We have been working up a sweat testing cross trainers and consider the Sole Fitness E35 as the best cross trainer of 2020 for beginners and elite athletes. It is a high-performance model for the more demanding user and is great value for money. The model’s comfortable design and excellent built-in training computer make it the perfect cross trainer for weight loss.
We carry out our tests in-house and tested all cross trainers as they were intended to be used. Our testing team consisted of both elite and recreational athletes, and together they have evaluated over 100 exercise machines. We retained the models that performed well for longer-term testing, in many cases several years, and continuously add updates to our cross trainer reviews.
In our assessment we focused on the following areas:
Ease of use: How easy is it to use the exercise computer? Does it suit both short and tall users? Is the cross-trainer easy to relocate? How clear is the user manual?
Quality and design: How well designed is the cross-trainer? How much stress and wear can the construction tolerate? What type of resistance does it have? How accurate is the measurement of heart rate, calories burned etc.? What guarantee does it come with?
Functionality: Does the cross-trainer have front or rear drive? Is there a holder for your tablet? Does it support a wireless heart rate belt?
Performance: How strong is the maximum resistance? How high is the maximum user weight? How long is the stride length? How powerful is the crank wheel?
We have scored each cross-trainer according to its value for money. In other words, how good it is in each aspect in relation to its price tag. An expensive cross trainer thus has higher expectations than a cheap one, and vice versa.
Comfortable & innovative cross trainer for cardio training
Price range: Professional Step length: 50 cm Flywheel: 10.4 kg Training programs: 10 Resistance levels: EMS Resistance levels: 20 Frame inclinations: 0-30° Max resistance: 550 W Machine weight: 105 kg Max user weight: 170 kg Display: Type: Backlit LCD Color: Blue & yellow Size: 7.5 inches Dimensions (LxBxH): 209x55x171 cm Transport wheel: Yes Heart rate monitor: Yes (chest belt included) Power source: Grid electricity Warranty: 2 years Additional functions: Fan, speakers, audio input, tiltable frame Accessories (included): Pulse belt, water bottle
With its top quality and aggressively-priced fitness equipment, Sole Fitness has established itself as one of the world's leading manufacturer of cross trainers. No expense has been spared on the E35, with a robust, comfortable and sleek design you’ll love. A substantial flywheel coupled with an excellent step size ensures an exemplary step movement of the coveted cross-country skiing type. The training computer provides many options but is also easy to use with convenient buttons and a large back-lit display.
The training programs are well balanced and enable varied training. The innovative D-shape handles provide improved grip, and in addition to a heart rate monitor, they also feature practical hotkeys for adjusting the resistance and incline. The frame tilt function transforms the E35 to a more orthodox cross trainer and adds a bit of stair climber functionality to boot. Distinctive luxurious specifications such as built-in speakers, connection for MP3 players and fans are certainly welcome, but may not be used by the average exerciser. After months of use, the closest to a weakness we were able to identify is the heavier weight of the machine, which limits mobility.
Spirit Fitness CE800: Elliptical with high performance and excellent step size
Price range: Elite Step length: 50 cm Flywheel: 13.5 kg Training programs: 10 Resistance type: EMS Resistance levels: 40 Max resistance: 400 W Machine weight: 109 kg Max user weight: 200 kg Display type: Back-lit LCD Dimensions (LxWxH): 198x70x170 cm Transport wheel: Yes Heart rate monitor: Yes Power source: Auto generating Warranty: 2 years for home use | 1 year for commercial use Extra features: Fan
Spirit Fitness CE800 is a cross trainer which is primarily intended for environments where exercise machines are used frequently, such as commercial gyms. Unsurprisingly, the CE800 offers premium performance. The stride length is good, as is the flywheel, and together with the stable handles, they contribute to a substantial, steady and comfortable stepping motion. The hallmark of a model in this class is the heavier machine weight - and even the heavier maximum user weight. A strong maximum resistance ensures that even really fit people can get a workout on the CE800. The design is well thought through, understated and stylish, and therefore it blends in well in home environments and in commercial spaces. This also applies to the control panel, which has a limited number of buttons that help to keep it comprehensible. The training computer is straightforward and easy to learn but still has a varied selection of training programs to enjoy. The display has a friendly size but considering the price range, we wanted to see higher resolution graphics. For the price range, the manual gives a rather sparse impression, but more importantly, it is easy to understand. The fan is underpowered, like on all the other cross trainers we tested, and therefore provides limited cooling.
