Whether you are working out from home or at the gym, Elliptical trainers can provide one of the best low-impact cardio workouts you will ever get in your life. While treadmills are a more popular choice among many people, Ellipticals mimics the motion of running but without any impact or strain on your legs. This helps protect your joints from damage, which is important for anyone with knee, hip, or lower body injuries. By bringing your gym experience to your home, an elliptical can make workouts more fun. So it’s no wonder that this machine is an athlete’s favorite when it comes to home workout equipment.
With that being said, buying an elliptical machine can be a bit confusing as there are so many options to choose from. To understand the differences between types of elliptical trainers, you need to do some research to learn what works out best for you and narrow down your options.
To simplify this process, we have rounded up these 10 useful tips for choosing the best elliptical machine for you.
1. Machine Size
Especially if you’re buying one for use at home, size is unarguably an important factor to consider when choosing an elliptical machine. Before heading to the market, you will want to consider the amount of space you have available, both for during workout and storage. There’s no point in buying a machine that will force you to take your workouts to the backyard if not spend chunks of money on remodeling your home to accommodate it.
On average, the standard elliptical machine is somewhere between 4 and 7 feet long by approximately 2.5 feet wide, with the pedals sometimes extending a bit further than this. This means that the space in question should be able to accommodate this, plus an extra 20 inches or so to allow a safe and convenient workout experience. Additionally, the machine you go for should be able to fit into that space in terms of height.
2. Consider Weight
Weight is another important factor to consider when picking an elliptical machine. In most cases, heavier machines tend to provide much more support than their lighter variants. Additionally, the heavier your machine is, the more stable and robust it is. As for user weight support, medium and high-end elliptical trainers can support up to about 130-150 kg. On the other hand, most entry-level elliptical bikes take only up to 90-100 kg. It is always best to pick a machine that supports more weight than that of your own.
3. Pick A Convenient Style/Design
Design is another important factor that no elliptical bike buyer should ignore. This is because the choice you make in terms of style will affect you and your workout in more than a few ways. Essentially, elliptical bikes come in 3 basic designs, each with its own perks and drawbacks. Often categorized by the kind of drive the machine features, they include the following:
- Front-drive – Of the three, the front-drive tends to be the most affordable alternative but can be a bit noisy. It features a large housed wheel on the machine’s front.
- Center-drive – On the other hand, the center-drive elliptical provides a gentler workout and almost looks like a treadmill with the pedals replacing the track. It is also more ergonomic, features a compact design and reduces the strain on your hips. However, the downside is that they don’t come with a ramp for easy cross training.
- Rear-drive – In this elliptical, the flywheel is located at the back. It can be a great option for beginners considering its ease of use. However, it tends to be the longest option of them all, even though foldable space-saving options are nowadays available.
When choosing an elliptical bike style, it is also important to consider its aesthetic appeal in addition to the above, especially if you don’t have a home gym or space in your home that you’ve clearly set aside for your workout sessions.
4. Exercise Intensity and Resistance
The elliptical bike you go for should be able to help you meet your fitness goals without breaking you apart or ‘deceiving’ you. In other words, it should neither be too hard for you nor too easy in terms of the required strain and input (resistance). For this reason, most bikes feature a variable resistance. The ideal bike should be easy to pedal at the lowest resistance setting, and a bit challenging as you approach.
75% toward the highest setting. This allows you some room to improve your workout intensity and to gradually up your game in your workouts. This brings us to the next important point!
5. Mechanical Vs Magnetic Resistance
With mechanical resistance, the more you run, the more difficult it is to pedal. Magnetic resistance that is also known as a motorized braking system, on the other hand, is modified through a console in the elliptical trainer. Magnetic resistance is much more comfortable because it lets you maintain your cardio workout routines while automatically changing in the resistance levels by itself.
6. Elliptical Machine Pricing
In most cases, price reflects a product’s quality in that for you to get a high-quality machine, you have to expect to pay more. In other words, a cheap elliptical will just not have the best features! Most low-cost elliptical trainers come with a light flywheel, less pedaling comfort, and insufficient resistance. Most of them are also noisy, less robust, and less durable. If you want a high-quality, quiet and robust elliptical trainer on which you plan to exercise at least once a week, you should invest a little more. Dishing out a little extra cash for medium or high-end elliptical trainers will definitely go a long way for you.
7. Flywheel Weight
The flywheel directly affects an elliptical trainer quality, comfort, and fluidity of pedaling. Thus, you should be really careful in your flywheel weights choice. The flywheels that are too light range from 7 to 10 kg and can cause your pedaling to be too uncomfortable. Based on the speed and acceleration, the flywheel determines the amount of resistance with its very light wheel. In other words, the more resistance you encounter when you go faster, the more effort you make pedaling. So with this very light wheel, your bike accelerates and decelerates faster, therefore, forcing you to apply less effort. If you want something more effective, go for a heavier wheel. This can be more convenient for weight loss, offers a greater pedaling fluidity, and provides more comfort.
8. The Machine’s Stride Length
This is one of the most crucial criteria when it comes to choosing the right elliptical bike for you. The stride length is a way to measure your leg movement as well as how the pedaling is comfortable for you. You should be able to balance out the stride length with your leg movement; not making it too long or too short, but rather a sufficient length for your legs. This, of course, is directly affected by the size or length of the elliptical machine and your height. If you chose a smaller bike just because it was cheaper and you are a tall person, it will not be comfortable for you because it will most probably have short stride lengths.
The maximum resistance in an elliptical bike goes hand in hand with its watt level. An elliptical bike with a low watt level and a high maximum resistance would be indicative of potential quality issues.
10. Entertainment and convenience
Nowadays, many elliptical bikes come with a Bluetooth connection, which allows you to connect your phone or tablet wireless to your elliptical trainer for some entertainment. Also, some allow you to position your phone on the bike console so that you can use it as a smart/touch console. This way, you are able to see important readings such as your pedaling speed directly on your smartphone or tablet. Additionally, you can also adjust settings such as the pedaling difficulty or resistance level from your smartphone! This is definitely a plus as it makes the workout more interactive.
At this particular juncture, it is safe to say that the best elliptical trainers for home training are the ones that fulfill all quality criteria (comfort and fluidity of movement, silent pedaling, good resistance levels and strength) for a very good price. If you find that magical combination, go for it right away! So are you ready to burn some calories and put your cardiovascular fitness to test?