Wondering if your elliptical machine can handle your weight? You’re not alone. I’ve done some digging and found your answer.
On average, an elliptical machine for home use can handle 292 lbs./132.5 kg. The user weight limits for elliptical machines range from 220 lbs. (99.7 kg) to 375 lbs. (170 kg). The most common user weight limit is 300 lbs. (136 kg). Commercial machines tend to have higher load limits.
The user weight limit is important to know but does it say anything about the quality? Keep reading to find out.
Elliptical machine user weight limits
Of course not every machine is the same and the number mentioned above is an average. Averages don’t always tell the whole stories. Here’s a list of popular models for home use and their user weight limits. This chart covers a lot of popular elliptical models for home use. Models for commercial use are not included and might be different.
|Max load (lbs.)
In this chart you can see that the average weight limit for a home elliptical is about 292 pounds/132.5 kg. What you can also see however is that there is a pretty wide range in weight limits of these machines.
The lowest weight limit in this list is only 220 lbs/99.8 kg. That is actually pretty low. Sure, many people are lighter than that but an increasing amount of people is actually heavier than that. That means it is really important to check the weight limit of the specific machine you’re looking to buy, especially if it’s going to be used by a person that weighs more than 220 lbs.. Since 220lbs. seems to be the lowest load limit for home elliptical machines, people that are lighter than that will be fine with any machine.
In general, the machines with the higher weight limits of over 300lbs. tend to be the heavier and bigger machines although there are some exceptions.
Many of the machines in the above list have a weight limit of 300lbs. This seems to be a kind of standard that many machines are built to meet. For the vast majority of people a weight limit of 300lbs. is perfectly fine but it all depends on your personal situation of course.
Knowing an average doesn’t help you much if your specific machine is different. It’s always good to look up the weight limit of your machine before buying to prevent unpleasant surprises.
One reason many people have to go for a machine that has a significantly higher weight limit than your body weight is that those machines could have a better build quality. That’s not as clear cut as you might think however. Keep reading to find out what a weight limit tells you.
What if you exceed the weight limit of your elliptical?
Now what happens if you are heavier than the quoted weight limit of your elliptical trainer? There are a few things that can happen. Which one? That depends on how much you’re going over the weight limit, how often and the quality of the machine.
There are a couple of things that can happen when the weight limit is exceeded;
- Nothing (within safety margin)
- Increased wear
Let’s look at those things a little closer.
There will be a safety margin in almost every thing you buy. Most manufacturers care about their products and want to give you a good experience. Part of that experience is lifespan. If every little thing that goes over their quoted limit would break the machine immediately, the experience wouldn’t be great. Not to mention the possible warranty claims and lawsuits.
So most ellipticals will have a safety margin where nothing bad will happen or at least not immediately.
How big is that margin? That impossible to say if you’re not the engineer who designed the machine. It depends on the brand and specific model. It also depends how old/worn the machine already is. A safety margin of 15% when the machine is new might only be 5% when parts are wearing out.
On the other hand, manufacturers would like to quote a higher weight limit because it can be a selling point and it would increase their potential customer base. So it’s unlikely you’ll get a machine that has a much higher weight limit than quoted.
One thing is for sure, if you put more weight on an elliptical trainer, the wear is increased. It will shorten the lifespan of the machine. More weight puts more stress on the frame and all the moving parts.
If you’re asking more of an elliptical (or any other machine) than it’s meant to do, you really have to stay on top of maintenance. Check all the nuts and bolts regularly. Lubricate all the moving parts if possible. Lubrication won’t help with frame damage but will definitely help reduce the wear on moving parts.
Just like when you’re tuning a car for more power, you have increased wear on the bearings and other parts. That’s going to lead to a shorter lifespan no matter how well you tune it but changing the oil more often will help.
Again, it also depends on how much over the weight limit you go, for how long, etc. You’re going into the safety margin of the machine and possibly exceed even that. So while it might not break immediately it will break faster.
How much faster? That’s (again) impossible to say. Even two elliptical trainers that are the same brand and model could give out at different points. There are just too many factors to say anything concrete.
Of course it does depend how much over the limit you load the elliptical and for how long. Also the smoothness with which you use the machine has an impact. Just jumping on it is much more likely to go wrong than carefully step on it.
