Elliptical trainers are one of the most popular fitness machines for home and gym use. And, for good reason. They can be used by people of all ages, shapes, sizes and fitness levels while providing an upper and lower body workout at the same time. Unlike other fitness machines, they are easy to use and understand.
And, if you think that finding the best home elliptical is a difficult process, it used to be. However, not anymore. We wrote this guide to simplify the process of how to choose the best one for you and provide something that is actionable and easy to follow.
You may think that you need to compare every elliptical trainer on the internet to find the best home elliptical. That’s simply not true. But the ones you do compare, you’re going to want to have a good checklist to filter out the good from the bad.
The last thing you want is buyer’s remorse which can cause you lost time, frustration, and can even derail your fitness goals. Not to mention, in most cases, lost return shipping fees.
When you buy without a process, it can spell disaster. You may end up buying one that is too big for your space… it may be louder than you expected… it may come without a warranty… you might not fit on the machine… and more.
And then it sits. Alone. In a corner. Never to be used again.
Researching online for the best home elliptical is one of the best methods to shop and compare all from the privacy and comfort of your own home. You don’t have to leave your house, get into your car, wait in traffic only to talk with some pushy salesmen with little-to-no product knowledge at the local big box sporting chain.
While you can’t physically test drive a machine online, you can learn everything you need to choose the best one for you and minimize the risk of buying online, without a test drive.
Whether or not you choose one from Diamondback Fitness, this guide will you choose the best home elliptical for you.
How to choose the best home elliptical
Prices range from at a few hundred dollars upwards of $5,000 and you should only buy one you can afford. However, when it comes to Elliptical trainers, you get what you pay for. Buying an inexpensive machine may save you money up front but will not be of the same quality, stability, and long-term use that a more expensive model will afford. An elliptical that will include everything on this checklist will typically cost between $1,500-$2,500 so you want to make sure your investment is well thought out and researched before you purchase.
You don’t want to order an elliptical only to find out it doesn’t fit your space. Grab a tape measure the measure your room before ordering. Next, find the product dimensions by visiting the manufacturer's website. Lastly, don’t forget about the minimum ceiling height necessary. Find out how much overhead space is necessary so that you have enough headroom when working out. The best home elliptical offers a smaller footprint.
There are two weights you need to be aware of before purchase: 1) there is the shipping weight and 2) the weight of the unit once assembled. When the machine is delivered, it’s going to weigh the most. It will come in a box on a pallet with all the tools necessary to assemble. If you choose to assemble it, you may need assistance getting it into your home and into the room of your choice. Once assembled, it will be lighter and more portable. Be sure it will include a rolling system to make it easier to move the machine.
If you’re looking for the best overall workout be sure to find one with adjustable incline levels upwards of 25-degrees. They are a little more expensive but they will not only kick up the intensity of your workout, it will also help sculpt your whole body as you go.
Knowing the stride length is critical when deciding which elliptical to order. If the stride length is too short, you will feel cramped and uncomfortable. If it’s too long, you could pull muscles. Neither is a good option. As you research online, you’ll see most machines come with a fixed 19”-21” stride length which generally fits people who are 5’7”-6’7”. If you’re shorter than 5’7” you should consider one that offers a stride length of 16”-18” for the best fit for your proportions. The best home elliptical for you will fit your stride.
How many levels of resistance are there? At times, you will take it easy during a warm up and cool down while other times you will want to crush it while burning fat and decimating calories which require resistance. Find one with adjustable resistance levels for the most flexibility in your workouts. Look for a machine with at least 15-20 levels of resistance so that you can have the perfect amount of resistance that matches your needs.
You can tell a lot about an elliptical by its console. However, don’t be fooled by too much technology or added bells and whistles in the console. Remember: the more complicated it is, the more can go wrong and break. Simplicity is key to find the best home elliptical. Watch videos, look at photo galleries, and read reviews to see if it’s easy to use and operate.
