This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
If you’re looking for a gym-level workout at home, elliptical machines — also known as a cross trainer — are the top choice. They’re certainly popular with fitness fanatics who like to keep the gym, and gym-like performance, as close to home as possible.
But where to start? Even if you’re a dedicated gym-goer, that doesn’t mean you know all the technical jargon and specifications of high-end exercise equipment.
If you’re looking to add an elliptical to your home gym set-up, here’s some handy information to get you started.
What is an elliptical?
An elliptical machine is a type of exercise machine that simulates aerobic workouts such as running, walking, stair climbing, and skiing. There are different types of elliptical machines, but the most common version is the gym cross trainer.
Ellipticals generally have two pedals and handles to grip while you’re pumping away at the pedals. The handles may move back and forth to get the arms working too.
What are the benefits of using an elliptical machine?
Most ellipticals don’t take up that much space, and they provide really comprehensive cardio workouts for even the most dedicated gym rats. The major benefit is that they offer effective workouts through low-impact exercise. High-impact exercises can do a lot of damage to your joints over time, so sticking with low impact workouts is the way to go. They also sync leg and arm movements, which means you maximise movement and activate multiple muscle groups at the same time.
What features do elliptical machines offer?
When shopping for an elliptical machine for your own home gym, there are a few different things you should be aware of before making a purchase.
Most elliptical machines will give you real-time feedback on calories burned and heart rate, which is usually tracked through pulse sensors that are built into the hand grips. Ellipticals have different levels of resistance, which you can increase for a tougher workout, and adjustable incline, measured through a percentage or degrees. Also, they may have pre-set workout programmes designed to achieve specific fitness goals.
Other features will include Bluetooth connectivity — allowing you to connect your music or an app — plus app-based virtual coaching, which offers a much wider range of training possibilities and fitness goals.
What is the best elliptical?
The short answer is that it really just comes down to preference. After all, there are stacks of options. You’ll want to consider Bluetooth capabilities, resistance levels, stride length, and included workout programs — not to mention your overall budget. They range from less than £200 to £2,000-plus. Though expect to spend more than a modest sum to get something decent. Getting fit — and doing it in style — doesn’t come cheap. To make the decision easier, we have lined up a selection of the best models.
These are the best elliptical machines for your home gym in 2023.