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Best elliptical trainers: 6 top gadgets to elevate your fitness routine

From NordicTrack to Pro-Form, these are the best elliptical trainers for all levels of expertise

best elliptical trainers on display in home near computer
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Are you searching for the best elliptical trainers? By now, we figure as much. Elliptical trainers have become one of the most sought-after items during COVID-19, and with good reason. 

These home exercise machines let you enjoy all the fun and benefits of walking and running, with none of the impacts.

If you have downstairs neighbors, they'll love you for choosing an elliptical instead of a treadmill – that lower impact also translates to a quieter workout. But don't make the mistake of thinking it also equals boring: 

Most of these elliptical trainers pack impressive interactive and entertainment features, letting you 'run' through world-famous locales or work with trainers who adjust your machine's resistance and incline remotely.

And of course, we've also included a few of the best elliptical trainers that feature beautifully priced models, prioritizing the build, quality, and exercise feel over those features, including a truly impressive baseline elliptical trainer and a folding model that stands up against the wall for storage.

The best elliptical trainers for home use

best elliptical trainers - NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 elliptical trainer

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

1. NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

The best elliptical trainers: If you love the video aspect of your workouts, the Nordictrack Commercial 14.9 is for you

Specifications
Stride length: 17.5" - 18.7"
Resistance levels: 26
Workout programs: iFit
Adjustable incline: 0 - 20%
Moving handlebars?: Yes
Weight limit: 350 lbs
Dimensions: 69" L x 29" W x 69" H
Reasons to buy
+Giant 14" HD touchscreen+Free 1-year iFit Family trial+Good stride length+Excellent build quality
Reasons to avoid
-Higher priced-The touchscreen could be overkill for some-A handful of interactive features that require a previous subscription

If a big, beautiful HD touchscreen display is crucial to you, you'll love the NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 elliptical trainer.

What we like about it 

Sure, we love the giant touchscreen and impressive suite of interactive iFit features (including the ability for trainers to adjust your machine remotely), but the best part? This NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 offers excellent build quality and a slightly longer than usual stride length: so it may be a good fit for taller exercises.

Things to note

We also like the free 1-year trial of iFit Family, which unlocks all those interactive features. But if you decide to continue with those features past the trial period, you'll need to pay a subscription fee of almost $400/year. The 14" screen might also be overkill for some; you can save a lot of money by purchasing an elliptical trainer with a smaller screen.

best elliptical trainers: Pro-Form Carbon E7 elliptical trainer

(Image credit: Pro-Form)

2. Pro-Form Carbon E7

The best elliptical trainers: If having interactive features is tops on your priority list, why not get the elliptical trainer for free?

Specifications
Stride length: 19"
Resistance levels: 24
Workout programs: iFit (almost unlimited
Adjustable incline: 0 - 20%
Moving handlebars?: Yes
Weight limit: 325 lbs
Dimensions: 68.5" L x 25" W x 67.75" H
Reasons to buy
+7" touchscreen+Free with a 3-year iFit subscription+Trainers automatically control resistance+Adjustable pedal angle
Reasons to avoid
-Touchscreen could be larger

If interactive features are your highest priority, it's almost impossible to beat the Pro-Form Carbon E7 – because if you pay for three years of the interactive iFit service, you get the elliptical for free.

What we like about it

The Pro-Form Carbon E7 packs a true impression suite of interactive features. It includes the ability to stream studio workouts and virtually attend various classes through worldwide locations. The trainers in your workout classes can even adjust your elliptical's resistance and incline for you. 

Even without the interactive features, the Carbon E7 is an impressive machine. There's a user-friendly 19" stride length, 24 levels of push-button resistance, and adjustable pedal angles to help you fine-tune the comfort of your ride – a rare feature to find in-home elliptical trainers. 

Things to note

While the Pro-Form Carbon E7's 7" digital touchscreen is an excellent feature, we find it surprising that an elliptical focused on interactive features doesn't have a larger screen.

best elliptical trainers - NordicTrack FreeStride FS10i elliptical trainer

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

3. NordicTrack FreeStride FS10i

The best elliptical trainers: The best one size does fit all model

Specifications
Stride length: 0 - 32"
Resistance levels: 24
Workout programs: iFit (almost unlimited)
Adjustable incline: 0 - 10%
Moving handlebars?: No
Weight limit: 375 lbs
Dimensions: 58.5" L x 29.5" W x 74"H
Reasons to buy
+Auto-adjusting stride+Compact footprint+Free 1-year iFit trial
Reasons to avoid
-Requires extra space fore and aft-"Treadmill" mode is gimmicky-iFit requires a subscription fee

The NordicTrack FreeStride FS10i's free-swinging pedals allow you to set your stride on the fly – a remarkable feature for a home-use elliptical trainer.

