Finding equipment at the gym that will accommodate a short person is a constant struggle. I mean you can’t blame equipment manufactures for producing equipment that will fit the average size person, but regardless, finding equipment that will work for a short person doesn’t need to be such a hassle. Ellipticals (sometimes called cross-trainers) fall in this category. The best elliptical for a short person will be one that has a stride length that is equivalent to the user’s natural stride while walking and it will provide the level of resistance adequate for the rider.
Stride length is the length between the pedals on an elliptical machine when they’re at their farthest distance from one another. That may seem like an irrelevant factor for an average person, but stride length is one of the most important specifications for shorter people.
For optimal results and comfort with an elliptical, the stride should correlate to your natural stride length when you’re walking. The taller a person is, the longer their stride will be. Conversely, a shorter person will have shorter legs, and consequently a shorter natural stride.
Shortlist of best ellipticals for a short person
I’ve put together this graph that shows each of the quality elliptical machines and its elliptical stride length. I’ve also provided the appropriate height of each. Keep in mind the rider height is just an approximation based on the stride. Allow for an inch or two for individual strides.
|Brand||Efitment||Sunny Health&Fitness||ProForm Trainer||MaxKare||Schwinn|
|Weight Capacity||220 lbs.||330 lbs.||350 lbs.||265 lbs.||275 lbs.|
|Rider Height||Below 5′||5’3″-5’5″||5’1″-5’4″||5’1″||5’7″-5’9″|
How to determine your stride length
This part is pretty easy. Take your overall height in inches multiplied by 0.25. So, for the average American woman (who is 5’4″) it would be 64 inches times 0.25. This equals 16. Now everybody has a slightly different gait, so you can give yourself about an inch or two of leeway here. But the average woman would fit best on an elliptical with a 16-inch elliptical stride length, give or take 1-2 inch margin of error.
What is the optimal stride length?
For the elliptical to comfortable and effective, you should be comfortable with the gap between the pedals at their farthest distance. A compact high-quality elliptical machine designed for a shorter person will have a stride around 13 inches. Below is a chart for stride length and height.
Some of the higher-end ellipticals have adjustable stride lengths, to accommodate a variety of riders. Otherwise, selecting a fixed stride length designed for your height is optimal.
Why is determining your stride length important?
Determining the correct stride length for your height is critical because it can have a dramatic effect on both the comfort and safety of each workout. In terms of safety, when you exercise on an elliptical with the incorrect stride length, both form and technique suffer, and the result of that is an increased risk of injury.
Additionally, everyone wants to be comfortable when they exercise, and when stride length is either too short or too long, comfort and effectiveness goes out the window.
If the elliptical stride length is incorrect in length they either become staggered and choppy or so exhaustively wide that you feel as if you may pull a muscle. Furthermore, having these key factors thrown off considerably decreases the effectiveness of elliptical training.
And if the machine isn’t comfortable to workout on, you’re so much more likely to give up on it. And before you know it, it will turn into nothing but a clothesline within months.
Benefits of using a properly sized elliptical
The benefits of using a quality elliptical machine that is equal to your natural stride are getting a better workout. If you’re on an elliptical where the stride is too long, it will feel unorthodox and possibly even painful. If the stride is too short, the cardio workout will be less intense and it will feel cramped.
Proper stride length will equal a better workout, proper full extension of the muscles, and free of pain or potential injury.
So, now that you know which feature is the most critical, see the best ellipticals for short people available on the market.
Also, note that short is a relative term. Most of the ellipticals below are designed for riders that are below the average height of an American woman (5’4″). I did include a couple for women of this height and a bit taller.
Best elliptical for short people
1) EFITMENT Magnetic Elliptical – The EFITMENT E005 belt drive magnetic elliptical trainer provides a no impact, smooth flowing workout for your upper and lower body. Perfect for a user who wants all the benefits from running, but is safer on the knees and incorporates more upper body movement for a total body workout. A belt-driven flywheel ensures a quiet, smooth, and maintenance-free workout. With a stride of 11″, this will work well for those around 5′.
Features and Benefits
- 11-inch stride makes it ideal for those around 5 feet in height.
- 220 weight capacity makes it sturdy enough for heavier users.
