What to Look For In an Elliptical Machine – Before You Buy

So you want to make the first step to becoming a healthier, fitter you and decided to buy your first elliptical! Great choice! Elliptical trainers can give you one of the best cardio workouts around, and are also one of the most popular, along with treadmills. Yet elliptical machines provide a lower-impact cardio workout and protect the joints more than most treadmills can.

Now that you’ve made that smart decision to purchase an elliptical trainer, where are you to start?!

With all of the different brands and models of elliptical trainers on the market, it is no wonder one would get very confused in deciding what features are right for them. Well that’s why we are here to help.

Elliptical machines can range anywhere from $300-$3000, which can take a big toll on your wallet. So you’ll want to make sure you find out all you need to know, and are getting exactly what you are looking for in an exercise machine.

You can check out all our specific NordicTrack elliptical reviews, which you can find here, but we’ll also go over a few features you’ll need to know before diving into your elliptical search. Here are a few important features to look for when purchasing an elliptical.

According to this article from exercise.about.com, the must have features for your elliptical include: stride length, smooth motion, upper body option, adjustable incline and resistance, and amount of space it is going to take up.

Stride Length. This is a tricky one as everyone’s stride is different, and most elliptical trainers don’t allow you to change the stride length. A good tip from this article at Proform-Coupons.com is that if you are over six feet tall look for a stride length between 21” and 24” in length. While most come with a default of 18 inch stride and that should be a good fit for anyone under six feet. If possible and within budget, it would be best to find an elliptical with adjustable stride lengths, especially if more than one person will be using your machine.

Smooth Motion. Elliptical machines should never wobbly, shake or feel jerky during your entire workout, no matter your intensity. Make sure you elliptical is stable and that your motion is fluid and quiet. Your whole stride motion, including the use of the handlebars, should be smooth, quiet and swift. Some cheaper models have been reported to shake and rattle during use, which is not safe or good on your natural body’s stride motions, and can only lead to annoyance, so if you feel any instability try to look elsewhere in an elliptical.

Upper Body Option. While most elliptical machines come with this option it is always a good idea to check. Although some may not find this feature a necessity to their workout, it does provide more of an intense, effective elliptical workout. One of the many benefits to elliptical trainers is their ability to provide a full body workout, with the use of the movable handlebars, resulting in more calories burned. You’ll always want to be sure the handlebars fit into your natural posture and stride motion, that you are not having to lean over to access them.

Forward and Reverse Motions. Again most machines come equipped with this feature, always best to double check. The ability of the elliptical to go in both forward and reverse. The ability to go both forward and reverse allow you to use different sets of muscles, increasing muscles used will result in increased calories burned. This will also help add variety to your workouts, keeping you from getting bored.

Adjustable Incline and Resistance. This used to be a feature only available on higher end models, yet now more and more elliptical machines are coming with this feature as retailers are realizing how important this feature is for consumers. Incline and resistance are not the same thing, so you’ll want to be sure your elliptical states that it does in fact come with both features, if it is within your budget.

Having an elliptical with adjustable incline is going to vary the sets of muscles you are using, which is going to increase toning and fat burn, especially that stubborn and dangerous visceral fat we discussed here. While an elliptical trainers that come with a range of resistance levels is going to increase calories burned, which will also help to increase fat burn.

A good feature to look for according to this article is one-touch resistance/incline adjustments; this will make changing them simple and easier to fit interval training sessions into your workout.

Space. You’ll want to be sure you have enough room to allow the pedals to move through their complete range of motion, as well as that you have enough ceiling height giving your head enough clearance to exercise comfortable, especially with the adjustable incline.


Now all of these features may not be a concern to you, but they are all features you need to think about before making your purchase. Decide which ones are important to you, and be sure to check that the elliptical machine you have your eye on is coming equipped with all your exercise needs.