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Best Compact Ellipticals Review In 2021


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best compact elliptical

As a collegiate athlete who has trained in several small to world-class gyms, I’ve been able to test out different types of Compact Ellipticals on the market. 

Out of the eight compact ellipticals that we got to test and research, we recommend the Boxflex’s M8 Elliptical Trainer Series because it caters to beginners to advanced. This machine can be used as a stair stepper or elliptical, which is perfect for adjusting your workouts’ overall intensity. 

It has 20 levels of resistance that is included with a wide range of challenging workouts. This allows you to tinker your session to provide effective results on muscle toning and calorie burning. 

With their Max Intelligence App blended with AI customizations, you’ll be automatically assessed that provides additional suggestions and changes to your workout as you progress.

The Top Compact Ellipticals Reviewed

 Product's nameStride LevelLevels of ResistanceMore Info
Bowflex M8 Max Trainer , Black, LargeBest Overall
Bowflex M8 Max Trainer , Black, Large
Fixed at 5”20 Levels ElectromagneticSee latest price
Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero RunnerBest Ergonomic
Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero Runner
Adjustable Up to 58”Adjustable ManuallySee latest price
ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer ProBest Innovative Standard
ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro
Fixed at 5”26 Levels ElectromagneticSee latest price
1060EF Adjustable Stride Elliptical TrainerBest Most Features
1060EF Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer
Adjustable from 18” to 23”16 Levels ElectromagneticSee latest price
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine Cross Trainer with 8 Level Resistance and Digital MonitorBest Storage
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine Cross Trainer with 8 Level Resistance and Digital...
Fixed at 11”8 Levels Adjustable ManuallySee latest price
SCHWINN 411 Compact Elliptical MachineBest Immersive Workout
SCHWINN 411 Compact Elliptical Machine
Fixed at 18”16 Levels ElectromagneticSee latest price
Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine for Home Workout, Mini Elliptical, Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser, Whisper Quiet, Under Desk Pedal Exerciser w/Adjustable Resistance & LCD Display - AquaBest Portable
Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine for Home Workout, Mini Elliptical, Desk Bike Pedal...
Adjustable8 Levels Adjustable ManuallySee latest price
Zjet 430 Cross Trainer - RedBest Incline
Zjet 430 Cross Trainer - Red
Fixed at 15”8 Levels Adjustable ManuallySee latest price

Find the Best Compact Ellipticals for You

Bowflex M8 Max Trainer , Black, Large

Best Overall

#1- Bowflex M8 Max Trainer , Black, Large

See latest price

Boxflex is a company full of fitness pros, beginners, ex-athletes, dog walkers, jokers, moms, dads, and hikers. They are a diverse group that provides innovative cardio and strength products to the comforts of your home. They are the gold standard and are one of the most dependable names in the home fitness industry.

This M8 Elliptical Trainer is no different as it caters to beginners to advanced. This machine can be used as a stair stepper or elliptical, which is perfect for adjusting your workouts’ overall intensity. 

It has 20 levels of resistance that is included with a wide range of challenging workouts. This allows you to tinker your session to provide effective results on muscle toning and calorie burning.

With their Max Intelligence App blended with AI customizations, you’ll be automatically assessed that provides additional suggestions and changes to your workout as you progress. 

Boxflex also provides an on-demand video lesson subscription that provides over 15 different videos to improve your workout’s overall immersion.

This is one of the most complete, high tech, and innovative compact elliptical trainers on the market.

Pros

  • 20 different resistance levels
  • Max Intelligence App that assess your workouts and provides adjusts the difficulty so you are always being pushed
  • Compact Size and Lightweight 
  • Built in media rack that allows you to place your tablets or mobile phones
  • Four profile available – Perfect for the family that have different goals and workout routines
  • Multi-Grip handles with Heart Rate Integration

Cons

  • Short Warranty up to 3 years and a 90 day coverage for labor.
Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero Runner

Best Ergonomic

#2- Octane Fitness ZR7 Zero Runner

See latest price

Octane Fitness focuses on making the best low-impact machines in the world. Focusing on different types of ellipticals, so you get a more rounded workout that targets both your muscles and cardio.