What we like about it

We love how the FreeStride FS10i automatically adapts to suit your stride length, with no button-pushing or dial-twisting required. Whether you want to simulate a warm-up jog or an all-out sprint, let your strides fall naturally, and the machine will adjust to fit your movement.

That feature means this elliptical can accommodate almost any body type, from short and stocky and long and a bit lanky: no more compromising on the fit and feel of your elliptical trainer.

The NordicTrack FreeStride FS10i also packs a full suite of interactive iFit features, including the ability for trainers to adjust their resistance level remotely. You do have to pay a subscription fee for the iFit service, but the first year is free.

Things to note

This elliptical trainer has a remarkably tiny footprint, but watch out for your walls – it does require quite a bit of free space, in front and behind, to accommodate the swing of those auto-adjusting pedals.

Also, as much as we love the NordicTrack FreeStride FS10i's self-adjusting mechanism, we wish it was not known for having a 'treadmill' mode. 

No matter how much you lengthen your stride, you cannot safely lift your feet out of the pedals – so this will never feel like a treadmill.

best elliptical trainers - Nautilus E616 elliptical trainer

(Image credit: Nautilus)

4. Nautilus E616

The best elliptical trainers: A model that goes after 'what matters the most.'

Specifications
Stride length: 20"
Resistance levels: 25
Workout programs: 28
Adjustable incline: No
Moving handlebars: Yes
Weight limit: 300 lbs
Dimensions: 70"L x 28"W x 71"H
Reasons to buy
+Generous 20" stride length+Excellent value+Explore the World app is great+Lots of resistance levels, workout programs+Bluetooth compatible+Great warranty coverage
Reasons to avoid
-No touchscreen/video-Tablet required for using the app-No incline adjustment

If you want the best build quality for your buck, look no further than the Nautilus E616. Although it lacks some of the technological bells and whistles you'll find in other elliptical trainers, its sturdy design and construction make it a fantastic value.

What we like about it

The Nautilus E616 is one of the best values in its price range, thanks to excellent build quality, a worthwhile warranty, and lots of resistance levels and preprogrammed workouts at your fingertips. 

It's generous 20" stride length is unusual in any price category and helps this machine accommodate a broad range of body types.

Although the Nautilus E616 doesn't have a built-in touchscreen or video capability, you can sync your mobile device to the machine and use Nautlius's free Explore the World app to virtually explore almost 30 routes through 19 locations around the world. 

This elliptical is also Bluetooth compatible, so it'll sync to all your favorite fitness applications. 

Things to note

If getting a large touchscreen or built-in video capability is crucial to you, this elliptical won't be the best choice. It also lacks a built-in incline adjust feature. But it's appropriate that such bells and whistles take a back seat to the excellent build quality here.

best elliptical trainers - NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i elliptical trainer

(Image credit: NordicTrack)

5. NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

The best elliptical trainers: A full-size machine that folds into a fraction of its usual footprint and stores vertically against a wall.

Specifications
Stride length: 18"
Resistance levels: 24
Workout programs: 30 + iFit
Adjustable incline: 0 - 10%
Moving handlebars: Yes
Weight limit: 325 lbs
Dimensions: 78.7"L x 31.9"W x 66.4"H
Reasons to buy
+7" HD touchscreen+Trainers can adjust your machine remotely+Folds for storage against the wall
Reasons to avoid
-Orders are sometimes backlogged-Interactive features require an iFit subscription

The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i blends an impressive suite of features and functions with the ability to fold up out of the way.

What we like about it

When you've finished using this elliptical, you can fold it and stand it up against the wall for storage. It's the perfect choice for full-size workouts in a relatively small space or guest rooms susceptible to use. 

The Nordictrack SpaceSaver SE9i sports a 7" HD touchscreen and a full suite of interactive iFit features, including the ability for trainers to adjust their resistance and incline on the spot. 

If you don't want to pay for an iFit subscription after your free year-long trial, it also has 30 preprogrammed workouts built-in. 

The 18" stride length will be comfortable for most people.

