Elliptical trainers are underappreciated for what they do. They have been a staple in gyms worldwide since they were introduced in 1995. The machines might be associated with fancy, exclusive gyms, but they are a great piece of engineering that many people can benefit from. The movement is smooth, not jarring, and works a lot of leg muscles while improving your cardiovascular endurance. For professional athletes like runners and soccer players, it is a great tool for cross-training without putting stress on the joints and ligaments in the legs, extending their career. Older individuals will also benefit from the smooth movement of the elliptical. For those just getting into fitness, it is an approachable machine that offers varied workouts for your skill level and you don’t have to worry about doing it wrong. Their simple movements and varied benefits make them a great addition to a home gym.
As with every other piece of equipment, the price and features of ellipticals can vary widely. They all do the same thing at their core, but advanced technology with in-depth analytics on higher-end models offers a greater insight into a workout and comes with an associated price. A nice used elliptical can run you a couple of hundred dollars, while a fancy new one will set you back a couple thousand. You must know what you want to get out of your workouts with the machine and find a model that best suits your goals.
Things to Consider
There are a few things that every elliptical you consider should have. Perhaps the most important is an adjustable resistance. This will allow you to do high-intensity workouts, as well as take it easy as a warmup or cool down to a workout involving weights.
Another typical feature of an elliptical is a stride length between 14 and 21 inches. You might find a 14-inch model to be too short for your stride, while the 21-inch model is too long. This means you must go to a store to try out models you are considering to find one with a stride length that fits your body appropriately. If you are going to be sharing it among family or friends, an adjustable stride length would be ideal so each user can fit it to their size.
A feature that comes with quality machines is a smooth movement. The pedals should always move smoothly and quietly without moving side to side or feeling unstable. If a machine doesn’t check those boxes, it probably isn’t very well made and could fall apart prematurely.
If you are going to splurge on one extra feature, I would recommend going for one that can pair with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor. You may already have a watch that does this, but to get a more accurate reading, an arm or chest strap is ideal. These can be found quite cheap on the second-hand market and last a long time. Training with your heart rate information is a great way to scale workouts to your ability and get a quantitative assessment of your effort and fitness.
Consider your main goals
Ellipticals may not be for everyone, but they can greatly enhance the workout for people looking for a good cross-training activity to supplement running or even cross-country skiing. The low impact motion makes it a great way for those with joint soreness or injury recovery to get some cardio without pain. They don’t take up any more space than a treadmill and come with all the benefits. It should be a piece of equipment you consider adding to your home gym.