The Octane Fitness compact elliptical trainer is different in how it was built compared to standard compact elliptical machines. With converging handlebars, it forces users to have a more intensive workout, improving your overall cardio and muscle endurance.

This machine is lightweight and perfect for individuals that have a limited amount of space. You can adjust the stride length to match the pace of your walking, jogging, or running.

One of the best aspects of the Octane’s Compact Elliptical is the ergonomics. It is made in a way that focuses on effective and total body workouts with a forward and reverses motion, resulting in your muscles being more engaged.

With MMA features that simulate martial arts training and an additional 74 workout programming features, we recommend you take a look at Octane Fitness’s ZR7 Zero Runner Elliptical.

Pros

  • SmartStride feature that provides an Automatic Adjustable Stride that matches your stride length and pace for walking, jogging, and running
  • Maximum Adjustable stride of 26”
  • The machine comes with a large console that has bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity capabilities
  • Over 70+ different work out profiles and programs
  • 3-Speed fan Included
  • Tablet Holder
  • Gait Analyzer

Cons

  • Cannot be folded
  • Higher price than competitors
ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro

Best Innovative Standard

#3- ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro

See latest price

Proform is the leader of in-home fitness as they have focused on creating beautifully engineered products that are affordable, accessible, and installed with the latest fitness technology.

The Cardio HIIT Trainer Pro blends the standard elliptical machine with its own ideas as it focuses on reducing the strain it causes on your body.

The elliptical machine has 26 resistance levels, you’re able to adjust your intensity of each of your workouts. With an addition of 34 workout apps and a continually growing workout library, you’ll have the variety and motivation to continue working out.

This is all included with iFit capabilities and a 10-inch full screen touch screen that tracks all your workout stats, so you can see the progress that you’re making.

This is a great compact elliptical machine if you’re looking for a standard elliptical machine with new and innovative technology built-in.

Pros

  • 26 Different Resistance Levels
  • Total Body Training – Allows you to train both upper and lower body. Perfect for toning your arms, leg, and core muscles
  • Compact – Even though it is a rear drive elliptical, it takes up less space than standard elliptical
  • iFit capability – Tracks your workout progress, gives you video workout, and interactive google map workouts for more immersion when you train.
  • Over 34 workouts that target different areas such as weight loss, toning, and cardio
  • Large touch screen – Over 10 inches making it easy to find, search, and see all the accessories and tools
  • Smartphone Integration – It is compatible with most smart phones allowing you to access their speaker, so you can listen to music while you work out.

Cons

  • More towards those that want a high intensity short workouts
  • Weighs around 200lbs
  • May be hard assembling the parts
1060EF Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer

Most Features

#4- 1060EF Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer

See latest price

Diamondback Fitness has focused on providing the best valued fitness equipment for home use. Dedicated to designing and manufacturing health, strength, and fitness products so people can live a more active and healthier lifestyle.

Diamondback’s Elliptical Trainer focused on providing the small things that every person wants. Their floating pedals have zero impact and zero friction that reduces the stress on your joints and the impact that it creates, allowing you to walk, jog, or run more freely. 

The flywheel design is made with whisper quiet magnetic resistance that provides a more precise and smoother rhythm than standard designs. With adjustable stride length, you can target different muscle groups and add a bit of variety to your workouts.

With 8 preset programs, 4 custom programs, and heart-rate controlled programs, The Diamondback Fitness Adjustable Stride Elliptical Trainer provides everything you need to have a solid elliptical workout.

Pros

  • Compact, Lightweight, and portable which is perfect for small rooms
  • The stride length is adjustable allowing you work on different muscles
  • Zero Impact reduces the harsh impacts on your body and joints
  • 300lb weight limit

Cons

  • The console text sizes are small
  • Does not sync with other apps or programs
Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine Cross Trainer with 8 Level Resistance and Digital Monitor

Best Storage

#5- Sunny Health & Fitness SF-E905 Elliptical Machine Cross Trainer with 8 Level Resistance and Digital...

See latest price

Sunny Health and Fitness are the premier distributor and importer for high-quality fitness and health products. As they source directly through their manufacturers, their pricing is more competitive, providing you an affordable way to get healthy.

