Adam holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in Linguistics, and creative writing has always been his greatest passion. For more than 25 years he's been working for several well-known automobile and travel magazines as an editor and expert consultant, but when Adam started his writing path here, at WisePick, it turned out that he's capable of writing practically anything about everything.
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Last updated: August 05, 2021
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Fitness is big business, and even though ellipticals are one of the most common pieces of gym equipment for people of all shapes, sizes and ages, they come at a cost. Most of us are on some sort of a budget when choosing this kind of equipment, so having an affordable option is key. In this article, we’re looking to find the best elliptical under $1000 to combine value and quality.
If you go into the market just looking for the cheapest product, you probably won’t get something satisfactory. There are some ellipticals out there which aren’t up to scratch. None of those are mentioned below, but they are something to be wary of if you’re on a budget. Instead, we’re focused on products offering great features for the type of people who use ellipticals. These products can be great for any fitness fanatic but due to their ergonomic design and the fact that they don’t put a big strain on joints, they’re popular among older people or those recovering from injury. Features such as weight limits, warranties, the amount of resistance and any inbuilt programs and extra features are considered in our elliptical reviews.
As always, we’ve tested products and scoured a wide range of other reviews and opinions to find the best products to fit the brief of being the top product under $1,000. There are many products constantly being created in the fitness niche, and many of the models we’ve featured have some very modern features. So now we present our in-detail reviews completed with buying guide and a FAQ section to help you get the best elliptical which won’t empty your credit card at once.
The Schwinn 470 is our top choice for an all-round elliptical. It has a good balance between value-for-money and quality, and though it pushes quite close to the $1000 budget, it has the features to justify it.
With 29 different built-in programs and the ability to save profiles for four different people using it, this is very intuitive, and the computing power it offers is a big help. This can also track calories, distance travelled and heart rate to help you to track your progress. 25 different resistance settings let you further tailor your experience to your own individual needs.
The Schwinn has bluetooth and can work with myfitnesspal and a lot of other apps to transfer your workout data. It even has a USB port so you can charge your phone or tablet while you work out.
Though some have criticized the 90 day warranty on labor, it does have a 10 year warranty on the frame, so it is clear that this is a well built piece of kit, that wouldn’t look out of place in a professional gym.
The Schwinn 470 itself weighs 164 lb, which is not the heaviest product out there, and means it can realistically be moved from time to time if needed. The capacity of the product is 300 lb, again this is sufficient for the majority of users, though larger users may have to opt for a different product.
It is clear that with all these features and a huge amount of reliability, this is our all-round best choice for ellipticals. If you can afford this option, it comes with our recommendation.
What makes it stand out?
25 resistance settings to choose from
Heart rate monitoring
Syncs with multiple apps
Can have four different user profiles saved, ready to use at any time
The Cubii is a cleverly-designed way to bring some exercise equipment into an office environment. It is intended to sit under your desk and allow you to periodically incorporate some exercise into your day, which can aid weight gain and also help to get the blood flowing and keep you stimulated.
Eight different resistance levels allow you to test yourself to the level which feels like a challenge for you. Due to the fact that this doesn’t actually carry your weight when you are on it, it does not come with a weight limit. This is a great first step for people who are looking to shift some of their excess weight.
To keep it engaging, this is a bluetooth enabled product and can be linked to apps or your fitbit so you can track your progress and even engage with and challenge others.
The build quality is excellent, and the Cubii brand pride themselves on using the best materials. This means the elliptical should last a long time if treated right.
What makes it stand out?
Easy to use while you’re doing other things such as working
Extremely quiet so won’t disturb you while working
Moving on to a product which may be a bit closer to the $1000 mark, but it certainly is a serious piece of kit. This elliptical is extremely professional in looks, durability and even added features. It allows you to bring your exercising into the 21st century in style.
While many of the cheaper options on the market are a little limited in their capabilities, the ProForm Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer certainly isn’t. It has a backlit display which features 32 different workout settings for you to follow if you wish. There are also an incredible 24 levels of resistance for you to pick from.
This product is so neatly integrated with modern technology. It is compatible with your iPod or iPhone to play music, and even has a tablet holder if you want to watch something while you work out.
This is incredibly sturdy and well-built, offering a five year parts warranty. The capacity of this model is 350lbs, so the vast majority of people can comfortably use this with no problems at all. It may be a bit on the bulky side but this is to be expected as it is so durable and well-made. On top of this, it has wheels to allow you to store it elsewhere. For instance if you wished to use it in the house but store it in a utility room.
What are our favorite features?
