If you walk into any gym, you will see rows and rows of elliptical machines. There’s a reason for this, as the elliptical is one of the most popular pieces of cardio equipment out there. These machines appeal to all ranges of fitness and can help boost health no matter what level of health you are at.
They are joint-friendly and limit the impact on the knees, feet, ankles, and joints. The big appeal with an elliptical machine is that it mimics the motion of running–but without the impact on hard concrete or other surfaces.
If you are a runner but have difficulty due to the impact of running–you will want to consider an elliptical machine. Another big advantage is the attached arm levers that will help engage your upper body while exercising. This makes an elliptical machine a true full-body exercise. A treadmill or bike is a great cardio option–but you don’t get the full-body engagement that comes with an elliptical.
But what if you don’t want to go to the gym to use one? Luckily, there are some great options for your home that won’t break the bank. This is a countdown of the 5 best affordable ellipticals.
Best Budget Elliptical Machines
5. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E902 Elliptical Machine
The first entry on the list is an amazingly compact–but effective machine. If you’ve only pictured elliptical trainers as giant machines; this one will show you how compact they can be. If you live in a smaller space or apartment, you’ll want to go for the Air Walk trainer by Sunny Health. As simple and compact as this machine is, you can still get up to a running pace. It’s perfect if you’re the type of person who just wants to jump on and go anytime you feel like a workout.
This is a folding unit so you can pull it out whenever you’re ready to go, and tuck it away when you need the space back. But it’s so compact you could leave it out without it taking up much room. Despite being extremely usable and convenient, this machine comes with an LCD display so you can track your stats such as time, distance, speed, and calories burned. If you are limited for mobility, the AirWalk can be used for general walking. It even has an abdominal pad to keep you stable which is great for support and safety.
You will still get a great workout thanks to its 30-inch stride so you can get full engagement from your legs, while also working your upper body.
- Very smooth and quiet
- Built-in fitness programs
- Folds into half its size
- Max weight of 220 pounds
- No Bluetooth or app connectivity
- Minimal resistance levels
4. EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine Trainer
The Efitment is a traditional upright elliptical machine but is still compact. When you use this, you’ll feel just like you’re in a regular gym. This budget elliptical is made with magnetic resistance meaning it’s super smooth and quiet. This is perfect for small spaces, or if you live with other people and need to workout without disturbing anyone. It also has transportation wheels so you can easily take it out and put it away.
If you’re looking to get in the best shape possible–the Efitment will help you get there. You’ll be able to track your stats with the LCD display so you can see exactly how far you have gone, and how many calories you are burning. You also get a few options with this choice: You can use it as a full-body machine with the arm attachments, or if you just want a lower body workout–there are stable hand supports to keep you balanced and positioned properly.
One other key thing that makes the Efitment the ideal choice is the ability to track your heart rate. This ensures you are in the right training zone.
- Han pulse sensors built-in to the handlebars
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance
- Belt-driven flywheel
- Max weight of 220 pounds
- No pre-programmed workouts
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer Machine
This entry on our list comes from Sunny again, and it’s a heavy-duty elliptical trainer. The first entry from Sunny was the compact model–this is the full-on version. This machine looks like it’s straight out of a fitness club. If you have the room, this will make the ideal choice to achieve your fitness goals in the comfort of your own home.
This is a magnetic resistance trainer that gives you smooth strides, but quickly changeable resistance. This allows you to up the intensity when you need a more vigorous workout. This is also the ideal choice if you need variation in your workouts. It comes with 24 unique workout modes so you will never get bored. You can still track all your stats while enjoying the different workouts. And you can watch your own content with its tablet holder.
This trainer accommodates all sizes and can hold up to 330 pounds which is pretty impressive for this price point. The size of this machine, the floor stabilizers, and its non-slip pedals mean you can train as hard as you like making it a great option for those wanting to take their fitness to the next level.
