Best elliptical machines 2020: The best cross trainers to work up a low-impact sweat | Fit&Well

Best elliptical machines 2020: The best cross trainers to work up a low-impact sweat

The best elliptical machines deliver a great full-body workout you can do without leaving the house

Best elliptical machines
(Image credit: Getty)

The best elliptical machines are extremely popular home fitness buys, regularly outperforming exercise bikes and treadmills in sales of fitness equipment. This is for good reason: elliptical machines, otherwise called cross trainers, are able to give the user a full-body workout using your arms and legs in ways other machines simply can't. However, it's also low-impact, which prevents your joints being harmed by other forms of cardio exercise such as running. 

Hitting nearly all lower body muscle groups including the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, working out on an elliptical machine is tougher than it looks. And don’t forget how most units have levers that help work the arms, too. It’s a full body workout.

In one study published in the scientific journal Gait Posture, elliptical machines demonstrated greater muscle activity in the quadriceps, hamstrings and other muscle groups than overground walking, treadmill walking and exercise bikes. Throw in the arm exercises too and an elliptical is the best cardio machine you can get. 

While ellipticals have been a commercial gym staple for donkeys’ years, that doesn’t mean they aren’t suitable for the home. If you’re in the market for one and you have the space - go for it! I’ll help you find the best one for you.

Our pick for best elliptical machine that's in stock right now is the SoleFitness E95. This great all-rounder comes with a host of features that you’d find in pricier offerings, like a 9-inch LCD monitor and built-in bluetooth speakers. Looking for something that'll leave less of a dent in the wallet? Try the Branx Fitness Magnetic X-Fit, which boasts a feature set you’d expect in an elliptical machine that's twice the price.

Read on for some more elliptical machine buying advice, plus our in-depth guide to the best elliptical machines available right now.  

How to choose the best elliptical machine for you

As a low-impact alternative to the treadmill, ellipticals are ideal multi-muscle home training machines for those wanting to get fit but don’t really like running, or have foot issues. They're also one of the best exercise machines for weight loss. But with so many different working parts to take note of, finding the right one could be a little overwhelming.

To help you choose, you should know above all what a flywheel is. The key part of any elliptical, this piece of equipment controls how smooth the machine feels during use. A quick rule of thumb is: the heavier the flywheel, the smoother and quieter the elliptical will run, due to the additional weight helping it spin more efficiently. As you've probably already guessed, cheaper machines generally feature lighter flywheels, meaning the experience isn’t quite as nice.

As far as costs are concerned, you can expect to pay in the region of £400 to £1,500 for an elliptical machine. Anything less than this will likely prove to be loud, shaky and almost certainly get your neighbours worrying.

Size is a factor, too. Gym-quality machines will take up a lot of floor space and if you’re limited in that respect, it might be worth looking at foldable options, as these can be wheeled away until it’s time to use it again.

The best elliptical machines in stock today

Elliptical machines are hugely popular at the moment as people look to stay on top of their fitness game away from the gym. That unfortunately means that retailers are selling out of them fast. The good news is that our software trawls the online retailers to look for the lowest prices for items that are still in stock, and those prices are listed directly below. Carry on down the page for our full list of the best elliptical machines (in stock and out of stock). Prices are checked daily so if you don't see the one you want in the widget below, do keep checking back.

The best elliptical machines to buy

best elliptical machines: SoleFitness E95

(Image credit: SoleFitness )

1. Sole Fitness E95s

The best elliptical machine for most people

Specifications
Dimensions: 69 x 157 x 211cm
Foldable: No
Flywheel weight: 13kg
Resistance levels: 20
Stride length: 8-24inch (adjustable)
Reasons to buy
+20 levels of resistance+Adjustable stride 
Reasons to avoid
-Assembly can be tricky-Not foldable

One of the most popular ellipticals on the market, and for good reason. The Sole E95s Elliptical Trainer is regarded as one of the best machines in its class when it comes to home gyms. Solid, smooth, and customisable, this great all-rounder features a heavy 17kg flywheel and near-silent drive system that feel stable and smooth during use without making a racket. 