- LCD monitor displays all the key metrics, so no guessing.
- Hand pulse rate to ensure you’re not over-exerting yourself.
- 8 levels of resistance so you can go as easy or hard as you want.
2) Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Elliptical – Pack a cardio workout in the comfort of your own home with the SF-E3912 Pre-Programmed Elliptical Trainer by Sunny Health & Fitness. Stride 15.5 inches when you step onto the wide and textured footplates. Grab on to the handlebars to engage muscles in your upper body and to maintain balance during your exercise. Hold on to the pulse grips to keep tabs on your heart rate as you stride. Device holder and water bottle holder built-in for your added convenience.
Features and benefits
- A 15.5-inch stride, so great for those around 5’3″-5’5.”
- 24 unique workout modes, so you can just get on and workout without thinking of a program.
- 330-pound weight capacity, so great for the entire family.
- Performance monitor and device holder so you can watch how you’re doing while listening to your favorite songs.
- Non-slip foot pedals to ensure stability and safety.
3) ProForm Hybrid Trainer – I was hesitant to put this one on my list, but sometimes having access to different features is nice. Plus the 15″ stride makes it very applicable to shorter users. This unique 2 in 1 elliptical and recumbent bike is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. This hybrid trainer provides workout versatility and variety so you can mix up your workout routine. Includes a large LCD window display so you can easily and quickly view all of your workout stats (like RPM, watts, time, and calories burned) in one convenient place. The Silent Magnetic Resistance eliminates any mechanical sounds with silent magnetic resistance so you can experience a quiet ride every time. 16 digital resistance levels offer a wide range of resistance levels. The Soft Touch Upper-Body Grips Turn your workout into a total body experience with integrated upper-body grips.
Features and benefits
- Dual-use makes it great for switching up your workouts.
- The water bottle holder is conveniently located for easy access.
- The onboard sound system allows you to sync up your music for music-bumping motivation.
- Adjustable pedals allow you to put them in the most comfortable spot for you.
- Transport wheels make it easy to maneuver around any area.
4) MaxKare Magnetic Elliptical Machine – MaxKare is a leader in the home equipment industry. It’s no surprise they have an effective elliptical to offer. The MaxKare elliptical machine can help you do a whole body workout with low-impact to the knees, bring you a comfortable and effective exercise experience. The unique front flywheel design provides a level of stability and smoothness, that the others just don’t offer. The heavy-duty frame can support up to 264 pounds making it a durable and strong piece of home equipment.
Features and benefits
- The front flywheel design is smooth and extremely quiet
- LCD monitor and device holder makes it great for seeing your progress.
- The two-way operation allows you to go forward and backward.
- 13.5″ stride is great for riders around 5′-5’2.”
- Provides 8 levels of resistance, for those easy and hard workout days
5) Schwinn A40 Elliptical Machine – The Schwinn A40 offers high performance at an affordable price, delivering a challenging workout in the comfort of your home. With easy to use features and a unique console design, get the best in fitness technology. If a premiere brand at an affordable price point is a critical deciding factor and you don’t need the bells and whistles of some of the others listed, this Schwinn might fit the bill. With a stride of 17.5,” this elliptical is great for those around 5’5″-5.9.”
Features and benefits
- A large LCD console makes tracking your progress a breeze.
- 8 levels of magnetic resistance provide a variety of intensity.
- 7 pre-programmed levels, lets you hop on and go.
- Moving and fixed handlebars give you options and variety.
- Ergonomically placed grip heart rate contacts provide continuous updates on heart rate.
As you can see there are a variety of manufacturers that put out elliptical machines that are great for short people. That being said, the stride length is the only feature you want to consider. Here are a few more that users typically consider.
Elliptical for short people buying guide
Size of your home elliptical
Unless you have a big garage or extra room where you can store and use your home elliptical, the amount of room it takes up will be something you want to consider. Be sure to consider the machine size itself but you’ll be needing room to use it. The arms do swing forward and you want to make sure you’re not going to be hitting anything. Also, give yourself plenty of room to get on and get off. While it might fit in the corner, is it easy to get on and off? If not, somewhere else might be more appropriate.
