The Best Compact Elliptical: Good Things DO Come in Small Packages

Kristine Golden
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man using compact elliptical

Elliptical machines have really made a place for themselves in the world of fitness over the past decade. With developments in their specs and features, ellipticals have demonstrated that they are a contender in the world of cardio equipment for athletes at every fitness ability. They offer a low-impact, high-intensity cardio workout that not only gets the heart pumping but also effectively works both your lower and upper body. If you are looking to add one to your home gym but are tight on space, not to worry!

The best compact ellipticals offer all the benefits of a larger one, and you do not have to sacrifice quality for size. While compact ellipticals range in price, the best compact ellipticals provide the same high-intensity, low-impact, full-body workout. Unlike an under-the-desk elliptical, most compact ellipticals come with moving handles, pre-programmed workouts, variable resistance and incline capabilities, and some even boast interactive training options.

So don't let space get in the way of adding a quality elliptical machine to your home training regime. To help you find the best one for your space and needs, we have researched the top compact ellipticals on the market and boiled down the list to five of the best of the best.

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The Best Compact Ellipticals - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Compact Elliptical - Bowflex Max Trainer M8

Bowflex Max Trainer M8


  • Weight: Approximately 148 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 30.79" (D) x 47.83" (W) x 65.2" (H)
  • Features: 20 levels of resistance, unique burn rate display, multi-grip moving handles


Topping off our list as the best overall compact trainer is the Bowflex Max Trainer M8. With features like 16 levels of resistance, multi-grip moving handles, Bluetooth heart rate compatibility, and some impressive interactive training options via JRNY, their online fitness platform, it is easy to see why this model is a fan favorite among Bowflex lovers.

The M8 takes up a fraction of the space when compared to its larger counterparts or a treadmill, but smaller size definitely does not equate to a lesser workout. Combining the motions of a stair stepper and an elliptical, the M8 will tax your quads, calves, arms, and glutes all while building cardio endurance. And, because of its unique engineering and programming, Bowflex promises you can get a super intense workout in less time.

For those who get motivation from seeing how hard you are working and/or from interactive programming, the M8 is right up your alley. It boasts a unique burn rate display on the large center console which displays a visual of how many calories you burn per minute and encourages you to set activity-level goals to work toward throughout your workout. Through the JRNY app, you will find tailored workouts, on-demand workouts, real-time coaching, and the option for personalized programming. All you need to do is download the app on your smart device, store it on the magnetic media rack, and get moving. You get your first year free but a paid membership is required after that.

While the Bowflex Max M8 boasts an impressive 300-pound user weight capacity, its 15-inch stride length may feel restrictive to taller individuals or those with naturally longer strides. Other notable specs include a USB charger, water bottle holder, and pulse rate grips located on the handles. Unfortunately, the warranty offered by Bowflex is a bit disappointing; it's only a 2-year warranty for the frame and parts and a 90-day warranty which doesn't stand up against competitors.

What We Like

  • Option for interactive programming
  • High intensity
  • Joint-friendly
  • Multi-grip moving handles
  • Burn rate display

What We Don't Like

  • Users report assembly is difficult
  • Stride may feel small to some
  • Not so great warranty

BUY: Bowflex Max Trainer M8

Best Folding Compact Elliptical - NordicTrack Space Saver SE7i

NordicTrack Space Saver


  • Weight: 215 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 80" (L) x 32" (W) x 67" (H)
  • Features: 10" HD touchscreen, vertical folding design, iFit enabled, AutoBreeze fan, two 2" speakers, Bluetooth capabilities, Google Maps technology, 22 levels digital resistance, rear-drive, 18-inch adjustable stride, cushioned pedals and handlebars, AutoAdjust controls, Silent Magnetic Resistance


NordicTrack is a tried-and-true name in the world of quality cardio machines. The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE71 lives up to the well-respected NordicTrack name offering a quiet, smooth, and low-impact workout on a sturdy, folding elliptical. Toward that end, while this elliptical does fold in half, the base still eats up a decent amount of floor real estate. With a footprint measuring 80-inches long by 32-inches wide by 67-inches high and a hefty weight of 215 pounds, you probably don't want to be folding and storing this bad boy after every use.

That being said, the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE71 is more than just a folding treadmill. Featuring a 10-inch HD smart touchscreen, two 2-inch digitally amplified speakers, an AutoBreeze workout fan, Bluetooth audio capabilities, Google Maps technology, automatic trainer controls, and easy integration with iFit, the SpaceSaver SE71 is a good choice for those who enjoy interactive and immersive training. A 30-day membership to iFit is included with your purchase but you will need a paid membership thereafter.

