What Elliptical Stride Length Is Best for Your Height?

What Elliptical Stride Length Is Best for Your Height?

Stride length is the length between the pedals on an elliptical when they are at their farthest distance from one another. That may seem like an insignificant factor when buying an elliptical trainer, but stride length is one of the most important specifications that is often overlooked. Ideal stride length plays a key role in whether you get a proper workout.
For the best workout experience in any exercise machine, this length should correlate with your natural walking stride. This number depends on the user’s height. A taller person will have a longer stride length while shorter individuals have a shorter stride length.

Optimal Elliptical Stride Length Chart

When Buying an elliptical cross trainer, you should feel comfortable with the gaps between foot pedals. Usually, center drive elliptical machines come with a shorter stride. The length of elliptical trainers also directly relates to its stride length. Compact elliptical usually has less than 14-inch stride. Here is an “ideal stride length of elliptical chart” based on popular brands of elliptical cross-trainers.

Your HeightOptimal Stride lengthRecommended Elliptical
Under 5′13″-14″Exerpeutic 1000Xl
5’0″ – 5’3″14″-16″ProForm Hybrid Trainer
5’4″ – 5’6″15″-17″Exerpeutic 2000XLST
5’7″ – 5’8″15″-17″ProForm 150i, Sunny Health SF-E3912
5’9″ – 5’10”15″-18″ Schwinn 411, Schwinn A40
5’11” – 6’2″16″-19″Schwinn A40, Nautilus E614
Over 6’2″19″+Schwinn 430, Nautilus E618

Some ellipticals have a fixed stride length while others have adjustable strides (for example, NordicTrack freestrider trainer) to accommodate multiple users of varying heights. If effective workouts are what you’re after, trainers with either the corresponding stride length for your height or an adjustable stride length are the only machines worth considering. Continue reading to learn exactly why stride length is so important.

The Importance of Determining Your Stride Length

Determining the correct stride length for your height is important because it plays a key role in both the comfort and safety of each workout. In terms of safety, elliptical training delivers low impact cardio, and it’s safe to say that anything considered low-impact generally carries a low risk of an exercise-related injury. First and foremost, everyone wants to be comfortable when they exercise, and when stride length is either too short or too long, comfort is the first thing to go.
Every stride either becomes staggered and choppy or so exhaustively wide that you feel as if you may pull a muscle. When you exercise on a machine with the incorrect stride length, both form and technique suffer, and the result of that is an increased risk of injury. Furthermore, having these key factors thrown off considerably decreases the effectiveness of elliptical training. In addition to shortening the duration of workouts, muscles in the lower body cannot be targeted properly since form and technique are off.

How Is Stride Length Calculated?

Stride length can be calculated in many ways, but the easiest and most accurate way is a height based formula. Yes, this involves a bit of math, but it is super simple. First, measure your height in inches. Then, multiply that number by 0.25. If the product is a decimal, round up to the next whole number and voila, you have calculated your stride length. Easy, right?
Alternatively, you can go the more involved route by marking a starting line on the ground with some chalk before taking ten natural steps forward. Then make a mark in front of your right foot after taking those ten steps. From there, measure the distance between your start and endpoints in inches, and divide the distance by 10 to determine your stride length. If you use this method, measuring a few times is recommended to determine an accurate average.

What Stride Length is Best for Your Height?

Now that you have your stride length, we’re going to go over what stride lengths best correspond with which heights so you can make sure you did your calculations correctly. Consider this a helpful resource to double-check your work. Also, keep in mind that despite your calculations, allow a 1-2 inch margin of error.
People are different, and you may have to make a few slight adjustments to find what suits your natural stride best. Individuals under 5 feet tall will have an optimal stride length of 14 to 16 inches while those between 5′ 3″ and 5′ 7″ need a stride length of 16 to 20 inches. The optimal stride length for those who are 5’7 ″ to 6′ is about 20 inches, while a 20 to 22-inch stride length works best for those over 6 feet tall. In some cases, extremely tall individuals exceed 22-inch stride length. If this applies, you will have to find a special elliptical that works for you.

Benefits of Determining Your Stride Length

There are several benefits of taking the time to determine your stride length. First and foremost, it dictates the entire feel of your workout. If stride length is too short, your workout feels cramped and choppy, and if stride length is too long, you feel overstretched and uncomfortable. Furthermore, you’re going to get the best workout possible when you determine the correct stride length for your height.
Once you’re able to stride with ease, optimal calorie burn is possible, plus you can properly work the muscles in the lower body, including the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings. Additionally, proper stride length makes it easy to make elliptical workouts more challenging. For example, you can let go of the handles and incorporate some light weightlifting to your elliptical training without feeling off-balance.

Final Thoughts

Stride length is a key consideration whether you plan to purchase an elliptical or use one at your local gym. Finding the correct stride length is incredibly important, especially if your goal is safe low-impact workouts with optimal results. Long interval workout in an uncomfortable cross trainer may result in pain and will require physical therapy for recovery.
Once you have that length, try it out, but don’t hesitate to make a 1-2 inch adjustment. Little tweaks enhance comfort and help target muscles differently. As long as you don’t feel like strides are cramped, overstretched, or have difficulty maintaining proper form, you’re in the right range for you.
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