- Built-in pulse sensors
- Transportation wheels
- Water bottle holder
- Takes up more room than smaller units
2. Schwinn A40 Elliptical Machine
Schwinn is world-renowned for bicycles, but they make great fitness equipment, too. The A40 elliptical machine is the perfect example of this. If you’re looking for a great workout, this compact machine is the ideal choice. This is all about intense workouts as the A40 features a high speed, high inertia weighted flywheel to let you train as intense as possible. It is also extremely quiet and won’t disrupt anyone you live with.
Despite its compact design, it still comes with great features. There are 7 pre-programmed workouts, but also a quickstart function so you can just jump on and go when you’re ready to workout. You are also able to track stats such as time, distance, speed, and calories burned, and monitor your heart rate. This machine is all about performance. It has a long stride length to give you a full range of motion and uses precision path foot motion technology which is going to give you the closest experience to a real running stride.
Despite its small size, the A40 has moving and fixed handlebars that give you even more options for different types of workouts.
- A high-performance machine from a famous company
- Designed for optimal fitness
- 8 levels of resistance
- No transportable wheels
1. ProForm Hybrid Trainer Elliptical
If you’re looking for the ultimate cardio machine that can accommodate many scenarios, it’s the ProForm Hybrid Trainer. This is a unique combination of an elliptical trainer and recumbent bike. You never see a unique combination like this and it’s the ideal choice for those who like a variety in their fitness–and those with mobility issues.
Not only is the elliptical motion easier on the joints, but it can also allow you to go for longer durations. But what if you have other issues such as lower back problems? This is where a recumbent seat position is helpful. The recumbent seat position takes the pressure off of the lower back, and if you also have knee issues–the ProForm will still allow you to get some great exercise. If you are limited in your mobility–it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise, and this machine makes it possible.
But this still functions as a great elliptical trainer. The options that you get with this machine make it the ideal choice for your home workouts. If you suffer from occasional back pain, you can take it easier by using the recumbent seat but can use the full elliptical trainer when things are feeling good.
- LCD display monitor
- 16 levels of orf resistance
- 350-pound capacity
- 30-day iFit trial membership for interactive training sessions
- Larger than other units
Important Things to Consider When Buying an Elliptical Trainer
If you need more instruction–and programs to follow– you’ll want an elliptical trainer that has app connectivity, or pre-programmed workouts. If you are someone who likes to go at your own pace–and follow your own workout design–you can opt for a trainer that has minimal features.
If you like high-intensity training, you’ll want to make sure it has various levels of resistance so you can increase the intensity for faster periods. You may also like a quick start option so you can just jump on and go when the mood to exercise hits you. It can be frustrating having to go through a whole setup process on a machine when you just want to get moving.
You need to consider the amount of space you have available where you live. If you’re limited for space, you’ll want the smallest unit you can find–or a foldable one that can be stored out of the way. If you have more room, you can go for a larger unit–but many of the compact ones are still very stable and can hold up to an intense workout.
Personal Trainer Recommendation & Conclusion
A warm-up is always critical before exercise, and an elliptical machine makes this easy. You want to start at a moderate pace–and lower intensity–to warm up the body, engage the muscles, and increase blood flow to working muscles. The upper body engagement helps make the elliptical the ultimate warm-up machine. Your warm-up should be at least 5 to 10 minutes before you move on to the real workout.
One thing to note is that you will be able to go longer on an elliptical machine than you would be running. This may catch you off guard at first if you aren’t used to using one. This means you can go for longer periods, or you can boost the intensity to go harder for the same amount of time. Either way, this is a great form of cardio to boost endurance and improve cardiovascular health.
Don’t forget to finish with a cool down when you’re finished. The elliptical machine lends itself well to this, too. For the last 5-10 minutes, you want to gradually lower the intensity–and pace–and finish off at a comfortable intensity as your transition from exercise back to a resting heart rate. Stopping without a cool down can lead to muscle cramping, blood pooling in the muscles, and even some disorientation. If you haven’t used an elliptical before, be aware that it can still feel like you’re moving when you get off one, similar to how you would after getting off a boat. This doesn’t always happen, but it’s just something to be aware of.