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Article updated on June 10, 2024 at 4:00 AM PDT

Best Home Ellipticals in 2024

We tested and reviewed the best ellipticals for low-impact workouts in your home gym.

Our Experts

Written by 
Giselle Castro-Sloboda,
Lindsay Boyers
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
Giselle Castro-Sloboda Fitness and Nutrition Writer
I'm a Fitness & Nutrition writer for CNET who enjoys reviewing the latest fitness gadgets, testing out activewear and sneakers, as well as debunking wellness myths. On my spare time I enjoy cooking new recipes, going for a scenic run, hitting the weight room, or binge-watching many TV shows at once. I am a former personal trainer and still enjoy learning and brushing up on my training knowledge from time to time. I've had my wellness and lifestyle content published in various online publications such as: Women's Health, Shape, Healthline, Popsugar and more.
Expertise Fitness and Wellness
Lindsay Boyers CNET Contributor
Lindsay Boyers is a certified nutritionist and published book author who writes articles and product reviews for CNET's health and wellness section. Her work also appears on mindbodygreen, Healthline, Verywell Health and The Spruce. When she's not actively searching for the best products at the best prices, she's most likely creating new recipes, reading in her hammock or trying to force her cats to love her.
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What to consider

Space

Ellipticals can take up a lot of space. Consider if you have the room to hold one in your home.

Features

Decide whether you want a reclined or standing treadmill, if you want advanced features or are content with a simple design instead.

Delivery

Ellipticals are heavy so delivery and setup should be considered before purchasing.

Our Picks

$2,499 at Bowflex
Bowflex-max-total-16
Best elliptical overall
Bowflex Max Total 16
View details
View details
$1,099 at Amazon
schwinn-470
Most comfortable elliptical
Schwinn 470
View details
View details
$829 at Amazon
Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical
Best elliptical for knee pain
Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical
View details
View details
$1,299 at Walmart
ProForm Carbon HIIT H7
Best elliptical for smaller spaces
ProForm Carbon HIIT H7
View details
View details
$1,399 at 360 Fitness Superstore
Nautilus E618
Most classic elliptical
Nautilus E618
View details

Not everyone can go to the gym every day and not everyone wants to shell out monthly payments for a gym membership. In such situations, working out at home is a good idea and an elliptical machine should be your go-to investment. It allows for a beginner-friendly and low-impact cardio workout. If done correctly, elliptical workouts can simulate walking, running or even climbing without creating as much noise as a treadmill, making them a more apartment-friendly cardio machine.

We tested various elliptical machines, including those from popular brands like Nautilus and Bowflex, to help you pick the right one for your space and lifestyle. We factored in functionality, comfort and price. Check out our list below. (If you're new to ellipticals, we've provided some helpful tips to give you some guidance. If these selections are a little out of your price range, these budget-friendly ellipticals, are some of our favorites.)

Bowflex max total 16, Schwinn 470, Nautilus E618 elliptical exercise machines

These are our top picks of the best ellipticals on the market.

James Martin/CNET

Read more: 6 Best Peloton Alternatives: Great Indoor Exercise Bikes

What is the best elliptical overall?

Our top pick for the best elliptical is the BowFlex Max Total 16. This is the most technologically advanced model on the list, which we believe most users will enjoy. Its standout features include streaming your favorite shows from apps including Hulu and Netflix. The screen is 6 inches bigger than its predecessor and your fitness experience is personalized through real-time coaching that automatically adjusts the intensity of your workouts based on the machine's assessment of your output. It's also small-space friendly, so you won't have to worry about it taking up too much room in your home.

Editor’s note, June 10: BowFlex is now owned by Johnson Health Tech, which also owns Horizon Fitness and Matrix. You can still buy BowFlex products through its website and via retailers such as Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Best ellipticals of 2024

$2,499 at Bowflex

Best elliptical overall

Bowflex Max Total 16

The BowFlex Max Total 16 is the only elliptical on the list with all the bells and whistles. We recommended its predecessor, the BowFlex Max M9, and this is a slightly improved version. The machine is sturdy and still has the same stepper motion as the BowFlex Max M9, although it requires a little breaking in. The handlebars on the BowFlex Max Total 16 have six grips instead of the original four, making it easier to change hand positioning. The resistance dial is still conveniently placed in the center and has over 20 resistance levels.

