What is the Ideal Elliptical Stride Length to Best Fit You?

Elliptical stride length is important for your workout effectiveness and feel.

5 min read


What is the Ideal Elliptical Stride Length to Best Fit You?

If you’re interested in purchasing an elliptical, one of the most important factors that often gets overlooked is stride length. Stride length is an important factor in the effectiveness and feel of your workout. In this article, you’ll learn all about stride length and how to determine the best stride length for you.


What is Elliptical Stride Length?

Stride length is the length between the pedals on an elliptical when they’re at their furthest point away from each other. While that may not sound important, it actually impacts how effective and comfortable your workout is.

Ellipticals are designed to give you a low-impact workout that resembles walking. For the best workout experience on any elliptical, the stride length should ideally correlate with your walking stride.

If the stride length is too short, you may feel cramped and uncomfortable during your workout; whereas if the stride length is too long, it may feel like you’re overreaching or stretching too far just to complete each pedal rotation. When the stride length is just right, you’ll feel comfortable and natural.

Those who are taller or have longer legs usually have a longer walking stride length, while those who are shorter have a shorter stride length. This means that some ellipticals will be better suited to taller individuals, while others are better suited to shorter users.


What is the Best Elliptical Stride Length?

As you probably already guessed, there’s no universal “one size fits all” stride length. As mentioned above, your height and inseam (or leg length) are important factors for the best stride length for you. We are all built differently; thus, different ellipticals may be better suited to different users.

Although there is no gold standard for stride length for ellipticals, 20 inches is typically the stride length on the commercial ellipticals you may be used to using at the gym. A 20-inch stride length is designed to fit users of most heights (5'3" - 6') relatively comfortably, with emphasis on most.

Ellipticals in a gym setting are designed to accommodate the masses, whereas if you’re looking to add an elliptical to your home gym, you have the opportunity to choose an elliptical better suited to you!


What is the Best Elliptical Stride Length for You?

When looking for an elliptical machine for home, you have the opportunity to choose a machine you know will be the best fit for you. Stride lengths for home ellipticals vary. In general, compact ellipticals are going to have a shorter stride length, while larger ellipticals will have a longer stride length.

You can use height to estimate the ideal stride length of your elliptical. Below I’ve marked out average stride length by height. Keep in mind leg lengths, and gait patterns differ within a height category; thus, your ideal stride length may vary by 1 - 2 inches from what’s suggested in the chart. Use the below chart as a good starting place.

Optimal Elliptical Stride Length for Your Height Chart

Your Height

Optimal Stride Length

Under 5'


5'0" - 5'3"


5'4" - 5'8"


5'9” - 6'0”


Over 6'

20" +


Once you have an idea of the range your elliptical should fall into, test it out! If you’re unable to test on a physical elliptical, an easy way to get a feel for the stride length of the machine you’re interested in is to measure it out. Mark out the stride length for 10 steps or so and walk along each mark to see how it feels. If it feels comfortable and natural, that’s a good bet the elliptical stride is right for you.

On our website we offer a convenient option to filter by stride length that will help you weigh your options once you’ve determined which stride length you’re looking for.


Small Stride Length

Small stride length, or 11" - 15", is going to be best for petite users, or users 5'3" and under. For people with an average stride, ellipticals 14" and under are going to be too short for you to achieve a natural stride length. However, for users 5'3" and under, they may feel most comfortable on these compact machines.

Medium Stride Length

The medium stride length category includes ellipticals with a stride length of 16" - 18". In general, these ellipticals will be a decent fit for those who fall somewhere between 5'0" and 5'8"; if you’re on the higher end of that spectrum, 20" will likely be more comfortable and preferred.

Long Stride Length

For long stride length ellipticals, the stride length is 19" and up. In general, anyone 5'9" and above is going to be most comfortable using the ellipticals in this range.


When in Doubt, Size Up

If you’re on the fence about which stride length you should choose within a given range, I’d recommend sizing up. You’re likely to feel more comfortable and may not even notice a stride length that’s 1 - 2 inches too long in comparison to a shorter stride length that will leave you feeling crammed and wanting more.

Another good reason to opt for a stride length that’s a bit longer - research actually shows ellipticals with a longer stride length promote greater activation of the glutes(1); this means that an elliptical with a longer stride length may help you tone up your legs and burn calories more efficiently.


Other Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Elliptical

While stride length is incredibly important to the effectiveness and feel of your workout, there are other important factors that affect your final decision. Don’t forget to check that your elliptical fits your weight capacity, features, size, and budget needs.

If your ideal elliptical is a little off on stride length, it may not be the biggest deal breaker in the world for you. Maybe you’re willing to sacrifice a few inches on stride length, whether shorter or longer than ideal, because you want to get the elliptical that fits all of your other needs, such as the best fit for multiple users in your household. At the end of the day, you have to choose the best elliptical for you! So be sure to consider these other important factors before landing on the best elliptical for your home gym.



(1) “Lower Extremity Muscle Activation During Elliptical Trainer Exercise” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2009, https://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Fulltext/2002/05001/LOWER_EXTREMITY_MUSCLE_ACTIVATION_DURING.198.aspx. Accessed 19 May, 2021.


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Kostya Altman

Thank you for the article


Great info! I was looking to find out about elliptical machines for my mom who is 5’ tall.
Thank you