You are here probably because you’ve already learned that an elliptical machine simulates different types of workouts, such as running, climbing the stairs or walking, without putting excess strain on your joints, and can reduce the risk of injury.
Using these exercise machines are a popular way to get fit and lose weight. Most gyms are equipped with a number of elliptical machines for members to use, and it’s increasingly popular for people to buy their own machines for ‘home gyms’.
Even if you just have room for one machine, you’ll love the convenience of being able to use the apparatus in your own home. Yeah, why not watching TV or listening to a podcast while we exercise? Read on to check out our picks of top 7 best elliptical machines that you can have in your home for under $500.
Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine (the best under $500)
This is a really great option for people who are pushed for space – while the machine has an 18” stride, the overall size of the apparatus is quite compact and can fit into a modest space.
The machine might be smaller than others on the market, but you can still get an all body workout from this one machine. Also, being only 120lb means that it’s easier to move around than bulkier machines.
The interface is, as expected with a small machine, quite basic. However, the display is easy to read with both a screen and button panel to make for easy usage.
One of the best features of the Schwinn 411 is the mixed-reality training app. When you use hefty machines at a professional gym, they usually have built-in screens for exercise entertainment.
While this machine doesn’t have a built-in screen, it can be synced with the RunSocial app, which has 19 different locations and 27 routes that you can log into with friends. Go running ‘together’ from your own homes!
With 16 resistance levels, you can work your way up from beginner to advanced. There are two sets of handlebars, which are padded and fitted with a heart rate monitor grip so that you can check your exertion output.
This machine only has 13 programs, which is quite modest, but depending on the type of workout you’re interested in, it could be plenty for an all-in-one machine.
It may have fewer programs and less of the add-on that other machines have (such as speakers, a seated function, etc.) but we are happy to pay a premium for a great machine. We’d say it runs smoothly and quietly – two top features in a compact machine!
Magnetic Elliptical Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness (best price)
One of the cheapest elliptical trainers on the market, this model by Sunny Health and Fitness is a great machine to start for beginners.
It has a compact LCD monitor which can display a variety of information: Scan, Time, Speed, Distance, Calories, Total Distance and Pulse.
While there are only 8 levels of resistance, this is plenty for a machine of this size, even despite the fact that it doesn’t have a range of programs to explore. This machine is perfect for a beginner who wants a low-impact cardiovascular workout that doesn’t put pressure on the joints.
Stride is just 11” – this is quite small, so not ideal for a taller or bulkier user. This machine would be a great choice for a medium-height woman, particularly someone of advanced years who just wants a gentle exercise machine rather than wanting it for a hefty daily workout.
The textured foot platforms are anti-slip to make your workout comfortable and safe. Pulse grips on the handlebars take a reading of your heart rate to let you know how your workout is going.
The feet have both wheels and stabilizers, to make it easy to move around as well as safe to install once it’s where you want it to be. The machine weights just 68lb and has a weight capacity of 220lb.
Unlike bulkier machines, the Magnetic Elliptical Trainer doesn’t require plugging into the mains. The LED display requires 2 x AA batteries, but no electricity, which means that it’s easy to run.
It’s easy to put together and ideal for people who just want a quick workout a few times a week.
People who are taller than about 5ft2 may find problems because of the compact size – this is a small machine and isn’t the best option for dedicated athletes or well-built users.
Schwinn A40 Elliptical Machine (best for beginners)
Another elliptical machine from Schwinn, this one has a smaller price tag and has a lot less to offer than the 411 model.
However, if you’re looking for a good mid-range machine that offers more than the basic, compact trainers, this is a great choice. High performance at an affordable price.
It has 7 programs to use and 8 levels of resistance – this exceeds other ‘basic’ models and while it isn’t as cheap as some brands, Schwinn produces quality machines and it’s worth the extra cost.
The LCD screen is a really good size and gives you information on speed, time, RPM, distance, calories, results and heart rate.
With a stride length of 17.5”, this is much more generous than many of the cheaper models on the market, and is worth a look if you’re taller than 5”2 and want to use the machine regularly. Both sets of handlebars are ergonomically placed to offer versatility to your workouts.
Equipped with both a media rack and speakers, this is a great benefit if you like to listen to music or podcasts when you’re exercising. This machine also has a higher weight capacity than smaller machines, which is great news for more muscly users – it can take up to 275lb.
For the assembly, it can take a few hours to put together because it’s a quality machine and all elements of installation need to be followed exactly to make sure you get the best from your machine.
However, some buyers have stated regret and not buying the next model up for just $100 extra, as this model sometimes breaks within two years of purchase date, and can have issues with squeaking parts.
So it’s not perfect, but is a good mid-range product for a reasonable price and will certainly be higher quality than many of the budget lines.
