Elliptical, Exercise & Fitness Articles

I'm sure you are interested in more than just elliptical reviews. You might want to learn how to choose a good machine, what to look for as far as features, resistance, drive systems, strides and more.

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What Do the 2024 Ellipticals Look Like? Let’s Take a Look!

Every year around this time at Elliptical Review Guru we like to look ahead to see what the next year has in store. Overall, it’s been a very difficult year here in the U.S. and even more so around the world. In the fitness world, and specifically home cardio equipment, sales continue to be slow. With inflation still at play, consumers are tightening the purse strings and only spending money on necessities. Ellipticals and other home gym equipment certainly aren’t necessities. Plus, a large majority of people bought home gym equipment during Covid…so it’ll probably be a few more years before the demand increases significantly.

At any rate, let’s take a look at what 2024 ellipticals will look like. What’s new? What’s carrying over? What can we expect?

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Does the elliptical build muscle and if so which ones?

The short answer is yes! Elliptical machines can help you build muscle if you use them correctly. Ellipticals tend to get a bad rep in the world of exercise machines. Since they are designed to provide a more low impact workout, the obvious implication is that they won’t do as much for your body, particularly that they can’t help you build muscle, but that’s not necessarily true.

When you use an elliptical there is much more constant direct contact between your body and the machine, which means there is less impact than you would get while running on a treadmill or walking on a track, where you are constantly raising and lowering your legs and feet. While that kind of exercise is more physically demanding, the constant pounding of your feet against a hard surface can be taxing on the joints.

Contrast that with the elliptical, where you are not raising your legs and feet off of the machine regularly. If you look at it that way you may wonder what muscles does the elliptical work if the machine is essentially doing most of the work? It’s an understandable question. In fact, there have been studies done to compare how ellipticals differ from standard walking in terms of motion and muscle activity.

Despite the more low impact level of an elliptical workout, that doesn’t mean that there are no benefits to be gained. When used properly, an elliptical machine can provide a good cardio workout, help to burn calories leading to weight loss and yes, even build muscle. As a matter of fact, elliptical muscle groups affected are far greater than those of most other exercise groups. In general, the elliptical works about 80 percent of your muscles, making it much easier to achieve a total body workout on these machines.

When you consider the muscles used on the elliptical, the ability to get a good workout and to build those muscles depends on a number of variables, including things like resistance, incline, range of motion and stride length. Obviously, the length of your workout can make a difference as can your posture when you’re working out.

Elliptical Muscles Worked – It’s All About Execution

Simply put, when it comes to building muscle what you get out of your elliptical workout depends on what you put into it.

Scientists have taken a close look at the patterns of muscular activation during different types of exercise to determine exactly how using treadmills, steppers and ellipticals can affect your body. The primary goal of this study was to determine whether steppers and ellipticals were safer for use during rehab or by individuals with mobility issues due to their lower impact, but it also indicates that even though they are lower impact they are still working various muscles when done regularly and properly.

So what are the elliptical muscles worked and how can you make the best use of your elliptical to target those various muscles? Let’s take a closer look.

First off, ellipticals are one of the few types of exercise equipment that work both the upper and lower body simultaneously. The amount of work that the upper body gets depends on the type of machine. To get the best upper body workout, you want a machine with handles that provide the most range of motion. If you have a machine that doesn’t have handles you can use a medicine ball or light dumbbells while on the elliptical to get an upper body workout.

Generally speaking the push/pull movement of the handles helps to work the chest, shoulders, lats, traps, biceps and triceps. Removing your hands from the handles and either placing them on your hips or pumping them as you exercise also helps to work the core muscles as they are used to help you maintain balance.

Of course the most common muscles used on elliptical machines are the muscles of the lower body, including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors and calves. The lower body is going through its own push/pull cycle as you perform your steps and that engages all of the muscles of the lower back and spine to help keep your body stable and moving smoothly throughout the entire range of motion.

Some of the higher end ellipticals, like those from Sole and NordicTrack, also include an incline function and this can help to increase the benefits to your muscles even more. Increasing the incline is a great way to target the hamstrings and glutes specifically as they have to work harder to push through the range of motion.

