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Can The Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer Really Deliver? [A Review]

The Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer is designed around a single idea: giving you an intense workout while avoiding unwanted stress through your joints.

The premise behind this machine sounds great- who doesn’t want to burn more calories and lose weight safely? I know I do. But can the Proform HIIT Trainer really deliver what it promises?

Is the idea of getting a HIIT workout on an elliptical trainer plausible to begin with?

The Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer


  • Burn more calories with a total body workout
  • Low impact, gentle on joints
  • 32 workout programs
  • 24 resistance levels
  • 28 lb flywheel
  • Silent Magnetic Resistance (SMR) technology for quiet workouts
  • Multi-grip handlebars
  • 7″ backlit display
  • Grip heart rate monitor
  • Integrated tablet holder
  • iFit compatible
  • 350 lb weight capacity
  • Great warranty
  • Small footprint


  • Not compatible with other fitness apps
  • Some complaints about squeaky with extended use
  • No wireless HR monitor

HIIT Training

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become the new fitness craze lately. And unlike most fads, HIIT workouts are here to stay. And for good reason, they work. The goal of a HIIT workout is to get your heart rate (HR) up really high (80-90% of your max) for shorts periods and then let you recover for short rest periods.

This process of repetitively approaching your max HR is said to burn more calories and more fat than traditional cardio workouts that involve exercising at a moderate pace for long periods. The science behind it (abbreviated of course) goes as follows: intense exercise stresses cells more which means they need more oxygen; the cells actually get oxygen deprived in these intense bouts (anaerobic), which requires more energy (calories) to repair afterwards.

The ultimate result is that your body continues burning calories even after your workout is finished. Even up to 24-48 hours after! This is what people mean when they say HIIT training increases your metabolism, or speeds your metabolism up. Your body burns more calories following these workouts than it normally would.

But can an elliptical trainer provide this type of workout? Of course. Technically speaking any style of fitness machine COULD provide a HIIT workout, you really just need enough resistance to get your HR high enough. The rest is up to you. Of course the machine needs to be able to withstand the stress of the workout. Some fitness machines tend to be better suited for these types of workouts: spin bikes, treadmills, rowing machines.

But can the Proform HIIT Trainer actually do this is?

Elliptical-Stepper Hybrid

The Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer can be described as an elliptical-stepper hybrid. The motion your legs go through isn’t quite as horizontal as an elliptical. But it’s more horizontal than a traditional stepper (which is completely vertical- think going up stairs). The Proform HIIT Trainer is somewhere in between.

The foot plates actually travel 10-inches vertically and 5-inches horizontally with every step. So you are climbing 2x as much distance as you are walking, but it’s not as intensely vertical as a stepper.

This combination was chosen by Proform to reduce stress through your knees. If you have ever used a stair master (or climbed a few flights of stairs) you know how effective they are. Climbing stairs is tough and can give you a great workout, but it can also be really tough on your knees. Especially if you have patellofemoral syndrome (or arthritis).

Ellipticals are often used by folks with joint pain because the horizontal motion removes most of the compression forces from the knees and hips. Less compression (stress or impact) means less discomfort during use. Unfortunately, ellipticals aren’t well known for giving intense workouts.

So, the combination of the intensity of a step machine and the low-impact feel of an elliptical is the best of both worlds. You basically get the ability to comfortably perform a stair master.

To reduce the impact even further, your feet never leave the footplate while using the Proform HIIT Trainer. On a traditional stepper or stair master they do. This is just another way this machine keeps your joints safe and comfortable during use.

Users agree the arc Proform chose is both effective and comfortable. The elliptical-stepper hybrid is a successful combo.

Multi-Grip Handlebars

The footplates utilize a combination of elliptical and stepper motions to provide a comfortable and effective leg workout. But what about the arms? Fortunately, the Proform Cardio HIIT Trainer also comes with multi-grip handles. You can target different muscle groups depending on the position you choose.

You can go with a wider overhand grip to emphasize your chest and triceps by pushing or choose a neutral or underhand grip to emphasize your back and biceps by pulling. I really like that the Proform HIIT trainer also has a lower extension on the handles. This is a little different than most handlebars you see. This lower position would be great for hitting your triceps.

