April 12, 2024

Best elliptical machines in 2024 for low-impact, high-intensity cardio: Bowflex, NordicTrack, more


Elliptical trainers are some of the most popular practice material for home gym. Their unique design allows you to perform a high-intensity cardio workout without straining your hips, knees and ankles. The best elliptical trainers take it one step further and add advanced metrics, immersive technology, and unique pedal designs to ensure you work hard, but your joints don’t. The training is still intense (just the way we like it), but the machines are so much better.

If you’re looking for your first elliptical trainer, it can be confusing figuring out what’s what and what makes sense for your home gym. That’s why we wanted to help you make the right choice by rounding up our favorite elliptical trainers in 2024, from cutting-edge machines to budget-friendly picks with space-saving designs.

Best elliptical machines for your home gym in 2024

Although you have a manual elliptical or a somewhat simple electric one elliptical trainer for under $500Most elliptical trainers typically cost between $500 and $2,000. We’ve found options to suit every budget.

Best elliptical trainer overall: Bowflex Max Total 16

Arch flex

The Bowflex Max Total 16 is part stair stepper, part elliptical machine and packed with advanced features. There are 20 resistance levels, allowing you to make every workout as intense (or as mild) as you want. Adjust the intensity as you go or choose from one of the preset workout programs so you can focus on your form while the machine automatically adjusts the resistance.

The Bowflex Max Total 16 comes with free Bluetooth heart rhythm monitor bracelet that is ideal for heart rate zone training.

If you get the JRNY membership ($20 per month), you can skip the preset workouts and get personalized, adaptive workouts based on your current fitness level and your goals. The Max Total 16 can automatically adjust its settings to follow your personal training routine.

Receive the bounty Arch flex hybrid stepper-elliptical machine for $2,399 (reduced from $2,499).

Main features of the Bowflex Max Total 16:

  • The hybrid machine offers a higher vertical stride than an elliptical, so you get the strength-boosting benefits of a stair step.
  • On the 16-inch HD touchscreen you can easily view your statistics, follow a workout or watch your favorite programs.
  • With 20 resistance levels, you can start at your current fitness level and build strength as you go.
  • The digital display can store up to four separate user profiles, so everyone can track their training history.
  • A Bluetooth heart rate bracelet makes it easy to monitor your heart rate accurately during workouts.

$2,399 at Bowflex

Most immersive elliptical: NordicTrack FS14i


For an intense, low-impact workout with all the premium features you expect from NordicTrack, try the FS14i elliptical trainer. The smart elliptical trainer offers 26 resistance levels and an adjustable incline up to 10%, so you can tailor your workout to the perfect intensity level.

With an iFit membership ($39 per month), you get access to thousands of on-demand workouts, trainer-led classes, and immersive videos. You can then let the machine automatically adjust the resistance and incline settings to suit your workout. You also have the option to use SmartAdjust technology that adjusts settings based on your current fitness level.

Buy this elliptical trainer at NordicTrack for $2,299 (reduced from $2,499).

Key features of the NordicTrack FS14i:

  • It’s smart enough to learn your fitness level and automatically adjust workout settings to optimize your workout.
  • There are 26 resistance levels, giving you plenty of options to adjust the intensity.
  • This elliptical trainer has an incline (up to 10%) to make your workouts even more challenging.
  • It can be used with or without trainer-led iFit workouts if a monthly subscription doesn’t fit your budget.

$2,299 at NordicTrack

Most durable heavy-duty elliptical: Sole E95 Elliptical


Powered by a whisper-quiet system, the Sole E95 elliptical trainer earns 4.3 out of 5 stars from buyers who “love this product.” The elliptical trainer is unique in that the foot pedal design has a 2-degree inward slope to reduce ankle and knee stress. While many home ellipticals have unstable side-to-side motion, Sole’s four rear wheels sit on heavy-duty rails for greater stability and a smoother workout.

The E95 includes power ramp levels to increase the intensity of your workout and target different muscle groups. And thanks to built-in heart rate sensors and a heart rate chest strap, you can monitor your heart rate while you exercise.

