The Definitive Guide for Under-Desk Elliptical

An under-desk elliptical is an elliptical trainer that consists of a base, drive system, and foot pedals within a compact design that allows users to exercise from the comfort of their desks. This type of elliptical trainer comes with basic features like varying resistance levels, adjustable foot pedal height (on select models), and mounted meter to track the distance covered. Using this type of elliptical is easy.

Simply place the elliptical on the floor a comfortable distance away from your chair (preferably under a desk), place feet on the pedals, and go! The purpose of this type of elliptical trainer is to reduce inactivity for those who work long hours behind a desk.

Desk elliptical trainer offers an easy and convenient way to make exercise part of a person’s daily routine. Both the multitasking factor and the fact that this elliptical is used while seated often appeals to those with busy schedules as well as individuals who live a more sedentary lifestyle.

Six most popular Under-Desk Ellipticals

Cubii-pro-under-desk-elliptical

Cubii pro under desk elliptical

The Cubii Pro is a high performing magnetic mini elliptical with all the bells and whistles. It is Bluetooth enabled, lightweight, and has excellent features like a built-in handle for portability, eight levels of resistance, and patented ergonomic design for added comfort.
cubii-jr

Cubii Junior

Unlike the Cubii Pro, cubii jr desk elliptical is not Bluetooth enabled but has the builtin display that the Cubii Pro lacks plus a portable handle for easy carrying, eight levels of resistance, and patented ergonomic design. The cubii jr is also about $100 less. It also comes with the same nonslip pedals as the Pro Model.
DeskCycle-Ellipse

DeskCycle Ellipse

The DeskCycle Ellipse is a bidirectional under-desk elliptical with extra-long pedals, quiet magnetic resistance, and a convenient display stand that you can place on your desk to easily track your progress. The only drawback is that it cannot be used while standing.
ideer-under-desk

iDeer Mini Elliptical

This under-desk elliptical features a sturdy build, multiple resistance levels, and can be used while seated or standing. Another feature worth mentioning is its multifunctional LCD display that shows workout duration, as well as distance, traveled, calories burned, etc.

stamina-inmotion

Stamina In-Motion Compact Strider

This compact strider features a compact design that comes in at a little over 11 inches tall, making it a great fit for lower desks. It also features large non-slip pedals and easy carry handle. The main downsides are that the elliptical isn’t as stable as it could be (especially when used while standing), and instead of actual resistance levels, the device has adjustable tension that can be adjusted by turning a knob. Unlike the other options mentioned, this under-desk elliptical comes in at under $100.
fitdesk-underdesk

fitdesk under desk elliptical

Unlike stamina instride, which can be used both sitting and standing, the fitdesk under desk elliptical is designed for only under desk workout. Its display monitor is removable and can be placed in your desk. It comes with a hands-free foot shifter and has the lowest pedal height, among other available desk exercise equipment.

What are the benefits of an under-desk elliptical?

More opportunities to exercise

This is especially so for those looking to add more cardio to their physical activity. Best of all, little effort is required. All you have to do is sit and pedal away.

 

Improved mood
As you know, this is the case with any physical activity. Still, the convenience of an under-desk elliptical combined with the physical activity involved promotes the release of endorphins in the brain that help a positive mood while decreasing stress hormones.

 

Increased productivity

When your mind starts to drift while you work at your desk, pedaling on an under-desk elliptical is a great way to keep you alert and focused, which will, in turn, enhance productivity. Frequently a little physical activity is just the thing to combat boredom at the office.

 

Less joint pain

Elliptical training is already a form of low-impact exercise, so removing the standing upright part from the equation makes the activity even more low-impact. Most users experience no joint pain when using an under-desk elliptical that has been adjusted correctly and is the proper distance away from the user’s chair.

Price

Compared to larger exercise machines like standing ellipticals, treadmills, stationary cycles, and rowers, under-desk elliptical trainers are very budget-friendly. A basic elliptical of this kind can cost less than $100. As for those with more advanced features and capabilities, they tend to be in the $200-300 range.

Do you need this type of elliptical?

