Best Small Elliptical Machines in 2020
Few pieces of gym equipment are as versatile, convenient, and comfortable to use as an compact elliptical machines. At the same time, few workout machines are as expensive and space-consuming as an elliptical either. So should you cross the elliptical off your wish list, and maintain a gym membership so you can have access to these dream machines? Of course not. There is a compromise between a pain-free workout and a healthy checking account. For less than five hundred dollars, you can get a compact elliptical, with only the essential features, that will be practically maintenance-free while also giving you all the cardio and strength benefits you crave. We did the work for you and researched the top ten best small elliptical machines for your home gym or even your workplace since most of these models are portable and unobtrusive.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 38 hours of research
Adjustable foot pedals
Super quiet operation
Customized ergonomic positioning
Easy to move around
10 Best Compact Elliptical Machines
1. EFitment Magnetic Elliptical
Adjustable foot pedals
Super quiet operation
Customized ergonomic positioning
Easy to move around
Stride length a little short
The Efitment magnetic elliptical trainer is the best compact elliptical at a reasonable price that will give you a consistent, jerk-free, smooth ride that will not cause excess noise.Read more
A clear LCD monitor displays time, speed, distance, and calories burned. You can even read your pulse on it by gripping the handles which are equipped with sensors. A tablet holder secures your device so you can watch Netflix or listen to music while you work out. The manufacturer does not specify whether you can read on the tablet, but we imagine it's possible if you let go of the handles when you need to scroll or turn a page. The holder positions the device right in the center of the console.
An adjustable belt driven flywheel provides the resistance to build your strength and stamina. Moving the Efitment is a breeze, thanks to its installed wheels and lightweight. There are 8 levels of magnetic resistance, and oversized textured non-slip foot plates to help you stay in place even during fast or intense workouts. One possible drawback, for taller fitness buffs, is the fixed 13-inch stride length.
2. Sunny EF-905
Two way striding
Dynamically moving arms
Exceptionally small footprint
Max weight only 220 pounds
The Sunny EF-905 is a compact elliptical machine, enough to squeeze into almost any space, while also providing a few high-end features at an extremely budget-friendly price point for a space saver elliptical.Read more
Magnetic resistance provides the tension for this small elliptical machine. The standard 8 tension levels are included. The Sunny EF-905 also features large anti-slip footplates for safety and stability. You can grasp the handlebars for pulse data. The bars move, too, so you can use them to incorporate a dynamic upper body workout.
The ride on this elliptical is exceptionally smooth, especially for such a low priced unit. The onboard computer and LCD readout keep track of distance, calories, speed, and elapsed time in addition to heart rate. The elliptical weighs 68 pounds, making it portable inside your home although harder to use for travel. The Sunny EF-905 is rated for users up to 280 pounds.
The compact elliptical is five feet tall, 26.6" wide, and 37.8" long, just over three feet. It does not fold for transport. It assembles quickly, with the tools provided by Sunny. The Sunny EF-905 does not include any workout programs to help users along, which is unusual for a compact elliptical machine. Sunny does not provide a warranty, either. But despite these shortcomings, we think the EF-905 offers great bang for your buck and will provide you with many hours of cardio workouts.
3. Sunny Mini Stepper
Resistance bands attached
Max user weight limited to 220 pounds
With no frame and resistance bands instead of handles, the Sunny Mini Stepper may be the most compact elliptical we found in our research.Read more
It also comes with a very reasonable price and can give you a surprisingly effective workout for a machine so few features. Other than the bands, the hydraulic powered foot steppers and mounting frame are it. Movement is smooth, but the range of motion is somewhat restricted. The Sunny Mini Stepper does have a height adjustment knob to vary step height. The bands are padded for a more comfortable grip. Since they are bands and don't move with the step component, you can perform different exercises by pulling the bands in different directions.
