Most of my clients will confirm that I make them hit ellipticals as often as possible.

Whether it’s as a warm-up for a cardio workout or as part of a more intense weight loss routine, 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.

And we can now share a list of best budget elliptical trainers that checked the right marks for us.

Our Top Budget Ellipticals

1 - Gazelle Edge by Tony Little (Editor's Choice)

gazelle edge

This elliptical machine is one of the most basic configurations we found, but it works surprisingly well for anyone who requires a full range body movement from a compact machine.

We liked the stride length, which seems to extend to full running, and we even heard from a few people who use it to warm up for cross country skiing.

Quick Facts:

  • 250 lbs capacity
  • 5 workout settings
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

sunny health and fitness

The Sunny Health elliptical machine may provide a smooth magnetic resistance, which should avoid any stuttering during intensity transitions.

We 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.

Quick Facts:

  • 265 lbs capacity
  • 7 workout modes
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

body rider elliptical

This elliptical trainer might suit people who want to mix things up for home use by adding in exercise bike functionality.

It seems to work surprisingly well, with people 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.

Quick Facts:

  • 250 lbs capacity
  • Gradual intensity knob
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

body champ elliptical

Body Champ has created one of the more flexible fitness machines, which may allow you to quickly switch between elliptical, upright, and recumbent bike.

You use the same foot pedals for each exercise, and the features should allow you to better target certain muscle groups in your workouts.

Quick Facts:

  • 250 lbs capacity
  • Multi-function trainer
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • The LCD display settings seem to be quite complicated

We 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

snode elliptical

This elliptical trainer allows you to switch between 8 levels of magnetic resistance, and we like that making the change doesn’t interrupt your routine.

You might also like that there are pulse monitors on the handles to help you target the right intensity levels for your fitness goals.

Quick Facts:

  • 265 lbs capacity
  • 8 resistance levels
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • The display could be a bit larger for easier reading

We just thought that the screen size was a bit small as we struggled to read the training data while using the machine.

6 - EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical Machine

efitment

This is one of the few exercise machines in this category that may be compact enough to store more easily when it’s not used.

Simply roll it out of the way by taking advantage of the built-in transport wheel features.

Quick Facts:

  • 220 lbs capacity
  • 8 resistance levels
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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 we saw.

7 - Schwinn A40 Elliptical

schwinn

What stood out the most about the Schwinn A40 is that it comes with a cool training feature of preset workout programs.

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.

Quick Facts:

  • 300 lbs capacity
  • 8 resistance settings
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

doufit

This is another compact elliptical machine, and we heard from a few people who live in apartments that the size may be suitable for easier storage.

The screen is also one of the standout features as most users said it’s easy to read your time, speed, and distance.

Quick Facts:

  • 250 lbs capacity
  • 8 resistance settings
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

proform

The ProForm elliptical machine trainer stood out for us because it has 12 adjustable resistance settings.

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.

Quick Facts:

  • 250 lbs capacity
  • 12 resistance settings
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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

maxkare elliptical

This heavy-duty magnetic elliptical trainer allows for a decent user weight limit of over 260 pounds. And it may also be one of the quieter ellipticals to help you stay out of trouble with neighbors.

Quick Facts:

  • 264 lbs capacity
  • 8 tension levels
Pros
  • 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
Cons
  • 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 our liking.

Buyer’s Guide

buyers guide

Here are the five key areas we focused on while comparing different ellipticals.

1. User Weight Capacity

All elliptical machines will display a maximum capacity in pounds.

And from my own experience, I suggest you don’t push out to that limit.

It’s not only an embarrassing experience, but you could pick up a bad injury that would set your training plans back a bit.

Oh, and you wouldn’t be able to get a refund under warranty.

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.

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 [1]. 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.

If your workout plan requires a gradual increase of intensity [2], then 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 [3].

“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.

5. Dimensions

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.

FAQs

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.

What Is The Best Affordable Elliptical?

Out of all the budget ellipticals, we kept going back to the Gazelle Edge.

I know it’s basic and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles. But from a bang for your buck perspective, it doesn’t get much better.

And if you have limited space for your exercise equipment, then the fully folded design should make things easier.

gazelle edge

Gazelle Edge by Tony Little

Our #1 Recommendation

  • 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
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