Elliptical machines, or cross trainers, can be a great way to get a full-body workout in the comfort of your own home. However, some of the best looking, gym-ready machines on the market come at a price. Should you save up and take the plunge on something expensive that has lots of bells and whistles. Or, can you actually get what you need from a cheaper elliptical machine?
So, what are the benefits of getting a cheaper elliptical machine for your home gym?
Going for a budget model means that you should get all of the basic features that you need. Companies may just trim the fat a little on some of the extras. This means that you can still find a great model that provides the workout that you are after. Those key features to look out for here include the following:
1) the footplates
2) the handlebars
3) the resistance
4) the console
The footplates are essential because you need a stable place to stand and the ability to get the right stride length. Most of the best budget machines should allow for this. When comparing specifications, you should notice that there are promises about the non-slip coating and the weight allowance. Double-check these figures to make sure they are suitable. This is typically an area where manufacturers won’t compromise because of the need for a safe workout. From there, you need to be able to hold onto a stable pair of the handlebar so that you can get that ideal motion and work all those muscle groups.
Then there is the resistance on offer. Many budget elliptical machines will have a decent enough range from the highest to lowest settings. Many of these cheaper models are great as entry-level options for those new to this type of workout. You can get started at a slower pace and build on your abilities over time. Some will be manual machines where you turn a little dial. Others may have computerized magnetic resistance on offer.
There will also be some kind of console on-board and the most basic options are usually enough for the data stream you will need. They will give you information on the time elapsed, the distance traveled and possibly also the theoretical calories burned.
Cheaper models can lead to some worthwhile savings
Of course, the decision to buy a cheaper model also means that you could have some money left over for other items. The money saved could be put to use getting another piece of equipment for your home, some kind of fitness tracking device or something comfortable to wear while you work out. Alternatively, you may simply be able to justify your decision to purchase this type of machine because it fell under budget.
Are there any downsides in opting for a cheaper elliptical machine?
While the basic specs and motions on the more affordable cross trainers are fine for many users, there will be some that notice the limitations. A cheaper price tag often means that the company had to make some cuts somewhere to lower the manufacturing costs and make a profit. Therefore, you could see the following issues:
1) a lack of programming and settings as you progress
2) a lack of smart features built-into the machine
3) a weaker construction and/or weaker mechanisms
Those resistance levels on the cheapest machines will only go so far. You may have to pay a little more for a more professional option if you need to really push yourself to meet your fitness goals. The highest level can be too low for the more experienced users. You may also find that there are fewer settings in the machine and fewer programs built-in to help you diversify your regime. Also, be aware that some cheap machine may not have the same range of motion. The handlebars may only be stationary and you are unlikely to get a budget model with 360 motion on the footplates
On that note, you can’t expect too many smart or interesting features in the cheaper cross-trainers. There is less likelihood of any clever connectivity in the console, apps or other built-in features. If there is a music system, it will be a simple one with a standard dock and lower-quality speakers. Also, while pulse sensors are increasingly common in the handlebars of cheaper machines, it is worth double-checking the specification.
Cheaper elliptical machines also mean the risk of cheaper materials and construction in the frame and base. While there is the potential upside of a lighter, smaller model that you move around, you might also find that it wobbles a bit when you ramp up the intensity. User reviews are the best source of information on this type of user experience. Finally, you may also find that the mechanisms inside aren’t quite the same as some expensive, German-engineered options. This might mean that the transitions and motions are not as smooth or squeak-free as you would hope.
Is it really worth getting a cheaper elliptical machine or spending more on an expensive cross trainer?
There are pros and cons to going down that budget route. You could find that you get a bargain that has a lot more features than you expect and that runs smoothly and safely. Or you could find that there is little room for progression and too many wobbles. On the other hand, if you go for something expensive, you could find that the smart features are prone to glitches or it is too complicated for your needs.
The best thing to do here is to compare products in terms of your prioritized features. Make sure that you can get precisely what you want out of a machine so that you can still get the best workout. Compare the prices to see if any clear bargains among them also have great customer feedback. Stay within your budget but don’t constrain yourself too much either. There is enough choice that you are sure to find the best affordable option for your needs.