There is an LCD screen, which is a nice touch for an elliptical that costs less than fifty dollars. The screen will tell you calories, time, speed, step count and scan. The rustproof frame is made of industrial strength steel. Assembly is a snap-connect the bands to the frame, and you are ready. At just 16 pounds, the Sunny Mini Stepper can come with you almost anywhere you go without much trouble.
4. Stamina In Motion with Cords
Backward and forward motion
Takes up very little space
Stride is a little small
This workplace friendly elliptical will help you get in your steps at work without your coworkers ever hearing it.Read more
The Stamina In Motion lends itself to being placed under a desk and slid out when it's time to burn off some steam or help yourself wake up and finish your workday. Attached resistance cords add more variety, and tension is adjustable with a hand knob. You can even walk backward with this one. Cords are also good for helping with balance since there are no metal bars to hold onto. Showing its DNA as a commuter elliptical, the Stamina in Motion even has a carry handle.
Another plus for the Stamina in Motion is its wide availability. You can find at retailers like Target or WalMart. And you can use it while sitting, to help counteract the problems that being sedentary for eight hours a day can cause. The unit does include a bare-bones LCD screen for tracking your progress.
The Stamina in Motion is not the least expensive elliptical we found. Also, some reviewers found issues with the unit's durability. It is well worth talking with a few owners and users of the unit before making a purchase decision.
5. Cubii: Smart Under Desk Elliptical
Lightweight, and slimline
8 levels of resistance
Good features for such a small unit
Slides on smooth surfaces
The Cubii under-desk compact elliptical trainer is not a standing elliptical. It is made to be placed under a desk or on the floor, so users can get in movement while continuing to sit and do work.Read more
The Cubii started as a Kickstarter campaign, with the goal of making "the world's first under-desk compact elliptical trainer." This may not be technically true, but the success of the Kickstarter campaign and the numerous articles and reviews online prove that the people behind Cubii succeeded in getting their product financed and noticed.
One very special thing about the Cubii is that it is both a mini elliptical and a Smart Trainer. It has the unique ability to sync up with Cubii's free mobile app using Bluetooth. This means you can store and analyze your speed and other data to track your progress over time. The Cubii works with Fitbit and a host of other fitness apps as well. Ergonomic design helps you maintain posture while also giving your muscles optimal engagement. A generous eight levels of resistance let you switch up the intensity of your workout throughout the day.
The Cubii Under Desk compact elliptical trainer is portable and even has a handle, but its 27-pound weight might make this more challenging on longer trips. Taller users may have problems with their knees hitting the bottom of their desk if the desk is not high up enough to give them room for their legs. The battery life is especially good, which will be a welcome perk for many users.
6. Schwinn 411
Space saving design
Active Trac app
Difficult to assemble
Though the Schwinn 411 is one of the priciest options of our top ten, we included it because it is compact and offers a good number of extra features that many will consider worth the extra money.Read more
For starters, there are 16 resistance levels instead of the typical 13. The unit allows an 18-inch stride, where some of the smaller ellipticals on our list offer as little as a 13-inch stride. 18 inches is the stride length you would find in a commercial gym elliptical, and typically those machines start near the thousands and go up.
You can also use RunSocial, a mobile app, for virtual running with friends and for syncing your distance and other data provided by the Schwinn 411. RunSocial's biggest draw is its virtual reality running experience, and you can do that with this compact elliptical. The unit offers 27 routes, spread out among 19 locations, so your runs don't have to get stale or boring.
Heart rate sensors are in the handlebars, which can be stationary or can move along with your stride. The high contrast 5.5 inch LCD is streamlined for quick and efficient use.
While it is expensive, the Schwinn 411 elliptical machine is also convenient, with robust features and settings, creating an effective, challenging, and even fun workout. Schwinn portable elliptical stands behind this compact elliptical, offering a three-year warranty for the frame and 90 days on the other components.
If you are not sure about purchasing this product, check out the Schwinn 430 review, you might like that model more.
