Elliptical Stride Length Explained

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“How Do I Know Which Elliptical Stride is Right For Me?”


One of the greatest causes of confusion (and stress) with elliptical buyers is choosing the right stride length.

This post will hopefully break it down for you and help you choose the right stride lengths based on your height.

First of all, what is stride?

Stride length is basically the furthest distance between the pedals (lengthwise not width).

It’s similar to the length of your stride when running.

Ellipticals come in all sorts of stride lengths – from 12 inches up to 24 inches (and even variable stride). Cheaper ellipticals usually will give you a shorter stride like 12 – 16 inches.

The problem with a shorter stride is that, unless you’re under 5 feet, you will get a short, choppy feel when you go to use the elliptical.

It will not feel smooth – more like taking very short steps very quickly.

A short stride feels very unnatural and you also don’t end up using your leg muscles to any great extent (which means a less effective workout and less calories burned).

Most higher end crosstrainers give a more decent, natural-feeling stride from 18 to 22 inches. Many people (myself included) feel that 18 or 20 inches is ideal for most people

However, if you’re over 6 feet, you may feel more comfortable with 20 inches.

Also be aware that some crosstrainers like the Nordictrack Freestride trainers for example, come with adjustable stride lengths of up to 32 inches (you choose your own stride:


freestrider best machine
Nordictrack Freestride Trainer


This is a great way to make sure you – and whoever else is using it – find the most comfortable stride length for your height.


Bottom line on Elliptical Stride?

Having the right stride length will help you more fully work your leg muscles (and give you a better workout overall).

Most people find that between 18 and 20 inches is ideal. However if you are over 6 feet, you may prefer 20 or even 22 inches for maximum comfort.

And steer clear of the shorter, choppy 12 – 16 inch strides!


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