It's no wonder why elliptical machines have become one of the most popular cardio options, both for home gyms and commercial fitness facilities.
Spending 30 minutes on an elliptical is a great way to improve heart health, lose weight, and increase endurance. Similar to exercise bikes, ellipticals are a great choice if you're looking for a low-impact workout that has the potential to burn a high amount of calories.
Before writing this review, I assumed that adding an elliptical to my home gym would cost at least $1000, even $2000. I quickly discovered that it's possible to find an elliptical for under $200 from respected fitness brands. Not only was I shocked to discover this, but I was even more surprised to find that these machines are just as capable of delivering a great cardio workout.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ve selected and reviewed the best affordable elliptical machines on the market. So if you're ready to add an affordable elliptical to your home gym, let's do it!
Table of Contents
- Affordable Elliptical Machines Compared
- Benefits of Elliptical Machines: Why Buy One?
- What to Look for Before Purchasing a Cheap Elliptical
- 7 Best Affordable Elliptical Machines Reviewed
- People Also Ask (FAQs)
- Conclusion - Is a Cheap Elliptical Worth Buying?
Affordable Elliptical Machines Compared
(L x W x H)
Maximum Weight Limit
63 x 21 x 66 inches
50 x 20.5 x 62 inches
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38 x 15 x 25.8 inches
60 x 28 x 64 inches
59 x 23 x 64 inches
43 x 24 x 62.5 inches
50 x 23.5 x 62 inches
Benefits of Elliptical Machines: Why Buy One?
As I’ve already mentioned, elliptical machines improve your overall condition via cardio. But that's not all. The motion on these machines is very similar to cross-country skiing, which engages minor and major muscle groups for a total body workout.
Besides cardio, ellipticals can help to improve your stability, leg strength, and core muscles. You can expect to strengthen your quads, calves, glutes, and hamstrings, and thanks to the moving arms, you can also increase upper body strength and improve your range of motion.
In summary, these machines are an integral part of developing a reliable fitness routine.
What to Look for Before Purchasing a Cheap Elliptical
There are several factors you should consider before buying a cheaper-than-average elliptical machine. I've outlined the main considerations in the buying guide below:
Maximum weight support
You obviously shouldn't get an elliptical that supports a maximum of 200 pounds if you're pushing 220 pounds, right? Elliptical manufacturers provide a maximum weight limit for a reason, so don't take this as a suggestion; it's actually the max amount of weight the machine can handle.
For that reason, one of the first things you should check is the maximum weight support. From my experience browsing around the many elliptical machines available, I know that every manufacturer states this information, so you should have no trouble finding it.
Most ellipticals are designed to operate quietly, but some are noisier than others. If you are sensitive to sound or have nearby neighbors you don't want to disturb, noise level is definitely a factor worth considering.
Portability & Dimensions
Ellipticals are considered fairly bulky, so space is an issue for some. If you're working with a small gym square footage, definitely try to find an elliptical with a small footprint - and pay close attention to the height! Since you'll be standing while riding your elliptical, always check to make sure you have enough ceiling space.
If you plan to move the machine around the house or apartment, make sure you pick a model with front transport wheels. Even though cheaper models tend to weigh less than the $1000 ellipticals, transport wheels will increase the machine's portability tremendously.
Stability & Range of Motion
You don’t want to fall off the machine during your workout now, do you? Make sure the frame is sturdy and the construction will not fall apart during the workout.
Another important thing to consider is the circle of motion. Some ellipticals, especially cheaper ones, tend to have a small circle of motion, which can be uncomfortable and awkward for people with long legs who are used to make longer steps. Learn about how these machines are driven here.
Resistance & Incline
All the best ellipticals allow users to increase the tension level to make the workout more challenging, and that includes cheap machines. The resistance is typically changed by pressing an up or down arrow on the console or twisting a knob, and these machines have anywhere from 8 to 16 levels of tension.
While a lot of ellipticals offer the ability to change the incline, that's not the norm for cheaper models. If incline adjustment is important to you, you might want to consider spending a bit more.
A cheap elliptical console usually consists of a basic LCD monitor to track fitness stats like time, distance, speed, and calories burned. Some will even monitor heart rate.
Just keep in mind that the console of a cheap elliptical will be much more basic than the console of a pricier model. Luckily, this isn't a big problem - at least not for me - because there are so many advanced fitness apps you can use on your phone or tablet nowadays.
Value for Money
If you're reading this, you're obviously not wanting to break the bank on your elliptical purchase. But that doesn't mean you can't get a machine that provides awesome value for money.
To confirm that a cheap machine is actually worth it, always check the features - so things like resistance, console, portability, and stability - to determine if the value for money is there.
7 Best Affordable Elliptical Machines Reviewed
Now that we are familiar with the benefits and what to look for before purchasing the machine, let’s dive into our list of the best affordable ellipticals.
1. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3862
- DIMENSIONS: 63L x 21W x 66H in ; WEIGHT:...
- ELECTROMAGNETIC RESISTANCE: Challenge...
- PULSE MONITOR: Easily monitor your heart rate...
- DEVICE HOLDER: Take control of your...