Large 350 lb capacity
Compatible with electronic devices such as iPods and has a tablet holder
A vast variety of workout programs
What could be better?
Can be difficult to store and find space for in the home
For those looking for an inexpensive elliptical which doesn’t take up a great deal of space and is suitable for the home, the Gazelle edge is a popular choice.
This is a folding design, so when it isn’t in use it is easy to store away and isn’t an eye sore in whichever room you use it.
In spite of the fact that it doesn’t have any control over resistance, this model does have a very good gliding function which intuitively moves with the user. It has a natural feel and doesn’t put any significant strain on the joints, great for beginners as well as people recovering from injury or suffering with joint problems.
For the larger users, it is important to be wary that it has a weight limit of 250lb. Any users who weigh more do risk running into issues with the mechanism. Non-skid platforms mean you can use this in just about any room and it won’t move around, nor will it mark the flooring.
A very simple computer with an LCD display gives readings for speed and distance among other things, and though this elliptical is a little on the basic side, it does have the main controls needed for beginners.
What makes it special?
Folds for easy storage
Handlebars are covered with high-density foam
Suits for beginners
What cons did we find?
No resistance, so won’t fit for an intense workout
This is a well built elliptical which comes in well under the $1000 mark. As well as being a smooth and sturdy machine, this has some of the extra features you may have come to expect if you’re used to using ellipticals in the gym.
For instance, this product has a heart rate monitor which uses the pulse in your hand to show you a display of your current heart rate. The LCD display will show many other details too, including distance travelled, time and even calories burned.
Eight different levels of resistance allow you to choose the correct amount for you and get the most out of your workout.
It should be said that this is a compact unit. It has wheels and the stride length is under 28 inches, so when you want to wheel it away it is simple to do so. This is an option for having at home which won’t take up a whole room. However, due to its size it is best for people who are on the medium to small side in terms of size. The maximum capacity of 220lb is lower than some of the alternatives.
This offers good value for money, especially if you don’t need a big and bulky elliptical to get the most out of it.
What makes it stand out?
Leg stabilizers and transportation wheels for moving around the house
LCD display with calories burned, heart rate and more
What are the criteria we are judging ellipticals on? How do you know which features to keep an eye out for, and are there other things to consider? Spending a little time researching the best features will help you make the right buying choice.
The effectiveness of an elliptical trainer
Elliptical trainers are popular for a lot of reasons. They give a strong cardio workout and help to build muscles in several important areas. The fact that you can control things like incline and resistance means you can choose how hard you are working your muscles and whether you want more of a cardio workout or a resistance workout. Being able to experience a bit of both is a big benefit of an elliptical. If after reading the article you changed your view on ellipticals, try to look through treadmills. Maybe these will suit you better
As we’ve already briefly mentioned, ellipticals can be effective without offering any of the risks that go with hobbies such as road running or more extreme exercises. Even if you struggle with injuries and joint problems, the smooth motion (which has been compared to cross-country skiing) means you are unlikely to worsen any issues. There is no hard impact as there is with running, which can lead to ankle, shin and knee issues. Ellipticals are the best alternative.
Are there any health restrictions?
Health issues and restrictions are a unique thing. Unless your doctor has warned against any strenuous exercise then ellipticals can be a great way to be kind to your body and still get a good workout. Of course, you need to use it properly, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Also, if your heart rate spikes or you experience pain it is worth stopping and consulting a healthcare professional.
How to lose weight with an elliptical trainer
Ellipticals can be used in a couple of different ways. Some people prefer a “high intensity” training session, with higher resistance. This can help both to burn calories and to work on your muscles, but it can raise your heart rate quickly and put more strain on your body.
A lower intensity workout which lasts far longer is a good way to use an elliptical for burning calories. Due to the nature and motion of these machines, they can burn calories without exerting too much strain. Many people find they can last a lot longer on an elliptical than they ever could on a treadmill, for instance.
What muscles does the elliptical work?
The core muscle groups worked by the elliptical are yet another reason it is so popular. It really is a full-body experience, and everything from your legs to your glutes to your back, arms and abdominal muscles are being stretched and worked. Of course, the higher the resistance, the harder the muscles need to work and this can help you to build tone in your body as well as burn calories.
Features to consider while choosing an elliptical trainer
What are the top features we’ve judged the best elliptical trainers on? Which should you be keeping an eye out in product descriptions?
We are all bound by the size of exercise equipment. If you’re lucky enough to have a home gym then this might be less of an issue, but generally, you will need to consider the space you have. If you are more restricted in this way, you may consider a folding elliptical or a product which can be moved around easily.
