The elliptical machine is one of the favorite machines for exercise and cardio. In 2021, with more people working out at home than ever before, people are looking to buy an elliptical for doing cardio at home. Unfortunately, not everybody’s got a big house or a dedicated home gym.
Our aim was to find the best compact elliptical machines that you can fit even in small spaces.
To be honest, when reviewing these ellipticals, we were quite surprised by the small footprint these ellipticals have.
Even if you live in a small apartment, you should be able to find space to fit an elliptical. Some of the models come with no handles and can be placed even under the desk or in front of your sofa, making them ideal for the tiniest spaces or for your office.
Better yet, most of these compact ellipticals can be found for under $500, and we also have favorite budget picks for under $200.
- Best Compact Ellipticals
- Schwinn 430 Compact Elliptical
- Body Power StepTrac
- EFitment Magnetic Elliptical
- Stamina InMotion E1000
- ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer
- Bowflex Max M8
- Sunny SF-E3919 Stepping Elliptical
- Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical (Bonus Pick)
- Buyer’s Guide to Compact Ellipticals
- Final Words of Buying Advice
Our Top Compact Ellipticals Picks at a Glance
These small ellipticals earned our editor’s choice because they prove to work just as good as bigger models, all with little to no sacrifices in quality or ergonomics.
- Comfortable Long Stride
- 20 Levels of Resistance
- Great for Intense Workouts
- Lots of Extra Features
- Most Compact Elliptical
- Promotes Good Posture
- Use Standing or Seated
- Lots of Features
- High Weight Capacity
- For Serious Workouts
- For Rigorous Workouts
- Lots of Upper-Body Grips
- Dual Resistance
- Stable Even for Heavy Users
- Low Maintenance
- Great for Multitasking
- Work and Burn Calories
- Smallest Overall
Schwinn 430 Compact Elliptical
TWENTY LEVELS OF RESISTANCESince the Schwinn has plenty of resistance levels, there is a smaller increment in difficulty between each level. This makes it easier for you to progress on the Schwinn.
FLYWHEELThe 20 pounds flywheel of the Schwinn 430 is respectable for a compact elliptical. It should easily generate enough momentum to get your heart pounding. However, if you’re a heavier person, who weighs around 300 lbs, you may need a heavier flywheel if you are looking for an intense workout, otherwise, the flywheel of the Schwinn should be enough. The front-drive system means you’ll push against the resistance rather than pull, which will encourage you to lean forward. You can offset this using the incline settings to give the track a slight slope and correct your posture. There are six incline settings, the highest being about 9 degrees. The high-speed drive makes the striding motion smoother and allows the resistance to power up quicker. This model takes only about 5 seconds to reach peak resistance.
WIDE STRIDEThe 20-inch stride mimics real-world running without the impact. It’s also the longest stride on our list, which you’ll love if you are tall and have long legs. The flywheel is bidirectional, so you can pedal forward and backward with resistance both ways.
GREAT FEATURES AND STATS TRACKINGThis trainer comes with stats tracking across twin displays that are chock full of useful information. They let you immerse yourself in one of the over 20 preset programs or compare yourself to yourself. You can export your stats via Bluetooth and charge your phone with the built-in USB port. The 430 also comes with a tablet-sized device shelf, stereo speakers, a bottle holder, a cooling fan, and transport wheels.
SMALL BUT NOT THE MOST COMPACTAlthough the Schwinn is a compact elliptical, it is the largest elliptical among the ellipticals in this roundup. It is about as big as a couple of park benches stacked on top of each other. It weighs 170 pounds, the second heaviest on our list. It has the highest step-up height as well as the tallest maximum pedal height of 26 inches. If you have a low ceiling, make sure you add those inches to your height to check if this elliptical will fit. The 430 has a solid warranty of 10 years for the frame, two years for moving parts and one year for the electronics.
Body Power StepTrac
ELLIPTICAL & STEPPER IN ONEBody Power’s StepTrac is a hybrid between an elliptical and a stepper. Instead of having its movement path on a horizontal axis, the track is set at a permanent incline of about 40 degrees. You’ll feel like you’re climbing a long stairway to heaven but without ever lifting your feet. The StepTrac’s motion feels like you’re standing up on a bike. It lets you push your heart rate slightly more than a regular elliptical while still staying impact-free and soft on your joints. If you want a full-body workout, the moving handlebars of the Body Power glide in sync with the pedals. There is also a set of stationary handlebars for when you want to focus on your lower body.
SMOOTH & EVEN RESISTANCEThe eight levels of magnetic resistance connect to a belt drive that is smooth even without regular lubrication. The resistance is set manually, so you don’t need to worry about plugging in the machine either. If you like pedaling both ways, the flywheel is bidirectional with extra perimeter weight for a smoother motion.
