Buying an elliptical trainer but not sure where to start? Elliptical machines have come a long way over the years with more toys, features and design options than ever before.

That's good news – but it can be bad news too if it ends up confusing you with all of your options.

Not to worry though – when you know what to look for you'll easily be able to spot a high quality crosstrainer and find the best elliptical for your home.

So with that in mind, here are 6 must-have features to look for when buying an elliptical trainer:

# 1 Stride

Stride length is the farthest length between the pedals. A longer stride of 18 to 20 inches will more fully work your lower body muscles and feel much more natural.

A shorter stride of around 14 to 17 inches can feel uncomfortable and unnatural for many people. Not surprisingly, cheaper ellipticals (like the ones you find in many department stores) usually give you a 14 or 15 inch stride – which gives you a less effective workout.

So look for a stride of around 18 to 20 inches. Some home ellipticals also give you varying strides or adjustable strides so everyone in the family can choose a stride that feels right for them.

# 2 Incline

Incline is similar to the incline on a treadmill. It changes the slope of your elliptical pathway. The advantage to this is that you end up working different muscle groups – and getting a better crosstraining workout overall.

Not all crosstrainers have incline included. However if you want the most effective workout, incline is a great option to have.

# 3 Console

There are a range of many different consoles on home elliptical trainers today – and much of this is up to you as to what kind of look you prefer. However you do want to look for a few specific features here.

First of all, you want a backlit console. Non-backlit consoles often come on cheaper machines and they can make your workout stats almost impossible to read.

Also look for a console that gives a constant feedback of your workout stats – it does not toggle back and forth – which can be annoying.

The console should also have an easy to reach stop and start button for safety reasons.

# 4 Resistance

Resistance is not the same as incline. Resistance makes it harder to pedal – letting you add some high calorie burning interviews to your workout.

Most elliptical machines do come with resistance today. However you do want to make sure you're getting multiple levels of resistance – so you have room to grow.

For example a machine with 20 levels of resistance is better than a crosstrainer with 12 levels of resistance. You do not want to top out at the highest resistance level within the first month.

Keep in mind that as you workout, your fitness levels will greatly improve as your body gets stronger and into better shape. So you want to make sure you have lots of room to grow with your trainer when it comes to resistance.

# 5 Arm Bars

Most home elliptical trainers these days also incorporate upper body arm bars.

However you also want to look for things like padded arm bars or arm bars with resistance controls on them – so you do not have to reach up to the console to change the settings.

# 6 Toys

This is the fun stuff. Elliptical trainers today come will all sorts of extras that can make your workouts more fun and enjoyable.

For example you can get trainers with iPod docks and speakers so you can play your favorite tunes. You can find consoles with built-in web browsers or tablet holders above the console – so you can surf the net or watch movies as you workout.

You can also find online tracking options so you can track your workouts over time to see how far you've come – which is super-stimulating.

The great thing about the toys is that they are what often gets us excited about exercising and using the elliptical. But when you see just how far these toys can take you, it's also really inspiring to see how much you can accomplish!

So those are 6 must-have features when buying an elliptical.

Keep these things in mind and you're guaranteed to find a high quality crosstrainer that can keep you strong and healthy for years to come!