Elliptical Trainer

7 Best Compact Elliptical Machines in 2023 | Full Buying Guide and Reviews

When considering what exercise machine to include in your home gym, the elliptical is often high on the list, with good reason.

It’s up there with the treadmill and stair stepper when it comes to cardio machines!

After all, the best compact elliptical can help you lose weight without eating up floor space. It offers HIGH-INTENSITY WORKOUTS that won’t mess up your knees.

Let’s look at the best compact elliptical machines on the market. We’ll also look at the factors to consider when choosing an elliptical, such as stride length, levels of magnetic resistance, preset workout programs, etc.

7 Best Compact Elliptical Machines on the Market

These compact ellipticals are some of the best exercise equipment pieces currently available. They allow you to track your progress, improve your health, and enjoy your fitness journey.

Let’s look at what makes these elliptical trainers the best on the market and what they can do for you!

1) NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 – Best Compact Elliptical Overall

NordicTrack Commercial 14.9


  • 28.8″L x 68.3″W x 68.5″H
  • 26 digital resistance levels
  • 14.9-inch HD console screen
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • 0-20% incline controls
  • 32 lbs. flywheel
  • Built-in workout fan
  • Stationary Handlebars
  • Maximum stride length: 20″ (Adjustable)


  • Maximum adjustability (console, pedals, etc.)
  • Huge HD screen (no need for integrated tablet holder)
  • Full iFit integration
  • Wide variety of guided training options
  • High weight capacity
  • Ideal stride length


  • Need iFit subscription for maximum usability
  • Expensive for the size

The Commercial 14.9 is the most compact version of NordicTrack’s larger ellipticals, having many of the same features while being a fraction of the size. That’s what makes it the best compact elliptical on this list.

The Commercial front drive elliptical comes with everything you’d want out of an elliptical: an HD touch screen showing calories burned, adjustable resistance angle, versatile upper body grips, and a generous stride length.

This outing from the NordicTrack brand is designed with silent magnetic resistance, allowing you to make your workouts easier or harder WITHOUT any of an elliptical’s signature grinding noises.

Everything about the 14.9 is designed to make it VERSATILE and ADAPTABLE to user needs. This includes an integrated screen for dedicated iFit users.

This gives you access to thousands of workouts on demand if you maintain your subscriptions.

This includes automated trainer control, where your virtual trainer can adjust your settings as you move, allowing you to push yourself without needing to fiddle with buttons or controls.I recommend the Commercial 14.9 for users who want to be able to customize their lower body exercise machines or cater to different family members with different machine preferences and fitness levels.

2) Bowflex Max Trainer M6 – Best Value for Money

Bowflex Max Trainer M6


  • 46 in. L x 26 in. W x 64.2 in. H
  • Smartphone holder
  • Tablet computer holder
  • Multiple dynamic grip options
  • 300 lbs. user weight capacity
  • JRNY mobile app compatibility
  • 16 levels of resistance


  • Minimum floor area required
  • Versatile usage thanks to JRNY, resistance levels, and dynamic grips
  • Highly rated compact elliptical


  • Just as pricey as the NordicTrack SpaceSaver
  • Need an external tablet to serve as a JRNY console screen

The Bowflex Max Trainer M6 is another TOP CONTENDER thanks to its ideal stride length, 300 lb weight capacity, and multiple grip angles for every kind of elliptical workout.

In fact, many review sites consider the M6 their top-rated compact elliptical because of how many boxes it checks. It’s a cardio machine that helps you get the most out of your equipment with only half the space.

This compact exercise machine is unique because its display shows what looks like a speedometer but is actually a calorie burn rate monitor, allowing you to ramp up your calories burned every session.

However, if that’s not enough motivation, you can utilize its tablet holder and access your JRNY app on your smart device. This will give you access to thousands of GUIDED WORKOUTS.

The Bowflex is worth it because it comes with a 1-year JRNY subscription to sweeten the deal. At the end of this period, you wouldn’t want to work out any other way.

