These machines have pedals that revolve along an elliptical path, so every stride you make is uniform. The machine's incline might be adjusted electronically or manually. To make a manual adjustment, you must dismount the machine; electronic adjustments can be made while you're using it.
We tested 31 ellipticals, evaluating exercise range, ergonomics, construction, safety, and more, and chose six recommended models, including three CR Best Buys (available to subscribers). Like treadmills, the pricier ellipticals generally have sturdier designs, more features, and better warranties. The top-rated Diamondback 1260Ef, for example, is well built and easy to use at $2,200. But the Nautilus E514, a CR Best Buy, also performs well for just $750.
Adjusting the resistance allows you to crank up the workout level for strength training. It's also easy to reverse your stride on an elliptical to work slightly different muscles and build balance. Many models allow you to adjust the incline and stride length of the elliptical path for a more varied workout. Some machines, such as the Diamondback 1260Ef, have a range of adjustment that's large enough to allow you to make the transition to a step-climbing-style workout. Many also have inputs for MP3 players, and the LifeSpan EL3000i has a USB workout-tracking function.