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What stride length elliptical do I need

Buying an elliptical trainer is not an easy task at all. There are many properties and features to be taken care of. However, the important factor which most people tend to overlook while purchasing an elliptical is its stride length. Whether you will obtain maximum benefits from your workout session depends mostly on this factor. Naturally many questions may arise regarding stride length. What is the ideal stride length for an elliptical? Is it universal? How can you determine your perfect stride length? All these queries and many more will be answered in this article.

Elliptical Stride Length
Elliptical Stride Length | Image credit: allellipticals.com

An elliptical having a stride length of 16-18 inches is recommended for a person whose height is 5’3” or less. Most of the users should not use an elliptical with a stride length of 14 inches, except for some exceptions. Again an elliptical with a stride length of 18 to 20 inches should be used by individuals with average height (5’3”-5’7”). (Source).

What is the stride length?

Stride Length
Stride Length | Source: https://www.ellipticalhub.com/stride-length/

Stride length means the gap between elliptical pedals when they are at the furthermost mutual distance. In elliptical terminology, it is just the measure of how much farther you can step out in an elliptical during a workout.

Now stride length may seem to be an unnecessary specification while purchasing an elliptical trainer, but honestly, your entire workout experience will depend on this. If your elliptical has a shorter stride length, your movements will be rather choppy and cramped. Again if it is too long, you will probably feel that your inner leg muscles are being overstretched. In any scenario, your workout experience will be full of discomfort. Moreover, there is a risk of injuring yourself. That’s why always opt for an elliptical whose stride length corresponds to your natural gait pattern. Choose one whose stride length fits you perfectly.

What would be an ideal stride length for an elliptical?

Having witnessed the necessity of proper stride length, the next question which arises is, what an ideal elliptical stride length would be. Now you will not find a single stride length that fits everyone, this feature is highly individual. A user’s “perfect” stride length number depends on his/her height, more importantly on the leg length. Two individuals may have the same height but the length of their legs may differ. The leg length is the main deciding criterion for determining which stride length will be ideal for you. It has been seen that the length of 20” is suitable for the majority of users. This is why most commercial gyms or public places contain ellipticals of 20” stride length. (Source)

How to find the ideal elliptical stride length

As leg lengths are a rather uncommon metric, we would advise you to find your ideal stride length from your height. The ideal elliptical stride length will enable you to maintain the correct posture and reap out maximum benefits from your workout.

Your HeightOptimal Stride Length
Under 5'14-16 inches
5' 3" - 5' 7"16 - 20 inches
5' 7" - 6'20 inches
Over 6'20 - 22 inches

Shorter Individuals (5′ 3″ or smaller)

An elliptical machine with a stride length ranging from 16” to 18” will be appropriate if the user’s height is 5’3” or less. This range of stride length can be easily found in most of the beginners’ ellipticals and some advanced models as well.

Average-Sized Individuals (5′ 4″ to 6′)

For an average-sized individual of height 5’4” or more, the stride length range of 19”-20” will be suitable. However, 20” stride is more recommended if the user’s height is close to 6’.

Taller Individuals (6′ +)

Minimum 20” stride will be definitely required for a tall individual with a height of 6’ or more. Else, he/she will not derive the full impact of the elliptical exercise. Ellipticals with 20”+ stride length are rather rare, still, there are some models that contain this feature.

Also, remember that leg lengths are a more accurate determiner of your ideal stride length. If your leg length is large, an elliptical having a longer stride length will be more comfortable for you even if your height falls in the short-range (5’3” or less). Likewise, the longer stride length feature may not be that much necessary for you if you have a tall height but shorter legs.
Nowadays a range of ellipticals of adjustable stride length is available. If you want an elliptical for family use, consider buying them. Also, it is always recommended to try out different trainers before purchasing one. In this way, you can check whether you are actually comfortable using the machine.

Importance of determining the ideal stride length

Stride length plays a pivotal role in shaping your overall workout experience. How comfortable and safe your workout session will turn out to be, depend primarily on this one deciding factor. An elliptical trainer has to be such that you can easily relate to your natural walking movement while exercising. It needs to replicate your normal movements and actions. If you take larger steps on an elliptical than your natural strides, you will feel uncomfortable and out of balance. The same will happen if your elliptical steps are shorter than your normal ones. Thus an elliptical with a stride length not matched to your height will make your workout movements shaky, cramped, and uncomfortable. An excess long or excess short stride length will repeatedly falter your movements. Both your workout form and strategy will suffer. As a consequence, the risks of injury will rise. Moreover, the effectiveness of your elliptical training will be reduced, and you will not be able to reap out the maximum benefits from this. Hence to ensure a truly effective and comfortable risk-free workout experience, an elliptical machine with suitable stride length is of paramount importance.

User height x 0.25 = Ideal stride length


➥ To know more about the benefits of using an elliptical cross trainer, refer to this.

