Buying Guide: Find The Best Elliptical Trainers Under $1000 – $1500 (Good For Bad Knees!)

ellitpical machines

Cross-training on an elliptical is an awesome way to get fit. By activating different groups of muscles, ellipticals can provide a low-impact total body cardio workout.  If you’re looking for fast results, ellipticals provide an effective and efficient way to achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re just browsing and toying with the idea of purchasing an elliptical or if you’re certain you’re ready to take the plunge, researching and understanding what features are available to you is essential.

In a hurry? See our #1 elliptical pick at Amazon

Use this elliptical buying guide to take all the guess work out of finding the right elliptical for you and your family.

Disclosure: We receive compensation from the companies whose products we review. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

Our Elliptical Ratings At-A-Glance

elliptical trainer ratings

Rated: Best Elliptical Trainers for Home Use

our rating is based on value and quality for home gym use
Universal E40 Elliptical
Universal E40 Elliptical
8.1 out of 10 stars (8.1 / 10)
ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer
ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer
8.1 out of 10 stars (8.1 / 10)
Compact Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer with LCD Monitor and Pulse Rate Grips by EFITMENT - E005
EFITMENT Compact Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer with LCD Monitor and Pulse Rate Grips - E005
8.9 out of 10 stars (8.9 / 10)
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine (2017 - 2018)
Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine 2018
9.1 out of 10 stars (9.1 / 10)
NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Trainers
NordicTrack Spacesaver SE9i Elliptical Trainers
9.5 out of 10 stars (9.5 / 10)
Xterra Fitness FS5.4e Elliptical Trainer
Xterra Fitness FS5.4e Elliptical Trainer
8.1 out of 10 stars (8.1 / 10)
Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
Schwinn 430 Elliptical Machine
8.2 out of 10 stars (8.2 / 10)
Body Power Elliptical Cross Trainer with Monitor
Body Power Elliptical Cross Trainer with Monitor
8.7 out of 10 stars (8.7 / 10)
Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer
Horizon Fitness Evolve 3 Elliptical Trainer
9.5 out of 10 stars (9.5 / 10)
Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer
Stamina In-Motion Compact Elliptical Trainer
8.3 out of 10 stars (8.3 / 10)

What to Look For

With the endless options available, it’s best to use some basic questions to eliminate the ellipticals that just don’t fit your needs.

7 Basic Questions to Ask Before Purchasing an Elliptical

Before you get started shopping, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Will it fit inside my home?

Where do you plan on using your elliptical? Measure what space is available to you including the height. An elliptical can add one and a half feet to your height overall, so you’ll want to make sure you have an appropriate amount of space to feel comfortable exercising. If you’re finding that full-sized ellipticals are too high for the height of your intended room, you’ll want to start considering compact versions.

Flywheels that are located at the back of the machine usually means that you’re not looking at a compact elliptical or one that is easy to transport. When the flywheel is in the front, you’ll likely have a more compact design that can be easy to store and easier to transport as they are often lighter in weight. Some of these more compact ellipticals may have a foldable design.  Ellipticals, where there is a flywheel on one side of the machine, can also be very compact and possibly foldable.

Ellipticals overall tend to be about 6 feet by 2.5 feet. The length can, however, vary anywhere from 50 to 84 inches. For safety measures, you’ll want an extra 20 inches of free space at either the front or back of the elliptical. Height-wise, elliptical petals can reach up to 25 inches above the floor at its peak in an elliptical cycle. These are added measurements you’ll need to consider when it comes to measuring your home for the best-fitting elliptical.

2. Is it an appropriately sized elliptical for my height?

To find a comfortable fitting elliptical for your body, you’ll want to consider your stride length. If you’re especially taller or shorter than average, stride length is going to be very important and testing them out before you invest will be absolutely necessary.  An elliptical with an ill-fitting stride length can cause unnecessary strain on your joints and possibly cause you to strain your back trying to adjust to the height. Trying out an elliptical for a few minutes will give you a pretty good idea whether or not that particular elliptical is right for your body. The motion should be comfortable and you should feel like there is plenty of room for your limbs to move. The stride lengths that are offered can vary anywhere from 12 inches up to 21 inches.

