Elliptical trainers are a fantastic option for anyone looking to enhance their cardio routine with a low impact but aerobically challenging machine. Ellipticals have grown in popularity over the years as they offer a high-intensity, total-body workout without excessive stress to your joints. So when you're looking to kick up your cardio routine but not break the bank, a budget-friendly elliptical is a great choice.
As with every other piece of workout equipment for home use, the options can be overwhelming. This is true if you're looking for the priciest items out there, or home gym equipment that doesn’t come with a hefty price tag. This is where we step in. Our ACTIVE Reviews Team tried and tested the best ellipticals under $1,000 that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
The Best Ellipticals Under $1000 - Our Top Picks
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- Best Overall Elliptical: Sole E25
- Best Elliptical for Beginners: Horizon Fitness EX-59
- Best Elliptical With Interactive Programming: ProForm Carbon EL
- Best Elliptical Under $500: Sunny Health Magnetic SF E3912
- Best Elliptical for Low-Impact Exercise: Schwinn 470
Best Overall Elliptical - Sole E25
Until recently, the Sole E25 was priced right under $1,000. Don’t get mad at us––it’s just slightly over $1,000 now. Still, we had to keep it on this best ellipticals list because it's an affordable elliptical equipped with a wide range of features that keeps the cardio lover motivated without added stress on the joints. The E25 provides a full-body workout experience with its multi-grip stationary pulse-sensing handlebars, 20-pound flywheel, high gear ratio, 20 motorized incline levels and forward and backward function on the pedals. Combined, these features offer a variety of intense workouts to really work your upper and lower body, focusing on targeted muscle groups.
The oversized and adjustable foot pedals were designed in conjunction with physical therapists. They are slanted two degrees inward, which Sole claims reduces common tendon, ankle and knee pain, as well as toe numbness often experienced on ellipticals. The E25 features 10 workout modes to facilitate dynamic heart rate training, weight loss and custom workouts. A wireless heart rate monitor chest strap is included. The new integrated tablet holder, Bluetooth audio speakers and USB port make it easy to listen to music, watch TV or follow your own workout routine on your smart device. Stay cool with built-in console fans on the E25, which is, all in, an excellently valued elliptical.
- Key Features: Wireless heart rate monitor, Bluetooth speakers, cooling fans
- Built-In Workouts: 10 workout modes
- Measurements: 71" x 24" x 70" with 350-pound weight capacity
- Warranty: Lifetime frame, three-year parts and electronics, one-year labor
Best Elliptical for Beginners - Horizon Fitness EX-59
Beginners often benefit from an easy-to-use cardio machine. The Horizon Fitness EX-59 comes with very basic features, including six preset workouts, heart rate grip sensors and one-touch keys to easily move between the 10 resistance levels. Need a little distraction while you sweat? The built-in device holder with rapid-charging USB port and Bluetooth speakers makes it easy to stream media for entertainment or to view instructor-led fitness classes of your choice on your tablet or smartphone.
This model features 18-inch pedal spacing, which Horizon claims better supports a natural gait for decreased stress on the knees, back and hips. However, this more compact pedal spacing may not suit taller individuals who need a more elongated stride. A newer pulley system for the 14.3-pound flywheel creates a smooth and consistent stride on the EX-59. The display provides basic session data: heart rate, time, speed, distance, calories, resistance level and watts. While there is no option for incline, beginners can still get a great cardio workout at a competitive price.
- Key Features: 18" pedal spacing, Bluetooth speakers, rapid charge USB port
- Built-In Workouts: Six
- Measurements: 74" x 25" x 64.5" with 300-pound weight capacity
- Warranty: Lifetime for non-folding frame and one-year parts, brake and labor
Best Elliptical With Interactive Programming - ProForm Carbon EL
If you want a great workout but don’t know where to start, finding cardio equipment with interactive programming is a must. The ProForm Carbon EL offers comprehensive training opportunities through iFIT. With iFIT you’ll find a library of thousands of workouts, as well as live stream, interactive training sessions with coaches from around the globe. Using a Bluetooth connection, stream iFIT from your tablet and enjoy having a coach automatically adjust the machine as your workout progresses.
Outside the fantastic workout options, the ProForm Carbon EL is equipped with sturdy, high-quality steel construction, a front-drive design and a 19-inch power-adjustable stride in a competitive price range. It boasts 18 levels of resistance training, five incline positions to activate various muscle groups and dual 2-inch speakers. For those with smaller spaces, the ProForm Carbon EL holds a slightly smaller footprint than similarly priced ellipticals with transport wheels, making it easy to move around and store in your home gym.
- Key Features: Interactive programming via iFIT
- Built-In Workouts: Endless with iFIT subscription
- Measurements: 68.5" x 25" x 67.75" with 300-pound weight capacity
- Warranty: 10-year frame, one-year parts and labor
Best Elliptical Under $500 - Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic SF E3912
Finding the best elliptical for under $500 isn't easy, but the Sunny Health Fitness Magnetic SF E3912 provides an impressive machine at an even more impressive price point. This well-built elliptical comes programmed with 24 different workouts and 16 levels of silent magnetic resistance, which easily suits most cardio needs. Users report that the strength of the resistance is remarkable when compared to others in this price bracket.
