Cross trainers can provide an effective and low-impact workout from home. But which is the best cross trainer on the market at the moment? Keep reading to find out.
A cross trainer provides a low impact exercise for both your legs and upper body. Elliptical trainers also cause your torso to slightly twist, which helps burn more calories while building core strength. This is why a home cross trainer is a popular option for improving cardiovascular fitness.
But with a huge range of trainers on the market, it can be hard to know which to buy. We've researched and compiled a list of the best cross trainers available in the UK to help you make a decision. The list is divided into sections depending on budget, although each model provides excellent value for money and a great workout.
If you just want to know our top picks, take a look at the "Editor's Pick" section. For more information about how to choose an elliptical trainer, or for our cross trainer reviews, keep reading!
The Best Cross Trainer:
Our top pick for a home cross trainer is the excellent NordicTrack E11.5. It's an incline cross trainer with 20-22" stride length, 30 pre-set programs and a range of advanced features. If you need a challenging home workout, it's one of the best options.
The Best Budget Cross Trainer:
If you want a cheap cross trainer, the JLL CT300 is our top recommendation. With a light flywheel and relatively short stride, it's not suitable for intense workouts. But for improving your fitness at home without spending a lot of money, it's a great choice.
Why Buy a Cross Trainer?
Cross trainers are one of the most popular types of cardiovascular training equipment - but why use one instead of a treadmill or exercise bike? Here are some of the advantages of an elliptical trainer.
- Whole Body Workout. Unlike exercise bikes or treadmills, an elliptical with arms can work the entire body, including calves, quadriceps, triceps, biceps and core muscles. This increases the amount of calories burned. While an elliptical trainer doesn't tax the upper body as much as a rowing machine (your legs still do most of the work), pulling and pushing the handles at least provides a light whole body workout.
- Low Impact Exercise. Unlike running on a treadmill, using an elliptical trainer is a low impact activity. This makes it perfect if you have joint pain. A cross trainer is also great option when you're having a rest day from running or just want to minimise the risk of joint problems later in life. This doesn't reduce your workout difficulty though - a cross trainer can increase heart rate by just as much as running, yet with significantly reduced impact on joints.
- Varied Workouts. By adjusting the resistance of a cross trainer, you can instantly ramp up your workout difficulty. The lowest setting is often similar to a brisk walk, while the highest resistance on a top-quality elliptical can feel like running up a steep hill. Cross trainers can also be used for high intensity interval training (HIIT), and the best models can even adjust intensity depending on your heart rate.
- Exercise Safely. A high-quality elliptical trainer is a stable piece of exercise equipment. This makes it a safer option than a treadmill, as there's no chance of falling off.
- Weight Bearing Exercise. A cross trainer is a low impact activity, but it's still a weight bearing exercise (unlike swimming). This means it can help strengthen bones while reducing the chance of getting osteoporosis later in life.
- Glute Activation. A common problem in the western world is glute muscles that don't activate. This is caused by sitting a lot, which results in the muscles going to "sleep." Studies have shown that elliptical cross trainers are better for activating the glutes than walking. It can also help to strengthen external rotators of the hip which is vital for proper biomechanics.
- Rehabilitation. The low impact and controlled nature of an elliptical trainer means they are perfect for rehabilitation after an injury or surgery.
There are some drawbacks though. If you want to improve your upper body strength, they aren't as effective as rowing machines. Elliptical trainers also tend to be bulky compared to rowers or exercise bikes. You also need to read elliptical trainer reviews carefully to ensure a model has a high build quality and provides adequate resistance.
Despite these minor issues, a cross trainer can be a great way to safely improve your fitness and lose weight. They are also popular for people who want a home gym, as they are easy to use safely while watching TV! Many people also use them for HIIT to burn more calories in a shorter time - check out the following video for an example:
How to Choose a Cross Trainer
If you just want to know which are the best elliptical trainers on the market, keep scrolling to the next section. But here's some information about how to choose the right model.
- Stride Length. The longer the stride, the more intensely you can workout on a cross trainer. The cheapest models often have a very short stride, which is fine for a walking-style exercise but not for intense exercise. Shorter strides can also feel awkward. If you need a more difficult workout, look for a stride length between 16"-21". Some of the best cross trainers also have a variable stride length, which increases the length while minimising the size of the machine.
