Thinking about buying an Elliptical Trainer but not sure how to choose?

April 20, 2022

The elliptical trainer is one of the most popular pieces of equipment in the gym. So much so that many people have decided to purchase their very own to boost home training or sometimes even to save on gym membership in the longer term. 

Whatever your reason for considering Elliptical Trainer ownership, here are a few facts and features which may just help you out.

The function of the Elliptical Trainer

This training plan staple provides a low-impact Cardio workout. It simulates running but reduces the overall impact of your workout on your joints, particularly the knees and hips, and is therefore a great option for those with long-term injuries or joint weakness.

As well as ranking high in the exercise stakes, the Elliptical is beginner-level easy, takes little concentration and can be a whole lot of fun to use – another reason why it’s a popular choice when it comes to home use.

Space considerations

Before we even get into the different types of equipment available and the relative functionality of each, it’s essential to first consider where your Elliptical Trainer is going to live. Whichever room you choose, you must ensure that there is a suitable space – they can be up to 7ft in length – and that there will be plenty of clearance either side for the pedals, not to mention an allowance for a safe and convenient mount and dismount! Whilst measuring up don’t also forget the total ceiling height required to allow you to exercise without the need to hunch over!

Matching your needs

There are many types and levels of Elliptical Trainers on the market and the choice can become quite overwhelming. My personal suggestion is that you cut down your search by making a few decisions on the following, more basic aspects right at the very beginning, including: -

Budget – these machines can vary from a few hundred pounds to many thousands, so decide how much you can afford to spend before your wish-list exceeds the reality of what is attainable

Sturdiness – you know your size and strength and there’s a chance that the smallest, lightest model on offer may not be realistic if you want it to stay stable or if it is to last any length of time

Stride length – particularly if you are tall, the stride length of a specific model may simply be too short for you, making it unworkable as well as incredibly uncomfortable

Functionality – if you are only ever likely to want the same, relatively basic workout then you don’t really want to pay for an extensive range of functions which will go unused

Comfort – try a few different options if at all possible (your local gym may help) or at least read online reviews to assess how comfortable a particular model is for upper body and lower back

Noise - think about your fellow house-dwellers and neighbours and consider if the potential positioning of your Elliptical may mean that a low noise option is a must

Safety – an Elliptical Trainer can be tempting to small children who might think you’ve brought the playground indoors, so if it’s in an accessible area it may need to be lockable

Design options

Basics covered, there are then 3 designs of Elliptical Trainer to choose from:

Centre drive – these tend to be the smallest type and look the most like treadmills but with pedals rather than a running track

Front Drive – these are generally the most basic in design and have a larger wheel to the front which can be quite noisy

Rear Drive – these are usually the most expensive, smoothest and most interactive of them all and have a small, enclosed wheel housing behind the pedals

Desirable add-ons

It’s wish-list time. With maximum budget in mind research the following features of your shortlist:

Adjustable resistance and adjustable incline – these will give a much wider range of options to make your workout more interesting, challenging and effective

Warm-up & cool down – always worth looking out for, these built-in functions will make your workout much safer and will protect you from injury

Interactivity – if the thought of a more personalised training session appeals, then you may want to go for a more interactive option which can customise your workouts and maintain a level of intensity

Easy to read console – especially if you’ve added more than basic functionality, you want to be able to read the console from the exercising position and make tweaks without too much stress

Maintenance, warranty and servicing – your Elliptical Trainer is a significant investment, and you will want to maintain it in tip-top, safe condition, so check out the provider’s after-sales capabilities

Connectivity – whilst it may not be front of mind when purchasing, take a moment to consider whether you’d like to connect your trainer to Wi-Fi, to your fitness tracker, or to some motivational software to see you through the training troughs!

Whilst not an exhaustive list, the above hints and tips should allow you to approach the purchase of an Elliptical Trainer informed, and with full consideration of both your immediate and future needs. Many an Elliptical ends up on an internet selling site because it simply didn’t offer what the enthusiastic home trainer was looking for. My advice is always to create your ‘must have’ list and then a ‘nice to have’ list too (a water bottle holder??) and purchase a model which doesn’t mean too much of a compromise – even if you have to wait just that little bit longer to afford it.

As always, I am here at the end of the phone to offer guidance and support as, and when, the need arises. That’s the personal side of being a Personal Trainer!