Ideal Stride Length For Elliptical

When it comes to buying the a cross trainer, one often overlooked yet crucial factor to consider is the stride length of the machine, particularly if you are tall. Check out our comparison article on the best ellipticals for a tall person.

Stride length is important for the effectiveness of your workout, if you have a good stride length it will feel like a natural fluid motion without any noise.

But what is the ideal stride length for an elliptical? The ideal elliptical stride length is 20 inches. This stride length has been shown to fit most elliptical users comfortably. Most elliptical manufacturers report that people between 5’3″ and 6′ can use an elliptical with a 20 inch stride length. Although 20 inches is most common it does depend on the users height.

In this article we will go through stride length in detail and show you how to find the best stride length for your dimensions.

Here is my recommendation for the best elliptical with a suitable stride length for most:

Sunny Health & Fitness Elliptical with 20″ Stride
  • COMPUTERIZED RESISTANCE: Easily cycle between 16 levels of computerized resistance with a press of a button by using the on-console controls.
  • PROGRAMS FOR FITNESS: Enjoy 24 presets that can power your fitness routine. Take advantage of the goal-oriented programs based on watt generation, BMI data, heart rate, and custom user values.
  • DEVICE HOLDER: Be in control of your workout entertainment when you place your favorite personal device on the built-in tablet holder. Combine this elliptical with your favorite workout videos and in-workout applications.

Last update on 2024-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

How to Measure Stride Length for Elliptical

The length between the pedals on an elliptical trainer when they’re at their furthest point away from one another is known as stride length. Thats simply how you measure elliptical stride length.

Stride length impacts the effectiveness of your workout as it determines how comfortable the movement is for you as you pedal forwards and backwards.

Elliptical trainers or cross trainers are designed to provide a low impact workout that simulates either running or walking. With this in mind, the best elliptical stride length should be similar to the stride you take when you walk.

Stride length for elliptical

The reason being is you will feel uncomfortable and cramped if the stride length is too short. On the other hand you will be stretching too much if the elliptical stride length is too long. For these reasons it’s important to get the elliptical stride length perfect so it feels like a natural and comfortable movement.

People with short legs typically have a short stride length when they walk, compared to people with long legs who have a long stride length when they walk. On this basis, its important to understand that certain ellipticals are more suitable for shorter users and other models will be better suited to tall people.

Check out this useful video on how to determine the stride length for elliptical machine

What is the best elliptical stride length?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this question. As everyone differs in height it is a direct correlation to the best elliptical stride length so it would be impossible to give a universal optimal stride length. With different elliptical trainers being better for individual needs.

Generally speaking, 20 inches is the most common stride length found in popular elliptical trainers for commercial and personal use. This elliptical machine stride length of 20 inches is comfortably designed to suit those with a height of 5’ 3 – 6’.

Elliptical Stride Length for 5’9

If you are 5’9 and want the most comfortable stride length for you, 18”-20” is a good starting point.

If you are looking to buy an elliptical for home use you can choose the one that’s most comfortable and caters to your needs. Remember the above stride length of 20 inches is often found in ellipticals in the gym so they have to cater for as many people as possible.

ideal elliptical stride length

Understanding The Elliptical System 

Ellipticals have either a rear drive system or front drive. This is based on where the flywheel is positioned. The different types of system affects how the pedals move. So for longer stride length a front drive system may be more desirable.

This is because they have a flatter motion so you will need a longer stride length to get the same feel and comfort from a rear drive system. In comparison, a 20 inch stride on a front drive system would equate to around an 18 inch stride on a rear drive system.

Choosing the right stride length for elliptical

When purchasing an elliptical for home use you have the chance to consider all options, features and make the right choice for you. Stride length is one of these important options and they can vary between elliptical trainers.

