Staying fit at home should be a possibility for everyone, regardless of the space available. Elliptical machines are the perfect choice for many people, as they are smooth with the joints, provide a full body cardiovascular workout and generally come with a variety of configurations to suit any level of fitness.
Although you may need substantial space in your home for a traditional machine, there are compact models that work well in tight spaces.
However, they can get lost in the sea of options, where most ellipticals have bigger steps. In this guide, we’ll examine the best compact ellipticals on the market today so you don’t waste time and start your low-impact workouts as quickly as possible.
Our Top Pick
Last update on 2022-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Top 10 Best Compact Ellipticals To Buy In 2021
Last update on 2022-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
10 Best Compact Ellipticals Review
- TOTAL-BODY FITNESS: The Stamina InMotion Compact Strider with Cords provides a portable and versatile full-body workout in one small package. Move your feet with the built-in pedals to engage the legs and boost cardio health. Use the included upper body resistance tubes to work the shoulders, chest, arms, core and back.
- ADJUSTABLE TENSION WITH MONITOR: Turn the adjustable dial to vary your workout intensity. View number of strides, calories burned and workout time while exercising with the display monitor.
- MULTIPLE MOVEMENT OPTIONS: The InMotion Strider can be used sitting or standing. Pedal forward or in reverse to target different muscles.
- SMART AUDIO COACHING: This product is fully supported by müüv, the all-in-one app that provides smart guided audio coaching, a follow-along assembly video, personalized workouts tailored to the equipment you own, and more.
- BUILT-IN HANDLE: Take the Strider anywhere with the attached carrying handle. Weight Limit: 250 lbs. Use while seated or while standing
- Low-impact cardio workouts at a fraction of the size of other ellipticals
- Explore the world and discover more than 50 global routes that auto-adjust in real time to your speed (Explore the World subscription required)
- Space saving design with 18” stride length
- Streamlined console displays time, speed, distance, calories, and heart rate
- 16 levels of variable resistance allows you to dial the challenge up or down
- RESISTANCE: Easily adjust the intensity of your workout with the twist of the precise micro-controller equipped with 8 levels of magnetic resistance.
- DIGITAL MONITOR WITH PULSE: Follow along with your workout progress on the digital monitor that displays your time, speed, distance, calories, and pulse.
- EASY SETUP: Avoid the hassle of overly complicated setups. This convenient elliptical cross trainer has been partially preassembled.
- STABILIZER: Achieve smooth and even movement by leveling your elliptical bike with the onboard stabilizers.
- COMPACT: This compact machine is ideal for people looking to achieve an incredible workout, but don’t have much space to work with.
- CURVE-CRANK TECHNOLOGY: The curved crank applies constant tension to the X and Y axes, delivering a dead-zone-free rotation as you step. With a smooth operation and efficient motion, you can get the most out of your cardio workout equipment for home workouts.
- RESISTANCE TRAINING MACHINE: The ergonomic crank allows you to easily and safely adjust the resistance level while still running for a full indoor HIIT workout. It features an LCD screen that tracks and displays calories burned, time, speed, and distance.
- 2-IN-1 HIIT TRAINER: An oval path with synchronized handlebars plus stepper movement provides a total-body workout in a space-saving elliptical machine that combines the benefits of a vertical climber, an elliptical trainer, and an exercise stepper / stair climber.
- PERSONAL FITNESS MACHINE: With a compact design, 2-in-1 motion, patented curve-crank technology, transport rollers, and an LCD screen, this is the perfect home workout machine for anyone who wants to exercise in their home, apartment, or fitness room.
- VERSATILE HOME GYM EQUIPMENT: This exercise machine is one of the easiest to use elliptical machines for home use and steppers for exercise. Its compact, practical, space-saving design and efficient motion will help you get the most out of any exercise session. Designed and tested for a weight capacity of 250 lbs.
- PORTABLE, QUIET AND EFFICIENT CARDIO: This mini strider is compact and lightweight, making it easy to use and transport to any home or office space. It’s quiet and unintrusive, too. The minimal space required is 24.5 x 17 inches
- ADJUSTABLE TENSION WITH MONITOR: Vary the intensity of your workout by turning the adjustable dial while you stride. See your stats while exercising with the display monitor.