7. Sunny Twist Stepper
Sturdy and durable
250-pound user capacity
Extra moves to target extra muscles
Tension adjustments too minimal
Compact, sturdy, and durable, the Sunny Twist Stepper is a compact elliptical machine with a literal twist.Read more
Scoring points for space saving, the Sunny is 18 inches long and weighs just 20 pounds. The user weight limit is 250 pounds. While typical elliptical machines offer only up and down movement, the Sunny Twist Stepper lets you twist from side to side as you walk, working out the thigh and glute muscles in a way other ellipticals don't do. The supplied bands help you work your arms and back, and with adjustable resistance, you can make your workout more or less intense as your goals require. The compact elliptical does include a basic LCD screen with your speed and other information, although no heart rate.
The Sunny Twist Stepper offers the oversized, slip-resistant footpads as most other elliptical machines now do. Steel construction helps with durability, and the Sunny is quite reasonably priced, putting it in the reach of most any home gym enthusiast. If you would like it out of the way when not in use, you can fold the unit and stow it in a closet or other out of the way place. And you will be able to take the Twist Stepper on even longer trips, so you can exercise on the go.
Simple assembly and an included 90-day warranty round out the plus column of the Sunny Twist Stepper.
8. Sunny EF-902
Heavy duty flywheel
Stabilizers and levellers
Sunny calls this machine an air walk trainer, but the function, features, and compact size are all in line with any of the compact elliptical machines on this list.Read more
The advantages of the Sunny SF-E902 include its space saving capability, its quiet operation, and an abdominal support pad. The support pad is a cushion, similar to the headrests you would find on machines at the gym, held in place on the abdomen by a rigid metal pole. The abdominal pad helps prevent falls by aiding with balance. The airwalk trainer does have movable poles and an LCD display to keep track of your vital data and progress. The unit also has heart rate capability. It is appropriate for users of all fitness levels, with a 220-pound weight capacity.
One thing making the Sunny SF-E902 stand out is that it comes with custom program capability. The stride length starts at 15", but can be adjusted higher. The EF-902 is non-powered, so you can use it during a power outage if you should ever need to. The unit comes with a 90-day warranty and is available at many retailers. The price is reasonable for something with moving handlebars and extra abdominal protection.
9. Gazelle Stepper
Excellent range of motion
5 function workout computer
1.5 inch rolled steel
Low impact on joints
Cannot add resistance
The Gazelle stepper has almost the simplest design and operation you could ask for, but it still includes a five-function training computer and mobile handlebars.Read more
The range of motion here is impressive and will be a big draw for users. You are able to warm up with an easy walk, then sprint and do interval training. Or you could do endurance training until you get tired of it, then recover with a walk. Your choices are the same ones you would have if you ran outside, and the Gazelle stepper is a lower impact than running on a hard surface.
The frame is rolled steel and gives you a secure foundation. The look of the Gazelle is different from that of other ellipticals because it is technically an air strider. This means no flywheel. Instead, the resistance comes from you and how hard you push yourself to move. Although the frame has a narrow, tubular look to it, the Gazelle stepper can still handle users up to 250 pounds.
The Gazelle is a great option if you or a loved one suffer from joint pain. For this reason, seniors may enjoy having one. In addition, you can adjust the compact elliptical for several different exercises that will each target a different muscle group.
10. Exerpeutic Aero Air Elliptical
Fewer moving parts to go bad
Has wheels for easy moving
250-pound weight capacity
Assembly is time-consuming, but ships with a manual
The Exerpeutic Aero Air compact elliptical stands out as being one of the least expensive compact elliptical machines you can buy that still has handlebars.Read more
This is probably not the best option if you'd like a compact elliptical. At 51 pounds, you can carry it, but the handlebars and actual squirrel cage flywheel would present challenges. You can't exactly throw it under your arm and walk around with it, either.
Although it looks old school, the flywheel uses magnetic resistance to adjust the intensity of your workout. You can stride either forwards or backward. It also makes for quiet operation, so the Exerpeutic Aero Air is another smart choice for late night workouts.