3. Who will use it?

If you intend on having more than one person using the elliptical, then everyone should try exercising on the elliptical before you buy. If height varies considerably across individuals, you may wish to invest in an elliptical that offers adjustable stride lengths to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for all intended users.

4. Can I assemble it myself?

You may wish to pay extra to have your elliptical carried to the inside of your home and/or assembled, depending on what’s offered from the company you decide to buy from. If you don’t have the time, patience, or strength to assemble an elliptical on your own, ensure that the company offers delivery and assembly options, though most do.

If you decide to assemble the elliptical yourself, expect that the shippers will deliver your boxes to the curb. They likely won’t bring them to your house or next to your house, unless you pay for an extra fee.  Ellipticals can weigh anywhere between 100 and 150 pounds. Assembling an elliptical can be time-consuming, but can save you a few hundred dollars. Delivery and assembly service can cost anywhere from $100 to $250.

5. What is my budget?

How much can you spend or how much are you willing to spend on an elliptical? This question will immediately narrow down your search options. You might consider investing a little more than you intend to, to ensure you get a quality elliptical with durability.

6. How frequently will it be used?

If you plan on having your elliptical for years to come and plan to use it heavily, invest in one with the best build quality which will ensure machine durability. If you plan on using the elliptical infrequently or plan on only having it for a few years, this is not as important.

7. What are my fitness goals?

If your fitness goals are less advanced and you’re just looking to get a daily cardio/aerobic workout in, without all the fancy customizable features, consider a basic elliptical trainer. You’ll get all the basics with a long-lasting frame. If your fitness goals are more advanced, you may want to invest in a more high-end model. However, don’t pay more for what you don’t really care about.  Either way, you’ll still get a great workout in whether you have the high-end features or not.

These are the most basic questions you’ll want to ask yourself before you begin to consider models with certain features and customizable options.  Once you answer these questions, find stores where you can try out the ellipticals that fit these basics. This will help you better visualize the space required from floor area to height needed and to help understand the overall design and size needed for every individual that intends to use the elliptical.

Features to Consider

There are some extra elliptical features you’ll want to consider and may find useful. These features can keep you motivated and even allow you to adjust your workout to make it more challenging.  Here are some customizable features you may want to consider for your elliptical:

  • Heart Rate Monitor: Not all ellipticals will come with a heart rate monitor. If you’re looking to get into a target heart rate zone to maximize your fat burning and keep you motivated throughout your workout, a heart rate monitor is a must. Some ellipticals may offer heart rate monitoring via the handle bars while more high-end versions may offer a wireless heart rate monitoring system.
  • Movable Handles: If you want your elliptical to offer you an upper body workout, you’ll want movable handles. You can get more of an upper body workout by forcing your arms to perform more of the movement, while your legs act as resistant. Movable elliptical handles makes for a more versatile exercise machine.
  • Custom Exercise Programs: Some ellipticals offer pre-set exercise programs which can vary in resistance or they can allow you to create your own custom program. This allows you to change your workout up and get you working a variety of muscle groups.
  • Calorie Tracking: Although not necessarily accurate, calorie tracking based on your weight can be a great motivational tool.
  • Speakers: If you’re looking to listen to music or podcasts through your phone, consider an elliptical equipped with speakers. Ellipticals can have a headphone jack to play sounds through your audio device or be equipped with bluetooth functionality.

Is The Elliptical Good for Bad Knees?

It’s true that treadmills can be tough on your joints. When looking at cardio equipment for your home, ellipticals are the way to go. They are safer, more natural to use when it comes to using the handles and posture, and they’re just easier.

Ellipticals offer non-impact conditioning. You’ll be emulating a running motion without causing unnecessary stress on your joints. Due to their low impact circular motion, ellipticals shouldn’t cause any pain or injury to your knee when used correctly. Those who suffer with joint pain or who have bad knees do not need to give up aerobic exercise. Ellipticals give you a safe way to get that necessary aerobic exercise in without jolting and stressing out your knees, ankles, and back.

Not only are ellipticals safe for your joints when correctly used, elliptical training can actually strengthen your joints by strengthening the supporting joint muscles. Strengthening exercises, such as that offered by elliptical resistance, acts as a sort of weight-bearing exercise that can protect you against bone loss and joint injury.

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