HIGHLY ADJUSTABLEThe StepTrac is an essentials-only model with extra features that are more practical than fun. These include a lifting handle and wheels for portability, adjustable stabilizers, and a screen. It also comes with textured pedals that are about 13 inches long and reach 16 inches at their highest point.
SMALLER THAN MOST COMPACT ELLIPTICALSThis compact elliptical is only about half as long as the above Schwinn 430. It has a steel frame and weighs 88 pounds.
FEELS ROCK SOLID EVEN FOR HEAVY USERSThe StepTrac has a low center of gravity, which gives you extra stability. So if you have balance issues or weigh more than you would like, you’ll appreciate the stability of this machine. On the downside, the StepTrack tends to leave marks on hardwood floors, so we recommended you either place it on a carpet or buy a floor mat. The StepTrac comes with a frame warranty of one year and parts and labor warranty of three months.
EFitment Magnetic Elliptical
LIGHTEST & SMALLEST FULL BODY ELLIPTICALAlthough it has a solid steel frame, the machine only weighs 63 pounds. This makes it by far the lightest full-body elliptical on this list. About the size of a small recliner chair, the EFitment has the smallest floor footprint of all compact ellipticals, except the under-desk models.
ENCOURAGES GOOD POSTUREEFitment’s elliptical trainer is the only compact elliptical on this list that uses a rear drive system. This means the motion involves pulling rather than pushing, which encourages better posture. Better posture leads to better muscle coordination. Even though the elliptical path is horizontal, the rear drive makes it feel like you’re going down a gentle ramp. This flywheel only goes one way, so you won’t be able to pedal backward.
FRICTIONLESS RELIABLE RESISTANCE SYSTEMThe EFitment’s frictionless resistance does a particularly good job of keeping wear and tear to a minimum. It’s a reliable machine. You probably won’t need to replace any parts for a long while. The frame is guaranteed for three years and the moving parts for three months.
OTHER FEATURESThis is another non-electric model. It has manual controls and a battery-powered display sans backlight. On the plus side, this elliptical is quieter than other compact ellipticals. Other extra features include wheels, leg stabilizers, and a device shelf.
GREAT FOR FEELING THE BURN IN YOUR QUADSAt only 11 inches, the stride length is limited, but it’s perfect if you want a killer thigh workout. The narrow oval path combined with the rear-drive pushing motion puts the focus squarely on your quads with a little help from your tibial muscles.
Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Stride
EXCELLENT VALUEStamina’s InMotion E1000 is by far the most popular compact elliptical. Not only that, but it’s also the cheapest among the ellipticals here. When considering its price, we think there really isn’t much not to like about it.
AN ELLIPTICAL WITHOUT HANDLESThis is an under-desk model with no upper-body handles. It’s only about the size of a small step stool and weighs 24 pounds. It’s around a square inch bigger than the other under-desk model on this list and still easily fits almost anywhere.
SEATED OR STANDINGThe E1000 has a bidirectional center-drive crank mechanism. This means you can pedal forward and backward with good stability. You can also use it either seated or standing, which makes it great for both multitasking and focused exercise. If you want to use it standing up, you may need a bit of practice, but on the plus side, it will target your core and improve your balance more than any other elliptical can. Although the elliptical motion is narrow, it feels great, and it does a great job of keeping your joints within their natural flow. If you wish to place it under your desk, you’ll need a desk with about 30 inches of clearance below, depending on your leg length.
QUIET AND BARELY HEARDIf you plan to use the Stamina InMotion in your living room while watching TV or in a crowded office, it’s very quiet, making about as much noise as a small fan. The frame warranty is for one year, and the parts warranty is three months.
ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer
UNIQUE COMBINATION OF A STEPPER WITH AN ELLIPTICAL
The ProForm HIIT Trainer is another elliptical-stepper hybrid with a permanent incline. The climbing path is slanted to move about 5 inches forward and 10 inches upward with every rotation. This requires a bit more effort, so are likely to burn more calories than a machine with a completely horizontal path.
PLENTY OF WORKOUT PROGRAMS
If you’re looking for an intense full-body workout, this elliptical has 24 levels of resistance on both the pedals and the moving handlebars. The flywheel weighs 28 pounds, the heaviest on this list, which keeps the steep motion extra smooth.
LOOK NO FURTHER IF YOU WANT AN INTENSE WORKOUT
The ProForm is great for both low intensity or high-intensity workouts. However, if you are an athlete or are after some serious cardio workouts, you’ll really appreciate the high-intensity and low-impact of this machine.
We feel we need to mention that the ProForm Cardio HIIT is remarkably quiet even during a rigorous workout.