Price class: Medium Type: Rear-wheel drive Step length: 40 cm Flywheel: 9 kg Exercise programmes: 12 Resistance type: EMS Resistance levels: 32 Machine weight: 66 kg Max. user weight: 150 kg Display: Type: Backlit LCD Length: 148 cm Width: 58 cm Height: 158 cm Transport wheels: Yes Pulse meter: Yes Power source: Mains electricity Guarantee: 4 years Video clip: Product demo: Instructions User manual: PDF
The Finnlo Loxon XTR is a stylish and silent performance cross trainer for cardio training programmes. With its unique appearance, generous maximum resistance and good mobility, this is a superb choice for home use. The greater permitted maximum weight, long handles and good step length makes this machine suitable for the majority of users, regardless of height. The Loxon XTR has electromagnetic resistance, which normally provides a long life for these machines. The step length is good for its price bracket and gives a comfortable and effective exercise experience. The Loxon XTR feels sturdy, but the actual shell feels somewhat plasticky.
The exercise computer is simple but still requires a little time to master if you want to do more than just use one of the manual programmes. The control panel is clear and informative with good backlighting. But there’s no return button or not even an OK button. Nor does the machine have a shelf for your tablet. On the grips there are pulse sensors, and for those who want a little more out of their exercise there are pulse programmes so you can tailor your training sessions. Last but not least, the user manual is easy to understand.
Versatile machine with a focus on comfort and innovation
Price range: Premium Step length: 51 cm Resistance type: Permanent magnet Resistance levels: 25 Machine weight: 75 kg Max user weight: 136 kg Display: 5.8" backlit Dimensions (LxWxH): 178x72x161 cm Transport wheel: Yes Pulse meter: Hand pulse/chest belt (sold separately) Power source: Mains electricity Guarantee: 2 years Extra features: Schwinn Connect, MyFitnessPal
The Schwinn 470i is a comprehensive premium class model with app fitness pairing and practical details that make it stand out from the crowd. It has a modern design and support for apps such as Schwinn Connect & MyFitnessPal. Exercise data is transferred by connecting a USB stick to the unit. Unfortunately, however, this method is relatively old-fashioned now as many training apps have wireless transfer instead. Nor is a USB stick included, and you have to buy it separately. Beneath the display is a rack for a tablet etc. However, the position of the rack means that the display is covered by the tablet. To compensate for this the 470i has an extra – and more compact – display immediately beneath the rack where you can see the most important information. There is also a USB outlet that makes it possible to charge your tablet or phone. By adjusting the angle of the foot support, you can decide which part of your legs will get the most intense exercise. If you need to change the resistance and/or gradient during the session, you can do this easily with the practical buttons available on the side of the display. Beside the control panel there are two simple speakers and a small fan. The Schwinn 470i is robust and has a well-proportioned step length. It's also front-wheel driven, which makes possible a better elliptical step movement than on rear-wheel driven machines.
This is a really nice cross-trainer with two displays that mean you can see your exercise data while watching something on your tablet, which can even be charged at the same time.
