The Best Ellipticals 2021: Reviews of Bowflex, Schwinn and More - Rolling Stone
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Get a Great Cardio Workout at Home With One of These Ellipticals

Ellipticals are a gym-goer favorite and now you can get one for your home too, providing a dynamic cardio workout almost instantly

woman on ellipticalwoman on elliptical


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When you’re building your home gym, the big question always comes up, “Should I get a treadmill or an elliptical?” Both can provide intense workouts but serve different purposes. Avid runners or those trying to get into running should go for the treadmill. But, if you’re looking for a workout that works everything from your arms to your glutes to your legs, then you might want to think about investing in an elliptical. While a treadmill is powered by a moving conveyor belt, you need to use force from your own body to move the pedals and handles of an elliptical. Combining that with the ability to increase resistance (and possibly incline) can make an elliptical workout a tough one. 

What to Know Before Buying An Elliptical

Space: Ellipticals are usually the largest piece of equipment you can have in your home gym, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some more compact options. Typically, those without moving handles take up less space but you’re also sacrificing working out your arms. If you’re looking to find a way to move throughout the day but don’t necessarily want to do a full-blown workout, you can invest in a desk elliptical — a small piece of equipment with foot pedals that slides under your desk. 

Workout Guidance: Do you like to do your workout with no distractions? Or, would you prefer a built-in screen with guided workouts to motivate you? There’s no wrong answer, but if you need a little push to help you with your elliptical workouts, you might want to look into shelling out the extra cash for an elliptical that comes with exercise programs. Some guides are fancier than others, but at the bare minimum, you’ll have presets for fat burning, muscle toning and more. 

Resistance: Once your body gets used to the arm and leg movements of an elliptical, it’s going to be ready for more of a challenge. The key thing that makes an elliptical different from a treadmill is that most have different resistance levels to help boost a workout. Before you make your purchase, check out if your elliptical gives you the option to change resistance and even incline. This way, you know you’ll constantly be challenged when exercising and your body will never get bored.

1. Bowflex M3 Max

If you’re looking to make a big investment in your elliptical, then the Bowflex machine is perfect for you.

You’ll definitely be getting an intense workout with this one because it combines the movement of an elliptical with the calorie torching power of a stepper to give you a two-in-one workout. The company promises that the machine can deliver the cardio benefits of an interval workout in just 14 minutes.

The elliptical displays target zone and burn rate indicators to help keep you on track with your workout goals. Its display features two workout programs and eight resistance levels so you can always up the intensity as workouts become too easy.

bowflex elliptical reviews


Buy: Bowflex M3 Max at $999.00

2. Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

At 53.8 inches long by 62.5 inches high, the Schwinn 411 takes up less space than your average gym elliptical. But, don’t let the compact design fool you. It still gives you an 18-inch stride of a large elliptical, which means it provides just as an intense of a workout as one you’ll get in the gym. What’s even better is that this choice has up to 16 levels of resistance — more than many other machines. 

It also includes a console that displays time, speed, distance, calories and heart rate. The World app, which is connected to the elliptical, displays global routes on your screen and you’re able to keep track of and share which you’ve accomplished.

best elliptical portable


Buy: Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine at $549.00

3. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905

If you’re just looking for an elliptical trainer with no flashy add-ons, the Sunny Health & Fitness option is your best bet. The cross trainer has eight levels of resistance and anti-slip handlebars and footpads. The digital monitor on this choice is much smaller than the rest, but it displays the basic numbers you would want to know: time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse. Definitely go for this elliptical if you’ve never used one before and are looking for something with no frills.

best elliptical portable


Buy: Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 at $195.99

4. Fast88 Electric Desk Elliptical Machine Trainer

Maybe you’re not looking to build a full blown home gym, but you want something that’ll help keep you moving throughout the day. That’s where a desk elliptical comes in. The small machine can fit comfortably under your desk but mimics the foot movements of a regular elliptical. There are five levels for speed and it’s able to move forward and backward. The Fast88 machine is electric but promises it doesn’t make much noise if you’re using it at home around your family members. 

This desk elliptical can be plugged into the wall or used without it. On top of that, its display screen will show speed, time, distance, and calories burned.

best elliptical portable


Buy: Fast88 Electric Desk Elliptical Machine… at $209.00

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