You’ve probably walked into a gym before and seen rows upon rows of exercise equipment, with various machines all designed to work different parts of the body. But if you’re looking for a low-impact, full-body workout that’s easy on your joints, you might have found yourself drawn to the types of ellipticals.
These machines have exploded in popularity over the past decade, and it’s no wonder why: they’re versatile, easy to use, and a great way to get your heart rate up without pounding the pavement.
But with so many types of ellipticals on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your fitness goals. That’s where we come in. In this guide, we’ll break down the different types of ellipticals, their features, and what you need to know to find the perfect one for you.
But before we go any further let’s compare them side by side:
|Type of Elliptical||Main Features||Pros||Cons||Price Range (USD)|
|Rear-Drive Ellipticals||Flywheel at the back, long strides, quiet operation||Smooth and natural motion, low maintenance, good for tall users||Can be bulky and heavy, limited variability in incline and resistance||500-2,500|
|Front-Drive Ellipticals||Flywheel at the front, compact design, adjustable incline||Versatile workout, suitable for different fitness levels, good for small spaces||Can be noisy, less stable than rear-drive models, less maintenance-free||500-3,500|
|Center-Drive Ellipticals||Flywheel in the middle, compact and ergonomic design, low-impact||Balanced and natural motion, good for core engagement, space-efficient||Limited stride length, less stable than other models, less variety in incline and resistance||2000-3,000|
|Standard Ellipticals||Traditional elliptical design, simple and user-friendly||Affordable, easy to use, good for beginners||Limited features and adjustability, can be boring over time||200-1,500|
|Elliptical Gliders||Minimalist design, compact and portable, low-impact||Affordable, space-saving, good for low-intensity workouts||Limited range of motion, not suitable for high-intensity training, less durable||100-500|
|Hybrid Ellipticals||Combination of elliptical and other fitness machines (e.g. bike or stepper)||Versatile and customizable workouts, good for cross-training, space-saving||Can be expensive, less specialized than single-function machines, less durable||500-3,000|
|Compact Ellipticals||Small and lightweight design, portable and easy to store||Space-saving, good for home gyms, easy to move around||Limited features and adjustability, can be unstable and uncomfortable for tall users||100-1,000|
Prices are approximate and may vary depending on the brand, model, and retailer.
Front drive ellipticals
Front drive ellipticals have the drive axle positioned at the front of the machine, making them unique from the other elliptical types. The pedals are attached to a crank that rotates around a flywheel located at the front. This creates a more horizontal elliptical path compared to rear-drive ellipticals, which can feel more like a stepping motion. The longer stride length on a front-drive elliptical can provide a more natural feel for taller users.
In terms of appearance, front drive ellipticals often have a sleek and modern design. They typically have a smaller footprint than other types of ellipticals, making them ideal for smaller spaces.
The rear-drive elliptical is the older and more traditional type of elliptical trainer. Unlike the front-drive elliptical, the drive system is located at the back of the machine, giving it a more natural elliptical path. This type of elliptical also tends to have a longer stride length, making it more suitable for taller individuals who want to simulate a natural running motion.
If you’re looking for an elliptical machine that prioritizes comfort and balance, a center-drive elliptical might be your best bet. As the name suggests, center-drive ellipticals feature pedals that are located directly underneath the user’s center of gravity, which provides a more natural, comfortable motion during exercise.
Hybrid ellipticals combine the features of two popular exercise machines – ellipticals and recumbent bikes – into one, allowing users to switch between the two modes of exercise. This makes them a great option for those who want to switch up their workout routine or who are limited on space in their home gym.
Elliptical Cross Trainer
Elliptical cross trainers are a type of elliptical machine that incorporate arm handles to create an upper body workout in addition to the lower body workout provided by traditional ellipticals. The arm handles move back and forth with the pedals, providing a full-body workout that can be beneficial for those looking to increase their overall fitness. Elliptical cross trainers are often found in commercial gyms and fitness centers, as well as in home gyms.
The Standard Elliptical is the most common type of elliptical machine, featuring a long stride length and a stable base. These machines mimic the natural motion of walking, jogging, or running and provide a low-impact workout that’s easy on the joints. Standard ellipticals come with adjustable resistance levels, allowing you to customize your workout intensity.
Compact ellipticals, as the name suggests, are smaller in size compared to the standard ellipticals. They are designed to be compact and easy to store, making them ideal for people with limited space in their homes or apartments. These ellipticals are designed to provide an effective cardiovascular workout without taking up too much space.
Compact ellipticals are typically around 3 to 4 feet in length and weigh around 100 pounds or less. They usually have a smaller stride length than standard ellipticals, making them more suitable for shorter people. Most compact ellipticals are also foldable, allowing you to store them in a closet or under the bed.
How to Choose The Right Type of Elliptical
Choosing an elliptical trainer can be a daunting task, with so many different types and features available. But fear not, we’ve got you covered. In this comprehensive buying guide, we’ll help you navigate the world of ellipticals and choose the best one for your fitness goals.
Consider Your Fitness Goals
Before purchasing an elliptical, it’s important to consider your fitness goals. Are you looking to lose weight, build muscle, or improve your cardiovascular health? Different types of ellipticals may be better suited for different fitness goals.
If weight loss is your goal, consider a rear-drive elliptical or a hybrid elliptical. These machines typically offer a higher calorie burn and may include additional features like adjustable incline or resistance to vary your workout.
If you’re looking to build muscle, a front-drive elliptical or elliptical cross-trainer may be the best choice. These machines typically offer a more intense workout and can target specific muscle groups, like the glutes and quadriceps.
If you’re primarily interested in improving your cardiovascular health, any type of elliptical will do the trick. Look for features like adjustable resistance and pre-set workout programs to vary your routine and keep your heart rate up.
Features to Consider
Once you’ve decided on the type of elliptical that best suits your fitness goals, there are a number of features to consider:
Adjustable incline and resistance: Look for machines that offer adjustable incline and resistance levels. These features can help you vary your workout and keep your routine challenging.
Stride length: The stride length determines the length of your elliptical motion, and can affect the comfort and effectiveness of your workout. Taller individuals may require a longer stride length, while shorter individuals may prefer a shorter stride length.
Pre-set workout programs: Many ellipticals come with pre-set workout programs designed to target specific fitness goals, like weight loss or endurance training. Look for machines with a variety of programs to keep your routine interesting.
Heart rate monitor: Some ellipticals come with a built-in heart rate monitor, allowing you to track your heart rate during your workout. This can be a useful tool for maintaining your target heart rate and maximizing your workout.
Size and weight capacity: Be sure to consider the size of the machine and its weight capacity. If you’re tall or heavy, you’ll need a machine with a larger stride length and weight capacity to accommodate you comfortably.
Durability and warranty: Look for machines with a sturdy construction and a good warranty. A well-built machine will last longer and require fewer repairs over time.
Price: Ellipticals can range in price from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Set a budget before you start shopping, and look for a model that offers the features and performance you need within your price range.
What is the most effective elliptical?
The most effective elliptical is one that fits your fitness goals and needs. Each type of elliptical offers unique features and benefits, so it’s important to consider what you want to achieve and choose accordingly.
What type of exercise is elliptical?
Elliptical is a low-impact, cardiovascular exercise that targets the lower body muscles, including the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. It also engages the core and upper body muscles, making it a full-body workout.
Is elliptical better than running?
Elliptical and running are both effective cardio exercises, but elliptical offers lower impact on the joints, making it a better choice for people with joint issues or injuries. Running, on the other hand, offers a higher calorie burn and helps build bone density. Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your individual needs and preferences.