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.

Finding the Stride Length that Works For You

When working out on an elliptical trainer, the most important thing you need to pay attention to is the stride length. Many people don’t take the stride length into consideration when purchasing or using an elliptical trainer, which is a huge mistake to make. Stride length is incredibly important when working out because it can determine how well your workout goes, how comfortable you will be, and what kind of results you will get in the end.

The stride of you elliptical should be determined by how tall you are. Most people make the mistake of just using the stride length that is already fitted on the machine, but this can cause discomfort and can lead to a poor workout. When setting your stride, you need to make sure that it corresponds properly with your height and feels comfortable when you use it.

How to Choose the Best Stride Length for You

Usually, shorter people need a shorter stride length because it feels more comfortable for them. Respectively, taller people need a longer stride length because it feels more comfortable for them. If you are 5’3″ or shorter, you should aim for a stride length of 15″ to 17″. If you are taller, pick a stride anywhere between 19″ and 22″, as this will feel better.

Shorter people who try to use a longer stride will find that they get tired quicker and they feel like they are stretching themselves out. On the other hand, taller people using shorter strides will feel like they are running in choppy movements, not fluid movements. Be sure that your stride length correctly fits your height to ensure a comfortable workout.

If you attend a gym with communal machines, feel free to change the stride length of the machine. But just know that since the machines have to fit the needs of people of many different heights, the machine may be limited to what the stride length can be. Most machines can go anywhere from 18″ to 21″ in stride length to be accommodating.

How to Get the Best Workout

Ellipticals are designed to help you get the best possible workout. They are low impact machines, which means that they don’t stress so much on your joints. A lot of people specifically look for machines like this because they have bad joints or don’t want to put so much pressure on their joints.

Additionally, ellipticals are built to help you achieve a great workout. Most are equipped with handlebars that let you workout your upper body as well as your lower body. You can strengthen your arms, shoulders, back, and chest using the handlebars, which is an added bonus.

While the handlebars are there, you don’t always have to use them. Without using the handlebars, you can strengthen your core and perfect your posture. Posture is important when it comes to working out because it can help your workout be more enjoyable. Standing with a straight, relaxed back will prevent any back pains that you would get from hunching over. Without gripping the handlebars, you can also work on your sense of balance.

The pedals on ellipticals are designed to fit your feel and aim to fight sleepy foot syndrome, which is the tingling feeling you get in your feet after a period of inactivity. The pedals are angled in a certain way to fight the numbness and the tingling sensation. Aside from that, you can get into the habit of moving your feet occasionally to prevent it.

Elliptical machines don’t come with consoles for nothing. These consoles are equipped with all the tools you need to have a successful workout. There are pre-set workouts that can help you change up your routine once in a while, and each console is programmed with different tools to track your progress. You can track your heart rate, how long you have run, and how many calories you have burned. Using these tools will help you understand your body more and assist you in burning fat.

Everyone is different, but anyone can find the perfect settings for their elliptical. Once you find the right stride length for your height, your workouts will flow smoothly and you will get a lot more out of your machine. Additionally, you can take advantage of the different features your machine includes, like the tools in the console.

But in the end, the stride length is what makes or breaks a workout. When purchasing an elliptical for your home, be sure that you take stride length into consideration before anything else.

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