The engineering is also top-notch. The 18-inch stride length is adjustable and an 18-pound inertia-enhanced flywheel supports 22 levels of digital resistance, offering up plenty of intensity to challenge most cardio enthusiasts. Constructed with solid steel, a rear drive system, SoftTouch upper-body grips, adjustable oversized cushioned pedals, Silent Magnetic Resistance, and a respectable 325-pound user capacity, the SpaceSaver SE7i is notably sturdy.

What We Like

  • Sturdy design
  • Easily folds
  • iFit enabled
  • 325-lb. user weight capacity
  • HD touchscreen monitor

What We Don't Like

  • Need a paid membership to iFit after 30 days
  • Footprint is larger than most compact ellipticals

BUY: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i

Best Budget Compact Elliptical - Schwinn 411 Compact

Schwinn 411 Compact


  • Weight: 100 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 53" (D) x 24" (W) x 62.5" (H)
  • Features: 18" stride, 15 levels magnetic resistance, media rack, moving and fixed handlebars, contact and wireless heart rate monitor, 13 pre-programmed workouts, integration with Explore the World app


The reality is that you do not need to spend an arm and a leg to get a high-quality, well-made, and feature-rich compact elliptical. The Schwinn 411 offers all the benefits of a more expensive elliptical but is a budget-friendly option for anyone who may be restricted by workout space. Featuring an 18-inch stride length, contact, and wireless heart rate monitors, 16 levels of variable resistance, a built-in media rack, moving and fixed padded handlebars, and a streamlined console that displays time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate, The Schwinn 411 makes getting a full-body, low-impact workout convenient.

Perhaps the coolest feature of Schwinn (at least in my humble opinion) is its integration with the Explore the World app. Membership is required but this app houses over 50 global routes you can choose from when attacking your next workout. The auto-adjust feature controls your speed in real-time allowing you to focus on your effort and workout without worrying about changing levels. In addition, there are 13 pre-programmed workouts available on the machine itself.

Some users have experienced issues with customer service and with wheels warping quickly. With proper care and maintenance, you should be able to subvert this problem. Also, take note that the console is not backlit so if you are in dim lighting, it may be difficult to view the stats.

What We Like

  • Price
  • 18" stride
  • Map the World integration
  • Ease of use

What We Don't Like

  • Console not backlit
  • Customer service was disappointing to some
  • Wheels may warp

BUY: Schwinn 411

Best Compact Elliptical for Streaming Classes - Proform Carbon EL

Proform Carbon EL


  • Weight: 202 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 25" (W) x 68.5" (D) x 67.75" (H)
  • Features: iFit enabled, 19" adjustable stride, front transport wheels, dual speakers, 18 levels of Silent Magnetic Resistance, 5" monitor, oversized pedals


The ability to stream classes while working out from home has been all the rage for quite some time but was usually reserved for more costly cardio machines. However, the ProForm Carbon EL Elliptical is a solid, budget-friendly, and space-conscious elliptical that comes Bluetooth and iFit enabled for consumers who prefer the interactive training experience.

iFit houses thousands of on-demand workouts that vary in length, style, and intensity. Through this fitness platform, you can stream global and studio workouts from around the world led by world-class trainers. For my fellow statistic lovers, iFit tracks your performance metrics and automatically records the information to tailor future workouts. It is important to point out that the Carbon EL does not come with an interactive HD monitor. To stream classes, you will need to do so on your smart device.

For those who put a premium on quality construction, the ProForm Carbon EL does not disappoint. Featuring a 19-inch adjustable stride, solid steel construction, dual speakers, a 5-inch high-contrast multi-color screen, an integrated device shelf, a water bottle holder, 18 QuickSpeed digital resistance buttons, and Silent Magnetic Resistance, the Carbon EL is made to perform.

This elliptical is not the most compact elliptical on the market but it certainly is not large. The footprint measures 25 inches wide by 68.5 inches deep, by 67.75 inches high and it comes with front transport wheels so is still a good option for those short on space.