Compared with the BowFlex Max M9, the touchscreen is bigger, measuring 16 inches instead of 10 inches. It's still Bluetooth compatible, so you can connect your heart rate band or other compatible device, and it requires a Wi-Fi connection as well as a membership with the BowFlex program, JRNY. The good thing is you'll get a free year of JRNY, so you can take full advantage of the elliptical. After your trial is over, it's $99 for the year or $12 a month. 

Another great feature is that you can personalize your fitness experience through real-time coaching that automatically adjusts the intensity of your workouts as you get stronger. You can also connect to your favorite streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Max, Disney Plus and more. This is a nice option for when you just want to binge your favorite show and get a quick workout in.

If the BowFlex Max Total 16's price is a bit steep for your taste, the BowFlex Max M9 is still a good pick since you get most of the same features for cheaper.

$1,099 at Amazon

Most comfortable elliptical

Schwinn 470

The Schwinn 470 is a comfortable yet intuitive elliptical. This was one of the easier machines to assemble on our own because the manual provided clear instructions with illustrations. The design of this machine is also less bulky than expected, although it's larger than the Schwinn 411 (the Schwinn elliptical we previously recommended). 

When in use, the machine is sturdy and doesn't wobble, which indicates that it can support people of different weights and heights. The pedals have large footplates and are smooth and comfortable with each stride. This machine's stride length is 20 inches, so it should be suitable for people over 6 feet tall. The pedaling was quiet, which isn't always the case when it comes to exercise equipment. The digital monitor is outdated and has a simple display like most elliptical machines. It only uses letters and numbers and can be difficult to read due to the blue light background.

Despite not having a more modern design, the Schwinn 470 makes up for it by offering 25 levels of resistance, 29 workout programs and the option to set up a profile for up to four family members. Although this machine doesn't have Wi-Fi, it does have Bluetooth and lets you connect to your favorite apps such as MyFitnessPal, Apple Health and MapMyRun/Ride.

$829 at Amazon

Best elliptical for knee pain

Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical

While ellipticals are one of the lowest-impact cardio machines, they can still be too much for anyone with joint pain, healing injuries or mobility issues. That's where the Teeter FreeStep LT3 Recumbent Cross Trainer and Elliptical comes in. Similar to a recumbent bike, because of its reclined and seated position, the Teeter FreeStep eliminates stress on your joints and takes the load off your back, so you can get a great workout without too much stress on the body.

In addition to being easy on the joints, this elliptical cross machine is also simple to use. The console is the most straightforward of the bunch, so you don't need to be tech-savvy to get it going. It has one button you can press to toggle between time, distance, speed and calories. An adjustable knob right under the seat can be used to change your sitting position, and you can move the angle of the seat for a more customized position.

One warning: Because you're sitting back instead of standing up, it's tempting to lean back and give the minimal effort required to check "work out" off your to-do list, but if you stay mindful of that and keep the adjustable resistance as high as you can, you'll get a great workout with almost zero impact.

$1,299 at Walmart

Best elliptical for smaller spaces

ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

Unlike other ellipticals that can take up a lot of space in your home gym, the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7 has a vertical design that makes this elliptical better suited for smaller spaces. It's more reminiscent of a stair climber than a traditional elliptical.

The 10-inch vertical and 5-inch horizontal elliptical path was intentionally combined to give you a better workout intensity and calorie burn. The strides help you feel the movement more in your glutes and hamstrings, similar to the way a stair climber functions. Another thing that makes this ProForm elliptical machine stand out is that it's quiet. That's because it uses silent magnetic resistance, a trademarked form of resistance that is smoother and quieter compared with air resistance used in other machines. It was also stable, without any rocking or shaking, even at high speeds.

