how to buy an elliptical

The elliptical machine is a tried and tested home fitness favorite. The elliptical is versatile. It’s alternative to running with serious cross-training benefits. This simple and effective cardio workout won’t tear up your joints.

The similarities of the elliptical machine to running let you maintain and even build cardiovascular fitness over the winter.  Using the movable handles brings in the upper body, increasing your core activation and proprioception (body awareness).  Variables, such as reversing your stride or using a Power-Incline, will target even more of your range of motion.

With so many ways to train, what do you need to know to buy an elliptical for your home workouts?  And without paying extra for features you’ll never use?

Pick a Good Spot! 

The single-most important thing you can do to make sure you use your elliptical regularly is to put it in a good location in your home.  Airflow and lighting will make your workouts more comfortable and inviting.  Natural light is a big plus, especially in winter months.

Measure the floor and ceiling space you have to work with, especially if you are putting your elliptical machine in a basement home gym.  Consider your access to power and internet strength. If the entertainment options of your console are a big draw (more on that in a moment), that’ll be important to note.  Knowing the space that you will use for your elliptical helps you determine what upgrades you’ll have room for.

Mechanics:

Once you have the perfect location for your machine, you can consider the (literal) nuts and bolts of your purchase.  Because their feel and construction vary significantly, elliptical machines are worth trying in person.  This will give you an idea of whether the size of the machine and the length of the stride will work with your body.

If you’re just looking for a way to get moving during the winter and are of an average build and height, you may be satisfied with a set stride length.  If your machine will be used by multiple family members, or you see yourself advancing your training, a variable stride length is worth the investment.  Similarly, ellipticals that offer Power Incline features will let you up your training intensity by increasing your range of motion and workload.  This can give you a broader strength training benefit, though it is not necessary for a simple cardio workout.

It goes without saying that your perfect machine should feel solid during use.  Trying an assembled product in the floor lets you get a feel for what you can expect (or tolerate) from your machine.  A smaller person sticking to less aggressive workouts may be fine with a lighter home model.  A larger person who is using the machine for aggressive cross-training is better off investing in the durability of a higher end machine. This will save you frustration later and make your daily workouts more enjoyable. You can also rely on the store associates to use their knowledge and give you their suggestions.

Along with choosing the right mechanics, read through the warranty of your considered purchase.  Quality manufacturers stand behind their products.  Expect your machine to provide a no worries warranty for at least a year.  A machine with longer coverage will provide even greater peace of mind.

The Console:

Once you have a good location and sound mechanics, you know you can get a great workout from your home elliptical machine.  Playing with the bells and whistles provided on your machine console is where picking your perfect elliptical machine gets fun.   Even the most basic console should provide you with workout feedback, including calories, speed, and distance.  These features can make it easier to meet your exercise goals, and even stick to your New Year’s Resolutions!

A well-designed elliptical machine will include integrated speakers and a space for your tablet and water-bottle.  These conveniences are even more important if you choose not to invest in higher end console. Exclusive features, such as Virtual Active Technology,  Polar Heart Rate Monitor integration, and Sprint 8, will help to motivate you through more effective workouts.

The current generation of consoles has elevated home fitness workouts to the experience of commercial gyms. WiFi integrated consoles let you surf the internet and even binge watch your favorite series on Hulu and Netflix.  While these higher end features are not necessary, they do make workouts more enjoyable.  They also simplify placement of your machine by eliminating the need for an additional streaming device or tablet.

Making your Purchase:

Considering each of the above factors will help you determine the right amount to spend on your elliptical machine.  If you are a larger person or plan on leveling up your training, be prepared to invest more for a solid machine. You want it to stand up to your elliptical HIIT workouts.  This means you’ll want to look for stride length and incline options. A basic elliptical machine that will serve for solid aerobic workouts might be found on sale for less than $800.  A heavier duty machine that will last through tough workouts and multiple users will be around twice that amount (or more).

Consider your long-term needs as you shop.  This includes changes as your workouts progress and the likelihood of others in your house using the equipment.  Determine your budget and buy an elliptical that you will be satisfied with for years to come.



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