Training programs which are built into the product are designed to challenge you in different ways. This can add new interest and breathe enthusiasm into your workouts, as well as ensuring they are very effective. Programs can be designed to get you to a certain heart rate, mimic a hill climb or to replicate interval training like in ProForm Cardio HIIT.
This is a self-explanatory regulation, but an important one. It is vital that you weigh yourself and check that you are within the limits of the machine. If you use a machine you are too big for, you could run the risk of breaking something and injuring yourself. Some of the machines have just 220lb weight restrictions, so you should be observant.
The resistance is how you control the force with which you need to push the mechanism to turn it. Higher resistance means that you are working muscles harder. An elliptical should have settings you find simple, and also some that you find a little more challenging, giving you room to grow and improve. A good rule of thumb is that the pedaling should become difficult at about the ¾ highest setting.
What safety features are in place? Some ellipticals will automatically shut off if they sense you have suddenly stopped. Good ellipticals should have been safety tested to ensure they are sturdily constructed, stay in place and don’t run the risk of tipping over. For instance, many have sturdy rubber leg grippers which stop the product from moving around while in use.
A self-explanatory feature. The noise it creates! Naturally, it is normally a case of “the quieter, the better” when it comes to any gym equipment. A loud elliptical can be distracting for people nearby and may even stop you from working out late at night or early in the morning. One of the quietest ellipticals that is suitable for a workout even when you’re sitting behind your desk is Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical.
Why is Stride Length Important?
Stride length may seem like a trivial detail, but this is not the case at all.
The length should feel natural, as unlike using a treadmill, for instance, you are restricted by the movement of the machine. If it feels like you are overreaching or not stretching your legs enough then it may cause problems and not provide a proper workout.
This can be a particular issue if you are either particularly short or particularly tall, as your strides may be different from the ‘average’.
Just like a treadmill, some ellipticals allow you to choose an incline. This can mimic a hill and give your muscles more of a challenge, and therefore an opportunity to grow. An incline can lead to your muscles aching very quickly, so if you are looking for purely cardio exercise a big incline can be a hindrance. While it isn’t for everyone but it can help certain types of workout.
The product’s weight will naturally have a bearing on how difficult it is to store, lift and put into position. A sturdier product is likely to weigh more, so there is something of a tradeoff here. If you are able to keep your elliptical in one place then a heavier option may be better.
In the modern age, people are used to having entertainment at their fingertips. You may well find that it is easier to work out if you have something to keep you from getting bored. For instance, the ProForm Cardio HIIT allows you to link your iPod and listen to music and has a dedicated space for a tablet. At this price range, you may need to provide your own entertainment via an iPad or other devices, but the fact that some ellipticals have a specific space for it, or even an inbuilt charger, makes it far easier to use. Watching a movie can make your workout go so much faster.
Extra features are up to the imagination of the manufacturer. These can vary from a heart rate monitor which is extremely useful, to extras such as Bluetooth and even USB charging ports.
Naturally, the longer the warranty the better. Many have separate warranties for parts compared to labor. Many of the top models, such as the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine, offer up to 10-year warranties for their parts.
For the sake of hygiene, always at least wipe the machine down with an antibacterial wipe after use to ensure that it doesn’t build up with sweat. This can even damage the parts. Naturally with a lot of moving components, you may need to lubricate with oil from time to time. This will avoid the product becoming squeaky or the joints creating friction and breaking after a period of time.
A surge protector can protect you from the potential perils of an electrical surge, but if one is specifically required it should say so in your manual. A surge protector certainly won’t do any harm if you plan to install one.
It is possible to find an elliptical to suit your needs even at a relatively low price point. A product like this can be a big investment, so you should ensure you are choosing a product which can do the job, and suits your needs, and your space.
The best elliptical under $1000 for all-round ability is the Schwinn 470 Elliptical Machine, this is a modern piece of equipment and blends modern technology with the classic movement and exercise capabilities of an elliptical.
For people who are extremely busy and can’t spend time in the gym there is an incredibly easy solution – Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical. This compact and quite trainer can help you loose weight, stretch muscles and simply tone yourself while you are sitting behind the desk working. It is compatible with multiple apps so you won’t have a problem on searching new workout programs.
If you’re looking for something on a tighter budget, the Sunny Health and Fitness SF-E905 gets our approval as a budget alternative, and is available at a fraction of the price. This doesn’t have the same amount of resistance levels and is more aimed at the beginner end of the market. It is perfect for hobbyists and those who don’t want to spend a huge amount but would like to burn some extra calories at home.
Whatever you opt for, ensure you spend a little time on research and reading our elliptical reviews to make sure you get the best product for your needs.