Most ellipticals also include various resistance levels and, not surprisingly, this can also be an effective way to intensify your workout and work the various elliptical muscle groups. Obviously you need to be mindful of your own individual limitations and set resistance accordingly but increasing even by a small amount can be beneficial when it comes to building muscle.

Stride length can also affect your ability to build muscle. If you’re using too long a stride, you run the risk of straining muscles. Many ellipticals allow you to adjust stride length, which can help you to achieve your most effective stride and maximize your workout.

Brands such as Octane also offer lateral ellipticals, designed to provide an even wider range of motion by including two wheels that move the user in a sideways motion. This helps to more closely mimic natural movement and in turn engages more of your muscles, especially the lower body and core.

When it comes to building core muscles, including the abs and obliques, it’s all about maintaining proper posture. This is the group of muscles that help you to maintain balance and if you are slouching, leaning forward or leaning too heavily on your elliptical you won’t be fully engaging these muscles. You need to ensure that you are sitting up straight with your navel pulled in towards your spine. This will help to brace your spine and contract those core muscles.

You can target specific muscles by adjusting your position or pedaling backwards and by using interval training. Also, many ellipticals have a variety of built-in programs, like NordicTrack & Proform’s iFit program, that can mimic the feel of walking or pedaling uphill, which can engage muscles in a similar way as weightlifting.

As you can see, if you’re asking what muscles does the elliptical work, clearly the answer is all of them…provided it is used properly!

So, do ellipticals build muscle? The evidence says they do. When put to proper use, an elliptical provides a quality aerobic workout, which studies show can result in muscle hypertrophy, one of the sure signs of muscle growth.

Are Orbitrek Ellipticals Really Worth Considering?

orbitrek elliptical - X17 modelIf you’re like most people, when you hear Orbitrek you probably think of the budget friendly, low end under desk models available through Amazon. I have to admit, I was the same, so I was surprised to hear that Orbitrek had come out with a more standard elliptical, the X17, that offers a few more bells and whistles.

Of course, this is still a company that has always been on the more basic end of the elliptical market, so naturally that makes you wonder if it’s really worth considering what they have to offer.

My expectations weren’t very high going in so that should make it pretty hard to be disappointed, right? Well…yes and no. They’re obviously not going to stand up against higher end models and even fall short of some of the similar mid and lower level models from brands like Nautilus and Schwinn, but that doesn’t mean that Orbitrek doesn’t have some allure. Anything would be an upgrade from the under desk models, which are pretty basic and target only the lower body. On that note, the Orbitrek X17 already has a leg up, so to speak, in that, like most standard ellipticals it can also give you an upper body workout.

That’s about as far as the comparison to other brands gets as Orbitrek products are definitely not going to stand toe-to-toe with some of the more established brands, whose offerings are more interactive, with built-in workout programs.

Orbitrek products are sold by Thane Direct, one of the leading direct response and retail marketers in the world. That’s right, they are basically the exercise equipment equivalent of those “As Seen on TV” products.

That doesn’t mean they are a complete bust, but you do need to temper your expectations a little when opting for the X17 or any of the other Orbitrek models. If you’re a serious minded fitness freak, this probably won’t be the brand for you but for the average home gym, it’s a valid option.

What elliptical models does Orbitrek offer?

Currently, Orbitrek offers the standard and “deluxe” X17, as well as the Elite and the MX and MN under desk models, all ranging between $200 and $850.

With that in mind, I was excited to see what the Orbitrek X17 had to offer so I checked out the standard model. Not surprisingly, the first thing I noticed was the look of the machine, which is surprisingly sleek and attractive. It has a very compact footprint at just 33” x 21”, which means it can easily fit into even the smallest workout space. The black and red coloring is eye catching and the overall slim design makes it a lot less of an eyesore than most pieces of exercise equipment, which I also liked.

From that jumping off point, let’s take a closer look and lay out the pros and cons of the Orbitrek X17

Orbitrek X17 Review – The Pros

Aside from its compact footprint and attractive design, perhaps the biggest positive for the X17 is its unique designation as a multi-path trainer. The X17 is sold as the only machine that can work your muscles through 17 different burn paths, which does make for a more challenging workout. The X17 features a one-of-a-kind “dual crank” that combines the single paths of 5 different machines: elliptical, cycle, stepper, treadmill and stair climber. That provides a lot more bang for your buck than you might expect from a low end machine. I could definitely feel the burn when I finished my workout!