I recommend the M6 for more frequent elliptical users who want a high-quality, versatile machine that works great without a paired app but works spectacularly with a paired subscription.

3) Proform Hybrid Trainer XT – Best Budget Pick

Proform Hybrid Trainer XT


  • 56.8″ L x 25.4″ W x 49.8″ H
  • Automatic trainer adjustment
  • 2-in-1 exercise bike & elliptical design
  • Narrow profile
  • 16 resistance levels
  • 15″ stride length
  • Front-mounted transport wheels


  • Multiple fitness equipment/cardio machines in one (elliptical, stair stepper, etc.)
  • On the affordable end


  • Lower weight capacity (250 lbs)

This compact elliptical gives users the most bang for their buck by allowing them to have two machines: a bike and an elliptical, for half the price of the best compact ellipticals on this list.

This Proform outing comes with a 5″ high contrast multi-color display mounted on a console that pivots and shows off calories burned, as well as QuickSpeed control buttons.

This display can be used along with an iFit membership to follow along with plenty of machine-specific or off-equipment workouts led by some of the best physical trainers out there.

The Proform Hybrid allows you to spice up your workouts and easily super-set your bike and elliptical cardio workouts. It’s as simple as sitting in the wide, comfortable bike chair.If you’re willing to invest despite a limited budget, the Hybrid Trainer XT will allow you to effectively own two devices for the price of one that allows you to make the most out of both.

4) Bowflex Max Total 16 – Highest Quality Design

bowflex max total 16


  • 49.3″ L x 30.8″ W x 65.7″ H
  • 16″ interactive console
  • Higher weight capacity (300 lbs)
  • Steel material
  • 20 resistance levels
  • Dual rail design


  • Huge touchscreen
  • Multi-grip handles
  • Compact footprint


  • Most expensive elliptical machine on this list

This is one of the best compact ellipticals for more can-afford users, bar none, because it’s the height of the Bowflex elliptical line. Other compact ellipticals don’t even come close.

This heavy-duty elliptical manages to hold up its users while remaining extremely lightweight and pleasantly short and narrow, which makes it a LIFESAVER for those who don’t have that much gym space.

The Max Total 16 model offers plenty of tension and resistance options that allow users to go harder than last time, especially when combined with the 1-year JRNY subscription for the best workouts possible.

If your goal is to lose plenty of weight and you want an elliptical that can handle your heft and that of your whole family, then the Max Total 16 is perfect.

5) Proform Carbon EL – Most Quiet Compact Elliptical Trainer

Proform Carbon EL


  • 68.5″ L x 25″ W x 67.75″ H
  • 1-month iFit free trial
  • 18 levels of silent magnetic resistance
  • 275 lbs. weight capacity
  • 19-inch stride length
  • SmartAdjust settings
  • Integrated water bottle holder
  • Integrated tablet holder


  • Reliable design
  • Mid-priced


  • Lack of features
  • Relatively large for a compact elliptical

The Carbon EL is a compact elliptical that’s great because it’s reliable. More importantly, it’s quiet and maintains a low profile, thanks to its silent magnetic resistance.

It’s the perfect addition to any home gym because of its HIGH-QUALITY build. The great part is, it’s half as expensive as the nearest Proform models, making it more accessible to a wide array of users.

The EL offers a 5″ High-Contrast Multi-Color Display that displays session time, calories burned, and distance moved. It offers multiple adjustment angles and offers all the settings you need, especially with your iFit subscription.

6) Bowflex Max Trainer M9 – Bowflex Standard of Care

 Bowflex Max Trainer M9


  • 49.2″ L x 30.5″ W x 65.1″ H
  • 300 lbs. weight capacity
  • 1-year JRNY free trial
  • Sturdy steel construction
  • 4-grip high-density foam handlebars


  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Portable and lightweight


  • Extremely low-tech

The Max Trainer M9 is one of the highest-quality compact ellipticals on this list. It’s an EXCEPTIONAL piece of fitness equipment designed to take up less space than other ellipticals.

