Manufacturers love to flaunt the best features of Elliptical trainers, while trying to hide the more pressing issues.
A case in point is the weight limit, which is one of the most critical factors to consider before you choose a machine. How many sales listings have you come across where the weight limit is underlined in bold?
Even if they do mention it, it’s in miniscule blink-and-a-miss print.
Will the Elliptical machine be able to handle your weight? More importantly, will it be able to handle the weight of the heaviest person who will use it? (Applicable for families)
Sometimes, we discount the fact that there may be others in the home who would also like to hop on the machine from time to time. The last thing you need is to hear the trainer croak and groan in agony, or worse, give away under the weight.
That’s why we dug deep into user manuals and came up with the elliptical weight limits for the most popular models. If you have always looked at an elliptical and wondered whether that flimsy-looking frame can sustain your hulking self, here’s the answer.
Why Elliptical Trainers Have Weight Limits?
Elliptical trainers for home use are not really designed to sustain the kind of wear and tear that commercial-grade machines undergo. And even some commercial ellipticals can't take excessive weights.
That said, there’s no industry-standard, or grading as such to determine the weight rating of an elliptical. Manufacturers are free to determine the weight ratings using independent testing or proprietary methodologies.
What that means is that the ratings mentioned in the user manual may or may not be accurate. You can either take it with a pinch of salt, or adhere strictly to it.
We recommend the latter for obvious reasons. Here are some of them.
- The gauge of steel used for constructing the elliptical machine may not be able to sustain a continual load beyond the specified limit. So, if the machine is rated for 200 lbs. and someone weighing 350 lbs. decides to exercise on it for an hour, there is a possibility that it can weaken the frame.
- The motor is another component that can get stressed when you stretch an elliptical machine beyond the recommended limit. Motors in these machines are tested to perform under a certain amount of stress for specific time periods. Exceeding the weight limit may cause the motor to get overheated, and even conk off.
- Constantly using a machine beyond its specified limit leads to premature wear and tear. It goes without saying that you automatically void the warranty when you do this. So, if your machine does get worn out prematurely and eventually fails, you may not be liable to get warranty coverage.
- Lastly, there are lawsuits to steer clear of. If you decide to cock a snook at the weight rating and the machine cracks under the weight, you cannot sue the company.
However, there are anecdotal instances galore where people claim to have exceeded the specified weight rating by almost 100 lbs. or more, with no untoward outcomes.
Does this mean that companies generally understate the weight rating, and there might be a slight leeway beyond what’s stated?
It could be. But why would you want to risk it?
Just pick an elliptical that’s rated for at least 50 lbs. more than the weight of the heaviest person who will be using it. That keeps you covered.
Quick Recommendation for Affordable Heavy Duty Elliptical
A common argument that we’ve heard is that heavy duty elliptical trainers are pricey.
Well, that’s expected. These machines feature commercial-grade motors, tough steel frames and can easily sustain the wear and tear that comes even with continual use by heavy users.
However, we have selected an affordable heavy duty elliptical. It is the Schwinn 411.
The Schwinn 411 – Why We Picked It
The Schwinn 411 is one of the few home use elliptical trainers that boasts of a 300 lbs. weight rating without costing an arm and a leg.
300 lbs. is at the upper end of weight ratings for machines at this price point. In all probability, it is also sufficient for the average heavy user.
- Dimensions - 70.1 x 28.1 x 63.1”
- Weight Rating – 300 lbs.
- Stride size – 18”
- Resistance – 16 levels
- Material - Steel
What We Like About It
Despite the compact form factor, the Schwinn 411 can easily accommodate tall and heavy users without flinching. The frame is sturdy and the features are almost on par with much higher priced machines.
You get large foot pedals with a reasonable 18” stride, moving and fixed handlebar options and a 5.5" High Contrast LCD display with ‘Explore the World’ app. Pretty much ticks all the boxes that one looks for from a budget-priced machine.
What We Didn’t Like About It
The resistance on the lowest setting tends to be high for some people. This is subjective and more of a personal preference than anything else. We have used this machine comfortably. But I am 6’5 and 280 lbs. Smaller users might find this to be problematic.
Weight Limits of Popular Elliptical Trainers Ranked By Weight
We are pretty sure that you are also keen to know the weight limits of other popular elliptical brands and models, aren’t you?
We have created a list for you.
