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Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 4.20.32 PMWith so many models of elliptical equipment available today, figuring out which is the best elliptical machine can seem overwhelming. However, it may not be as challenging as it seems, provided that you do some homework and take some test rides. And remember, “best” really is relative, according to one’s preferences.

In evaluating ellipticals, consider the following:

  • Commercial or home grade – commercial equipment is designed for use at health clubs and tends to be more heavy-duty (and more expensive) than home machines. Make sure you compare apples to apples.
  • Type of machine – traditional standing machines, recumbent ellipticals and lateral ellipticals all offer distinct advantages – many of which are replicated in each model, but some that are unique to each type.
  • Motion – the feel of the movement is critical for both the lower body and upper body. It should be smooth and natural, with the legs and arms synchronized. It should not jerk or catch at any point. The range of motion should be comfortable for users of different heights – long enough to accommodate taller exercisers, but not so long that shorter users are constantly reaching.
  • Workouts notice what types of workouts are offered on the elliptical machine. A quality product will have several options for various goals and fitness levels, along with interactive heart rate routines that let you customize your intensity. Check how many workouts there are, as numerous choices can help you stay motivated and getting results.
  • Features – premium elliptical machines today are equipped with many features that can enhance workouts, including console fans, padded pedals, quick start capability, reading racks and accessories trays and digital contact heart rate monitors, among others. Determine which features you want and make sure the ellipticals you consider have them. Alternatively, don’t buy a feature-rich model if you won’t use any of them; opt instead for a basic quality unit.
  • Warranty – among manufacturers, warranties vary, but look for a lifetime warranty on the frame, at least 3 years on the parts and at least one year on labor for home equipment.

Product reviews and awards also can give you information and, in some cases, let you easily compare different units to find your best elliptical machine. And company websites are loaded with details. Talk to specialty fitness retailers as well, and ask your friends and family for recommendations.

Ultimately, you really need to try all the machines you like to assess them, compare and contrast and determine which suits you the best. Once you’ve ridden each, you’ll know the one you want.