What We Like

  • Integrates with iFit
  • Sturdy construction
  • QuickSpeed buttons
  • Oversized pedals

What We Don't Like

  • Small monitor
  • No pre-programmed workouts
  • Rather heavy

BUY: ProForm Carbon EL Elliptical

Best High Weight Capacity Compact Elliptical - Sole E25

Sole E25


  • Weight: 212 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 70"(L) x 27" (W) x 71" (H)
  • Features: Bluetooth compatible speakers, integrated tablet holder, a USB port, pulse grips and chest strap heart rate monitoring, a console fan, 6.5" backlit monitor, 20 levels incline, 20-lb. flywheel, ECB resistance, 350-lb. user weight capacity


Sometimes manufacturers have to cut some corners in order to create a more compact machine, which usually translates to a lesser maximum weight capacity. This is not the case with the Sole E25. For transparency's sake, you should know this is definitely not the most compact elliptical (nor is it the biggest) and it will need a dedicated spot in your home gym. The E25 pounds out a footprint measuring 70 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 71 inches high.

But, if you are here because you need a sturdy machine built by one of the leading manufacturers in the business that can support a higher user weight, the Sole E25 may be for you. With a maximum user weight capacity of 350 pounds, 20-inch stride length, 20-pound flywheel, and 20 levels of incline in combination with the ECB resistance, the E25 will support most users.

The Sole E25 features built-in Bluetooth-compatible speakers, an integrated tablet holder, a USB port, pulse grips, and chest strap heart rate monitoring, a console fan (which is reportedly not too strong), 6.5-inch backlit monitor, and integration with Sole's fitness platform Studio. Studio does require a membership but offers dozens of workout programs, data analysis, a leaderboard, and specific heart rate zone information. If you are not interested in a membership, the E25 comes equipped with six standard, two custom, and two heart rate programs.

What We Like

  • High user weight capacity
  • Pre-programmed workouts
  • Integrated tablet holder
  • Works with Studio
  • 20-inch stride length
  • Hefty 20-pound flywheel

What We Don't Like

  • Fan is reportedly weak
  • A bit larger than other compact ellipticals
  • Assembly is reportedly challenging

BUY: Sole E25

What to Look for in a Compact Elliptical


This may be the biggest factor to consider when shopping around for a compact elliptical. You need to really inspect the measurements to ensure it will fit in your home space. The last thing you want to do is make this purchase only to find out it doesn't fit! This holds true not only for the footprint but also the height. Consider your ceiling height as well as how tall the tallest user is to determine if it will fit. If you are in doubt, contact customer support for the manufacturer and they should be able to help you.


The weight is particularly important if you plan to store your compact elliptical out of the way when not in use. A compact elliptical can still weigh quite a bit which would make moving it around really difficult. So, if you do plan on storing your machine after each use, you will want to look for one with a lighter weight.


Compact ellipticals offer a range of features that vary greatly between machines. Some have incline abilities while others do not. Some come loaded with pre-programmed workouts while others require a membership to an online platform to use. Stride length, monitors, handlebars, speakers, and resistance level/type are other areas to take a look at. We suggest making a list of the features you want in an elliptical and narrowing down your search based on this.

Benefits of Compact Ellipticals

So let's first state the obvious benefit which is their space-saving design, an especially attractive feature to those short on floor space. These ellipticals make it possible for urban dwellers (or really any small-home owner) to get a quality cardio workout from the comfort of their homes.

In general, ellipticals are a fantastic option for those seeking a high-intensity but lower-impact cardio workout that activates muscles in both the upper and lower body. This joint-friendly exercise machine provides challenging workouts for cardio enthusiasts of every fitness level.

FAQs About Compact Ellipticals

Are compact ellipticals any good?

Absolutely! Compact ellipticals are a fantastic way to get in a full-body cardio workout while minimizing the impact on your joints. The smaller size doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality as many compact ellipticals today offer a variety of features on well-engineered machines. Additionally, they take up less space in your home.

Are ellipticals better than stationary bikes?

The question of which is better, an elliptical or stationary bike, is highly dependent on your intended use and goals. Ellipticals lend themselves to more of a full-body workout recruiting muscles from both the upper and lower body. Bikes, on the other hand, are more lower-body dominant and generally the go-to exercise machine for people with knee injuries. While both an elliptical and a stationary bike offer low-impact workouts, the elliptical inherently puts more pressure on the knees since users must bear their body weight while pedaling. Either way, both are solid options for anyone seeking an alternative to higher-impact cardio workouts.

Are ellipticals good for knees?

When using an elliptical, the user's feet never leave contact with the pedals which results in minimal to no impact on knee joints. Unlike running, an elliptical offers a fluid motion that is kinder to your knees. Additionally, research has indicated that using an elliptical increases blood flow which contributes to a faster recovery if rehabbing from an injury. However, always be sure to check with your healthcare professional to ensure it is a safe choice for your knees.