Elliptical Buying Guide



One of the most common fitness workout machines found in gyms and homes across the country is the elliptical trainer.
So what makes elliptical trainers so popular and why are they the number one choice for most people looking to get fit.
The most important aspect about ellipticals is, they are much less stressful on the knees, joints and back, than a treadmill, yet ellipticals provide a total body workout with the footplates and hand bars moving simultaneously.

When looking to buy an elliptical machine, you should consider a few factors in order to make the best decision for a long-term investment?

The most important points to consider before buying an elliptical machine are:

  1. Who is going to be using it  e.g.  just you, or a taller or smaller person as well?
  2. What is the weight of the person(s) using it
  3. Budget
  4. Design ( rear wheel, front wheel, compact, foldable etc…)
  5. Specification ( Magnetic resistance, flywheel weight, fixed or adjustable stride, incline, resistance etc.. )
  6. Console Features
  7. Warranty

By using this elliptical buying guide, you should be able to make a more informed decision on the type of elliptical that best suits your specific needs. User’s maximum weight limits, stride length, warranty etc…  are detailed in all our elliptical reviews so you can quickly identify which elliptical trainer is the best fit.

Elliptical User(s)

It is important to consider the fitness goals and needs of all the potential users of the elliptical machine prior to making a purchasing decision.


Before purchasing an elliptical trainer you will have to consider what amount you are willing to spend? You will also need to research the features of each machine to decide which is most important for you, and of course the features that are not. For example, if you are a tall person, you will want to consider a minimum of 20 inch fixed stride length or an adjustable stride length machine should your partner be smaller than you. Alternatively, if you are a heavier person you will definitely want to consider getting an elliptical with a higher maximum weight capacity and a heavier flywheel. This will ensure the build quality of the machine is suitable and the flywheel can deliver smooth and quiet workout routines day after day.

If your goal is to attain advanced fitness levels, you may be interested in an elliptical with heart rate monitoring and a advanced console features such as, fitness tracking and program performance monitoring.  While console display, monitoring and program features have different levels of functionality across the range of elliptical trainers, you will need to consider what is actually the best price-to-performance fit for your budget. Needless to say, the most important considerations are the physical build quality and specification.  Why pay more if you need less?  Know your goals and fix your budget range to achieve those objectives.


Elliptical trainers come with various design elements to suit particular needs.  They can be foldable, fixed construction or space savers.
Rear drive trainers have the flywheel located at the back, these are the most common to be found in gyms as they offer a smoother more natural motion than front front drive machines, but they are rarely compact or foldable. On the other hand, front drive trainers, where the flywheel is located at the front, trainers are usually more compact, easy to store and move, it is more common for front drive ellipticals to be a foldable design.


Knowing the space you have available for your elliptical machine can dictate the type and design you select. Ellipticals with heavier flywheels and higher user weight limits are typically much heavier so if you need to move them away after each session, then make sure they have rolling castor or wheels. SpaceSaver and foldable trainers are the best choice if your available space is at a premium and you need to move it out the way each day. See our latest reviews on the best ellipticals for home use.

Resistance & Flywheel

The resistance system and the weight of the flywheel are two of the most important elements to consider when purchasing an elliptical machine because they dictate the overall user experience, machine durability and noise level when in use. Look for machines with magnetic resistance as these are the smoothest machines currently available.  Electromagnetic systems typically allow users to change resistance levels via buttons on the hand bars or console.

Flywheel weight is also very important when selected which elliptical is best for you. Lower cost ellipticals machines have flywheel that weigh around 15 pounds, but more robust trainers have flywheels weighing anything from 17 pounds to 30 pounds. The general rule is, the heavier the flywheel, the smoother the ride.

Customizable Options

Being able to customize your elliptical is not only useful if more than person is going to be using it, but it can be used to great benefit if you are looking to vary your workouts and target different muscle groups. Certain machines allow you to adjust the stride length, incline and even adjust the pivoting pedals. Being able to adjust the incline level and/or the stride length from 18 inches ( for shorter people ) to around 24 inches ( for taller ) will enable the user to target different muscle groups due to the change of climb angle and/or different stride pattern.

elliptical adjustable pedal elliptical Elliptical Buying Guide proform adjustable foot plate
Adjustable pedals are designed to limit the amount one has to lift your foot to meet the motion and angle of the foot-plate during each stride, which leads to a smoother action and less strain on your lower body. Naturally, extra features translate in most cases to extra cost, but having the ability to customize the levels of resistance, incline, stride length and pedal angle will serve you well in the long run and make your workouts more flexible and comfortable going forward.



Look for a lifetime warranty on the frame, no matter what the cost of the trainer you are looking to buy. For parts and labor warranties, you can expect anything from 1 to 5 years, with 3 years being around the average.

Checkout the latest reviews.

NordicTrack Elliptical Reviews               ProForm Elliptical Reviews                    Sole Elliptical Reviews

                                   Schwinn Elliptical Reviews                    LifeSpan Elliptical Reviews