This compact elliptical is simple, no-nonsense, and completely JRNY-integrated. This gives you access to the best digital workouts, trainers, digital environments, and more.

If you’re looking for a folding compact elliptical that’s not outrageously expensive but still worth every penny, the M9 has everything you need to get the body you want.

7) NordicTrack FS10i FreeStride Trainer – Best Compact Elliptical for Movement Versatility

NordicTrack FS10i


  • 58.5″ L x 29.5″ W x 74” H
  • Water bottle holder
  • 10″ smart HD touchscreen
  • Adjustable stride length
  • Up to 10% incline
  • Digitally amplified speakers
  • 375 lbs. weight capacity
  • Silent magnetic resistance


  • Heavy-duty, built to last
  • Elliptical, stepper, and treadmill movement patterns


  • Very expensive

The FreeStride is one of the best compact ellipticals on the market and another great outing by NordicTrack. What makes it unique is the fact that it offers users three distinct movement patterns.

Simply by altering your stride length and motion, you can simulate a stair stepper and a treadmill using this machine. Its CARDIO VERSATILITY is its greatest strength and selling point.

Beyond that, the FreeStride is a reliable, capable machine that delivers results and upholds the NordicTrack standard of care and excellence. If you have the money, it’s worth the price.

Why Should You Use Compact Ellipticals? [The Benefits]

Compact Ellipticals Benefits

An elliptical is a compact machine that can fit in small spaces and help you get the best total body workout possible regardless of your home or apartment’s floor area.

Here are some of the major benefits of using a compact elliptical machine:

#1 Unique Features

What sets a compact elliptical apart from a traditional elliptical aside from its portability and size is that compact elliptical frames are often filled to the brim with useful features. A few of these include:

  • HD touchscreen
  • Fitness app compatibility
  • Water bottle holder
  • Phone or integrated tablet holder
  • Built-in and external heart-rate monitoring
  • Preset workout programs.
  • Folding compact elliptical capabilities
  • Higher weight capacity

The best among them even track your fitness progress and allow you to access your data and stats to ADJUST your workout regimen accordingly.

While you could find these in normal ellipticals, I appreciate how you can now see these features in ellipticals that you can roll into a corner or fold away when you’re not using them.

#2 Cardio Benefits

Your compact machine should give you the BEST cardio workout possible. It should help you burn calories in a fun way that is intense on your muscles and easy on your joints.

Despite being lightweight and even foldable, compact ellipticals often have a maximum user weight capacity of 250-350 lbs, which makes them extremely useful for users looking to lose weight and live healthier lifestyles.

If you’re looking to start light and work your way up to more intense workouts as you shed pounds, I recommend using a compact elliptical.

#3 Portability and Less Space Needed

The main benefit that a compact elliptical or a great mini elliptical machine has over a traditional elliptical is that it’s smaller and more portable than most ellipticals.

This is partly because of the elliptical’s design. Since it’s used standing up, there’s already NO NEED for seats or extra floor support. The foot pedals are wide enough to support a user’s whole weight and grow their muscles.

Unlike a desk elliptical, however, compact elliptical machines maintain the same ergonomics as traditional ellipticals, allowing you to cycle your legs and swing your arms while maintaining the right stride length.

The best compact elliptical trainers rely on transport wheels and their LIGHTER WEIGHT and build to be more mobile. You can even get a folding elliptical if you really need to save space in between workouts.

#4 Smooth Motion

The elliptical motion is similar to cycling and running at the same time. This allows you to get the best of both exercises WITHOUT grinding your joints down with ground impact.

In fact, the motion is akin to climbing up a stair stepper, as each step goes in a circular motion. The main difference is that the elliptical is designed to have the smoothest motion among all the machines mentioned.

This makes it ideal for users with difficulty performing cardio exercises due to excess weight, old age, or weak joints. It allows them to stay fit without pushing themselves too far.

#5 Meet Your Fitness Goals

Compact elliptical trainers grant users a full-body workout every session by allowing them to swing their upper body and lower body simultaneously. They help you push yourself and grow physically.