I don’t think that the Sunny Health & Fitness brand needs a special introduction. They have been on the market for over a decade now, and they're well-known for their treadmills, bikes, and most importantly, elliptical trainers.
The elliptical SF-E3862 is one of the best that you can find in terms of quality to price ratio. It's not the cheapest model I'll cover here, but it’s definitely a good value for your money option. The first reason I say that is while many other ellipticals at this price point have only 8 tension levels, this one uses electro-magnetic resistance with 16 tension levels.
I personally love the elliptical's console. It holds a large backlit display that tracks your progress, and it even tells you your target heart rate based on the workout intensity. It also includes 7 different workout modes, 24 exercise presets, and a BMI calculator.
In terms of other features, this elliptical comes with transportation wheels, a device (tablet, cellphone) holder, and bottle holder. It can support up to 265 pounds, which is slightly above average for budget ellipticals. Because the machine is 63" x 21" x 66", it's definitely not the most compact, so I suggest confirming that you have enough space before you buy.
2. Doufit EM-01
- 【Smooth Workout】The high-quality flywheel...
- 【Digital Monitor And Pulse Sensor】The...
- 【Adjustable Design for Your Family】There...
- 【Reliable Safety Design】Doufit elliptical...
The elliptical machine manufactured by Doufit deserves a spot on this list mainly because of the combination of functionality and affordability. The machine comes in an attractive modern design with white and black coloring, and the frame is made of heavy-duty steel, thus making it stable and sturdy.
The pedals (pads) are large enough to accommodate any feet, and I really like that they are textured with anti-slip material. The elliptical arms are a bit odd if you ask me; they point straight up into the air and don't have the usual curved design of other elliptical arms. However, this doesn't affect the machine's arm movement, so it's not necessarily a bad thing.
As with most ellipticals on this list, the Doufit uses magnetic resistance with 8 different tension levels. It comes with a simple LCD monitor and is equipped with transportation wheels for convenient portability. There are pulse sensors located on the stationary handles for tracking heart rate, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's very accurate (this isn't always the norm for cheaper machines).
The dimensions are 50 x 20.5 x 62 inches and the maximum supported weight is 250 pounds. If you struggle with stability, you've got the option to get the same elliptical with a seat attachment - an excellent choice for seniors on a budget.
My main complaint is that the monitor tracks distance in kilometers, not miles, and there's no way to change it. Also, if you're a tall individual, let's say over 6'3", the stride might be too short for you. I personally didn't find it short at all, but I'm average when it comes to height.
3. MaxKare Magnetic
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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the MaxKare elliptical made it to the list; this company has been producing quality home-gym equipment for a long time and their elliptical is a good representation of their brand.
As the names suggests, this is yet another magnetic resistance machine with 8 tension levels. The machine can be used in dual direction thanks to the heavy-duty bi-directional flywheel. To change the resistance, there's an adjustable knob, which isn't as fancy as a button system on the console (like the Sunny Health elliptical), but it gets the job done.
There is a LCD display that offers all the basic stats like speed, time, distance, calories burned and also heart rate. I love that it has an attached water bottle holder, which isn't something that you'll always find with affordable ellipticals. However, the bottle holder is rather cheap and doesn't fell all that sturdy.
The maximum user weight is 264 pounds, so it's ideal for heavier users who want to lose weight - while also saving some cash. One thing worth mentioning is that the instructions for assembly are well-written, but the diagrams are lacking. I felt as if I needed a magnifying glass to see them, but at least the directions were clear and concise overall.
4. Body Champ 3-in-1 Trio
- MULTIFUNCTIONAL DESIGN: With a patented...
- PLUS TWO: In addition to its patented 3-in-1...
- HASSLE-FREE TRANSITIONS: The innovative...
- FLUIDITY FLYWHEEL SYSTEM: The smooth...
The list of the best affordable elliptical machines continues with a trainer manufactured by Body Champ. This machine is different from all the rest thanks to its 3-in-1 design. That means it can be used as an elliptical trainer, recumbent bike, and upright bike. The great thing about this fella is that the transition is smooth without requiring you to dismount or readjust anything.
There are 3 handle bars to choose from: U-shaped with a heart rate monitor, dual action (for elliptical training), and wraparound for riding in the recumbent style. Even though it's not the cheapest elliptical out there, the Body Champ 3-in-1 comes with a bigger-than-average LCD display and 21 programs preset into the console, so the value for money is definitely there.
It is a magnetic-resistance machine with good adjustability and a quality motor drive. The maximum support weight is 250 pounds, which is about average. My only critique is that the many users have reported having to retighten the knobs every now and then, but I'd imagine this depends on how often you're using the machine.
5. Schwinn A40
- 7 preset programs: 6 profile, 1 quick start
- High speed, high inertia perimeter weighted...
- 8 levels of resistance to keep you on your...
- Large LCD console tracks speed, time, RPM,...
Schwinn is another brand that requires no introduction. Even if you're new to the fitness scene, it's very likely that you've heard of Schwinn, which is always a good sign when buying a new piece of cardio equipment. I'll be focusing on the brand's A40 elliptical today, not only because it's affordable, but also because it's a high-functioning machine.
