Elliptical Machine Terminology

Are you ready to get the most out of your elliptical experience?

Knowing the components and features of an elliptical machine can help you customize your workouts and take them to the next level.

In this article, we’ll break down the different parts and functions of an elliptical machine, so you can get the most out of your workout.

Get ready to maximize your elliptical experience with this comprehensive guide to elliptical machine terminology.


Frequently, understanding the components of an elliptical machine can help you make the most of your workouts. Pedals and their associated movement patterns are important to consider, as the joint stress they create can be significant. Handlebars can be either static or moving and can have a significant impact on upper body engagement. Also, a stable base is essential for safety and longevity of the machine.

When looking at the drive system, there are two main types: front-drive and rear-drive. The former has a more compact design, while the latter typically offers a smoother motion. The flywheel plays a key role in the fluidity of the elliptical motion as well.

Equally as important is the digital display and console. The type of display is usually either LED or LCD, and it can show metrics such as RPM, Watts, or METs. Many elliptical machines also offer built-in programs, user profiles, and connectivity options to track progress.

The brake and resistance systems are also important to consider. Manual and electronic braking systems are available, and magnetic resistance can provide a smoother experience. Tension belts are another factor to consider when setting the resistance levels.

Drive Systems

When it comes to drive systems, there are two main types of elliptical machines: front-drive and rear-drive. Front-drive machines have pedals located in front of the flywheel, while rear-drive models have the pedals behind. The motion of a front-drive elliptical is more direct and can be felt more in the legs, while a rear-drive machine is smoother and more fluid.

Additionally, center-drive ellipticals feature a compact design with the flywheel located in the center of the machine.

The flywheel plays an important role in the smoothness of the elliptical motion. A larger flywheel offers more momentum and a more natural feel, while a smaller flywheel leads to a more jerky motion.

The type of drive system will also determine how much space the machine takes up, as front-drive machines tend to be larger than rear-drive or center-drive models.

Here are a few points to consider when it comes to drive systems:

  • Front-drive vs. rear-drive: differences in motion and machine layout.
  • Center-drive ellipticals and their compact design.
  • The role of the flywheel in determining the fluidity of the elliptical motion.
  • The importance of a larger flywheel for a more natural feel.
  • Considerations for space and layout when choosing a drive system.

Understanding the various drive systems and their features can help you make an informed decision when choosing an elliptical machine. Whether you prefer a front-drive machine with a direct motion, or a rear-drive model with a smoother motion, the right drive system can make all the difference in your workout.

Digital Displays

Building on the discussion of drive systems, digital displays offer a range of features that can enhance your elliptical machine experience. Many modern elliptical machines come with LED or LCD displays that provide clear visuals for metrics, console options, and other features. Display features vary from machine to machine, but they typically provide metrics such as RPM, Watts, METs, and more. Console options may include built-in programs, user profiles, and connectivity options such as Bluetooth or ANT+ for tracking your workout data.

It is important to understand the metrics displayed on the digital displays. RPM, for example, refers to revolutions per minute and is a measure of how quickly the pedals are moving. Watts measures the amount of power generated by the user, while METs (metabolic equivalents) measure the intensity of the workout. By understanding these metrics, you can more accurately gauge your performance and adjust your workout accordingly.

In addition to metrics, many digital displays offer connectivity options to track your workout data. Bluetooth and ANT+ are the most common, allowing users to connect to apps and sync data to monitor progress. Some machines also offer user profiles, allowing multiple users to store individual settings for each workout.

Digital displays are an important part of modern elliptical machines, offering features that can help users make the most of their workouts. By understanding the display features, console options, metrics, and connectivity options, you can ensure that you get the most out of your machine.

Resistance Systems

You’ll find two types of resistance systems in ellipticals: manual and electronic. Manual braking systems use a lever or a knob to adjust the tension and resistance levels of the machine. They’re usually found in lower-end models and require more effort to use. Electronic braking systems use a built-in motor to adjust the resistance levels. These systems are typically found in higher-end models and provide a smoother, more consistent experience.

Magnetic resistance is a popular type of resistance system that uses magnets to adjust the tension. It’s known for its smooth motion and durability, as there are no physical parts to wear down. Tension belts are also used in some models, and they work by controlling the tension of the drive system. This type of system can provide a wide range of resistance levels.

Adjustable stride length is an important feature for many users, as it allows them to customize the machine to their body type and comfort level. Adjustable pedal angles can also be beneficial, as they reduce foot fatigue and make it easier to maintain the correct form.

When it comes to resistance systems, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of each type before making a purchase. Manual braking systems may require more effort, but they tend to be cheaper. Electronic braking systems provide a smoother experience, but they may be more expensive. Magnetic resistance is known for its smoothness and durability, while tension belts offer more flexibility in terms of resistance levels. Lastly, adjustable stride length and pedal angles can provide a more comfortable and effective workout.

Adjustable Features

Beyond resistance systems, adjustable features can also improve your elliptical experience. Many machines feature adjustable stride length, pedal angle, and handlebar positions, allowing users to tailor their workout to their individual preferences and body type.

Adjustable stride length is particularly important for user comfort, as it allows users to find a stride length that fits their legs and reduces fatigue. Likewise, adjustable pedal angles can help reduce foot fatigue, while adjustable handlebars provide more options for targeting different upper body muscles.

In addition to physical comfort, adjustable features can also provide a more personalized workout. For example, if a user wants to focus on lower body muscles, they can adjust the stride length and pedal angle accordingly. On the other hand, if a user is looking to put more emphasis on upper body muscle groups, they can adjust the handlebar positions to provide more resistance.

Regardless of the user’s goals, adjustable features can help them customize their workout for maximum effectiveness. Overall, adjustable features can greatly enhance a user’s elliptical experience. By allowing users to personalize their workout to their own preferences and body type, adjustable features can provide a more comfortable and effective experience.

With the right combination of adjustable features, users can optimize their elliptical workout and reach their fitness goals more quickly.


With adjustable features and personalization, you can make your elliptical workout more comfortable and effective. Elliptical machines offer various adjustable features that allow users to tailor their workouts to their body type and preferences. Adjustable stride length, pedal angles, and handlebars can all be used to reduce foot fatigue, target the upper body, and enhance user comfort and workout effectiveness.

Here are some key points to consider when personalizing your elliptical experience:

  • Adjustable stride length helps ensure that your workout is both comfortable and effective.
  • Pedal angles can be adjusted to reduce foot fatigue and improve overall comfort.
  • Moving handlebars can engage the upper body and target different muscle groups.
  • User profiles and connectivity options can be used to track progress and set goals.
  • Adjustable resistance levels help you customize your workout intensity.


Now that you know the different components and features of an elliptical machine, you can customize your workout to suit your fitness goals.

With the right drive system, resistance system, digital displays, and adjustable features, you’re sure to get the most out of your workout.

Get ready to take your elliptical workouts to the next level with this comprehensive guide to elliptical machine terminology.

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