The latest generation of the Sole E95, due out in 2023, adds a 13-inch touchscreen with Wi-Fi (instead of just the tablet stand found on the 2020 model) and a built-in wireless charger to keep your devices charged.

You can get the updated Sole E95 directly from Sole Fitness for $2,100.

What we like about the Sole E95 Elliptical:

  • Angled and adjustable pedals match the way you walk for a more comfortable workout.
  • Adjustable resistance and incline levels adjust the intensity and muscle groups targeted during each workout.
  • A heart rate chest strap is included for more accurate heart rate measurement.

$2,100 at Sole Fitness

If that price tag made you cringe, you can also get the 2020 version of the Sole E95 from Amazon for just $1,000. Aside from the display and charging upgrades you’ll find in the 2023 model, all other specs on these elliptical machines are the same. So if you’re happy using your tablet instead of a built-in screen, you can save $1,100 by buying the 2020 model from Amazon.

$1,000 at Amazon

CBS Sports Essentials readers’ favorite budget elliptical: Niceday Elliptical Machine


The Niceday elliptical trainer is a CBS Sports Essentials reader favorite. The budget-friendly choice promises a hyper-quiet magnetic drive system designed to eliminate noise.

The popular elliptical trainer has a 16-pound flywheel and 16 resistance levels, more than you would expect from a workout machine in this price range.

A 16-pound flywheel and 16 resistance levels provide approximately double the resistance levels compared to other elliptical trainers in this price range. The 400 lb load capacity and sturdy base, which is made of extra-thick commercial steel, make this model more stable than similarly priced machines.

Normally $800, you can get the popular elliptical while it’s on sale at Amazon for just $500.

What we like about the Niceday elliptical machine:

  • It’s a CBS Sports Essentials bestseller – our readers love this 4.5-star elliptical machine.
  • 16 resistance levels allow you to adjust exercise intensity to suit your fitness goals.
  • The digital display tracks time, distance, speed, calories burned and heart rate.
  • It features a built-in pulse sensor on the handles so you can check your heart rate regularly.

$500 at Amazon

Best under-desk elliptical: Cubii JR1+


Getting your body moving doesn’t have to mean buying a heavy piece of equipment. If your space doesn’t allow for a full elliptical, or you want to add some exercise to your workday (or TV time), an elliptical trainer under the desk gets your legs moving and your heart rate up.

Cubii offers a low-impact workout, with a built-in LCD screen that tracks progress, including steps taken and calories burned. Very little assembly and ease of storage earned this under-desk elliptical trainer a 4.2 star rating on Amazon.

Get the Cubii JR1+ on Amazon for $200 (reduced from $210).

What we like about the Cubbii JR1+:

  • The under-desk design allows you to exercise even if you don’t have time for specific workouts.
  • The LCD screen tracks distance, calories burned and more.
  • The compact elliptical trainer offers 8 resistance levels.

$200 at Amazon

Buy more top-rated elliptical trainers

Is an elliptical trainer better than walking?

Although using an elliptical trainer is not necessarily better than to walk, it offers some advantages worth considering. It’s a lower-impact way to get the same cardio benefits as walking. If you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis or joint pain, for example, even a slow walk can be painful. However, the pedals on an elliptical trainer allow your feet to remain flat on the pedals as you move through the stride, so you don’t have to deal with the impact of a typical foot strike on the ground.

For weight loss and fitness, an elliptical trainer also gives you more ways to increase the calorie burn or intensity of your workout than a walk. You can increase the resistance and in some cases even increase the incline to get an even more effective sweat session.

What stride length do I need on my elliptical trainer?

The correct stride length on an elliptical depends mainly on your height, with shorter people needing a shorter stride and taller people needing a longer stride. Although some elliptical trainers have a fixed stride length, many are now adjustable so you can worry less about getting the right fit for your fitness.

That said, most people’s natural walking stride is somewhere between 18.5 and 22.5 inches. If you want to be precise, you can take a tape measure and measure yours by taking a normal step forward and then pausing to measure the distance between your front and back feet.

Use that measurement to adjust your new elliptical to the most comfortable stride length for you, or find a fixed stride elliptical that fits.

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