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What are the Different Types of Elliptical Fitness Equipment?

T. Webster
T. Webster

There generally are three types of elliptical fitness equipment available for purchase or use at health clubs. They are: front, rear and center drive systems. The drive system of the equipment is important because it often determines how smoothly the machine operates.

Elliptical machines are popular because they provide a low-impact cardiovascular workout that tones many areas of the body. The machines work by providing a workout that combines the benefits of a treadmill, an exercise bicycle and a ski machine. Many machines can be adjusted for resistance or incline to vary the intensity of the workout.

Women on elliptical machines.
Women on elliptical machines.

Elliptical fitness equipment with a rear drive has its axle located in the rear of the machine. This equipment tends to run smoothly and is relatively easy to maintain. Regular maintenance and weekly cleaning usually are required to keep this kind of machine running smoothly. If dirt collects in the wheel that drives the machine, it might operate in a jerky fashion.

Front drive elliptical fitness equipment uses a drive axle in the front of the machine. This is similar to the way some treadmills are constructed. These machines generally are not as smooth-running as rear drive elliptical machines and can be more difficult to clean.

On center drive elliptical machines, the drive axle can be either in the front or rear of the machine. These machines are the newest version of the three. The distinguishing feature of the center drive machine is that is allows the weight of the user to remain over the center of the machine.

When purchasing elliptical fitness equipment, it is best to test it to see how each type feels. The feel of a machine often is a matter of preference. Additionally, each person’s body shape might work differently with each kind of machine.

The design of the machine and the quality of how it is built also can greatly impact its performance. In addition to running smoothly, quality elliptical equipment should not make squeaking or grinding noises. A machine that grinds or squeaks suggests that it is poorly designed or was poorly assembled.

Within the various types of elliptical fitness equipment are varying price ranges. This includes home versions that cost a few hundred US Dollars up to health club-quality machines that can cost a few thousand US Dollars. The casual exerciser probably would not want to invest in a high-priced machine, just as an avid exerciser probably would be disappointed with a lower-end model.

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    • Women on elliptical machines.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      Women on elliptical machines.