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Best Folding Elliptical Machines in 2021

 

If you want an elliptical machine for your home, but space comes at a premium, then a folding elliptical machine is a super choice.

The elliptical has some advantages over a treadmill, the biggest being the low impact exercise it offers. Plus, you can still get a great workout when you are cross-training.

We recommend the Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical if you’re planning on investing in one. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, comes with an astounding 37 built-in programs, and has a one-step rear folding frame.

It’s not the only good option out there, though! Keep reading to find out which others we recommend so you can choose the right one for you.

Top 3 Best and Favorite

 

Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical

 

  • 20-inch stride length
  • Rear-folding design
  • 37 built-in programs
Check Price

 

NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

 

  • 7-inch HD touchscreen
  • Incline of up to 10 degrees
  • 24 levels of resistance
Check Price

 

Horizon Evolve 3 Elliptical

 

  • FeatherLight folding
  • ViaFit wireless fitness tracking
  • 32 built-in workout programs
Check Price

Best Overall

1. Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical

The Horizon Evolve 5 Elliptical machine is one of the most comprehensive on the market.

It’s suitable for just about any person. With a weight capacity of 300 pounds and a stride length of 20 inches, it’s perfect for taller users.

It has a heavier flywheel than most home machines. The 23-pound flywheel allows for a wide range of resistance, so it offers 20 different resistance levels. It also means that this elliptical machine is quite stable on the floor, and remains fairly quiet no matter how hard you exercise on it.

On top of the resistance levels, you’ll find an unusually large collection of onboard programs on the Horizon Evolve 5. Choose from 37 built-in programs (10 distance programs, 10 step workouts, 9 calorie-goal workouts, 4 performance programs, 3 interval workouts, 2 custom workouts, manual mode).

All of this comes in a lovely compact package. Once folded (using the easy one-step rear-folding frame), it only takes up 41 (length) x 28 (width) x 69 (height) inches of space.

Other features include built-in speakers (although there’s no Bluetooth connectivity or USB port), a water bottle holder, and a device shelf.

You can view data such as how many calories you’ve burned, how far you’ve “run,” your heart rate, and speed. It also has a unique Cardio Compass, which shows you how intensely you’re working out.

It’s compatible with ViaFit, if you want to track your workouts online. With a three-step setting up process, a weight of just 181 pounds, and an energy saver mode, it’s suitable for singles, couples, and families.

PROS:

  • 20-inch stride length
  • Rear-folding design
  • 300lb weight capacity
  • 37 built-in programs

CONS:

  • No USB port and not Bluetooth-enabled
 

Top Runner-Up

2. NordicTrack Spacesaver SE7i

This folding elliptical works slightly differently from most others, but it’s a unique design that some people may prefer to the conventional ones.

At first glance, it looks a bit longer than the average elliptical machine. The 18-pound flywheel is located at the rear of the machine behind the adjustable cushioned pedals, which stabilizes the elliptical quite well and offers a good bit of resistance while still staying relatively quiet.

This makes the elliptical look quite long, as the flywheel isn’t built-in to the main part of the machine. Most rear-wheel machines situate the flywheel between the pedals. This unusual design serves a few purposes.

First, it brings the pedals a little closer together, making it comfier for many users. Secondly, it’s strategically placed so the elliptical can fold into a compact size.

Unlike others that fold into a vertical shape, this elliptical folds horizontally. The handlebar section folds downwards over the pedals, making it small enough to slide underneath a desk or shelf. This could be quite appealing for some users who have these sorts of spaces where they can store it.

It caters to most users, with a stride length of 18 inches and an impressive weight capacity of 325 pounds. Choose from 24 different preloaded workouts and make use of the 10% adjustable incline. If that’s not enough for you, this machine is iFit-enabled for almost endless workout options.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to use iFit if you buy this elliptical. If you’d prefer not to use it, just press and hold the Bluetooth button for 30 seconds to disable it, and you’ll be able to use the machine like normal.

A water bottle holder, fan, and 5-inch LCD screen finish this elliptical off nicely. Note that the machine comes partially assembled and it’s very heavy. Although it comes with transport wheels, it may be difficult for smaller users to move and store by themselves.

