Stair Climber vs Treadmill: Which Is Best For You?

The stair climber and treadmill are two of the preferred items of train tools throughout gyms and houses. Each provides quite a lot of exercise choices, from simpler to gruelling and muscle-building to cardio.

Some individuals swear by the stair climber whereas others solely use the treadmill.

So which is healthier? In this article, we are going to break down the advantages of every and dive into the analysis to find out whether or not the stair climber or treadmill offers greater exercise.

Desk of Contents:

  • What Is A Stair Climber?
  • What Is A Treadmill?
  • Stair Climber vs Treadmill For Glutes
  • Stairmaster vs Incline Treadmill For Weight Loss
  • Stairmaster vs Treadmill: Which Burns Extra Energy?
  • What Are The Value Variations?
  • Evaluating the Stair Climber vs Treadmill: A Abstract
  • FAQs

What Is A Stair Climber?

The stair climber, additionally known as Stairmaster or stair stepper, is a kind of train machine that simulates climbing stairs. The stair stepper was invented in 1983 by a trio of engineers in Oklahoma. The stair grasp was lastly patented in 1987, which led to an increase in reputation and the creation of comparable machines.

The stair climber appears to be like like a miniature staircase with particular personal steps that revolve up and down constantly. The machine person will stand on the steps and climb stairs, identical to you’d on a precise staircase. Machines have a number of choices to regulate pace and resistance range to create completely different exercises.

The stairclimber is mostly used as a cardio exercise for its capability to burn a number of energy. It may possibly additionally construct power within the decreased physique, together with calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glute muscle groups.

stair stepper vs treadmill

Stair Stepper Muscle groups Labored

The primary muscle groups laboured by the stair stepper are the decreased physique, together with calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. The hamstrings are activated when flexing the knees, whereas the calves, quads, and glutes are activated throughout the pushing movement of the steps.

It additionally works the hip flexors, activated when lifting the legs. Lastly, the stair climber additionally works the guts and cardiovascular system. The train on a stair climber helps elevate the guts price, which retains the guts wholesome and improves endurance.

Stair Climber Energy Burned

Like every train, the precise variety of burned energy will rely upon a number of elements. For a 30-minute exercise, the Stairmaster will often burn wherever from 180 to 260 energy.

The pace-setting is one main issue affecting what number of energy is burned, as shifting quicker can considerably improve the whole energy burned. One other essential word is that heavier individuals will usually burn extra energy as a result of they having to hold extra physique weight, so larger vitality is required.

For instance, a 175-pound man will burn extra energy than a 130-pound man doing the identical exercise.

Advantages Of The Stairmaster

A Stairmaster exercise could be troublesome, however, the ache is effectively price the advantages. I will go over a few of my favourite perks right here, however, there are such a lot of them, that we even did a complete article on it. For added data on Stairmaster perks, head to our article on 17 Advantages of the Stair Climber.

A few of the advantages of the stair grasp embody:

  • Cardiovascular Well-being: Like different workouts, the Stairmaster helps elevate the guts price, which helps enhance cardiovascular endurance.
  • Burn Energy: Most stair stepper machines as we speak have screens that show estimated energy burned, making it straightforward to trace. You’ll be able to burn extra energy by rising pace.
  • Strengthens Core: Whereas the decreased physique muscle groups are the first focus of the stair stepper, the core is activated to assist stabilize and preserve posture. Strengthening the decrease again and abdominals can assist keep away from damage and forestall decreased again ache.
  • Helps Bone Density: Similar to operating on a treadmill, weight-bearing workouts assist enhance bone density and can assist stop bone ailments like osteoporosis.
  • Stronger Decrease Physique: The stair stepper helps construct leg muscle groups, together with quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. The stair stepper is very nice for constructing muscle within the calves and glutes in comparison with operating on a treadmill.
  • Low Impression: Stair climber machines present low impression exercises, which implies they slowly elevate your coronary heart price and put much less stress on your joints than high-impact workouts. A stair climber machine requires you to push off your legs, whereas the treadmill has you touchdown in your legs with excessive impression onto arduous surfaces. Over time, the stair stepper can strengthen joints and scale back joint aches, whereas treadmills put stress on them.