With that, the ceiling height is also a consideration. If you have low ceilings, be sure to review the height of each to ensure you’re not hitting your head. Granted, as a short person it might be one of the few times you’re hitting your head on the ceiling, but now isn’t the time.
The maneuverability of the home elliptical
Hopefully, you won’t need to move the elliptical around much if at all, other than setting it in place. But if you’ll be moving it frequently to use it, or to get it out of the way of any other home activities, a lightweight elliptical makes moving it a bit more pain-free. Some of the ellipticals have wheels and/or are light enough for one person to move around. The portability is key if there’s intent to move it around.
Levels of resistance
Some of the more affordable models have 8 levels of resistance. For some, this might easily be enough. For others who are looking to increase the level of intensity beyond 8 levels or even do a HIIT workout, might need additional levels. Beginners might be satisfied with 8, but if you’re an avid gym person that is used to having access to a significantly higher number of levels, a more advanced elliptical might be in your best interest.
Displays and monitors on ellipticals
The best home ellipticals will offer some kind of display showing you metrics of your workout. Displays can vary in size as well as how much information they show. If time, distance, and heart rate are all you need, then no need to go top-shelf for extra bells and whistles you won’t use. Also, how user-friendly is it? Sometimes the fewer buttons you have, the easier it is to operate. The best home ellipticals will have screens or displays that are easy to read, have good backlighting, and an intuitive user panel.
Other amenities on ellipticals
I don’t know about you, but music is key to my workouts. Some of the best home ellipticals will have a sound system you can use. Others might have Bluetooth capabilities. Water bottle holders, adjustable pedals, and fans might be something you just can’t live without. Be sure the elliptical you want, has all the amenities you want.
Noise level of elliptical
Some ellipticals have magnetic resistance, some are chain-drive, and some are belt-driven. Each has its pros and cons, but the amount of machine noise might play a factor if you’re trying to be unobtrusive to the family.
An elliptical with magnetic resistance will be the quietest, so consider your family, neighbors ( thinking apartments and condos here), and don’t let the noise be a factor you didn’t consider. Additionally, if you’re like me, you like to listen to music or maybe even watch an episode on your iPad, so consider that too.
Affordability of home elliptical
At some point, for most of us, the cost will have an impact on your decision. The ellipticals above are not the most expensive, and they’re not the cheapest. I believe you get what you pay for, so the ellipticals I’ve included are either ellipticals that I’ve thoroughly researched or had personally tried out.
When it comes to grabbing a piece of home equipment that you can potentially use for several years, I think it’s important to choose one that is durable, stable, safe, and will provide the workout you want. The last thing you want to do is get a home elliptical that you don’t like, or want to return because it was the cheapest one available.
Returning items is a hassle, especially for a larger item like an elliptical. For that reason, I’ve included the ones that are around the middle of the road when it comes to cost.
Conclusion of best elliptical for a short person
Stride length is a key consideration whether you plan to purchase an elliptical or use one at your local gym. Finding the correct stride length should be your number 1 feature, especially if your goal is a safe and low-impact workout.
The listed machines are top-rated home elliptical machines with a ton of reviews and satisfied users. Be sure to check out their review and specifications.
The benefits of elliptical workouts are numerous. Here’s a quick video that discusses what you can expect once you start using your new elliptical.
If indoor bicycles are of interest, check out my post about the best spin bike for a short person.
FAQ on best elliptical for a short person
What is the best elliptical trainer?
The best elliptical trainer is one that will provide the correct stride length, the correct amount of resistance, as well as any features that will keep you engaged and eager to keep using it.
Is the elliptical considered easy or hard?
The elliptical is considered easy on your joints. Low-impact workouts tend to be a bit easier on your body as well as your cardio exertion. However, you can increase the levels of most ellipticals to make them harder.
Are ellipticals good for weight loss?
Yes, ellipticals can provide a full-body workout. A full-body workout that stresses your muscles and the cardio system will burn calories which in turn can lead to weight loss.
What is the elliptical machine good for?
One of the biggest draws of elliptical machines is they are low-impact. For people that have joint issues or don’t like treadmills, the elliptical can provide the same cardio benefits as traditional treadmills.