A healthy lifestyle remains one of your best defenses against various health problems. Eating right, sleeping enough, reducing stress and exercising regularly remain the indispensable key to a healthy lifestyle in your fight against obesity, against an expanding waistline and a host of diseases.
Exercise should become a daily routine.
Home exercise machines such as the elliptical trainer with its low impact exercises and full body workouts are gaining in popularity.
Forget about rigorous diet and back breaking exercises, invest instead in a home elliptical trainer and use it to get the solid abs, toned muscles and desired weight without undue stress on your joints.
It also provides you with a great low impact cardiovascular workout boosting your heart and lungs as well as giving all the main group of muscles a thorough low impact exercise routine.
Best Elliptical Trainer For Home Use
Elliptical trainer reviews are good sources of information for checking out your best elliptical trainer for home use.
Elliptical trainers are low impact exercise equipment. The elliptical benefits the whole body. Less strain, less effort and less time needed for more calories burned is its selling point.
The best elliptical machine comes with moving handle bars and together with the pedals, allow for upper as well as lower body workouts simultaneously.
Also known as elliptical cross trainer, they are noted for their very efficient low impact cardio exercises with minimal pressure on the joints and back.
Researches have indicated positive results using elliptical exercises as a means of rehabilitation for patients with knee problems, multiple sclerosis and so on. A recumbent or seated elliptical trainer is excellent for rehabilitation purposes. Read about elliptical training for multiple sclerosis patients here.
Buying a new elliptical trainer can be intimidating. Just click on the Internet and you are bombarded with all sorts of information about the best elliptical trainer to buy.
Meeting the salesperson might not be a better option either. Too much information can lead to the paradox of choice. Low price or higher price models? So what is the best elliptical for home use?
Here are a few tips to guide you along in buying your home elliptical trainer.
Best home elliptical trainer buying guide – the different designs
There are three designs of elliptical trainers to choose from: the older rear drive elliptical, the second generation front drive elliptical and the latest designs are the center drive elliptical.
So what are the differences between the 3 different types? Which is the best one to buy and put in your home?
Rear Drive Elliptical Machines
Rear drive elliptical with the flywheel at the rear tends to have a more biomechanical motion, a more natural feel.
Operating on free-rolling bearings, they have much less wear and tear and thus require less maintenance.
This type of elliptical enables the user to exercise in a forward position with a good posture. This type of position will result in a more effective training.
Front Drive Elliptical Machines
The front drive elliptical comes fitted with a track which needs to be kept in a clean condition. It must be free of dust and dirt for it to run smoothly.
It also has more mechanical parts involved in its construction and these can break down due to wear and tear.
Compared with the rear drive, the user finds that he has to lean forward in order to do his training. This is due to the way the machine is set up, which tends to push the user in a backward position.
Center Drive Elliptical Machines
The center drive elliptical has the weight of the user being concentrated in the center of the machine. This results in the body being positioned naturally upright.
The center drive elliptical is more compact compared to the longer footprints of both the front and back drive machines.
Price – Which Cost More?
The design, quality of the components and mechanics of the machine will affect the price.
What Special Features To Look Out For
Better quality ones come with a higher price tag but are more stable and durable, in other words, with a longer life span.
They do not shake as you exercise, have a much smoother performance and an extremely quiet drive besides requiring less maintenance.
The heavier the flywheel, the more stable the exercise machine. The disadvantage is that these are normally heavier and larger in size as well as occupying a larger space in your home.
On the other hand, smaller and more compact ones are lighter and occupy less space but less stable. These are not meant for high intensity usage.
Some machines allow you to pedal in reverse motion. This works your calf and hamstring muscles better than the forward motion.
Some elliptical machines come with handlebars that you can push or pull as you pedal along. This works your arm, shoulders and upper back muscles thus allowing you to have upper and lower body workout at the same time.
Preset Workout programs and resistance levels
The preset programs as well as the number of resistance levels will also contribute to a more enjoyable elliptical workout.
With preset weight loss programs, interval training programs and cardiovascular programs (heart rate programs), staying motivated and challenged will be much easier.
The more resistance levels the machine has, the smoother the change from one level of resistance to the next in small increments. Besides, a wider choice of the resistance levels ensure a more efficient training program catered to your own fitness level.