A good rule of thumb is to know that larger ellipticals have a longer stride length while compact ellipticals offer a shorter elliptical stride length, so take this into account.

best stride length for elliptical

To estimate the ideal stride length for an elliptical, use your height as a guide. Below is detailed average stride length by height. It’s important to note that this is a general guide and gait patterns, leg length can differ between each height category.

With this in mind the ideal stride length for an elliptical can vary what’s suggested in the table, but only by 1-2 inches. Use this table as a reference point when making a decision.

Best Stride Length For Elliptical

The below table is considered a universal recommendation for the best stride length for an elliptical based on your height.

Optimal Elliptical Machine Stride Length for Your Height Chart

Your Height Optimal Stride Length
Under 5′11”-14”
5’0” – 5’3”14”-16”
5’4” – 5’8”16”-20”
5’9” – 6’0”18”-20”
Over 6’20” + 

Now that you have found the range of stride length you are applicable to its time to test out some elliptical trainers. If you don’t have the opportunity to physically test a machine a good alternative is to simply measure on the floor what the stride length will be, you can step between the stride which will give you a good feel for whether it is comfortable or not.

Remember, an elliptical trainer simulates walking, so if it feels comfortable to walk on the measured space it will feel comfortable on an elliptical stride. It’s important to get the stride length right because if you suffer from shin splints, it could put unnecessary strain on them.

Unsure on your stride Length? Go Bigger

If you’ve applied your own height to the above table and are still unsure whether the stride length is right for you, it’s best to size up. By sizing up you’ll have a comfortable stride and allow for extra room for more flexibility.

elliptical machine stride length

It’s unlikely you will tell the difference between an additional 1-2 inches in stride, particularly if you are shorter you do not want to have a stride that is too short which will be uncomfortable and affect your elliptical workouts.

In addition to this, research shows that a longer stride length on an elliptical promotes greater activation in the glutes. So not only will a longer stride length be more comfortable and accommodating but also help further stimulate the muscles in your legs and burn extra calories.

Benefits of Choosing the Right Elliptical Stride length

As we’ve already established there are a number of benefits to taking the time to find the optimal stride length for you. Getting it right will dictate the feel of your workout. If the stride length is either too long or short it will feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the day you are getting an elliptical to provide you an effective, full body workout. You want this to be the focus and you want to feel comfortable getting the best workout possible every time.

Once elliptical stride length is optimised you can start to focus on specific muscles in the body by pedalling backwards or forwards. Doing this you can tone your weaker areas and get a higher calorie burn.

stride length for cross trainer

How to Adjust Stride Length on Elliptical 

Many elliptical models have the ability to manually change the length of the stride. Some more expensive models also offer power adjustments. To check your specific model requirements, check the manufacturers manual but here is a quick overview on how to change the stride length:

  • Manual – Turn the adjustment knob at the located bottom of the pedals. There are usually a number of knobs that allow for adjustment. The rear drive adjustment knob, dual adjustment knobs and arm combos. On rear drive models, pull the adjustment knob out then slide the bracket forwards or backwards which will lengthen/shorten the stride. Make sure when doing this manually both sides are adjusted to the same length.
  • Power – Many expensive ellipticals offer power adjustment to change the length of the users stride.  To make the adjustment you can press the power ramp increase or decrease button. This button is located on the console. Changing the level of the power ramp automatically adjusts the stride length.

Elliptical Machine Stride Length

Stride length on the elliptical machine is an important consideration when purchasing one. Finding the optimal or at least comfortable stride length if you want to focus on a safe, low-impact workout consistently. If you haven’t determined the correct stride length for you it won’t only put you off working out on it but also may cause injury.

What is a Good Stride Length For an Elliptical?

A good elliptical stride length is 20 inches. This stride length has been shown to fit most elliptical users comfortably. Although 20 inches is most common it does depend on the users height.

As long as your elliptical machine strides do not feel overstretched or cramped and you can maintain proper form then you are in the right range. It’s important to test the machine prior but use our guide if you do not have the opportunity to do so.

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!