Compact ellipticals help you stay active whether you’re at the office or at home. They fit neatly under desks, or they can be used while lounging on the couch.
It’s a simple way to get your body moving even when you’re chained to a desk.
Now that 81% of UK office workers are spending 4-9 hours at their desks each day, it’s more important than ever to stay active.
With the under-desk-elliptical trend gaining popularity, you have an overwhelming number of options to choose from. We’ve done most of the hard work for you and rounded up five of the best compact ellipticals.
If you prefer a full size elliptical, have a look at our cross trainer buyer’s guide.
Best Compact Ellipticals – Our Top 7 Picks
1. Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Elliptical
A portable strider with a quiet design, adjustable tension and sit/stand function. Use it while you’re sitting on the couch, or stand up to get a more vigorous workout. The Stamina InMotion E1000 allows you to pedal forward or backward to vary your routine.
Want to make your workouts harder? Adjust the tension with the turn of a dial. The tension knob sits between the pedals for easy access during use.
Don’t let this strider’s small size fool you – it can pack a wallop of a workout.
The display monitor keeps tabs on your stats, so you can monitor your progress.
- Strides per minute
- Total strides
- Calories burned
Textured foot plates keep your feet in place, so you can pedal as hard and fast as you want. The E1000’s design takes stress off your joints while toning your lower body.
The E1000 has a weight limit of about 18 stone, so it can easily accommodate most users. With a weight of 10.9 kg, it’s easy to move this strider around. Its compact footprint makes it travel-friendly. Take it to work, or move it to the living room to get a workout while you watch TV.
- Lightweight and portable
- Use while standing or sitting for
- Forward and reverse pedaling
- Display monitor tracks your progress
- Calorie counter is off
The display monitor is useful, but the calorie counter isn’t always accurate (a common problem with cardio machines).
Still, this compact elliptical will give you a great cardio workout, even while sitting at your desk.
2. Cubii PRO
Cubii PRO is the only Bluetooth enabled elliptical on the market. Simply connect to the app (iOS or Android) to track your strides, calories burned, miles, RPM and minutes. You can even set goals to compete with friends.
Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to sync to Apple HealthKit and FitBit to reach your daily step goal.
When used properly, the Cubii PRO can:
- Improve your posture
- Engage your core muscles
- Work your glutes, hips, quads, hamstrings and calves
Use it at the office, or while you’re sitting on the couch. It’s quiet, so it won’t disturb others. It’s also ergonomic, so you feel comfortable using it.
The PRO delivers a low impact workout that’s easy on the joints, but it will still get your heart pumping. With 8 resistance levels, you can adjust your workouts as your fitness level progresses.
The Cubii PRO is designed to move, and that means that you can take it anywhere. It weighs less than 13 kg and has a small footprint for easy portability. Take it to work, and then bring it back home to continue your workout.
- Bluetooth enabled to track your workout stats
- Syncs to FitBit and Apple HealthKit
- Quiet function
- 8 resistance levels
- App can be fickle
Bluetooth connectivity is a great feature, but tracking with the app can be finicky at times. App updates should help with the problem.
Overall, the Cubii PRO is a great option for anyone who wants to stay active at work. It’s safe, easy to use and delivers smooth strides.
3. Cubii Jr.
The Cubii Jr. is the little cousin of the Cubii PRO. While it lacks some features (mainly Bluetooth connectivity), this under-desk elliptical doesn’t sacrifice performance.
The Cubii Jr. has a handle for easy portability and a display monitor to track your progress.
The 8 resistance levels make workouts challenging. A whisper-quiet design means you can exercise without disturbing others.
The Jr. does more than just give you a cardiovascular workout. It also tones your:
- Core muscles
- Hip flexors
With its lightweight and compact design, it’s easy to use this elliptical at home or in the office. The resistance level knob is right between the pedals, so it’s easy to adjust even if you’re sitting at a desk.
The Jr. is easy to assemble. Install four screws and you’re done.
- 8 resistance levels
- Easy assembly
- Quiet operation
- Display monitor for stat tracking
- Can get noisy at high speeds
The only complaint with this elliptical is that it sometimes clicks or squeaks when you pedal too quickly. The noise isn’t too loud, but it may be disturbing in a quiet office setting.
Overall, the Cubii Jr. is a great option for use at work or at home. It’s easy to use, easy to assemble and easy to transport.
4. Sunny Health & Fitness Under Desk Elliptical
The under-desk elliptical from Sunny Health & Fitness is a practical budget option for home or the office.
This compact elliptical has a low profile, so you can use it under a desk. The ergonomic design makes it just as easy to use this elliptical while you’re sitting on the couch.
