Different Types Of Ellipticals (Which Is Best & Why?)

One of the best ways to do cardio from home or the gym is to use an elliptical. While they may look intimidating, these cardio machines are easy to slot in your home gym and workout routine. Read on to discover the different types of ellipticals and which is best for you. 

Created in 1995 by Precor and innovated by Reebok, ellipticals are low-impact machines that simulate walking, running, and going upstairs. From beginners to athletes to older folks, many people use them as ellipticals are a great introduction to cardio—many typically class ellipticals by their type or drive.  

There are five types of ellipticals; standing, folding, under desk, hybrid, and recumbent. In terms of drive categories, there are typically front-drive, center-drive, and rear-drive ellipticals that are each to suited to different styles. 

Standing ellipticals are the most common style of elliptical and are self-explanatory – you stand as you pedal your arms and legs forward or backward. Folding ellipticals can be folded in half to fit into small storage spaces – these are great for apartments or homes with limited storage space.  

Under-desk ellipticals are great for desk workers who want to get more steps in during the day. These are small machines that are placed on the floor and moved while you sit at your desk. Recumbent ellipticals function like standard ellipticals but allow you to sit while performing the upper and lower body movements.  

Different Types Of Ellipticals

Types Of Elliptical Machines Based On Their Drives 

Drive categories let you know where the motor is in relation to the pedals. Center-drive elliptical trainers are a new type of elliptical with the motor at the center. This creates a quiet and smooth movement that simulates a more natural walking or running motion.

This style of elliptical functions the same as other ellipticals in terms of pedal and handlebar movement. 

Front-Drive Elliptical Trainers  

Often considered the standard style of elliptical, front-drive elliptical trainers have their drive at the elliptical front. This makes different inclines possible and usually means that this style is more compact in nature. You will find these in many home gyms across the world due to their availability and flexibility.

Rear-Drive Elliptical Trainers  

Rear-drive elliptical trainers typically have fewer parts than their front and center drive counterparts, which means less maintenance and parts to replace. These machines are often quieter but take up more space and are usually more expensive than other elliptical trainer drives. These ellipticals are most often found at commercial rather than private gyms due to their larger size. 

Best Type Of Elliptical Machine

Types Of Elliptical Machines Based On Their Movements 

Are there other types of elliptical machines? There are, and we will break down their pros and cons below. 

Elliptical Cross Trainers 

Elliptical cross trainers utilize both upper and lower body movements to provide a full-body workout experience. This type often has a front- or rear-drive and is usually standing or recumbent ellipticals. These are considered a typical style of elliptical. 

What We Like

  • Easy on the joints 
  • Full-body workout 
  • Improved balance and mobility 
  • Flexible workout options 

Things We Don't

  • There can be a few minutes learning curve to get used to the movement 
  • Less muscle development than on a treadmill 

Elliptical Glider 

Elliptical gliders have stationary handles to support and balance you while you pedal your lower body. These are great for those who want to tone their lower body but are otherwise the same as most ellipticals. In terms of design, elliptical gliders are typically or standing ellipticals, but you can find this style in recumbent ones as well. 

What We Like

  • Focused workout 
  • Lower body toning 
  • Stationary handlebars for balance 
  • Easy to get used to 

Things We Don't

  • Not a whole-body workout 

Recumbent Ellipticals

Recumbent ellipticals usually work the same way as cross or glide ellipticals. However, they have a chair for you to sit and perform the movement. Sitting down on an elliptical trainer allows you more flexibility to choose upper or lower body workouts. It is more accessible for older and disabled people. Some have compared recumbent ellipticals to exercise bikes 

What We Like

  • Accessible workout option 
  • Flexible routine 
  • Lower learning curve 
  • Low impact 

Things We Don't

  • Seats can be uncomfortable 
  • Not as effective a workout as others on this list 

Major Health Benefits Of Elliptical Machines 

Boost Stamina & Cardio Capacity 

Working out regularly on an elliptical can boost your stamina and cardio capacity; this can give you more energy throughout your day to tackle your everyday work and home routine. 

Burn A Lot Of Calories & Body Fat 

Having a whole-body toning workout that can also be cardio helps you burn many more calories and shred body fat. You can choose a walking, running, or stair stride to customize your fitness session with an elliptical 

Put Less Stress On Your Joints 

Unlike running on pavement or treadmills, using an elliptical does not require you to put excess stress on your joints. This makes it an excellent option for older people or those with joint pain or injuries.  

