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How to pick a home elliptical

Updated on June 12, 2015


How do you choose an elliptical trainer with so many on the market? Some have incline, some change stride length, some have upper body movement, and some control the tension by Heart Rate. Let’s shed some light on these subjects so you can choose on your own.


What body position is right for your elliptical? Some elliptical trainers force you up onto the balls of your feet using more calf muscles as a secondary muscle group. The other style elliptical trainers keep your heal down and use more butt muscles. The gluts (butt muscles) are a much bigger muscle group than the calf muscles. The bigger the muscle group is, the lower the perceived exertion. Perceived exertion is a fancy way of saying we don’t feel like we are working as hard but our heart rate stays elevated. On either style of elliptical if your heart rate is at the same spot you are doing the same thing. The key is that on the heal down elliptical you don’t feel like you are working as hard. Pedal width is important as well, not too close together or too far apart. The optimal space depends on your hips. Stand in a comfortable position and measure the space between your feet that is your optimal position.


Incline is another feature that needs to be looked at. The only downfall of incline is the cost. The good incline elliptical trainers cost more because they have more to them. The incline feature changes the muscles you recruit so it gives you more options. One of the key principals in fitness is changing things will lead to quicker results. One school of thought is buying an elliptical without an incline is like buying a treadmill without an incline. It is two one dimensional.


 Stride length is important for comfort only. It does not do a good job of changing muscle groups recruited. People sometimes want elliptical trainers to feel like running. A running simulator is called a treadmill. Elliptical Trainers work against a resistance system so to long of a stride will put pressure on the knee joint. When doing squat exercise’s you never want your knee over your toe and the same should be looked at with elliptical trainers

Duel action elliptical trainers bring some upper body muscles into the workout. People with balance and blood flow issues really like this feature. If you have the balance issues’ holding on with the arms is a good thing. If you are athletic holding some dumbbells and swinging your arms independently is better. Some machines offer convertible arms to accommodate all users. They now have machines where you can step off to the sides to do just arms in a cross training workout. That is a great way to do a high intensity interval workout!

The last feature mentioned is heart rate. People just starting an exercise program all the way up to elite athletes’ should measure heart rate. This is the speedometer for the body. Using the science of heart rate can help achieve your goals faster than any other single tool.

Good luck and happy elliptical training!


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    • ghomefitness profile image

      ghomefitness 6 years ago from Chicago,IL

      Thanks for reading Green Lotus, and you are correct they do take up some space. A treadmill is the size of a couch, a elliptical is the size of a love seat, and a spin bike the size of a reclining chair. Things like the Rip 60 are great for people with very limited space, it can go in a drawer or closit when not being used.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      This is great advice for someone in the market for an elliptical. I must read your advice on treadmills. Now if I only had the room! The best just take up soooo much space.