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Best cross trainer 2021: Save money on the best elliptical trainers for home use this Black Friday

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Looking to get fit at home? Get a leg up with our guide to the best budget, mid-range and high-end cross trainers

Walk into any modern gym, and you’ll be faced with uniform rows of treadmills, rowing machines and cross trainers.

It wasn’t always like that, though. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that a US-based exercise equipment company – Precor – invented a machine that could combine the low-impact, joint-friendly benefits of static exercise bikes with the running motion of a conventional treadmill. The cross trainer was born.

Step onto a cross trainer – or elliptical trainer as they’re sometimes known – and your feet are positioned on two large platforms, your hands reaching forward to grip two handles.

This is the arrangement that a cross trainer uses to simulate walking, running or stair-climbing movement, allowing your feet to roll from heel to toe just as if you were on a treadmill or jogging around your local park.

The big difference? As your feet never leave the pedals, your knees, joints and tendons don’t take a pounding – for those of us who struggle with running or are recovering from injury, a cross trainer is a godsend.

That’s not the only benefit, however. As you also have to push the two handles during the movement, a cross trainer provides a full-body cardio workout – if you’re looking for just one do-it-all exercise machine for the home, an elliptical will cover all the bases.

In this guide, you’ll find cross trainers to suit every budget, from basic machines that cost under £200 to commercial standard units that look like spaceships and, well, cost a lot more than £200.

Save £80 on the JTX Strider X7 this Black Friday

Our favourite cross trainer under £500 just got cheaper, with JTX reducing the price of its Strider X7 to £419. It comes with plenty of workouts for all users at a price that won't break you out in a sweat.
JTX
Was £499
Now £419

HUGE £400 Black Friday saving on NordicTrack Commercial 14.9

The NordicTrack Commercial 14.9 has a larger screen than the NordicTrack 9.9 mentioned in our list below, whilst still boasting an impressive number of features for the price. It's currently reduced by a massive £400 to cost the same as the 9.9 on NordicTrack, down to an exciting £1299.
Amazon
Was £1699
Now £1299

Get the NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer 10i for £300 less during the Black Friday sales

While this cross trainer didn't make our best buy list below, it is selling for such a great Black Friday deal that we had to include it here. The FreeStride Trainer 10i trainer lets you have 'LIVE Interactions' with trainers from around the world, and is packed with great features.
NordicTrack
Was £1999
Now £1699

How to choose the best cross trainer for you

What kind of cross trainer do I want?

Cross trainers tend to come in two styles: rear drive or front drive, which refers to where the flywheel is placed on the machine. Rear drive can make for a more stable machine and allows for a longer stride length that feels more like running. By comparison, front-drive machines can feel more like a stair-climbing machine as users lean forward.

One key benefit is that front-drive machines can be more compact. This makes them attractive if you have a small home, although bear in mind that there are folding rear-drive machines on the market that can be stowed away after use.

Regardless of whether you go for a rear or front-drive model, the essential ingredients for any cross trainer are that it's stable and comfortable to use – if you're tall, don't be tempted to go for a machine with a short stride length. You'll regret it.

What features should I look out for?

The weight of the flywheel can be a good way to judge its overall quality – heavier flywheels should provide a smoother, more consistent resistance level. Look for over 5kg as a bare minimum, but for a mid-range machine and beyond you’ll definitely want it to be heavier. Also look out for how many levels of resistance are available on the machine, if it has the ability to change the incline and if there are any preset workouts, all of which will help ensure it can keep providing a testing workout as you get fitter.

Other important features to look out for relate to its size and stride length. If you're tall, you’ll need a longer stride length and longer handles to be comfortable when using the cross trainer. Heavier users should also keep an eye out for the max user weight of a machine, especially if opting for a cheaper cross trainer, which are often less stable.

How much do I need to spend?

If you're working on a tight budget, there are decent cross trainers available for under £200, but you will certainly sacrifice some stability and features at that price. There are some excellent home models available between £500 and £1,000, but if you're chasing a gym-standard experience then it’s time to break out that credit card – you’ll need to spend well over £1,000.

Editor's picks

JTX Tri-Fit | Best all-round cross trainer

There are cheaper cross trainers and there are better cross trainers, but the JTX Tri-Fit hits the sweet spot between value and features perfectly. It has a hefty 17kg flywheel and an adjustable stride length that will satisfy almost all users. It’s close to a gym-standard machine for well under £1,000, which is terrific value.

JLL CT300 Elliptical Cross Trainer | Best value cross-trainer

You can spend less than £100 and get a passable cross trainer, but if you stretch to £200 there's a jump in quality that’s worth making. This machine has a decent 5kg flywheel and eight different resistance settings. There’s also a tablet holder on the console so you can keep yourself entertained during your workouts.