SMALL FOOTPRINT BUT HEAVY
This trainer is about the size of a small fridge, and it’s made from solid steel. At 212 pounds of weight, this is the heaviest elliptical we review here. Yet, due to the design of the Boxlfex M8, it has a relatively small footprint compared to other ellipticals. You might be able to fit the Max M8 in small spaces where other conventional ellipticals won’t fit.
It also comes with extra-long stabilizing feet that take care of any would-be wobbling. It is an incredibly stable machine. It won’t move around under you even if your weight reaches the maximum user capacity of 325 lbs.
LOTS OF FEATURES BUT PRICEY
The Cardio HIIT Trainer has a 7-inch display with a backlight, speakers, a cooling fan, a bottle holder, a device shelf, wheels, and Bluetooth capability. The ProForm is sturdy and can fulfill the exercise needs of the advanced as well as the beginner. However, all these great features also mean this elliptical is more expensive than most machines.
ProForm provides a lifetime frame warranty and a three-year warranty on other moving parts.
Bowflex Max M8
Another mix between elliptical and stair climber, Bowflex’s M8 comes with 20 levels of resistance. Small increments in resistance level means making progress is easier than with machines that have just a few levels of resistance. This model has both fan-based and magnetic resistance, like you usually only see in rowing machines.
EXCELLENT FOR RIGOROUS WORKINGS
With a mostly vertical movement, this elliptical has the steepest path on our list. This makes the exercise difficult, so the machine is aimed more towards serious trainees than beginners.
LOTS OF GRIPS FOR TARGETING YOUR UPPER BODY
It also has stationary and moving handles with a wide range of hand grips that you can use to target different arm and shoulder muscles.
The M8 is another trainer with a lot of goodies. It comes with dual displays for comprehensive stat tracking, a magnetic device shelf, a USB charging port, a water bottle holder, and Bluetooth.
This machine weighs 148 pounds and is about the size of a jet ski standing on end.
If you have a low ceiling, Bowflex says you can add 15 inches to your height to check if the M8 will fit in your room without your head hitting the ceiling.
THREE YEARS WARRANTY
The frame and parts come guaranteed for three years, it’s not a bad warranty, but with the high price tag of the Max M8, we wished the warranty was five years instead of three.
Sunny SF-E3919 Stepping Elliptical
SMOOTH MAGNETIC RESISTANCE AND QUIET OPERATIONThe 8 levels of magnetic resistance are controlled manually, so you don’t need to keep it by an electrical outlet. Thanks to its smooth belt drive, this Sunny hardly makes any noise. Another hybrid elliptical, the SF-E3919’s path of motion is fixed at a 45-degree incline.
LIGHTWEIGHT YET STABLESunny’s stepping elliptical is made from a one-piece steel chassis with the mechanical system welded straight to the body. This makes the Sunny stable and keeps the rocking down to a minimum even though it weighs only 95 lbs. About the size of a bicycle standing on end, this is another low maintenance trainer with internal mechanics that don’t need regular lubrication. The flywheel is bidirectional, so you can stride forward or backward.
COMFORTABLE GRIPSAll the handles have comfortable foam padding, and the moving handles come with ball grips. Extra features include wheels, stabilizers, a device holder, and an LCD screen. If you want to make sure the Sunny fits in your room, make sure your ceiling is at least 20 inches taller than you. You’ll get a three-year warranty on the frame and a six-month warranty on other moving parts, which is good for the low price.
Cubii Pro Under-Desk Elliptical (Bonus Pick)
If you need an elliptical for under the desk, whether you work at home or at the office, the Cubii Pro is our favorite.
STYLISH & ERGONOMIC
The Cubii is meant to be used in a seated position only and the pedals of are arranged to work with any chair height. The motion of the Cubii Pro remains comfortable whether your feet are close to you or stretched out. The surface of the pedals is comfortable even if you wish to use it barefoot.
ENGINEERED TO FIT UNDER ANY STANDARD WORKING DESK
To avoid raising your knees too high at the apex, the pedals of the Cubii change angles as they move along the circular path. This makes the Cubii ideal for under desk usage since you only need 3 or 4 inches of desk clearance above your regular knee height.
NEEDS ALMOST NO CHARGING
This compact under-desk elliptical runs on battery power, giving you 60 hours of use per charge. Depending on your use may mean only charging it once every couple of months. Charging takes around 6 hours, but you can use the machine while it charges.
VERY QUIET OPERATION WON’T DISTURB OTHERS
Its eight levels of magnetic resistance go forward and backward. Since the Cubii was designed primarily for the workplace, it is very quiet. It produces only soft white noise that barely noticeable. You can also place the Cubii in front of your sofa and pedal while watching TV, all without disturbing other family members.
PORTABLE & EASY TO MOVE AROUND
The tiny elliptical weighs only 27 pounds and is about the size of a small wastebasket. It’s a bit heavier than other under-desk models, but it comes with a built-in carrying handle. You can also attach resistance bands to the handle and get in an upper-body workout while you pedal.
