Exercise Equipment Review

Elliptical Trainer Buyer's Guide

Elliptical Trainers are quickly becoming the most popular pieces of cardio equipment for people to add to their hime gym.

What makes a good elliptical trainer? How much should you spend on a good elliptical trainer. I'll answer those questions and more in my Elliptical Trainer Buyer's Guide.

Elliptical Trainer Buyer's Guide inside tips in order of importance:

Price (most important)
Shopping for an elliptical trainer and don't know how much to spend? That's a common problem for most people. There are just too many choices available today.

Unlike treadmills, elliptical trainers are much more closely grouped in price. Believe it or not, you can actually get a really good elliptical trainer like Tony Little's Gazelle elliptical trainer for around $200. If you went into the local sporting goods store and asked to see a $200 treadmill, they'd laugh you out of the building.

To get a quality elliptical trainer expect to spend in the neighborhood of $300-600 dollars. That won't get you the top of the line ellipticals, but you can do pretty well for yourself in that price range.

High end elliptical trainers range in price anywhere from $600 to $2500 dollars. The high end machines offer very similar options and features, so to get the best deal you really need to study each elliptical trainer closely to figure out the pros and cons.

Comfort and Adjustability
Most elliptical trainers don't offer much in the way of adjustability. Some of the upper end ellipticals offer adjustable pedals to vary your workout angle. I don't think this is a must have feature, I have an older Nordic Track Elliptical Trainer and haven't missed this feature at all.

One of the features you should pay close attention to is the elliptical's stride length. The stride lengths vary from 7" on the lower end machines, up to about 21" on the better ellipticals. The longer the stride length, the better. The short stride lengths have a tendency to give a more up and down choppy ride.

I think you'll find most of the elliptical trainers in my reviews to provide a comfortable ride. They're definitely not going to be as high impact as a treadmill workout.

Resistance and Operation
Elliptical trainers offer two forms of resistance. The first form of resistance is the tension or friction on the flywheel. The second (and less widely available) form of resistance is incline.

Most elliptical trainers don't offer any incline adjustment. So you're just left with how the elliptical machine delivers it's resistance on the flywheel. Flywheel resistance comes in two forms: Belt tension (cheaper models) and magentic resistance on the better models.

Magnetic resistance is the way to go here, it's much quieter than a belt and will also hold up better over time. If you get an elliptical trainer with magnetic resistance make sure to look for one with the pushbutton magnetic resistance control. That way you can control the resistance from the display console on the fly while your working out.

Heart Rate Monitor
With the exception of the Gazelle Freestyle, I wouldn't even consider buying an elliptical trainer with out a heart rate monitor.

Most of the better ellipticals have a pulse grip sensor on the upright handles so you can get a heart rate reading while your working out. Some of the high end ellipticals even provide pulse driven workouts that make sure you are working at your optimal heart rate.

Display Console and Built-in Workouts
The display console is the heart of any elliptical trainer. A good console can provide extra motivation and feedback while your using your elliptical trainer.

If you're shopping in the Under $300 price range, don't expect to get a good console or many (if any) built-in workouts.

If you don't think a good display console is important, take it from someone who knows better.

My old Nordic Track elliptical has a very minimal display (it's an old machine) and the one gripe I have is that I can't get any of visual cues about how my workout is progressing.

If you have a good display console you can monitor exactly how your workout is going and fine tune your upcoming workouts easier. It also gives you additional motivation when you glance down at the console and see you're almost done!

Built in workouts are becoming a must have feature, but you won't get any if you spend less than about $300.

The built-in workouts are a great feature to have. You can vary your workout based on different criteria. Some of the elliptical machines from Icon Fitness even offer iFit compatible elliptical workouts (see iFit detals here) you can get online.

Make sure your elliptical trainer has built-in workouts. You'll thank me later when you're still using your machine everyday, while the people who bought the cheap elliptical trainers are using them for coat racks.

That's about all you need to know about elliptical trainers. I hope you've found my Elliptical Trainer Buyer's Guide useful in helping you make an informed purchase.

Go see my Elliptical Trainer Reviews where I review all of the most popular ellptical trainers on today's market.

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