Ellipticals combine several features that are a great fit for a home gym: They can save on space, mimic natural motions that are easy on your joints, and easy to customize based on your goals. Today’s elliptical machines are also plenty smart, with programs and sensors that can help you get a whole lot more out of your workout. Here are some of the best picks for when you’re ready to upgrade your workout routine!
Bowflex Max Trainer M9
Best all-around elliptical
- Excellent design
- Great interactive touchscreen with tailored workouts
- Can track calories, heart rate, and more
- Requires a pricey subscription
Bowflex’s Trainer model is the best option if you are serious about your workout and need a machine that can keep up. It sports a sturdy design with four-grip handlebars. The built-in screen allows you to keep an eye on your stats and choose from a variety of destinations/training programs -- or you can even watch streaming apps. Tailored workouts and customized coaching are also options if you want to put together custom sessions, or you can start with pre-programmed classes with trainers. The machine can track time and calories burned, as well as monitor your achievements. With the included heart rate monitor, you can also track your heart rate. When things get a little too easy, choose from 20 resistance levels to keep things more challenging.
The elliptical comes with one year of the JRNY subscription, which really is required to utilize all the smart features. Ordinarily, the membership costs $150 a year.
NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i
Best compact elliptical
- Compact folding design
- Automatic incline that can tie into Google Maps
- 24 resistance levels
- Still takes up quite a bit of room in the home
This elliptical was designed to fold up when you finish a workout, ideal for sliding it into a corner or closet to save on space. The SpaceSave SE9i s also a highly capable, high-tech machine with 24 resistance levels and a host of program options. Use the onboard touchscreen to navigate a wide variety of sessions and trainers, while monitoring your resistance, time, cadence, incline, and more. Speaking of incline, programs can also automatically adjust to mimic the feel of jogging in the real world. You can even connect it to Google Maps and choose a specific landscape to imitate!
As is usual, you’ll need a subscription to get everything working, this time it's for iFIT, which offers a monthly plan for $39 and a yearly plan for $180.
ProForm Carbon E7
Most comfortable elliptical
- Pedals designed for comfort
- Built-in pulse/heart rate sensor
- iFIT's excellent range of interactive digital training
- Built-in sensors aren't usually as accurate as wearables
Another machine from the iFIT family, this ProForm model is slightly simpler than the NordicTrack version but includes many of the same smart features, such as the ability to pick from a variety of sessions or locations on the seven-inch touchscreen. You can also have the elliptical automatically adjust the incline as you progress. Of course, you can always control this yourself too, along with adjusting the oversized pedals (designed for maximum comfort).
The handles also have a built-in heart rate sensor -- these aren’t always as accurate as a wearable, but it’s one less accessory to worry about when setting up. All in all, it’s an excellent option for a beginner elliptical machine or if you're looking for something that provides an especially comfortable experience.
Nautilus E618 Elliptical Machine
Best elliptical for manual controls
- Allows for detailed adjustments and program creation
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Durable drivetrain design
- No touchscreen or interactive program options
This Nautilus elliptical gets straight to business, with less of attention on interactive sessions and coaches and more focus on controlling the workout on your terms. There are 29 different built-in programs highlighting certain goals such as heart rate, HIIT, and weight loss, but you can also put together custom programs or set them with the expansive onboard controls (seriously, there are a lot of buttons). You can quickly adjust resistance, incline (up to 10 degrees), and more, or just choose Quick Start and make adjustments as you start to sweat.
The model supports Bluetooth, so it can share your workout data with any preferred training apps you may be using (Nautilus works with the Explore the World app if you want something to try). A heart rate strap is included for more direct monitoring. This model is also entirely reliable on its own, which means you don’t have to pay a subscription to anything if you’d rather avoid that.
Sole E25 Elliptical
Best elliptical for a full workout
- Sturdy design with 20-pound flywheel
- Built-in fan and Bluetooth speakers
- Pedals designed by physical therapists
- This machine takes up quite a bit of room
Sole is known for their sturdy designs, and this elliptical is no exception, with a well-made 20-pound flywheel, steel frame with a lifetime warranty, and four rear wheels to offer extra stabilization. Sole also guarantees that its foot pedals are designed by physical therapists for maximum safety. On board, you’ll find a cooling fan, speakers, water bottle holder, tablet holder, and pulse monitors in the handles along with a wireless heart rate strap. There’s even a USB port to charge your devices while you work out…although there are no integrated training program options.
As you progress with your workouts, you can choose between 20 levels of incline, adjust the level of the elliptical resistance, and make a variety of other changes to increase the challenge. Just keep in mind that a machine like this will require a lot of room, and isn’t the best choice for saving space.
Sunny SF-E3912 Elliptical
Best budget elliptical
- 24 built-in workout programs
- Pulse sensors in handlebars
- Lacks Bluetooth connectivity
Starting a home gym is a great idea, but not everyone can afford to pay $1,000 or more for a new machine. That’s why this Sunny model makes a perfect, affordable alternative for those who would like to save some cash. There are not many bells and whistles on this elliptical, but it does include a performance monitor screen, a device holder, and programmable resistance levels.
There are 24 onboard workout modes with various targets, and you can track stats like calories burnt, time, distance, and more for each session. The handles also include pulse sensors for some light heart rate tracking. Put it all together, and this is a great elliptical if you are looking for a budget version that won’t disappoint.
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