How Can I Make My Elliptical Trainer Work Smoother?

Over time, elliptical trainers can start to get stiff and slow. Once they start to not work as smoothly, some simple maintenance may be required. You may need to adjust the joints on the equipment or spray some equipment lubricant onto the joints for it to work smoother.

It’s necessary to regularly lubricate many moving parts of your elliptical to make it move easier and smoother. Ellipticals may need to be readjusted to fit you and your stride better. The correct stride length can make a large improvement in how smooth an elliptical feels.

Locate your owner’s manual and find the information about how often you should be lubricating the equipment. It may vary from every 6 months to every year, but you should definitely re-apply whenever you notice that your elliptical is squeaky and slower than usual.

How to Make an Elliptical Work Smoother

To get your elliptical running smoothly again, you need to lubricate the base pedal and the ball bearing that rub each other. After rubbing for so long, they can become more resistant and less smooth. When you feel the elliptical is resisting and or when it starts squeaking, then it is time to re-apply lubricant.

The video below demonstrates how to apply the lubricant. The only items you need to fix this issue on your elliptical are a rag or paper towels, and lubricant for exercise equipment. Later in the article, you can find which lubricants work best on equipment.

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After gathering your supplies of the silicone-based lubricant and the towel, you need to identify what you are spraying down. The elliptical has a metal base track that the ball bearing on the foot pedal runs on. This area experiences friction and can be the reason your elliptical doesn’t run smoothly.

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Before you start spraying products, you may also want to grab a towel and lay it underneath the area you will be spraying toward. That way you can protect your floors from becoming greasy, slippery, or damaged. It also helps you avoid any potential hazards from having greasy floors right next to where you work out. I imagine that slipping and falling on the ground when you are simply stepping on and off your machine isn’t fun. So, be sure to place a towel on the ground to prevent any future problems.

You should be able to lift up the foot pedal as shown in the video above. If not, just move the foot pedal all the way down so that you have access to as much of the metal track as possible. Spray the silicone-based lubricant you have onto the flat metal track.

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Gently wipe down the metal track. This evens out and spreads the lubricant onto the track, and it picks up the excess lubricant. You don’t want a lot of lubricant to stay on the elliptical or it will run too smoothly, thus becoming loose, slippery, and a potential danger to work out on. The goal is to leave enough lubricant on the track to cover it and keep it smooth. Again, you are conditioning the equipment, not soaking it in lubricant.

After spraying and wiping down the metal track, you need to do the same for the ball bearing. Simply spray it lightly, and wipe off any dripping excess. Doing this conditioning will help keep your elliptical running smoothly for years. Repeat this process to both sides of the elliptical, and you’re done.

Giving the track an even coat of lubricant also protects it from collecting dust and dirt. If it starts to build up on dust and dirt then the elliptical will not run smoothly. It can also build upon the ball bearing. If it builds up too much then the ball bearing will have a hard time moving and become stuck in place. The ball needs to rotate and move freely for the elliptical to function properly, so by keeping up on lubricating your elliptical you are conditioning your machine and preventing potential problems.

Look over the owner’s manual to see how often the brand recommends lubricating the elliptical. Some may recommend doing this every 6 months or every year. If you forget the last time you did it, then just go by how it feels. If the elliptical feels like it is starting to resist again and it is not running smooth, or if your elliptical is squeaking, then it is time to lubricate your equipment again.

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A smoothly working elliptical trainer is great for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) This is a great way to burn more calories in a short period of time and also improve your cardiovascular health. A good interval timer is going to make HIIT workouts much more enjoyable. Check out the GymNext Flex timer. It’s super easy to set up and control contrary to most other interval timers making the setup for any workout a breeze.

Should You Use WD-40?

Do not use the original WD-40. Using the regular WD-40 on your elliptical can ruin your equipment. the “WD” means Water Displacement, meaning it is for cleaning, not lubricating. The original product dries in seconds, so it will leave no smooth residue for your equipment to glide over like how the silicone lubrication does on your elliptical. It can destroy the bearings over a few days which is not good for your workout equipment or for your wallet.

Regular WD-40 that most people buy for their door hinges will not work on workout equipment. As stated above, it is not a lubricant. But, there are other products besides the regular WD-40 that can work. They have made WD-40 Specialist Silicone (Amazon link) which is a silicone lubricant. If you have WD-40 at home, check it to see if it is their silicone lubricant product. If not, do not use it on your workout equipment.

The downside is that this product dries fast, even for the silicone lubricant. You want a product that will leave the track for your elliptical smooth and greasy so that the ball bearing can glide on the track. If you want to use a WD-40 product, then use the Specialist Silicone product. But, other products work better for workout equipment that others have tried and loved. I would recommend looking at those options first to avoid any potential issues with using the WD-40 products.

Overall, most people do not recommend using WD-40 for workout machines and equipment. It dries the area it is sprayed on, so using it on an elliptical isn’t the best option. On an elliptical, you want the flat metal track and the ball bearing to stay a little greased up to allow for flowing and smooth movement. If those parts on the elliptical are dried out then it will have a hard time moving, and you would be back at square one; needing to find a lubricant to condition and grease up your elliptical.

Lubricants to Use on Workout Equipment

There are many products on the market for lubricating different surfaces such as metal, rubber, or plastic. there is a variety of both silicone and lithium grease products, but it can be hard to decide what will work best for both your wallet and your equipment.

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It is recommended that you use a product that is either silicone-based or has PTFE (Teflon) in it. For pivot points a white lithium grease works well. Products like these will work best for physical fitness equipment. They keep the different moving parts conditioned so that they don’t start sticking together or start having a hard time moving all the way through the motions. You want to look for the dry versions of lubricants. These spray on wet but dry out quite quickly. While they’re dry, they still lubricate well. The dry surface means it gathers much less dirt and dust which keeps everything working smoother.

The moving parts will keep a little slick between them to allow for flowing movement, and to keep the equipment from building any dirt or dust. Dirt and dust and build up and stop the flowing movement the machines are supposed to have, so cleaning as well as maintaining your equipment with grease or lubricant is a must.

When looking at products, look at the list of uses. If it claims that it does work on workout equipment, then you should compare it to other products like it and find the best product for you.

If you only want one can and be done, go for a 100% silicone lubricant for your equipment. This type of lubricant works on metal, rubber, and plastic which is perfect for workout equipment like an elliptical. To find what the brand of your elliptical recommends, go to their website and look for their equipment lubricant. They may have their own products, or they may have a list of products they trust that you can find and use.

Looking to see what products the company uses and recommends can be useful information. You can decide from there that you want to get their product, or you may want to use what you find to search for other products. Checking with the company can keep you on the right track in the search for the right workout equipment lubricant, so you may want to start your research there.

In the video above, there are some products that are recommended for lubricating your workout equipment. Starting with the products he uses and moving on to more recommended products, here is a list of lubricants you can use on your workout equipment:

Favorite Cardio Accessories

Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:

  • Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high-quality choice.
  • Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
  • Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.

To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.


Hey, I'm Matt. Welcome to After working out in many different gyms for almost 20 years and helping people build their own home gyms, i've learned a few things i'd like to share with you.

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