Sole E25 elliptical trainer offers 20 resistance levels whereas the ProForm Endurance 920E Trainer has a total of 32 built-in workout apps and 24 resistance levels.
Some machines are compatible with iFit technology software with scenic running routes powered by Google Maps. This is a great feature as the interactive iFit wireless technology enabled machine gives you access to tracking software and an unlimited library of workout programs that can be downloaded to your elliptical.
You have more choices of programs that are suited to your fitness levels regardless of whether you are a beginner or a daily serious enthusiast. These programs are designed by certified fitness trainers.
You get to workout in beautiful places all over the world virtually such as the Swiss Alps, Paris etc. This is all done using global Google Maps routes. However, annual membership fees is necessary to be part of the iFit community.
User weight and stride length
Do take into consideration your weight and height when buying your best home elliptical trainer.
Check the maximum user weight capacity set by the manufacturer.
Exceeding the maximum usage can result in breakdown of the machine.
Another important feature to consider is the stride length. You need to have the proper correct stride length (the distance measured when your front and back feet are farthest apart) in order to fully extend your legs to run properly.
Users nearer to 6′ tall would be more comfortable with a length of 18″ above. Too short a stride length will result in jerky movements with less range of motion.
Elliptical trainers that provide the option of adjustable stride length would be best. Different family members have different heights and therefore work with different stride lengths. With the adjustable workout stride feature, you get your own customized fit.
Stride lengths can also be adjusted to target different muscle groups during workouts. Muscles of the thighs and calves get toned up with a shorter stride length whereas at a longer length, your glutes and hamstrings are targeted.
Diamondback 1260ef elliptical machine has a fixed 19″ stride length whereas the Sole e95s comes with adjustable stride length ranging from 18″ to 24″.
Some elliptical machines come fitted with adjustable incline ramps. You can adjust the incline to change the shape or angle of your stride, thus making the workout more challenging, interesting and motivating.
Adjustable ramp feature has the advantage of toning different sets of muscle groups depending on your needs. Just set the ramp at the incline or angle for that particular set of muscle groups.
By lowering or raising the incline, you get to target different set of lower body muscle groups.
The lowest angle works on your glutes and quadriceps. The highest angle woks on your glutes, quadriceps, calves and hamstrings. This is great for high intensity hill climbing programs.
At a higher angle, you get to burn more calories in a shorter period of time.
Equally important are the foot pedals. The newer models come with adjustable foot pedals. Even the position of the toe and heel angle can be adjusted as well, shifting the pressure to the entire foot instead of just concentrating on the ball of the foot.
This makes for a more comfortable and enjoyable running motion catered to individual requirements.
Foot motion should be smooth and continuous, with an ellipse pattern simulating the way your feet walk and run.
The pedals are attached to the flywheel. The heavier the flywheel, the smoother the elliptical motion.
The pedals can also be adjusted to the different resistance settings available in your machine. The higher the resistance, the more challenging the workout.
For example, top of the Sole elliptical range, the Sole e95 elliptical trainer comes with 6 preset programs, 2 heart-rate-controlled workout options and 2 programs that you can customize to suit your degree of fitness level. Its custom-designed foot pedals with durable foam cushioning supports your feet comfortably and with a 2-degree inward slope, minimizes ankle and knee stress, a common complaint among elliptical exercise users.
Another feature to check out are the bearings. Machines using ball bearings are more trouble-free compared to those using bushings.
The bearings themselves come in 2 types, standard or sealed ball bearings.
Because the standard ones are open, they are exposed to dirt and dust which can result in a less than smooth motion. It is recommended that these standard bearings be greased frequently.
However, sealed ones do not have such problems and greasing is not necessary. For sealed ball bearing types, you have the choice of self-aligned bearings. This means that it will automatically adjust the alignment in line with the elliptical motion thus contributing to a more smoother operation.
Next, have a look at the brake resistance system. In simple terms, the braking system in an elliptical trainer uses magnet to create resistance against the flywheel.
You are faced with the choice of a magnetic resistance brake, an electromagnetic resistance brake (eddy current brake system) or the self-generating induction brake.
The eddy current or electromagnetic brake uses an electronic system and hardly needs servicing due to the absence of moving parts. The absence of moving parts also contribute to a quiet and smooth elliptical operation. You control the resistance by pressing a button on the console. This will increase or decrease the eddy current which in turn raises or lowers the resistance to the flywheel. This ECB braking system is easy to control and is found mostly in higher end machines.
