Elliptical Stride Length
Many consumers in the market for a residential elliptical trainer often ask: “what’s the ideal elliptical stride length”? Many others find themselves asking: “what’s elliptical stride length?” This article will answer both of these questions.
In very basic terms, “stride length” is the distance between your front and back feet at full extension on an elliptical trainer. It’s the same concept as how long your strides are during walking or running. So why does such a simple concept cause so much confusion for those shopping for an elliptical trainer?
Truth be told, elliptical stride length is but one of several criteria to consider when evaluating an elliptical trainer. In fact, it’s one of the more important features, along with stability, durability, and price that can make or break your decision.
So what is the ideal elliptical stride length? You probably already know the answer: “it depends.” Basically, it depends on your height, which is usually proportional to the length of your legs. Sure, some people have longer or shorter legs relative to their overall height, but in general, it usually follows that the taller your are, the longer your legs.
As a general rule of thumb, unless you’re shorter than 5’3”, then the minimum stride length you should accept is 17” with 16” as the absolute minimum. You want to be able to fully extend your legs during each stride to achieve a full range of motion through your hip joints. You don’t want to come up short on your strides, nor do you want to hyper-extend either. Both conditions are undesirable.
In any exercise movement, both cardio and in weight training, you always want to achieve a full range of motion. This is important for complete muscular development as well as preventing problems with your joints and ligaments. Proper stride length for your height is also vital for the overall smoothness and comfort level you will experience on an elliptical trainer.
A taller trainee on an elliptical with a stride length that is too short will feel like he is taking choppy, restricted steps and not enjoy a true elliptical range of motion. This trainee may even be forced to excessively bend his knees and assume a hunched over position to accommodate the shorter stride length. A short trainee on an elliptical with a stride length that is too long for her height will feel like she is slipping on an icy sidewalk. This hyperextension of the hip joints is very undesirable.
Where things get complicated is when more than one person will be using the elliptical trainer. For instance, in the case of a husband who is 6’3” and his wife who is 5’3”. The husband will need a stride length of around 18”-19” to experience a comfortable stride. His wife probably will be most comfortable at around a 16” stride length. However, she can probably do OK with a longer stride length. The ideal solution in this case would be to try an elliptical trainer that has an adjustable stride length such as the Smooth CE or one of the Tunturi ellipticals.
Remember that these dimensions are just very broad guidelines and there is no substitution for trying ellipticals on for size before
buying. Also remember that stride length just one criterion to consider when shopping for an elliptical trainer. Many cheap elliptical trainers
have stride lengths of 16” and up, but will come up very short in the durability and reliability departments.