They’re also perfect if you only have limited space for your floor gym, as you can easily move around them or drag them to the side. This allows you to access the floor for calisthenics or bodyweight exercises.

Combine this level of versatility with the fact that their weight capacity is very high compared to their total weight, and you have compact machines that want you to get fit FAST.Regardless of your fitness goals, you’re sure to find elliptical settings and resistance levels that meet your needs. Whether you’re doing HIIT training or endurance training, there’s a compact elliptical for you.

What to Consider When Choosing Compact Elliptical Machines

Here are some factors to consider when looking for the best overall elliptical machine with compact dimensions.

While these factors can apply to any other piece of exercise equipment, they will help you choose the right elliptical trainer in particular and get the most out of every total body workout:

User Fitness Level

Physical fitness is more of a journey than a destination. Your exercise machines should match your fitness level and allow you to grow beyond it.

This means choosing the right machine for your level:

  • If you’re starting slow or just need to meet your daily cardio needs, you can choose a LIGHTER, entry-level elliptical with fewer features that takes up less space or even folds out of the way.
  • If you’re a more frequent user, however, you may want to invest in a HEAVIER-DUTY elliptical that has access to fitness apps like iFit, which will allow you to avail of adaptive workout programs.


Regardless of your budget, you should choose a sturdy elliptical with strong metal components. It should support your weight without becoming rickety or unstable.

You should also consider what kind of electronics are included. Does it come with an HD touchscreen? Are there integrated speakers? Are there heart-rate monitors embedded in the handles?

Since you’re likely working with a limited floor area, it’s also best to choose an elliptical with a COMPACT FOOTPRINT that doesn’t take up too much space and conveniently moves out of the way.

Levels of Resistance

Like rowing machines, treadmills, and other cardio machines, a good compact elliptical offers MULTIPLE LEVELS of magnetic resistance, allowing for more relaxed or intense movements.

The higher your model goes up in price, the more resistance it offers. The more you’ll be able to challenge yourself and feel like you’re climbing up a mountain every workout session.

Stride Length

The elliptical motion is a hybrid between walking and cycling. This means that your knees shouldn’t bend too sharply on the upward motion or hyperextend on the downward motion.

Many models have an adjustable stride length that allows you to set how far your legs go in a single pedal. Most ellipticals, however, have a standard stride length that fits most users.

User Weight Capacity

Health is wealth, and losing weight is one of the main reasons why you should get an elliptical. Fortunately, compact elliptical trainers have a high maximum user weight.

While cheaper, lighter models often have a maximum weight capacity of 220 lbs for lower-intensity workouts, superior models can sustain 350-400 lb users for long periods.

Heart Rate Monitoring

Users who prioritize weight loss shouldn’t just look at the weight capacity of their machines. They should also look at its heart-rate monitoring and data-gathering abilities.

This will allow them to push themselves by elevating their heart rates, building their cardio endurance, and speeding up their metabolism.


The best ellipticals don’t just have varying resistant levels. They also offer multiple incline levels as well. This makes workouts even MORE CHALLENGING and pushes users beyond their current fitness standing.

If you’re investing in your fitness, consider ellipticals with adjustable incline levels for the best workout experience possible.

Power System

While the higher-end models are powered by your house’s electricity when plugged in, other ellipticals are entirely powered by your kinetic energy. Even their electronics only turn on when you start rolling.

The cheapest models have no electronics to run and are entirely powered by your motion.


Elliptical machines are divided into front and rear drive ellipticals. This determines where the flywheels are located. A compact elliptical is normally a front drive as it reduces the amount of space needed.

Floor Space

Compact ellipticals should be a fraction of the size of exercise bikes, treadmills, and even ordinary ellipticals. They should have a small footprint and can fit where you need them to.

Most of these ellipticals will come with transport wheels that make them easy to roll around and cart away when you need to use the floor for your bodyweight exercises or lifts.

Step-up Height

Another thing to consider is that you’ll need to step up off the ground and climb into position when using an elliptical. If you’re short, you’ll need to go for lower machines.