The ProForm Hybrid Trainer (2-in-1 design with Bluetooth)
If you’re just going to have one machine in your house, you really want something versatile that has a number of programs that you can utilize.
The ProForm Hybrid Trainer has 16 different programs to keep your workouts varied and interesting. You can choose from a cardio recumbent bike workout or a total toning elliptical program.
Aside from having 16 programs, there are also 16 levels of resistance on this machine, so you can start off as a beginner and work your way up to professional levels of resistance.
Choose your level according to either weight loss goals or performance workouts. The machine is iPod and MP3 compatible, so if you want to listen to music while you’re working out, just plug it in and away you go!
The stride length is relatively short at only 15”, so if you’re particularly tall or have big feet/long legs, this mightn’t be the best machine for you.
Admittedly, this machine isn’t an overly impressive one for us, but at $300 it offers a lot for a mid-range price.
The display is small and basic but easy to use. If you’re not interested in the latest tech products, this simple interface will be perfect for you.
The best part of this machine is that you can connect your tablet to the iFit trainer via Bluetooth, and experience global training scenarios. It’s incline matching technology also adjusts the machine automatically to mimic the terrain.
With options for both seated and standing exercise functions, it’s a versatile machine.
Fast 88 Portable Elliptical Machine (best for modest workout intensity)
With the vast majority of buyers rating this machine as 5 star, it’s easy to see that this is one of the best choices on the market. It’s a step-up from the most basic machines and still has a mid-range price tag – what you’re getting with the 88 model is a truly great deal.
The compact LCD screen displays info on Time, Speed, Calories, Distance and Heart Rate – it doesn’t have a lot of fancy settings but it certainly covers the basics. The machine doesn’t need to be plugged in to work – it just requires 2 X AA batteries to make the screen work.
Despite being compact and easy to fit into even small spaces in your home, this elliptical trainer is heavy duty and can support a load of up to 250lb. It has 8 levels of resistance, which is the standard number for a basic machine, and these can be adjusted manually with a tension knob.
Pulse rate grips are incorporated to get an accurate heart rate reading during your workout. The base has wheels to make it easy to transport, and the machine runs smoothly and without excess noise – it’s easy to listen to music or watch TV while doing your exercise. The machine has a good level of stability and is unlikely to rock on an even floor.
However, bear in mind that the stride length is only 13”, which isn’t overly generous, but if you’re looking for a compact machine then this is a good compromise over the really tiny machines on the market.
Like most people, we found the machine easy to put together, and its compact size means that it’s perfect for apartment workouts. Just make sure that you tighten the bolts securely, particularly if you’re doing longer exercise routines as the bolts can work themselves loose.
All in all, this machine is one of our top recommendations – it’s great value for price, and while it only has one program, the 8 resistance settings mean you can have anything from a gentle stroll to a sweaty workout.
ANCHEER Elliptical Machine (best for bulky guys)
Another really great machine, the ANCHEER is heavy duty, sturdy and quiet, but with a moderate price tag.
One of the most heavy-duty machines on the market for under $500, this is a great choice for heavyweight athletes as it has a maximum capacity of 330lb – about 100lb more than most other compact machines we reviewed here.
The LCD display is compact but sleek – it supplies info on distance, calories burned, time, speed, scan and target zone heart rate monitoring.
The pulse rate grips are found on the handlebars and take an accurate reading for heart rate monitoring. If you’re looking for a quiet machine that will still perform under pressure, this elliptical is a great option.
The precision balanced flywheel and V- belt drive provide a smooth operation for quieter workouts. Even if you live in an apartment, noise from the machine won’t be an issue.
Like most compact machines, the stride length is modest at just 13”. However, this means the machine is easy to slot into small spaces and can be stored out of the way, too. Just think about it carefully if you’re particularly tall – over 5”4.
The non-slip pedals make it less likely for your feet to slide, providing a safe machine for you to exercise on. With 8 levels of resistance, this is a great starter machine for beginners who don’t need all the latest fancy gizmos.
Like most elliptical, the warranty for the frame is much longer than the other components (which have a warranty of just 90 days).
However, this one has an extended warranty for the frame – most machines offer just two years, but the ANCHEER has a three-year warranty on the frame.
We rated this machine as 5 star, and it’s easy to see why – for a relatively low price, this machine offers a sturdy, reliable workout and is perfect for short daily workouts (20 to 30 minutes) or a longer workout two to three times a week.
In terms of assembly, most users have said it takes between one and two hours to put together, and is easily done.
Also, with a lightweight body and convenient wheels at the front, it’s easy to move this machine into place, even for just one person. For the price, it’s a top machine on the market.
Also, while many elliptical machines just come in black, this model is in a sleek silver color and might be a more attractive option, depending on your tastes and décor.
Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer (best for small apartment)
If you’re looking into getting an elliptical trainer for home use but have a tight budget, this is the sort of machine you might consider.