A digital monitor allows you to track your progress:
There are also 8 resistance levels to make workouts more difficult. Just turn the knob to increase the resistance. This elliptical uses a belt drive mechanism and magnetic resistance for smooth pedaling.
The foot pedals have a non-slip design. The 7” stride length moves smoothly thanks to the built-in wheels.
A transport handle makes it easy to move this elliptical from one room to another. It also arrives fully assembled, so you can unpack it and go.
- Arrives fully assembled
- 8 resistance levels
- Smooth and quiet
- Built-in transport handle
- Display monitor for stat tracking
- Moves around
The main drawback with this elliptical is that it slides around when pedaling quickly. Using it on a carpeted surface or with a mat underneath it helps curb the movement.
With that said, the Sunny Health & Fitness compact elliptical offers great value, is built to last and offers smooth operation.
5. FitDesk Elliptical Trainer
FitDesk compact elliptical trainer is an ultra-low profile exerciser for easy use under low desks. In fact, this model has the lowest pedal rotation height on the market: 20 cm. You can use this strider under desks as low as 63.5 cm.
The low profile allows you to stay active without your knees hitting or shaking the desk. At the same time, the low rotation doesn’t feel uncomfortable or unnatural.
The FitDesk has a high-velocity flywheel for smooth pedaling and quiet operation. Eight magnetic resistance levels increase your workout intensity using hands-free operation. The foot shifter allows you to change the resistance level quickly and easily.
Even on a low resistance setting, this under-desk elliptical gives your heart and your lower body a great workout.
The large foot pedals are comfortable to use and easy to locate under a desk. There’s even a wheel lock to keep your rolling chair in place while you pedal.
A 6-function display tracks your stats. There’s also a desk stand for the digital meter for easy viewing.
Assembly is relatively quick and easy (less than 30 minutes). You should be able to assemble this elliptical on your own.
- Ultra-low profile for low desks
- Hands-free tension adjustment
- Large, comfortable pedals
- Wheel lock to keep you in place
- Digital display
- 8 resistance levels
This elliptical can get squeaky, but a little WD-40 should solve the problem.
The FitDesk is ideal for anyone who works at a low desk. It allows you to stay active without disturbing your workflow.
6. Sportstech Deskfit DFX100
The Sportstech Deskfit provides a compact, mini elliptical trainer that fits perfectly under a desk and offers robust performance monitoring. Connect your phone to the DFX100 via an app and you’ll be able to view your:
- Heart rate
You can also view your total cycles, set the unit to warm-up mode to get your muscles warmed up or set it to work mode to start burning calories.
Maximum user weight is 23 stone or 150kg. Designed for sitting down, user weight is heavily negated and allows most users to get a cardio workout at their desk.
When workouts become too easy, you can adjust among eight resistance levels that are quiet yet challenging. Perfect for anyone that’s stuck at a desk, has knee issues or is older, the Deskfit is easy to assemble and allows for ample difficulty adjustments for a robust workout.
No height adjustment is necessary. Simply place the unit under your desk and begin pedaling for a safe, knee-friendly cardio session.
- App connectivity for easy session management
- Ball-bearing rail system for silent operation
- Magnetic brake system allows for a fluid workout
- Difficulty adjustments for a harder workout
- Video assembly is better than instructions provided
Instructions for assembly are not as robust as some of the videos on YouTube that provide a visual assembly reference. Parts are clearly identified, and it shouldn’t take you long to assemble the DFX100.
Safe, lightweight and leveraging your smartphone for easy session tracking, the DFX100 is a great elliptical for home or office use.
7. DeskCycle Ellipse
Small, convenient and offering magnetic resistance, the DeskCycle Ellipse allows you to improve your health while still being productive at your desk. Daily use of the Ellipse can help boost your:
You can use your under desk magnetic elliptical anywhere you go: at work, or on the couch while you’re watching television. Smooth and quiet, the elliptical has eight magnetic resistance levels that will help you build muscle and burn more calories.
The resistance levels start out very easy and progress to a moderate difficulty at the end.
Pedals are designed to be extra-long to accommodate all foot sizes.
The accompanying meter will track your time and speed when exercising. You’ll be able to track 10,000 minutes of activity on the tracker which allows for several hours a day of activity to be tracked and calculated.
If you’re trying to meet a monthly fitness goal, the long-term tracking will allow you to monitor how long you were active. A tap of a button switches the unit between RPM, time and calories.
- Great resistance levels for an intense workout
- Very quiet and won’t interrupt coworkers
- Long-term tracking via monitor
- Meter doesn’t work properly when removed
The meter comes with a wire that allows it to be removed and connected via an accompanying wire. While on the machine, the meter works fine. But when connecting via the wire, the meter doesn’t seem to operate properly.
