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Best elliptical trainers: 6 perfect picks for home use

From NordicTrack to Pro-Form, here are the best elliptical trainers according to our team.

best elliptical trainers
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With home fitness equipment selling like hotcakes during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's little wonder that elliptical trainers are one of the most sought-after items. 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 couple of beautifully priced models that prioritize 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

Best big screen elliptical trainer: 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
-May be too pricey for some-Touchscreen could be overkill for some-Interactive features require ongoing subscription

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

What we like about it
Aside from its giant touchscreen and impressive suite of interactive iFit features (including the ability for trainers to adjust your machine remotely), the 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, 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

Best free elliptical trainer: 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 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, including the ability to stream studio workouts and virtual jaunts through worldwide locations. The trainers in your remote workouts can even adjust your elliptical's resistance and incline for you. 

Even without the interactive features, the Carbon E7 is an impressive machine, with 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 difficult 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 so 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

Best adjustable stride elliptical machine: Suddenly, one size does fit all

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 subscription fee

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

What we like about it

We absolutely 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 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 small 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 really wish it wasn't advertised as 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

Best value elliptical trainer: When Nautilus designed the E616, they put all their attention where it matters 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 truly one of the best values in its price range, thanks to excellent build quality, a very good 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 wider range of body types.

Although the Nautilus E616 doesn't have a built-in touchscreen or video capability, you can sync your own 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 apps 

Things to note

If getting a large touchscreen or built-in video capability is important 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

Best folding elliptical trainer: 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 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're done using this elliptical, you can fold it and stand it up against the wall for storage — making it the perfect choice for full-size workouts in a relatively small space, or guest rooms and other places where it might only be used occasionally.

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 automatically. 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 sometimes wait a month or more before your purchase ships.

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

(Image credit: Pro-Form)

6. ProForm Hybrid Trainer XT

Best two-in-one elliptical trainer: 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 who don't have the space or budget for two stand-alone machines.

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 own 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 very small space, having two exercise machines in one could be your ideal solution.

How to buy the best elliptical trainer for use at home

The absolute most important feature of any 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 really fit in your home gym:

Head room. If your workout room has a very low ceiling, you'll need to look for a correspondingly low-profile elliptical trainer. As a general rule you'll need a minimum 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 front, back and side of the machine. Many elliptical trainers require extra clearance in 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 give you the option of mounting from the rear, but you should still aim to have that safety 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. 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 the natural motion of your stride. One of the biggest determiners there is the machine's stride length, which is exactly 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 good 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 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 an important motivator for you to enjoy regular workouts, they're well worth investing in. 

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 great 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.