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Elliptical trainers are amongst the most popular cardio machines in the gym.
In fact, they grew so much in popularity in last years, that more and more people buy one for home use.
But, like with so many things in life, they also have a downside, they're too damn big.
So what do you do if you don't have the room for one? Yeah, that's right, go for the compact version.
But which one is the best elliptical for small spaces?
And do, or how compact ellipticals differ from their bigger alternatives?
That's why we're here for, so let's find out.
best elliptical for small places
best on the budget
Simpfree Elliptical Machine
sunny h&f sF-e-3804
Exerpeutic Gold 2000XLST
54" l x 23" W x 63" H
40.9" l x 19" W x 63" H
54" l x 24" W x 63" H
53" l x 25" W x 63" H
53.8" l x 24" W x 62.5" H
heart rate monitor
can go backwards
Max User Weight
are ellipticals good for weight loss?
Obviously, you can burn fat and calories with any cardio equipment.
But, the edge elliptical trainers have over others, is the fact they work both your upper and lower body.
In fact, it's the only cardio equipment that has this ability.
As such, you would assume working both your body parts should result in higher calorie burn.
Luckily, we don't need to assume.
This calories burning chart from Harvard medical school lists different activities and the number of calories they help burn.
When we check the elliptical, we see that on average, you should expect to burn 2.16 calories for every pound of your body weight.
So, if you weigh 185 lbs, like in the example shown, you would burn 400 calories in 30 minutes with an elliptical machine.
The only other 3 gym activities that will make you burn more calories are the:
- Ski Machine
But, these 3 are high-intensity/high impact activities, while the elliptical is a low-impact machine.
So, one more advantage the elliptical has over other cardio equipment, is that a wider range of people can use it.
- Users who are recovering from an injury
- Users who suffer from joint pain
The bottom line is that elliptical machines are not only the 4th best fitness equipment when it comes to burning calories, but they're also low-intensity machines that almost everyone can use.
Which kinda brings me to the next point.
3 elliptical benefits you need to know about
1. It offers a low impact workout
So, we just said that an elliptical offers a low-intensity workout, but how is that exactly?
Well, it's all in the way elliptical machines work.
First of all, the elliptical motion results in lower pressure on your legs and joints. The elliptical motion imitates the natural movement of your feet as if you were walking or running.
However, unlike with running or walking, the fact your feet never leave the pedal means no direct impact on your knees, ankles, joints and even hips.
The end result is an exercise that is less stressful or painful, yet highly effective.
2. you can use it even when recovering
If you do have a bad knee for example, there's a high chance you do very little or hardly any cardio activity.
The same goes If you're recovering from an injury.
Therefore, by being a low-impact cardio machine, it'll might mean you'll still be able to use an elliptical machine to keep fit. Even if you in the midst of a recovery process.
Another good thing that might come out of it, is that Working your body might help speed up your recovery.
So, it's a win-win situation.
Just make sure you seek professional advice of a physician before you do anything.
3. it works both your lower and upper body
Elliptical machines are unique.
As we've just learned above, they will help you burn more calories than most fitness equipment out there.
That's partly because It's the only cardio equipment that will allow you work both your body parts at the same time.
To be more specific, the elliptical machine works your:
- Gluteus Maximus
This is by far, the largest number of muscles a cardio machine can work.
2 extra benefits of a small footprint elliptical
1. they're portable
Now days, most elliptical trainers come with transportation wheels that make it easier to move these large machines around.
So while it's OK to categorize them as portable, they still have one main issue.
Their large size adds up in a high overall weight, which means it might still be hard for you to move it, and even to store it.
Compact ellipticals on the other hand, don't weigh as much and are usually easier to move.
So, in case you're planning on storing your unit or you know you'll be moving it around a lot, a compact elliptical will be more practical.
2. They offer the same workout as the big boys do
Being smaller in size doesn't mean a poor exercise experience
It might was true in the past, when manufactures had an intention to keep them as basic as possible. Probably to make the potential buyer go for the larger and more expensive model.
Thankfully, this is no longer the case. And that's because these days there're a lot more elliptical makers.
So, now you can find compact ellipticals that offer decent resistance power, cool features and quality build.
However, one thing that is affected by being compact is the stride length, which is shorter compared to a "normal size" elliptical.
And that's because, the stride length is a direct result of the machine's body length.
So, unless you're OK with a shorter stride, I suggest you check a normal sized elliptical.
note about small ellipticals
Before you go ahead and decide which space saving elliptical you should buy, you need to define your expectations.
Let me break it to you this way; they don't come close to the ones you see in the gym.