Another highlight is the fully-adjustable ramp angle that can be increased to 40 degrees so can work every muscle in your legs without it hitting hard on the knees. There’s also an onboard computer featuring a sizeable 9-inch LCD monitor and built-in Bluetooth speakers. With all this, you’re getting the perks of a commercial-grade machine for a significantly lower price tag.

best elliptical machines: Technogym Synchro Forma

(Image credit: Technogym)

2. Technogym Synchro Forma

The best premium elliptical machine

Specifications
Dimensions: 204 x 78 x 164 cm
Foldable: No
Flywheel weight: 7kg
Resistance levels: 12
Stride length: 20inch
Reasons to buy
+Top quality equipment+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Pricey-Only 12 resistance levels

If style really matters to you when buying an elliptical machine, and you’ll pay whatever it takes to get it, then there’s no need to look further than Technogym’s Synchro Forma. This super high quality cross trainer feels just like those at the gym. With an elegant matte black and satin silver finish complemented by a minimal tracking display, this elliptical machine trainer knows what it takes to outshine all its competitors in the looks department. 

At the same time, this machine is by no means  style over substance. Its sleek looks are met with an exceptionally sturdy, solid construction that feels built to last. This is probably because it’s been based on those commercial models you see in fancy gyms, but adapted for the home. Top quality, sturdy and familiar feeling, making it very easy to use.

best elliptical machines: ProForm 225 CSE

(Image credit: ProForm)

3. ProForm 225 CSE

The best budget elliptical machine

Specifications
Dimensions: 102 x 54 x 162 cm
Foldable: No
Flywheel weight: 7kg
Resistance levels: 12
Stride length: 14inch
Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Excellent value for money
Reasons to avoid
-Not as quiet as competitors-Bluetooth connectivity feature only works with iFit

Looking for an elliptical for under £400 that doesn’t feel like it could fall apart at any second? Have a gander at the ProForm 225 CSE. A great day-to-day machine that while isn’t as solid-feeling as its pricier competitors, does the job and proves excellent value for money. 

There’s plenty of tech baked in, too, despite its entry-level price. There’s a Bluetooth-enabled syncing for iFit Coach app connectivity (where you can find new workouts daily), and EKG Grip Pulse hand grips which transfer accurate pulse readings across to the large LCD display for on-the-go analysis. It’s compact size also means it won’t take up a whole lot of space. A superb bit of kit for the price. 

best elliptical machines: NORDICTRACK E11.5

(Image credit: NORDICTRACK)

4. NORDICTRACK E11.5

A great all-rounder with a robust frame

Specifications
Dimensions: 166 x 67 x 204cm
Foldable: Yes
Flywheel weight: 9kg
Resistance levels: 20
Stride length: 20-22inch
Reasons to buy
+Foldable for storage+Adjustable platforms
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy at 87.5kg total-Data screen could do with an upgrade

One thing that NordicTrack is well known for is the robust, heavy duty nature of its equipment, and that's no different with the E11.5. The sturdy and high quality finish is evident as soon as you get it out of the box. While it's quite heavy, weighing in at over 87kg, it means the action of the strider is smooth and almost silent with ramp movement and resistance changes mostly unnoticeable. Its best feature, however, is that it’s foldable and on wheels, meaning you can use it in the centre of a room and then fold it up and push it into a corner when you’re done.

best elliptical machines: Branx Fitness Magnetic X-Fit

(Image credit: Branx Fitness)

5. Branx Fitness Magnetic X-Fit

The best value mid-range elliptical, with great set of features

Specifications
Dimensions: 166 x 66 x 158cm
Foldable: No
Flywheel weight: 14.5kg
Resistance levels: 16
Stride length: 19.5inch
Reasons to buy
+Great value for money with sturdy flywheel +App that allows you to control speed and resistance level and monitor your performance
Reasons to avoid
-Self assembly-Design could be better

The Magnetic 'X-Fit' cross trainer by Branx Fitness boasts all the things you’d expect from an elliptical at twice the price, such as a monitor and connected app which help to track your training progress. With a flywheel just shy of 15kg plus weighty other parts, it not only has a top-quality feel about it, but is quiet and sturdy enough for exercising in an apartment without ticking off your neighbours. There’s also 16 resistance levels, which makes it great for building strength, and the 19.5inch stride means most users can jump on board for either a walk or a run, regardless of their height. It’s also rather compact, so ideal for those looking to save on space.