(done) Are small elliptical machines effective?

Firstly though, I think its important to state exactly what an elliptical machine does. An elliptical machine delivers a low-impact, full-body workout. The amount of calories you will burn using an elliptical trainer will depend on your weight, duration of training and intensity of training.

What makes a small elliptical trainer effective?

The above factors will not be compromised by whether you are training on a small elliptical trainer in the comfort of your own home or in the gym. However one key factor that will be affected is your stride length. Stride length in its simplest form is the length of your step, or in technical term the longest distance between your bent and out-stretched leg when in a peddling motion.

So to judge whether a small elliptical machine is effective you will need one key metric, your height.  You height will have a impact on your stride length. The taller you are, the longer your stride length will be. The longer your stride length the more calories you burn. the latter is also dependent on how intense your session is and the time you spend training.

Which Models can you start with?


For short people, a small elliptical machine with a stride length 16” to 18” will be most effective. Some great compact machines in this range include the  Schwinn A40 , Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainer. I have done an in-depth Schwinn A40 review and Ex 59 Review on this site. You can also see more user reviews of these models on amazon (click here for Schwinn A40 and here for Ex- 59).

For folk with a height between 5’7” to 6’7”,  you would feel more comfortable as well as have an effective workout  with compact elliptical machines that have a stride length of 20” or 21 inches. One of the best in this class is the Best Fitness E1. Again if you want more details on this elliptical trainer by checking out some very positive reviews on amazon here or reading my comprehensive review.

In the ultra short stride range is the stamina in-motion, with lengths of between 10″ – 15″. This model is normally great if you just want to test the waters around training at home. One thing i like about this trainer is the range of colors it comes in, making it perfect as a gift especially this coming St Patricks’ Day. It currently comes in 5 colors – Orange, Green, Black,  Pink and Black Chrome.


Adjustable Stride compact elliptical trainer for home use

“Adjustable Stride” compact elliptical trainer for home use

If you’d rather have a machine that can be used by more members of your family, then the best choice would be trainers with adjustable strides. Top 3 examples of small elliptical trainers for home use which fit this bill include the Schwinn 450 Elliptical Trainer, Body Rider Elliptical Trainer with Seat and Livestrong® LS8.0E Elliptical models. There is currently some good deals on the latter model on Amazon, hence my inclusion in this post.

My Last Thoughts on effectiveness of small elliptical trainers

The prognosis is clear. What makes a trainer effective is combination of many factors, but central to this is the stride length. In turn the effectiveness of stride length is determined by your height. However generally speaking, the longer the stride length, the more calories you will burn.

With home trainers having strides lengths of up to 22 inches and as low as 10 inches, its a no brainer that small elliptical trainers for use in apartments are effective. To make your training experience at home more worthwhile, don’t forget to check out my post on what to look for in a home elliptical  here or my most popular post on this site – best 3 elliptical trainers for small spaces.

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