Elliptical machines are really great. They are fun, effective, and are very popular among seniors. Elliptical machines provide you with a great cardio session and keep you healthy and fit. They burn a lot of calories without putting strain on your body.
Elliptical machines are very low-impact machines. They do not strain your muscles or joints. It is the primary reason why elliptical machines are majorly used by adults and seniors.
When it comes to buying an elliptical machine, either for home or public gym, there is one factor that is often overlooked, the elliptical machine stride length.
Most people are concerned about the overall dimensions of elliptical machine and the price. Budget and space are equally important. But stride length is a factor that you should consider if you wish to have a comfortable workout in a long term.
Stride length would determine how far the elliptical machines can go. It is important because if there is not enough elliptical stride length, you might feel cramped and uncomfortable. Stride length can also improve the efficiency of your workout.
Today we will learn how to determine the perfect elliptical stride length for you. So while buying an elliptical machine, you can also consider this factor along with your space and budget.
What is Stride Length in Elliptical Machines?
First things first, let’s determine what exactly is stride length in elliptical machines. In simple words, stride length is the farthest distance you can step out the elliptical machine pedals.
The amount of maximum distance both the pedals can be while using an elliptical machine is called the Stride length of the elliptical machine.
Now you may wonder, if stride lengths are just a manufacturing concept, why isn’t it universal if it is very important. It would have been better to have just a fixed amount of stride length.
The answer is the ideal elliptical stride length varies for each person. And the factor that determines the ideal elliptical stride is the person’s height, or more specifically leg length. The taller the leg height, the longer the elliptical stride length ideally should be.
So you will find a variety of elliptical machines in the market with different stride lengths. If you are to determine the perfect elliptical machine for you, you need to take your height into consideration.
Importance of determining the Elliptical Stride Length
Elliptical Stride Lengths are often overlooked, and most people are not even aware of it. Determining elliptical stride length is very important, as it directly can impact the efficiency and comfort of your workout.
If you are a tall person and settle for an elliptical machine with a low stride length, you will feel cramped and very uncomfortable. It will be similar to walking in a very tight space where you can hardly put your legs forward. Continuously working out in such a machine will give you unnecessary body pain and might injure you.
The case is similar for the opposite case too, i.e if you are a short person and settle for an elliptical machine with a longer stride length. In such a machine, you will have to stretch yourself a lot and it might cause you a lot of discomforts.
In a nutshell, you will want to choose an elliptical stride length that is the most appropriate for you. This means that you will want to choose a stride length that is neither too long nor too short. If you have longer legs than normal, you will need to make sure that your stride is as long as possible. If you have shorter legs than normal, you will need to make sure that your stride is as short as possible while still allowing for the forward and backward motion of your legs.
As said before, elliptical machines are low-impact equipment. They are not supposed to give your body a lot of pain. But if you overlook some simple factors, you might eventually end up hurting your muscles, bones, or joints.
Four things I see people do wrong when they're looking for an elliptical machine are,
They choose a machine that's too light for them, look for a machine with long stride length, people don't think about who will use it or how many people will use it, and not considering the comfort of the machine.
When it comes to ellipticals, you usually want something light weight that's easy to move around, but the problem is, if you get one that's too light, it won't be a well-built piece of equipment, and won't be able to give you a quiet and smooth workout. Check out some light weight ellipticals at local stores one of the key common thing you would find is their weight. Consider average weight of those machines.
Many fitness and review websites claim that the longer the stride length the better, but it is not always true. What you should really consider is a full range of elliptical motion and it depends on user's height.
The ideal Elliptical Stride Length
Unfortunately, there is not a universal value to determine the elliptical stride length. As mentioned before, the ideal elliptical stride length depends on the leg length of the person using it.
Now let us see how we can determine an ideal elliptical stride length for your needs.
If you are buying your machine for a public gym, you might have to do a tiny gamble. Because, unlike home gyms, multiple people with different physical dimensions will use the machine. In such a case an elliptical machine with a long stride length is a safe and recommended bet.
Manufacturers of elliptical machines report that people between 5’3” and 6’ are often comfortable with a 20-inch elliptical stride length.
20-inch elliptical stride length is also often mentioned as the ‘gold standard for elliptical machines as it satisfies most of the customers.
Manufacturers make a safe assumption that most people using elliptical machines are adults, and adults usually are between 5’3” and 6’. Thus, a 20-inch stride-length elliptical machine is a safe bet for you.
Buying an elliptical machine based on the stride length becomes slightly more easy and specific if you are buying it for your home gym. The users of elliptical machines at your home won’t be high in numbers as compared to public gyms.
As said earlier, the stride length depends on the leg length of the user. And if you are comparatively shorter, you will be happy to know that elliptical machines with low stride lengths are cheaper than elliptical machines with high stride lengths.
If you are under 5’ tall, a 20-inch elliptical stride length will be a nightmare for you. In such a case, it is better to find an elliptical machine with 13 - 14 inch stride length.
If your height is between 5’3” and 5’7”, then an ideal elliptical stride for you will range between 16 to 18 inches.
If you are over 5’7”, it is highly recommended to go for an elliptical machine with a long stride length. A 20-inch elliptical stride length is a safe bet.
If you are very tall, say taller than 6’, do not consider anything under 20 inches. The most popular stride length after 20 inches is 22 inches. So if you are taller than 6’, it is highly recommended to buy an elliptical machine with a 22-inch elliptical stride length.
Elliptical Stride Length by Height
If you're looking for an elliptical to add to your home gym, make sure you choose one that has a stride length that's right for you. Compact ellipticals usually have a shorter stride length than larger ellipticals, but all ellipticals offer some variety.
Your stride length varies by height, but you can use this chart to get a general idea of what your stride length should be. Leg lengths and gait patterns vary, so your stride length may vary by 1-2 inches from what's suggested in the chart. This chart will be a good starting point to understand Ideal Elliptical Stride Length by height.
Ideal Elliptical Stride Length by height
5’3” to 5’7”
5’7” to 6’
Simple hack to determine which stride length is best for you
There is a simple trick to find if a certain stride length is ideal for you if you can’t determine it using your height. It is very simple and you can perform it with just tape and markers.
For example, you wish to see if a 16-inch stride length is ideal for you. Measure and mark a few 16 inches on the floor and walk with only that much distance between your legs. If you feel uncomfortable walking, you should change your selected stride length.
Even at home, it might be difficult to choose a single stride length, as multiple people might use it. In such a dilemma, go for the higher one. Because a shorter stride length will give you more discomfort than a higher one.
Also, it is said that elliptical machines with longer stride lengths give you better results as they activate your glutes and tone your legs more properly.
Elliptical machines are great, no doubt about that. While buying any product, it is advised to research it and try out your particular machine before purchasing. In the case of elliptical machines, consider checking space, budget, comfort and stride length. Price is a onetime payment that you have to pay while making a purchase of an elliptical machine whereas the cost is something you will be concerned about the rest of the lifetime.
If you are a tall person, go for long stride lengths, and if you are a short person, it is recommended to use shorter strider lengths.
Once you determine the best elliptical stride length, for you, you can browse through different models, and choose the one that suits you the best.