The main complaint we saw was that the Cubii Pro may slide around on smooth floors. The manufacturer throws in a free floor mat if you buy it from their site.
USB & BLUETOOTH CONNECTIVITY TO FITBIT
The Cubii Pro is a smart compact elliptical. It can connect via Bluetooth to its own fitness app, FitBit and various other apps on your Apple or Android smartphone. You can see all your stats and calories burned. You can also control the resistance level, making the exercise easier or harder.
Your Cubii Pro comes with a one-year guarantee.
Buyer's Guide - Picking the Perfect Elliptical for Small Spaces
Size and Portability
We’ve included two main designs in this list: full-body compact ellipticals and under-desk ellipticals.
The full-body compact models have arm handles to work your upper body. They generally measure approximately 40 by 30 inches on the floor, while the under-desk models are just over half that size. The one exception is the Schwinn 430, which is almost twice as long as the other bigger models.
Most of the compact ellipticals we review here use magnetic resistance, although the Bowflex M8 has both magnetic and fan-based. Fan-based resistance increases as you pedal faster, while magnetic resistance remains the same.
Magnetic resistance adjusts either manually or automatically. The high-end automatic models use ECB technology. These have no friction and no moving parts, just a magnetic current that you can increase or decrease to control the resistance. The Schwinn 430 and the ProForm Cardio use ECB.
With one exception, the rest use manual magnetic resistance, where you turn a knob to move a magnet toward or away from the spinning flywheel. The exception is the Stamina E1000 that uses friction resistance, pressing a felt pad against the flywheel.
Unlike expensive commercial models, the preset programs on compact ellipticals don’t take you on scenic routes via their screen. These programs change up resistance levels and training time to give you some variety without high-end graphics. Among the ellipticals we reviewed, the ProForm Cardio and Schwinn 430 have over 20 programs each, and the Bowflex M8 has seven.
Compact ellipticals have smaller strides. The longest stride on our picks is 20 inches from the extra-long Schwinn 430. The others have about half that, and the under-desk models have around 6 inches.
We’ve also included a number of elliptical-stepper hybrid models that angle the stride upward to make it feel more like climbing. These include the Body Power, ProForm, Bowflex, and Sunny models. The stride on these tends to be more vertical than horizontal.
The low step-up height is good to know if you have problems with balance. The high step-up height is important if you have a low ceiling.
Elliptical step-up height is a bit complicated since the pedals change angle with the motion. The highest pedal point doesn’t necessarily coincide with the highest head or knee point. We’ve tried to include the manufacturer’s recommended ceiling or desk height where available.
Most of these compact ellipticals remain quiet if you give them regular maintenance and lubrication. We’ve also included a few low maintenance models, the Body Power and the Sunny.
The low budget models may click or squeak a bit, which can be a problem if you work in a crowded office or need to be on the phone. You generally won’t be able to hear these machines outside of the room they’re in.
Small ellipticals have fewer extra features than the big commercial ellipticals you see in the gym, though these shouldn’t matter much. Using these compact ellipticals, you can get a cardio workout that is just as effective as using ellipticals in gyms.
High-end compact machines may have USB ports, Bluetooth, speakers, fans, and bottle holders. Budget models usually only have practical features like a small display and a shelf for your phone. All but the under-desk models on this list come with heart rate monitors.
High-end small ellipticals should come with strong warranties. The ProForm model we reviewed, for instance, has a lifetime frame warranty. The Bowflex costs twice as much but only has a three-year frame warranty.
Budget compact ellipticals usually have a frame warranty of one to three years and a moving parts warranty of around three to six months.
Because ellipticals don’t have engines like treadmills do, they are less prone to damage.
Final Words of Buying Advice
When reviewing each elliptical, we pointed out its pros and cons and nitpicking to find its flaws. Still, these are the best compact ellipticals, and we think that each is worthy of your money.
Remember that price does not equal calories burned. You can get a good workout and burn some serious calories on a low budget elliptical just as you would on a more expensive machine.
If you want a super small elliptical without the upper body handles, the inexpensive Stamina E1000 is a no brainer. If you want to exercise and work at the same time, the Cubii Prois the smartest under-desk elliptical you’ll find.
Our overall top pick goes to the Schwinn because it’s got everything you’d want in an elliptical, yet it takes less space than other machines in its class.
The ProForm Cardio HIIT is excellent for serious guys and gals who want intense workouts. Finally, if you have no spending limit and want hardcore workouts, the Bowflex Max M8 is what you’re looking for.
We hope this guide gives you a clear picture of what to expect when you decide to buy an elliptical. Just weigh the benefits against the drawbacks and find the perfect compact elliptical for you.
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