Stair Stepper Cons

Whereas there are a number of advantages of the Stairmaster, there are some minor destructive facets.

  • Not A Full Physique Exercise: The Stairmaster really focuses on the decreased physique, which will be good or dangerous. In case you are searching for extra or complete physique exercise, the treadmill or different machines could be higher.
  • Attainable Damage: This machine will be powerful to make use of, particularly at larger speeds. Begin slowly and work your approach as much as keep away from accidents resembling tendonitis, muscle strains, or overuse accidents.
  • Can Be Tough: Regardless of having completely different pace choices, the stair stepper has far much less variability than operating on a treadmill. Learners might wrestle to finish 5 minutes on the bottom set of a stair stepper, whereas, on a treadmill, they’ll discover a manageable pace.

stairmaster muscles worked

What Is A Treadmill?

A treadmill is a kind of cardio tool with a shifting belt on a flat floor created to simulate outside operating or strolling. It is the preferred piece of dwelling train tools and the preferred cardio machine in gyms.

The earliest types of treadmills had been created as types of punishment till 1913 when the primary US patent for a treadmill coaching machine was issued. They’re now used for cardiovascular workouts, together with strolling and operating.

Treadmills have advanced with know-how and as we speak embody quite a few options resembling focused coronary heart charges and varied resistance ranges, together with an incline choice.

stair climber vs treadmill building muscle

Treadmill Muscle groups Labored

The treadmill works the physique very equally to the stair stepper, with each primarily affecting the decreased muscle teams, together with the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes.

You’ll be able to particularly goal the calves and glutes extra by doing an incline treadmill exercise resembling incline strolling. The treadmill additionally works for secondary muscle groups within the core, together with the abdominals and decreases again muscle groups.

Working will goal the belly muscle groups extra, so attempt a rising pace to assist attain a six-pack. The shoulders, again, and arms are additionally minorly activated, primarily performing as stabilizing muscle groups.

Energy Burned Throughout A Treadmill Exercise

As we talked about above, the quantity of energy burned will range from individual to individual as a result of it is dependent upon a number of elements. All issues thought-about equal, operating outdoors or on a treadmill is the perfect and most effective method to burn energy.

A examine in contrast the vitality expended in energy from varied health machines, together with each the treadmill and the stair stepper machine.

The treadmill produced the best vitality expenditure, which means it burned essentially the most energy in comparison with the stair climber and different machines. The treadmill additionally produced the best coronary heart price, with the stair climber second1.

In common, the everyday particular person can burn wherever from 150-300 energy in a single hour strolling on a treadmill, with the pace being a significant component, amongst others. When operating, you’ll be able to burn nearer to 550-700 energy per hour. Research has proven that operating burns extra energy than strolling, resulting in considerably larger weight reduction over six years2.

For a 150-pound particular person, strolling on a treadmill at a brisk tempo of three.5 mph will burn roughly 258 energy an hour. Working at a 10-minute mile tempo of 6pmh will burn roughly 680 energy per hour in the identical 150-pound particular person.

Advantages Of The Treadmill

Along with the energy burned, the treadmill has different advantages over the stair stepper.

One examination discovered that operating is more practical than stair-climbing for sports-related results. They discovered that cardio capability measured in VO2 max elevated by 12% on the stair stepper in comparison with a 16% improvement from operating.

The operating group additionally decreased their run time by 11% in comparison with solely 8% within the stair stepper group, which exhibits that the treadmill is healthier for operating efficiency outcomes than the stair stepper3.

Different advantages embody:

  • Comfort: Treadmills are extraordinarily handy to make use of, making it attainable to stroll or run at any time of day, no matter climate. That is particularly useful for individuals who stay in climates that aren’t preferred for operating, together with freezing chilly or excessive warmth. They are often discovered at any fitness centre or health heart or simply bought for an at-home fitness centre.
  • Number of Exercises: Treadmills provide a lot wider variety of attainable exercises than a stair stepper. Treadmills have a lot larger vary of pace settings, making them extra customizable and safer. They will even have incline choices, interval coaching packages, and different coaching packages to select from. For instance, you’ll be able to go for a HIIT treadmill exercise or you could find a treadmill exercise for weight reduction.
  • Improves Coronary heart Well being: All types of training profit total coronary heart well-being, and the treadmill is among the many greatest. Treadmills provide low-intensity cardio train and know-how to measure coronary heart price. Hitting a goal coronary heart price zone and sustaining fixed coronary heart charges helps strengthen the guts muscle groups and decrease blood stress, reducing the chance of coronary heart illness. However, stair steppers are usually very high-intensity.
  • Can Enhance Psychological Well-being: We all know that each train is sweet for relieving stress and total psychological well-being, however, operating is probably perfect. You have got doubtless heard of “runners excessive,” a euphoric feeling that happens in runners as a result of the launch of endorphins. Research has proven that simply 10 minutes of moderate-intensity operating launch endorphins and improves arousal