User weight rating is 250 pounds. The fixed 12" stride length may be a deal breaker for some. There are 8 levels of intensity, par for the course compared to other budget-friendly ellipticals. The LCD will tell you speed, calories, time, and distance. There is no heart rate capability. Exerpeutic offers a one year warranty on the frame and 90 days for the rest of the unit.
Assembling the unit will be a little harder than assembling an under the desk compact elliptical. But reviewers report that they received tools and excellent full-color manuals that took them through the assembly one step at a time.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
What is the difference between advanced and standard features?
It was a little difficult deciding what is an advanced feature for an elliptical, and what is a regular feature. We decided that speed, distance, calories and heart rate readings are all standard.
Since we only looked at budget-friendly compact ellipticals, bars are an advanced feature. In our reviews, we have pointed out which machines do not have the bars and which ones do, so you can make an informed decision.
The straps featured on some of these units were a nice touch, but not really an advanced feature since straps are readily available to you at many retailers. We decided that portability and syncing up with apps were both advanced features, for this particular review. Not every elliptical can be placed under a desk, so this is a special feature that larger commercial elliptical machines can never have.
Ease of Use
Your workout can be hard, but getting ready for it shouldn't.
At Garage Gym Builder, we go on the theory that, if something is unpleasant to do, you will not do it consistently. So, to achieve good results, it is important that your equipment be easy to use.
Some of the small elliptical machines we looked at taking longer to assemble when they first arrive. But after that, everything on this list will be easy to use. Of course, there are situations that will give difficulty, including a tall person using an under the desk elliptical and bumping their knee on the desk.
We have been open about these possibilities so that, again, you can have a safe, effective workout without having to worry about anything else.
What good will it do?
Effectiveness refers to what results you can expect to see from using a product.
While no compact elliptical is going to help you gain much muscle mass that's what lifting and bodyweight exercises are for--a good one will build your cardiovascular strength over time as well as strengthen your legs. How fast this will happen is also a factor in the effectiveness of the elliptical.
Effectiveness, for you, may be different because you have your own goals. Maybe you want an elliptical primarily for recovery days, so you can get a less strenuous workout with low resistance. Or maybe you will use the compact elliptical as part of a circuit, going from lifting to using the machine. No matter what your plans are, reading reviews is a good way to make sure your new elliptical will help you meet them.
An elliptical you can't lift on your own is really not a compact elliptical.
If we were discussing commercial elliptical machines, like those at a gym, the weight would probably not be a consideration. Once in place, often bolted to the floor, these machines are designed to be left alone and never moved for many years of use.
The life cycle of a compact elliptical is different. These pieces of equipment can come with you when you go to work or when you travel. You can put them away if you know you will not use them and then go back to them later. They are all compact, and some of them can fit in almost impossibly tight spaces while still being effective.
For this reason, we found and reviewed elliptical machines that were light enough to be portable. As a customer, you may sometimes decide on a compact elliptical machine with extra weight that has more of the features you want. We have done our best to make sure you have all the information you need to choose the correct weight, even if you order the elliptical online and do not get to pick it up first.
It should fit with the rest of your house.
Style may seem unimportant, but most of us want consistency in the decor of our home or gym area. Colors and designs should match, or at least not distract from each other. So we think that the more pictures you can look at before you buy, the better.
You may also think about the aesthetic of your home gym. Do you prefer a classic look, with piles of free weights everywhere? Or do you want something sleek and modern, with a tubular metal elliptical?
Maybe you like things a little cluttered, and you want to make sure you will not trip over the compact elliptical. Thinking about size and appearance will be important in that case.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
How effective any piece of equipment is should always be a primary consideration in purchasing and using it.
So what makes an effective elliptical machine? One of these machines, over time, should absolutely be able to:
1. Put controlled levels of stress on your heart, so that it and your whole cardiovascular system become stronger over time and you achieve greater endurance. This is why the best elliptical machines always have a heart rate monitor.
