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Best Elliptical Machine

I often have people contact me, asking for my opinion on the best buy for an elliptical machine.  My response is, "That depends!"  There are a number of factors to consider, including:
  • Your budget
  • Your fitness goals
  • Your weight and height
  • The number of users
  • Desired programming
Each one of these factors combined, come into play when purchasing an elliptical machine.  However, often factors like your fitness goals and/or your weight and height may conflict with your budget.  For example, let's say your budget is under $600.  That puts you in the budget elliptical machine category, and if you plan to aggressively exercise and are overweight you may find the machine is not up to the task . In general, crosstrainers in this price range have cheap components and are poorly engineered .  They have limitations. 

Elliptical Machine Features to Consider

Stride Length - The stride length on elliptical machines can vary from 14" to over 22".  When purchasing an elliptical you want a stride length that feels comfortable.  If you are below average in height, you may want an elliptical that is 16"-18", but if you are a taller individual you should consider an elliptical that is 20" or over.  A taller user on an elliptical with a short stride will feel like they are bouncing up and down.  There are several models that have variable strides.

Machine Weight - It comes as no surprise that a cheap elliptical is also a lightweight machine.  The weight of an elliptical machine impacts that stability. A cheap elliptical can often weigh about 100 lbs. Now imagine how stable that would be with a user who is over 250 lbs, especially if that person is exercising aggressively.  You can probably expect the machine to rock back and forth. In general, the more expensive the elliptical the heavier it is, and consequently it is more stable.

Flywheel Weight - The weight of the flywheel impacts the feel of the elliptical stride.  A heavier flywheel gives you a more natural feel to your stride.  It is like you are running on air. You can tell when you have a fairly heavy flywheel because it takes some effort to get the motion and to slow it down. It will feel more like the motion of an elliptical you may have used in a health club.

Articulating Foot Pedals - The majority of elliptical machines have some form of articulating foot pedals.  These are pedals that angle with the elliptical motion.  The advantage is that you minimize your foot arching while you exercise.  This puts less strain on your ankles and arches.  You want a machine where there is minimal lift of your heel.

Distance Between Pedals - This is a concern that typically impacts women more than men.  Because of the physique of women, ellipticals with pedals too far apart can be a strain on their hips and be discomforting.  Front drive and center drive elliptical machines often have pedals at a close and optimum position.

Incline Adjustment - A good percentage of ellipticals come with some form of incline adjustment.  It is similar to the incline on a treadmill.  By adjusting the incline you not only get a more intense cardio workout, you are also able to target different lower body muscles.  Ellipticals with a set elliptical motion limit the muscles you are able to tone in your legs.  With any exercise it is always beneficial to change up your routine and utilize as many muscle groups as possible.

Programming - Except for dirt cheap elliptical, most have some selection of pre-installed workout programs.  They generally control the resistance of your elliptical, although some will also control the incline, if you have that feature.  These programs vary and can simulate going up and down hills or interval training.  NordicTrack and ProForm also offer iFit Live on most of the elliptical trainers.  This allows your elliptical to communicate with the Internet.  You can define your fitness goals on your personal online account, and iFit Live will download a personalize workout program with audio coaching that is geared to achieve those goals.  It will also track your progress, although there is an extra cost for this feature.

Buying the Right Elliptical Machine for Your Body and Your Budget

By factoring your fitness goals, weight and height, and your needs and wants, you can determine the elliptical machine that is best suited to your body and your budget.  If necessary, you may have to spend more than you originally planned on, but it is important to get the right machine that will help you achieve and healthier lifestyle.

For more information you can go to my Elliptical Trainer Reviews site, where I review and rate over 100 popular models, brands.
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