The 5 Best Elliptical Trainers


If you want to have a good cardio workout without the hassle of having to head to a gym or braving the outdoor elements, then you may find that investing in a personal exercise machine will be quite worthwhile. And if sensitive joints are a big obstacle that stands between you and proper exercise, then a good elliptical trainer may be the solution. Elliptical trainers are built to deliver intense cardio training without breaking down your body. Wise Think is here to help you decide what's best for you with our top five list of the best elliptical trainers.

What Is an Elliptical Trainer?

An elliptical trainer, also referred to as a cross trainer, is an exercise machine that's similar in function to a treadmill in that it simulates walking and running, but it's designed to deliver low-impact workouts that minimize pressure on the joint muscles. Instead of a flat belt, an elliptical trainer jogs or runs on footpads with connected handlebars that support your movement during your workout. This benefit makes elliptical trainers ideal for athletes recovering from leg injuries or exercise enthusiasts with sensitive joints.

There are three main types of ellipticals whose classifications are based on the location of their motor: rear-drive, front-drive, and center-drive. However, there aren't many distinct differences between the three types, nor does one have a significant advantage over the others. The most important factors to consider when buying an elliptical are performance, features, and durability.

Top 5 Elliptical Trainers

Sole Fitness E95

Starting off with a Consumer Search top pick, the Sole Fitness E95 elliptical trainer is the most feature-packed option on our list that also has both exercise experts and consumers praising it as one of the absolute best elliptical trainers on the market. Much of the praise goes to the remarkable build quality and design of the E95 that includes a heavy flywheel and a robust frame. Together, they allow the elliptical to produce a quiet and polished performance with every workout.

The E95 is loaded with special features, which include a motor-adjust incline ramp that can be controlled through the 9-inch LCD console or via handgrips, six pre-installed workout programs, cushioned footpads with adjustable angles, an integrated sound system, and a built-in fan. While the E95 is built to last quite a while, a great warranty along with excellent customer service ensures that no problem with this machine goes unsolved. The Sole Fitness E95 lives up to all its praise with the excellent package and value that it provides.

Currently $1699.99 on Amazon.

Octane Fitness Q37c

A top pick from both Consumer Reports and Consumer Search, the Octane Fitness Q37c elliptical trainer is a workhorse of an exercise machine with an incredibly compact design that won't occupy much of your home real estate. Many users have also praised the Q37c's design for its sturdy construction that allows for smooth operation and a long lifespan that's backed by a great warranty.

The Q37c comes straight out of the box with 10 pre-programmed workouts and three "workout booster" modes that allow you to customize and adjust your cardio training to target specific body muscles and that are all easily accessible on its electronic console. While it does not have any incline capabilities or heart rate monitoring, this elliptical does have moving handlebars with multiple handgrips as well as closely-positioned pedals that allow for a natural running experience. The Octane Fitness Q37c may be the perfect choice for you if you want a compact elliptical that doesn't sacrifice power for space.

Currently $2199.00 on Amazon.

Diamondback 1260Ef

The Diamondback 1260Ef elliptical trainer is a Consumer Reports top choice that's best for those who want an elliptical capable of supporting a wide range of exercises. Its highlight feature is the electronically controlled magnetic brake that provides up to 20 levels of fluid resistance, which is perfect for accommodating casual cardio exercises and intense strength training as well as everything in between. You can also monitor your heart rate using the included chest strap heart monitor or via its handgrips with heart rate contacts built-in.

The 1260Ef's other notable features include 13 pre-programmed workouts along with the ability to create your own routine, a built-in reading rack, and an easy-to-use electronic console that has a green LED dot matrix profile and multiple data monitors that deliver plenty of feedback on your workouts. The biggest complaint against the 1260Ef is a technical issue in which the machine suddenly pauses in the middle of workouts, but this problem doesn't seem very widespread. Overall, the Diamondback 1260Ef is an exercise machine that expands, rather than limits, your workout possibilities.

Currently $2599.00 on Amazon.


Another Consumer Reports top pick, the AFG 18.1AXT elliptical trainer is an excellent option if you enjoy strength and incline training. Generally, high incline workouts are great for increasing your endurance and leg strength, but they also put the most pressure and impact on your joints. The 18.1AXT manages to remedy that problem by providing a smooth performing elliptical trainer that can accommodate up to 20 resistance levels and 20 incline levels, giving you the ability to have a great low-impact workout that also still builds up your body. It also has a 19'-21' variable stride length, which allows the machine to adjust to your running style.

While the 18.1AXT doesn't have the fancy bells and whistles of higher-end models, it does come with some neat features, including 14 pre-installed workout programs, an iPod dock, and a heart rate monitoring chest strap. If you want an elliptical trainer that can adapt to you rather than the other way around, then the AFG 18.1AXT was made just for you.

Currently $1699.99 on Amazon.

Schwinn 430

The Schwinn 430 elliptical trainer may be the most budget-friendly option on our list, but don't be mistaken; this Consumer Search-recommended machine delivers high quality at an impressively low cost. Many users have been pleasantly amazed to discover that the 430 can provide a smooth and quiet performance that matches the quality of higher-end models. It also has 20 resistance levels as well as an adjustable incline ramp, but that requires you to dismount the elliptical and adjust it manually.

The 430 comes with a pretty superb set of features as well, most notably its two-window LCD console that allows you to easily control and monitor any of the 22 pre-programmed workouts. It also comes with a built-in sound system and three-speed fan, but they aren't as good as their higher-end counterparts. Also, the semi-plastic construction of the 430 has some users concerned about its overall durability. But for its price, the Schwinn 430 is a great choice that's easy on your body as well as on your wallet.

Currently $637.20 on Amazon.

And those are our recommendations for the best elliptical trainers. As always, be sure to check out the Wise Think Shopping Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!

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