Sunny Health and Fitness’s Elliptical machine is one of the standard compact elliptical trainers that you’d expect. It provides you all the basic features and the durability that you want from prolonged use. 

The machine can climb to a vertical height of over 9 inches and stride a horizontal length of 7 inches, providing you the versatility and variety for each workout. With 8 different levels of magnetic resistance, you can switch up the intensity or reduce the challenge based on your comfort level.

It also has transportation wheels that are on the machine allowing you to easily store and move the machine. With pulse-sensing heart rate, performance monitors, and a heavy duty frame, Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical Machine provides you with everything you need for a compact elliptical.

Pros

  • Weight capacity of 260lbs
  • Compact and Transportable with front based wheels
  • Assembling the elliptical is easy
  • Console has goal setting features, date, temperature, heart rate, and a tablet holder

Cons

  • The console is not backlit which may be difficult to see at night
  • Handle bars are at a fixed height
  • No bottle holder
  • No online connectivity
  • Small stride length
SCHWINN 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

Best Immersive Workout

#6- SCHWINN 411 Compact Elliptical Machine

See latest price

Schwinn has been making bikes for over a hundred years, revolutionizing the whole industry. Now, they’ve moved over to the fitness industry and focused on providing a full line up of affordable and groundbreaking cardio solutions that are integrated with the latest entertainment apps and innovations.

The Schwinn Fitness Ellipticals does not disappoint. Although this is a larger elliptical compared to the competitors on here, it provides you with a low impact workout. With an 18” stride, wireless and contact heart rate monitors, and a streamlined console.

With an additional 16 levels of resistance and a mixed reality app that gives you a real life experience of 19 locations and 26 routes, you’ll never get bored exploring the world with Schwinn’s 411 Compact Elliptical Machine.

Pros

  • Wireless Heart Rate Capabilities
  • Bluetooth compatibility to track workouts
  • Many different workout programs.
  • 16 Different Resistance Levels

Cons

  • Resistance might feel a bit too high even though you are on a low resistance level
Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine for Home Workout, Mini Elliptical, Desk Bike Pedal Exerciser, Whisper Quiet, Under Desk Pedal Exerciser w/Adjustable Resistance & LCD Display - Aqua

Best Portable

#7- Cubii JR1 Seated Under Desk Elliptical Machine for Home Workout, Mini Elliptical, Desk Bike Pedal...

See latest price

Cubii focuses on changing how the world thinks about fitness. By making exercising accessible to all physical abilities, lifestyle, and ages. No matter your situation, Cubii provide their customer ways to get fit and healthy, one stride at a time.

The Cubii Jr Mini Elliptical is the most compact elliptical on the market in terms of size. As it’s a mini elliptical, it allows you to work out, no matter your situation. Whether you’re playing games, working at a desk, or watching TV, you can get a quick workout in.

There is a small display monitor in the center of the machine that shows you the distance traveled, steps or strides, duration, and calories burned. This is also included with eight different resistance levels, providing you complete control over the intensity of your workout.

With their whisper-quiet technology and patented ergonomic angles, you can workout anywhere without worrying about the noise or injury.

If you’re looking for the best compact elliptical for use that you can take anywhere, we recommend you trying out the Cubii Jr Mini Elliptical.

Pros

  • Compact and Small making it very easy to pack and store
  • Versatile as you sit or stand while using it
  • Can display the essential stats and information for your workout

Cons

  • Limited on the features due to the focus being compact and small
Zjet 430 Cross Trainer - Red

Best Incline

#8- Zjet 430 Cross Trainer - Red

See latest price

Reebok is an English footwear and clothing company but has moved into other areas in the fitness industry. Now they are a global brand focused on creating the best fitness products in the world.

The Reebok is an elliptical that has all the standard features you would expect. Made with solid steel, the machine is heavy, but it provides greater stability if you move or yank the pedals a lot. Providing two sets of handlebars, one fixed and one mobile, you can choose if you want to work your arms and legs.

As a rear drive elliptical, there is a slight incline that adds extra burn to the thigh and glutes. With the additional multi-panel LCD that shows all the metric s in one place and the combination of adding goals based on distance, calories, or time, this is a great compact elliptical for you to use at home.