- USE SITTING OR STANDING: Depending on your needs and abilities, the Compact Strider can be used sitting or standing; Pedal forward or reverse to target different muscles.
- SMART FITNESS APP INCLUDED: Fully supported by muuv, the workout app that offers personalized training, a follow-along assembly video and custom workouts tailored to your fitness goals using the equipment you own. No subscription required.
- GREAT FOR GAMERS: Get an effective workout while gaming; passive, low-attention exercise promotes leg movement and improved circulation in a non-distracting way while playing video games
- PRE-ASSEMBLED: This machine requires no assembly, so you can jump straight to your workout.
- COMPACT DESIGN: This space-saving machine (25.2L in x 18W in x 10.6H in) can easily be stored while not in use. Use the built-in carry handle to easily lift and move this elliptical machine (25.4lb).
- VERSATILE DESIGN: Achieve a cardiovascular workout standing up or sitting down. We designed this machine to help you develop muscles in your lower body and improve blood circulation through consistent exercise.
- WHISPER QUIET: This portable elliptical machine uses a durable belt-drive mechanism that keeps your strides smooth, quiet, and consistent in shared and compact spaces, including bedrooms and living rooms.
- MAGNETIC RESISTANCE: Control your workout intensity with the easy-to-use resistance dial. Cycle through 8 levels of magnetic resistance: Easy when you want it, and hard when you need it.
- PORTABLE, QUIET AND EFFICIENT CARDIO: The Stamina InMotion Compact Strider is small and lightweight, making it easy to use in any home or office space; It’s quiet and unintrusive, too; The minimal space required is 24.5 x 17 inches
- ADJUSTABLE TENSION WITH MONITOR: Vary the intensity of your workout by turning the adjustable dial while you stride; See your stats while exercising with the display monitor; Tracks workout time, stride count and calories burned
- MULTIPLE MOVEMENT OPTIONS: The InMotion Strider can be used sitting or standing. Pedal forward or reverse to target different muscles. Easily transport the Strider with the attached carrying handle. Weight Limit: 250 lbs
- SMART FITNESS APP INCLUDED W/ PURCHASE: This product is fully supported by müüv, the all-in-one workout app that offers personalized training, a follow-along assembly video, and custom workouts tailored to your fitness goals using the equipment you own. No subscription required.
- GREAT FOR GAMERS: Get an effective workout while gaming – passive, low-attention exercise promotes leg movement and improved circulation in a non-distracting way while playing video games
- What's included? 1 x Orbitrek Elite Unit, 1 x 4-function monitor, 1 x Instruction manual, 1 x Mail Order Box.
- Elliptical movement with large range of motion activates lower body muscle groups for proven, fast results.
- Ergonomically designed handles ativate the arms, shoulders, chest and back.
- Adjustable resistance makes it perfect for all ages and fitness levels.
- Compact design and built-in wheels for easy storage.
- BEST-SELLING & MOST-RELIABLE: Horizon's most-awarded treadmill with simple, reliable controls and durable components. Get started with an exercise routine or train for your next event in the comfort of your home.
- BLUETOOTH CONNECTION: Sync your phone or device to integrated speakers to stream media with crisp stereo sound. A built-in device holder keeps your screen in view for entertainment or classes. Includes rapid-charge USB port to keep you powered.
- IDEAL FOR HOME WORKOUTS: Max user weight is 300 pounds. Compact, portable, and ideal for low ceilings, apartments, and small spaces. Assembled dimensions of 74" x 25" x 64.5".
- QUICK, EASY SETUP: Assemble in 30 minutes or less. Includes built-in speakers, tablet rack, USB charging (1A/5V), and water bottle holder. Workout feedback includes calories, distance, heart rate, program level, speed, time, and watts
- DURABLE, ERGONOMIC FRAME: Lifetime frame warranty on the Six Star non-folding frame. 18" stride length with a tighter Q factor (distance between pedals) helps reduce stress on your hips and back for a more comfortable workout.
