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Best cross trainers: 7 best buys for your home gym

Real Homes logo Real Homes 19/06/2020 Hebe Hatton
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If you're looking to invest in the best cross trainer, then this is the only buyer's guide you need. Wherever you're currently working out from – your garage, loft, or spare bedroom – a cross trainer will take your workout regimen to the next level.

It's worth noting that cross trainers come in two types – elliptical and magnetic – with the difference being that elliptical machines work with air, and magnetic machines work using an electromagnetic flywheel. So, consider that while shopping.

Below you'll find our pick of the best cross trainers currently available, with options for every budget. Do bear in mind that cross trainers are incredibly popular right now (for obvious reasons), so our best buys regularly go in and out of stock. If the one you want isn't available right now, bookmark this page and check back in a few days' time.

Once you've got the cross trainer best suited to your needs, find more of the best home gym equipment.

The best cross trainers

Best cross trainer: NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i Elliptical © Provided by Real Homes Best cross trainer: NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i Elliptical

1. NordicTrack FreeStride Trainer FS7i Elliptical

Best cross trainer: a 3-in-1 trainer for those who are serious about their workouts

Workout programmes: 35 | Stride Length: 38in (adjustable) | Incline: 0-10%

 Bluetooth compatibility  
 Silent magnetic resistance  
 Tricky to assemble
 Expensive

For those who are building their very home gym, the NordicTrack FreeStride FS7i Elliptical 3-in-1 trainer could be the ideal piece of kit for your workouts. 

Not only is the machine feature packed with 24 workout programmes and an adjustable stride, but it’s also 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 it has 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. Our pick of the best cross trainer for those who are after a 3-in-1 model.

  • Buy NordicTrack FreeStride FS7i Elliptical
a device with wires attached to it: Best cross trainer for families: Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer © Provided by Real Homes Best cross trainer for families: Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer

2. Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer

Best cross trainer for families: this cross trainer is adaptable for all fitness levels and family members

Workout programmes: 14 | Stride Length: 51cm | Incline: Yes

Easily connects with smartphones
Up to four user profiles
Very big

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. The Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer 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. The best cross trainer for those looking for a machine with lots of different modes, we think.

  • Buy the Life Fitness E1 Elliptical Cross Trainer
a close up of a motorcycle: Best cross trainer for upper body: Bowflex Max Trainer M5 © Provided by Real Homes Best cross trainer for upper body: Bowflex Max Trainer M5

3. Bowflex Max Trainer M5

Best cross trainer for upper body: a set-stride machine that works your core and upper body as well as the legs

Workout programmes: 9 | Stride Length: non-adjustable | Incline: No

 High-intensity workout 
 Well-built  
 Can only register 2 users in the software 

The Bowflex Max M5 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 per cent.

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.

  • Buy the Bowflex Max M5 set-stride elliptical trainer
Best cross trainer for beginners: JTX Strider-X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer © Provided by Real Homes Best cross trainer for beginners: JTX Strider-X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer

4. JTX Strider-X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer

Best cross trainer for beginners: an affordable machine ideal for beginners

Workout programmes: 21 | Stride Length: 16in | Incline: No

 Folds away  
 Not too complex 
 No techy features 

If you’re thinking of investing in your first cross trainer and don’t want to spend too much money, then the JTX Strider-X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer 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. The best cross trainer if you're a beginner.

  • Buy the JTX Strider-X7 Magnetic Cross Trainer
a close up of a device: Best cross trainer for small spaces: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical © Provided by Real Homes Best cross trainer for small spaces: NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical

5. NordicTrack SpaceSaver SE9i Elliptical

Best cross trainer for small spaces: a high-tech space-saving machine

Workout programmes: 30 | Stride Length: 18in | Incline: 0-10%

 Folds away vertically  
 Connect to your smart device 
 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.  

  • Buy the NordicTrack SpaceSaver
a close up of a clock: (Image credit: JLL) © Provided by Real Homes (Image credit: JLL)

6. JLL CT300 Elliptical Cross Trainer

Best value cross trainer: coming in at under £200, this cross trainer is a bargain

Workout programmes: 8 | Stride Length: 32cm | Incline: N/A

9-function monitor
Heart rate sensors
Tablet holder
Transportable
Not as advanced machine as others
Not a great choice for those over 6ft

Designed to be both durable and stylish at the same time, the JLL CT300 Elliptical Cross Trainer can simulate climbing, walking or running, all without causing excessive pressure on your joints.

It has a nine-function LCD display monitor that shows RPM, speed, distance, time, temperature, heart rate, calories, body fat and pulse; and its dual-action handlebars feature comfortable foam grips.

It features eight levels of magnetic resistance and you can pedal forwards and backwards thanks to its 5.5kg flywheel. Our favourite part? It has a tablet holder for those who like to catch up on their favourite programme while exercising instead of looking at the amount of calories they've burned, and it's on wheels so it can be easily moved around your home gym.

  • Buy the JLL CT300 Elliptical Cross Trainer
a close up of a device: (Image credit: Reebok) © Provided by Real Homes (Image credit: Reebok)

7. Reebok ZR8 Cross Trainer

Best basic cross trainer: first-timer? This is the cross trainer you need. It's basic, affordable and does the job

Workout programmes: 19 | Stride Length: 15in | Incline: 0%

Affordable
Easy to use
On wheels
Adjustable and anti-slip footplates
Built-in hand pulse sensors in handlebars
Fiddly to assemble
No water holder
No incline

Ideal for occasional use or for beginners who don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a high-tech, pricey machine, the Reebok ZR8 Cross Trainer features 19 programmes, 12 of which are pre-set workouts.

Its 5.75in LCD control displays speed, distance, time, calories and pulse rate. The machine runs pretty quietly – ideal if the machine is in a spare bedroom – and smoothly. There's no incline function to simulate a hill, but you can increase the resistance to make your workout harder.

For those who are conscious about it being on show in the middle of the living room, this cross trainer is on wheels, meaning it can be easily moved out of sight when not in use. And a big plus is its price tag. Perfect if you think it might spend more time under your discarded clothes than you.

  • Buy the Reebok ZR8 Cross Trainer
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How to buy the best 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.

Electromagnet or belt resistance?

There are different types of resistance that can be used on these machines, the most common being electromagnetic, with some cheaper models having a belt resistance. 

Stride lengths

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.

LCD monitor

If you'd like to track your progress and have access to pre-set workout programmes so you can make the most of your machine at home, then make sure the cross trainer you use has an LCD monitor to display this information.

Price

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…

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