This machine comes equipped with iFit, offering the option to be guided through your workout by a professional. The 7-inch HD touchscreen on the console made the iFit experience hyper-realistic and easy to navigate. One downside of the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7 was that there was no place to put a tablet. This isn't a big deal, especially if you're using iFit, but it would be a nice touch for those who have other fitness memberships. We also didn't like the fact that there's no power button. The manual says the machine has auto shut-off, but it never kicked in. We had to unplug it to turn it off, which is inconvenient for a high-end machine.

$1,399 at 360 Fitness Superstore

Most classic elliptical

Nautilus E618

If you want an elliptical that reminds you of the classic ones you find in the gym, then you'll like the Nautilus E618. This machine offers a smooth ride, and the footplate uses a suspension-adjust performance-cushioning system, which lets you adjust the angle from 0 to 10 degrees for customized heel support. The stride rails are also designed to create a balanced, stable experience. Assembling this machine took longer than expected, so we recommend purchasing the in-home assembly option or having someone assist you if you plan on putting this machine together yourself. During testing, the stride felt natural and effortless. It was mostly quiet except for a couple of squeaks here and there. 

This elliptical can hold up to 350 pounds, which makes it versatile for people of different weights and heights. Although the interface looks like a standard elliptical, it offers 29 different training programs that you can follow. If you want a change of scenery, you can download the Nautilus Explore the World app, which lets you exercise virtually in 19 different locations. You have the option to sign up for $10 a month or $60 for the year, and you can cancel your subscription at any time. The machine can be paired with your phone or tablet via Bluetooth, so you can save and share your fitness journey. 

The multi-position handlebars are also a nice touch because you can control the incline and resistance with the click of a button, and you have the option of different hand grips. Similar to the Schwinn 470, the Nautilus E618 has a blue display screen that appears outdated. This isn't a big deal if all you're looking for is a dependable, durable elliptical that lets you use it as a standalone device.

Other ellipticals we tested

Cubii Total Body: Smart Seated Elliptical: I had a pleasant experience using this mini elliptical and could see it being handy for those recovering from an injury, the elderly or users with certain physical limitations. It's not heavy, and it's easy to move around on its wheels. I broke a sweat, which I didn't expect from a low-impact workout you can do while sitting down. It also includes resistance handles so you can work the upper body. The reason it didn't make our list is that it's a newer version that was sold out on Indiegogo, but there are older versions on the Cubii website if you want to get a similar experience. This mini elliptical is one of many on the market and would make a good candidate for a future mini elliptical best list. 

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How we test fitness equipment

When it comes to the big pieces of fitness equipment, like ellipticals we need ample space for testing. Typically, we test these pieces in our Louisville-based CNET warehouse. The warehouse is also used to test other pieces of non-fitness-related products, which you have probably spotted among other CNET verticals like our home section. On occasion, we will test bigger pieces of fitness equipment from my home or try a demo at a showroom. Testing the larger pieces of equipment requires lots of research and planning months in advance before testing. Since we are a small team, we try to make the best of our testing location to give readers an in-depth look at our testing process.

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How we rate fitness equipment

Over our years of testing, we’ve established a methodology that helps us evaluate and score each piece of fitness equipment we test. We use that data to help us recommend the best equipment for every type of person. We judge fitness equipment based on the following criteria: 

Features:  We look at the types of features offered by these pieces of equipment, how advanced or simple these features are, and whether the machine can connect to built-in or third-party apps, smartwatches and gadgets. A machine with good features should ideally have a built-in touchscreen and connect easily to wi-fi and compatible apps. No matter how sophisticated it is, it should be intuitive for the majority of users to use. 

Software: Many of these machines have programs built in, so we look to see how easy they are to use and any challenges we experience when accessing them or connecting to external compatible devices. 

Functionality: When testing, we determine if the machine works as promised or is faulty. Additionally, we observe how intuitive it is to use, whether it has all the bells and whistles or is minimalistic. For example, we know some users will want a machine that’s straightforward without any advanced technology, but the device should still function as promised. If the machine is more modern, it should still be easy to use by anyone, whether you are a tech pro or someone less familiar with the latest innovations. 