Elliptical Trainers Rated for 400 Lbs.
400 lbs. weight capacity is generally limited to commercial-grade machines used in fitness centers. However, as home gyms become more mainstream, there’s an exciting range of prosumer grade machines on offer. Like the Sole E98.
The Sole E98 is a beast. It features a 38mm steel frame with a max weight rating of 400 lbs. Other than the capacious weight capacity, there’s 20 levels of ECB magnetic resistance and up to 30-degrees of incline at the touch of a button. Regardless of whether you want a gentle LISS workout or a sweat-pool HIIT one, the E98 has you covered.
A point worth mentioning is that the E98 is one of the quietest machines in this weight category. Even when a tall and heavy user is using it at max intensity, the machine does not create a ruckus. The 34 lb. flywheel works smoothly.
The Bowflex BXE216 is one of the most economical choices for an elliptical with this weight rating. It features a full stride, 25 levels of magnetic brake resistance and up to 15% of incline with a motorized ramp.
The 35 lbs. flywheel and a backlit LCD console with 11 inbuilt fitness programs complete a well-rounded feature list.
Elliptical Trainers Rated for 300 Lbs.
There’s an elaborate range of elliptical trainers rated for 300 lbs. This seems to be the upper weight capacity for home-use machines in particular. Here are our top picks.
With a full-sized 22” stride, the Nautilus E618 is one of the best machines for tall and heavy users. The weight capacity is a sizeable 350 lbs. That’s more than the 300 lbs. standard for home use machines. Also, you get two LCD displays with the E618.
There are 29 inbuilt workouts, a 30 lbs. flywheel for butter smooth strides, and a powered incline in case you crave more intensity for your workouts.
The Proform 520E is a feature-rich elliptical machine with a 300 lbs. capacity and a 19” adjustable-stride. Powered by an Inertia-Enhanced Flywheel, the machine is quiet and smooth. Customer reviews state that it is used by heavy users, weighing close to that stated limit. But there’s no wobble or groan, which speaks volumes about the quality.
Helping you keep track of your vital metrics is a 5” backlist display. But since it comes bundled with a 1-month iFit subscription, we believe that you’d like to use this with your tablet or iPad instead. There’s 18-levels of trainer-controlled digital resistance on offer. Try this out. You won’t be disappointed.
Elliptical Trainers Rated for 200 Lbs.
200 lbs. is the budget-end of the elliptical marketplace. These are bang-for-your-buck machines that offer reasonably good features. But we wouldn’t want to get too adventurous while working out on these machines.
Sunny Health SF-E905
The Sunny Health SF-E905 is one of the bestselling elliptical trainers for this weight category. This is not a machine designed for tall and heavy users. It has a 11” stride, 8-magnetic resistance levels and a digital monitor to keep track of your workouts.
If you have a compact space, you’ll appreciate the miniscule form factor that this elliptical features. While it does lack the bells and whistles of its higher-priced counterparts, it does come with all the basics. Oh, almost forgot to mention that the weight capacity is 220 lbs.
Body Rider - BR1830
The Body Rider BR1830 is a manual elliptical machine with a beefy frame and a 250 lbs. weight capacity. It is almost uncanny in its petite appearance. But be rest assured that this is not going to fail on you.
It is not a computerized machine and features a chain driven fan wheel, which is very quiet and smooth. There are 5 levels of resistance that are controlled via a knob. Very easy to adjust even on the fly.
What to Look for When Looking for In an Elliptical Other than The Weight Limit
Now that we have the weight limit out of the way, let’s talk about some of the other critical parameters to consider when you shop for an elliptical machine.
An elliptical machine might boast of a 400 lbs. weight rating. But remember what we told you about weight ratings? There’s no set standard or guidelines in place for it. It’s up to the manufacturer to post an accurate description. We all know the extent to which hype and marketing drive sales. So rather than making your choice purely on the basis of the weight rating, check the build quality too. What gauge steel is used for the frame? How heavy is the machine when fully assembled? What type of belt is used? What is the weight of the flywheel? Knowing these details will help you spot a quality machine from a flimsy one, regardless of what the specified weight rating is.