Having preset programs that offer multiple levels of resistance options makes it easy for you to choose the best style for your workout. There are many styles of workout options. However, there are a few popular styles including manual, interval, hill climb, sprint, and random. The best home elliptical will come with preset programs.
If there is more than one user in your household, this is an important consideration. Be aware that not all models and brands come with multiple user workout profiles so be sure to find one that allows at least two user settings.
Using a heart rate monitor will tell you if you’re working out with the proper intensity. Most come with an onboard heart rate monitor built into the handlebars while others also include a built-in wireless heart rate monitor receiver. Due to perspiration and lack of constant contact, the handlebars may not consistently deliver accurate readings. To help improve the accuracy of the heart rate reading, you may want to invest in a wireless chest strap heart rate monitor. Check if this is an option before purchasing.
When reading reviews to find the best home elliptical, you will learn about the good, bad, and the ugly...
- Was it easy to assemble?
- What was the delivery process like?
- Did it work as expected?
- Did customer service help if something went wrong?
It’s important to keep a few things in mind when trusting online reviews:
- Look for verified buyers. Reading reviews are from actual owners of the product is key. Unfortunately, unless they’re verified, you may not be able to trust the reviews.
- Focus on newer reviews. Old reviews may speak to issues or problems that have been fixed or are no longer an issue through upgrades.
- Read reviews at every rating level. You can’t rely solely on the 5-star reviews any more than you can on the 1-star reviews. Read everything in between to understand the full spectrum of experiences.
Having an elliptical that allows you to run forward and in reverse gives you a better workout. When running forward, you activate your glutes and hamstrings while activating your calves and quads when running in reverse. Simply put, the best home elliptical allows you to run forward and in reverse.
Having customizable programs becomes more important as your fitness goals change and you get used to the preset routines. Make sure the model you're considering offers customizable training programs.
How noisy is it? If you live in an apartment, having a quiet machine is essential. And, even if you live in a house, you don’t want it so noisy that is distracting during workouts. Determine if there is technology in place that reduces noise levels. Any excessive noise is often mentioned in online reviews so be sure to check those out. Be sure it offers a quiet exercise experience.
Having jerky or wobbly movements in the track as you run distracts from your workout. Higher end models don’t typically shake or jerk due to their engineering and a higher standard of quality. If you can’t test the machine in person, read the reviews on the manufacturer's website and check to see if there is technology is built in that helps provide smooth operation.
When it comes to design, there two primary styles available for you to choose from 1) standing and 2) seated. Both offer a variety of benefits and each has a specific purpose. Depending on your fitness goals, you may decide to purchase one over the other.
Why buy a standing elliptical? The standing variation offers an overall better workout because it engages more muscle groups during the workout and provides more intense workouts that burn more calories and fat.
Why buy a seated elliptical? The seated variation is ideal for the elderly, those in need of rehab style workouts or those that have difficulty standing when working out. Overall they deliver a less intense workout than their standing counterpart because fewer muscles are used when in use.
There are three drive options available. Each version refers to the location of the flywheel.
1. Rear drive –The rear drive is the most popular option and was the first style elliptical manufactured. It’s tested, proven, and reliable. Because of the location of the flywheel, it has a slightly larger footprint and may require more space. Because of their size and weight, they are known to be very sturdy, stable, and quiet when in use. Plus, they promote better posture because your body weight is supported directly over your legs as you work out.
2. Center drive – A center drive offers a compact design when compared to the rear drive type and require smaller spaces. However, they tend to be more expensive because they are a new style of elliptical and not as quiet as a rear-drive model.
3. Front drive – These also have a slightly smaller footprint than a rear drive and may take up less space. However, when it comes to noise, the flywheel is located towards the front, the noise levels may be more noticeable. Posture may also be less than ideal because you tend to lean more towards the console when in use because of the weight and placement of the flywheel.
Every machine requires some level of maintenance for it to last. Check the manufacturer’s website to find exactly what maintenance is required to keep it working at peak efficiency.