Assembly: We know people want to know how easy it is to put a workout machine together and how long it will approximately take, so we make a note of that. Fitness equipment tends to be heavy and depending on the machine, transferring it into your home and putting it together can be a two-person job. We also look at whether they have the option to choose a white glove delivery and if it’s free or a fee is required.

Warranty:  It’s important to know the warranty information for your equipment in case you experience any issues with it and need a replacement. Since these are big purchases, you should feel comfortable knowing that you’re getting a top-quality product. In the event something needs replacing, the window for replacement or refund should be spelled out clearly. The length of a warranty will vary depending on the type of machine you own, what falls under the warranty and what the manufacturer is willing to cover.  

Read more on how we test fitness equipment

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What to consider when buying an elliptical

Ellipticals are quite an investment, so it's important to make sure you're getting the right machine for you.

Space: Consider the amount of space you have and pay attention to dimensions while shopping. Some ellipticals are much bulkier than others or may take up more visual space since they're relatively tall. They tend not to fold away easily like some other types of workout equipment.

Features: Next, consider what type of features you want in an elliptical. Do you want a sitting or standing model? Do you want to track your workout data, watch TV or stream immersive fitness classes through your machine, or would you be happy with a simpler set-up? Higher-end machines tend to be more customizable and come with touchscreens and wireless connections.

Delivery: Lastly, think about the delivery process and whether you're comfortable setting up your new elliptical on your own. Some brands offer white-glove service included in the price. You'll also want to double-check the refund and warranty policy.

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Ellipticals vs. treadmills

Ellipticals and treadmills are two of the most popular machines for cardio. They can both be used for high- or low-intensity workouts. They have some key differences that may make them better suited for different things.

Treadmills are used for walking, jogging or running only. These are relatively high-impact workouts, so they can take a toll on sensitive joints over time, but they have the benefit of building bone density. Treadmills are simple and intuitive to use, and there are folding models that are easy to tuck out of sight. They're ideal if you're training for a race, want an alternative to outdoor walks or runs, prefer a hands-free workout, or want a machine you can fold away or tuck under furniture.

Ellipticals use both your arms and legs, meaning they work more muscle groups than treadmills. They can require a bit of a learning curve to get comfortable using. They're low-impact machines that are easy on the joints. They tend not to fold away as easily. They're ideal if you want a gentle but still robust cardio workout, or want to work out your whole body at once.

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Best elliptical practices

Although it may seem straightforward, there are some key steps you should follow when using an elliptical. Elyse Miller, an iFIT trainer and elliptical class instructor shared some insight on the key things to keep in mind when hopping on one of these machines.

Stand up straight: You must remain upright while on an elliptical. Miller says you should stand in a tall, upright position with an engaged core by tucking your hips forward. This will also activate your glutes and keep tension away from your lower back. Your upper body should be relaxed as well. "Relax your shoulders and leave elbows soft without locking them," she said. Additionally, your front leg should feel like a natural stride forward and your heel will slightly lift as you rotate ahead. "Your hands should remain neutral while holding the handles on the elliptical, but don't squeeze them tight," Miller said. Once you have the form down you can mix things up. "For example, angling your toes out will work your inner thighs or moving your hands up and down the handlebars will target different muscles in the upper body," she said.

Hold onto the handles: One of the unique aspects of an elliptical is that it lets you work your full body at once. To get the most out of your workout, you'll want to make sure you're holding onto the handles as you pedal. This will allow your upper body to get the blood flowing as well. "Since elliptical arm handles are long, you can easily change the hand placement as needed for different heights or to target different upper body muscles," Miller said.

Don't slouch over: If the resistance is too high that it's causing you to sacrifice your form, change up the intensity. "Reduce the resistance to maintain a strong, confident posture," Miller said, adding, "don't get stuck in the circling rut -- make sure to try out intervals, resistance changes and level shifts rather than zoning out and going through the motions."

