Between work and keeping up with life’s many obligations, exercise can fall by the wayside—especially if you work in an office. But what if there was a way to burn some extra calories while sitting at your desk? Fortunately, with a simple yet effective under desk elliptical, you can bring the gym to work and get moving. But what is the best under desk elliptical? Let’s take a look.
First on our list is our top choice…
- Cubii Jr. Desk Elliptical
Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical
Stamina In Motion Elliptical Trainer
jfit Under Desk and Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper
FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical
The Benefits to Using an Under Desk Elliptical
Before we dive into our picks for the best under desk elliptical, you may be wondering why you might want one. Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the many benefits of using an under desk elliptical.
- Convenience: You already spend many hours per day at your desk. Why not take advantage of that time to move your body?
- Burn more calories: Despite not being a calorie-torching activity like running or strength training, using an elliptical under your desk does shift some calories. Calories lost here and there add up over time (if you know what I mean) and translate to good weight maintenance.
- Increase activity level: While not a replacement for a home gym workout, an under desk elliptical helps you combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle.
- Good if you have limited mobility or issues like bad hips, knees or obesity.
- Low impact: Ellipticals are a fantastic way to incorporate cardio into your workout regimen without putting stress on the joints, especially the knees.
How to Choose the Best Under Desk Elliptical
You’ll see there are plenty of options when choosing an under desk elliptical and the endless possibilities may feel overwhelming. So what do you need to know to make the best decision? Here are some features to keep in mind when choosing one.
Why is portability critical if you’re going to place the elliptical in your office and leave it there? Well, you may find that that’s not the case. As you become accustomed to using the elliptical, you’ll probably want to take it home now and again. And being able to transport the unit easily gives more versatility.
Even though these ellipticals fit under your desk, they’re not all created equal when it comes to portability. Some are too bulky or heavy for easy transport, so pay attention to features like weight and whether or not the unit has handles.
To get the best use out of your elliptical, you should be comfortable when using it. Make sure that the movement patterns feel natural. Avoid any models that compromise posture.
On a slightly different note think what chair you’re going to be using as one with easily rolling castors will play havoc with the rhythm of the cycling movement.
While cheaper than full-size ellipticals, the under desk counterparts are still an investment that should pay off in the long term. Cheap under desk ellipticals are more often than not are less sturdy and won’t last the test of time. Look for brands with good reputation for quality and support.
The most critical consideration of all is desk height. Every model lists the minimum desk height that the elliptical is compatible with. If you ignore this information, you may end up with a model that has you banging your knees on your desk.
Measure your space carefully on any structure that you’re likely to want to use it. Everyone is different so it depends on the individual’s comfort and how hard he/she is going to go at it.
To estimate the under desk space required, sit in an upright chair so that your knees do not rise up over your hips more than an inch or two. Although different under desk ellipticals will vary in their rotational height, generally, you need about 4 to 5 inches of clearance above your knees.
Like all fitness equipment prices vary widely. More expensive models aren’t necessarily better, as they may include features and extras that you don’t want.
You may be working from home where disturbing others isn’t necessarily an issue but you still want to avoid too much noise. You don’t want to disturb your family. Finding a model that operates noiselessly is vital to keeping the peace in your place of employment.
Other Factors to Keep in Mind
We’ve covered the essential features to look for, but some secondary factors can help enhance your experience.
Connectivity to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or your smartphone is a feature that can enhance your experience with the under desk elliptical and may help you stay accountable. While not mandatory, connectivity is a fun extra. Some models come with apps, and others allow you to pair with Fitbit or the Apple Healthkit to track your progress.
It’s vital to pay attention to the pedals when shopping for an under desk elliptical. The angles must be correct (or the unit should have a way to adjust them), and the pedals should have gripping to hold your feet in place. Ideally, they should support both forward and backward pedaling.
Most of the ones we’ve reviewed don’t come with straps which can be an annoyance and get in the way but you may like the option.
All of the machines on our list let you increase or decrease resistance utilizing a hand crank or a foot shifter. However, some have no resistance options, which is something to look out for.
Does the elliptical have standing capabilities, or is it just for seated use? Most units are only for seated use, but some offer a standing option as well. The standing option may be useful to some people looking for a bit more intensity from their elliptical workout.
The 5 Best Under Desk Ellipticals
Now for the fun part—our picks for the five best under desk ellipticals. We extensively reviewed the top models available to make your decision a little easier.
We’re kicking off our list with a pioneer in the under desk elliptical market, the Cubii Pro Under Desk Elliptical. Like it’s junior cousin the Cubii Jr. this machine is of solid construction and well made.