Furthermore, shorter stride in compact ellipticals is just one of the things you'll have to "put up with".
Being "compact" means the length of the body is shorter, which means the frame might not be as sturdy as other "normal" sized ellipticals frames.
And as a result, the max user weight might also be significantly low, so make sure It's enough for you.
However, I think the major downside of small space ellipticals is that they don't pack as many features as the more expensive alternatives.
Features like incline changing, preset programs, back-light display, Bluetooth capability, and more, can make the difference between an elliptical you'll use for years, to one that you won't.
Having said that, they can still provide you an intense workout, just without the bells and whistles.
So keep that in mind, and let's move forward.
How to choose an elliptical for small space?
The same way you would choose a regular elliptical. (Ha Ha)
All kidding aside, obviously we'll put an emphasis on the dimensions, but, there are other core elements we would look into.
First of all, you'll want to check what is the recommended footprint of the unit.
Checking just the dimensions won't do.
Keep in mind that the pedals might extend beyond the frame of the body since they do move in an elliptical shape.
To be extra safe, I would add at least 15"-20" from all sides to the dimensions of the unit.
This would create a safe workout environment and should be enough for the pedals if they need it.
So, check the area where you know you'll be using and storing your machine, and if it fits move on to the next step.
Because you're working both your arms and legs, poorly designed and light frame ellipticals tend to wobble more.
You don't want that.
You want an elliptical that seats firmly on the floor, but that also has a strong frame.
The frame's durability is what will make or break the machine. Literary.
I'm not saying get a tank, since in any way you can't.
Because we're talking about ellipticals for small spaces.
Which by definition, are shorter in length, which means the frame is lighter compared to normal sized ellipticals.
However, you can check what is the max user weight which is a strong indicator of the frame's strength.
Unfortunately, there's no way to check "wobbliness" unless you try it first.
3. Stride Length
And unfortunately, there is not much to do when it comes to stride length.
The compact design is what makes and breaks this type of ellipticals.
On one hand they're compact, but on the other, they come with a short stride.
Catch 22 anyone?
As a general rule, if you're around 5' to 5'5, you should get a machine that offers between 13" to 16" stride.
Taller than that, and you'll need a machine with 18" stride.
Users over 6' will most likely need an elliptical with 22" stride.
If the stride is too short for you, then the machine will feel more like a stepper rather than an elliptical.
And, we do not want that.
Since the main benefit of the elliptical lies in the, guess what, the ELLIPTICAL MOTION.
So, make sure you get a machine that has a proper stride length that fits you.
4. resistance levels
Every elliptical machine comes with an adjustable resistance levels.
The thing that should interest you the most is that on the lowest level, it's easy for you to work.
But, it should also be able to provide you a challenging workout in the mid level range.
This would leave room for progress.
The ideal elliptical should have a decent number of resistance levels, at least 8.
5 best Ellipticals for small spaces
1. Exerpeutic 2000XL
The Exerpeutic 2000XL is definitely one of the more popular compact ellipticals.
And that's even though it's not the most compact one.
Nevertheless, it's got pretty decent measurements of 54" L X 23" W.
There are smaller ellipticals out there, but the 2000XL can still fit in most cramped or small rooms.
The stride length is the same as in most compact ellipticals, 13".
It's not much, but if you're around 5'-5' 3", it should be enough for you.
The 2000XL use magnets to apply the resistance, which contributes to the fact of it being a quiet trainer.
You'll still hear a squeak here and there, but nothing major, and not something out of the ordinary.
A really cool feature I personally love is the Bluetooth capability which will allow you to sync your workout stats to an app on your phone.
This is great because keeping track of your progress can put you in line with the goals you want to achieve.
Always checking on your stats might also help keep you on track by maintaining a high motivation level, because you can always set new and better goals.
The 2000XL is also a sturdy elliptical that can support users up to 300 lbs.
Not that common in the compact elliptical trainers category, so that's a cool thing.
My main problem with this model is the basic display it comes with.
It's not the most sophisticated display, but I guess you get what you pay for.
2. Simpfree Elliptical Machine
This elliptical machine from Simplefree has the smallest measurements around.
With only 41" in length and 19" in width, it's safe to say this model will fit even in the smallest apartments.
No news in the stride length section, since this one also offers only 13" stride.
But, it does able to offer a massive user weight limit of 330 lbs.
That is more than what the Schwinn 411 has to offer.
However, since it's got a short frame, I can't confidently say it won't wobble at that weight range.
But, I will say that the small footprint also help to keep the total weight of this elliptical low.
And if it wasn't already easy to move around, the little transport wheels it's got in the front help ease the process even more.