2. You are able to lose weight on an effective elliptical machine if that is one of your goals. The elliptical should be highly effective at burning calories. This, in conjunction with a healthy eating plan, will help you take the weight off at a steady and safe rate.
3. Strength and muscular endurance gains. An elliptical is not a substitute for weight-bearing exercises that build muscle. But using one can give you more energy and increased strength, letting you stand or walk and perform your daily activities with less fatigue.
Would you rather do standing curls with a straight barbell or one made specifically for curls? The one made for curls will spare you a bit of pain, but more importantly, it can give you a full range of motion for each repetition. This will make your weight training more effective, giving you better results and also helping you avoid injury.
So when we talk about ease of use, that's what we are really talking about. Injury avoidance and a full range of motion. Using the curl bar will help ensure you many more years of minimal pain and maximum progress in your fitness goals.
An elliptical is no different. So in our reviews, we avoided models with anything that seemed like an unnecessary feature. Most people will avoid something that is needlessly complex, especially if they have the choice to use other machines or equipment.
It is important to note also that complex or extra features do not always mean ease of use is compromised. There are elliptical machines with built-in virtual running programs and other interesting features. This does not compromise ease of use as long as the controls for the running program are intuitive and most users do not have to struggle with making it work.
Other Factors to Consider
Versatility here means we looked closely for any extra features which through design inclusion, offer more for the user.
All the products certainly give the key performances expected from users, however, the market is hot and competitive and this means brand makers need to try to keep ahead.
They do this through innovative new designs and adding a few extra options, such options can be more a wider choice of exercise or the addition of useful technology.
We selected our list based on products which showed a thoughtful approach to versatility.
Value is always something which we assess under our review criteria.
Value is not just the money we give to get the product, it is more.
Value covers the combination of top quality materials used, the level of durability is not only the materials but also the design and level of user-friendliness for covering exercise. We looked for thoughtful designs which showed that the product maker is looking to offer more than other brands in order to give the customer a high-value good deal.
These selected compact elliptical met the wider concept or capacity for value and we believe whichever product you choose, you will get value.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How is an elliptical bike different from an elliptical?
An elliptical bike is essentially a bicycle with an elliptical machine framework. You stand, rather than sitting, and the elliptical motion of your legs is what pedals the bike. Other than that, the compact elliptical bike is just like any other bicycle you can take out for a spin or on your commute.
Elliptical bikes are still a new invention, so there is not a consensus on how effective they are or whether they are feasible as commuter bikes. There are people who love them, and people who say they are just too awkward and they'd prefer a traditional bike. If you are curious, you can probably find a bike shop in your area that will let you test drive one.
Of course, there are also stationary compact elliptical bikes. These are interesting because you can stand up or sit down. Either way, you will get the same benefits from one of these bikes that you would from a regular elliptical.
q: Do I have any options if I do not want to assemble my elliptical on my own?
Maybe. If you buy somewhere local, the shop probably has an employee who can come put together the compact elliptical for you. Always ask, because even if they don't have such an employee, odds are someone working there knows someone.
Another option is Amazon's Elliptical Assembly Program. This program, only a few years old, will connect you with someone close by who will do the assembly for a fee when you buy your elliptical from Amazon.
q: What determines stride length?
Stride length is calculated by measuring the distance between the heels and toes of your feet when you are in mid-stride on an elliptical. Imagine being stuck with one pedal in front of the other. The distance between your front pedal toe and your backpedal heel is your stride length.
Since most of us will never put a tape measure up to our feet during a workout, we can estimate our stride length by height. As a rule of thumb, anyone who is more than 5'7" will need to use a stride length of 18". Some people are tall enough to need a 20" stride length. While most compact elliptical machines will adjust that high to accommodate the long stride length, not all will.
- What Does an Elliptical Machine Do For Your Boday?, Health website ,
- LOWER EXTREMITY MUSCLE ACTIVATION DURING ELLIPTICAL TRAINER EXERCISE, Sports Medicine Journal ,
- Are elliptical machines better than treadmills for basic aerobic workouts?, Medical Website ,