Ellipticals are one of the most common exercise machines in home gyms because they are low-impact cardiovascular workouts. When using the elliptical, it is essential to understand elliptical stride length vs. height to find your perfect fit.
Elliptical stride length vs height is one of the most important considerations in how comfortable the workout will be as well, and a more comfortable workout leads to fewer injuries as well as more time spent working out! This guide will help you calculate the correct stride length according to your height.
Table of Contents
- What Exactly Is An Elliptical Stride Length?
- Why Is It Important To Determine Stride Length Before Exercising?
- Elliptical Stride Length Vs Height (Calculating Stride Length)
- Types Of Elliptical Machines Related To Stride Length
- Popular Elliptical Machine Models & Their Stride Length
- How To Adjust The Stride Length On Your Elliptical Machine
- Elliptical Stride Length FAQs
What Exactly Is An Elliptical Stride Length?
Elliptical stride length is the length between the foot pedals at their farthest point.
When you use the elliptical, there is a moment where each foot is as far away from one another as they will ever be during the elliptical movement.
This moment is the stride length.
We need to determine the optimal elliptical stride length for workouts to avoid injury and to feel most comfortable while working out.
Knowing optimal elliptical stride length can also help you make decisions about buying an elliptical.
Not all ellipticals come with the same stride length or with an adjustable stride length.
Why Is It Important To Determine Stride Length Before Exercising?
It is important to determine the stride length of your elliptical machine before you begin exercising. If you exercise at an incorrect stride length relative to your height, several signs may appear.
First, you will likely be uncomfortable while working out. Using a stride length that is “too short” leads to a cramped feeling and applies pressure to your lower back. You may also feel like you are using a stair climber machine instead because of the shortened stride length.
Second, if you use a stride length that is too long, you will experience pain around the knees and feel like your muscles are hyper-extending.
This is a similar feeling to using an upright bike with too much room between the bike seat and the pedals. When you use the elliptical, you should feel comfortable, and you should feel like you do when walking.
Finally, overuse injuries take place most often when people use incorrect form. For example, using a stride length that is too short or too long for your leg length can cause minor overuse injuries. Those injuries will keep you from working out and keep you from meeting your exercise goals.
Elliptical Stride Length Vs Height (Calculating Stride Length)
It is important that the stride length of your elliptical machine matches your height. Our simple box below gives accurate calculations for stride length based on your height.
This calculation was created based on the walking and running stride lengths. For example, someone who is 5’4” to 5’5” will have a walking stride length of 20” and a jogging stride length of 21” with a running stride of 22.” When we look a the elliptical, we are looking at slightly shorter strides when compared to walking, and so we end up with the optimal stride length of 16” to 20”.
Some elliptical machines will give you the ability to adjust your stride length; however, some machines cannot be adjusted. It is important to make sure that you buy a machine that will accommodate your optimal stride length. Exercising outside of your optimal stride length can lead to muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.
Optimal Stride Length
11” — 14”
5’0” to 5’3”
14” — 16”
5’4” to 5’8”
16” — 20”
5’9 to 6’0”
18” — 20”
20 — 22”
Now that you can confidently determine your stride length, jump over to our article on the best affordable ellipticals where you will find the stride length of each machine reviewed!
The primary concern when it comes to elliptical machines and stride length is the user’s height and leg length. Choosing an elliptical machine with the appropriate stride length should be based on your height and leg length. We also took a look at different types of ellipticals in this detailed guide.
Small Stride Length Ellipticals = 16 Inches or Less
The small stride length elliptical machines are 16” or less. These machines are best for users who are 5’3” or shorter. If you are 5’3” but have particularly long legs, you may be more comfortable at a 17” or 18” stride length. If you think you are on the cusp, we recommend visiting a local gym and experimenting with stride lengths on an adjustable elliptical machine to determine what stride length will be best for you.
Medium Stride Length Ellipticals = 17-19 Inches
The 17” to 19” elliptical stride length is best for those who are 5’4” to 5’11”. Those at 5’9” to 5’11” may want to test their stride length at a local gym if they have long legs. Those with long legs and short torsos at that height might be more comfortable with the longer stride length of 20”+ ellipticals.