The best cross trainers to buy

1. Proform 7.0 Elliptical Cross Trainer: The best cross trainer under £1,500

Price: £1,299 | Buy now from Sweatband


The Proform 7.0 doesn’t add a lot of new features compared to cross trainers that cost nearer £500 than £1,000. Instead, it justifies its price by adding a huge number of options, impressive customisability and a design that wouldn’t look out of place in a gym.

This sturdy, quiet machine provides 22 levels of magnetic resistance and an incline range of 0-20in, both of which come into play for the excellent 29 preset workout programmes. The clear LCD display includes all the usual stats like speed, time, distance and calories, and also shows more in-depth info such as your tempo and peak effort zones during workouts. The presence of dedicated work and recovery buttons for interval training are a nice touch, too.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 202 x 64 x 165cm; Flywheel: Front drive 11kg; Stride length: 53cm adjustable; Max user weight: 130kg

Buy now from Sweatband


2. JTX Strider X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer: The best cross trainer under £500

Price: £499 | Buy now from JTX Fitness

The Stride-X7 has a monstrously weighty 12.5kg flywheel that ensures a super smooth ride. There are 16 levels of resistance, and 21 different workout programmes to follow, including hill training for the masochists amongst you. All of the features you’d want on a home machine are present and correct, although the 40cm stride length is still a tad short for taller users.

JTX sweeten the deal on this machine by throwing in a free Polar heart-rate chest strap for extra accuracy if you're doing training based on your pulse, and the Strider-X7 also comes with a two-year in-home repair warranty, with a generous five years of warranty for the frame.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 130 x 70 x 170cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 12.5kg; Stride length: 40cm; Max user weight: 110kg

Buy now from JTX Fitness


3. Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer (Track Console): The best gym-standard cross trainer

Price: £2,495 | Buy now from John Lewis

At this level, you’re now well into the territory of commercial-standard cross trainers – Life Fitness actually makes many of the cardio machines you find in gyms. The E1 is their entry-level home elliptical, but still has a robust design that should see it last you a lifetime of workouts, and there is no shortage of interactive features to ensure those workouts don't get boring.

There are 20 levels of resistance, which can be easily adjusted from buttons on the handles, 12 preset workouts and two that can be customised by the user. The Track Console on the E1 is £100 more expensive than the Go Console version of the cross trainer, but it’s well worth the extra outlay: it allows you to connect the elliptical to smartphones and fitness trackers, and tackle more interactive workouts.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 209 x 77 x 150cm; Flywheel: Rear drive (weight not given); Stride length: 51cm; Max user weight: 182kg

Buy now from John Lewis


4. Pro XS Sports 2-in1 Elliptical Cross Trainer: The best cross trainer under £200

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon


Cross trainers under £100 often double up as exercise bikes, but while this sounds like you’re getting two for the price of one, that’s not quite the case – this dual-purpose design generally means that they have a very short stride length so they’re not the most comfortable to use as an elliptical.

That said, this 2-in-1 machine from XS Sports is just about sturdy enough for cross trainer workouts, with a total weight of 28kg, and has heart-rate sensors built into the handles to give your pulse mid-workout. It also has adjustable resistance levels and you can cycle the pedals forward or backwards to target different leg muscles.

If you’re on a shoestring budget but still want to kickstart a new fitness regime, this is a worthy place to start.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 122 x 60 x 154cm; Flywheel: Front drive (weight not given); Stride length: Not given; Max user weight: 110kg

5. Domyos EL 520 Self-Powered Cross Trainer: The best cordless cross trainer

Price: £400 | Buy now from Decathlon


A self-powered cross trainer gives you the freedom to place it wherever's most convenient for you, which is especially handy for those who want to put it in a shed or garage where it’s not in the way. The downside of a self-powered machine can be that they are a little basic compared to those that run off the mains, but the Domyos El 520 has all the features you need to enjoy regular workouts.

That starts with a 9kg flywheel, which is heavy enough to ensure a smooth ride, and there are nine different training programmes to try, which are designed to suit a range of fitness levels.

The stride length of 39cm isn’t massive, but you can adjust the pedal positions to make it more suitable for taller users. And for those who fear making a hash of it when it comes to assembling the machine, Decathlon has video instructions that will take you through every step of putting the Domyos EL 520 together.

Key specs – Size (LWH): 46 x 63 x 159cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 9kg; Stride length: 39cm; Max user weight: 130kg

Buy now from Decathlon


6. JLL CT300 Elliptical Cross Trainer: The best cross trainer under £400

Price: £380 | Buy now from Amazon


The limitations of sub-£100 machines mean that around £200 is the sweet spot for bargain-priced cross trainers. For just under £300, this machine from JLL has an impressive set of features. The 5.5kg flywheel is heavy enough for a smooth workout, and there are eight resistance settings to pick between. There’s also a tablet holder on the display if you’d prefer watching Netflix to staring at your calorie count during workouts.