This means considering how high you have to step up and test the machine, if possible, to see if it’s easy for you to get on or off after a particularly taxing cardio workout.


Space is a big consideration when choosing a compact elliptical. Fortunately, even the heavier-duty models are designed to eat up as little space as possible and should be easy to roll away with their transport wheels.

If space is a concern, you can choose a lower-profile elliptical that folds easily for storage purposes. It won’t hit the ceiling even with you on it and will allow you to lift it with minimal effort.


The flywheel is the system that spins as you pedal, creating your resistance. The MOST ADVANCED models offer silent magnetic resistance, while cheaper designs often create sloshing or grinding sounds.

If you want a more pleasant, quiet workout experience, it’s best to invest in heavier flywheels for a smoother experience. A 20-lb flywheel should give you the smoothest experience without being too heavy.

Preset Workout Programs

Higher-end models allow you to combine adjustable levels of resistance with workout programs built into your machine’s computer. All you need to do is press or tap a few buttons, and viola.

You now have a workout that changes in INTENSITY and SPEED without needing to press anything. You just need to focus on surviving your workout.


Your machine is bound to wear down and need maintenance or repairs every few years. This is why you must choose a model that comes with a LONG WARRANTY PERIOD for its frame, labor, and electronics.

Make sure to read through the details of your machine to get the longest possible warranty coverage. The best brands offer 10-year frame, 2-year parts, and 1-year labor warranties.


Budget and price are some of the most limiting factors when it comes to buying exercise equipment. That said, you can find folding, portable ellipticals for less than $200.

Still, you get what you pay for when it comes to ellipticals. If health is a major priority and you see yourself spending hours on end on the machine, then INVEST in a higher-quality one.

While they can get expensive at almost $1500, their features and build quality make them worth every penny.

Customer Service

You shouldn’t just look at the top fitness machine brands because their machines are made to last and have all the possible features. You should also see if they’re receptive to your needs and concerns.

You should choose an elliptical that’s made by a company that CARES and wants to see you succeed at every stage of your journey, from installation to yearly maintenance.

Your chosen brand should be quick to respond to queries, willing and eager to serve, and able to replace defective parts or machines when required.

User Comfort and Other Features

An elliptical is useless if you can’t see yourself using it for long periods. This is why user comfort is so important. Higher-end machines have EVERYTHING, from a water bottle holder to Bluetooth connectivity.

The best ones even come with an LCD (liquid crystal display) screen or tablet holder that you can interact with directly when adjusting settings, viewing iFit classes, or even watching movies to keep your mind occupied.

You’re sure to have the most enjoyable workouts possible when you combine these add-ons with comfortable grips and wear the best shoes for elliptical trainers.

Compact Elliptical FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

This type of elliptical often has its own requirements and considerations separate from those of a traditional elliptical machine.

That’s why knowing all you can before buying a compact elliptical trainer is important.

Here are the answers to a few more important questions you may have when it comes to buying compound ellipticals:

Are Compact Ellipticals Better Compared to Regular Ellipticals?

Compact ellipticals outclass regular ellipticals when it comes to storage, mobility, portability, and transport. This is because they take up less floor area and are often shorter than traditional ellipticals in height.

Many compact ellipticals nowadays share the SAME FEATURES and technology as regular ellipticals, which means that even those without space issues may prefer a lighter compact elliptical.

Compact ellipticals are for you if you’re looking for similar features as those in regular ellipticals but need to save space or bring your machine with you when traveling.

Are Compact Ellipticals Bad for Your Knees?

Plenty of people hate performing cardio because of the joint pain that comes when their feet pound the ground. Compact ellipticals are perfect because they’re more gentle on the knees.

Compact ellipticals allow them to develop the skeletal muscle groups around their knees WITHOUT wearing them down, as the circular motion and pedal movement help protect a user’s joints.

As far as users with weak joints and knees are concerned, compact ellipticals are a great option that they should consider.

Does an Elliptical Machine Burn Belly Fat?