Well built, with plenty of resistance and USB outlet
Price class: Premium Type: Front-wheel drive Step length: 50 cm Flywheel: 10 kg Exercise programmes: 7 Resistance type: Permanent magnet Resistance levels: 15 Machine weight: 70 kg Max. no. of users: 2 Weight: 150 kg Display: 5.3 in, backlit Length: 165 cm Width: 55 cm Height: 158 cm Transport wheels: Yes Pulse meter: Yes (support for wireless pulse measurement) Power source: Mains electricity Guarantee: 3 years Video: Demo
The FINNLO Ellypsis E3000 is a front-wheel driven premium class model with modern design and a USB outlet for charging mobile phones or tablets during your session. Beneath the display is a rack for a tablet etc. Unfortunately, this means your tablet will block the display, which otherwise enables you to get an overview of your training. But at least the USB outlet means that your tablet won’t run out of charge. You change the resistance during the session using two buttons placed beneath the display, together with all the other buttons for the exercise computer. It would have been better if these were positioned somewhere else closer to hand, to make it easier for you to find them even if you were tired. Above the control panel is a fan, which is unfortunately not so powerful and gives minimal cooling effect. It would have made more sense to position the shelf here, which would have left the display visible.
The Ellypsis E3000 is robust and has a good step length. The front-wheel drive enables a better, more elliptical step movement than a back-wheel driven cross trainer. The maximum resistance is significant and makes it possible to do really tough sessions. In addition, the cross trainer sits firmly on the ground even under maximum load, which can be a problem on less stable models. The E3000 is equipped with large plastic transport wheels which work OK on a softer surface. On a harder surface like a parquet floor, however, they are useless and you can end up with scratches on the floor if you move it. Despite these issues, the overall consensus on the E3000 is that it’s a well-built cross trainer that can handle tough sessions.
Automatic rear-driven cross trainer for commercial use
Price range: Professional Step length: 51 cm Training programs: 16 Resistance type: EMS Resistance levels: 32 Max resistance: 350 W Machine weight: 74 kg Max user weight: 150 kg Display type: Type: Backlit LCD Color: Blue & yellow Dimensions (LxWxH): 190x64x170 cm Transport wheel: Yes Heart rate monitor: Yes (chest belt included) Power source: Auto generating Warranty: years Accessories included: Pulse belt
BH Fitness Khronos is a well-built and beautifully designed cross trainer for commercial use but also suitable for beginners. The high build quality ensures that Khronos is well equipped to be used frequently, such as at a corporate gym. The stride length is unsurprisingly generous and provides a soft and fine step movement. A clear sign that this is a top model is the narrow step with minimal distance between the foot plates - something that contributes to the exemplary step movement.
The 150kg max user weight is not breaking industry records but perfectly adequate for most people. Neither the control panel nor training computer are particularly self-explanatory, but with a little patience you can learn them quickly enough. Khronos is auto generating, making it easier to place, as you do not need to consider any cabling. Other strengths include a balanced variety of pre-programmed workouts, quiet operation, multiple resistance levels, and the included pulse belt. On the less positive side, we noted a rather inaccessible bottle holder, lack of accessible function buttons on the handles, and thirdly, the Khronos is relatively troublesome to relocate.
Great exercise machine for tough intervals and optimal fat burning
Price class: Elite Type: Front-wheel drive Exercise programmes: 11 Resistance type: Motorised magnetic resistance Resistance levels: 20 Machine weight: 135 kg Max. user weight: 135 kg Display: Double LCD/LED screens Length: 117 cm Width: 64 cm Height: 165 cm Transport wheels: Yes Pulse meter: Hand pulse + pulse strap (included) Power source: Mains electricity Guarantee: 3 years User manual: PDF Video clip: Assembly instructions: Product demo
The compact Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is a hybrid of a cross trainer and a step machine, which means it can offer really tough exercise for the whole body. The motorised magnetic resistance is very powerful, which is exactly what you want for tougher interval training. At the same time, the machine is kind to your knees and joints because it spreads the forces from your bodyweight over the movement in a balanced way. The M7 is characterised by consistent high-quality material choices, but also a relatively light machine weight. Bowflex also offer a generous three-year guarantee for private use. The design is appealing, and just like many of Bowflex’s other machines, the display console is futuristic. The exercise computer is easy to understand, and Bowflex has launched their own free app that you can easily use to transfer and follow up your exercise data via Bluetooth functioning. Accessible buttons and a few initial settings make it easy to get going with your exercise routine. There are also quick-access buttons in two places to control the resistance.
