Naturally, just about every brand out there claims their compact elliptical trainers are the best.
But how can you really tell?
Our team scoured the market for good-quality ellipticals, put them to the test, and read hundreds of user feedback to squeeze out the top 10 best options.
I hope one of the elliptical trainers in this guide will help you achieve your fitness goals in no time.
Let’s get on with our recommendations.
Our Top Compact Ellipticals (September 2023)
1 - Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine (Editor's Choice)
Schwinn claims this machine is a fraction of the size of other compact ellipticals. Still, they were able to fit it with an ample 18-inch stride length.
With its Explore the World app integration, you can make your workouts more interesting by exploring various virtual courses, destinations, and trails.
We were impressed with the built-in fan, which can keep you cool while exercising.
Whether you’re in the mood to go fast or slow, the 16 levels of resistance will allow you to adjust the difficulty as you please.
- Substantial 18-inch stride length
- Smooth and silent operation
- Sturdy and stable usage on different surfaces
- Some customers say the elliptical may give inaccurate workout stats
The moving and stationary handlebars also have a contact grip heart rate monitor, so you can check if you're going at the right rate.
2 - Gazelle Edge by Tony Little
Living up to its name, the Gazelle Edge is best known for providing a complete range of motion and freedom of movement.
You can switch from a slow walk to a full run with no sudden stops on this machine. We found out that this safety measure significantly benefits individuals who suffer from joint diseases or injuries.
The five-function computer is straightforward and gives instant feedback on speed, distance, time, and calories.
The extra-wide non-skid pedals provide stability, while the high-density foam handlebars ensure an ultra-comfortable hold.
- Easy on the whole body
- Lightweight but durable
- Folds easily for a hassle-free storage
- May not work for users looking for intense workouts, but great for beginners
It has a foldable footprint and a weight capacity of 250 pounds.
3 - Cubii Pro Seated Under Desk Elliptical
This one may be the best elliptical trainer for you if you’re a home or office worker who sits for long hours every day. We found out that we could practically use it anywhere - at your desk, couch, or dining room table.
What sets it apart from the other ellipticals on this list is its Bluetooth capability, which will allow you to connect it to the Cubii iOS and Android app.
With this desk elliptical, you can communicate—and even compete—with other Cubii Pro users. Belonging to a community that shares the same fitness goal can give you that extra motivation when you need it, so you might find this feature useful.
- Nearly silent operation
- Bluetooth capability and multiple app integrations
- Users say customer service is superb
- Very heavy, so it can be quite tricky to move around
You can also sync your workouts to FitBit and Apple HealthKit to efficiently keep track and share calories, strides, miles, minutes, and more.
4 - Doufit Elliptical
The Doufit Elliptical is another excellent choice if you're looking for an affordable compact cross trainer that comes with all the essentials.
The sensitive digital monitor and pulse sensor tracks calories, time, speed, virtual distance, total mileage, and heart rate during exercise.
We were impressed with the tracking stats while exercising which is essential, especially if your goal is weight loss. That's because the more intense or longer your workout, the more calories you burn .
Its maximum load-bearing is 220 pounds.
- Not nearly as large as other compact ellipticals
- The simple display is great for non-tech savvy users
- Front wheels make moving and storage easy
- Some users complained of a loud squeaking noise
Like most of the elliptical machines reviewed so far, this one features textured and expansive pedals that can accommodate varied foot sizes and ensure a safe workout.
5 - ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer
This elliptical machine’s best feature is its unique 10-inch vertical climbing path that can maximize your movement and increase the calories you burn.
Its inertia-enhanced flywheel made my workouts smooth, while its oversized cushioned pedals and beefy handles ensured a zero-impact experience.
It has 24 digital resistance levels and comes with a 30-day iFit trial membership that will give you access to workouts led by expert iFit trainers. The instructors can even control your machine’s speed and incline real-time using Bluetooth technology.
It has a stride length of 10 inches and a weight capacity of 325 pounds.
