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Looking for a low impact workout that’s still low key really hard? Wave hello to your new BFF: the elliptical.

Ellipticals offer a full-body cardio workout with smooth, gliding strides that are waaaay easier on your joints than running or even walking.

Keep scrolling to read some elliptical shopping advice (straight from the pros!) and check out the top nine ellipticals that could be the key to your low impact fitness routine.

9 best ellipticals

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To keep from spinning our wheels (er, pedals), we spoke with two personal trainers about what to look for in an elliptical: Holly Roser, owner of Holly Roser Fitness Studios, and Erin James, founder of SQUAY.

Here are their essential criteria that we took into consideration when making our elliptical picks:

  • Lots of resistance options. “You want something that challenges you before it gets to 100 percent of its resistance, so that you can grow with it,” explains James. “Using the elliptical, it’s very important to have the ability to make each minute harder,” Roser adds. The option to increase resistance throughout the workout helps keep this low impact workout highly effective and challenging.
  • Ease of use. Roser says you should “look for the ability to adjust the incline and resistance with ease” so you’re not spending your whole workout fiddling with controls. James notes that ellipticals all move differently and vary vastly in size, so it’s important to find one that’s comfortable for your body and fits in your space.
  • Movable handlebars. “Being able to change the resistance and use hand grips that move with your motion are two key benefits of ellipticals,” explains James. Moving your arms adds a little something extra to your workout to help you really feel the burn.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $1,000
  • $$ = $1,000–$2,000
  • $$$ = over $2,000
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Best overall elliptical

Bowflex Max Trainer M6

  • Price: $$
  • Resistance: 16 levels
  • Hand grips: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 300 pounds (lbs.)
  • Stride length: 13 inch (in.) vertical motion, 6 in. horizontal motion
  • Extra features: Magnetic tablet holder, USB charging port, heart rate monitoring

James explains best why this is our top pick. She says the Bowflex Max Trainer M6 is “for those who can splurge a little but not a lot and care about features.”

With a USB port and a magnetic tablet holder, it’s equipped to keep you entertained or deliver streaming workouts if you BYO tablet. It also has enough resistance levels to keep you challenged, is relatively compact, and works with Bowflex’s JRNY app.

Best high end elliptical

Octane Fitness Q47x Elliptical

  • Price: $$$
  • Resistance: 20 levels
  • Handlebars: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Stride length: 18–26 in.
  • Extra features: Tablet holder, 10 workout presets

This elliptical is a significant investment, but it’s Roser’s favorite on the market. “This machine has the ability to change your stride length,” she explains, “which helps your body move in a more natural way.”

The numerous resistance levels and auto-adjusting stride length make it easy to create personalized and challenging low impact workouts. This also means it’s a solid pick if you’re planning on sharing the machine with your entire fam.

Best elliptical for streaming workouts

NordicTrack FS10i

  • Price: $$$
  • Resistance: 24 resistance levels and up to 10% incline
  • Handlebars: Movable
  • Max user weight: 375 lbs.
  • Stride length: 0–32 in.
  • Extra features: 10-in. touch screen, iFit connected with automatic resistance adjustments, Bluetooth speakers, built-in fan

This elliptical is packed with extra features that are ideal for streaming fitness classes, which is why it comes highly recommended by James. It comes with a free year of iFit membership, which features elliptical classes where trainers automatically adjust your incline and resistance for you. You also get access to other kinds of classes, including yoga, lifting, and running workouts.

Keep in mind that this kind of machine requires a little more space. “These are FreeStride machines,” James explains, “which means they provide more movement, so you’ll want to make sure there is ample room in front of the machine and behind.”

Best budget elliptical

Sunny Health & Fitness Performance Elliptical Cross Trainer

  • Price: $
  • Resistance: 8 levels
  • Handlebars: Movable
  • Max user weight: 220 lbs.
  • Stride length: 7 in. horizontal motion, 5 in. vertical motion
  • Extra features: Tablet holder

James likes this no-frills elliptical for its ultra-low price point and compact size. “It doesn’t take up much space, as it focuses on the climbing motion,” she explains, “so the legs don’t really go forward and back.”

She says this is a great pick if you’re looking for a major sweat sesh that’s still low impact. The climbing motion is also key for working those booty muscles. 🍑

Best elliptical for incline workouts

Precor 576i

  • Price: $$$
  • Resistance: 20 levels with incline of 13–40 degrees
  • Handlebars: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 350 lbs.
  • Stride length: 21–25 in.
  • Extra features: 14 workout presets, heart rate monitoring, tablet holder

For intense endurance-building workouts, Roser recommends this commercial model. “This is a fantastic elliptical if you enjoy hills,” she says. The adjustable incline means you can add extra intensity to your workout and target different muscles in your lower body.

