Elliptical trainers are a flexible and popular type of fitness equipment that has been around for a long time. They enable people to do full-body cardio exercises without putting unnecessary strain on their muscles and joints. As a result, anybody looking for a high-intensity or low-impact workout may appreciate this piece of equipment.

Elliptical trainers, like any other piece of technology, have changed over time, with each iteration becoming more dynamic and effective. In this article, we go over the many models of elliptical trainers currently available on the market as well as the benefits they can do for you.

Looking at the table below there are 3 types of ellipticals:

Type Rear Drive Elliptical Front Drive Elliptical Centre Drive Elliptical
Location of flywheel Back of the machine Front of the machine Centre of the machine
Space Requires bigger space Space saver Space saver
Fitness Workout Similar to walking or jogging

Low-impact

Less inclination options

Similar to a stair climber or climbing a hill

Low-impact

Provides various inclination options

Similar to jogging or walking

Easy on the low back and joints

Less inclination options

Rear Drive Elliptical

This type of elliptical looks and feels different from the flywheel in the back of the machine. Most notably, when used, they feel more level or flat, similar to walking or jogging on flat ground rather than a hill.

Although many rear-drive ellipticals have incline settings, they are usually less intense than those found on front-drive machines. So, if you are looking for a steeper incline, this may not suit you well.

Rear-drive ellipticals have a flatter movement pattern, which gives them a more natural feel. Users remark feeling more upright and not having to bend forward as much as they do on front-drive ellipticals. Many rear-drive machines also offer longer strides than other ellipticals.

Just like the rear-drive elliptical from Proform, it provides a comfortable low-impact experience but with the power to engage multiple muscle groups during a workout. It also features a space-saving design so you can store it easily and regain the space in your home.

The good thing about rear-drive ellipticals is the simple design that requires fewer moving parts. Therefore, it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance and the chances of breakdown are fewer compared to other types. It also tends to be quieter because there are lesser moving parts and as I have mentioned before, working out has a natural feel to it.

However, keep in mind that not all rear-drive ellipticals have a space-saving feature. Hence, it usually requires a lot of space and costs more. That’s why you can find them at commercial gyms due to their large size.

Front Drive Elliptical

In practically every manner, front-drive ellipticals are the polar opposite of rear-drive ellipticals. The flywheel is in the front of the machine, and the roller tracks are in the back. The pedals on this type of elliptical slide along these tracks, giving it a somewhat more vertical range of motion than rear-drive ellipticals.

Front-drive elliptical can provide a workout similar to that of a stair climber, depending on the slope of the elliptical. They are often lower to the ground, making them a better choice for those with limited mobility because they do not require the user to step over the machine. You can find them in many home gyms because of their flexibility and availability.

A good example is the Nordic Track 9.9 Elliptical. It provides a low-impact workout with extra-long stride lengths so you can do different workouts that are good for your muscles and can burn more calories.

Additionally, front-drive elliptical machines are usually compact which takes up less space during use. They also tend to cost less than other types of ellipticals. However, to achieve the best elliptical motion, front-drive machines require additional moving parts. Hence, it increases the likelihood of a breakdown and requires slightly more maintenance than other types of elliptical machines.

Centre Drive Ellipticals

The flywheel of a centre drive elliptical is located in the centre of the machine. The Reebok Cross Trainers are good examples of this type of elliptical.

When you find a centre drive elliptical, you will not think that it is an elliptical because the centre-sitting flywheel straddles the pedals on either side. They have a quiet, smooth operation and are easy on the low back and joints. And because they keep you centred while working out, you will be able to maintain optimal posture while working out.

Many users love using the centre drive ellipticals because they are the closest type of elliptical that imitate jogging or walking.

However, this type of elliptical is often more expensive than the other models and is the least common choice among consumers. There are also fewer options for adjusting the incline to provide a more challenging workout.

Other types of Ellipticals

There are other types of ellipticals that are based on their movements and the design that offer a more total body workout.

Elliptical Cross Trainers

This type of elliptical utilises both the upper and lower body movements that provide a full-body workout. It often has a front or rear-drive flywheel and usually standing or recumbent.

They are easy on the joints with flexible workout options and provide improved mobility and body balance. However, it requires getting used to the movement that the machine gives, and less muscle development is achieved.

Elliptical Gliders

Another type of elliptical is gliders. They have stationary handles to support and balance you while you pedal your lower body. These gliders are best for those who want to tone their lower body.

They are typically standing ellipticals but there are recumbent models as well. Gliders provide a focused workout and help in toning your lower body. They tend to be quite compact since there is no bulky flywheel. They are easy to get used to, however, they don’t provide a whole-body workout.

Recumbent Ellipticals

These ellipticals usually work the same as cross or glide ellipticals. However, they have a chair to sit in while performing your workout. Sitting on an elliptical trainer allows you to have more flexibility to choose between upper or lower body exercises.

It is more accessible to people who are older and disabled because of the low-impact exercise it provides plus a wide range of comfort and adjustment options. However, seats can be uncomfortable and if you are looking for a more challenging whole-body workout, this may not be the one for you.

Standard Elliptical Trainers

This is the conventional elliptical trainer that is most recognisable by most people. It is equipped with foot pedals that can stand on and a handlebar where you can grab onto the front.

This model focuses more on cardiovascular and lower body workouts. The scope and intensity of the workout vary depending on where the flywheel is located.

Standard elliptical trainers have a lower impact than other elliptical trainers. They are one of the best pieces of exercise equipment for people looking for a low-intensity workout that can be tailored to their specific needs. They relieve stress on the knee and ankle joints, allowing users to get many of the same advantages of treadmill exercise without the risk of shin splints or sprained ankles.

Conclusion

When searching for the best elliptical machines, the most crucial thing to consider is if you’ll get a pleasant, sturdy, low-impact, and challenging workout. Make sure that it will give you the workout that will suit your fitness goals.

These days, there are a lot of models to choose from and all you need to do is pay close attention if it is suitable for your needs and will be a great investment over time.

Related Questions

1. Which is better front-drive or rear-drive elliptical?

Ellipticals are versatile workout equipment. When comparing front drive and rear drive elliptical, it will always come down to personal preference. Both models have features that make them more suitable for some people than others. But regardless of the elliptical that you choose, all of these offer a joint-friendly solution while working out.

2. What should I look for when buying an elliptical?

An elliptical machine is the best alternative especially if you are not a fan of running. There is a range of different models to choose from and you can find some of our recommendations here. If you want to track down your progress, then look for an elliptical with that feature. Just remember to choose the machine that best suits your needs.

Emma Pyke
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