The M7 is equipped with a bottle holder and a shelf for a tablet – but unfortunately any tablet will hide the display, making it almost impossible to get an overview of your training. On the plus side, Bowflex includes a wireless pulse strap, which you have to buy separately for most cross-trainers. The M7 has a light flywheel, which is normally associated with a poor resistance profile. Instead the flywheel rotates swiftly to compensate for the lighter weight. This sets significantly higher demands on build quality to tolerate the increased stress caused by faster rotation. Problems with this type of design can emerge after years, but the otherwise top build quality would seem to indicate that this won’t be an issue. The Bowflex Max Trainer M7 is ideal for small space home gyms and a pleasant exercise machine for the entire body. Its higher price tag will deter many buyers, so it really is aimed at well-heeled exercisers who are short of time and space - but have ambitious exercise goals.
Cross trainers have become popular training machines in recent years. This isn’t surprising, as a cross trainer allows for a type of exercise that suits a wide audience. Cross trainer benefits include the fact that your whole body gets a workout for weight loss, and it provides both exercise and muscular strength training. This type of exercise machine also provides gentle exercise that’s easy on the joints, back and knees, but can simultaneously provide tough training if that’s what you prefer. Unlike treadmill training for runners, for example, a cross trainer workout does not cause impacts on your joints, helped by the elliptical leg movement which evens out the load over the entire movement.
Training with a cross trainer is often compared to cross-country skiing, as it exercises the legs, arms, stomach, chest and shoulders. This comprehensive style of training not only builds up these muscle groups, it also allows the body to burn more calories, making the cross trainer extremely suitable for those who want to lose weight. Because you have good opportunities to control both resistance and pace, you can easily vary your workout intensity. A cross trainer is often subjected to heavy loads, especially if the user is overweight and/or during tougher sessions. So, it’s important that you buy a high-quality cross trainer, to prevent it quickly wearing out or even breaking.
Anyone looking to buy a cross trainer should ask themselves these basic questions:
In our cross trainer test, we considered 19 important characteristics. These are listed below, with an explanation of how and why they are important.
As always. the price is perhaps the most important factor to most consumers. Manufacturers of cross trainers aim at different audiences for their products, and therefore, the price varies considerably. The cheap models cost just under 2000 SEK and the most expensive can easily cost more than 50000 SEK. The extreme difference in the price clearly reflects the enormous difference in the quality of the different models on the market. In general, you can say that the more expensive types of cross trainers, in addition to having superior build quality and function, also have a longer service life than the cheaper models. On the other hand, a more expensive cross trainer is not always better than a somewhat cheaper model in the same "league". If you choose a "budget" model, you must be prepared for it to feel a little unstable compared to the cross trainers you're used to at the gym.
Most cross trainers today have a display on which you can not only read the numbers and text, but also get a visualization of resistance, distance traveled, etc. It is important that a display is designed to be user-friendly so that it is easy to "find" the settings and commands you are looking for. You do not want to be standing up and trying to figure out the different menus in the middle of a workout when you’re starting to get fatigued!
A good cross trainer should have a good training computer. It is this that enables the pre-programmed exercise programs, e.g. interval training, fat burning, marathon etc. Even cheap cross trainers have several programs to choose from, so content is more important than the number of programs, i.e. how good is the training they provide. Often the user's weight and age are also added to adjust the programs with a suitable load for personalised training.
