Most of my clients will confirm that I make them hit ellipticals as often as possible.
Getting your full body moving is one of the best ways to exercise. But it’s extremely important that the motion doesn’t over or under strain your upper and lower body.
Unfortunately, this is a common problem at the lower price range, so we decided to do some testing. Together with the team at TotalShape and several of my clients, I reviewed over 40 budget elliptical machines. I also interviewed several fitness experts, examined countless reviews.
Now, I can share a list of best budget elliptical trainers quaranteed to improve your workouts.
The Best Budget Elliptical Machines
- Best Overall Budget Elliptical Machine: Gazelle Edge
- Cheapest Elliptical Machine: EFITMENT
- Best Adjustable Budget-Friendly Elliptical: Body Rider
- Best Quiet Elliptical Machine for Your Budget: SNODE
- Most Affordable Elliptical for Beginners: Doufit
- Best Budget Elliptical Machine With Incline: Body Rider
- Best Foldable Economic Elliptical: Gazelle Edge
- Most Versatile Affordable Elliptical Machine: Body Rider
- Best Cheap Elliptical Equipment With LCD: Sunny Health & Fitness
- Best Compact Budget Elliptical Machine: EFITMENT
Our Top Budget Ellipticals (December 2023)
1 - Gazelle Edge by Tony Little (Best Overall & Foldable)
During my fitness routines, I've tried various ellipticals, and this particular model, despite its basic configuration, stood out. Its compact design still allowed for a comprehensive full-range body movement, which I found impressive.
I liked the stride length, which seems to extend to full running, and I even heard from a few people who use it to warm up for cross country skiing.
- 250 lbs capacity
- 5 workout settings
- Suitable for walking and full running speeds with no lag
- Seems to fold down easily into an easy to store package
- Simple LCD monitor shows important training data
- Positive comments about the comfortable handlebars for less hand friction
- Doesn’t provide resistance levels
Just be aware that this basic low-impact machine doesn’t give you a choice of resistance level.
2 - Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical (Best LCD)
I've always sought machines that offer smooth transitions, and the Sunny Health elliptical didn't disappoint. Its magnetic resistance ensured that my sessions were stutter-free, even when I ramped up the intensity.
I also like that it may allow you to monitor your heart rate for fine-tuning your intensity settings, and it’s all displayed on a simple LCD screen.
- 265 lbs capacity
- 7 workout modes
- Magnetic resistance seems to provide a smooth rotation
- Built-in heart rate monitoring allows for flexible training options
- Positive comments about the easy to read LCD monitor
- It might require a bit more floor space in your home gym
Make sure you measure the floor space before you order this one, as it’s not the smallest option available.
3 - Body Rider Elliptical Trainer (Most Adjustable)
I'm always on the lookout for versatile workout equipment, and this elliptical trainer caught my attention. Its dual functionality, allowing for both elliptical and exercise bike workouts, added a refreshing variety to my home sessions.
It works surprisingly well, with my clients reporting that it hasn’t compromised on either feature.
The intensity levels may also be suitable for a higher fitness level, which should avoid you outgrowing it.
- 250 lbs capacity
- Gradual intensity knob
- Double-functions as an exercise bike for more training flexibility
- Easy adjustable tension setting with a gradual increase
- Computer may help you better track distance and calories burned
- It’s quite a noisy machine which might not suit some people
If you don’t want to annoy neighbors or wake sleeping kids, then this one might be a bit too noisy.
4 - Body Champ 3-in-1 Exercise Machine
I was genuinely excited when I first got my hands on the Body Champ. Its ability to swiftly transition between elliptical, upright, and recumbent bike modes made my workouts diverse and engaging.
You use the same foot pedals for each exercise, and the features should allow you to better target certain muscle groups in your workouts.
- 250 lbs capacity
- Multi-function trainer
- Seamless resistance changes may result in fewer interruptions
- Handlebar has an integrated pulse and heart rate monitor
- Allows for recumbent bike and upright exercise bike functionality
- The LCD display settings seem to be quite complicated
I think it could be improved a bit because of the functionality of the LCD screen, which doesn't seem intuitive enough to navigate.
5 - SNODE Magnetic Elliptical Machine (Quietest Work)
Having tried multiple ellipticals, I was particularly drawn to this model's seamless resistance transitions. Its 8 levels of magnetic resistance ensured that my workouts remained uninterrupted, even when I adjusted the intensity.
