixed stride length while others have adjustable strides to accommodate multiple users of varying heights.

Stride Length of Elliptical
Stride Length of Elliptical

Stride length can be measured in a variety of ways, but the most straightforward and precise method is to use a height-based formula. Take an inch measurement of your height. Then multiply the result by 0.25. Round up to the next whole number if the product is a decimal.

Upper Body Comfort: Upper body movement will help you strengthen your arms and shoulders. Upper body levers are used on certain elliptical to add an upper body exercise. Make sure that both upper and lower exercise motions are comfortable and intuitive. Make trial with few different elliptical to see which one is the most comfortable for you.

Noise Level: Some elliptical makes excessive noise during operation. Choose an elliptical that is quiet in operation. A truly well designed elliptical should be relatively silent at all level of intensity 

Connectivity: Mobile device apps can be easily connected with ellipticals through in-build wireless or bluetooth networking of elliptical. Some allow you to transfer workout data to a web-based tracking feature via a laptop using a USB drive. 

Expensive ellipticals are connected with cloud to provide workout tracking and access to a library of exercise programs.  

Programs: Exercise programs will encourage you to use the machine more often by making your workout exciting and varied. However, do not pay for extras that you do not need. 

You can get away with only a few basic workout programs that capture specific types of workouts. Programs may differ considering the manufacturer, but essential features include Manual, Random, Hill Climb, Interval, Long Slow Distance, and Target Heart Rate. 

You can also build your resistance profile with custom programs. It would be best to consider following valuable programs before purchasing an elliptical.

Without Heart Rate Programs

With Heart Rate Programs

Without Heart Rate Programs

Heart rate programs change the elliptical’s resistance to achieve the target heart rate. If your heart rate is below the target you set, the elliptical will increase workout intensity; if your heart rate reaches the target, the elliptical will decrease it. 

As a result, in order for these systems to function, heart rate must be monitored. A chest-strap heart rate monitor is the easiest way to do this. It can be cumbersome and inaccurate to rely on handgrip contact sensors. This system is for those who need more guidance in their workout routine.

Ellipticals without heart rate programs are unable to change the duration of the workout automatically based on a target heart rate. In our ranking, the highest possible score in the category “Heart rate features” for these machines is a good. 

These devices still have touch and chest-strap heart rate sensors that can be used to track and view the heart rate. This machine would be appropriate for those who know how to determine their optimal strength or target heart rate in order to meet their exercise goals.

3. Safety and Warranties

Safety: Pedals movement of elliptical can be dangerous for children. Make sure your elliptical have a safety lock feature to prevent the movement of pedal when it is not in operation. Children should not be allowed near your elliptical when it is in operation.

Warranties: An expensive elliptical will give a good warranty, or a written guarantee to the customers. They will repair or replace the damaged item within committed warranty period. 

Usually manufacturer offer different warranty period for frame, parts, electronics, and labor. The warranty on the frame should be the longest if possible lifetime and the warranty of parts, electronics, and labor should be between 1 and 5 years. 

Each model and brand differs slightly, so before you buy an elliptical, take a look at the warranty to see what exactly it covers and for how long. Sometimes, you will get extended warranty period by paying extra once the allotted time for the warranty has passed.

Summary: Elliptical Buying Guide

This article discusses the most crucial factors to consider when purchasing an elliptical. Before moving on to specific models that meet your needs, we suggest first agreeing on a budget and configuration (style) of elliptical. Then move to the required features, programs, safety and warranties of an elliptical.

Please use the comments form below if you have any concerns about selecting an elliptical. We’ll be pleased to assist you!

How to Choose an Elliptical (FAQs)

What should I look for when buying an elliptical?

  • Adjustable incline. It makes elliptical a true cross-trainer. 
  • Smooth elliptical motion. 
  • Adjustable resistance. 
  • Stride length.
  • Upper body comfort.
  • Smooth forward and backward motion of pedal.
  • Noise level.
  • Special features and programs.

Does ellipticals help to lose belly fat?

Elliptical is an excellent way to burn calories and lose belly fat. Exercise with ellipticals can burns a lot of calories and fat. It also tone up your muscles in a shorter amount of time particularly if you focus on interval training. 

To lose belly fat faster, you’ll need to focus on the high intensity interval training workouts.

What are the best ellipticals for 2022?

Is elliptical bad for knees?

Using an elliptical machine is usually considered a low-impact operation, and if done correctly, it does not cause knee pain. For those with arthritis, elliptical machines may be a beneficial alternative to running or jogging because they offer low-impact aerobic exercise.

Is an elliptical better than a treadmill?

The treadmill is a better choice if you want to get almost the same feeling of running outdoors. However, since the elliptical has a lower impact than the treadmill, it is a safer and healthier choice for people who have ankle, hip, or knee problems.

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