Things to note

It's hard to find a flaw in this machine; it's even a pretty good value, given its range of features. But because of its popularity, you may have to wait a month or more. 

best elliptical trainers - Pro-Form Hybrid Trainer XT elliptical trainer and recumbent bike

(Image credit: Pro-Form)

6. ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT

The best elliptical trainers: This machine also converts into a recumbent stationary bicycle

Specifications
Stride length: 15"
Resistance levels: 16
Workout programs: 16 (8 elliptical, 8 bike)
Adjustable incline: No
Moving handlebars: Yes
Weight limit: 350 lbs
Dimensions: 70.5"L x 24.5"W x 60.5"H
Reasons to buy
+Two exercise machines in one+iFit compatible+Excellent value
Reasons to avoid
-Jack of all trades, master of none-Short 15" stride length-Requires tablet for using iFit

The Pro-Form Hybrid Trainer XT gives you two exercise machines in one: An elliptical trainer and a recumbent bike. Although it's not perfect in either mode: this machine will appeal to those who want variety. Or those who don't have enough space (or budget) for two stand-alone options.

What we like about it

It's hard to beat the idea of getting two exercise machines in one, especially if variety is what powers your enthusiasm for exercise or if you and your loved ones can't agree on whether to buy an exercise bike or an elliptical trainer.

The ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT is also iFit compatible, although it lacks a video/touchscreen display. So, you'll need to provide your tablet to use the iFit features, which include streaming workouts with world-class trainers and videos of beautiful workout locations around the world.

Things to note

The 15" stride length (in elliptical mode) might be too short and choppy for some, especially if you have long legs. 

One could argue that this machine is so busy trying to be two exercise machines at once, it doesn't manage either one perfectly. But if your primary interest is in workout variety or if you're exercising in a small space, having two exercise machines in one could be your ideal solution.

How to buy the best elliptical trainers for use at home

The most important feature of an elliptical trainer is how it feels underfoot and how well it fits into your living/workout space. 

Ask yourself the following questions will help narrow the field down to your best options:

How much room do you have?

We've included the dimensions for each of the elliptical trainers in this report: but please remember to consider two extra factors when you're deciding whether an elliptical will fit in your home gym:

Space

If your workout room has a low ceiling, you'll need to look for a correspondingly low-profile elliptical trainer. As a general rule: you'll need a minimum of 12 inches of extra headspace between your head and the ceiling, although if your elliptical has a particularly short stride that leaves you with a lot of up-and-down motion, you may need even more space overhead.

Clearance on the front, back, and side of the machine

Many elliptical trainers require additional room in the front and behind the machine to complete each stride. As a general rule, somewhere between 1 and 2 feet of clearance in front and back is enough – but a few models may require more space. 

And for most ellipticals, you'll need extra space at the side of the elliptical trainer to let you mount and dismount safely. Front-drive ellipticals also allow you to mount the trainer from the rear, but you should still aim to have that safe space on the side, too.

In general, most experts recommend carving out a 4' x 8' chunk of floor space for your elliptical trainer. For most machines, that'll provide the necessary clearance.

Step-up height

Speaking of mounting and dismounting your elliptical trainer: If you're concerned about being able to step on and off the elliptical safely, go for a front-drive elliptical trainer. Here, this gives you the additional option of stepping directly onto the trainer from the back, in addition to mounting from the side, so you can choose which works best for you. Front-drive elliptical trainers often have a slightly lower step-up height, too.

How long is your stride?

An elliptical trainer is only comfortable to use if the motion of its pedals closely mimics your stride. 

One of the most impactful determiners there is the machine's stride length, which is what it sounds like: The distance your feet travel fore and aft through the cycle of each stride.

As a general rule, 18" to 20" is a sensational elliptical trainer stride length for most people. But if you're on the particularly tall or short end of the spectrum, you might be more comfortable with a correspondingly long or short stride length.

How much do you care about entertainment features?

Some of today's elliptical trainers come with all sorts of entertainment-oriented bells and whistles, including giant touch screen monitors that can display interactive video workouts or real-world footage of famous running locales. 

Some advanced elliptical trainers can even adjust the machine's resistance for you. If these features are a motivator for you to enjoy regular workouts, they're well worth investing in here. 

However, if you're willing to forgo those interactive features, you can save a lot of money by focusing on an elliptical trainer with sparse entertainment features but exceptional build quality.

Speaking of money, keep in mind that taking full advantage of all those interactive features often means paying a monthly or yearly subscription fee. 

With that said, the basic features of the elliptical trainer (such as adjusting resistance) will stick without the subscription, and you can usually count on receiving three months to a year of the interactive service as a free trial.