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL DESIGN: With a patented 3-in-1 design, this Trio Trainer can function as an elliptical trainer, upright stationary cycle, and recumbent bike. Save space and get all the cardio exercises you love with this convertible equipment
- HASSLE-FREE TRANSITIONS: The innovative design of this Trio Trainer allows for effortless transitions without the need to dismount or adjust hardware. Easily adjust the magnetic resistance to customize your workout to your needs
- FLUIDITY FLYWHEEL SYSTEM: The smooth magnetic-encased flywheel system is powered by a computer, making it reliable. Select one of the 8 preset levels of resistance depending on difficulty desired
- OTHER FEATURES: This unique and compact fitness glider comes with 3 different sets of integrated handlebars to choose from: U-shaped (with heart-rate monitor system), dual action (traditional elliptical style), and wraparound (at base of seat). Assembly Details: Adult Assembly Required
- PERFECT FOR HOME GYM: Because it provides so many workout possibilities, it is perfect for your home gym setup. The transport wheel makes this machine portable and easy to store when not in use
Last update on 2022-11-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Why Use an Elliptical Machine?
Going to the gym is great as you have access to top quality machines and can exercise along with friends. However, gym memberships can be pricy and if you’re not a super-fit athletic type, it can be intimidating to walk into a room full of body builders.
Also, while we all like to get our money’s worth when we’ve paid for something, it’s all too easy to back out of gym plans at the last minute.
“I was going to go to the gym tonight… but I can’t be bothered.” We’ve all been there. So for this reason, having a home gym – even if it’s just one elliptical machine – is a great alternative.
Having an exercise machine to use at home means that there is no excuse not to get on with your workout.
With so many compact machines on the market, it’s easy to do your exercise while you’re listening to music or watching TV. With super-compact ellipticals, such as step machines, you can even use them while sitting and working at a desk.
Having home gym equipment doesn’t mean you need to miss out on the social aspect, either. Top of the range equipment can be synced to social running apps that allow you to connect with your friends who are also exercising in their own homes.
Ellipticals are also a great option for people who want a low-impact exercise routine. If you have weak knees or are concerned about injuries, elliptical machines are worth considering because they are less likely to cause problems than other sorts of trainers.
And, just in case, if you don’t like any of the machines we reviewed here, and try to find other right ones, you can also read about our tips on:
Why Choose An Elliptical Trainer At All?
We all now know that for people of all ages, cardiovascular exercise is good for us and benefits our health and sense of well-being. Consider a cardio and strength exercise regime as a life long habit to get into.
As a way of exercising the heart as well as many of the muscle groups in our body, an elliptical cross trainer is a great tool. The value of it is the low impact nature of the elliptical exercise workouts.
The feet are planted in large ridged, cushioned pads and the hands are firmly attached to the ergonomic handles. Both sets of limbs move in alternate rhythm just like walking or running but without the jarring. What can go wrong?
The Best Compact Elliptical Should Have Certain Features
As mentioned before these machines have a lot moving parts and are big and even the small ellipticals have a certain bulk. The footprint dimensions need to be checked, bearing in mind a bit of buffer space behind the machine.
Because they sit off the ground, more than treadmills, the height needs to be taken into consideration, that is the height off the ground plus the biggest user height.
Delivery And Assembly
Check on delivery options. You want to receive the parts intact. And how difficult is it to assemble, are there offers of technician assembly. Often it takes 2 people to put the machine together.
And don’t forget you want to assemble the elliptical on the floor that it’s going to live. Any decent elliptical will have transport wheels but stairs will be a barrier.
Motion Quality & Comfort
The handles should be conveniently placed or in variable positions to encourage good posture which means not having to lean forward.
The motion of the pedals should be smooth imitating your normal walking or running movement with the pedals generally close together and the rotation on a flat trajectory.
A good stride length is good, 18″ and up. Some, but not many elliptical machines have adjustable stride lengths and some others have power inclines which changes the stride length.
Built To Last
With so many moving parts it’s important that the trainers are durable and most frames are made of some sort of steel which is one reason why they’re so heavy.