PROS:

  • Incline up to 10%
  • 24 built-in programs
  • 18-inch stride length
  • 18-pound flywheel

CONS:

  • The machine is very heavy
 

Best With High Def Screen

3. NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i

The NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i is the upgraded version of our previous product, the SE7i.

Like the 7, this one has a unique but effective folding system, but sports more technologically advanced software and mechanics, a longer warranty, and a more user-friendly screen.

The screen is the most noticeable difference between the two ellipticals. The SE9i has an impressive high-definition 7-inch touchscreen. It’s not just a data display screen, either. You can browse the internet and use it to follow along to iFit workouts. This is complemented by a pair of 3-inch speakers.

If you don’t wish to utilize the iFit programs, simply press and hold the Bluetooth button for 30 seconds to begin using your machine without needing to sign up for anything. With 30 onboard workouts, you won’t be bored! You can also adjust between 24 different resistance levels and a 10-degree incline.

Like the SE7i before it, the SE9i folds horizontally, the console folding down over the pedals. The transport wheels make it easy to move around the house and slot into a space where it’s out of the way.

It comes with a 10-year frame warranty and 2-year parts warranty, as well as an included chest heart rate strap.

PROS:

  • 7-inch HD touchscreen
  • Incline of up to 10 degrees
  • Adjustable pedals
  • 24 levels of resistance

CONS:

  • The fan may not be strong enough when working out at high intensity
 

Top With Resistance Levels

4. ProForm 895 CSE Smart Strider Elliptical

The 895 is one of ProForm’s most advanced ellipticals. It’s very similar to the NordicTrack horizontal folding machines, and even features many similar functions.

The 7-inch touchscreen is one of the most eye-catching features of the machine, which displays stats as well as iFit workouts if you’re interested in using iFit.

You’ll have a great choice of exercise options with 32 onboard programs, an impressive 24 resistance levels, and a 10-degree incline.

The 18-pound flywheel is powerful enough for great workouts, and an 18-inch stride length makes it suitable for users of many different heights. It also has a weight capacity of 325 pounds, more than many.

Oversized, cushioned pedals make it a comfortable experience. Fingertip controls make it convenient for you to change settings quickly and easily. Contact pulse sensors on the handlebars also make it easy to monitor your heart rate on the go. This machine gets a thumbs-up for including a chest heart rate monitor with the purchase.

Another nice feature is a two-speed fan, which allows you a slight bit of customization over the wind in your hair!

PROS:

  • 24 resistance levels
  • 32 built-in programs
  • Integrated touchscreen
  • Weight capacity of 325 pounds

CONS:

  • Very heavy to move
 

Easiest To Fold

5. Horizon Evolve 3 Elliptical

The Evolve 3 is an earlier version of our number one choice, the 5. It has a smaller flywheel, but it’s still perfectly adequate for great workouts and offers 20 resistance levels.

We’ve chosen this as the easiest-to-fold elliptical. If you live alone or are likely to be folding this up and moving it around by yourself, the one-step, FeatherLight folding makes it easy and safe to do.

It’s also super easy to set up from the very beginning. Its three-step assembly makes it very simple for anybody to set it up, even alone.

The 20-inch stride length means taller people should find it as comfy to use as shorter users. It also has a weight capacity of 300 pounds and a lifetime warranty on the frame.

Integrated ViaFit technology allows you to track your workouts and store your data online. If you want to, you can join the communities and share victories or help motivate each other.

You can also integrate it with Passport Player, which allows you to connect your elliptical to your television and work out in some beautiful locations on a large screen.

The only downside to this elliptical is that it doesn’t come with an incline feature.

PROS:

  • FeatherLight folding
  • ViaFit wireless fitness tracking
  • 20-inch stride length
  • 32 built-in workout programs

CONS:

  • No incline feature
 

Best For Beginners

6. AFG Sport 5.5AE Elliptical

For beginners, we recommend an elliptical that’s both budget-friendly and not overly fancy. The AFG Sport 5.5AE costs less than $1,000 at the time of writing and offers a huge variety of built-in programs.

This is a front-drive elliptical with a 14.3-pound flywheel. If you’re new to exercising, this size flywheel will be more than enough to give you a decent workout. Intermediate or advanced users may find that the elliptical doesn’t offer what they need.

Beginners will find that there’s more than enough choice with regard to programs. With 43 onboard programs, you’ll never be bored! 10 resistance levels should be enough to challenge new users, but there are no incline options.