Upper & Lower Body Workout Combined 

Working your upper and lower body at the same time ensures that you can burn more calories and evenly tone your body. You can work your upper and lower body simultaneously, meaning less time at the gym and more time to yourself. 

Improve Balance & Mobility

While using an elliptical, you must carefully balance your body while performing the pedaling and arm movements. Doing this at an increasingly rapid speed improves your balance and mobility while feeling supported by the machine. 

Strengthen Muscles & Improve Musculoskeletal Health

For those who prefer cardio to lifting weights but still want to tone their muscles, using an elliptical can give you the best of both worlds with the proper resistance and incline settings. Exercising on an elliptical increases your blood flow, which has been known to increase musculoskeletal health and bone strength. 

What Type Of Elliptical Machine Should I Buy? 

Now that you have all this information, you may be thinking, 'what type of elliptical machine should I buy?' Below we have compiled a list of things to consider before making your elliptical purchase. 

The Flywheel Weight 

The flywheel is the drive system that activates your steps and controls your resistance level. As a general rule, the heavier the flywheel, the more durable your machine is. If your flywheel is light and of poor quality, roughly between 15-20lbs, it will not last. Find an elliptical with an 25+ lb weight for an optimum and durable experience. 

The Stride Length

Stride length is another major factor in ellipticals; too small or too large a stride will be uncomfortable in the long run. Measure your stride while walking and running carefully and find a machine that goes a little above that. Most stride lengths will be roughly 40cm; if you are taller than 1.90m, we recommend finding a model with 50cm or more stride length. 

Mechanical Or Magnetic Resistance?

Elliptical machines can use either metal chainsbelts, or magnets to create various resistance levels for you. Metal chains are heavier but also louder, while belts and magnets provide quieter and smoother movements. Magnets also need less maintenance than chains and belts. 

Watt Levels

Watts measures your walking power and resistance level while using the elliptical. Because of this, it can be a good indicator of the quality of the machine, with most ranging from 350-400 watts. You can find more or less, but this is often the average. 

The Console: With Or Without Bluetooth?

Ellipticals with a Bluetooth connection ensure that you can sync your data with various fitness apps, play your music through speakers, and generally increase interactivity with your machine. Please read the product description of each model carefully to find out whether it has Bluetooth and what features are available to you. 

Max User Weight

All machines have a max weight limit that they can work under before becoming at risk of breaking or causing harm. Cheaper ellipticals will have lower weight limits than medium to high-end models; take note of your and any potential users' weight limits and find a machine above that maximum. 


A warranty's length is a good indicator of both the quality of a product and the manufacturer's faith in the product. Most elliptical warranties range from 90 days to a lifetime; find ones with a minimum of five years but aim for a lifetime. 

Please read the warranty description carefully and mark it on your calendar to ensure that parts and functions are covered. Most brands also separate the warranty into different sections, such as motor, labor, and parts – be mindful of the lengths of these, as they will be different. 

Noise Levels

When purchasing an elliptical for your home gym, you may need to be mindful of the machine's noise level while it is in use. Take drive type and decibel level into account and read customer reviews carefully before purchase. 

Extra Features

Modern ellipticals can come with all kinds of added features to make working out a pleasant experience. Some added features include: 

  • Heart rate monitor 
  • Console display 
  • Workout programs 
  • Fitness trackers 
  • Device holder 
  • Water bottle holder 
  • Speakers 


When investing in home gym equipment, it is essential to set a budget for yourself. You typically get what you pay for in the fitness world, but you can find deals and coupons that will help you get a good deal. Do your research and shop around to find the best bang for your buck. 

What Type Of Elliptical Machine Should I Buy

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Do ellipticals help lose belly fat? 

Ellipticals, especially standing elliptical trainers with upper and lower body movement, can help you lose belly fat with regular effort and a balanced, healthy diet. 

Can I exercise on an elliptical everyday? 

It is possible to work out on an elliptical every day in a healthy way, depending on your body, resistance level, effort level, and other factors. However, we recommend leaving 1-3 days rest in your week to allow your muscles to rest and develop properly. 

Is an elliptical better than walking or running for cardio? 

Yes, depending on your needs. Suppose you want to avoid excess stress on your joints, work your entire body, and burn more calories. In that case, ellipticals can be better than walking or running for cardio. 


Ellipticals of all kinds can be a significant investment in your home or commercial gym. What type of elliptical is best? That depends on your needs. Consider your options carefully and follow our tips above to find a suitable elliptical machine for you. 

Last Updated on January 24, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.