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How to choose an elliptical

An elliptical trainer provides a total body workout while allowing you to target more muscle groups than traditional exercises. Its fluid, non-pounding motion minimizes impact on joint areas, including the knees, hips, and back. Whether you’re a fitness novice looking to get in shape, or if you’re an athlete who needs a great cardiovascular workout at home, we’ve got a model that’s sure to suit your needs.

Consider the following:


If you’re looking for a model that takes up less floor space, consider a front-drive elliptical machine. Some models can also be folded when they are not in use for easy storage. It is important to plan where you want to place your elliptical machine and measure the size of the area including the ceiling clearance.


What is your motivation to purchase an elliptical? It can be staying healthy, losing weight or looking for a challenging workout without adding impact to your full training. It’s ideal to determine what kind of goal you want to achieve to help you decide the kind of features you want in an elliptical.


If you enjoy walking or light jogging, a basic elliptical may suit your needs. If you prefer running, you’ll need a more durable machine that doesn’t shake or wobble during intense workouts. Some machines also offer incline to simulate a climbing motion if you want variety in your workout. If you’re looking for a machine that provides a more rigorous, regular workout plan, select a model with club-level features and durability.


It’s important to speak to your physician prior to starting any new fitness program. For beginners, basic features and simple controls are a great way to introduce yourself to an elliptical machine. If you’re at a moderate to advanced fitness level, look for a wide resistance range, adjustable incline, and a variety of programs for the most diverse workout options.


The stride length, pedal spacing, footpath, and flywheel weight all contribute to how smooth and natural an elliptical feels. If you’re going to use it often or for long periods of time, most people feel more comfortable with a longer stride, narrow pedal spacing, a flatter footpath, and a heavier flywheel.


You should choose an elliptical trainer based on the features you require, and the amount of times the machine will be used. By spending more, you may get a heavier, smoother and more durable flywheel, variety of programs, and a longer warranty.

How does an elliptical trainer work?

To know:

  • These machines are driven primarily by the legs as the feet move back and forth in an elliptical motion.
  • Most models are dual action, which means that they have handlebars attached to each pedal link, to work both upper and lower body at the same time.
  • Elliptical trainers use a resistance mechanism and the force required to move the foot pedals and handlebars to determine the intensity of the workout.
  • The resistance is generated by either a magnetic or electromagnetic brake system and a flywheel which spins within the magnetic field; the closer the magnets are to the flywheel, the greater the resistance.
  • The more powerful the magnetic field, the more resistance to the foot pedals and handlebars.

Let’s look at the different types:

Front-Drive Elliptical

A front-drive elliptical frame is constructed with the flywheel in the front of the machine, and takes up less floor space in your home. It has easier access to the elliptical pedals and requires proper positioning of your body.

Rear-Drive Elliptical

A rear-drive elliptical frame is constructed with the flywheel in the back of the machine, and typically takes up more space. A rear-drive elliptical is typically what you will find in a gym.

Features to consider

Heart Rate Monitor

Most models have integrated grip pulse that allows you to track your heart rate throughout your workout.

Reading Rack

A convenient place for you to put your tablet or book on the treadmill to make your workout a more enjoyable experience.

Water Bottle Holder

A designated place for you to place your water bottle for easy reach.


Built-in speakers will play your music from your iPod, iPhone, or other music player if applicable.


A built-in fan in the elliptical that keeps you cool during your workout.

Get up to speed with the lingo


The flywheel controls how smooth the elliptical feels when you are pedalling. The heavier the flywheel, the smoother and quieter the machine performs.

Pedal Spacing

This is the distance between the elliptical pedals. Pedal spacing in the 2-inch range or less is the most desirable.

Arm Spacing

This is the distance between the elliptical arms.


Look for pedals that are placed closely together to mimic natural walking or jogging. Pivoting pedals support the natural movement of the foot.


Ellipticals offer variable resistance. The higher the resistance, the more challenging it will be to pedal.


Mid-level and high-end ellipticals often have an incline ramp that may be adjusted manually or electronically at the touch of a button.

Magnetic Brake

A magnetic brake provides frictionless resistance, which makes it very quiet and durable since there is no contact between the flywheel and the brake.

Electronic Controls

Electronic controls range from programming selection to feedback such as time elapsed, speed, distance, calories burned, pulse, and more.

Weight Capacity

Most ellipticals have a maximum capacity weight ranging from 275 lbs to
350 lbs.


Most ellipticals feature a frame-motor-parts-labour manufacturer's warranty. Read the provided documents carefully to know what the warranty covers.

Consider the following:

How does an elliptical trainer work?

Let’s look at the different types:

Features to consider

Get up to speed with the lingo