While the short stride length means that people over 6ft might struggle to use the CT300 comfortably for longer periods, the features and build quality of the machine makes it a great pick for everyone else.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 120 x 61 x 167cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 5.5kg; Stride length: 32cm; Max user weight: 100kg

7. NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i Folding Elliptical Cross Trainer: The best folding cross trainer

Price: £999 | Buy from John Lewis


Once you’re done with your workout, you can fold the handles and console down on this machine and then store it upright in a cupboard, making it an attractive option for those struggling for floor space in their home.

You’re not sacrificing anything in the way of f,eatures with the NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE7i, either. It has a 46cm stride length, 22 levels of resistance, and the incline can be adjusted up to eight degrees. There are also 24 built-in workouts to follow guided by the 5in display, with 12 of those sessions based around burning calories and 12 designed to improve performance.

If you have an iFit account you can link the app to the SE7i via a tablet or phone and then use the many workouts on iFit and even follow Google Maps routes anywhere in the world during your session.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 203 x 81 x 180cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 8kg; Stride length: 46cm; Max user weight: 135kg

Buy now from John Lewis


8. NordicTrack Commercial 9.9: The best cross trainer for guided workouts

Price: £1,300 | Buy now from NordicTrack

On the console of the Commercial 9.9 elliptical is a 7in Smart HD touchscreen which you can link up with the iFit app (a one-year membership is included with the machine) to get interactive guided workouts to help you stay motivated during your training.

The library of workouts is huge, and the incline and resistance settings on your machine adjust automatically in line with the trainer’s instructions, so you can jump on, pick a session and just focus on powering through. The iFit app also has other types of guided training, like strength and yoga sessions, and you can use Google Maps to set your workout anywhere in the world.

Even if you never intend to use the iFit app, the NordicTrack Commercial 9.9 is an excellent cross-trainer, with an 11kg flywheel, an incline range that runs from 0-20%, plus 22 levels of digital resistance. The stride length is also adjustable so different users can set it up to suit their size, and the maximum user weight is an impressive 159kg.

Key specs – Size (LWH): 173 x 74 x 174cm; Flywheel: Front drive 11kg; Stride length: 45cm-48cm; Max user weight: 159kg

Buy now from NordicTrack


9. Proform Hybrid Trainer Pro Fitness Machine: The best bike/cross trainer combo

Price: £699 | Buy now from Sweatband

The risk with opting for a 2-in-1 machine is that you end up with a substandard cross trainer and a substandard bike, but happily that is not the case here. Quite the opposite, in fact. With the Proform Hybrid Trainer Pro you get two terrific machines for the price of one, and save yourself considerable space if you do want both an elliptical and a recumbent bike.

With a long 42cm stride length the Proform Hybrid can accommodate larger users, and there are 20 levels of resistance and 20 built-in workout programmes. You can also link the machine to the iFit app to unlock loads more workouts and also the ability to virtually travel the world during your training via Google Maps Street View (one year’s iFit membership is included with the purchase, after which it costs £129 a year).

To make the most of these features, or indeed if you’d like to just watch Netflix from the more comfortable position of the recumbent bike mode, there’s a handy tablet holder on the main console of the machine.

Key specs - Size (LWH): 154 x 62 x 179cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 7kg; Stride length: 43cm; Max user weight: 135kg

Buy now from Sweatband


10. JTX Tri-Fit: The best all-round cross trainer

Price: £709 | Buy now from JTX Fitness

Unless you’re really hankering for a gym-standard machine, there really isn’t any reason to look beyond the JTX Tri-Fit for your home workouts. It has a hulking 17kg flywheel, an adjustable stride that runs from 40cm to 51cm, meaning that it can satisfy a wide variety of users, and 12 workout programmes that use the 16 levels of resistance.

The range of preset programmes includes a hill climb session that takes advantage of the three levels of adjustable incline on the JTX Tri-Fit. The incline can be changed independently of the stride length, so you don’t have to reduce the latter to jack up the former, which is the case on some machines.

Key specs – Size (LWH): 153 x 75 x 173cm; Flywheel: Rear drive 17kg; Stride length: 40-51cm; Max user weight: 135kg

Buy now from JTX Fitness


11. Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical: The best cross trainer stepper

Price: £1,100 | Buy now from Decathlon

If you want to push your heart rate through the roof and burn scarcely-credible amounts of calories in short bursts on your cross trainer, you should get a stepper-style machine. In fact, you should get this stepper-style machine, because the Preform Cardio HIIT is all about raising the intensity of your workouts.

The more vertical movement of a stepper cross trainer works wonders on your leg muscles, and on the Proform Cardio HIIT the range of resistance runs from 1% to a terrifying 24%. There are 32 preset workout programmes, some of which check you're working hard enough using the hand heart rate sensors. The 7in display shows all your stats clearly, and there's also a tablet holder on the top of the machine so you can line up some entertainment for your training.

Key specs – Size (LWH): 40 x 80 x 168cm; Flywheel: Front drive (weight not given); Stride length: 40cm; Max user weight: 115kg

Buy now from Decathlon