Treadmill Cons

Whereas the treadmill gives a number of nice advantages, just a few minor negatives exist.

  • Area Requirement and Price: Treadmills will be quite massive, typically requiring a big house or room.
  • Robust On Joints: Though operating on a treadmill is healthier than operating outdoors, treadmill exercises nonetheless put stress on the joints. Whereas treadmills attempt to restrict impression, the fixed foot strikes to the bottom could cause joint injury within the knees and ankles. A stair stepper is a lower-impact choice. You probably have prior accidents, you must seek the advice of a healthcare skilled earlier than utilizing them.
  • Can Be Boring: The most effective half of strolling or operating outdoors is taking within the surroundings, one thing that doesn’t apply to treadmills. Some individuals can get bored by the repetitiveness of treadmills and lack of engagement, particularly at decreased speeds. Many fitness centre machines have built-in audio or video screens to look at tv whereas exercising.

stair treadmill

Stair Climber vs Treadmill For Glutes

The gluteus maximus, or glutes, are the biggest muscle within the physique. They’re situated within the buttocks and play a significant function in hip extension, thigh abduction, and exterior rotation of the hips.

Whereas constructing the glutes is crucial for having a powerful core and legs, it additionally performs a big half in balancing the physique. Utilizing the incline characteristic on treadmills considerably will increase the pressure on the glutes, however, the stair stepper is more practical at constructing muscle.

One Redditor backed this up in a thread in regards to the Stairmaster for cardio, saying:

“The Stairmaster is certainly extra taxing in your legs, extra anaerobic. I often go for about 30-45 minutes on the Stairmaster. The ten minutes are the toughest, simply push by way of after which it would get simpler.” (supply)

Additionally, within the examination I discussed above I checked out varied train machines, additionally they measured lactate focus, which signifies the quantity of lactic acid. The quantity of lactic acid will improve the extra strenuous exercise. Of all of the machines, the stair stepper had the best lactic acid focus, displaying it laboured the muscle the perfect1.

A separate examination in contrast a number of completely different workouts’ impacts on gluteus maximus activation ranges. Of all of the workouts, the step-up and its variations (lateral, diagonal, and crossover step-up) had the best degree of glute activation, above squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, and others5.

This research presents that the stair climber is more practical at constructing muscle, particularly within the glutes. Desirous about including a stair climber in your private home fitness centre? Take a look at these 9 Finest Stair Steppers!

stair master vs treadmill

Stairmaster vs Incline Treadmill For Weight Loss

Relating to weight reduction, the incline treadmill is the higher choice in comparison with the Stairmaster, and operating on the treadmill burns essentially the most energy.

One examines in contrast fats oxidation ranges on the treadmill, elliptical, and rowing ergometer. The outcomes confirmed that fat oxidation was considerably larger within the treadmill group6. Though this examine didn’t use the stair stepper within the experiment, loads of analysis exhibit that operating on the treadmill is the perfect cardio train choice for weight reduction.

The opposite examination referenced above that in contrast stair climbing to operating on a treadmill produced very related outcomes for cardio capability and run time, with the information supporting stair climbing as an efficient different to operating3.

An essential factor to notice is that stair steppers can be utilized at very excessive intensities, which might considerably improve weight reduction in comparison with decreased speeds.