Yes! Everyone can benefit from owning this type of elliptical. Whether you are just looking to incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine or find it helpful to keep moving despite being confined to a desk at work, an under-desk elliptical is perfect. First of all, they’re compact so you can easily take them to and from work. Just put it in your car, place it under your desk and pedal whenever you want. There is no reason not to use it. Secondly, everyone needs this type of elliptical because it is such an easy way to burn calories and work muscles in the lower body, including the hamstrings and calves, both of which can ultimately result in weight loss.
Sunny health offers a mini exercise bike that works with circular pedaling motion. Even though both exercise equipment looks similar, because of the elliptical motion, mini ellipticals are more comfortable to use than exercise peddler.
Lastly, it prevents your feet and legs from falling asleep, which is a huge bonus. As we all know, sitting at a desk for long periods can result in numbness in the legs and feet as well as an uncomfortable tingling that often has to be “walked off” to get any relief. Using an under-desk elliptical solves this problem by promoting circulation. Even if you don’t work a desk job, you can use the elliptical while sitting on the couch binge-watching your favorite show.
Moreover, smart ellipticals and the programs/personal training interactivity that come with them delivers a complete workout that supersedes the usual cardio-focused elliptical training. Frequently, smart trainers are designed to activate more muscles.

This is done by increasing the height of the vertical path of each stride, providing more resistance levels and/or increasing the machine’s maximum incline. Sometimes resistance and incline are even adjusted automatically during preset programs or interactive training. By upping the intensity and throwing some unexpected challenges into the mix, more progress is made.

Workout Options

There aren’t a ton of workout options when it comes to under desk ellipticals, but there are ways to switch things up to get optimal results. One option is interval training. This means you pedal at high intensity for intervals ranging from 45 seconds to 1 minute and 30 seconds then take 45-second to 1 minute rest in between. The average person isn’t going to pedal vigorously in the office, so use resistance to increase the intensity of your workout. The fact that this approach is both challenging and easy to do anywhere is excellent, plus you can adapt the exercise to suit your fitness goals.
Another option is adding other subtle moves to your workout. For example, you can alternate between pedaling and performing calf raises to build muscle in the lower legs. Alternatively, you can incorporate subtle moves like leg lifts to activate abdominal muscles or even transition from using the under-desk elliptical while seated to a standing position to perform a few sets of squats.
Mind you; this is only an option for those who have their own office or plan to use the elliptical at home. The key to changing up under-desk elliptical workouts is making small edits here and there to target different muscle groups and make workouts more enjoyable.

Do form and technique matter?

Form and technique are key when it comes to any type of exercise on any exercise machine/device, but when it comes to mini ellipticals, form and technique are simple. First, you want to make sure that you sit up straight and position yourself in your chair so that your back is supported. The second thing to consider is the distance between you and the elliptical. This will require a bit of trial and error, but you want to be able to sit upright in your chair and pedal without your legs feeling cramped or overextended.
As for technique, pedal downward to keep the elliptical in place while preventing any unnecessary forward sliding and keep your upper body still. It is also suggested that you hold your abdominal muscles tight to engage them further as you exercise. Doing this will not only ensure that your midsection benefits from the activity but will help maintain proper posture.
Other than that, there are apparent suggestions, such as starting slowly to give yourself time to adjust and ultimately get to a point where you can exercise without putting much thought into it.

Things to Look for When Purchasing an Under-Desk Elliptical

Non-slip base

An elliptical that slides around on the floor during use is practically unusable and presents a safety risk, mainly if it can be used both seated and standing.

Sturdiness

In addition to an elliptical that doesn't slide around during use, any good under-desk elliptical must feel sturdy once your feet are on the pedals. Poorly designed models may feel as if it may tip or flip over if you make a wrong move or pedal with too much force.

Portability

If an under-desk elliptical isn't portable, there is no point in purchasing it since you want to be able to move the trainer around quickly. Most models feature some sort of handle.

Quiet drive system

A magnetic drive system is the quietest, and a quiet drive system is essential in a workplace setting. Furthermore, quiet operation contributes to an improved overall workout experience. As a plus, quieter models usually require less maintenance since they do not include parts prone to wear and tear.

Durability

Although most models are quite affordable, nothing is worth the investment if it starts to break down after a few uses.

Multiple resistance levels

A must-have for workout variety and progression. Working against resistance not only increases the intensity of each workout but burns more calories and increases the heart rate for added cardiovascular benefit.

Dual direction

This helps target different muscles in the lower body more effectively.

Smooth operation

Smooth operation is a key contributor to the performance and efficiency of this type of elliptical trainer.