I also appreciated the easy to adjust finger touch resistance. With just a simple turn of the knob, you can move from one resistance level to another without breaking stride.
The ergonomic handles and wide adjustable foot plates were comfortable enough, although I did find the foot plates a bit narrower than others I’ve used. The on-board electronics are pretty basic, but they do let you track your time, calories burned, speed, distance, resistance and workload.

I tried the standard Orbitrek X17, but the “Deluxe” option comes with several extras that supposedly up the workout experience even more, including the upgraded digital console and media rack that can hold any phone or tablet. If you order either the standard or “Deluxe” X17 through the Orbitrek site you can also get instant 24/7 online access to the Orbitrek Trainer Library, which allows you to stream professional workouts for all fitness levels.

The Deluxe digital console also comes with a Customized Training Management System, as well as a Fit Test function that allows you to automatically calibrate the intensity level to match your fitness level and can store fitness data for up to four users. It also has a Training Zone Track with five zones to indicate training intensity per program sector, a Work Load indicator showing the intensity of your workout, a Program Selector with program intensity profile viewer and all of the same performance indicators that the basic console offers.

I was pleased to see that the various programs include warm-up, workout and cool down options and you can vary the length from 3-22 minutes, which can make it easier on beginners and those who are more fitness challenged. That’s important because even on a basic machine like this an elliptical workout can be intense so you need that flexibility.

Orbitrek X17 Review – The Cons

Most of the cons with the Orbitrek X17 are pretty obvious. As I stated earlier, this is a pretty basic model. While you can get a decent enough workout, it lacks the bells and whistles of more high end machines. This is definitely not going to give you a gym level workout so if that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off looking someplace else.

The interactive features of the X17 are pretty limited, though the media rack does allow you to make use of your phone or tablet so you can access your favorite exercise app or the Orbitrek Trainer Library. It doesn’t stand up to Peloton or other high end exercise apps but at least it gives you some options.

Unlike similarly priced models from Nautilus and Schwinn, the X17 doesn’t have an incline feature for that extra workout challenge that many people expect. Another drawback worth noting is the less than earth shattering warranty. All Orbitrek models come with a 1 year parts and labor warranty, which is far short of the 5-10 year warranties most other brands offer.

So What’s The Bottom Line on Orbitrek ellipticals?

In the interest of fairness, I did also try out one of the under desk models, the Orbitrek MX, which is the motorized version with convenient remote control. While it did provide a decent low impact workout that is ideal for those with limited mobility, both the MX and the non-motorized MN are pretty much bottom of the barrel as far as ellipticals are concerned.

The standard and “Deluxe” Orbitrek X17 take that up a few notches with their multi-path design that allows you to get the effects of 5 different workout machines in one unit. This is supposed to challenge you by working out various muscles through the changing paths. It’s a great idea but the overall quality and limited warranty make this pretty much what you would expect from a direct marketing company rather than a brand focused on producing quality exercise machines.

Simply put, we wouldn’t be running out to buy this one, especially when you can get a lot more for your money with other models that only cost about $100 or so more.

What’s in Store For 2023 Ellipticals? We’re Glad You Asked!

Well, it’s that time of year again when we look ahead to see what’s in store for 2023 in the fitness equipment world, and more specifically, elliptical trainers. This has been a very challenging year for many reasons…on a financial level, you had the stock market decline, potential recession and inflation, all of which have significantly affected consumer spending capability. Read More

Is There a Peloton Elliptical or Are They Sticking With the Bike and Tread?

We’ve been getting this question a lot lately so we figured why not write a post about the Peloton elliptical. The company has certainly had its shares of ups and downs, with a huge surge during the pandemic followed by an equally significant decline due to numerous issues including a treadmill recall, gyms reopening, negative portrayals on TV shows like Sex and the City & Billions, and other not so favorable events.

Still, even though sales are down and the stock price recently hit all time lows, there is a lot of interest in the company and its products, and Peloton still boasts over 5.9 million people on the platform, with over 2.3 million paying subscribers. To serve that audience, and to encourage new subscriptions, the company is working on expanding its offerings, which is why many people thing a Peloton elliptical is on the horizon.

