Elliptical Machine Buying Guide

Elliptical machines provide a good cardio workout with minimal stress on your joints and muscles. This elliptical machine buying guide outlines the various types and features to consider.

Elliptical Trainers 101

If you like working out but are too busy to get to a gym on a regular basis, an elliptical trainer is a great way to add low-impact cardiovascular exercise to your home routines. Walking or running on an elliptical trainer strengthens and tones the muscles of the lower body. Some machines also incorporate arm motion to provide an upper-body workout. There are several types of elliptical machines, each with different advantages: with a bit of research, you'll discover the one that best fits your needs.

Types of Elliptical Trainers


Rear-Drive Elliptical Machine

A rear-drive elliptical trainer provides a workout motion that resembles natural walking or jogging. They are designed to keep your body well-centered and your stride smooth and fluid. If the slope of your machine's platform is adjustable, you can set it to an incline to increase the intensity of your workout. There are also fewer moving parts in a rear-drive model compared to other elliptical machines, so less servicing is required in general.

Front-Drive Elliptical Machine

Front-drive elliptical machines provide a workout similar to that of stair climbers, minus the abrupt motions that can cause stress on your joints. The focus of the exercise is on lower body leg strengthening and toning. With their low-to-the-ground pedal design, front-drive elliptical machines are also easy to mount and dismount, which is a benefit for people dealing with stiffness or reduced mobility. Front-drive machines are typically less expensive than other types of elliptical machines.

Centre-Drive Elliptical Machine

With a centre-drive elliptical machine your weight is concentrated at the middle of the machine. This provides more stability and allows you to maintain a more comfortable posture throughout your workout. Your body also moves in natural motion, which decreases your risk of injury. These machines are particularly well suited to people who require a controlled, fluid workout due to chronic stiffness or injury.

Full-Body Elliptical Machines

Some elliptical machines have handles on either side that move in rhythm with the pedals. By pushing and pulling on the handles as you run, you'll get the added benefit of an upper-body workout.

Elliptical Machine Safety Tip

Elliptical machines have moving parts that can pinch fingers or catch clothing and hair. If you have small kids in your home, lock your machine in a separate room or buy a model that can be locked when not in use.

Elliptical Machine Features

Stride Length +

Your stride length on an elliptical trainer is the distance between the toe of your front foot and heel of your back foot when you're in full stride. Adjust the stride length of your elliptical machine to suit your height and reduce the likelihood of injury. For front-drive elliptical machines, subtract two inches from the measurement to account for the flatter pedal motion.

Adjustable Incline +

Many elliptical machines allow you to increase or decrease the incline of the pedals. The greater the incline, the more intense the workout. Adjust the incline gradually to avoid muscle strain and overexertion.

Smooth Motion +

The pedals of elliptical machines are designed to move in a fluid motion to minimize stress on joints and muscles. When shopping for an elliptical machine, test the pedals to ensure their up-and-down action is smooth and fluid. Avoid machines with a jerky or stuttered pedal movement.

Noise +

Many newer elliptical machines have been developed to deliver quieter performance. Make sure the machine you buy doesn’t squeak or make unnecessary noise during operation.

Adjustable Resistance +

This feature allows you to adjust the amount of resistance against the pedals. The greater the resistance, the more you need to exert yourself during your workout. This allows you to begin your workout with a lower resistance as your muscles warm up. After a few minutes you can begin increasing the resistance to increase the intensity of your workout.

Programming +

Many elliptical machines allow you to program routines with alternating periods of high and low resistance, as well as warm up and cool down periods at the beginning and end of your workout.

Console Information +

Elliptical machine consoles should be easy to read with controls that are simple to operate. Some machines have built-in heart monitors, so you can keep close track of how your workout is affecting your body. This is particularly useful for people with heart conditions.

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Elliptical Machine Maintenance Tips:

• Ensure your machine’s weight limit is appropriate to your body weight
• Clean and lubricate the flywheel at least once a week
• Clean the control console after use
• Listen for rattles and squeaks to detect parts that are loose or needing lubrication
• Tighten and lubricate parts as necessary

Elliptical vs Treadmill

Compared to treadmills, elliptical machines are gentler on your spine, hips, knees and ankles. Treadmills are tougher on your body, but offer weight-bearing exercise that strengthens bones and muscles and helps prevent osteoporosis. Many elliptical machines operate not just in a forward direction but also in reverse, a feature unavailable in treadmills. The benefit of a reverse stride is to provide a more targeted workout to your hamstring and glutes. 
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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