Reader Mailbag: How much height does an elliptical add?


The Treadmill Sensei, master of all things treadmill and insomnia related, just couldn’t sleep last night. I took my early morning hot shower (nothing gets me going like hot water on my old bones!) and headed in to the DOJO by 6am today. I love the workshop in the morning — it’s quiet and it’s a great place to get work done. Well, until Hikaru and the other Senseis come in at 8am. Then it gets loud.

In spite of the peaceful morning so far, today is going to be a bit of a sad day here at the DOJO. The nice lady who drove our local lunch truck announced yesterday was the last day our particular stop was on her route. While I was disappointed because the lunch truck generally made some really good food (except for that time I ordered a bacon and egg sandwich that tasted like fish…), Hikaru in particular is going to be crushed. You see, there was a cute girl on the truck who cooked all the food and Hikaru was in love…ok, maybe LOVE isn’t the word but it works for the story. Since his first day of work over two years ago he’s been plotting to ask her out. Unfortunately, he was never able to work up the courage to say more to her than “breakfast torta and a Mountain Dew” when he ordered every day. Poor Hikaru.

Now, on to fitness related things. I received a note from “Dave” recently. Dave has a low ceiling and wants to know how much clearance is needed for an elliptical. Let’s see what he has to say…take it away, Dave!

Hey Sensei, I wasn’t able to find this information on the manufacturer’s website. How high up does an elliptical place it’s user? I ask as I would like to purchase one for my workout room in my basement. However I only have 14.5″ of clearance from the top of my head to the ceiling. Thanks, Dave


Thanks for the note, Dave. The way to determine how much height an elliptical will add to you is to measure the pedals at the lowest and highest points. Then you average that amount to get the added height, i.e., if an elliptical’s lowest point is 8 inches and highest is 16 inches then the height addition would be 12 inches. The standard addition is going to be 12 to 14 inches, but I generally tell people to figure the full 16 inches just to be safe. No one wants to bumped their head during a rigorous workout.

Some units put you up a bit higher, such as commercial ellipticals like the Star Trac Pro or Elite. Your best bet is to either measure yourself or ask the retailer you’re purchasing from what the pedal heights are.

Thanks again for your note!

-The Treadmill Sensei

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