While there is no Bluetooth connectivity and just a basic LCD display, you can stay entertained while gliding away on the Sunny Health Magnetic SF E3912 using the well-placed device holder for your tablet or smartphone. With a stride length of only 15.5 inches, this elliptical is not a great option for taller users (those over 6 feet five inches) but does fit the bill for most. Still, when it comes to price, build-quality and integrated features, we think there's no better elliptical out there at this price point than the Sunny Health Magnetic SF E3912.
- Key Features: Tablet holder, water bottle holder
- Built-In Workouts: 24
- Measurements: 55 x 23 x 64.5 inches, 330-pound weight capacity
- Warranty: Two-year protection plan via Amazon
Best Elliptical for Low-Impact Exercise - Schwinn 470
Does treadmill running give you aches and pains? Take the stress out of your workout with the Schwinn 470, which is designed to provide a variety of low-impact cardio options. A 20-inch stride length, 25 levels of eddy current resistance with digital controls and a motorized 10-degree incline are performance essentials that make for a smooth, challenging, joint-friendly and virtually no-impact cardio workout. Additionally, the larger foot pedals and ergonomic moving handlebars simulate a more natural running pattern and fosters increased comfortability during a workout.
The Schwinn 470 elliptical machine features 29 workout programs and a blue backlit display, which stores up to four user profiles. These diverse workouts reduce stress on your joints and still allow you to build endurance. You can continually improve your fitness utilizing the Bluetooth capabilities, which allow you to export fitness data to common apps, such as MyFitnessPal, GoogleFit and Explore the World, to track your metrics. The Schwinn is heart rate enabled once a strap is purchased, which provides more accurate data to improve cardio fitness.
- Key Features: 20" pedal spacing, ergonomic foot pedals
- Built-In Workouts: 29
- Measurements: 70.1" x 28.2" x 63.2" with 300-pound weight capacity
- Warranty: 10-year frame, two-year parts, one-year electronics and 90-day labor
What to Look for in a Budget-Friendly Elliptical
You know you want to keep the cost down and still get a quality piece of budget fitness equipment for your home gym, but for first-time buyers especially, a lot of the terminology used to describe ellipticals is overwhelming and confusing. Let’s break it down, keep it real and focus on the things that really matter when looking for an elliptical.
There are a few key areas to look at to determine if the machine will fit you (and help you on your way to your fitness goals):
- Resistance: Most ellipticals come with a range of adjustable resistance levels. This becomes especially important as your fitness ability progresses. Ellipticals are on a fixed dual track, which means the ability to increase and decrease speed and intensity heavily relies on the adjustability of the resistance. A greater number of resistance levels not only offers variability but allows for users to remain challenged as their fitness improves.
- Incline: Not all budget-friendly ellipticals come with adjustable incline options, nor are they required to get a good workout. But if you're looking for a cross-trainer that can target different muscle groups, you want your elliptical to have incline levels that simulate climbing. Incline optionality is more versatile if you are looking to use popular training apps and workouts as well, as many focus on changes in terrain.
- Stride: Few ellipticals under $1,000 come with adjustable pedals. So if you're very tall or very short, the pedal spacing becomes especially important. While a shorter stride length is a selling point for some, it's the breaking point for others who require a more elongated turnover of pedals to fit their height. Keep in mind that if you're looking for a compact elliptical, you may be facing a shorter stride, too.
- Handlebars: Handlebars can be stationary or moving. What's important about this is the ability to move the handlebar height to match the user so your form isn't compromised. If you're looking for an elliptical that can target upper body muscle groups, you'll want handlebars that move during workouts. If handles are not adjustable, you really want to do your homework to make sure their position suits your body build.
How you're looking to train dictates the level of programming you'll want. The best elliptical trainers come with some assortment of preprogrammed workouts, but there's variability in what that looks like in quantity and quality. The variety of exercise programming––such as heart rate, HIIT, burn calories or long-distance modes––makes an impact if you're someone who needs outside motivation in the form of preset programs.
If you're looking for heart rate-driven programs, you want your elliptical to have compatibility with a chest strap, as grip pulse sensors are notoriously inaccurate. And for the best level of programming, the elliptical communicates (via Bluetooth) with outside platforms, such as iFIT, MapMyRun and Explore the World. Toward this end, you would then want an elliptical that supports high-definition video, a device holder and/or speakers, so you can immerse yourself in live and on-demand interval training workouts. Some may even have touchscreen displays, but generally, you’ll find those on more expensive machines.
Here's where it's easy to get lost in all the terminology and information out there. Rear-drive vs. front-wheel design? Trademarked frame designs that are meaningless to the average consumer? The bottom line is that you want a quality elliptical that won’t consistently break down and that provides a smooth and effective workout. Generally speaking, ellipticals under $1,000 will be front-wheel driven, which are more compact yet still durable for home gym purposes. When it comes to the materials used, metal will provide more stability and a higher user weight capacity, but of course, is ultimately heavier.
Probably the most important thing to look at when it comes to any home gym equipment is the warranty. Shorter warranties beg the question: Does this company not believe their machine will last and therefore won’t cover it? Ellipticals house a great variety of technical and engineering components, which means a lot can go wrong. As such, you want to be certain that the machine you decide on will stand the test of time.