You might also like that there are pulse monitors on the handles to help you target the right intensity levels for your fitness goals.
- 265 lbs capacity
- 8 resistance levels
- The transportation wheels make it easier to store after use
- The grips monitor your pulse and show it on the display
- It may be one of the quieter systems available
- The display could be a bit larger for easier reading
I just thought that the screen size was a bit small as I struggled to read the training data while using the machine.
6 - EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine (Cheapest & Most Compact)
Space has always been a concern for me, so discovering this compact elliptical was a game-changer. Despite its size, it didn't compromise on performance, making it a regular feature in my workouts.
Simply roll it out of the way by taking advantage of the built-in transport wheel features.
- 220 lbs capacity
- 8 resistance levels
- It has a nice and compact design that shouldn’t take up much space
- People like the transportation wheels for easier storage
- The display is simple but it’s easy to read important training data
- The maximum weight limit might be a bit low for some folks
Just pay attention to the maximum user weight, as it is one of the lower ranges I saw.
7 - Schwinn A40 Elliptical
I've always appreciated machines that simplify the workout process, and the Schwinn A40 did just that. Its preset workout programs allowed me to dive straight into my sessions without the fuss of manual setups.
This automatically changes the intensity, which makes it easy to use and focus on your workout rather than timing the intensity changes.
It also has quite an impressive weight capacity of 300 pounds, which very few other trainers in the lower price ranges offer.
- 300 lbs capacity
- 8 resistance settings
- This model has one of the highest weight limits
- Choose from 7 different programs to auto-adjust your workouts
- Display shows data in graphs including calories burned
- The 17.5-inch stride length might not be enough for some athletes
Just note that the Schwinn A40 has a short stride length, which may not suit taller folks.
8 - Doufit Elliptical Trainer (Best for Beginners)
Living in an apartment, space is a premium for me. So, when I stumbled upon this compact elliptical, it was a perfect fit. Not only did it save space, but it also delivered on performance.
The screen is also one of the standout features as most users said it’s easy to read your time, speed, and distance.
- 250 lbs capacity
- 8 resistance settings
- The compact design may make it more suitable for apartments
- Includes an easy to read monitor to show your current training data
- Easy to reach water bottle holder is a nice bonus
- We thought this model was quite noisy at full speed
The only thing to be aware of is that the magnetic resistance seems to make quite a bit of noise when you speed things up a bit.
9 - ProForm 150i Elliptical
In my quest for the perfect elliptical, the ProForm's 12 adjustable resistance settings were a standout feature. It allowed me to customize my workouts to the exact intensity I desired.
Most other machines tend to offer 8 levels, which is a good selling point for more flexibility.
And if you have an iFit compatible fitness tracker, then this might be one of the few ellipticals that might allow you to track your training easier.
- 250 lbs capacity
- 12 resistance settings
- Compatible with iFit activity trackers
- May provide a more flexible range of tension settings
- We liked the way the display shows you relevant training data
- The stride length of 17 inches might not be enough for sprint motion
If you’re taller than average, then the short stride length of 17 inches might not be suitable to get a full range of motion.
10 - MaxKare Magnetic Elliptical
I've always been conscious of noise levels during my home workouts, and this elliptical was a pleasant surprise. Not only did it support my weight comfortably, but its quiet operation meant no more annoyed neighbors.
Plus, this heavy-duty magnetic elliptical trainer allows for a decent user weight limit of over 260 pounds
- 264 lbs capacity
- 8 tension levels
- Many users like the low noise levels
- Comes with a tablet holder so you can watch your favorite shows
- It should take up very little space, making it suitable for a smaller garage gym
- The display functionality is a bit too basic for easy reading
Compared to other elliptical machines, this one had a monitor that just seemed a little bit too basic for my liking.
How We Tested Budget Elliptical Machines
Here's how we chose the best budget elliptical machines:
To assess durability, we subjected each machine to extended usage under various conditions, simulating years of wear and tear in a condensed timeframe.
We also examined the quality of materials used, the sturdiness of the frame, and the resilience of moving parts. Machines that exhibited signs of early wear, unusual noises, or instability were flagged.
Price evaluation was twofold. Firstly, we categorized ellipticals into different price brackets, ensuring that we had a diverse range of machines from budget-friendly to high-end. Then, within each bracket, we assessed the value proposition of each elliptical.
This meant comparing the features, performance, and durability offered against its price tag. Our goal was to identify machines that provided the best bang for the buck, ensuring that every dollar spent translated into tangible benefits for the user.