- Stepping Smoothness. A comfortable elliptical trainer needs to have a smooth stride. If the motion is jerky or unstable, the machine can be unpleasant to use. Smoothness is affected by the drive train and weight of the flywheel.
- Resistance. Most high-quality cross trainers use magnetic resistance, but they don't all adjust resistance in the same way. Cheaper models use a simple mechanical knob. Others have a motor system that allows you to adjust the difficulty via the on-board computer. A motor resistance system is required for pre-set workout programmes. There are also belt resistance cross trainers, although this system is typically only used on the cheapest machines.
- Front or Rear Driven. The location of the flywheel determines whether a cross trainer is front or rear driven. Rear drive cross trainers usually have a more elliptical feel to their motion than front drive models. The location of the flywheel only has a minor effect on the quality of your workout though, so it's not one of the most important factors.
- Incline. Some trainers provide an incline feature. This allows you to increase the intensity of your workout while specifically targeting muscles in the thigh and stomach. Incline can either be set via the on-board console or manually depending on the type of machine.
- On-board Console. Nearly all cross trainers come with some sort of on-board console, but the features vary greatly. The most basic just show statistics such as distance, time, calories burned and speed. More advanced consoles can track your progress over time or sync with external applications. The best home cross trainers also have the ability to read heart rate via a heart rate belt (although you'll need to buy the belt separately).
- Maximum User Weight and Stability. Make sure you choose an elliptical trainer with a maximum user weight that's suitable for all members of your household. In general, the higher the build quality the heavier the maximum weight. It should also have effective stabilisers so there's no chance of it toppling over during an intense workout.
- Convenience Features. There are a number of non-essential features that can make a cross trainer more enjoyable to use. Tablet holders are great if you want to watch YouTube or Netflix while working out. Even a simple drinks holder can be useful to keep topped up on fluids.
Another important consideration is how much you want to spend. That's why we've separated the list below into budget, mid-range and premium categories to help you find the best home cross trainer whatever your budget. We've also included short elliptical cross trainer reviews to help you make the right choice.
Which are the Best Cross Trainers for Home Use in 2020?
|Name||Price Range||Flywheel||Max User Weight||View Price|
|JLL CT300 Home||BUDGET||5.5kg||100kg||View Price|
|XS Sports Pro Cross Trainer||BUDGET||Not Listed||110kg||View Price|
|ProForm 325 CSE||MID-RANGE||9kg||115kg||View Price|
|JTX Strider X7||MID-RANGE||12.5kg||110kg||View Price|
|NordicTrack E7.5 Elliptical||PREMIUM||9kg||125kg||View Price|
|NordicTrack E11.5 Power Incline||PREMIUM||9kg||150kg||View Price|
Best Budget/Cheap Cross Trainer
Budget or cheap cross trainers aren't the best option for an intense workout, but are great if you just want light or moderate exercise from home. They typically have a lighter flywheel, shorter stride length and less stability, but the best elliptical cross trainers in this price range can still provide a decent workout. For this section, we've looked at cross trainers that are available for less than £200 (prices change regularly though so we can't guarantee the price won't go up).
1. JLL CT300 Home Cross Trainer (Best Cross Trainer Under £200)
JLL Fitness has a reputation for selling decent-quality gym equipment at budget prices, so it's no surprise our top pick in this price range is from this company. The JLL CT300 Home is a magnetic cross trainer that isn't suitable for intense workouts, but is great for getting some exercise at home. It's also probably the best cross trainer under £200.
As you would expect from a cross trainer in this price range, it has a basic console without advanced features. The computer is able to show statistics such as heart rate, calories, time, speed and distance though, which is all you need for simple workouts.
The CT300 has a relatively light 5.5kg flywheel. This means it isn't as smooth as more expensive cross trainers, although this is partly offset by the belt system.
It uses magnetic resistance to provide eight resistance levels and has large pedals to suit any size shoe. We couldn't find an official listing of stride length, but it's relatively short which reduces workout efficiency. You would expect this from a budget model though.
With a lightweight flywheel and a maximum user weight of 100kg, it's immediately clear this isn't designed to match machines found in commercial gyms. Instead, it's a relatively simple cross trainer machine that provides a decent workout without costing a fortune. If you're looking for a cheap cross trainer to lose weight, it's one of the best options - just don't expect it to cope with intense workouts.
