Ski Machines and Ellipticals: What are the Differences?

If you are looking for low-impact cardio equipment, then downhill ski machines, cross-country ski machines and ellipticals are the three options you should look into. Both ski machines and ellipticals are known for putting less strain on the joints and focusing more on the jogging and running motion. Let’s dive a bit into what both have to offer in terms of the nature of the workout.

What is the Difference Between Ski Machines and Ellipticals?

Ski machines and ellipticals vary in the motion of their strides. While ski machines mimic the style of cross-country skiing, ellipticals imitate the style of walking or running in which the feet move in an oblong circle. Ski machines have footpads and equipment that emulates the act of using ski poles, while ellipticals have footpads that rotate in curricular motions.


Range of Motions

While both fitness machines are known for providing low-impact aerobic exercise, they differ extensively in the nature of the motion of their strides. Ski machines are known for imitating cross-country skiing motions, in which the feet slide back and forth into each other.

Ellipticals, on the other hand, work by moving your legs in backward and forward motions while also involving your arms to share the workload. That is the reason why ellipticals provide a full-body workout compared to ski machines that only involve the legs.

Dependent and Independent Machines

There are two versions of machines available in the market when it comes to ski and ellipticals. Those are dependent and independent machines. Ski machines with a dependent design are equipped with skis so that when you put one step forward, the other goes back automatically. Independent ski machines, however, require extra exertion as the legs have to move the skis on their own.

Ellipticals, on the other hand, come in dependent versions for the lower part of the body. Some models may have independent handles for extra involvement of the arms.

Burning Calories and Health Effects

The amount of calories you burn in a workout is heavily dependent upon your weight, height, the intensity of the workout, and the time spent doing it. A 155 lbs person can burn a total of 353 calories after half an hour of using a ski machine. Elliptical, on the other hand, burned around 335 calories in the same person.

If we talk about the health benefits of using ski machines, it not only helps you control your weight but also strengthens the muscles and bones of the lower part of the body. Not only that but ski machines are also known for improving the sleep cycles of people who formerly suffered from problems.

Just like ski machines, working out using an elliptical is also very beneficial for the body. It involves the whole body in the workout, allowing it to fall into synchronization. It is known for boosting the stamina and cardio capacity of your body while giving you a full upper and lower body workout.


Ski machines and ellipticals can both be adjusted to the user’s needs and preferences. Ski machines have three adjusting scales that can be customized according to your need. They are stride resistance, arm resistance, and incline manually that could be adjusted to the mode of your training.

Ellipticals have a very interesting way of controlling the resistance provided by the spinning wheel. These machines need a magnet to operate, which works with a flywheel to control the resistance level of the spinning wheel. The stronger the magnetic field provided by the magnet and the closer it is to the flywheel, the harder it is to move the paddles of the machine.


Ski machines mostly lack the heavy parts that increase the safety risks in home gyms. These machines are safer to use than any other available exercise machine. On the other hand, you might need to exercise some safety measures while using ellipticals. You should always start slow with ellipticals and build up your speed. A little resistance is also very important to build momentum in the machine. Other than that, you should always monitor your heart rate and keep yourself hydrated while using both machines.

Entertainment Functions

While ski machines do not provide a lot of scope for entertainment on their forefront, ellipticals are advancing in this factor by every means. Newer models of ellipticals have built-in software that automatically updates the connected digital or iOS device to broadcast the content on the machine’s screen.

Some ski machines also come with heart rate sensors and user-friendly incline adjust buttons that are super easy to use. Other than that, the machine comes with an accessory holder that can hold your phone or other portables in it.

Ellipticals ski


Some newer models of ski machines are super lightweight and portable. They have the ability to fold so that you can easily store them or move them around. They are durable and sturdy as they are made up of steel and hard pine and can last you ages. They are also equipped with an electronic speedometer to keep track of your progress.

Ellipticals, on the other hand, have been innovated into high-tech machines with an Ethernet cable network and support for HDMI devices. Most newer models have a built-in TV system to entertain you while you work out.


You can get ski machines in the range of $500 to $700 depending upon the features they have to offer. Ellipticals, on the other hand, are a bit expensive, ranging roughly from $1000 to $2000. The aforementioned XC ski machine prices are around $500, if you are lucky enough to find one.

Which Fitness Equipment to Choose for a XC Ski Training?

If we talk about which machine is better when it comes to XC ski training and efficiency, ski machines stand out with their outstanding abilities to provide a powerful lower body workout while being safe to use, but elliptical trainers are also okay to train with to a given extent. NordicTrack has come up with innovative and ergonomic designs in ski machines that could be adjusted according to your preference and are cheaper than ellipticals. We wholeheartedly recommend XC ski machines as well although they are a little more difficult to come by due to their lack of availability.