The best cross trainers for your home gym

Get an all over body workout with our top picks of the best cross trainers and elliptical machines

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Cross trainers might be at the top of your list if you are considering investing in some home gym equipment. If you’re not a fan of running, but want something that will get you moving a bit more than an exercise bike, then a cross trainer is an excellent piece of kit that works all of your muscle groups without putting too much strain on your joints. 

A cross trainer allows you to move both your arms and legs at the same time, kind of like a hybrid of a treadmill and a bike, to simulate running or walking and create an effective workout for you. The machines themselves are surprisingly compact, and are one of the most popular machines usually found in a gym. However, if you don’t like working out in front of everyone, or hate how packed your gym gets, why not create a home gym and work out in front of the telly instead?

How to choose a cross trainer 

There are a few different types of cross trainer you can buy, and some things you’ll want to consider before choosing the right elliptical machine for you. Firstly, there are different types of resistance that can be used on these machines, the most common being electromagnetic and some cheaper models may have a belt resistance. 

If you’re looking for a cross trainer that can be used by multiple members of the family, then make sure you pick a cross trainer with variable stride lengths. This will allow you to adjust the length of your strides depending on your size and what type of workout you want to do. Most machines will also have LCD monitors to track your progress and pre-set workout programmes so you can make the most of your machine at home. 

We’ve picked out some of the best cross trainers on the market in our buying guide. For some of the most high-end machines, you’ll be looking at setting yourself back up to £2,500, but if you’re on a budget or short of space, there are plenty of more basic options available for as little as under £200. Consider the type of training you want to invest in and then see what each of our choices has to offer…

1. NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i Elliptical

A 3-in-1 trainer for those who are serious about their workouts

Best for: 3-in-1 trainer
Workout programmes: 35
Stride Length: 38in (adjustable)
Incline: 0-10%
Reasons to buy
+ Bluetooth compatibility  + Silent magnetic resistance  
Reasons to avoid
- Tricky to assemble  

For those who are building their very home gym, this 3-in-1 trainer could be the ideal piece of kit for your workouts. Users love how feature packed this machine is, with 24 workout programmes and an adjustable stride; it’s perfect for multiple people to use even if they have different fitness levels. You might need a hand putting it together, but once it’s up it’s said to be easy to operate and a sound system so you can motivate yourself with your favourite tunes during a workout. Other features include a fan and Bluetooth compatibility to your smart device to track your progress.  

2. Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer

This cross trainer is adaptable for all fitness levels and family members

Best for: Modes
Workout programmes: 14
Stride Length: 51cm
Incline: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Easily connects with smartphones+Up to four user profiles

If you've ever set foot in a gym, it's likely you've spied a Life Fitness machine or two, so you know that you're probably in good hands. This one is about as high-tech as they come, and almost endlessly variable for every member of the family. As well as being able to save up to four distinct user profiles, the E1 is also smart stuff: the Track+ console connects to Android and Apple smart devices to create personalised workouts, track in real time and talk to your favourite fitness apps, allowing everyone to embark on their own personal fitness journey. 

3. Bowflex Max Trainer M5

A set-stride machine that works your core and upper body as well as the legs

Best for: Total body workout
Workout programmes: 9
Stride Length: non-adjustable
Incline: No
Reasons to buy
+ High-intensity workout + Well-built  
Reasons to avoid
- Can only register 2 users in the software 

This set-stride elliptical trainer will force you to have a hard workout with its positioning designed to increase core and upper body toning by up to 80%. You’ll have 16 different resistance levels and you can monitor your training on the LCD screen and sync it to the free Max Trainer app that is available on both iPhone and Android. The only downside is you can only register two users to this machine, which can be a little annoying if the whole family want to use it to track their goals. The machine itself is also said to be very sturdy and pretty compact.  


An affordable machine ideal for beginners

Best for: Entry level
Workout programmes: 21
Stride Length: 16in
Incline: No
Reasons to buy
+ Folds away  + Not too complex 
Reasons to avoid
- No techy features 

If you’re thinking of investing in your first cross trainer and don’t want to spend too much money, then this basic elliptical could be the machine to help you get started. It boasts no frills, but it’s a slim machine that can be folded away when not in use which is also great for those who lack the space for a bigger feature-packed machine. You’ll have a large console with 21 different workout programmes so you can still monitor your progress as you go, and it uses magnetic resistance which means you’ll still get the same smooth experience as with some of the other cross trainers on the list.  

5. NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical

A high-tech space-saving machine

Best for: Space-saver
Workout programmes: 30
Stride Length: 18in
Incline: 0-10%
Reasons to buy
+ Folds away vertically  + Connect to your smart device 
Reasons to avoid
- Tricky to figure out settings at first  

This is another great space-saving piece of equipment, but what the JTX Strider X7 lacks, the NordicTrack SpaceSaver makes up for. This is quite a technical machine, so for those who aren’t that tech savvy you may find it tricky to make the most of it. The cross trainer can connect to your smartphone or tablet to track your progress and you can even connect to GPS and simulate real-life runs for a smarter, more interesting workout (you will need to get the iFit app though). It’s said to be super heavy and a bit of a mission to get it up the stairs but once it’s in it will slip into a small space without making the place look untidy.  

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