Product Reviews

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Three people using elliptical machines at the gym.

Best New Elliptical Machines for Every Fitness Level

Match the machine to your budget and workout style

If you've never shopped for an elliptical or it's been a few years, you’ll find that quite a bit has changed. At their core, most elliptical machines still deliver on the central promise of providing a full body workout, but what that workout entails should be the first consideration you make before buying. Consumer Reports just tested a new batch of ellipticals and one for three different workout levels.

First-time or casual users may favor models with pre-programmed routines, which eliminate guesswork and make it easy to get up and moving. More serious users who already work out or are trading up from a basic model can grow tired of monotonous cycles and should consider models that allow for more programs and variability. And whatever direction you lean, it’s always important to try these units in the store to make sure they’re comfortable, lest they become an expensive, space-consuming clothes rack.  

Easy Strider
ProForm Pro 12.9

ProForm Pro 12.9

The price makes it attractive to a first-time elliptical buyer, as do the 43 preset exercise programs, which should make it easier to get up and moving. We found it easy to use, well constructed, and exceptionally safe—reducing the likelihood that a novice user will sustain an injury. It offers a nice range of exercises and has the ability to download additional routines as well as track workout history using iFit, which charges a $99 yearly subscription fee. The ProForm Pro 12.9 comes standard with a chest strap heart-rate monitor—though it doesn’t provide the machine with feedback to alter your routine.  

    Mid-Range Mover
    Diamondback 1260 Ef

    Diamondback 1260 Ef

    As the top-scoring model in our test, the Diamondback 1260 Ef offers more serious users an exceptionally well-built machine, loaded with bells and whistles. While the rows of programming buttons can seem overwhelming to a casual user, you’ll be glad they’re there once you’re comfortable with the unit. They allow you to create a tailored workout and offer the ability to change incline settings by 20 degrees—one of the widest ranges we’ve seen.

    At its highest incline setting, the machine feels more like a stepper than an elliptical. The included chest strap heart-rate monitor provides feedback and is mated to five heart-rate control programs, which automatically adjust to your heart rate mid-workout.  

      Total Trainer
      Sole E95S

      Sole E95S

      The Sole E95S offers the same quality construction of other models in this price range, but is rich with features to elevate the workout of a veteran user. Chief among those are controls to electronically adjust stride length, which varies your routine and helps engage different muscle groups. It also has built-in Bluetooth, which can connect to a Sole Fitness app that allows you to create a custom profile, set goals, and track workout history. It too has an included chest strap heart-rate monitor that provides real-time readouts and mates to two built-in heart-rate programs that adjust based upon feedback.  

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        Paul Hope

        As a classically trained chef and an enthusiast DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test in the 1850s farmhouse my wife and I are restoring while raising our two young children.