Pulse control is a part of most training computers, but when the function is not always available from the training computer on many of the cross trainers sold, we have reported this functionality separately. The pulse controller measures the user's pulse, typically via the handles, and sends this information to the training computer which then shows the data on the display. Pulse control is very handy, because it helps the user to maintain the kind of effort they are looking for. Perhaps they want a steady pulse for fat burning or perhaps intervals with different pulses. A practical use of pulse control that mid-range and more expensive models often enable, is to keep track of the user's pulse and constantly regulate the resistance so that the user's heart rate is at a desired rate. This is the opposite to how resistance traditionally is used, where the resistance is leading, and the heart rate goes up and down even though you usually want to have it as even as possible. Varying the resistance by pulse instead generally gives a much more effective workout, as this is the best indicator for measuring how hard the body must work. And therefore people more serious about exercise often see this as a must for the most effective training possible. If you buy a better model of cross trainer, many people consider that pulse control with automatic resistance adjustment is a bit of a must-have.
A cross trainer is either form the front or back. We know they aren’t cars, but bear with us here. A front-driven cross trainer is normally preferred as it gives a more even motion than a back-driven one does. This coveted flat movement, reminiscent of cross-country skiing, involves a gentle load on your knees and is one of the strengths that has made the cross trainer so popular, especially among overweight and elderly exercisers.
A cross trainer has either electromagnetic brakes/resistance or permanent magnetic. Generally, we can say that today's electromagnetic brakes are preferable to permanent magnetic ones, as electromagnetic brakes have no moving parts that can wear out. Permanent magnetic brakes are generally less expensive to manufacture and are therefore common on cheaper models, whereas the electromagnetic brakes are much more common on the more expensive models.
To get a good load on your feet, it is important that the pedals follow the feet throughout the elliptical motion, so that the pressure on the feet is as smooth and stable as possible. In addition, you should be able to adjust the pedal height to suit the individual user's length.
If you have a small apartment with a limited space to put your cross trainer, you naturally want it to take up a minimal amount of room. The price of this is usually a less stable cross trainer which cannot handle as much of an intense workout as the bulkier models. This makes it wobblier and reduces life expectancy. Cheaper cross trainers usually take up less space than the more expensive models, which suits many if they have less money to spend on their cross trainer - and they also live in a small residence. For those with a larger budget but short on space, the frame size is often a problem, as these more expensive and more solidly-built cross trainers take up more space. If space is not a limitation, we can generally say that the larger the frame size is, the more stable the cross trainer will be. Please note that beyond the frame size, the cross trainer also needs to have clearance of up to half a meter in each direction as many parts of the machine will move during use.
As with frame size, machine weight is generally a contradiction, where more weight provides a more stable and solid machine that can withstand heavy loads and heavier users, while a lighter cross trainer is less stable, less sturdy and might squeak etc. As for size, cheaper models weigh less than the more expensive ones, which is good if you have limited space and want to relocate the cross trainer out of hiding to be used and put back again. But if you can afford it, a heavier machine is usually a positive, as you often get a quality cross trainer if it weighs more.
This feature is especially important for cross trainers that are likely to be used by the heavier users. A person can be heavy due to being overweight, muscular (muscles weighs a lot!), tall etc., but regardless of why, it is important to buy a model that is designed to handle the user weight that it actually should be used for. If more than one person is planning to use the cross trainer, you should of course buy a model that is designed to be able to bear the heaviest user. In general, we can state that the more expensive the cross trainer, the higher user weight it can handle. We would like to notify heavier users that it can be dangerous to use a cross trainer that is not designed to cope with the weight placed on it. If an overloaded cross trainer is used, there is a risk of breakdown in the middle of a workout, where the user could fall and become seriously injured.
An important part of the cross trainer's mechanics is the flywheel, as the trampling enables the flywheel to spin. To make it harder to keep the wheel in motion - and thereby provide the body with sufficient training - the flywheel is surrounded by magnets that act as friction and brakes. To obtain a stable and uniform resistance, the flywheel must be as heavy as possible. So generally, the heavier the weight of the flywheel - the better.
