Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and manage anxiety, and with everything that’s going on in the world right now, everyone could benefit from a little bit of exercise. From running and walking to yoga and CrossFit, there are lots of different ways to get your body moving that can be beneficial, regardless of your fitness level.
One of the more popular forms of exercise equipment are ellipticals. They combine the best qualities of a stair climber, cross-country skiing and running to provide a low-impact workout, making these machines an ideal workout if you have any lower body injuries or strains.
If you’re looking to lose weight, tone muscle, build endurance or simply get your heart rate up, ellipticals can help with all of that and so much more. There are countless models you can choose from: basic, heavy duty, centre, front and rear drives, How does one ever find the right machine?
Being able to understand the differences in each machine and the qualities that go into them (such as stride length, weight, and flywheel) can help lead you to finding the best elliptical for you and your home. For more information on the different elements of an elliptical and factors to consider before buying, scroll down to the bottom of the article for more details.
1. Editor's Pick: Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine
|Max Weight:||300 lbs.|
No matter what your fitness level, the Schwinn 470 elliptical is sure to kick your butt into shape. This top of the line elliptical was designed to give its users a smooth, innovative experience by providing over 25 different workout programs, enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, 25 levels of resistance, and 10 degrees of adjustable incline. Built with dual LCD screens to display and monitor your heart rate, console speakers and a USB charging port, this high-speed, high-inertia drive system is sure to meet your workout goals.
2. Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
|Max Weight:||265 lbs.|
Conveniently track your distance, speed, time, heart rate and calories with this Sunny Health & Fitness elliptical trainer. Push yourself to meet your fitness goals with 16 different magnetic resistance levels that can be adjusted through an LCD monitor. You can also choose one of their 24 pre-programmed workouts. Its full motion handlebars and textured foot pedals help ensure you get a total-body workout on this durable, easy-to-transport elliptical.
3. Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical w/ LCD Monitor
|Max Weight:||220 lbs.|
If space is an issue in your home but you still want to be able to squeeze in a workout, this bodyweight elliptical from Sunny Health & Fitness is a compact, easy-to-use machine that will give you a full-body workout. Built with non-slip pedals that reach up to 30 cm in stride length and a small LCD screen that displays time, total distance and calories, this simple and comfortable elliptical makes for the perfect space-saving machine.
4. Sunny Health & Fitness Pre-Programmed Elliptical Trainer
|Max Weight:||330 lbs.|
While not ideal for those with limited space, this durable Sunny Health & Fitness pre-programmed rear-drive elliptical is sure to give you a smooth and quiet workout. Burn fat and build muscle with up to 16 levels of resistance and 24 unique workout modes — all while monitoring your heart rate, speed, time, distance and calories on its performance monitor. Use its handy device holder to watch your favourite shows and stay hydrated with its convenient water bottle holder.
5. Cubii Jr. Seated Under Desk Elliptical Trainer
You may have seen this style of elliptical before on an infomercial and laughed. We get it, it’s a strange invention. But this small, seated or under-the-desk version of an elliptical actually provides many of the same benefits of its originator. Ideal for low-impact workouts or rehabilitation, this Cubii Jr. seated elliptical includes eight resistance levels, an LCD display monitor, and uses Bluetooth connectivity so you can track your progress on your device.
Three Types of Ellipticals
Centre Drive: This model is similar to a treadmill but replaces the track with pedals. Known as one of the more gentle and compact versions of an elliptical, this style takes up the least amount of floor space.
Front Drive: This type of elliptical uses a large wheel at the front and is the most affordable and basic design of all three models. Because of how the pedals are attached to the front wheel, this model can be quite noisy and vibrate when in use.
Rear Drive: In comparison, built with a small wheel housed at the back of the elliptical, this model is the longest design and often is accompanied by a track-and-roller that allows you to change its incline levels. This style provides the smoothest and quietest workouts.
Features That Make A Good Elliptical
There are a few key factors to consider before pulling out your credit card, especially if you can’t go into a store to try the machine out. Ask yourself how much use you’ll get from this machine. Will it be just you, or will other people use it too? Do you have enough space in your room and enough ceiling height to use it properly? Here are some other factors:
Adjustable Incline: Although this isn’t a necessity, buying an elliptical with this feature can help give your workouts that extra “something”. It can also push you to new intensity levels and provide variety in your workouts.
Adjustable Resistance: Most ellipticals offer some form of resistance. On the lowest setting, movement should be very easy whereas higher settings should challenge you at approximately 75 per cent of its maximum resistance. Resistance should also change smoothly and be controlled electronically.
Smooth Motion: Make sure that the machine's pedals move slowly and quietly. You should feel comfortable moving through the whole motion. If your heel comes off the platform in a “kick” motion, the machine may be too jerky.
Stride Length: Your height will affect how long you want your machine's stride length to be -21” or 40 cm is an ideal length for the average user. If you’re using the wrong size, your strides might feel limited or can feel like you're on a stationary bike versus an elliptical. Some machines allow the stride length to be adjusted which can be really useful if more than one person will be using it.
Upper Body Comfort: Most machines include some sort of arm handles that are stationary to help you feel secure while you move. Other machines have arms that move to help provide a full body workout. Make sure that the hand grips are as comfortable as possible and are easy to reach — you don’t want your wrists to be bent in an awkward and uncomfortable position.
Quiet: A good number of machines can be quite noisy, so try and find a machine that is well designed and can stay quiet even at the highest resistance levels. Choosing the right style of machine (centre, front or rear drive) can have an impact on noise level.
Flywheel: The flywheel in an elliptical has a direct impact on quality and comfort while pedaling. Light flywheels may cause jerky pedaling and provide very little resistance. Heavier flyweights provide a user with more fluid movements and provide more resistance. 7-10 kg flywheels are very light and are useful for very occasional use, while flywheels of 11-21 kg are more ideal for frequent use.
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