Are Small Elliptical Machines Effective?

You may be wondering how effective small elliptical machines are. To answer this question, we need to find out exactly what makes an elliptical machine effective in the first place. We will then look at whether the size of an elliptical machine matters in determining elliptical machine effectiveness.

Firstly though, I think it´s 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 machine 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 terms 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.  Your height will have an 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 shorter 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 and the Horizon Fitness EX-59-02 Elliptical Trainers. 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 reviews and click here for EX-59 reviews).

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 you can check out some very positive reviews on Amazon by clicking here or reading my comprehensive review here.

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 for someone! It currently comes in 3 colors – OrangeGreen and Black.

Click here for great Amazon deals on this compact machine!

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 2 examples of small elliptical machines for home use which fit this bill include the Body Rider Elliptical Trainer with Seat and the Sole Fitness E35 Elliptical Machine. There are currently some good deals on the latter model on Amazon, hence my inclusion in this post.

So small elliptical trainers definitely are effective and some people have been known to train while they work, as can be seen in this picture of the Stamina In-motion trainer – now that’s what I call multi-tasking!!

My last thoughts on the effectiveness of small elliptical machines

The prognosis is clear. What makes a trainer effective is a 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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