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The Best Cross-Trainers: Elliptical Cardio Machines For Your Home Gym

Cross trainer at home
(Image credit: Jose Martinez Calderon / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Pity the gym-goer of the early 1990s, for their cardio workout options were limited to the treadmill, exercise bike and rowing machine. That’s because it wasn’t until 1995 that US company Precor introduced the cross-trainer to the world, sparking a new era in low-impact exercise.

The cross-trainer, or elliptical, has two large platforms you stand on that allow your feet to roll from heel to toe just as when walking or running, but because your feet never leave those platforms, you don’t experience the same impact on your joints and muscles. Unlike the treadmill or exercise bike, the cross-trainer also works your upper body via two handles you push while using it, making it a great option for homes where you only have space for one piece of equipment (and that space isn’t long enough for a rowing machine).

You’ll find our top cross-trainer picks below to suit a range of preferences and budgets, along with a buyer’s guide to help narrow down your choice.

If you do take the plunge, make the most of your purchase by following our beginner cross-trainer workout plan. Or if you’re still not sure if the elliptical is right for you, take a look at the best treadmills and best exercise bikes to see if those machines suit you better.

The Best Cross-Trainers

NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 cross trainer

(Image credit: NordicTrack)
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NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

Best for guided workouts

Specifications

RRP: $1,799 / £1,999
Flywheel : Front, 33lb / 15kg
Size: 70.1in x 28.8in x 69.7in / 178cm x 73cm x 177cm (L x W x H)
Max user weight : 298lb /135kg
Stride length : 17.5-18.7in / 44.5-47.5cm

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in screen
+
Connects to iFit

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive upgrade for screen

The Peloton of cross-trainers doesn’t really exist yet, but many NordicTrack machines work with the iFit app to supply guided workouts on a built-in screen. It’s like Peloton, just without the cult-y cachet.

There are plenty of NordicTrack machines that connect with iFit, but the Commercial 14.9 is our top pick because of the 14in (35.5cm) screen, which gives a clear view of the instructors. The machine’s resistance and incline settings can also be controlled by the iFit app in line with the instructor’s commands, meaning you can just focus on your workout.

The beefy 15kg flywheel on the machine makes for a smooth ride no matter how hard you’re pushing and the incline range extends up to 20%, while there are 26 levels of resistance. You get a 30-day trial of iFit’s family membership when you buy the Commercial 14.9: that membership costs £28 a month thereafter, but the cheapest individual membership option is £9.99 a month.


JLL CT200 Home Cross Trainer

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JLL CT200 Home Cross Trainer

Best budget cross-trainer

Specifications

RRP: £209.99
Flywheel : Rear, 5kg
Size (cm) : 115.5 (L) x 75 (W) x 158 (H)
Max user weight : 100kg
Stride length : 30cm

Reasons to buy

+
Great value
+
Quiet magnetic resistance

Reasons to avoid

-
Small stride length
-
Not many levels of resistance
-
Light flywheel

With a lightweight 5kg flywheel and just eight levels of magnetic resistance, this is not a machine for an experienced gym-goer hoping to thrash out punishing workouts at home. However, it will certainly do the job for people just starting a health kick or looking to maintain their fitness with a few short workouts a week. One thing to note is that the 30cm stride length will probably be a little cramped if you’re over 6ft (1.83m) tall.


JTX Strider-X7 cross trainer

(Image credit: JTX)
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JTX Strider-X7

Best cross-trainer under £500

Specifications

RRP: £499
Flywheel : Rear, 12.5kg
Size (cm) : 130 (L), 70 (W), 170 (H)
Max user weight : 130kg
Stride length : 41cm

Reasons to buy

+
16 levels of resistance 
+
21 preset workouts
+
Great features for £500

Reasons to avoid

-
Taller users might need longer stride length
-
No connectivity 

This is an excellent mid-range cross-trainer offering a similar set of features as the £779 JTX Tri-Fit (opens in new tab), but it has a smaller stride length making it ideally suited to people under 5ft 9in (1.75m) – consider it karma for all those times a giant has obscured your view at a concert. The 12.5kg flywheel provides a smooth motion even if you are working at the top end of the 16 levels resistance available and there are 21 preset workouts to try, plus four that you can configure yourself. 


NordicTrack C7.5 Elliptical

(Image credit: NordicTrack)
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NordicTrack C7.5 Elliptical

Best cross-trainer under £1,000

Specifications

RRP: $1,299 / £899
Flywheel : Front, 19.8lb / 9kg
Size: 66.6in x 24.8in x 69.3in / 169cm x 63cm x 176cm (L x W x H)
Max user weight : 275.6lb / 125kg
Stride length : 17.3-18.9in / 44-48cm

Reasons to buy

+
Great resistance and incline ranges
+
iFit connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in screen

The C7.5 Elliptical nails all the essential elements of a great cross-trainer, with a 9kg flywheel, 22 levels of resistance, an incline range that goes up to 20% and a stride length that automatically adjusts to your movements. The machine also has 26 preset workouts to try, but if you’re looking for guided sessions then it’s the C7.5’s ability to link up with the iFit app that will really excite you.