Keep your feet on the pedals: Naturally, your body is going to move with the forward motion of the elliptical when your arms and legs are involved. Make sure to keep your feet sturdy and flat on the pedals as you go through the motions.

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How to use an elliptical

Most ellipticals come with programs already built into the machine. Miller says the built-in programs are effective, but you can also mix it up with your own routine. Below are some effective ways to get a workout in with an elliptical if you want to try something new.

HIIT: The great part of using a full-body machine like the elliptical is that you can complete an efficient workout in less time. That's where high-intensity interval training can be a win-win. You can do this by changing up the speed and resistance of the elliptical machine to make it easier or harder depending on the interval you're on. A HIIT workout on an elliptical could look like 30 seconds of intense work followed by a minute of rest and repeated over 20 minutes.

Pedal in different directions: If you've used an elliptical then you know you can pedal forward and backward. "I recommend mixing it up for best results and trying intervals of each direction," Miller said. One example of a workout she likes to do is as follows. Complete seven to eight sets:

  • 1 minute at a comfortable pace pedaling forward with moderate resistance
  • 1 minute fast pace pedaling forward with the same moderate resistance
  • 1 minute backward pedaling with high resistance & squatted low

Focus on cadence or rotations per minute: "I like to use cadence or RPMs as the main driving force of an elliptical workout because it tells you how fast you're going and is a fantastic metric to lock into and push yourself," Miller said. She recommends setting the resistance to 8 to start and going up from there. An example of a run/walk routine looks like this:

  • Walk -- around 40 RPMs
  • Jog -- around 60 RPMS
  • Run -- around 90 RPMS
  • Sprint --100+ RPMS

Low-intensity workout: One of the benefits of using an elliptical is that it's easy on the joints. It's the ideal machine for a low-intensity workout if you're starting out or getting back into exercising after an extended break. A low-intensity workout can consist of focusing on your rate of perceived exertion from a 1 to 10 scale. Based on what you find easy and more difficult you can play around with the different levels of intensity as you get a low-intensity workout in.

Incline workout: Another way you can use the elliptical is by testing how hard you can go as you challenge yourself on an incline. The incline makes the workout an effective glute exercise since you're putting extra effort into those muscles. Play around with interval training as you challenge yourself with incline resistance. "You’ll know it’s time to level up the resistance, incline or speed when your workouts don’t feel as challenging anymore," Miller said. In other words, if you're doing an elliptical “sprint,” and it feels like your legs are flying on their own, then you need to bump up the resistance or the incline.

Combine it with a strength program: As with any form of cardio, it's important to make sure strength training is part of your workout routine as well. "I recommend doing cardio on the elliptical three to five times a week, and strength training will vary depending on your goals," Miller said. She advises on strength days to hop on the elliptical for a quick 8- to 10-minute warm-up before lifting.

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Elliptical FAQs

Are home ellipticals worth it?

Whether having an elliptical machine at home is worth it depends on a few factors. If you're looking for a low-impact exercise machine that provides a full-body workout, an elliptical is a great option. Weigh how often you expect to use it versus engaging in other types of exercise. 

Price is also a significant element. Elliptical machines can run in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, so make sure you consider the overall value of the purchase before you buy.

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What muscles do ellipticals work?

Exercising on an elliptical machine can work several muscle areas, including the chest, back, biceps, triceps, core muscles, glutes and hamstrings, according to CNET's sister site, Healthline. Ellipticals offer a low-impact alternative to running while still providing a full-body workout. 

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How many calories do you burn on an elliptical?

How many calories you burn on an elliptical will vary depending on your weight and the intensity and duration of the workout. According to Harvard, 30 minutes of exercise on an elliptical can burn an average of 270 calories for a 125-pound person, 324 calories for a 155-pound person and 378 calories for a 185-pound person.

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Is the elliptical good cardio?

The elliptical is a good cardio workout because it works your heart and lungs. It can be used for a steady-state workout or a high-intensity interval training workout. As a result, it helps you build your endurance.

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CNET writers Lindsay Boyers and Megan Wollerton also contributed to this story.