A feature that gets a thumbs-up from us is the ability to add multiple user profiles. That, and an 18-inch stride length, makes it great for the whole family to use. Comfort features include oversized foot pedals and cushioned comfy handlebars.

When you purchase this elliptical, it comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame.

PROS:

  • 43 built-in workout programs
  • Integrated sound system
  • 14.3-pound flywheel
  • Multiple user profiles

CONS:

  • Won’t be suitable for intermediate or advanced users
 

FAQs

Still trying to decide if you should invest in one of the best folding elliptical machines? Here are some questions you may be asking.

Why Buy a Folding Elliptical Machine?

If working out on an elliptical appeals to you as a form of cross-training and you have limited space, a folding elliptical is the way to go.

It offers you the chance to do a workout at the intensity of your choice, and when you’re done you can simply fold it up and move it out of the way. The elliptical also offers a nice break from running!

What Should I Know About the Flywheel and Resistance Levels?

When shopping for an elliptical, you’ll find information about the size of the flywheel. Generally, mid-range ellipticals come with a flywheel of between 15 and 20 pounds.

Some higher-end machines, like our first choice, the Horizon Evolve 5, have flywheels larger than 20 pounds. The heavier the flywheel, the more stable the machine, and it will also run more smoothly and quietly.

The flywheel is also important when it comes to resistance levels. The larger your flywheel, the better the resistance and most of the time, the more resistance levels you’ll get out of the machine.

How Do I Get The Best Results From An Elliptical?

The results you get from using an elliptical depends on how much effort you put in! If you’re looking for a way to increase the intensity of your workout, try some of these tricks:

Do Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to mix things up, prevent boredom, and burn more fat! But it’s important that you do it at a high intensity to get the most effective results.

For beginners, try to go all-out on the elliptical for 15 seconds, and then at a mild to moderate pace for 45 seconds. Repeat that for as many intervals as you can.

During high-intensity periods, you’re aiming to reach 80 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. If you have a fitness tracker or smartwatch, it may be more accurate to monitor your heart rate on it than on the machine.

As long as you get a good elevation in your heart rate during those 15 seconds, you’ll be doing it right! Once this becomes too easy, switch to 30 seconds high-intensity, 30 seconds low intensity. As you become more fit, you can alter the intervals as you wish.

Change the Incline

Running (or elliptical-ing?) on an incline adds a nice bit of resistance to your workout. This means your body has to work harder to combat the extra force against it. Obviously, the higher the incline, the harder your body will work.

As long as you keep doing it with good intensity, you’ll burn a few more calories working on an incline than you would flat.

Up the Resistance

If your elliptical doesn’t have an incline function, you can increase the resistance to get similar benefits. Most ellipticals have a good range of resistance, so you can play around with it to find something that feels good to you.

You can also incorporate resistance into your interval training. Increase the resistance for each high-intensity interval, and lower it again for the low-intensity sessions.

Target the Upper Body

One of the great things about ellipticals is that if you do it right, you can get a pretty good upper body workout too. Most of the time, if you’re really doing hard work with your legs, your upper body doesn’t get as much of a workout, even if you are holding the handles.

But if you want to target the upper body, you can work on moving the pedals using your arms, chest, back, and shoulders rather than pushing with your legs. It will take some getting used to, but the more you do it, the easier it will become!

Switch Between HIIT and LISS

HIIT is a great way to burn fat and improve cardiovascular health. But LISS (low-intensity steady-state) has its place too. Varying between the two in your weekly fitness routine can help you keep boredom at bay.

LISS sessions can also be a valuable tool as “active recovery”. Although you won’t be burning as many calories as you might doing a high-intensity session, a low-intensity workout can be a great way to keep your muscles working and stimulate your cardiovascular system while technically having a rest.

Go Backwards

Some ellipticals have pedals that can move both forwards and backward. It may seem against the instinct to go backward, but it targets the muscles differently and can be quite a fun and challenging workout!

Go Hands-Free

If you really want to strengthen your core, try working out without holding on to the handles. You’ll need to keep your core tight to balance yourself while moving. Do it right, and you’ll gain strength in both your legs and core.

Be careful, though! This may not be a beginner move. If your balance isn’t that great or your core strength is lacking, you may need to build it up a little before trying this.

The Wired Runner