I personally want high-intensity Stairmaster exercises for weight reduction, however, that is due to the stress operating places on my knees. Different individuals like strolling at an incline on the treadmill to take the stress off their joints, resembling this Redditor

“I am inclined to stroll on a treadmill for an hour once I know I ought to work out however I am simply not feeling like exercising. It will get me off the sofa. It will get me into the fitness centre. I will get my coronary heart price up. Nevertheless, it’s not so exhausting that I can not deal with it once I’m drained. In response to my Fitbit, I burn a lot incline strolling for an hour as I might operate a medium pace for 45 minutes. So it is price it for me. However, I do assume the incline does superb issues for my butt. The takeaway is, to do the training that feels proper in your physique when it feels proper. Even should you’re simply inclined to stroll for a short while, it is higher than not understanding in any respect. I discover it is an incredible “time without work” exercise.” (supply)

Each item of the kit will be very efficient at weight reduction when used correctly, but when you are going to run, the treadmill is essentially the most environmentally friendly for weight reduction. The takeaway, as our Reddit good friend mentioned, is that the best choice for weight reduction is no matter type of train you’ll do persistently.

In case you are out there for a treadmill that may assist help your weight reduction objectives, take a look at our article on the 7 Finest Incline Treadmills.

stair climber vs treadmill calories

Stairmaster vs Treadmill: Which Burns Extra Energy?

As I touched on above, the variety of energy somebody burns will range based mostly on elements like age, weight, degree of health, and metabolism.

The research presents that when all different elements are identical, the treadmill is extra environment-friendly at calorie burning than the Stairmaster. A big consider figuring out the variety of energy burned is the depth, and stair steppers require excessive depth to burn energy.

However, you’ll be able to burn tons of energy by performing low-intensity steady-state coaching, LISS, on the treadmill. Treadmills provide a number of completely different packages and choices that may burn energy no matter pace or depth. The stair stepper is a good way to burn energy, however, in total the treadmill is healthier.

One other nice method to improve your weight reduction is by performing high-intensity interval coaching (HIIT). HIIT is a kind of intense exercise routine that alternates between a slower tempo and intense effort intervals.

benefits of stair climber vs treadmill

What Are the Value Variations?

Whereas treadmills and stair stepper machines will be costly, they need to be thought about and fund your well-being.

When discussing how a lot of treadmills prices, treadmills are usually priced between $500 and $3,000 for the biggest, costliest choices. These days, there are a number of smaller and extra reasonably priced choices below $500, with some foldable choices as low-cost as $100.

Stair stepper machines, however, are comparatively costly, with the common machine costing between $2,500 to $3,500 or larger. Like treadmills, there are cheaper choices which are a lot smaller and extra reasonably priced.

In case you are searching for an incredible price range choice for stair steppers, I like to recommend Sunny Well being- SF-E3919. This machine has a heavy-duty metal body that holds as much as 260 kilos. With pulse-sensing grips, dynamic handlebars, and eight ranges of magnetic resistance, this stair climber ensures you get very good exercise.

stair climber vs treadmill

This versatile machine combines the perfect of stepping and striding in a single intense motion. Climb to a vertical top of 9 inches and stride a horizontal distance of 5 inches…

And for extra nice stair climber choices, take a look at our article on the 9 Finest Stair Steppers For All Budgets!

As for treadmills, the treadmill will not be solely cheaper but in addition extra environmentally friendly at burning energy than stair steppers. Probably the greatest budget-friendly choice is the Horizon Health T101. This foldable choice has a max pace of 12 mph and comes with a lifetime guarantee on the body and motor.

treadmill vs stair climber

All Horizon treadmills are engineered with our distinctive three-zone Variable Response Cushioning System so you’ll be able to work out longer, with much less fatigue and…

Searching for extra treadmill choices? We have tons! Take a look at our articles on the ten Finest Folding Treadmills or for one thing completely different, these 9 Finest Guide Treadmills.

Evaluating the Stair Climber vs Treadmill: A Abstract

We simply went over a ton of data on two superior items of exercise tools! Should you’re nonetheless making an attempt to resolve which is healthier for you, you should use the next desk to match them aspect by aspect.

