What elliptical trainer should you buy if you’re very tall?

Many times we’ve been asked, “I’m over 6′ tall…what elliptical should I buy?” It’s a very good question as there are definitely some things you’ll need to consider as a taller user.

Finding the right elliptical training machine can be a tricky proposition if you are above average height. Certain features will vary depending on the height of the user, and individuals who are 6’ tall or taller can have a more difficult time finding a machine that allows them to get a good workout without feeling uncomfortable on the machine. Fortunately, the top manufacturers all have an eye toward making their products work for all users so there are machines out there that are well suited for taller users.tall-elliptical-user

There are several specific factors that must be taken into consideration when selecting an elliptical trainer if you are over 6 feet tall. The primary factor is stride length. Unlike treadmills or stationary bikes, elliptical machines are meant to mimic the natural movement of the body while walking or running, therefore you’ll want a machine that gives you a maximum stride length that is as close to your natural stride as possible.

Generally speaking, the taller the individual the longer the stride length is. For individuals 6 feet tall or more, a stride length of no less than 20” will work better.

There are several brands that offer either fixed stride machines of 20” or more or machines with adjustable stride lengths that can accommodate anywhere from 18” to 22”. Among the brands that offer longer stride lengths are NordicTrack, Sole, Spirit, Smooth, Precor, Vision, TRUE, Octane and Life Fitness.

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration for taller individuals is stride shape. Some models have more of an up and down movement than others and this can present a problem for taller users, particularly if they are using their machine in a room with a low ceiling. Since you will have little clearance when you are in the uppermost position of the stride, you’ll need to allow for enough headroom so that you can move naturally in a regular, upright position.

Stride shape varies depending on the design of the elliptical machine. Machines with rear drive will tend to have less up and down motion than those with front drive. This means taller individuals will likely be more comfortable on rear drive machines for the most part. One of the newest innovations in elliptical design is the side drive, where there are actually two smaller flywheels on either side of the pedals. This allows the pedals themselves to be mounted lower, giving the user more headroom during the full range of the stride. NordicTrack, Quantum Fitness and Ironman Fitness both make side drive models that are of good quality and are less expensive.

In most cases, taller individuals will need to choose a machine with a larger base frame to allow for more comfortable movement. Unfortunately, the larger the base frame is, the more the machine tends to cost. There are some models with smaller base frames and adjustable pedals that let you compensate for extra height so that you can get a comfortable workout despite the small frame. In general, however, it is likely that in order to get the best possible workout, taller users will have to be prepared to spend a little more.

Larger base frames, side drive and longer strides are usually only included in the higher end models, costing $1,000 or more, so if you are a taller user you’ll probably need to spend a bit more to get what you want. If you have the room in your budget and want to get a great workout without leaving the house, you’ll find no better investment than a good quality elliptical trainer. Size does not have to be a limitation if you know what to get and are willing to spend a little more to get it.