Otherwise, keep the meter in place and enjoy a hard workout from the comfort of your desk.
GPulse Bluetooth Sensor
DeskCycle2’s GPulse sensor allows you to bridge the gap between your monitor and your favorite fitness tracker. Since the mini elliptical is situated under your desk, it can be cumbersome to bend over and try viewing your metrics.
The GPulse connects to your iPhone or iPad to allow you to view:
- Real-time results
- Your six favorite stats
You can also opt to post all of your metrics to the DeskCycle account where you can view the information about your workouts whenever you please. You can also connect a Fitbit account or an Apple Health account that will allow you to keep your data on the account you use most.
Compatible with most products, including:
- DeskCycle Ellipse
- Works with older DeskCycle products
- Tracks 14 results
- Posts data to the DeskCycle account every 15 minutes
- Lacks user reviews
GPulse allows you to configure each result to better understand and monitor your fitness product. You can also choose from 14 different results and rely on the unit to upload your information to your account every 15 minutes.
GPulse comes with an app, on the App Store, that is frequently updated and allows you to connect your phone to your GPulse. You can view up to six results in real-time on the app.
What to Look for When Buying a Compact Elliptical
Most consumers don’t know what to choose when buying the best compact elliptical. Price is often a major concern for consumers, but price can have an impact on the quality of the elliptical.
Instead, you’ll want to look at the key features of the compact elliptical you’re choosing.
Size and Weight
How compact do you want your elliptical to be? You need to be able to store your machine under your desk, in the corner or in a closet. A general, compact unit will have dimensions ranging from:
- 22” x 17” to 28” x 19”
Of course, the dimensions will vary drastically from one model to the next. Larger units provide wider foot pedals and are often more durable than smaller models.
Weight will range from 5.4 kg to 13.2+ kg. User weight limitations do exist, so be sure to look for the maximum user weight of the compact elliptical you plan on buying.
Statistics allow you to confidently track your workout to ensure that you’re meeting your fitness or activity goals. Monitors are common for ellipticals and provide insight into:
- Total time exercising
- Calories burned during a session
- Total strides taken
- Strides per minute
Other models will tie into your smartphone’s app, allowing for more in-depth tracking of your current session. Fitbit tracking allows you to use Bluetooth to connect your phone to:
- Set goals
- Monitor fitness
- Share progress
Android and iPhone compatibility are available. When you can see your progress over time and share your progress, it’s motivational and will encourage you to continue reaching for your fitness goals.
Resistance is key to reaching your fitness goals, burning more calories and building more lower body mass. Under-desk ellipticals often come with resistance knobs that allow you to adjust between resistance levels.
Eight resistance levels seem to be the most common number of levels that you can choose from.
When first starting out, keep the resistance levels low until you’re able to meet your duration goal. Once you can confidently hit your duration goal without much issues, you’ll want to challenge yourself further with resistance.
Move the resistance up one or two levels to see if it makes your session harder.
Since you have to expend more energy with resistance, you’ll burn more calories and will also build muscle in your legs.
Pedals must be wide enough for your feet and also offer some form of non-slip control. The pedals that work best have a textured design that will stop the person’s feet from slipping off the pedals.
You should be able to pedal as fast as you can without your feet falling off the pedals in the process.
Sit and Stand Function
Compact ellipticals are designed primarily for a person sitting at their desk, typing away, who wants to exercise. Most models allow for sitting function, but there are a few high-end models that allow you to stand and use the elliptical.
Standing brings a new element of difficulty to a workout because you’ll have to engage:
You won’t have handles to rely on like you would with a standard elliptical, so it can be very challenging to stand and exercise on these machines. If you want the most variety from your model, you’ll need to choose one that offers sitting and standing function.
But most people will be fine with just the sitting models if using the elliptical at their desk.
Forward and Reverse Function
Forward and reverse options engage different muscles in your legs, moving primarily from the quadriceps to the hamstrings, depending on the direction you’re pedaling. While you may not use the reverse function as often as the forward function, it is a nice option to have for variety in your workout.
Add in resistance, and the reverse function can be very challenging.
Quiet and Smooth Strides
How noisy or squeaky is the elliptical? The last thing your colleagues or roommates want to hear is you pedaling on your elliptical all day. Look for models with whisper-quiet designs and smooth strides.
Ellipticals with magnetic resistance often have smoother strides than those that use other forms of resistance.
Check reviews from customers to make sure the elliptical is as quiet as the brand claims it to be. Some ellipticals are quiet at first and then develop a squeak or creaking noise. Others are noisy from the start. If a machine is extra-noisy, you can be sure that reviewers will complain about it.