This particular elliptical is a bit more advanced than most on the list, but that means it's also slightly more expensive. By advanced, I mean that it uses a high-inertia perimeter weighted flywheel for a quiet and smooth workout and the LCD display is bigger and bolder than most budget options.
The console comes equipped with 7 preset programs, one of which is a quick start, while the remaining 6 are profile programs. I was a little disappointed to find that it only has 8 levels of resistance - for some reason, I fully expected it to have 16 tension levels like the Sunny Health elliptical.
I do, however, like that the handles are ergonomically designed and equipped with a hand pulse monitor, making it really easy to check your heart rate on the provided LCD display. Another perk is the higher-than-average 275-pound weight limit, but this also means that the dimensions and footprint are slightly larger, so it's not the most portable option.
6. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E3804
- Endurance trainer: high intensity cardio...
- Resistance: 8 levels of magnetic resistance...
- Safety & Convenience: transportation wheels...
- Performance monitor: easy to read display...
Next up on my list is yet another elliptical trainer made by Sunny Health & Fitness. As with other models on the list (except for the first Sunny Health trainer reviewed), this one comes with magnetic resistance system with 8 adjustable tension levels. Take that into consideration if you're on the fence about which Sunny Health machine to get (the E3862 has 16 resistance levels).
The main thing that made this elliptical stand out to me is its high weight limit. Instead of the usually 250-265-pound capacity, it can handle up to 285 pounds. However, the stride length is just 13.5 inches, which is actually fairly standard for this price point, but it's not ideal for taller individuals.
The included LCD display provides information about time, speed, RPM, distance and burned calories. It's one of the more advanced displays on this list in terms of aesthetics, but it unfortunately doesn't come with any preset programs. What it does come with, though, is a heart rate monitor and pulse sensors, so that's always a plus.
Other notable features of the E-3804 machine include transportation wheels, slip-resistant pedals, full-motion arm exercisers, and great durability for the price. The machine itself is heavy, but this is to be expected considering the high weight capacity and sturdy construction.
7. Efitment E006
- COMPACT - A small footprint design makes this...
- TOTAL BODY WORKOUT - Provides a no impact,...
- DIGITAL DISPLAY MONITOR - The LCD monitor...
- QUIET AND MOBILE - A belt driven flywheel...
The last elliptical trainer on the list of best affordable elliptical machines is manufactured by Efitment. Just like the majority, this is another machine that uses a magnetic tension system with 8 resistance levels.
The best feature of the Efitment E006 is its compact design. It's just 50" x 23.5" x 62" and it weighs only 63 pounds, so it's a great space-saving option for small home gyms. Because it's more compact than others, the stride length is also slightly shorter (11 inches), so keep that in mind if you're above-average height.
The LCD monitor is basic, but it does include a heart rate monitor with pulse sensors, so extra points there. In addition to pulse, you'll be able to view distance, time, calories, speed, and odometer readings - that's about it.
An important thing to note is the lower-than-average weight limit of 220 pounds. If you're below that, no worries, but if not, you'll have to consider an elliptical with a higher capacity (like any of the others covered here).
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What are the main differences between cheap vs expensive ellipticals?
While you don't need to spend a fortune on your elliptical machine, there are definitely some differences worth noting when comparing cheap vs expensive ellipticals.
A more expensive machine typically comes with added features, like Bluetooth, a bigger display, and a higher weight capacity. Some even come with built-in speakers and a fan to keep you cool during cardio.
However, it's still possible to get in a great workout with a cheaper model. So if you're on a budget and don't mind foregoing all the bells and whistles, then an inexpensive elliptical will do the trick.
Is 30 minutes on the elliptical enough?
The recommended time frame for daily cardio is between 30 to 45 minutes per day. So yes, 30 minutes on the elliptical is plenty. However, if you're trying to shed some extra pounds, consider aiming for a higher goal.
According to the physical activity guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services, "you should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week to see substantial changes." So use this as your baseline.
Do ellipticals help lose belly fat?
Absolutely! Calorie-burning cardio is the best way to shed extra pounds, and that includes reducing belly fat. Depending on how motivated you are with your new elliptical and your eating habits, you could start seeing results in as little as a week.
Where is the best place to buy the best affordable elliptical machine?
You might be tempted to purchase your cheap elliptical directly from a well-known manufacturer, but consider buying on Amazon instead. Many fitness brands even have their own Amazon storefront, and with Amazon, shipping is usually fast and free.
Conclusion - Is a Cheap Elliptical Worth Buying?
There goes our list on the best affordable elliptical trainers for home use. I can't speak for all cheap elliptical machines, but I can say that the 7 affordable models I've reviewed here are definitely worth buying.
When choosing the winner, make sure to go through the ‘Buying Guide’ first. This way, you can pinpoint the most important features (and the ones to avoid) before making your purchase.
If you're still not sure which cheap elliptical is the one for you, I'm a big fan of the SF-E3862 from Sunny Health & Fitness. It's not the cheapest elliptical on the list, but it certainly offers excellent value for money and all the features you could ask for from an affordable cardio machine.
Still not sure? Check out our guide to under the desk ellipticals.
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