If you’ve chosen to do your cross-training on the elliptical and you’re looking for a machine to buy, you’re in luck! We’re reviewing the best compact elliptical machines.
One of the biggest problems with buying an elliptical machine to use at home is finding space for it! It may not be as chunky as a treadmill, but if you live in a small place it can still feel like it’s in the way.
Thankfully, home workout machines are able to pack a lot of power into smaller frames. Compact ellipticals are ideal if you want something that offers great workout capabilities but is also easy to slip out of sight when necessary.
We recommend the Horizon Evolve 5 as our top pick. It doesn’t take up a lot of floor space, has easy one-step hydraulic folding, and comes with 37 preloaded programs.
Here’s the full list of ellipticals we recommend. Check them out and see which one best suits you!
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical
XTERRA Fitness FS3.0 Elliptical
Schwinn 411 Elliptical
1. Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical
The Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical is a sleek-looking machine that’s perfect for those living in tight quarters. When fully opened and ready for use, it takes up a space of just 69 x 28 x 69 inches (length, width, height).
If you need it to get even smaller, it folds up to a length of 41 inches. Lift the platform gently, and the hydraulic system activates and lifts it the rest of the way for you. Once it’s folded, you can tilt it and wheel it away, into a closet, or in a corner.
The folding mechanism is at the rear of the elliptical, so it’s a front-drive machine, which gives it slightly more vertical movement on each stride. It uses a 23-pound flywheel with an advanced system of pulleys to create a smooth motion with every stride.
The unique SixStar folding frame has a lifetime warranty and can comfortably handle users of up to 300 pounds.
Whatever your fitness goals, you’ll be able to reach them using a variety of the 37 built-in programs on this machine. Choose a distance workout, a step workout, interval training, performance-related programs, calorie-specific workouts, or custom-designed settings.
Add the 20 resistance levels and a 20-inch stride length, and you can find something appropriate for every fitness level, goal, or preference.
Other features include an Energy Saver mode, built-in speakers, and cushioned pedal inserts to further protect your joints. It’s also compatible with Passport Media Player, which allows you to immerse yourself in exciting locations while you’re working out.
- One-step folding
- Weight capacity of 300 lbs
- 20 resistance levels
- 37 built-in programs
- Not Bluetooth enabled
2. XTERRA Fitness FS3.0 Elliptical
If you’re looking for an elliptical that offers a variety of options for users of all levels but is slightly more affordable than our top choice, we recommend the XTERRA Fitness FS3.0.
Like our first choice, it has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and 20 resistance levels. It also has built-in speakers, a tablet holder, and an accessory holder.
The XTERRA has a slightly short stride length, at 16 inches. Taller users may need to test drive it before buying, to make sure they can comfortably get a full range of motion.
Although there are significantly fewer built-in programs than Horizon, you can still choose from 18 different options. You can also pedal both forwards and backwards, which engages the muscles slightly differently.
Despite not being foldable, this elliptical is smaller than our first option, at 54.1 x 24 x 65.2 inches (length, width, height). It has a rear-drive flywheel which makes it feel very stable on the ground, even when you’re moving at a bit of a speed.
You’ll get a 5-year warranty on the frame, and a 1-year warranty on parts.
- 20 levels of magnetic resistance
- Stride length of 16 inches
- Comes with 18 preset programs
- Forward and reverse motion
- No connectivity option for 3rd party applications
Best Stride Length
3. Schwinn 411 Elliptical
The Schwinn 411 is just 53.8 inches long x 24 inches wide x 62.5 inches high. It doesn’t fold, but it’s small enough to fit comfortably in homes with limited space. You’ll also find a set of wheels under the front stability bar that makes it super easy to tilt and move.
The front-drive design means the 18-inch stride length also gets a bit of vertical motion, helping you to engage your muscles more effectively. Like the previous two, it can support a weight of 300 pounds comfortably.
It’s slightly less comprehensive than the others we’ve already reviewed, with 16 resistance levels and 13 onboard programs. This elliptical has two sets of handlebar – one that’s attached to the console and remains stationary, and another that’s attached to the pedals and moves with your stride.
This machine is also compatible with RunSocial, which adds an extra element of fun to your workouts.
There’s a 10-year warranty on the frame, 2 years on parts, 1 year on electronics, and 90 days on labor.
- 18-inch stride length
- 16 resistance levels
- RunSocial and Bluetooth compatible
- Tablet holder
- Placing a tablet on the tablet holder will cover the console
Top Resistance Machine
4. Go Elliptical V-200T Elliptical
The Go Elliptical V-200T may look robust, but it’s surprisingly compact at 54 x 26 x 65 inches in size. It can fit quite easily in most spaces, plus it can be moved effortlessly using the front wheels.
You’ll be able to choose from 24 levels of resistance, which can be easily adjusted at will by a quick-toggle switch on the handlebars. Whatever resistance you set it on, you’ll be stable on your feet, with the rear-wheel design and oversized platform pedals.
The 17-inch stride length should be adequate for most runners of average height. Choose from 12 different preloaded programs. If you want something that isn’t already loaded onto the console, you can set your own custom program.
The music system built into the elliptical supports MP3 files and iPod files. A nice touch is the USB port on the side of the console, which allows you to charge your devices while you’re exercising.
Keep an eye on your heart rate, time, distance, pace, and calories burned on the 5.5-inch backlit console display.
- 24 different resistance levels
- Built-in USB recharge facilities
- Oversized pedals
- Onboard music system
- Can’t change from metric to Imperial measurements
5. FUNMILY Magnetic Elliptical Bike
For a heavy-duty machine, the FUNMILY Magnetic Elliptical is lovely and compact, just 40.9 x 18.9 x 63 inches in size. It has a weight capacity of 350 pounds, more than the others we’ve reviewed.