2. XS Sports Pro Cross Trainer
If you're looking for an even cheaper cross trainer than the JLL that can still provide a reasonable workout, the XS Sports 2-in-1 is a choice to consider. It's an affordable model that has some interesting features and a higher maximum user weight (110kg) than the JLL.
Like many of the cheapest cross trainers, the XS Sports is a 2-in-1 machine. This means it comes with a seat so you can use it like an exercise bike.
The combination of a chain-drive flywheel and belt resistance, however, reduce the smoothness of the machine. It has adjustable resistance, but if you're an advanced user you won't find the highest level challenging.
Something we like about the XS Sports is that it has a number of adjustment options. You can adjust the feet, handles and seat to find your ideal body position, which helps make it more comfortable to use. It also comes with a simple LCD display showing distance, speed, heart rate (via the handle sensors) and calories burned.
The XS Sports Pro cross trainer is a great option for beginners who want a cheap machine to help improve their fitness. While it can't handle intense workouts, and we think the JLL CT300 is a better option if your budget can stretch to it, the XS Sports Pro is a convenient way to get low impact exercise from home. The seat is an added bonus as it allows you to work slightly different muscles.
Best Mid-Range Cross Trainers
Mid-range models have a longer stride length, heavier flywheels and a more reliable build quality. They are also much better suited to more intense workouts. For this section, we've looked at cross trainers in the £250-£600 range (prices change regularly so we can't guarantee the current price of any cross trainer).
3. JTX Strider X7
Our top pick for a mid-range cross trainer is the excellent JTX Strider X7. It represents a huge step up from budget models with a more durable design, longer stride and a heavier flywheel. It's also suitable for much more intense workouts.
The Strider X7 is a magnetic cross trainer with 16 resistance levels. It also has a 12.5kg flywheel. The great thing about the X7 is that the relatively large number of resistance levels means it can challenge everyone from beginners to experienced fitness enthusiasts.
JTX Fitness has also created the X7 with a 40cm (16") stride length. This isn't as long as higher priced cross trainers, but allows for a much more natural stride than budget models. It also means you can have a more intense workout that burns extra calories.
The touch screen console is also more advanced than those found on cheaper options. Aside from showing basic metrics, it also comes with 21 pre-set programs. These include interval and fat burning modes. There's also a target heart rate mode, which is one of the most effective ways increase your cardiovascular fitness, and the ability to save four personal programs. A bonus is that the Strider X7 comes with a free chest strap for use with the target mode.
If we had a complaint about the Strider X7, it's that the maximum user weight is 110kg. Considering it's considerably more expensive than the XS Sports Pro, we're surprised it has the same maximum user weight.
Even so, the JTX Strider X7 is a fantastic cross trainer for losing weight and getting in shape at home. With its 16" stride length, heavier flywheel and advanced pre-set programs, there's no comparison between this and budget options if you want an intense workout. It also matches many more expensive trainers when it comes to quality and stability. In short, we highly recommend the Strider X7.
4. ProForm 325 CSE (Best Cross Trainer Under £500)
Another excellent mid-range elliptical cross trainer is the ProForm 325 CSE. It's built with a smooth magnetic resistance system and has a number of useful features for improving your workout.
The first thing to note about the 325 CSE is that it's built with a 9kg inertia-enhanced flywheel and ProForm's Digital Silent Magnetic System. This makes it perfect for more intense workouts, as the flywheel and magnetic resistance combination provides a higher maximum difficulty than cheaper models.
There are 20 resistance levels to adjust the difficulty of your workout. The highest difficulty should provide more than enough challenge for most users. It's also surprisingly solid when in use and shouldn't squeak if setup correctly.
If you're worried the cheapest elliptical trainers on this list don't have enough resistance to challenge you, the ProForm is a better option - although don't expect it to match high-end gym models in this regard.
You can select from 20 pre-set programs via the LCD display (ProForm calls these "apps".) There's also the option of connecting to iFit via Bluetooth, as this provides many more workout options. Be aware that iFit requires a separate subscription - although we think its worth it for the interactive features. A bonus is that ProForm has includes a tablet holder above the LCD display, which is great for watching TV or exercise classes.
We have very few complaints about the CSE 325, as its features are excellent for this price range. It also provides a smooth and comfortable workout.