Self-generating types do not run on electric power and have few maintenance issues due to their motor-free operations. You pedal to create the resistance and the power to operate the machine. This type is great for those who are concerned about their carbon footprint.
Magnetic brake resistance is the least reliable of the three types and normally fitted in lower end models.
Choice of backlit LCD, LCD without backlit or LED display. LED displays are easier to read no matter viewed from which angle.
LCD display monitor without backlit feature might be difficult to read under dim lighting.
You can track your fitness progress or choose your programs by pressing certain buttons on the console. The console is an important feature to track your fitness goals.
Heart rate monitors
Having built-in heart rate monitors in the form of sensors on the handle bars or the more accurate wireless chest belt monitor means that the resistance level will be automatically adjusted to the workout zone that you are in. This ensures a more efficient elliptical training and fat burning workout.
Are trade-ins allowed?
Newer models usually have improved features. Perhaps you have an older model you would like to trade in when upgrading to a newer and more expensive one. Lots of places do allow you to trade in your old model or even sell to them your used elliptical machine.
There are several brands offering elliptical machines such as Sole Fitness, Nordic Track, Proform, Life Fitness, Horizon Fitness, Precor, Smooth Fitness, Diamondback Fitness, Healthrider, Livestrong and others.
Different companies offer different ranges of warranties and these vary among different models and even different parts of the machine. Low end models have shorter warranties.
The Sole e55 for example, has a 5 year warranty on parts and electronics and a lifetime warranty on the frame as well as the brake. The Life Fitness E1 elliptical trainer comes with a lifetime warranty on its frame, 5 years on parts, 3 years on console and a year on labor. A long warranty speaks volumes on its workmanship.
How often do they breakdown and need to be sent in for maintenance?
To prevent frequent breakdown and maintain it in tip-top condition, read the owner’s manual and follow the instructions properly.
It is advisable to wipe and dust the machine regularly to maintain its fluid performance.
For those machines with wheels and tracks, regular cleaning to prevent dust accumulation is important for a fluid operation.
Lubrication of any moving components as well as checking for loose bolts and screws will avoid frequent breakdowns and thus lengthen the life span of the machine.
Advantages Of The Home Elliptical Machine
Just set up an elliptical trainer at home and you have access to a good, low impact elliptical cardio workout everyday or whenever you are free.
It is very convenient. There is no need to wait for your turn to use it, saves time traveling to the gym, not to mention the expensive gym membership fees and of course lots of privacy doing your full body workout routine in your own home at any time you wish.
You can vary the workout programs for a more interesting elliptical training.
It is suitable even for seniors. Remember, the workouts are low impact with minimum strain on the knees.
No hilly terrain for your workout? Get your challenging uphill workout from the elliptical trainer with adjustable power incline.
You don’t even have to miss your favorite TV show, just exercise in front of the TV, or perhaps listen to your favorite music if you buy one with iPod docks and console speakers. It is truly entertainment and training at one go.
Are Elliptical Trainers Suitable For Apartment Users?
Due to their low noise level during use, these machines are ideal for apartment dwellers. Those living below you might complain if the equipment you use is too noisy.
Folding compact elliptical trainers are best suited for apartment dwellers due to space constraint in their home. You fold up the machine after use, freeing limited living space.
If exercise is low down in your to-do-list list because of time constraint or aching joints, then it is time to invest in a good quality elliptical trainer. Remember, you are investing in your good health.
The impact of a daily workout routine on your overall health can be extremely rewarding.
Make full use of this low impact exercising equipment to your best advantage.
If you do not stay in an area with hilly terrain, then the adjustable power incline elliptical trainer would be great for those uphill workout.
Lose weight, stay in shape, bursting with positive energy, increase your metabolic rate and feel the joy of a healthy life; minus the injuries of a high impact drill.
Of course, don’t forget your low fat diet.
Elliptical training benefits your whole body muscle groups. Offering low impact exercises, elliptical trainers benefit even seniors and those worried about knee and joints pain.
Exercise and good health goes hand in hand.
Having one of these low impact exercise machines at home benefits the whole family.
So, get the impressive looking best elliptical trainer that you have always wanted to buy and start your first step towards a healthy lifestyle right in the comfort and convenience of home sweet home.