The Different Types of Elliptical Machines

August 20, 2020 4 min read

There are various ways you can get your cardio exercise, and running on a machine instead of pavement can be far more forgiving for your joints. When you are building a home gym, you need to have some type of cardio equipment, and the good news is that most of it is compact and easy to fit into the smallest spaces. One piece of equipment that you should consider for your home gym is an elliptical machine, which is easily identifiable by its handles and pedals. An elliptical machine is one of the most versatile exercise machines out there, and that is exactly what you need when you are building a home gym with limited space. Learn more about what an elliptical machine can do for you, along with the various available options, below.

Why Use an Elliptical Machine?

Cardiovascular exercise is one of the most important components of an exercise routine, but many don’t see the appeal of running. An alternative option you have for cardio comes with an elliptical machine. There are many advantages to using an elliptical machine as well because it’s much easier on your joints than running on concrete. An elliptical machine can also build your upper body and lower body at the same time in addition to:

  • Burning calories
  • Burning body fat
  • Improving your balance
  • Strengthening your stamina
  • Reducing injuries

The Different Types of Elliptical Machines

An elliptical machine in your home gym can be the perfect gateway into cardio for many, but like most exercise machines, there are a lot of options to choose from. Elliptical trainers come in all sorts of different sizes, with different features that might be of interest to you. One major variance between types of ellipticals also involves the different styles and locations of the flywheel (or drive system). We all approach fitness with different goals and backgrounds, so learn more about all the different types of elliptical machines to find what will suit your best ahead.

Standard Elliptical Trainers

Most people are probably familiar with the standard elliptical trainer. This machine features foot pedals that you will stand on with a handlebar to hold onto in front. Unlike some ellipticals, this trainer features a handlebar that does not move, which means you will primarily work your lower body parts, such as your quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as you move the pedals in a circular motion.

Elliptical Cross-Trainers

If you are looking for a full-body workout, then you should consider an elliptical cross-trainer. What sets this type apart and works your entire body is the moveable handles that work your arms, in addition to the pedals for your lower body that you find in most ellipticals. When you are pushing and pulling with the handles of an elliptical cross-trainer, you are targeting your elbows, shoulders, back, and chest at the same time you’re pedaling and working your lower body.

Elliptical Glider

The next elliptical machine you can get is called a glider—and no, you won’t look like a Spider-Man villain while using it. In fact, an elliptical glider looks very similar to a standard elliptical. The main distinction is that the pedals don’t rotate in a circular motion. Instead, the elliptical glider pedals move up and down in a backward motion, but you also have the option to get more resistance by moving forward. You essentially glide while you are using the machine, hence its name, and the leg and hip extension movements on an elliptical glider will give your legs a good workout.

Recumbent Elliptical

Not every elliptical requires you to stand up as you use the machine. A recumbent elliptical trainer machine allows you to sit down as you work out. The difference between a recumbent elliptical and a recumbent exercise bike is the pedaling motion, which is longer and has a lower impact on joints. A recumbent elliptical also features a handle on each side of the machine that you can move forward and back like a cross-trainer. It provides plenty of comfortability and adjustment options, making it the perfect piece of equipment for those who might have limited mobility.

Center Drive Elliptical Trainers

Like we mentioned earlier, there are also elliptical machines in which the location of the flywheel is their defining characteristic. Center drive ellipticals are relatively new machines that are great for home use because they’re compact. A central drive elliptical trainer can also give you a full-body cardio workout like a cross-trainer with moveable handlebars that mimic a walk or jog.

Front Drive Elliptical Trainers

Another elliptical characterized by the location of the flywheel is known as a front drive elliptical trainer. For this type of elliptical, the more vertical range in motion is very similar to a stair climber. The machine is also known as a shuffle trainer and is a great option for those looking for an option that is closer to the ground in their home gym.

Rear Drive Elliptical Trainers

The final elliptical trainer that you can get is called a rear drive elliptical trainer, and it’s the oldest option available, patented by Precor in the ‘90s. As its name suggests, the rear drive elliptical trainer puts the flywheel in the back of the machine, allowing for a longer stride in the front of the machine with the pedals in the center.

Choose the Right Elliptical for Your Home Gym

An elliptical is a must-have addition for any home gym, and there a variety of different styles you can go with. All Precor’s ellipticals trainers for home gyms also come complete with state-of-the-art displays. Displays on an exercise machine are a must-have feature because they typically allow you to track your progress and other valuable information, such as your heart rate, calories burned, and so much more. With this information, you’ll be able to see how great of a workout you can get on an elliptical.

Now is the time to invest in yourself, and choosing the right elliptical for a home gym can be the start of it. Cardio should be in everyone’s fitness routine, and if you don’t enjoy running, an elliptical might be the better option you are looking for.


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