Most elliptical frames have a lifetime warranty with 3 year or more on parts. Any less is a negative.
These cross trainers must have a good range of working resistance. You want to be able to work out hard at around the middle setting initially, with the other half of resistance an aspirational set of levels.
You want the resistance mechanism to be easily reached and smooth in it’s transition to higher or lower levels.
Preset programs can be initiated and automatically vary the intensity of your workout by adjusting the resistance and incline if that’s available. This can mean effective interval training.
You will be able to make adjustments manually as well as create custom programs that can be profiled to individual users.
Exercise programs like these help maintain interest and motivate you to track your exercise progress.
Many elliptical manufacturers have come up with 20, 30 or more different settings for these programs but the basic resistance program settings are probably good enough like random, hill climb, interval, longs low distance, target heart rate and manual.
The nice thing about the inherent design of good compact elliptical trainers is that they’re made with good handle features and solid, safe, enclosed foot pads. There should be 2 moving arms and 2 fixed so for older people especially, maybe a little unbalanced there is less risk of falling, than say, a treadmill.
And there is no powered belt so when you stop the machine does too.
It’s good to make sure that crawling tots don’t get curious about the moving parts of an elliptical. Some, but few, have a pedal locking device.
Backlit consoles are always best but just make sure the display is big and clear enough so you don’t have to get your glasses out in mid-session.
A lot of cardio equipment is getting more connect-ready these days allowing workout data sharing within a coached and/or competitive environment to social networks and apps.
The best compact ellipticals have Bluetooth and built-in wireless connectivity.
Some manufacturers are using this data gathering and app integration and giving user-friendly feedback by way of registration to their own software. Some like it, some don’t.
Sensors on the fixed arms (normally) are typically not that accurate, wearables more. If available as an option Bluetooth can hook up to a chest heart monitor for more accurate readings and can be linked to a heart rate monitored program. So the machine’s intensity changes according to your heart rate.
Treadmill Vs Elliptical
When I first walked into a gym I saw rows of elliptical machines all in use by young fit looking types who didn’t seem to be exerting themselves much. I was there for the treadmill, a proper workout!
After finally being seduced by the swinging arm and leg action I started giving it a go and it can be really tough. Crank the resistance up – the last level but be reachable but not for very long – and you have an all round workout that can produce a lot of lactic acid.
There are scientific studies to show that elliptical training is not just a ‘walk in the gym’ either, within one study, there was more perceived exertion on the legs using an elliptical over a treadmill and equal the amount of heart rate efficiency.
This means you can reach an optimum heart rate on an elliptical workout and not suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous pounding like you can with a treadmill, leading to joint and other problems.
Elliptical training has been tested on brain trauma patients and victims of serious strokes to increase their functional walking with positive results.
Even if you’re a runner, especially one on the mend, cross-training with an elliptical machine may be a good idea to give those joints a rest. You will use different micro muscles, especially if going backward, on an elliptical. You can go in reverse on the more decent compact ellipticals on the market.
We’ve also compared the stair stepper versus the elliptical showing the various benefits of both.
Getting The Most From The Compact Elliptical
One of the most important things to keep in mind when using an elliptical machine is keeping good posture.
Shoulders should be back and head up with your chin line parallel with the floor. The back should be straight and abdominal muscles taught. Use the handles by pulling and pushing, don’t lean forward on them.
The correct way you use an elliptical machine will mean a more effective workout by exercising the right muscle groups, increasing the heart rate and lessen the risk of stress on the neck shoulders and back.
To get the most from your new shiny cross-training machine it’s recommended to change the format of the exercise program regularly.
Most good elliptical machines have pre-set programs that will include interval training, speed, variable resistance etc. These will not only challenge your body but a bit of spice into the workouts not allowing complacency.
More and more available are training distractions which can let you connect to an in-built screen, your tv or app-based programs on a smart device which means you can ‘dial in’ to realty scenes and other users and coaches.
Personally, I think there is something to be said for concentrating on your own efforts but such programs are becoming more popular although it normally means an additional membership fee.
What To Look For Before Purchasing
There are several factors you should consider before the purchase. I’ll outline them below. Here are some factors to consider.