Stride length & lumbar motion

According to a study reported in Clinical Biomechanics (August 2012), the stride length has an impact on the movements of the lumbar spine of our body. In this study, human movements while walking were compared to movements during the elliptical workouts to determine the impact of various factors like length of stride, hand placements, and pace on workout. Some findings depicted that exercising in an elliptical result in increased activation of muscles in the gluteal region in comparison to walking. Also, elliptical exercises can increase lower back rotation and flexible angles for body bend and curving. In contrast, walking is more helpful for achieving an increased frontal motion. [Source]

Muscle activation

As mentioned earlier, ellipticals create increased glute activation in the body in comparison to other forms of exercise equipment. Also, a longer stride length is more beneficial for activating the gluteal muscles than a shorter one. A trainer with a short stride will not activate all your muscles, it will target only some of them. Hence, if you want to fire up and tone your glute muscles, choose your trainer wisely after observing its stride length.

F. A. Q.s

Q1. Does stride length matter in elliptical?

Ans.: Stride length is a factor that should never be overlooked during the purchase of an elliptical trainer. It is a profoundly significant criterion to ensure your physical fitness and comfort during exercise. An elliptical trainer with a shorter stride length in comparison to your height can make your movements cramped and shaky. Again a taller stride length can make your leg muscles feel overstretched. As the sole objective of the exercise is to make you lean and fit, your comfort and fitness should be the topmost priority. This is why stride lengths matter so much in an elliptical.

Q2. How do you adjust your stride on an elliptical?

Ans.: There are many ellipticals where you can adjust the stride length. There are two methods of doing this- Manual Adjustment and Adjustment of the Level of Power Ramp.

  1. Adjusting Power Incline Level: Varying the power ramp level can adjust the stride length of the elliptical. You can adjust the level easily by pressing the button for increasing or decreasing the power ramp on your machine.
  2. Adjusting Manually: You just need to turn the adjustment knob to adjust your stride length. This adjustment knob has three models.
    • Rear Drive Adjustment Model: In this model, the knob for adjusting has to be pulled at first. To make the strider longer or shorter, the adjustment bracket has to be slid to other gaps. Make sure to adjust the sides on right and left to identical stride length so that rotation occurs properly.
    • Adjustment Arm Model: In this model, an adjustment arm is used in addition to an adjustment knob for adjusting the stride length. While pulling the adjustment knob outward, it has to be rotated in the clockwise direction simultaneously. Continue this rotation till the adjustment arm rotates freely. In the next step, the adjustment arm is to be rotated until the adjustment knob is lined up with any of the gaps in the handlebar leg. Then free the knob slowly. Finally, a slight rotation of the adjustment arm in forwarding and backward direction has to be done to ensure that the adjustment pin is held in one of the gaps of the handlebar leg. The remaining side of the elliptical has to be adjusted similarly.
    • Knob Model for Dual Adjustment: In this model, the adjustment knob has to be rotated in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction to adjust the stride length. You will have to ensure that both adjustment knobs are at identical positions.

Q3. How long is 1 mile on an elliptical?

Ans.: Traveling 1 mile on an elliptical can take approximately 15 minutes. [Source ]

Q4. How do I know what my stride length is?

Ans.: Take some masking tape and a measuring tape, and perform the following steps.

  1. Using the masking tape and measuring tape, measure a definite distance (say 20 feet) and mark it.
  2. Now slowly attain your regular walking speed by walking for about 10 feet before a mark.
  3. Upon touching the first mark, start to count your steps. Stop counting as soon as you touch the second mark.
  4. For calculating the stride length, divide the step count by 2. Then divide the distance with that result. For example, suppose you needed to take 16 steps to cover the distance of 20 feet. Then you have to divide the step count by 2 to get the stride count (8 in this case). Then divide the distance in feet by this stride count to obtain the stride length (2.5 feet).
    For a more accurate measurement, try the above-mentioned steps with a longer distance.


Stride length is not the only factor to consider during the purchase of an elliptical, but it’s definitely one of the most important factors. If possible, try and test varying stride lengths to determine which stride length works best for you. If the elliptical is only for your use, a fixed stride length feature will do fine. But if other members of your family are going to use it as well, try to buy one with an adjustable stride. Although it may cost more, the money spent will be worth it. Also if it’s not possible to test different strides, don’t worry. Try to avoid the extremely short stride lengths, and you should be fine.

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Dion Lewis
My name is Dion Lewis.

I’ve been cycling from my childhood. When I was in high school, I started racing in our local competitions.

At my college life, I took a part time job in a bicycle shop and I learned how to repair and maintain bicycles professionally.

Though I love racing, mountain biking is another thing I do frequently. My friends, neighbors, and colleagues treat me as an avid rider and take my suggestions while they plan for a new bike or a bike gear.

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