What makes the Cubii Pro a standout is that it’s the only Bluetooth-enabled elliptical available on the market. Using Cubii’s app, you can track various metrics, compete with others around the world, and take your workout to the next level.
Having connectivity between your fitness machine and other devices specifically smartphones and compatible apps might be a luxury too far for a lot of people including me.
But the advantages of Bluetooth connectivity with an under desk elliptical makes a lot of sense.
For example, you can adjust the tension on the machine by one tap on your phone. You can get notifications through the phone app to let you know your workout schedule.
You can sync your workouts with your fellow office workers or other Cubiiers anywhere in the world.
It allows you to set personalized goals. You have access on the phone app to all the normal stats you would expect including your daily, weekly, monthly, etc. progress.
You can pedal backward and the stats will still be measured.
The Cubii app integrates with FitBit and Apple HealthKit. Get your 10k a day.
One of the biggest concerns with under desk ellipticals is noise, and the Cubii Pro stands out in this area as well. I’m not sure I would describe it as “whisper quiet” as it is marketed.
I would describe it as a super quiet soft hum which shouldn’t bother your colleagues or drown out the TV. That being said I wouldn’t know if that would change over time however others who have used the machine for longer, like 6 months or more, report that it is just as quiet as when it was purchased.
This elliptical boasts exceptional quality and high ratings, but with the technology and quality comes a high price tag, so the Cubii Pro may not be for everyone.
The Cubii Pro (and Jr. which has the same dimensions and weight) come in at a fairly substantial 27lbs which could be an issue for those wanting to carry it to and from home and the office.
It does have a built-in handle to make it a little more portable.
Pedals: 14” (L) x 5.5” (W)
Dimensions: 23” x 17.6” x 9.8”
Weight: 27.56 lbs / 12.50 kg
- Very quiet
- Includes eight levels of resistance to optimize your workouts
- Bluetooth connectivity makes tracking your progress with iPhone, Android, Fitbit, and the Apple Health Kit simple
- Available in various sleek colors
- Very responsive customer service
- High price tag
- The machine can’t be used while standing
Next up we have the Stamina In Motion Elliptical Trainer, a very affordable option that will satisfy a wide range of needs.
I was surprised how sturdy this elliptical trainer appeared to be especially for the price. Users like that this elliptical for its no-slip pedals that support both forward and reverse motion, as well as sitting and standing.
Now standing whilst pedaling, there’s an interesting one. When I tried this I found it hard to balance and never did it unless I had somewhere stable at hand to hold. I didn’t feel that comfortable. but admittedly I didn’t keep at it. However, it obviously appeals to some exercisers as customers have attested to.
I think it would help anyone’s balance and with the addition of weights, it could be a very cheap way to get a whole-body workout. Bear in mind the maximum supported weight for standing is 250lb.
You position the machine one way for sitting exercise and turn it around for the standing movement otherwise there is no way of adjusting the pedal angle. This could be a deal-breaker if it’s found that your natural seating posture causes discomfort whilst pedaling.
The In Motion comes with a monitor to track your progress, as well as a tension knob that you can use to adjust workout intensity. Those looking for a more aesthetically pleasing machine will be happy to know that it comes in three fun colors.
While most individuals will be happy with this elliptical, there are a couple of issues to report. One is the lack of a handle, which makes transporting the elliptical a bit awkward.
It weighs in at just 24 pounds, so not impossible to move by any means. And despite being very quiet typically, a few reviewers mentioned issues with squeaking as time went on. A good dose of WD40 seems to fix the problem in many cases.
Dimensions: 24.5” x 17” x 11.4”
Weight: 24 lbs
- Excellent value for money
- Standing as well as sitting
- Available in three colors
- Includes an easy-to-read monitor
- Reports of pedals squeaking after a period
- Pedal angle not adjustable
- No built-in carry handle
The jfit Under Desk and Stand Up Mini Elliptical is another fantastic option that, as its name implies, supports both standing as well as sitting. It even comes with a front handle that makes using the elliptical while standing easier, and the rear wheels make it easy to transport. One thing about this jfit model is that the pedal angle is adjustable, there are only 3 settings but it does allow for more comfort while working out.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit of a faff to adjust the settings but it’s not like you’ll want to change it in the middle of an exercise. You have to unscrew the support rod and press the pedal down or pull it up depending on the adjustment needed then you re-insert the rod and tighten.
There is a nice design feature that tries to eliminate the problem of ‘chair roll’. On the back of the unit, there is the foldable handle that was designed to secure the leg of a rolling chair. There are other ways to secure the unit using the black handle if the chair isn’t on castors. It also has rear wheels for more portability.