- Compact footprint
- Unique climbing motion provides a more intense workout
- Great price-quality ratio
- Some users say other parts may start to unravel after months of use
6 - Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical Trainer
You can challenge yourself with this elliptical trainer's 24 unique workout modes and 16 adjustable magnetic tension levels.
It is made with a heavy-duty steel frame and fitted with floor stabilizers, promising a secure usage no matter how vigorous the exercise.
The elliptical machine has a weight capacity of 330 pounds, a stride length of 15.5 inches, and a built-in media holder so you can keep your devices close to you as you workout.
- Easy to assemble
- Pre-programmed workouts are great for beginners
- Very sturdy and stable design
- Some users say it may develop a slight creaking/whistling sound over time
My clients were impressed with the machine's transportation wheels which allowed them to tilt and roll it away quickly after exercising—no need for any heavy lifting.
7 - Fitness Reality Multi Direction Air Walker
This elliptical trainer boasts a sizable 36-inch stride length that allows for increased calorie burn and weight loss while maintaining a zero-impact workout.
With its 180-degree range of motion, you can do forward, backward, and side-to-side leg stretches so you can sculpt your hamstring muscles in no time.
It is constructed with a sturdy, powder-coated, 2.75-inch thick tubular steel mainframe.
We liked its adjustable floor stabilizers and oversized ribbed foot pads which ensured a safe exercise, no matter the intensity of our workout.
This elliptical machine can carry up to 225 pounds.
- Comes almost completely assembled
- Substantial stride length
- Multiple direction air walker works out nearly every muscle of the body
- Users say it may not be suitable for advanced users for being too easy
If you have limited space for a home gym, this machine might be the perfect choice as you can fold it to half its size.
8 - Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper
This machine is another great home gym equipment with a maximum capacity of 250 pounds, transport rollers for easy transfer, and eight levels of resistance control.
This cross trainer’s most notable feature is its patented Curve-Crank Technology that applies sustained tension to both the X and Y axes, giving you a dead-zone-free rotation as you pedal.
This elliptical is a 2-in-1 HIIT trainer that combines the oval motions of an elliptical and the up and down movements of a stepper, giving you a calorie-blasting full-body workout.
- Comes with a tablet holder
- Curve-crank technology gives an intensive full-body workout
- Good-quality fitness machine for the price point
- Some users report that it can be a bit wobbly
However, we found it a bit wobbly while working out.
9 - EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical
The final item on this list of best compact ellipticals is this one from EFITMENT.
This compact machine is built with a phone and tablet holder so you can watch your favorite shows or movies while working up a sweat.
It has an oversized and textured non-slip foot pedal to accommodate all sizes and keep you safe, no matter how extreme your workout.
This cross trainer features adjustable leg stabilizers to promote stability during your cardio workouts.
It has a stride length of 11 inches, a maximum user weight of 220 pounds, an LCD monitor to track your progress, and hand pulse sensors to help you monitor and maintain a steady heart rate.
- Genuinely compact yet sturdy
- Noiseless operation
- Lightweight and easy to assemble
- Screws may require occasional tightening as they tend to loosen up and make noise with gradual use
To determine your target pulse, you first need to identify your maximum heart rate.
If you’re a man, subtract your age in years from 220. If you’re a woman, subtract 88 percent of your age from 206 .
Your target pulse rate is anywhere between 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, so make sure to check the LCD screen of your machine and see if you’re staying within that.
10 - Aceshin Elliptical Machine
If your #1 concern about ellipticals is the noise, this equipment could be the solution to your worries.
The Aceshin Elliptical Machine is fitted with a precision balanced flywheel and V-belt drive so that you can enjoy smooth and quiet cardio workouts every time.
Thirty minutes or less on this elliptical trainer can have you sweating and panting with its eight levels of magnetic resistance and variable tension control.
Furnished with a wide base, tubular steel construction, and heavy-duty anti-slip pedals, this machine's solid build can keep you safe, no matter how intense your workout.