There is a line from “normal wear” to “increased wear” to “failure”. Where you are on that line is a direct result of the stress you put on it.
Should you go over the weight limit?
Can I advise you to go over the quoted weight limit of your elliptical trainer? No, I can’t and won’t advise you go over the weight limit set by the manufacturer. If the manufacturer says it is safe up until a certain point, who am I to disagree? I’m sure their engineers have thought about it.
If you think it will be ok and want to do it anyways, take some safety precautions;
- Look for strange noises. If you hear different noises from the machine than with a lighter load, that’s a clear sign the machine doesn’t like it.
- Check all the nuts and bolts for correct tightness before and after use
- Regularly check for frame damage and/or deformation.
- Increase lubrication interval of parts that require it.
- Use your common sense. being 2 pounds over the weight limit is much less likely to do damage than 200 pounds.
Is the weight limit a sign of build quality?
You might wonder if this discrepancy is an indicator of the quality of an elliptical machine? The indicated weight limit is the result of a few factors;
- Manufacturer safety margin
The most important deciding factor in what the weight limit of a piece of equipment is, is the design. When designing a piece of equipment, the manufacturer thinks about how much weight they want to handle a machine. It’s not like they just build something and then find out how much weight it can handle. The rest of the factors will follow from the design.
The construction and materials are what gives the machine its strength. Thicker steel and stronger bearings made out of better materials can handle more weight than cheaper/inferior materials. Producing a machine with a higher weight limit requires a manufacturer to use more/better materials or construct them in a better way. In that way, a machine with a higher weight limit does indicate higher quality.
Another thing that can influence the advertised weight limit is the marketing department and the safety margin of the manufacturer. It’s unlikely you’ll find a machine that will collapse if you are one pound over the weight limit. Manufacturers have a safety margin built into the machines. However, not every manufacturer necessarily uses the same safety margin.
For example, one machine might be advertised with a 300 lbs. limit but only have a 5% safety margin, while another machine with the same 300lbs. indicated limit has a safety margin of 35%. Obviously the second machine has to be constructed in a better way with better/more materials. Therefore the advertised weight limit might not completely correlate with build quality.
A machine that’s built to handle a higher load limit doesn’t necessarily have to be of higher quality or be better in general. A machine with a weight limit of 220 lbs. used by a person that weighs 200lbs might last longer than a machine with a weight limit of 350lbs. used by a 330lbs. person might last the exact same amount of time.
However, it does make sense that a machine with a higher weight limit, would last longer than a machine with a lower weight limit used by the same person. Weight puts stress on all the moving parts and structure of the machine. If you’re using 80% of the weight limit of one machine but only 50% of another, it’s likely that the latter will last longer because the relative stress is lower. This is not a guarantee however; there are many factors that influence when a machine breaks.
The weight limit only tells you something about the strength of the structure however. There are also electronics, rubber grips, pedals and other parts that aren’t part of the core structure. The core structure is what supports the weight. All the other parts don’t really influence that. That means that a machine with a high weight limit doesn’t necessarily indicate high build quality in the accessory parts.
Where to find an elliptical machines’ weight limit? The user weight limit of an elliptical machine can be found in the user manual. If you know the brand and model number, Google will likely be able to tell you the weight limit as well. Finally, if both those fail you can call the producer or store you bought it from for more information.
How long should an elliptical stride length be for a 5’9 person? The best elliptical stride length for a person that’s 5’9 tall is 20”-22”. This length will ensure you can move with good posture and not force yourself into a bad movement pattern. Doing this can cause injuries that could have been prevented with a correct stride length.
Favorite Cardio Accessories
Check out these accessories that improve a home cardio workout:
- Equipment mat: All cardio equipment should be put on an equipment mat. The Rubber-Cal mat (Amazon) is an affordable yet very high-quality choice.
- Interval timer: To time your intervals and workouts, there is no better choice than the GymNext Flex. It’s super easy to use and set up with a phone app.
- Tablet holder: Cardio can be boring. With this tablet holder (Amazon) you can follow along with on-demand workouts or just watch a movie on any cardio machine.
- Heart rate monitor: Monitoring your heart rate is very important while doing cardio. The Polar H10 (Amazon) connects to almost anything you can imagine and is very accurate.
To find which cardio machines I recommend for home gyms, click here.