To achieve a comfortable workout with proper elliptical leg movements, it is important that the step length is large enough. Otherwise, it will be easy to use too small movements which provide a poorer and less enjoyable workout. Cheaper models generally have shorter step lengths of about 30-40 cm and more expensive models have a step length from about 40 up to 50 cm or more. In general, the taller you are, the greater the step length you should have. If you are very short, it may indeed be preferable to have a shorter step of perhaps 30 cm. On the other hand, if you are taller than 160 cm, you should not have a step length below 40 cm.
Even if the design does not normally affect the functionality, it still plays a major role for many. A cheap cross trainer can often be moved easily and therefore tucked away in any home nook when it is not being used. But more solid cross trainers are neither built for relocating, or intended to be moved around. As the cross trainer might be placed in your living room or a home gym, you should not have to be embarrassed if it could look ugly. A cross trainer is perhaps not an oil painting, but it should at least have an acceptable design that it does not make you wince to look at it.
An important feature for a cross trainer is durability, and there are several reasons for this. Perhaps the most important reason is that a robust cross trainer will have a longer lifespan than a less robust one, as the well-designed robust frame, mechanical engineering and electronics will manage the long and heavy load that a cross trainer is often exposed to. This is especially true if it is used often, used by heavy people and/or if the user chooses intensive training programs. A better durability normally means that the cross trainer can manage a heavier user weight. The one issue with robust cross trainer is that it generally takes up more space than a less robust one. They also weigh more and perhaps above all else, are more expensive.
A cross trainer is usually a larger investment for most, and that is why it is crucial that you can rely on its durability and can provide loyal service for many years. If for any reason the cross trainer should break or be defective in any way, it is important that the manufacturer or dealer quickly and cheaply (preferably for free) can replace or repair the cross trainer. Even cheaper models can have quite generous warranty times, which of course is good, but you should keep in mind that as a customer with a complaint, you are responsible for the costs of transporting the cross trainer to a repair shop or returning it by courier. This can entail a significant cost in time and money. We therefore recommend that you consider this when buying a cross trainer.
If you buy a cross trainer online (which is very common even for more expensive models, as you normally get a better price at internet stores) and home delivery and installation are not included (which they sometimes are for the more expensive models), it is important that the installation of the cross trainer is not too complicated. Make sure to weight this consideration up before purchasing.
A good manual with detailed instructions is an easy way to ensure that you get the most out of your cross trainer. It should contain simple instructions on how to assemble the cross trainer, and it should contain user-friendly guides on how to use the training computer with all its programs and settings. Unfortunately, many manufacturers fail at this hurdle - even those who sell a bit more expensive models. Nowadays, we think that in addition to a paper manual, a digital manual must also be included, preferably as PDF documents or in another format that makes it easy to read. Saving a small PDF file of under 1 MB on your computer also takes up considerably less space than to store a paper manual, which also tends to get lost.
The noise level is perhaps not the first thing you think of when buying a cross trainer. A cross trainer should be quiet and not make any annoying sounds. Partly because this often interferes with the exercise, as you might be reluctant to use your full strength for fear that the cross trainer might break, and partly because it may interfere with the focus you want for your training - whether this focus is achieved by listening to music or watching TV. But there is another reason that a cross trainer should not squeak. As with other mechanical structures, a squeaking means that there is high friction during use and the cross trainer therefore wears out quickly. You want to avoid this, as a good cross trainer should be able to be used daily for several years before it is worn. If on the other hand the cross trainer squeaks, it might wear out so quickly that it is torn apart after just a few months of use.
More solid cross trainers are not intended to be moved around and may have folding parts, but for cheaper models with lighter weights, it is commonplace to keep the cross trainer in a nook when not in use. In this case, it may be important that the cross trainer is designed to be easily relocated so as not to damage it, your floor, or yourself during the move. Some cheaper models have wheels to increase their mobility.
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