However, James says the machine’s one downside is that its handles have only one grip option, which means you’re missing out on being able to pull the handles in either direction and target different muscle groups in your upper bod.

Best compact elliptical

Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical

  • Price: $
  • Resistance: 16 levels
  • Handlebars: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Stride length: 18 in.
  • Extra features: Heart rate sensors, tablet holder

According to James, this is an excellent choice if you want some of the bells and whistles of a higher-end elliptical — like a tablet holder, moving handlebars, and an 18-in. stride length — without having to spend a grand or more.

James also reminds us that although this pick is compact, its 18-in. stride length means people living in smaller spaces still need to make sure they have enough room to accommodate it.

Best under-desk elliptical

Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine

  • Price: $
  • Resistance: 8 levels
  • Handlebars: N/A (It’s hands-free!)
  • Max user weight: 500 lbs. (while seated)
  • Stride length: 6.125 in.
  • Extra features: Fits under your desk, Bluetooth connectivity, syncs with FitBit and Apple HealthKit

Sitting at your desk all day just plain isn’t good for you — but if you’ve got work to do, what can ya do?!

This little under-desk elliptical from Cubii can help you use all that sitting time to your advantage by letting you pedal away right at your desk (just in case standing desks ain’t your thing). Best of all, it can connect to your phone via Bluetooth (and sync with FitBit and Apple HealthKit) so you can track your workout metrics like you would for any other workout.

Best midrange elliptical

Horizon EX-59

  • Price: $
  • Resistance: 10 levels
  • Handlebars: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Stride length: 18 in.
  • Extra features: Bluetooth speakers, USB charging port, tablet holder, heart rate tracker

For its alluring sub-$1,000 price, this elliptical is packed with features that make it ideal for streaming workouts or watching Netflix on your tablet or phone while you get your workout on. It’s even got a charging port, so you and your phone can keep going and going. Reviewers say it’s smooth, quiet, and a great buy for the price.

Best elliptical for HIIT workouts

ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

  • Price: $$
  • Resistance: 24 levels
  • Handlebars: Movable and stationary
  • Max user weight: 325 lbs.
  • Stride length: 10 in. vertical motion, 5 in. horizontal motion
  • Extra features: iFit connected with automatic resistance adjustments, 7-in. touch screen display, Bluetooth speakers, built-in fan

We’ve heard high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the sh*t. If you’re a fan of these fast but effective workouts but wanna take it easy on your knees, this is the workout machine for you.

It’s compact with little horizontal motion, so it replicates climbing for some serious sweat sessions. You can also stream classes that have automatic resistance adjustments, making interval training easier than ever (OK, maybe not literally easier, but at least you don’t have to mess with the controls 🤷).

Ellipticals offer an excellent low impact workout for people with joint pain and arthritis.

They’re also a great way to ease into working out if you’re trying to shake off your couch-potato ways. Although elliptical-ing is less intense than running, it can still give you a really good workout that engages your upper and lower body.

If you’re a competitive runner or dedicated athlete, it’s also a good idea to have an elliptical in your home gym for when you need a low impact day. Certain types of ellipticals are also being studied for their potential to help prevent knee injuries and promote recovery after injuries.

When choosing the elliptical of your dreams, remember our experts’ advice: Look for one in your budget that’s got movable handlebars and plenty of easy-to-use resistance options. Here’s what else you should be mindful of when making your purchase:

  • Size. Does it accommodate your height and weight? If you’re on the taller side, try to find one that’s got at least a 20-in. stride length. Also, double-check that the elliptical you have your eye on will fit in the space you’ve got planned for it.
  • Bonus features. Want fun extras like a touch screen, built-in programs, one-touch resistance adjustments, or Bluetooth speakers? James says if it’s important to you and fits in your budget, you should totally go for it.
  • Warranty and return options. Some ellipticals can be huge financial investments, so make sure the warranty is one you can live with. If you’re buying online with no chance to try before you buy, definitely go for one that offers a full refund within a certain time period after purchase — just in case it doesn’t jibe with you.

Ellipticals offer a perf low impact workout if you’re living with joint pain, are new to exercise, or just hate running.

Our nine picks are an excellent place to start. But make sure the elliptical you choose has plenty of resistance options and movable handlebars so you can really challenge yourself. And don’t forget to consider things like budget, size, and bonus features that’ll keep you from breaking your stride.