Table Requirements for Getting an Under-Desk Elliptical

There is no specific amount of clearance space required for these exercise machines because people vary in height, but on average, do not select a desk as low as 27 inches because most models will not work with desks below this height. Taller individuals run a higher risk of not being able to use an under-desk elliptical without hitting their knees against the bottom of the desk, so it is important to keep that in mind if you are taller. An easy solution is opting for a desk with an adjustable height.
Aside from that, selecting a table large enough to accommodate your legs and the elliptical itself is suggested to prevent any potential colleague involved hazard at work. To ensure that there is enough space, simply refer to the dimensions and pedal height of the mini elliptical you are considering and allot some additional depth for your legs as well as some wiggle room. Furthermore, desks/tables with a drawer or bottom shelf will not work.
The average person will have little to no space to stride comfortably once feet are placed on the pedals of the under-desk elliptical. The only exception would be a shorter individual and a very low profile drawer.

Mini Elliptical Trainers: Pros and Cons

Like all things, mini elliptical trainers have their pros and cons. Instead of going over the basic pros that you probably already know like the space-saving benefit, ease of use, safety (elliptical training is low impact) affordability and cons like limited resistance levels, let’s go over the things that matter to you. Check out the pros and cons of mini ellipticals below.

Pro: They’re Ideal for Those Transitioning to an Active Lifestyle


Those making the switch from a sedentary to an active lifestyle have a difficult transition period. They either can’t get into the habit of exercising regularly, or their bodies have a hard time adjusting to being more active. Since mini ellipticals can be used sitting down, working out with one is an excellent starting point. Perhaps use it for 30 minutes once a day to set the foundation for good cardiovascular health. From there, gradually increase resistance to engage the muscles better and slowly start trying other forms of exercise until you develop a workout groove you can stick to.

Con: Not Suited for all Desks


Yeah, this kind of sucks, but it happens. Don’t be surprised if you place your compact elliptical under your desk and can’t pedal without hitting your knees. If so, it isn’t a huge deal. There’s always the couch or your favorite chair.

Pro: Mini Ellipticals Allow You to Be Easily Distracted

 

You can seriously watch your favorite television show/movie as you stride away. After gaining your balance, it’s easy to get wrapped up in whatever you’re doing without realizing your work output. Compact elliptical trainers present the opportunity for an experience similar to listening to music while you exercise but just expands the list of activities you can do to distract yourself. For example, there is the option to sit at your desk and get work done, do some online shopping, catch up with a friend via text, and more.

Cons: Weight

 

Although compact and much smaller than standard models, mini trainers are not precisely lightweight and are therefore a bit difficult to lug around. That being said, an elliptical without some weight is a low-quality one. It must be sturdy enough not to tip over during use.

Pro: They Make You More Inclined to Exercise

 

Due to their versatility, mini elliptical trainers make you more inclined to exercise by eliminating excuses. It is nearly impossible to think of a reason not to pedal away while on the couch watching a film or binge-watching your favorite television show. All you have to do is place the compact machine in front of you and get started. You don’t even have to change clothes unless you plan to work up a real sweat. On top of that, mini ellipticals are easy to assemble, so you don’t even have that as an excuse. Even the most inexperienced users will have it ready to go in 10-15 minutes.

FAQ

What is the best under desk elliptical?

Currently, the Cubii is the most popular brand. But in the last ten years, Stamina in motion is the crowd favorite.

Does Under Desk elliptical work?

Absolutely. Of course, you cannot do any high-intensity workout with this type of exercise machine. But with low-intensity high interval, you can burn more than 500 calories for 2 hours while working at your office.

How many calories do you burn on an under-desk elliptical?

With low-intensity high interval cardio training, you can burn 300 calories per hour.

Final Thoughts

Overall, under-desk ellipticals are great little devices that effectively combat a sedentary lifestyle. They are an easy and affordable solution to inactivity while working at a desk. Best of all, they are portable enough to take to and from work. That being said, commuting in a personal vehicle instead of public transportation is ideal.
Despite the convenient handle, under-desk elliptical trainers are about 20 lbs. In addition to helping users stay active while seated, regular use comes with benefits like improved mood, increased productivity, and more. With those benefits come workout options, and better yet, there are several models to choose from, and those models are available at different price points to suit any budget, each with its list of features.
Once you make the right choice for your particular needs, all there’s left to consider are form, technique, and desk dimensions to ensure a comfortable workout experience.
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