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Choosing Your Ideal Elliptical Stride Length

Stride length is the longest distance between your feet in the elliptical motion. This is the most important feature to consider when you’re considering buying an elliptical machine because you want to choose the stride length that suits your body type. Think about when you walk or run. Your stride length gets longer as you begin to run, so shorter stride lengths are generally not as comfortable for the average person. Choosing the right stride length for your personal machine can be difficult if you haven’t been on many different ellipticals or paid attention to the stride length of the machines you like.

If you’ve ever talked to people about which elliptical machines they think are the best, you’ll usually get different answers. Not all elliptical machines suit everyone equally. Unlike buying a treadmill or other workout equipment, an elliptical needs to fit your body type or it will feel choppy or uncomfortable. An elliptical machine may feel perfect for someone else, but horrible for you. If you’re uncomfortable on a machine, chances are your stride length isn’t adjusting to your body properly.

Some elliptical machines offer adjustable stride length. This is a more expensive feature, but it’s great if you’re going to have multiple users of different heights, or alternate walking and running speeds. Generally though, one size fits all if you get the stride length close enough to what is required for your body type. There’s no need to pay for adjustable stride length features when you can get the stride length closest to the needs of all users. Most people can adjust to the feel of an elliptical over time. Plus, you’ll typically be moving at higher speeds to keep your heart rate at an optimal level, so there’s no need to vary your step lengths during a workout.

Stride length and user height

Let’s go over some useful information that can help you choose your stride length. Understand that this decision will be directly related to your height. You don’t have to get it exact. Just follow the rules of thumb below, and you should be able to identify a stride length that works well enough for your body. A one inch difference will not be noticeable and will fit. You can also go with what you know. If you know the stride lengths of the machines you’re comfortable on, stick with that.

Users under 5’4″

Shorter elliptical users will be able to exercise comfortably with a stride length of 18″ or less.

Users between 5’4″ and 5’8″

Anything less than 16″ or less will likely be uncomfortable for people of average height. We recommend sticking with ellipticals with an 18″ stride length. The closer you are to 5’8″, you may want to consider a step up to 20″. I’m 5’6″ and feel great on machines with a stride length between 18″ and 20″.

Users taller than 5’9″

The taller you are, the more you’ll want to think about getting a machine with a longer stride length. If you’re closer to 5’9″, you’ll probably be fine even with an 18″ stride, although we recommend you try for at least a 19″ stride. The taller you are, you should aim for an elliptical 21″ stride length.

A longer stride length may cost you a little more money, but you can’t cut corners here. If you choose the correct stride length, regardless of the position of the wheel or the cost of the elliptical trainer, you should experience a more effective and comfortable workout.

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