Subject Stair Climber Treadmill
Description Simulates climbing stairs Simulates outside operating or strolling
Invention Invented in 1983 by a trio of engineers in Oklahoma First US patent issued in 1913
Muscle groups Labored Decrease physique muscle groups: calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes Decrease physique muscle groups: hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and glutes
Cardio Advantages Helps enhance endurance Helps enhance endurance
Energy Burned 180 to 260 energy burned/30-minute exercise 550-700 energy burned/hour (operating)
150-300 energy burned in a single hour (strolling)
Advantages Cardio well being
Burn energy
Strengthens the core
Helps bone density
Strengthens decrease physique
Low impression
Number of exercises
Cardio well being
Burns energy
Improves coronary heart well being
Can enhance psychological well being
Cons Solely works decreases physique
Attainable damage
Maybe arduous for rookies
Area requirement & price
Impression on joints
May be boring to make use of
Glute Activation More practical at constructing glute muscle groups Incline treadmill exercises can goal glutes
Weight Loss Helps with weight reduction The treadmill burns extra energy
Value Vary $2,000-$4,000 $500-$3,000


These are a number of the most typical questions we get associated to the stair climber and treadmill.

Why is the Stairmaster so arduous?

The Stairmaster requires power and endurance of the decreased physique, mixed with the steadiness necessities and excessive depth, making it troublesome for a number of customers. Attempt beginning sluggish on the bottom setting to get used to the machine to keep away from accidents.

Is stair grasp higher than operating?

This reply is dependent upon your purpose – the stair stepper is healthier for constructing total decreased physique power whereas operating is healthier for burning energy.

How lengthy is an efficient stair climber exercise?

A newbie might solely do a 10-20 minute exercise, however, an extra superior person can do 30-60 minutes or extra.

Is it higher to do stair climber sluggish or quick?

This is dependent upon the person’s capability and expertise. An extra-skilled person might use it at a prime pace, nevertheless, it will also be very efficient at slower speeds.

Does strolling on an incline construct glutes?

Sure, elevating a treadmill or strolling on an incline will assist construct glutes. Strolling on an incline prompts the glutes as a result of the incline places resistance on the physique.

Is the stair climber a full physique exercise?

No, the stair climber is primarily a lower-body exercise. It additionally works the core barely, however, there’s little to no higher physique work.

Does a treadmill or stair climber construct extra muscle?

The stair climber builds extra muscle, particularly the calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes.

Stairmaster vs Treadmill: Which is healthier?

The Stairmaster and treadmill are two of the preferred exercise machines, and each has a number of advantages.

In case your purpose is to burn energy and shed physique fats, the treadmill is the higher choice. In case you are trying to construct decreased physique power and enhance bodily efficiency, the stair stepper is the higher choice. Utilizing an incline treadmill can assist put extra pressure on the calves and glutes in comparison with an everyday treadmill, however, the Stairmaster is greatest for constructing the glutes.

Each is the improbable item of the kit and assists burn energy effectively, so the best choice actually simply is dependent upon your health objectives.

Are you Workforce Stairmaster? In that case, head to our article on the 9 Finest Stair Steppers. Workforce Treadmill? Take a look at our articles on the 7 Finest Incline Treadmills and the 10 Finest Folding Treadmills.

stairmaster vs running


  1. Zeni, A. I., et al. “Power Expenditure with Indoor Train Machines.” JAMA, vol. 275, no. 18, 8 Might 1996.
  2. WILLIAMS, PAUL T. “Better Weight Loss from Working than Strolling throughout a 6.2-Yr Potential Observe-Up.” Drugs & Science in Sports activities & Train, vol. 45, no. 4, Apr. 2013.,
  3. Loy, S. F., et al. “Results of Stair-Climbing vs Run Coaching on Treadmill and Observe Working Efficiency.” Drugs and Science in Sports Activities and Train, vol. 25, no. 11, 1 Nov. 1993.
  4. Damrongthai, Chorphaka, et al. “Advantage of Human Reasonable Working Boosting Temper and Govt Operate Coinciding with Bilateral Prefrontal Activation.” Scientific Studies, vol. 11, no. 1, 22 Nov. 2021., 
  5. Neto, Walter Krause, et al. “Gluteus Maximus Activation throughout Frequent Energy and Hypertrophy Workout routines: A Systematic Assessment.” Journal of Sports Activities Science & Drugs, vol. 19, no. 1, 24 Feb. 2020.
  6. Filipovic, Michelle, et al. “Maximal Fats Oxidation: Comparability between Treadmill, Elliptical and Rowing Workout routines.” Journal of Sports Activities Science and Drugs, 1 Mar. 2021. 

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