3. Weight Capacity
We tested the weight capacity by having individuals of varying weights use the machines and gauging the elliptical's stability, performance, and comfort levels.
Machines were rated based on their stated weight capacity and how well they handled loads at or near their maximum limit.
Those that wobbled or showed signs of strain were noted, while those that remained stable and smooth in operation received higher marks.
One study published on Research Gate found that using an elliptical for 12 weeks positively impacts body composition and muscle strength . Another study published on PubMed found that an elliptical is great for cross-training, and is a good substitute for large treadmills .
Here's what to focus on when shopping for ellipticals to get these benefits.
1. Stability & Durability
When shopping on a budget, it's essential not to compromise on the machine's sturdiness.
Check the elliptical's frame and construction quality, and always take note of its maximum user weight capacity. Typically, a range between 275-300 pounds is standard, but some models might offer more.
A machine's durability often correlates with its stability, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.
2. Stride Length
This is especially important for taller people who want to push themselves during an exercise routine.
The taller you are and the faster you run, the longer your stride will be.
“A stride length is the distance from the toe of one foot to the toe of your other foot as you run. Stride length varies from person to person, but an ideal running stride should be relatively short in length.”
- Amanda Casanova, Writer at Active.com
If the maximum length is too short, then it will feel very strange as you exercise . And even this type of low-impact exercise could cause trouble for your joints if you start adjusting your gait and stride.
3. Levels Of Resistance
Elliptical machines might come with different resistance system designs, but they should allow you to choose your training routine resistance levels.
The exceptions are some of the more basic devices, which provide a way for you to just keep your legs and arms in motion with no added resistance.
Your workout plan should have a gradual increase in intensity . Pick one of the ellipticals that have 8 or more intensity settings to choose from.
4. LCD Display Functions
There are two things to look out for here.
First of all, the screen should be easy to read and navigate. You don’t want to pick one of those LCD console units that look like a cockpit of an airplane and might just distract you .
“Time, specifically focused time, is necessary for a quality workout. This doesn’t mean adding extra minutes to a treadmill run; it means taking time to focus on the goal itself—the workout. And focus means limiting or eliminating outside digital distractions.”
- Dr. Erin Nitschke, ACE Health Coach
Secondly, check if the device provides workout programs and detailed training data tracking.
Ideally, this may include calories burned, time, distance, and maybe even a built-in heart rate monitor. These aren't a must-have, but rather a nice-to-have, especially if you have the funds to spare.
My dad always told me to measure twice and cut once when we were doing DIY projects.
That advice has stayed with me, and I suggest that you measure out the space you have available for your new exercise equipment.
This is especially important if you have other machines, as you really want to avoid these things piling up on top of each other. It also applies when you have a small space for your fitness equipment.
You can check out our article on the best cardio machines for your home gym.
We also did a list of the best compact elliptical machines, if you are low on space.
6. Additional Features
Beyond the basic functionalities, many ellipticals come with a range of additional features designed to enhance your workout experience.
Some models offer incline settings, allowing you to simulate uphill workouts and add variety and intensity to your routine. The design of the pedals can also play a significant role in your comfort; look for oversized, textured, or cushioned pedals.
Additionally, the presence of both fixed and moving handles can provide a comprehensive full-body workout.
Don't forget the little extras, like water bottle holders, device holders, or pulse grips, which, while they might seem minor, can significantly elevate your exercise sessions.
7. Assembly & Installation
While some ellipticals come with user-friendly instructions and are relatively straightforward to assemble, others might require a bit more time and patience. Before purchasing, it's beneficial to check if the manufacturer provides clear, step-by-step assembly guides, preferably with illustrative diagrams.
Additionally, consider the availability of professional installation services, especially if you're not particularly handy or if the machine is complex.
Can you lose belly fat by using a budget elliptical?
Yes, you can lose belly fat by using a budget elliptical. If you work out at the right intensity and keep your core engaged, you should target those love handles.
Is a budget elliptical better than walking?
Yes, a budget elliptical is better than walking because it may allow you to reach higher intensities. The combination of lower and upper body workouts may also provide better fitness results.
Our Verdict on the Best Affordable Elliptical
Having tried and tested numerous budget ellipticals, my personal favorite and top recommendation is the Gazelle Edge.
While it might seem basic at first glance, its performance and value for money are unparalleled. Its compact and foldable design was a lifesaver for me, especially when space was a constraint.
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