Long Stride Length Ellipticals = 20 Inches +
Ellipticals with 20”+ are rarer and work best for those who are 6’0” and above. The 20” models tend to be versatile and allow for stride length adjustments. However, 21” and above stride lengths are difficult to find and will cost more. If you are 6’2” and above, we recommend choosing an elliptical with varying adjustable stride length that goes up to 22”.
Popular Elliptical Machine Models & Their Stride Length
Proform (820, 485E, 735E)
The ProForm elliptical machine series includes the ProForm 820, ProForm 485E, and ProForm 735E. ProForm models allow users to choose from 15” to 22” in stride length. This is a wide range that should work well for most exercisers.
If you want to know more about Proform ellipticals, check out our complete review where we tested all the popular models!
The Healthrider H45E elliptical machine has an adjustable 18” to 20” stride length. These machines are more affordable, but they do not offer much range on stride length. If you are above 6'3" or below 5'3", then you may want to consider another option. If you enjoy changing the stride length for workout variety, then this is not a good choice for you.
Life Fitness 9500HR
The Life Fitness 9500HR is an elliptical machine that comes with a fixed 18” and cannot be adjusted. If you are 6’ or above, we would recommend choosing another machine. The Life Fitness 9500 HR is quiet and offers commercial grade machinery at a lower price point, but you will have to give up adjustable stride length to get it.
The Schwinn 470 has a 20” stride length, which is the typical stride length range used by most elliptical manufacturers. The Schwinn 470 does not provide adjustment options, so it is important to measure your ideal stride length before purchasing.
We are big fans of the Schwinn 470 elliptical. We tested it extensively and gave it the Garage Gym Pro thumbs up!
How To Adjust The Stride Length On Your Elliptical Machine
Many home exercisers ask questions such as, “How to adjust stride length on Nordictrack elliptical?” In order to adjust the stride length on your elliptical, there are a few steps that you need to follow. These steps are standard and tend to be universal among elliptical machine brands such as Nordictrack, Schwinn, and ProForm.
The first method that many users prefer is the power adjustment method. With this method, the user changes the power ramp level. By changing the level, the stride length is adjusted. If your elliptical has a power adjustment option, we recommend using it. The machine will adjust for you as quickly as adding resistance levels with a press of the button. Increase the level for a longer stride length and decrease the level for a shorter stride length.
The second method that users may use is the manual adjustment method. This tends to be the method for older elliptical machines or more affordable newer models. With a manual adjustment, there is a knob available to adjust that creates a shorter or longer slide.
This manual adjustment may need to be performed on each side of the elliptical. Look for an adjustment knob on the back wheel. If you have trouble locating the adjustment knob, try using the manufacturer’s instruction manual.
Elliptical Stride Length FAQs
Are elliptical strides the same as steps?
No, elliptical strides are not the same as steps. It takes approximately 2,000 steps to walk one mile; however, it takes about 2,241 strides to move one elliptical mile. Elliptical strides are shorter than standard walking or running strides. Each elliptical stride length varies depending on the setting used.
What is an average stride length for a woman?
The average elliptical stride length for a woman is 18-20 inches. Women who are 5'6" and below tend to fall at the 18" elliptical stride length range, and women who are 5'7" and above tend to fall at the 20" elliptical stride length range.
How many strides on an elliptical equal a mile?
Approximately 2,241 strides on an elliptical is equal to one standard mile. It takes most exercisers between 6 minutes and 20 minutes to log one elliptical mile.
What is the longest stride length of any elliptical machine?
The longest stride length of any elliptical machine is up to 22 inches. However, most ellipticals stop at 20 inches stride length. This is considered the “standard” by many exercise machine manufacturers.
Understanding the connection between your height and your ideal elliptical stride length can help you get the most use out of your home elliptical machine. Adjusting your elliptical machine’s stride length will lead to a better workout with increased calories burned and a lower risk of injury.
Ready to purchase a new elliptical? Before you go, don't forget to jump over to our favorite budget ellipticals under $500!
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Last Updated on February 22, 2022