At the very least, perspiration should be removed after each use. If it can settle on the frame, pads, or plastic casing, it can eventually cause rust, pitting or other damage. Use a mild soap and warm water on a terry cloth to wipe the machine down. Then remove excess moisture by wiping it down with a clean dry towel. The best home elliptical doesn't require a lot of maintenance.
Most machines in the market arrive around 60%-80% assembled. All the necessary tools and instructions are included the box. On average, it will take between one to two hours to fully assemble. Be sure you follow the instructions exactly to avoid installing components incorrectly.
You can also have it assembled for you. Most companies offer assembly options in the checkout process of their website for an additional fee. If you don’t see this option available, it means they know they don’t have an option based on the zip code you provided in your shipping address. If that's the case, there are local fitness repair and service technicians that can assemble it for you.
Buying direct has its advantages. Most people don’t realize that if you buy a machine from an online retailer, they are often responsible if something goes wrong with the machine, not the manufacturer. The online retailer may become the middleman between you and the manufacturer. When you buy direct, your machine is often registered for its warranty automatically. When buying from an online retailer, you must register with the manufacturer separately. If you can buy direct, do it. In fact, they may even be cheaper than buying from their authorized online retailers.
Because of its size and weight, an elliptical isn’t shipped via UPS or FedEx Ground. It will likely be delivered via freight and be strapped to a pallet. If so, it may require a lift gate and a pallet jack to get it off the truck. The delivery driver will call you in advance to schedule a drop-off so be aware you will need to arrange for someone to be there to sign for it. They won’t just leave it at the door.
Where exactly will they deliver your new machine? If you’re like most, you might assume that the freight delivery company will bring your new elliptical into your house and then naturally into the room of your choice as part of the delivery service.
And, you too, would be wrong.
Unless you specifically pay for it, most freight delivery companies will only deliver to the curb or in front of the lowest step on the porch. In most cases, it will cost extra if you want it moved inside your door or placed in the room of your choice. Prices can range from $99-$399 so check this before purchase. Read the fine print of the shipping policies to understand exactly where it will be delivered and if you need assistance from someone before it arrives.
One big advantage to purchasing online compared to buying locally is the fact that you may not have to pay for sales tax for your elliptical. When buying from major online retailers, you almost always must pay sales tax. Check the manufacturer’s website to see if that is necessary there. Buying online direct from the manufacturer could literally save you hundreds of dollars. Before checking out, see if sales tax will be charged. Unless you’re in the same state as the manufacturer, you may not be charged sales tax.
Having a phone number to talk with a representative is certainly important. However, most manufacturers don’t offer 24-hour phone service so it’s not the only consideration. Having access to email support, an online knowledge base, frequently asked questions section, and more that can help you with troubleshooting or product questions can help you in those off hours where customer service isn’t immediately available.
There are typically two primary points to a standard elliptical warranty policy.
1. Labor- This refers to the manufacturer’s policy on providing free service by a technician for a certain time frame after purchase. Look for a 1-year labor warranty or longer with the purchase of a new machine.
2. Parts - This refers to how long the manufacturer will provide parts under the warranty should something break. Look for a 3-year or longer warranty on parts.
Lastly, if you’re buying an elliptical intended for home use for your place of business, double check to make sure you’re not voiding the warranty under those conditions.
Buying from a company who stands behind their products is important. Some offer money back guarantees while others do not. Buy from a company who will give you 30-days to make sure it’s right for you. And if not, allow you to return it. The best home elliptical comes with at least a 30-day money back guarantee.
What is the fine print of the return policy? You’re going to want to read this BEFORE purchase. Not after.
There are 3 primary questions to answer here:
1. How long do you have to return it?
Again, we recommend looking for a minimum of a 30-day return policy.
2. Who pays for return shipping if the merchandise is returned?
While you may get a 30-day return policy, you may still be required to pay for return shipping if you return your machine.
3. Is there a restocking fee?
Some companies charge a restocking fee instead of a return shipping fee. Just be aware of what will happen if you return your machine.
There you have it! Armed with this 27-point checklist to find the best home elliptical, you too can find the perfect elliptical trainer for your home.