The biggest drawback is the 36cm stride length. While this isn't tiny and should be long enough for most people, tall users may feel cramped - especially during high resistance, high intensity workouts. It's also not the easiest machine to put together (although we've seen worse!)
To summarise, the ProForm 325 CSE is an excellent model considering the price, which is why we think it's amongst the best value cross trainers. The 9kg flywheel and magnetic resistance provide a smooth workout, while the LCD screen offers a range of pre-set workouts. This is a cross trainer that can challenge everyone and provides great value for money.
Best Premium Cross Trainers
If you want to invest in a high-quality piece of exercise equipment, we recommend premium cross trainers. These models are sturdy and durable, so they'll last a long time, and also have a long stride length. You'll also find incline cross trainers in this price range. For this section, we looked at cross trainers costing more than £600.
5. NordicTrack C7.5 Elliptical Cross Trainer
The NordicTrack E7.5 is the first incline cross trainer on this list. With an RRP of £999 it's not cheap (although we've seen it sold for much less than this), but it provides a great workout and a range of useful features.
The stand-out feature of the E7.5 is the power ramp function. This allows you to adjust the machine up to a 20 degree incline for a more difficult workout. Changing the angle allows you to target different muscle groups, so it's a great way to add more variety to your workouts.
Aside from the incline feature, the E7.5 is built with a 9kg inertia enhanced flywheel and a 125kg maximum user weight. We would have liked a slightly heavier flywheel for smoother performance, but the "Silent" magnetic resistance system with 22 levels provides ample room for cardiovascular improvement.
Another great feature of the cross trainer is its adjustable stride length. This is great for increasing the comfort of your workout or targeting different muscle groups. It also comes with a bright LCD display with 26 pre-set programmes (13 calorie and 13 performance), iFit Live integration, workout fan, tablet holder, and built-in 2-inch speakers.
We think the NordicTrack E7.5 is an outstanding incline cross trainer. It can challenge even advanced users, while having a range of options to vary the intensity and difficulty of your workout. The 9kg flywheel is the only major drawback, but the E7.5 makes up for this with a variable stride length, incline feature and a highly durable design.
6. NordicTrack E11.5 Power Incline Cross Trainer (Best Cross Trainer)
The third NordicTrack cross trainer on this list - and also our pick for the best cross trainer of 2020 - is the E11.5. It's an incline cross trainer that can also fold up when not in use, saving space and making it an excellent choice for a home cross trainer.
Like the older E7.2, it has an incline function. On the E11.5, however, the incline can be adjusted electronically via the power ramp buttons. This is linked to the stride length, as adjusting the ramp incline also changes the stride between 20-22". Even the lower 20" stride is long enough for an excellent workout though.
As you would expect, it uses a magnetic resistance system with 20 levels. It has a 9kg flywheel, which isn't as heavy as we would like, but this doesn't have too much of a negative impact on the feel of the cross trainer. It's a comfortable and smooth machine due to the SMR Silent Magnetic system and cushioned pedals. The pedal angle can also be adjusted, to prevent the heel leaving the floor while exercising, while the console includes a fan to keep you cool
Most NordicTrack cross trainers come with iFit Live compatibility, and the E11.5 is no exception in this regard. The 5" screen has a "Race" style display with basic features such as heart rate, calories burned and distance. There are 30 built-in programs covering a range of performance, calorie target and intensity settings. You can also download 1000s of extra workouts via iFit Live (although you'll need to purchase this separately).
Overall, the NordicTrack E11.5 Power Incline is an excellent cross trainer that can cope with whatever intensity exercise you need. It's a sturdy and heavy model, so you don't need to worry about it falling over, and provides a smooth workout. The powered incline ramp and range of pre-set workouts also provide variety. If you're looking for a high-quality cross trainer and can afford its price, the E11.5 is a fantastic option.
Buying a cross trainer for your home can be a great way to get in shape and lose weight with a low-impact activity. The large number of available models can make it difficult to choose though, which is why we've listed the best cross trainers (in our opinion) in this article.
If you just want to know which is the best cross trainer, we recommend the NordicTrack E11.5. It's a sturdy model that has an incline function, large stride length and 30 pre-set programmes. There's no doubt that it's pricey, but if you want a high-quality cross trainer that can provide a tough workout regardless of your fitness level it's our top pick.
Do you have any questions about choosing a cross trainer? Or do you have a recommendation you think we've missed from this list? Let us know in the comments!