Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Click Here to read our full affiliate disclosure.
Buying an Elliptical? 7 Key Features To Consider
Buying an elliptical trainer?
Not sure which one is best for you?
It can be overwhelming when looking at your options today. There are so many brands – and so many models in each brand!
There are different price points – and dozens of magazines or websites with conflicting information.
And “customer reviews” on top online shopping sites are notoriously untrustworthy (and many times paid for).
So how do you choose?
I think the best way to find your best elliptical machine is by becoming the expert yourself. Educate yourself on what to look for when buying your elliptical trainer.
Then you’ll be in the best position to know whether something is a good choice for you – or not.
Also, by knowing about different features, you’ll be able to decide if you want those features – or whether you want something else (for example, not everyone needs a folding elliptical – but for some people it’s an absolute must).
This blog post will help make YOU the expert by knowing what to look for when buying an elliptical.
7 Factors To Consider When Buying An Elliptical Trainer
#1 Stride Length
Stride is the furthest distance between the two pedals. A longer stride helps to more fully work your leg muscles – and burns more calories!
A shorter stride will feel more “jumpy” and uncomfortable. Cheaper ellipticals usually come with very short strides (14 – 17 inches).
Look for a stride length between 18 and 20 inches in order to get the most comfortable elliptical ride.
Or look for an adjustable stride like you find on the Nordictrack Freestrider– so you can choose your preferred length.
#2 Moving Arm Bars
Most elliptical trainers today do have moving arm bars to work your upper body – however it’s always good to check.
Another thing to consider is the quality and design of the moving arm bars. For example, some trainers have very simple, basic handlebars:
Others give you curved, multi-position handlebars. So if you want different ways to work your upper body, having upgraded, multi-position handlebars like this might be beneficial:
Incline – also called ramp – changes the slope of your elliptical running path. This makes it great for crosstraining and helps give you a more effective workout.
Look for power incline – so you can change the settings from the console with the push of a button without disrupting your workout.
(Some starter ellipticals will give you manual incline or ramp. This means you have to get off the machine to change the ramp – and it can be really inconvenient to do this.)
Look for oversized footpedals that are either articulating (and support your ankle) or can be adjusted.
For example, many of the newer Nordictrack ellipticals offer you 3 different toe-heel angles to choose from so you can adjust the pedal to suit your needs.
This helps you find a more comfortable “customized” fit for your workout.
Although you can’t always tell from the manufacturers stats, a heavier flywheel will give you a smoother feeling ride. You don’t get the jerky starts and stops that cheaper machines give you.
That’s one reason I like Nordictrack ellipticals. For the most part, they use heavier flywheels than industry standards and they make it easy to find in their sales literature.
A heavier flywheel will also help to anchor the machine – making it feel much more stable.
#6 Workout Toys/Console
This is where it gets fun! You can find all sorts of toys on elliptical trainers today that can help make your workouts a lot more enjoyable.
For example, many trainers are now starting to come with music ports and speakers. So you can plug in your phone or other device and play your favorite workout music through the console speakers.
You can also find elliptical trainers now with streaming programs or world trail workouts. So you can explore a new world trail or even take a fitness class from your home.
Another thing to look for is a console that is bright and backlit. So it’s easy to read. And some other people like having an elliptical with Bluetooth or some kind of online tracking feature. So they can track their workouts over time and see how far they’ve come.
Again – this is largely up to you as to what you prefer. But having some fun toys can mean the difference between a boring 20 minute workout and a fun, high-calorie-burning 45 minute workout. So it’s worth considering.
While most ellipticals come with a manufacturer warranty – you want to make sure the length of the manufacturers warranty is sufficient.
For example one of the “red flags” of an elliptical for me is a 90 day warranty (on anything – including parts or labor). You’ll find these on a lot of cheap, starter machines. And it usually means that the construction quality is pretty shoddy.
So look for at least a year on labor and more on other things like parts or frame.
So those are 7 things to look at when buying an elliptical. By knowing these things, you’ll start to be able to pick out the elliptical gems from the lemons when it comes to crosstrainers. You’re als more likely to get only and exactly what you want! Good luck!
Want to learn more?