Pros

  • Smooth when moving on the elliptical
  • Two sets of handlebars
  • Durable and Sturdy

Cons

  • No preset workouts
  • Stride length is fixed at 15” which can be limited for tall users

Compact Elliptical Buying Guide

What Is A Compact Elliptical

What Is A Compact Elliptical

An elliptical trainer is an exercise machine that has pedals. This allows the user to move in an elliptical pattern, minimizing the strain on the knee joints. 

It is a great addition to your workout as it strengthens your lungs, heart, and muscles while boosting your stamina, burning calories, and your overall balance.

The Benefits Of Using Compact Elliptical

The Benefits Of Using Compact Elliptical

Burns A Lot Of Calories

Using an elliptical machine can help you burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time. Depending on your weight and the intensity, you can burn around 270 to 400 calories within 30 minutes. As you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight.

Less Stress and Strain On Joints

When you’re running or performing any other high impact cardio exercises, your ankles, hips, kness, and other joints can take a beating. For ellipticals, your feet never leave the pedal, offering a low impact alternative for cardio workouts, resulting in reduced stress on your joints and body.

Boosts Stamina

When performing aerobic exercises, your lungs and hearts work hard to provide your muscles the blood and oxygen it needs to perform. The elliptical machine simulates this, resulting in your body building more stamina and endurance. 

Depending on the intensity and speed, you can perform high-intensity interval training that provides fat burning results or steady cardio workouts for muscle toning.

Trains Both Upper and Lower Body 

An elliptical machine is one of the only few cardio machines that provides you both an upper body and lower body workout. These machines help simulate the pumping or running motion of your arms and distribute the weight and resistance evenly. This targets your hamstrings, quads, glutes, back, chest, triceps, biceps, and core muscles.

Burns Body Fat

As the elliptical burns a lot of calories, the longer and more intensive you use the elliptical, the more you maximize the fat burning process. You can add in interval training such as 1 minute of high-intensity movement and 30 seconds of recovery to increase your heart rate while working on your endurance.

Staying Fit After Injury

If you have an injury or can’t workout, using an elliptical can be a great way to maintain your fitness. As it is a low impact exercise, it puts less stress on your joints. These machines are perfect for strengthening your muscles and joints as you do rehab.

Targeting Specific Muscles

The elliptical can target different muscles such as glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves just by changing the resistance and incline of the foot pedals.

By adjusting the foot level, your quads take most of the load. By increasing the incline, you will feel it more on your hamstring and lower back.

Balance Improvements

Your core has a large influence on your balance. When you stand up straight and run without holding on your elliptical handles, you can target the core muscles and work on staying balanced.

What To Look For When Purchasing A Compact Elliptical

Aerobics elliptical walker trainer group at fitness gym workout

Design

There are two designs to look for when you’re buying a compact elliptical. If you’re looking for a full sized elliptical that fits in a room or a mini-elliptical that can be used under a desk.

The full sized ellipticals have all the innovative technology that you’re looking for and can fit in most roms.

Mini-ellipticals such as under-desk models are designed to be small and portable. However, you will notice that you get the basic features only.

Stride Length

Stride length refers to the distance between the very front of the front pedal to the very back of the rear pedal. 

Most standard compact ellipticals have a stride length of around 18” to 20” which is perfect for most individuals. While mini-ellipticals will have a smaller stride length.

Step-Up Height

When you use the elliptical, you will notice you move up and down as the pedals move. This is a more prevalent issue when your roof is low or you’re very tall. 

That’s why knowing the lengths between your head and the roof is crucial when you purchase an elliptical. If the step up height is a problem, find ellipticals with a lower step up height.

You may have to contact the manufacturer to find their official step up height but standard ellipticals are around 16”.

Resistance

Resistance changes the difficulty of the workout. With cheaper and lower end machines using friction or air resistance, however it is very loud. More expensive machines use magnetic resistance which provides a quieter and smoother resistance.

Most compact ellipticals will have a dial or a button to change the resistance level of the machine.

Incline

Incline adds an additional dimension to your elliptical workout. It changes the gradient of the machine, forcing you to use different muscles, shorten your stride, and use more energy. This also means you will be walking up, meaning you’re closer to the ceiling.