Included with the machine is a free 30-day subscription iFit, which contains a vast library of on-demand workouts where the resistance and incline is automatically adjusted in line with the trainer’s instructions. There’s no screen on the C7.5, however – just an integrated tablet holder – so you have to supply your own device to take advantage of the connected app.


ProForm HIIT L6 Elliptical Cross Trainer

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ProForm HIIT L6 Elliptical Cross Trainer

Best vertical cross-trainer

Specifications

RRP: $859.99 / £999
Flywheel : Front, 35.3lb / 16kg
Size: 52in x 29.2in x 70in / 132cm x 74cm x 170cm (L x W x H)
Max user weight : 325lbs / 147kg
Stride length : 9.9in horizontal, 5.2in vertical / 25cm horizontal, 13cm vertical

Reasons to buy

+
Upright design saves space 
+
iFit connectivity
+
22 levels of resistance

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in screen
-
Upright motion is more challenging

There’s something we find curiously unsettling about upright cross-trainers, especially when they promise to combine the “movement of climbing stairs with the intensity of boxing”, as this one does. We’re going to say that throwing punches while pounding up the stairs is about as hard a combination as we can imagine for your fitness sessions, so you can be sure this machine will whip you into shape in no time.

The HIIT L6 has a 14kg flywheel and 22 levels of magnetic resistance. It can also link to the iFit app via Bluetooth where you’ll find an array of guided workouts to follow (iFit membership is required –  a 30-day subscription is included with the cross-trainer)). If you’re looking for a machine that can challenge people of any fitness level and don’t have the floor space for a standard elliptical, this is a great option.


JTX Zenith cross trainer

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JTX Zenith

Best cross-trainer for taller users

Specifications

RRP: £899
Flywheel : Rear, 17kg
Size (cm) : 190 (L), 87 (W), 173 (H)
Max user weight : 165kg
Stride length : 53cm

Reasons to buy

+
Long stride length for taller users 
+
Connects to Kinomap
+
17kg flywheel

Reasons to avoid

-
No built-in screen
-
No iFit connectivity

The JTX Zenith offers good value to all users because it’s a commercial-standard machine that you can pick up for £899, but it’s taller people in particular who will benefit from using it since it has a 21in (53cm) stride length. That’s longer than the 20in (51cm) stride length of the ProForm Endurance 720 E Elliptical Cross-Trainer, and every inch counts when it comes to comfort for those over 6ft (1.83m) tall. The Zenith has a 17kg flywheel and offers 16 levels of electro-magnetic resistance. There are 18 preset workout programmes to try, plus one that you can configure yourself, and the machine can link via Bluetooth to apps like Kinomap for more workout inspiration. 


Life Fitness E1 Track+ Console

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Life Fitness E1 Track+ Console

Best gym-standard cross-trainer

Specifications

RRP: $,2,183 / £2,495
Flywheel : Rear, weight not given
Size (cm) : 82.3in x 30.4in x 59.1in / 209cm x 77cm x 150cm (L x W x H)
Max user weight : 399lb / 181kg
Stride length : 20.1in / 51cm

Reasons to buy

+
Fluid motion
+
Durable, commercial-standard design

Reasons to avoid

-
Will be overkill for some
-
No built-in screen

The E1 is Life Fitness’s entry-level cross-trainer, but it’s still a commercial-standard machine that will easily withstand everything you could throw at it during a lifetime of use. The E1 comes with 20 levels of resistance, 12 preset workouts and two user-customisable workouts. If you opt for the more expensive Track+ console (as opposed to the Go console), the E1 also links with smartphones to track your workouts and create more personalised training options. 


Technogym Elliptical

(Image credit: Technogym)

Technogym Elliptical

Best if money is no object

Specifications

RRP: $3,750 / £3,450
Flywheel: Front, weight not given
Size: 63.7in x 25.5in x 62.9in / 162cm x 65cm x 160cm (L x W x H)
Max user weight: 286lb/130kg
Stride length: 20in / 51cm

Reasons to buy

+
Empty LisCompact and foldable
+
Durable, commercial-standard designt

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No built-in screen

The Technogym Elliptical delivers a commercial standard experience in a compact machine that not only has a smaller footprint than most ellipticals of its class but also folds up to save even more space when not in use. The machine has 21 levels of resistance, and while you are paying a huge price here, if you have the cash to splash it’s an outstanding option for home training.

Although it doesn't have a built-in screen, you can mount a tablet on the console and link the machine to the Technogym app, which contains guided workouts for the elliptical and other types of exercise (one month trial included, monthly fee afterwards). The app also has scenic routes and basic workouts that you get for free, with one clever option being to set the heart rate you want to hit and let the machine adjust the resistance to ensure you stay at that target rate.

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.