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Find The Best Elliptical Stride Length For You: Are Longer Strides Really Better?

 Written by 

Jordyn Snyder

 Last updated on 

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Since ellipticals are one of the top pieces of fitness equipment to have in at-home gyms there’s been an increase in questions like, “Why does stride length on elliptical matter?” and “How do you measure stride length on a cardio machine like the elliptical?”

To some, it might seem a lot more complicated than it is so in this article we’re going to break down how to calculate the right stride length on an elliptical for you and why it matters, along with commonly asked questions and the best elliptical to buy that’s currently on the market.

People who found the best elliptical stride length for them
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The Importance Of Finding The Correct Stride Length For You:

Like it would with any fitness machine, using it at the wrong increment or setting can cause injury and impact your comfort level which might affect the length of time you’re on it. Ellipticals are known for being a great, low-impact cardio exercise, and if your stride is too short and staggered and choppy or overly long then you throw out most of the benefits that come along with using an elliptical.

To maximize your workout time as an elliptical user, finding the proper stride length is going to be one of the most important parts and so now you might be thinking…

How Is Stride Length Calculated?

Well, there are quite a few ways, but the easiest and most accurate of them all is a height-based formula. If you’re not good at math or left school to never deal with a formula of any kind again, don’t stress! This one is simple:

Step One

Measure your height in inches.

Step Two

Multiply that number (your height in inches) by 0.25.

Step Three

Find the total and if it’s a decimal round up to the nearest whole number.

Example: 68 inches (height) X 0.25 equals 17 (your ideal stride length)

And that’s it! We told you it was easy.

A man with the right elliptical stride length
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If you have more time and some chalk on your hands then you can mark your starting position and then take ten natural steps forward. After the ten steps mark where your right foot stops and then measure the distance between both points that were marked with chalk. Once you do this, divide the distance by 10, and whatever the total is it’s going to be your stride length. This one might come with some errors, so we recommend trying it a few times and picking the average number as your final answer.

What Stride Length is Best for Your Height?

While some ellipticals don’t give you the option of adjusting the stride length it’s a good idea to learn the kind of exercise machines that are best based just on your height.

If you have a small stride length (11” to 15”), you’re likely under 5’3”, and machines that average a 14” stride are going to be your ideal elliptical. Something like an Exerpeutic 1000XI might be the best for you and your at-home gym if you take a shorter stride.

If you have a medium stride length (16” to 18”), you likely fall between 5′ and 5’8”, and a great choice for ellipticals are the Exerpeutic 2000XLST and the Sunny Health SF-E3912 to help you keep a proper stride.

If you have a long stride (19” and up), you’re going to need to get machines like the Schwinn 430 and the Nautilus E618. However, if you’re a taller user and you are over the 22′ stride length, you might have to search for specially-made ellipticals that fit you better and offer a more optimal stride.

Also, it’s important to remember that despite your calculations and no matter how many times you check your stride length, allow yourself a 1-2 inch margin of error. Sometimes it comes down to trying different elliptical strides until you find what’s most natural for you.

Someone using the right stride length on elliptical
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What are the optimal stride lengths for a woman and a man?

The average elliptical stride for a woman is typically 18” to 20”, while a man’s average stride is about 20”. Most commercial gyms have 20” ellipticals to fit the majority of elliptical users, though if you’re over 6′ or under 5’3” it’s likely not going to be a good idea to use these machines at the gym unless they have the ability to adjust.

How many strides on an elliptical equal one full mile?

Typically, 2,241 strides on an elliptical average out to one mile, which normally takes most elliptical users around 7 minutes to complete. If you take longer or shorter strides than normal this number will change, but for an average elliptical user that is the number.

What is the longest stride length of any elliptical machine?

As mentioned before, the average elliptical machine length is 20”, however, there are machines up to 22” inches that are much harder to come by and usually have to be specifically ordered. The purchase is worth it though to guarantee you prevent an incorrect stride.

Should I go up an inch if I’m not sure?

If you seem “in-between” sizes or really just aren’t sure what feels most comfortable, we recommend sizing up. If you size up an inch or two you likely won’t notice it like you would if you went lower, which could leave you feeling more cramped and unable to achieve the full benefits of the workout.

Research shows that if you take longer strides (still in a comfortable range) then it’ll better activate the glutes and in return help burn more calories.

Is 20” stride length ellipticals good for shorter people too?

Technically, yes, however, if you want to get the best outcome for your workout experience you’ll want to find an elliptical that’s ideal for your height and that can help you get the correct stride.

If you have no other option on sizing, then give it a try, but if it feels like you’re reaching too far, hyper-extending, have a shortened range of motion, or it’s beginning to hurt you should stop immediately. Using a machine that doesn’t accommodate your size isn’t worth the risk of injury at the end of the day.

What’s the best Elliptical Machine to get on the market right now?

Most commercial ellipticals have a 20-inch stride length and so that’s usually what people tend to buy for their at-home gyms, meaning the Schwinn 470 is typically a top seller based on user reviews. However, even though the Schwinn 470 elliptical is a quality product, it does not give you the option of adjusting it so it’s very important you measure your ideal elliptical stride length before you purchase a machine.

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What is the best elliptical workout to do for a beginner?

Whether you’re new to elliptical training or a seasoned pro and elliptical trainer, our favorite and most effective workout is the 15-minute rush as explained below:


Resistance: Level 3

Incline: Level 1


Resistance: Level 6

Incline: Level 3


Resistance: Level 8

Incline: Level 5


Resistance: Level 3

Incline: Level 1


Resistance: Level 8

Incline: Level 5

The entire thing should be done with hands on the handles and feet firmly pressed in the center of the pedals with good posture and the proper stride. You can even repeat this low-impact workout after the first round, doing it up to three times with a short break in between for a more intense elliptical training session.

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