It’s nowhere near as versatile as the other machines on the market, but could be a great starter option if you’re never used elliptical machines before.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this machine is very small – there are no handlebars, it’s basically just the pedals.
If you have problems with balance, this mightn’t be the best choice for you – however, remember that a machine like this can be used sitting down as well as standing up, but of course the benefits are far great when used in a standing position.
While this machine isn’t popular with those who love a hard workout, it certainly has a market for other types of user.
If you’re a busy professional who spends most of the day sat down at your desk, this machine can be tucked in front of your office chair and used while you work – just pedal back and forth as you complete your daily tasks for a gentle but prolonged workout.
Also, pensions and people with mobility issues will enjoy using this pedal-only elliptical, as it can be used from a sitting position in front of the TV or at the dining table.
If you live in a really tiny apartment and don’t have space for a big elliptical machine, this model is a good choice because it’s really small – it’s just 23.6 x 19.7 x 10.6 inches and weighs only 25lb.
As such, it can easily be tucked under a coffee table or away in a cupboard if you need extra space.
The In-Motion has large anti-slip pedals, making it safe to use whether you’re seated or standing. Set up couldn’t be easier – out of the box, it takes a matter of minutes to get it going.
The LCD screen is small and might be difficult to read from a standing position, but it has all the basic functions. Resistance levels can be manually adjusted, and this machine is a really quiet option – great for apartment life.
Despite being compact, this is a heavy duty elliptical and has a maximum capacity of 240lb. We are also one of the most users who are pleased with the purchase – you just need to take this machine for what it is.
For best use in the standing position, we recommend having something static to hold onto – installing a bar onto a wall would be ideal; but if not, holding onto the edge of a desk or something at a good chest height will provide the stability needed.
Saying that, it seems that most buyers choose this to use from a seated position and are looking for a gentler workout.
There are no additional features such as a media rack or speakers, of course, but with a basic machine like this you wouldn’t expect ad-on features.
Whichever machine you go for, there are a few different accessories you might want to consider purchasing alongside your elliptical:
- A mat to go underneath it.
Firstly, from a safety point of view, buying an anti-skip mat will make your machine safer to use. Also, if will prevent scuffing on the floor and reduce the risk of damage in your home.
- Workout outfit.
Having an exercise machine is just the first step to working out – if you’re going to have a good exercise session, you need to make sure you have the right gear.
Wear exercise clothes that are neither too tight nor too loose, and make sure you have well-fitting shoes. The nature of the elliptical trainer pedals means that your feet are not lifting up and impacting in the way they do when you run without a machine, so you don’t want your feet sliding around inside your shoes as this can cause a hazard.
- Cleaning products and lubricant.
Ellipticals and machines and sometimes machines need maintenance. Read the machine manual to discover what sort of cleaning is required, how often you should do it and what sort of product to use.
Keeping your machines well serviced will also prevent squeaking and noisy production over time.
- A cover.
Your machine might attract dust over time (especially if you don’t use it as often as you’d like) and this could clog up the mechanisms and ultimately cause a fault.
Also, if you have your machine in direct sunlight it could cause acceleration of wear and tear. Check out what overs there are available, or make one yourself – it could be as simple as covering the machine with a sheet when not in use.
Considering that you may want to learn more, or find reasons to ‘fight’ for your health, we would like to explain:
Why Use an Elliptical Machine?
Going to the gym is great as you have access to top quality machines and can exercise along with friends. However, gym memberships can be pricy and if you’re not a super-fit athletic type, it can be intimidating to walk into a room full of body builders.
Also, while we all like to get our money’s worth when we’ve paid for something, it’s all too easy to back out of gym plans at the last minute.
“I was going to go to the gym tonight… but I can’t be bothered.” We’ve all been there. So for this reason, having a home gym – even if it’s just one elliptical machine – is a great alternative.
Having an exercise machine to use at home means that there is no excuse not to get on with your workout.
With so many compact machines on the market, it’s easy to do your exercise while you’re listening to music or watching TV. With super-compact ellipticals, such as step machines, you can even use them while sitting and working at a desk.
Having home gym equipment doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the social aspect, either. Top of the range equipment can be synced to social running apps that allow you to connect with your friends who are also exercising in their own homes.
Ellipticals are also a great option for people who want a low-impact exercise routine. If you have weak knees or are concerned about injuries, elliptical machines are worth considering because they are less likely to cause problems than other sorts of trainers.
And, just in case, if you don’t like any of the machines we reviewed here, and try to find other right ones, you can also read about our tips on:
How to Choose an Elliptical Machine
When people are considering what kind of elliptical to invest in, the major consideration is budget.
Obviously, you want the best machine you can afford, but there are other things to think about. Here are some of the points you should consider, aside from budget:
To sum up, we’ll be glad if you can find the one for you from the list. However, it’s also great that you are inspired and find other models you like.