The arc the handles travel through is designed to mimic the jabbing motion of a boxer. Combine this with the stepping motion and you have a full body workout.

The Proform HIIT Trainer also has a set of stationary handles in case you want to concentrate solely on lower body. If you are looking to work your core and balance you could also exercise unsupported (without holding on at all).


So far, the Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer utilizes a low impact, comfortable stepping motion with multi-grip handlebars to provide a full body workout simultaneously. This is great, but in order to get the HIIT workout that is promised, we need to make sure this machine can push us hard enough.

The Proform HIIT Trainer comes with 24 different levels of resistance. This resistance is provided by using a 28 lb flywheel. The flywheel in an elliptical is similar to the ones used in spin cycles. The consensus is that heavier flywheels are better because they offer a smoother feel. And with regards to spin bikes, a more realistic feel.

This machine also offers 32 different workouts. This is a ton of workout variety, but if you want more you this machine is compatible with the iFit app (paid subscription necessary).

These programmed workouts are designed for HIIT. Short intervals of intense work followed by short rest breaks to keep your heart rate up throughout the workout. A lot of these workouts are designed to get your heart rate up fast too, so lack of time is no longer an excuse.

With a 28 lb flywheel, 24 levels of resistance, and 32 included workouts, the Proform HIIT Trainer is definitely capable of providing an intense workout. Of course, if you don’t want to do a HIIT workout, you don’t have to.

You set your own resistance and you put as much effort in as you like. If you want to do a less intense, more traditional type of workout you certainly can. It’s true HIIT workouts shouldn’t be done everyday.

Additional Features

The Proform HIIT trainer is capable of providing an intense, kick your butt workout. But it also comes stocked with plenty of additional features that make it fun to use:


This machine comes with a 7″ backlit display screen. The screen is large enough to make seeing the information easy. The backlit screen also helps visibility regardless of background light.

Heart Rate Monitor

The Proform HIIT Trainer comes with a set of grip heart rate monitors in the stationary handlebars. This is a great way to ensure you are working out in your preferred “zone”. Unfortunately, this machine isn’t capable of telemetry (wireless) HR monitoring. You would have to upgrade to the HIIT Trainer Pro for that additional feature.

Tablet Holder

The Proform HIIT Trainer is equipped with an integrated tablet holder. This device can hold your tablet (regardless of brand or size) safely in front of you during your workout. This is a nice perk, especially if you are using iFit.

The screen can’t display the iFit maps and workouts, but you can view all this stuff from your tablet attached via the tablet holder. It would also be fun if you wanted to watch Netflix or use any other media while you exercise. If you want a more advanced screen that can display the iFit workouts and extras, you may want to check out the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro.

It would be nice if the HIIT Trainer was compatible with other workout apps, but that isn’t currently the case.

iPod Compatible Port with Speakers

This HIIT Trainer comes with a port for attaching your iPod so that you can listen to your favorite music through the built-in speakers. This comes in handy if you don’t like to wear headphones while you workout. Sometimes the wire gets in my way.

Workout Fan

The included 2-speed fan will help you stay cool during your workout. But I bet you will still be sweaty after finishing one of the preset HIIT workouts.

Water Bottle Holder

The included water bottle holder is a nice touch. It’s placed conveniently in the front of the machine for easy access during your workout.

Transport Wheels

Built-in transport wheels making moving the Proform HIIT Trainer a little easier. That said, the machine weighs about 180 lb when fully assembled, so you may need some assistance moving it regardless of the wheels. Speaking of assembly, the included instructions actually make sense and are easy to follow. Most users had little difficulty with assembling themselves.

350 lb Weight Capacity

The max weight limit for this machine is 350 lb. This is impressive for a piece of home workout equipment. I mentioned how heavy this stepper is- this is a well-built device. I always like to look to the weight capacity as an indicator of quality. Higher is always better, and 350 lb is high, especially for this price range.