- Many usage variations with the option to target different muscle groups
- Easy-to-read LCD screen, even in dim light
- Super smooth and noiseless operation
- Sturdy and well-built
- Some users say assembly was easy, but it can take quite a while
It has a 13-inch stride length and a maximum weight capacity of 330 pounds.
Buying Guide for Compact Elliptical Machines
With the abundance of ellipticals in the market, it’s definitely a challenge identifying which one suits you best.
What you don’t know can cost you, so here are some of the most important factors you should consider when shopping for these machines.
"It's not about being the best. It's about being better than you were yesterday."
- Stephanie Chapa, Fitness Competitor
1. Stride Length
You measure stride length by setting both pedals at their longest stride and measuring the distance between the very back of the rear pedal and the very front of the rear pedal.
Generally, the optimal length should be around 18 inches to 20 inches for most people.
Compact ellipticals will have shorter stride lengths than regular-sized ellipticals.
Although some compact models in the market will have 18 inches to 20 inches of stride length, you should be prepared to shell out a few more bucks to avail of those.
Another thing to note is the foot spacing. The best compact ellipticals have narrow gaps between the foot pedals to mimic a natural stride.
When your feet move past each other while you’re walking, they shouldn’t be separated by over 2 inches. That’s also how it should be with ellipticals.
The best ellipticals have varied resistance levels. After all, an effective workout involves experiencing a level of difficulty enough to make you sweat and burn calories.
The higher the resistance level you set, the more challenging it will be to pedal, making you expend further energy into the action. That also equates to increased fat burning.
With that being said, high-quality ellipticals should provide enough support for smooth motion. The smoother the exercise, the longer you’ll last on an elliptical without tiring too fast.
If you’re on the heavier side, you might want to invest in an elliptical that has more resistance than regular ones so you can achieve a comfortable momentum.
3. Step-up Height
After checking if an elliptical will fit into your floor space, the next thing to consider is if you will fit once you’re using it.
As you step on the pedals of an elliptical, you’ll constantly be in an up and down motion. So if you’re tall and your home has low ceilings, chances are you might hit your head on the roof while exercising. Ouch.
“Shift the focus from what your body looks like to what it can do.”
- Jessi Kneeland, Personal Trainer & Fitness Coach
Therefore, you should always check the step-up height. You can measure this by measuring the distance between the ground and the pedal at its lowest point. Most ellipticals have the standard 10 inches to 14 inches step-up height.
Unfortunately, not many companies disclose this information about their ellipticals. So if you're ordering equipment online and it doesn't say what the step-up height is, it’s best to assume that it's at 16 inches to be safe.
4. Weight capacity
The standard compact elliptical can accommodate at least 300 pounds.
In most cases, ellipticals with higher maximum weight capacities are sturdier and more durable.
It’s always best to check how much weight your machine could carry, especially if you’re on the heavier side.
If your budget is low, we did a list of the best budget elliptical trainers.
How long is too long on the elliptical?
You’re going too long on the elliptical if you spend more than an hour on it every day. Using it for approximately an hour, five days a week, should be enough to get you the best results. Following this recommended duration will already help you maximize the cardio benefits of this machine.
Does the elliptical help with belly fat?
Yes, the elliptical helps you eliminate belly fat. Although elliptical machines offer low impact cardio workouts, it still allows you to engage both your upper and lower body while exercising. More muscles working equals more calories burned, which means ellipticals can do a pretty good job of burning fat in your midsection.
Is elliptical better than walking?
The elliptical is better than walking if you want to burn calories and fat with a workout that's relatively easy on the joints. But if you simply want to get your steps in and spend more time outdoors, then walking might be the more ideal form of exercise for you.
What is the Best Compact Elliptical?
After careful deliberation, our team has determined that the Schwinn Compact Elliptical Machine might be the best one of all the items on this list.
With its tubular steel construction and broad foundation, this machine seems to be the best at maintaining stability and durability.
It has a maximum capacity of 330 pounds, which is already substantial for a compact trainer.
Its noiseless operation is also another great plus.
Many users seem to be happy with the results they’re getting with this machine, saying it might be the best exercise equipment they’ve ever owned.
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