As long as you keep the elliptical clean and properly lubricated, it should stay quiet for as long as you use it.
Compact ellipticals are designed to be portable, but some aren’t as travel-friendly as others. Helpful features like travel handles make it easier to move the elliptical from one room or place to another.
The dimensions and weight of the elliptical also affect portability. The lighter the machine, the easier it is to move. Machines with smaller footprints are also easy to move, but you have to consider how you move it. Some machines have awkward shapes, which makes it hard to move it without getting your fingers stuck under the pedals.
The safest, easiest ellipticals to move are those with travel handles. But as long as it has a sturdy base, you should be able to lift and move the elliptical even without a handle.
If you want an elliptical for your desk, make sure you look for models designed for that use. Some compact ellipticals are too big and bulky for under-desk use.
You also want to consider your desk and its height. Most standard under-desk ellipticals require a table height of at least 25.” Take measurements at your workstation to make sure you have the space for a compact elliptical.
How easy or difficult is it to assemble the elliptical? Fortunately, many compact ellipticals come mostly or fully assembled. Read the product description thoroughly to find information about assembling the elliptical.
For some models, it’s as easy as tightening four screws. For others, you have to assemble the pedals and wheels. Choose an assembly level that you can confidently handle.
Because these ellipticals are so small and lightweight, you should be able to put it together yourself.
What are the Benefits of a Compact Elliptical?
A compact elliptical allows you to get a cardiovascular workout without leaving your chair. Their small footprint and lightweight design make them easy to transport.
If you live in a small flat, you don’t have the space for a full-size elliptical. Compact, under-desk ellipticals solve this problem. You can stay active without forking over money for a gym membership.
A compact elliptical also:
- Helps you tone your lower body, including your glutes, quads, calves and hip flexors
- Works your core muscles
- Helps you lead a healthy, active lifestyle
- Can be transported to the office or wherever you go
- Helps you stay focused at work while staying active
How Many Calories Can You Burn on an Elliptical?
It’s difficult to determine exactly how many calories you’ll burn on an elliptical. Calorie burning depends on how fast you’re pedaling and the resistance level.
Two people can use an elliptical for the same amount of time and burn different amounts of calories. The higher the resistance or speed, the more difficult the workout. The more difficult the workout, the more calories you burn.
That said, the average person burns about 335 calories when using an elliptical for 30 minutes.
Which Muscles are Used on a Compact Elliptical?
A compact elliptical works a variety of muscles, including:
- Hip flexors
One 2012 study found that the elliptical worked the quads and hamstrings better than walking, cycling or the treadmill.
It’s an effective way to work the entire lower body while also increasing your cardio endurance.
Increasing resistance levels will help you build strength in these muscles even more quickly.
How Often Should You Use a Compact Elliptical?
Every day – if you can. Committing to 30 minutes a day will help you reach the recommendations for daily exercise.
If you can’t commit to daily workouts, aim to use your elliptical at least three times a week for 60 minutes at a time.
Any amount of time on the elliptical will be beneficial. Even if you can only get in 10 minutes a day, it beats not doing anything at all.
The key most important thing is to be consistent. That’s how you see results. Over time, regular workouts on the elliptical can help you achieve:
- Better muscle tone
- More stamina
- Weight loss
If you’re using your elliptical at work, it’s easy to get in your daily workout without even thinking about it. In fact, the movement may help you stay alert, focused and on-task.
What are the Clearance Requirements for a Compact Elliptical?
The majority of compact ellipticals are designed for under-desk or chair use. If you plan to use the elliptical while you’re sitting at a desk, you’ll need to consider the height of the table and the profile of the elliptical.
Every elliptical is different. Some have ultra-low profiles so that you can use them even under very low desks. With others, you may need a higher desk to comfortably use the elliptical. However, most are designed for use under standard desks and tables.
To make sure that you can use your elliptical at your desk, measure the distance from the floor to underneath the tabletop. Use this measurement to help you find a compact elliptical that meets your needs.
Does a Compact Elliptical Give the Same Type of Workout as a Full-Size Elliptical?
Yes! A compact elliptical will give you just as good of a workout as a regular elliptical. Along with a cardiovascular workout, you will also tone your core muscles and the muscles in your lower body.
The faster you pedal or the higher the resistance, the better the workout.
The main difference between the two is that a mini elliptical won’t give you an upper body workout. A standard elliptical has handles that move your arms to work your shoulders, biceps and triceps.
You may not get an upper body workout, but you’ll still get a great cardio workout while toning your lower body.
If you’re looking for other compact exercise equipment, check out the mini stepper machines. If you prefer the movement of an elliptical and have enough space, have a look at the full-size cross-trainers.