Built-in programs, sturdy construction, drive mechanism – there are plenty of features to know when looking for the best elliptical. But people tend to overlook an essential element: the elliptical stride length.

This factor depends on your height. For instance, a 20-inch (51 cm) stride length is the most common and should suit users who are 175 cm tall (5’9”). Petite individuals (165 cm and below) should be fine with an 18-inch (46 cm) stride or less.

Stride length directly affects how efficient and comfortable your elliptical workouts will be. And it varies depending on the machine model.

Keep reading to learn more about this feature and how to choose a machine with the proper stride length.

What is the Elliptical Stride Length?

The stride length is the distance of the elliptical pedals at their furthest point away from each other.

While in motion, it also pertains to how far the foot pedals move forward and back.

The distance between your steps when you walk represents your stride length on the elliptical.

Remember, an elliptical exercise is a low-impact movement that should simulate walking.

So, matching your regular walking stride with the elliptical trainer makes the workout more natural.

Why is Stride Length Important?

There are a few crucial reasons why choose an elliptical with the correct stride length. These include:

  • Body comfort. You might feel cramped during your workout when the elliptical stride length is too short. On the other hand, a stride length that’s too long can result in overstretching. Either way, you’ll feel weird and uncomfortable.
  • Workout efficacy. An optimised stride length lets you target and activate the right muscles. In turn, you get optimum toning and calorie burn. However, a too-short or too-long stride can lead to muscular overuse, pain or injury.
  • Return on investment. Ellipticals are not cheap exercise machines. You also need to allocate space for them at home. And so, it will be a waste of resources if you do not get the most out of your machine due to incorrect stride length.
A pair of legs riding the front drive elliptical trainer

What is the Optimal Elliptical Stride Length?

There is no one-size-fits-all number when it comes to stride length. That’s because our stride varies based on the size of our legs.

Specifically, taller users will have long legs with typically long strides to match. On the other hand, petite people with short legs have a shorter stride.

So, to find your ideal stride length, identify your height first, then use this table as your guide.

Note that stride lengths vary based on your elliptical exercise, but these values should give you your ideal stride length range.

User HeightWalking StrideJogging StrideRunning Stride
5’ to 5’1” (152-155 cm)18.5” (47 cm)19.5” (50 cm)21” (53 cm)
5’2” to 5’3” (157-160 cm)19.5” (50 cm)20.5” (52 cm)22” (56 cm)
5’4” to 5’5” (163-165 cm)20” (51 cm)21” (53 cm)22.5” (57 cm)
5’6” to 5’8” (168-173 cm)20.5” (52 cm)21.5” (55 cm)23” (58 cm)
5’9” to 5’10” (175-178 cm)21” (53 cm)22” (56 cm)23.5” (60 cm)
5’11” to 6’ (180-183 cm)21.5” (55 cm)22.5” (57 cm)24” (61 cm)

These are only approximate values. People of the same height may have different leg and stride lengths.

Moreover, athletes or experienced elliptical users may have a longer stride than their actual height.

So, to be sure, find a machine with your ideal stride length, then test it out. You can also use a stride length calculator if you like.

Which Elliptical Matches My Stride Length?

For easy selection, here are the types of machines categorised according to their elliptical stride length and height category:

  • Short stride ellipticals. These typically have a 16-in stride length or less, best for users 5’3” or below. They are also more compact than other ellipticals.
  • Medium stride ellipticals. These have 16 to 18-in stride lengths, suitable for those 5’4” to 5’11″. They are the standard or cross-trainer type of ellipticals.
  • Long stride ellipticals. These have a 20-in stride length or more, perfect for users 6’ or above. Ellipticals under this type are bulkier, heavier and more expensive. However, they often allow stride length adjustments, making them more versatile.
Legs of the people exercising on elliptical machines look to be fit, strong and healthy

The elliptical weight and size likely increase with the stride length.

So, keep that in mind, especially when you’re getting a machine for a small or second-floor home gym.

If you’ll be sharing your machine with others, getting an elliptical with adjustable stride options is ideal.

Also, it’s best to size up when your height and leg size fall between the reference measurements provided.

Aside from being more comfortable, you’ll barely notice the 2 to 5 cm difference.

Research also shows that longer but flexible stride length results in better caloric burn and muscle toning or stimulation.


Elliptical stride length is probably one of the top features to know when buying or using an elliptical machine.

While incline, resistance level and built-in workouts are great, your priority should be comfort and exercise efficiency.

After all, it’s even harder to stay on the fitness track when you work out with incompatible equipment.

So, before getting one for your home gym, measure your height and read the product specs.

Also, read elliptical trainer reviews and buying guides while you’re at it. Familiarise yourself with other features to get a machine that perfectly suits your needs and preferences.

1. How heavy is an elliptical?

Elliptical machines for home use weigh between 30 and 90 kg on average. Several factors affect their overall weight. For example, models with complex designs and electronics tend to be heavier. On the other hand, simple machines without bells and whistles do not weigh as much. In most cases, a lightweight elliptical is best for a petite user, while heavy ellipticals are ideal for tall people.

2. What is the average weight limit on elliptical machines?

Home elliptical machines can support 133 kg of user weight on average. But weight capacity can range from 100 to 170 kg due to design and construction differences. Make sure to work out within the machine’s load capacity to protect its warranty, preserve machine quality and ensure your safety. Ideally, use an elliptical trainer that can support 23 kg (50 lb) more than your actual body weight.