The Warranty is a clear indicator of the quality of an elliptical trainer. A manufacturer can often use fancy terms to disguise some of the mediocre components in their machines. But there’s no way to hide a lack luster warranty. That said, the warranty for elliptical trainers vary significantly depending on the price and quality. Higher end machines, priced south of $1500 generally have the best warranty. You can expect 10-years on the frame, 5-years on parts and at least 2-3 years on labor. But as you progress into the budget-end of the marketplace, warranties can drop drastically. We have even come across elliptical trainers that offer a 90-day warranty on parts. That’s just terrible.
When it comes to fitness equipment, you get what you pay for, whether it's an elliptical, exercise bike, treadmill it doesn't matter. Period. A cheap elliptical trainer might offer you some bang for your buck. But there will be tradeoffs. Make no mistake. That said, $750-1000, might be a good price range for affordable elliptical trainers that don’t cost you a bomb. Anything below $500 will either be very basic or poorly built or both. Most club-quality elliptical trainers on the other hand are priced from $1500-2500 and more. Generally, higher the weight rating, more the price.
Elliptical trainers can be deceptively larger than they appear to be (some have a 20 inch stride). Generally, they range from 5-6 feet in length and about 1.5-2-feet in width. Many trainers, particularly those with full-sized strides will have the foot pedals extending the length of the machine. So account for at least 12-24” of clearance space in front of the unit. Also, don’t discount the step up height. If you plan to install it in a low ceiling basement gym, you’d want to consider the step up height which can range from 5-15” or more. If height is a concern, look for low profile elliptical trainers.
Bells & Whistles
Everything else is just bells and whistles. This includes the intensity/resistance levels, the inbuilt workout programs, the HD/LCD consoles, the cooling fan, is it a quiet elliptical? the heart rate sensors on the grip, the powered incline and so on. Do these features help you get a better workout? They probably do. But even if you pick an elliptical trainer without these, that has a beefy frame and a weight capacity that works for you, it will still get the job done.
Top Elliptical Brands
Fitness equipment manufacturers have made a killing during the pandemic.
This has also led to the influx of several new brands in the marketplace. But when it comes to elliptical trainers and treadmills, there are only a handful of trustworthy brands. Not that we have anything against new brands. But why would you want to experiment with these when you can get tried and tested machines from reputed brands?
Here are some of our top choices.
Nautilus is one of the oldest brands in the business based in Washington, United States. They have an extensive range of elliptical trainers in the mid-range and the upper end of the price spectrum. The prices are affordable and the machines have consistently good customer ratings.
They are also credited with introducing commercial-grade frames in machines designed for home use. The average warranty that they offer is 10-years on the frame, which is pretty good.
Sole Fitness is a fitness manufacturer with a sizeable market share in the USA and Canada. They have some excellent high-end elliptical trainers. But you can also find some great budget-options in their catalog.
One of their mainstays are the folding treadmills, which are designed for compact spaces. That said, their elliptical trainers also have reasonable footprints. Did you notice that one of the top recommendations in this list, the E68 is Sole?
Schwinn & Bowflex
Schwinn & Bowflex are brands that are owned by Nautilus. The Schwinn range of elliptical trainers is aimed at the discerning home user who seeks quality and features at affordable prices. A prime example is the Schwinn 411, which is an affordable machine with a 300 lbs. weight rating.
Here’s a brief FAQ that aims to answer some common questions that we come across on messaging boards about elliptical trainers.
Q. Can I Use an Elliptical if I Am Over the Weight Limit?
A. This is probably on the minds of every single elliptical user in the world, who’s a few pounds heavier than the specified max weight limit. As we’ve said, the chances of the trainer crashing and dying on you is slim. That said, you are risking your health, safety, the warranty and the longevity of the machine. So it’s a choice you’ll have to make.
Q. Can You Break an Elliptical by Going Too Fast?
A. As long as you are not overloading the machine with too much weight, this should not happen. Elliptical trainers are designed for everyday use, regardless of whether it’s a home-use machine or a club-quality one. So there’s absolutely no way that it can break just by running it at max intensity. Having said that, do watch out for signs of the elliptical overworking. Does it sputter? Does the frame groan? Is it wobbly? Is the console acting buggy? It might be a good idea to pause it for a while, especially if you have been running it incessantly for hours.
As a rule of thumb, pick an elliptical with a weight rating that’s at least 50 lbs. more than the heaviest person who will be using it. That should keep you covered from possible mishaps.
For your own safety, don’t test the limits of the trainer. We hope that this list helps you find the best elliptical trainer for your intended use. Do share your eventual choice and your experience with it.
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