As for workout experience, the Simplefree pairs a magnet based system with 8 levels of resistance. Which is pretty much the standard in compact ellipticals.
Nevertheless, it can still make you workup a sweat.
Its display though is pretty comprehensive and it shows full stats, which is always nice.
Bottom line is, this is a small footprint elliptical that can offer a good workout and will fit in most cramped rooms.
3. Sunny Health & Fitness - SF-E3804
This elliptical machine from Sunny H&F offers a slightly longer stride length of 13.5".
Which already sets him at a higher starting point compared to the others.
Its measurements are almost like the 2000XL's, except it's 1" wider, which makes it 54" long and 24" wide.
And though it's not the smallest elliptical, it still fits in the "ellipticals for small spaces" category.
As far as stability goes, the SF-E-3804 can take up to 287 lbs, a weird number I must say.
In addition to being more than enough for the average home user, it also pours some light on this elliptical's durability.
And then there's the magnetic resistance that is paired with 8 adjustable levels.
Which as you probably figured by now, is the standard for this type of ellipticals.
Nevertheless, it's still great because it means less maintenance and low noise levels.
One thing I like in particular about it is its display.
You should always keep track of your stats, and the display here makes the whole thing easy.
And another great feature is the media rack, which basically allows you to put your phone or tablet on it and watch/listen to whatever you want to.
To sum up, the SF-E-3804 is a compact elliptical with a longer stride than most compact ellipticals.
And though half an inch doesn't sound much, it might just make the difference between an uncomfortable motion to an actual elliptical motion you would get from your unit.
4. Exerpeutic Gold - 2000XLST
The 2000XLST by Exerpeuitc is yet another compact trainer that will fit even in cramped spaces.
But, the real "kick" of it is in two main features it packs.
The first being, the 21 preset programs it comes with. They always come in handy when you have no idea what you're doing.
They kinda take the edge out of guessing what should you do, and also help to spice things up between exercises.
Furthermore, the 2000XLST can help get you to your limits with its 3 goal setting options.
By setting the distance you want to pass, calories you want to burn or exercise duration, you can claim little wins with every workout.
The second is its Bluetooth capability.
It will allow you to sync your workout stats to an iOS/Android app, and will help you keep closer look on your progress.
Which in my books, translates to a huge motivation shot that might actually help keep your motivation level high in the long run.
Another great thing about it is its 3 piece crank. Generally, a 3 piece crack promotes smoother pedaling.
But, it wouldn't be that great if it Exerpeutic didn't paired it with a magnetic based resistance with 16 levels.
On the downside though, the 2000XLST offers the lowest weight capacity. Just 275 Lbs, so if weight is an issue for you, keep that in mind.
To conclude, the 2000XLST is another compact elliptical with cool features and not that high price tag.
5. Schwinn 411 Compact Elliptical Machine
Schwinn is probably the most well-known brand on this list.
But does the 411 lives up to the Schwinn's name?
Well, as far as stride length goes, it sure does. While keeping its dimensions small, Schwinn managed to squeeze a decent stride length of 18".
This is the longest stride length we came across in our research.
Another cool feature which we personally love here is the sync ability with runsocial.
Basically, runsocial adds a nice dimension of a social and virtual workout.
The reason we love it is that it might help keep your motivation level up in the long run.
So, not only you get to "run" 10K in the Swiss Alps, you get to brag about it in front of friends and family. In your face Grandma!
The 411 doesn't stop there, and
As for workout experience, the Schwinn 411 packs a decent number of 16 resistance levels but falls a bit short compared to the 21 preset programs offered by the 2000XLST.
It seems that Schwinn tried hard to offer a decent package in a compact elliptical machine, but there's one thing that bums me.
Despite being a new model, the console of the 411 looks old and outdated.
Especially when I compare it to the new dual-track console I can find on other new Schwinn models.
But, the 411 makes up to it by having the ability to pair with a heart rate chest strap for a more accurate pulse reading.
What Is The Best Elliptical For Small Spaces?
The best elliptical for small spaces would have to be the:
And no, it's not because Schwinn is a famous brand when it comes to bikes.
The fact that the 411 has more than decent stride length is what tipped the the scale in its favor.
Stride length is probably the most important factor you need to consider before buying an elliptical machine.
obviously it shouldn't be the only one, but it is a major ranking factor.
luckily (for Schwinn), the 411 doesn't stop there and also offers other essential features that might help spice your workout a bit.
Features like the option connect a heart rate chest strap, or the syncing ability with the RunSocial app can help keep you motivated in the long run.
Overall, the Schwinn 411 could be a great choice if space is something you don't have to spare.