One of the factors to consider when you are purchasing an elliptical trainer is dimensions. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money buying a trainer that doesn’t fit you optimally. In a pinch, you could probably work out on a trainer that doesn’t have the appropriate stride length, but you wouldn’t want to make a habit out of it. If the stride length is too long or short, you risk moving in an unnatural, uncomfortable way and possibly even injuring yourself by straining your muscles.
As a general rule of thumb, if you are under 5’3”, you need a stride length of around 16-18 inches. If you measure 5’4” to 6’7”, then you need a moderate stride length of approximately 18-21 inches. If you are taller than 6’7”, then you may need a stride length which is longer than 21 inches. Very tall users may need a stride length of 26 inches.
Some ellipticals come with adjustable stride lengths, while others are set and cannot be changed. One of our most highly recommended ellipticals is the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical. This machine has an adjustable stride length between 20-22 inches, which is a comfortable range for most users. Another elliptical which we recommend is the Spirit Esprit EL-455 20-Inch Stride Elliptical. This machine doesn’t come with an adjustable stride length, but the 20-inch length will again be comfortable for the majority of users.
If you are a bit shorter (or someone else in your household who will be using the machine is), you might be interested in the Horizon Fitness EX-59 Elliptical Trainer. This machine comes with an 18-inch stride length. While it cannot be adjusted, you will notice that 18 inches is fine for most users, whether they are short or of moderate height. This makes it a great choice if there are short and medium height users who will be sharing the elliptical.
If you have an elliptical now and are curious what the stride length is (perhaps you are replacing your old machine, and found the stride length comfortable), you can check by measuring it yourself. You will want to extend the front and rear pedals as far from each other as you can. That is the maximum elliptical stride length. Then simply use a measuring tape to check the span between them, measuring from the toe of the front pedal to the heel of the rear pedal. Note that if you have a front drive elliptical, it provides a flatter walk than a rear drive elliptical, so you will want to subtract 2 inches from your measurement. If you have a rear drive elliptical, you can use the measurement as is.
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