As of now, though, there’s no talk about the company releasing an elliptical. They did however just announce a brand new rowing machine called the Peloton Row. It’s similar to the other offerings with the sleek, modern look and large 24″ touch screen display. It also carries the usual hefty price tag…it looks like it will be about $3200 plus the cost of the membership.

For those wondering what else Peloton has to offer they currently have two bikes: the Bike and Bike +; one treadmill: the Tread (the Tread + was discontinued); the new Peloton Guide, which turns your TV into a personal trainer and you can watch yourself side by side with a trainer to make sure you’re doing everything correctly; and accessories and apparel.

For those interested in using the Peloton app on their elliptical, that is certainly something you can do because there are many similarities between cycling and elliptical. The most obvious is the resistance aspect. If you’re doing a Peloton bike workout and it’s time to ramp up the resistance, you can easily do this on your elliptical, especially those with power resistance changing.

If your elliptical has incline capability, you can add that element as well to your workouts. An uphill bike ride is similar to an uphill elliptical motion.

So even though there is no Peloton elliptical as of this writing, you can use the app with your current elliptical, just like you can use it with your own treadmill, bike or rowing machine. Sure, an app developed specifically for the elliptical would be ideal…but you can certainly make this work.

We will be on the lookout for a Peloton elliptical and if we hear anything we will definitely let you know. Until then there are plenty of great alternatives to choose from on our best ellipticals page!

Elliptical Bike Combo Machines – What Are They All About?

Ellipticals and recumbent bikes are both very popular, but did you know that it’s now possible to get a combination of the two in one machine? An elliptical bike combo is a great way to get the best of both workouts without spending a fortune, while saving space at the same time.

In order to get a better idea of what an exercise bike and elliptical combo can do for you, let’s take a closer look at exactly what these machines do and what’s available on the market. Read More

Elliptical & Other Cardio Machine Inventory Seems To Be Coming Back

When the pandemic first hit back in March of 2020 and gym doors were shuttered, there was a mad rush to buy home exercise equipment. Treadmills, Peloton bikes, rowing machines, benches, free weights, dumbbells…you name it, people were buying them as fast as they could. As such, inventory dropped significantly and the price of anything that was left was jacked up to meet the rising demand. Read More

A Look at the New Ellipticals in 2021 – The Latest Releases

Although most companies are still having inventory issues and shipping times are still significantly delayed, some elliptical manufacturers have been able to weather the storm better than others, even releasing new models for 2021.

It seems that some companies were just better prepared than others, and have been able to proceed as planned with new and improved ellipticals.

Let’s take a look at what’s come out in the last few months and what we can expect for the rest of the year. Read More

Why Can’t I Find Any Home Gym Equipment For Sale?

As of this writing it’s been about three months since COVID-19 hit and sent the entire world into home quarantine. Everything shut down from restaurants to retail stores to car dealerships. Of course, gyms across the country were forced to close as well, and that left many people wondering how they were going to stay in shape.

We wrote an article when this first started about staying in shape during Corona, with some suggestions for what you could do to exercise if you did or didn’t have an elliptical, treadmill, bike or other cardio machine at home.

For those of us that are fortunate enough to have equipment at home, the transition hasn’t been so bad. Of course, most of us don’t have nearly as much equipment as a gym or health club, but we’re able to make do with what we have. Maybe an elliptical trainer, a flat bench and a few dumbbells. Sure it’s not ideal, but it works. Add in some Youtube videos or other online fitness routines and we stay in shape during this time until we can get back to the gym (hopefully sooner than later) Read More

Keeping Fit in the Age of Corona – Home Workouts Can Be Just as Effective

As of this writing we are in the midst of the Corona quarantine, and hopefully by the time many of you are reading this it’s a thing of the past. It’s the end of March 2020, and much of the world is at home, as businesses have closed their doors for safety reasons.

The hope is that with everyone staying home, the virus will not spread as rapidly, will be contained, and new cases will curtail over time. Meanwhile scientists all over the world are scrambling to create a vaccine…although best case scenario it will be at least a year before it would even be available to the general public.

Gyms and health clubs are of course closed as well, as would be expected, so people are looking for ways to stay in shape during the quarantine, which could be weeks or even months, they are still not sure how long it will last. Read More