Control Module

The control module provides the controls of all the features that it has. Nearly all ellipticals have them and can be seen with something as simple as a switch dial that changes the resistances.

The more features the elliptical has, the more controls you will get to use. This includes LED screens that provide you feedback and statistics of your workout. From calories burned, heart rate data, speed, distance walked, and overall time of workout.

How Do You Use An Elliptical?

Before you work out, always begin with a warm up. For an elliptical, you may do a few minutes on a slow paced walking and work up the intensity as you feel warm.

When you first use the elliptical you may find that you’re uncomfortable and may feel unbalanced. However, the more you do it, you will find yourself naturally having a good cardio workout.

Here are steps to get started:

  1. Begin stepping onto the elliptical and face the console. Nothing will happen until you begin pedalling.
  2. Next, turn on the model or start pedalling to turn it on. This is done by pushing the pedal with a forward motion with your feet. If there are handles, push and pull the handles at an even pace.
  3. You can increase or decrease the pedal resistance as you workout. Usually there are up and down arrows that show the current resistance.
  4. As you near the end of your workout, do not just stop. Make sure you gradually slow down and let momentum slowly slow you down.

What Does The Resistance System or Resistance Level Mean on an Elliptical?

Resistance is the difficulty that can be added to the workout. As you’re fighting against a stronger force, your body has to work more and challenge itself to perform the same motion.

There are two main different resistances that ellipticals use.

Magnetic Resistance

Magnetic Resistance gives you more precision for resistance. As it’s the strength of the magnets inside of the elliptical that is controlling them.

The benefit is that the elliptical is more silent and provides you more control.

Air or Fan Wheel Resistance

Fan resistance provides a smoother ride and often doesn’t need electricity at all. Normally these are manually adjusted and have less precision.

The calves contract to stabilize the lower leg. While your core muscles keep your body aligned and blanched.

FAQs for Compact Ellipticals

Which Is Better Elliptical or Stepper?

Stepper is similar to climbing stairs where you are constantly walking up an incline. While ellipticals simulate more of a walk, jog, or running stride.
The answer is what your focus is. As the stair steppers require more impact and force as you’re actually walking by lifting your leg and pushing it down.
While elliptical creates no impact. As you do not lift up your feet.

How Is An Elliptical Bike Different From An Elliptical?

An elliptical bike is a bicycle that follows an elliptical machine structure. You are sitting and moving the paddle instead of standing and moving your legs.

What Body Parts Does An Elliptical Machine Work On?

Elliptical workouts strengthen your whole body. They are similar to cardio exercises such as running, walking and biking. The biggest difference is the amount of stress it has on your body and the muscles that are targeted.
When you are running or walking, your lower body is mostly working. With elliptical, they work both the upper and lower body. Targeting the glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings.
When your thighs are moving backwards you will feel your glutes and hamstrings being used. When you move forward, the quads are being worked. 
The calves contract to stabilize the lower leg. While your core muscles keep your body aligned and blanched.

Conclusion

When choosing a compact elliptical, there are many factors to consider. The room size and height, your fitness level, the noise level for neighbors or roommates, and overall space.

However, out of the eight compact ellipticals that we got to test and research, we recommend the Boxflex’s M8 Elliptical Trainer Series because it caters to beginners to advanced. This machine can be used as a stair stepper or elliptical, which is perfect for adjusting your workouts’ overall intensity. 

It has 20 levels of resistance that is included with a wide range of challenging workouts. This allows you to tinker your session to provide effective results on muscle toning and calorie burning. With their Max Intelligence App blended with AI customizations, you’ll be automatically assessed that provides additional suggestions and changes to your workout as you progress.

If you’re looking for a more portable and compact, we recommend you have a look at Cubii Jr Mini Elliptical

It is the most compact elliptical on the market in terms of size. As it’s a mini elliptical, it allows you to work out, no matter your situation. Whether you’re playing games, working at a desk, or watching TV, you can get a quick workout in.

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About Julien

Hey! Thanks for being here. I’ve been active pretty much my whole life and I discovered Crossfit about 5 years ago. I want to help you improve your Crossfit performances by giving tips on specific movements, workouts and equipment. You have a question? Get in touch!