Maximum Weight Support
You do not want to get an elliptical that supports 200 lbs, if you have 220 lbs weight, right? One of the first things you should definitely check is the maximum weight support. From my own experience I know that every manufacturer states this information.
It is a good thing that most of these machines are not very noisy, although some are nosier than others. If you are sensitive and you prefer silent machine, or if you plan to work-out while watching TV, noise level is definitely a factor worth considering.
It Should Be Transportable
If you plan to move the machine around the house or apartment, make sure you pick a model with front wheels. Alternatively, you can consider it a strength workout. ^^
You don’t want to fall off the machine during your workout now, do you? Make sure the frame is sturdy and the construction will not fall apart during the workout.
Circle Of Motion
Another important thing to consider is the circle of motion. Some ellipticals, especially cheaper ones, tend to have a small circle of motion, which can be uncomfortable and awkward for people with long legs who are used to make longer steps.
The last but not least feature to check is the price. If you meet every criteria mentioned above, make sure the chosen elliptical is worth the money.
What to do before buying compact elliptical machines?
So you’ve decided to get a small elliptical to realize your fitness goals. Here’s what you should think about before pulling out your wallet.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, when buying any home fitness equipment, pick a spot in your home and measure it. This includes the ceiling height. That way you’ll know how big of a machine your space can hold and how much headroom you need.
Consider your needs and try to make a fitness schedule so that you’ll actually use the machine. Because once you’ve bought it, you’ve already made that commitment.
Lastly, determine your budget. This will also depend on how much use you’ll get out of your equipment.
Benefits of a Compact Elliptical Machine
1. Accelerated weight loss
People are more focused on weight loss than bodybuilding these days. Elliptical trainer for the home is a good choice for those people. Nowadays there is an increasing trend among people to choose cross trainers over other conventional machines like bikes and treadmills. The biggest advantage of elliptical trainers is that they are capable of burning much more calories than any other fitness equipment while also engaging all of your muscle groups in a single workout.
2. Improves your balance and mobility
Elliptical trainers also provide many physiotherapy related advantages during your workout sessions. It improves your overall balance and mobility. It is nowadays being popularly used in hospitals for patients who have suffered severe injuries to get their body balance back.
3. Exercise for the whole body
Training on an elliptical engages all the muscle groups in your body. This is a big advantage for people aiming for full body workout sessions. With the help of varied resistance levels, you also have the possibility of doing very intense workouts on the same machine.
4. Mimic many different exercises
The best elliptical trainers have the ability to mimic many different exercises. You can jog, walk, box, run and even climb stairs using the same elliptical trainer. All these are done by varying the resistance levels of the machine. With effective monitoring, you can also know about the distance you traveled and the time taken for that travel. Some even have heart rate monitoring and that is a good advantage.
5. Use in minimal space
Compactness keeps the compact elliptical trainer for home the favorite option for space conservatives. You can fit this kind of elliptical into almost any tight corner. There are even machines like FitDesk that are designed to fit under your desk.
Modern ellipticals are a delight to the enthusiasts. Nowadays they even have the facility to watch your favorite shows or read a novel while working out on them. Some of them are fitted with sound systems to let you enjoy music during your work out session.
7. Easy maintenance of the machine
Compact ellipticals are cheaper to many other fitness machines making it an easy buy for many people. It has very less moving parts so it is less susceptible to wear and tear with time. Reputed machines like Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainer provide a lifetime warranty on the frame and 20 years warranty on the motor. These are an indication of the durability of the elliptical trainer.
8. Protection for your joints
Compact ellipticals cause less impact on your joints while working out and this prevents your joints from getting injuries. It is highly likely to get your joints hurt on fitness equipment like the treadmill. Cross trainers are a preferred choice for people suffering from knee and hip problems.
The Proform Endurance 920 E Elliptical came out on top as the best compact elliptical machine when considering compactness, features and price.
All the features you would expect from a good elliptical has been done well like the ergonomic multi-placement handles and then there are the added features like the 0-20% power incline.
On top of that is made to a high standard all at a very reasonable price. Looks good too.