An elliptical machine is designed to help you lose weight and burn belly fat by INCREASING your cardiovascular activity and endurance. When used consistently, an elliptical can shave inches off your waistline.

That said, you must be willing to commit to LONGER or MORE INTENSE sessions, as ellipticals are lower intensity due to the type of motion they produce. You will need to focus more on HIIT workouts.

If you stick to your workout plan, train as often and as intensely as possible, and pair your workouts with a healthy diet, then your elliptical should get you shredded in no time.

Do Ellipticals Offer a Full-Body Workout?

While an elliptical trainer may look like a leg-only workout machine, you’ll learn that the swinging arm handles aren’t just a fun gimmick. They help tone your arms and upper body as well.

When used properly, an elliptical allows you to build your endurance and sculpt your shoulders, arms, hips, legs, glutes, calves, and every other muscle group in between.

If you push yourself, you can get the best full-body workout possible using an elliptical.

Are Compact Ellipticals Worth It?

While the best compact ellipticals on the market can cost a pretty penny, you can get a folding elliptical for an EXTREMELY CHEAP price, around $200 or less.

That said, you get what you pay for with a compact elliptical. If you’re looking for machines with ALL the bells, whistles, comfort, and connectivity features, you’ll need to spend over $1000.I can say from personal experience that spending on a higher-quality, durable elliptical is worth every penny when you see how much weight you lose.

My Top Picks

While each elliptical machine listed above is excellent in its own way, I found these three to be stand-outs in getting your money’s worth.

They’re better constructed, packed with features, and more functional:

Best Budget Pick – Proform Hybrid Trainer XT

Proform Hybrid Trainer XT


  • 56.8″ L x 25.4″ W x 49.8″ H
  • Automatic trainer adjustment
  • 2-in-1 exercise bike & elliptical design
  • Narrow profile
  • 16 resistance levels
  • 15″ stride length
  • Front-mounted transport wheels

The XT is the ultimate lower-body companion and one of the most versatile elliptical trainers because it also doubles as an exercise bike. It offers adjustable resistance and a most-useful iFit membership.

At a price that’s only a fraction of the other brands on this list, you’re sure to get the most out of each workout in the least amount of time and space with this Proform elliptical.

Best Value for Money – Bowflex Max Trainer M6

Bowflex Max Trainer M6


  • 46 in. L x 26 in. W x 64.2 in. H
  • Smartphone holder
  • Tablet computer holder
  • Multiple dynamic grip options
  • 300 lbs. user weight capacity
  • JRNY mobile app compatibility
  • 16 levels of resistance
Check Price on NordicTrack

The Max Trainer M6 offers 16 levels of resistance and app-based connectivity in case the giant calorie counter on top of the control panel doesn’t offer enough motivation and the panel workout flexibility.

It comes with a tablet holder that allows you to pair your machine with the JRNY app and push yourself to the limit. It takes half the floor area of other machines, which makes it the perfect machine for small home gyms.

Best Overall – NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

NordicTrack Commercial 14.9


  • 28.8″L x 68.3″W x 68.5″H
  • 26 digital resistance levels
  • 14.9-inch HD console screen
  • Adjustable foot pedals
  • 0-20% incline controls
  • 32 lbs. flywheel
  • Built-in workout fan
  • Stationary Handlebars
  • Maximum stride length: 20″ (Adjustable)

The Commercial 14.9 is the superior compact elliptical and one of the best folding ellipticals out there.

From its 375 lb weight capacity to its transport wheels and 26 levels of resistance, it has everything you’d want in this type of machine.

When fully integrated with the iFit fitness app, it can give you access to thousands of cardio, endurance, muscle-building, and even bodyweight workouts from the best personal trainers.


A good elliptical trainer can help you achieve your fitness goals by giving you excellent aerobic exercise workouts every session.

A compact-type elliptical gives you this without eating up your home gym floor space.

When choosing the RIGHT compact elliptical trainer for you, it’s vital to consider their size and weight, how comfortable they are to use for hours on end, and whether they can keep you healthy for years to come.