It’s also a rear-drive machine, sitting sturdily on the surface even while you’re in the midst of a high-intensity workout. Grab the stationary handles if you want to get an extra leg workout, or the movable handlebars for a bit of an upper-body workout as well.
The 13-inch, non-slip pedals are bi-directional, meaning you can pedal both forwards and backward. This allows you to target your muscles a little differently, adding to the versatility of the machine.
There aren’t preloaded programs on this elliptical, but there are 8 resistance levels that you can scale through if you want to increase or decrease the intensity of your workout.
Check out the easy-to-read monitor for your time, speed, distance, and calories burned. When you’re done, simply wheel it out of the way with the built-in wheels.
Take note that the stride length of this elliptical is just 12 inches, which is quite a bit less than most others. Taller users may find it uncomfortable or just impossible to use effectively. Worth a test before buying!
- Bi-directional pedals
- Maximum weight capacity of 350lb
- 8 resistance levels
- Multi-function digital monitor
- 12-inch stride length may be too short for taller users
Best With Bluetooth
6. SNODE E20i Magnetic Elliptical
Not everyone will want an elliptical that has Bluetooth capabilities, but it sure helps if you want to connect your iPod, tablet, or smartphone to play music or videos.
The SNODE E20i offers good Bluetooth connectivity, which also allows you to download your workout data directly into your preferred fitness app. It’s compatible with the iConsole app, which monitors your workout progress.
This machine comes with 12 preloaded programs and 16 resistance levels. On certain programs, the resistance adjusts automatically to mimic real-world conditions as closely as possible.
Before buying this elliptical, consider that the 13.7-inch stride length may be too short for some users. It also only takes weight up to 265 pounds, which is less than the others on this list.
Despite its rear-drive design, the elliptical weighs only 77 pounds, so it may not feel as stable as a more robust machine when you’re in the middle of a serious workout.
- Automatic resistance system
- 12 built-in programs
- iConsole app
- 16 levels of resistance
- Lower weight capacity than others
Easiest To Use
7. Schwinn A40 Elliptical
Nobody wants an elliptical that’s complicated to use. The Schwinn A40 wins our first prize for being easy to use. It’s a front-drive machine, but its unusual design makes it pretty stable.
There’s nothing complicated about this machine. It has just 7 programs to choose from, but they’re more than enough for newbies or those who don’t need a lot of variation. 8 tension levels allow you to add resistance for an intensified exercise.
There are no stationary handlebars on this elliptical. The console does have two handlebars with pulse rate detectors, but they’re not designed to be held while moving.
Ergonomically designed foot platforms are comfortable and low-impact. A comfortable stride length of 17.5 inches is more than decent for most runners, and Precision Path Foot Motion Technology keeps your feet positioned in the right way, maintaining good form.
The console is simple to use, although it doesn’t have a backlight which could make low-light workouts more difficult. If you choose to place a tablet on the holder, be aware that it will cover the console!
- Built-in media shelf
- Precision Path Foot Motion Technology
- 17.5-inch stride length
- 7 built-in training programs
- Console screen doesn’t have a backlight
Top Budget Elliptical
8. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905
Investing in a quality elliptical doesn’t have to break the bank. The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 is our top choice for those on a budget, although it’s important to note upfront that the stride length is just 11 inches, which may not suit some users.
It’s the most compact elliptical on this list, at 28 x 17 x 57 inches. It weighs just 60 pounds. That, and its stride length, indicate that it may be a better choice for shorter, more petite users who aren’t likely to rock it too much as they work out. It does have floor stabilizers to increase safety, though.
Although there are no onboard programs, you can switch between 8 adjustable resistance levels for variety and intensity. Change this setting using the tension knob right below the stationary handlebars. These handles also feature pulse sensors so you can monitor your heart rate as you’re exercising.
If you’re feeling more like getting a superb leg workout, brace yourself using the stationary handlebars. For a more comprehensive, full-body workout, hold the moving handlebars as you go along.
- 8 levels of adjustable resistance
- Pulse sensors
- Stationary and moving handlebars
- Anti-slip foot platforms
- 11-inch stride length may be too short for some
Wondering why you should care about the best compact elliptical machines? Here are some answers explaining why it’s a highly effective form of cross-training that you should be considering.
What Are The Benefits Of An Elliptical?
Doing a workout on an elliptical engages both the upper and lower body. Your calves, quads, hamstrings, glutes, chest, arms (biceps and triceps), upper back, and core muscles will all be engaged.
At the same time, your joints stay a lot safer thanks to the low-impact nature of the elliptical. This means there’s less chance of injury when cross-training, and no pain means it’s easier to keep your form.
One of the best things about the elliptical is that you can choose between low-intensity steady-state cardio and high-intensity interval training. Both of these offer a great opportunity to burn a ton of calories and increase your cardiovascular fitness.
The variety of workout options also means you’ll never get bored with your workouts. If you need extra motivation or distraction, it’s super easy to read a book or watch a TV series while you’re working out.
What Are The Advantages For Runners?
Training on the elliptical is good for anyone, but runners can get some particular benefits from it.
It’s an excellent form of cross-training that works both the upper and lower body. Because it’s low-impact, it’s a good option for runners who are recovering after being injured, sick, or having surgery.
It has the same kind of benefits as a treadmill, such as being able to give you an effective workout no matter the weather or time of day. If you get bored easily, it also offers something different from your usual running.