Small Footprint

Another great feature of the Proform HIIT Trainer is it’s size. This machine has a small footprint: 29.25″ wide x 66.7″ deep (52″ tall). This is significantly smaller than most high-end elliptical trainers. The stepper-elliptical combo movement doesn’t take as much horizontal space as a normal elliptical arc.

I know from experience that equipment size is one of the biggest concerns for home fitness machines. The Proform HIIT Trainer takes up less space than a lot of the competition. If your workout space is limited, this machine might still work for you.


Proform has included an impressive warranty on this HIIT Elliptical Trainer. This shows me that Proform has designed this machine to last and isn’t afraid to back it up.

  • Lifetime frame
  • 3-year parts
  • 1-year labor

Final Thoughts

The Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer is a well-built and well thought-out fitness machine. The elliptical-stepper hybrid design is safe and comfortable to use for most people. The large variety of preprogrammed workouts along with the 24 levels of resistance should be more than enough to offer a HIIT workout for users of all fitness levels.

Although user reviews are mixed on Amazon, the Proform HIIT Trainer is currently sporting an average rating of 3.5/5. Most users (even the ones that gave it a low rating) agree the machine is well-built and effective. Most negative comments are regarding  noisy operation or malfunctions on delivery.

To answer my question in the title- yes, the Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer can deliver on everything it promises. It has all the necessary tools to provide an awesome HIIT workout from home while taking it easy on your joints.

It’s also probably the nicest step machine for under $1000.



Will's a licensed physical therapist (DPT) with over 15 years of experience treating patients from all backgrounds. He's been lifting weights and exercising in one form or another since middle school and has been working out in his own home gym for over a decade. When it comes to fitness equipment, there isn't much he hasn't tried. In his spare time, if he isn't writing or working out, he's likely playing basketball, watching movies, or hanging with his family.

14 thoughts on “Can The Proform Cardio HIIT Elliptical Trainer Really Deliver? [A Review]”

  1. What a very informative site
    I am right into fitness and one of these machines is just what I need
    You have explained everything so well. You have given me all the details I need to make an informed decision
    Great work

  2. This is a great tool for home workout. I just want to know, how does this compare to other brands? The price is okay and the rating doesn’t really matter because most of the negative comments are based on the noise which for me, doesn’t really matter.

    1. hey nathan, great question. the Proform HIIT Trainers biggest competitors are the Proform HIIT Trainer Pro and the Bowflex Max Trainer. The Proform Pro is from the same company- very similar machine but has a heavier flywheel, a few more workout programs, better warranty, and does offer a wireless HR monitor- but it’s also about $700 more. The Bowflex Max Trainer is over 2x the price of the Proform HIIT Trainer and has fewer programs and fewer resistance levels. Reviews for both of these alternatives are in the works and should be up soon. But personally, I think this product is the best deal of the 3.

  3. What a great piece of gear, I love HIIT Training and I will have to check this out as a good alternative. Thanks for the informative Review

    1. yeah check it out and let me know what you think. it definitely makes it easier by setting up the intervals for you and pushing you hard enough to get the true benefits of a HIIT workout.

  4. This is a very comprehensive article. You have got some fantastic details in here. I actually think my partner would love to read this so I will be forwarding it onto him. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. It looks like a really good one, only too bad it is not compatible with other fitness apps and the wireless monitor isn’t available. But for the rest it looks like a very good one, gonna tell dad he has to look at this one!

    1. i know, it would be pretty perfect if it had these 2 features. the “pro” version does have these 2 additional features, but of course it’s a little more expensive.

    1. Well, getting “an hour glass figure” probably takes a potent combination of diet, strengthening, and cardio, but the a HIIT trainer like this one can certainly help you burn some serious calories and strengthen your glutes.

  6. My buddy has the H14, and I tried it out for a few minutes, and was impressed! So when I got home I saw an older PFEL9915 model on craigslist in mint condition for cheap and bought it right away. I like the increase engagement of the muscles used, and burning more calories than my old Life Fitness elliptical, while still being low impact on the knees. In fact I saw a second one pop up a week later (same model) and grabbed it for the office!

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