You can also change the resistance to up the intensity of your pedaling if you like. jfit claims that using it while sitting burns up to 300 calories an hour, and more while standing.
Well, that’s as maybe but unfortunately, I haven’t yet seen any confirming studies. Let’s just say that, at least anecdotally, losing weight with this or other similar small fitness devices is likely.
Overall, if you’re interested in your elliptical having standing capabilities, definitely give this one a chance. It has a 250lb maximum weight support for standing.
The one significant drawback is that it has a rather bulky design that won’t work for every desk, so make sure to check your dimensions before purchasing. The highest point the pedal will reach is 12″ Add that to the length of your leg from the bottom of your foot to knee when bent add a couple of inches. Roughly 30″ depending on leg size etc..
Dimensions: 27.2” x 15 x 11”
Weight: 26.5 lbs
- Easy to assemble
- Designed for standing as well as sitting
- Affordable price
- Rear wheels, as well as front and top handles, make this unit highly portable
- Some users complain that the noise level increases with time, but that’s easy to fix with the oil included
- Slightly higher profile
The FitDesk Under Desk Elliptical made our list because it’s a fabulous option for individuals with space concerns. Its low profile and sleek design make it perfect for tight spaces. It also works well with small desks, fitting in work areas as low as 26 inches. Assembly was easy just attach the front and back support bars and the two pedals. That’s about it.
It features eight-position magnetic resistance. You can fully customize these positions using the foot shifter, which means that you don’t need your hands to adjust the resistance (perfect for when you’re busy typing).
The tension options, however, don’t give a great deal of resistance even at the highest level.
And the detachable monitor is a feature we love because you can view your progress from your desk.
One disadvantage of this model is that the pedal rotation is only eight inches, meaning you won’t get as intense a workout as from other ellipticals.
Regardless, this model is another well-made, sturdy machine good for upping activity levels throughout the day.
The Fitdesk Under Desk Cycle doesn’t come with foot straps, but if you contact the company they will send you some at no charge as there are points to attach them.
It’s especially good for those in physical therapy or people with illnesses that prevent them from participating in vigorous activity.
- The desk monitor makes it easy to track your progress
- Perfect for desks as low as 26 inches
- The foot shifter allows handless adjustment of the resistance
- Easy assembly
- Not much resistance
- Chair roll
The last model on our list is another Cubii cult favorite, the Cubii Jr. The Cubii Jr. is a perfect alternative for those who love the design and features of the Cubii Pro but don’t need Bluetooth capabilities. The Cubii Jr. lacks the connectivity of the Pro but unlike it’s more expensive cousin it doesn’t need to be plugged in. The Cubii Pro needs continuous power due to it being Bluetooth enabled. If you were to use it on the couch the cables may be a hindrance so Cubii Jr would be better.
Instead of using a connected smartphone the Cubii Jr has a built-in LCD monitor that tracks your progress.
One of the benefits of the Cubii Jr. (and Pro) is that it’s super quiet so you can use it without bothering those around you.
I would describe the Cubii Jr. as a super quiet hum just like the Pro and just as with the Pro. people that have used the machine for months have still found the same hush.
Users also love the ergonomic design that makes it right at home in an office setting (or wherever you want to use it).
It’s easy to assemble and solid construction which does mean it’s a bit on the heavy side so portability might be an issue although like the Cubii pro it has a handle built-in.
The only real issue with the Cubii Jr is that, while more affordable than the Cubii Pro, the Jr remains a pricier under desk elliptical alternative that may not be accessible to everyone.
Dimensions: 23.2″ x 17.6″ x 10″
Weight: 27.6 lbs / 12.50 kg
- Eight tension levels allowing a variety of resistance
- Features an easy-to-read monitor to track metrics such as calories burned, distance, RPM, and strides
- More affordable than the Cubii Pro
- Has high customer satisfaction ratings
- More expensive than other under desk ellipticals
After careful deliberation, we chose the Cubii Jr Seated Under Desk Elliptical as the winner in this roundup of the top five best under desk ellipticals.
It has a sturdy design and is of high performance that will stand the test of time. The action is quiet, smooth operation and remains so even after a lot of use. Noises developing after some wear is a problem with other under desk ellipticals. Customers are highly satisfied with the Cubii Jr. and the customer service is excellent.
The Cubii Pro Elliptical is the same profile with all the features we love as the Cubii Jr. The (much) higher price of the Pro was because of the sexy app options available with the machine’s Bluetooth capability which were surprisingly useful and entertaining but did these extra features warrant such a price hike? Dunno.
For a value option with the ability to exercise standing as well as sitting, we would recommend the jfit Under Desk and Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper.