Stairmaster vs. Treadmill – Which is Better for Exercise?

16. Stairmaster vs. Treadmill1
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Although comparing the Stairmaster and Treadmill may seem straightforward, both machines have a surprising variety of applications. There are plenty of arguments for both sides, even if you limit the comparison to a purely fitness goal like weight loss.

While using both machines is a great cardio workout, using a treadmill allows for more intense training than using a stairmaster.

In actuality, running is the best cardio exercise there is. You’ll work out more effectively on the treadmill than the stairmaster if you set the speed and incline to high intensity levels. Walking won’t give you as intense of a workout as climbing stairs would, but running will produce better results than the stairmaster.

StairMaster Pros + Cons

Each piece of cardio equipment has advantages and disadvantages, but most are effective when improving cardiovascular health. For those wishing to compare various pieces of equipment, let’s take a closer look at StairMaster machines and some of their advantages and disadvantages.

If you’re not familiar, these are the cardio machines that are essentially a never-ending escalator and work your glutes, thighs, and hamstrings like magic. You can find them at most gyms. These machines have many benefits that include helping to improve cardiovascular fitness and increase muscle mass, easy heart rate monitoring, low impact for joint health, and can work well with interval training.

Sadly, StairMaster machines tend to focus on the lower body and can be difficult for people with back problems due to the incline positioning. The limited variety and exercise types available on stairmaster machines can also make them more monotonous than other cardio equipment.

Pros of the StairMaster

  • Improved cardiovascular fitness and increase muscle mass
    Works well with interval training
  • Low impact
  • Easy heart rate monitoring

Cons of the StairMaster

  • Limited to lower body focus
  • Not well tolerated in those with back injuries
  • Monotonous
  • Not a lot of room for variation

Treadmill Pros + Cons

Every gym has the treadmill, which is a top performer. Perfect for people who want to include more jogging, sprinting, interval training, or anything in between. The appeal of using a treadmill is that it has a lower impact than walking or jogging on uneven or rough terrain outside. Of course, buying a treadmill or joining a gym will cost you money, whereas walking or jogging outside in the fresh air and sunshine is free.

Treadmills can be incredibly convenient for those who don’t feel like they have time or don’t feel safe leaving the house to get in a workout. They provide different inclines to make your workout more difficult and simulate elevation to raise your heart rate to the ideal level, which you can easily check on your screen.

Like the StairMaster, treadmills emphasize the lower body versus the upper body. A treadmill can be used for more activities than a StairMaster, though. Incorporating upper body exercises can be challenging because of the increased need for balance that comes with a StairMaster and the danger of falling or getting hurt. Because it is strong and stable, the treadmill makes it simple and safer to incorporate arm exercises into your walk or interval training.

Pros of the Treadmill

  • Improves cardiovascular fitness and increases muscle mass
  • Works well with interval training
  • Convenient and versatile
  • Low impact
  • Easy heart rate monitoring

Cons of the Treadmill

  • Stronger lower body focus
  • Monotonous
  • Costs money when you could do it outside for free

Stairmaster Versus Treadmill

First, a quick explanation: using a treadmill involves only forward motion, whereas using a stairmaster requires climbing a lot of stairs. This implies that using the stairmaster instead of a treadmill will result in significantly greater calorie burn. Walking is simpler than climbing stairs.

However, the distance narrows as you pick up your running speed. This and other factors will be covered below.


Simply put, running is the best cardio exercise, and if you’re running at a high intensity, the treadmill will give you a better workout than the stairmaster. While running is more difficult than climbing stairs, walking is easier!

However, this makes sense because many people who walk also climb stairs, whereas many others who climb stairs daily for work never run. This is due to the fact that running is a better cardio workout than climbing stairs, and if you haven’t been running, it will be more difficult!

One warning: It should go without saying that a challenging running workout will burn more calories than a straightforward stair workout. Our argument is that the stairmaster is less effective than the treadmill at providing a demanding workout. Your efforts will determine how successful you are.


Because you’re not pounding the treadmill, the stairmaster is low impact, but you still have to climb stairs repeatedly, which can be very taxing on your knees.

Because you are moving vertically as opposed to horizontally when using a stairmaster, it may also be simpler to sustain an injury. You’ll have to exert more effort to overcome gravity, which could result in injuries.

16. Stairmaster vs. Treadmill2


In a typical workout, running at a high intensity could help you burn close to 700 calories. You can burn close to 400 calories at the same high intensity on the stairmaster. The stairmaster will be preferable, though, if you run more slowly or walk on the treadmill.

The treadmill is a solely cardio machine, which explains why. Other than cardio, you have nothing to worry about. The stairmaster, on the other hand, combines resistance training and cardio, giving your lower body more of a strength workout but less of a cardio workout.


The treadmill will probably give you a better workout in the same amount of time, depending on how hard you go and what you’re trying to achieve. Compared to the stairmaster, the treadmill will allow you to burn more calories and, consequently, more fat.

However, if you want to incorporate some resistance training, the stairmaster is a better choice because you have to step, which is more difficult than simply moving your legs forward and walking or running.

A stairmaster will provide more value for your money if you’re looking to increase your lower body strength and endurance while also getting in some cardio.


A treadmill is considerably less expensive to purchase than a stairmaster. A decent treadmill is available for less than $1,000. A stairmaster will cost you several thousand dollars, making it prohibitively expensive for most people.

But in the majority of gyms, stairmasters are a cardio mainstay. Try incorporating the stairmaster into your routine if you have access to a gym over the next few weeks to see how it affects you. Even if you don’t think it’s as efficient as running, it can be a useful cross-training exercise.

Is a Treadmill Or a Stairmaster More Likely to Cause Injury?

Which exercise machine is less likely to harm users is a subject of some discussion.

While intense treadmill running can lead to shin splints due to the repetitive impact, people with balance issues and joint pain will probably prefer a less strenuous treadmill workout to the Stairmaster.

This is so that any joint conditions won’t get any worse from the stair stepper’s climbing motion, which may put too much strain on the front of the knee.

Because you are moving vertically as opposed to horizontally when using a stairmaster, you are much more likely to sustain an injury. This is because you will have to exert more effort to fight gravity.

It’s best to gradually increase your fitness level regardless of the exercise machine you prefer to avoid overexerting yourself.

Start with walk/run interval training or brisk walking if you want to increase your running pace.

Types of Treadmill Workouts

  • 30 Second Interval Sprints. You will undoubtedly sweat a lot after this exercise.
    • 1% gradient adjustment for the treadmill. Start out slowly for one minute, then gradually increase your speed to a light jog for five minutes. Your circulation is improved, and your muscles are ready for a workout.
    • For 30 seconds, accelerate the pace to an all-out effort. 90 seconds of easy jogging should be used as recovery.
    • Nine more times will be needed to complete these intervals.
    • An easy jog or brisk walk for four minutes should serve as the cool-down.
  • Side Stepping Workout. For a glute and quad-targeting exercise, add side shuffles to your run or walk.
    • At a 1% gradient, adjust the treadmill. Start with a slow walk for one minute, then continue your warm-up with a light jog for four minutes.
    • Resuming your slow walking, turn your body sideways, squat down low, and then start shuffling your feet in the opposite direction while holding on to the side rail. Following a 30-second period of side steps, resume your forward motion.
    • Increase the speed for two minutes to a light running pace. Then, after a 30-second break, resume walking while doing side shuffles on the opposite side.
    • For the next 20 minutes, keep performing interval side shuffles while switching between the two sides.
    • Finish with a light 5-minute cool-down.
  • Alternating Incline Workout. If your goal is to strengthen your glutes, this exercise is perfect.
    • Starting at a 1% gradient, jog or walk quickly for five minutes to warm up.
    • Walk for a minute while the gradient is increased to 2%.
    • Jog at a leisurely pace for 1 minute with a 1% gradient reduction.
    • Repeat step 2, increasing the gradient by 1% each time while walking for an additional minute.
    • In between intervals, repeat step 3 again.
    • After that, cool down for 5 minutes by jogging or walking quickly.

Types of Stairmaster Workouts

  • Alternating Step Workout. Your hamstrings will get stronger and you’ll get more aerobic exercise if you skip every other step. Start out slowly if you initially struggle with skipping stairs. Your glutes and upper thighs will benefit from this motion as well. Make sure you can jump over unusual stairs without using the handrails because many people rely on them to support their bodies.
  • Sidestep Workout. By lifting your glutes from the side, turn to the side to assist your lower back and knee stabilizers. Turn to the right and move forward by crossing your right foot over your left. Next, move the left behind the right and so on, repeating this action. Utilize the handrail for balance as you become more adept at this motion, but wait until you’re ready to move quickly.
  • Backward Climb. You’ll probably need to practice a little because the movement isn’t used frequently in daily life. This exercise’s main advantage is that it will balance out your leg day routine. The hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps are more engaged when walking backward. Simply reverse direction and ascend the stairs with your heels rather than your toes.
  • Alternating Kickbacks. A single step-up may be used to begin, but skipping steps is much more effective. Follow the normal step-up procedure, then lift your back foot until it is almost parallel to the floor. To account for the backlash, proceed cautiously with this. Lean your body forward a little if you need more force and balance.
  • The Ultimate Abs and Glute Stairmaster Workout. The Stairmaster should receive a daily commitment of about 30 minutes. Reduce the number of repetitions and increase the number of sets for high-intensity interval training.
    • 25 x Single Step-Up
    • 10 x Sidesteps (right side)
    • 25 x Skip A Step
    • 10 x Side-Steps (left side)
    • 25 x Single Step-Up
    • 10 x Alternating Kickback
    • 25 x Backward Climb

Even though the number of repetitions seems excessive, using the stairmaster continuously will enable you to finish this exercise program in 30 minutes or less.

Which is Better for Fat Loss?

A: Treadmill

If you are comparing equipment to determine what would work best for fat loss, the treadmill may be your answer. Although both can help with burning fat by getting your heart rate pumping and blasting those calories, the treadmill is more versatile and allows for more intense exercise and the opportunity for variations, including weights. Even though it burns a lot of calories, the StairMaster is only capable of a small number of variations and challenge levels, which places it in second place.

The treadmill is a better option for fat loss overall, regardless of whether you want to burn fat in your thighs, midsection, or anywhere else. Unfortunately, research demonstrates that we are unable to specifically target trouble spots for fat loss, such as stubborn belly fat, but by increasing our overall fat burn, we can see improvement in most areas.

The best strategy is to focus on the underlying muscle if you want to burn off stubborn belly fat with the stairmaster or treadmill. On either the StairMaster or the Treadmill, you can perform exercises that target this area.

Whichever machine you select, if you keep your core engaged and maintain good posture throughout any type of exercise, both will work it. By adding variations, such as raising the treadmill’s incline or the StairMaster’s resistance, you can make your core challenge harder.

Which is Better for Cardiovascular?

A: Treadmill

Another time, but not by much, the treadmill outperforms the StairMaster when it comes to a cardiovascular workout. Although both get your heart pumping, the treadmill allows more opportunity to focus on aerobic exercise than the StairMaster. You have a lot more room than you would on a StairMaster to build up your cardiovascular endurance through walking, jogging, sprinting, interval training, and more.

If you were to compare simply walking on a treadmill to walking on a StairMaster, you would burn more calories on the StairMaster and perspire more because this workout involves using more muscles. However, the StairMaster has limitations as your workout intensity increases.

The StairMaster is a great cardiovascular workout and shouldn’t be disregarded if you prefer it to the treadmill because it gives you more chances to increase your endurance. The cardiovascular exercise that is best for you will be the one that you enjoy and want to do more frequently.

Which is Better for High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)?

A: Treadmill

Though I don’t want to be biased, the treadmill also excels at HIIT exercises. Again, because of its versatility, you have more opportunities to practice different types of HIIT workouts as opposed to a stairmaster. Both offer the chance to engage in this kind of exercise, but each has advantages and disadvantages.

You can perform HIIT on these devices for those who prefer the StairMaster. The trickier part will be climbing the stairs as quickly as you can and then taking a break on the way down. It’s not as ideal to perform HIIT workouts on the StairMaster as it is not as stable and could result in a higher risk of injury. A treadmill has a flat, more stable surface.

A A quick and efficient way to build yourself up to avoid injury is through HIIT exercises on a treadmill. A HIIT workout on the treadmill is not suitable for everyone, though. You might think about using the StairMaster for your HIIT workout if you detest running, walking, or anything in between.

Furthermore, a treadmill is not always necessary for HIIT exercises. Numerous HIIT-style exercises can be performed free of charge outside.

What works best for you ultimately determines what is most effective.

Which is Better for Bodybuilding?

A: StairMaster.

You should think about using a treadmill or a stairmaster for your body-building exercises. Cardiovascular exercise is crucial, even if your primary goal is to gain muscle mass. If you are working to increase muscle mass, specifically in your legs or glutes, the StairMaster may be a better option for you than just the treadmill.

A StairMaster requires balance in order to climb, which engages the muscles in your lower body and core. In addition to enhancing a muscle-building regimen, this kind of exercise raises your heart rate to work your cardiovascular system. While neither workout is particularly effective for developing upper body muscle, you can still bulk up your lower body and incorporate some cardio in one session.

Our Verdict on Stairmaster Vs Treadmill

A moderate to intense treadmill workout burns more fat and takes less time than a Stairmaster workout to improve cardiovascular health.

The intensity of your workout will determine whether the treadmill is better than the stairmaster. Comparatively speaking, climbing stairs is a much more efficient exercise than walking.

Stair-stepper and treadmill training should be included in your exercise regimen if you are in good health and want to increase your fitness while losing weight.

Common Stairmaster & Treadmill FAQs

Stairmaster Vs. Incline Treadmill; Which is Better?

For low-impact, 20-minute HIIT workouts, the stairmaster will be more beneficial. Working out on the treadmill at an incline will produce excellent results for prolonged steady-state cardio.

What is a Stair Treadmill Ergometer?

Simply put, an ergometer is a cardio machine that also has a vitals monitoring feature. You can keep track of your actions and advancement in this way. An amalgam of a treadmill and a stairmaster is a stair treadmill.

Stair Treadmill Ergometer Vs. Stairmaster; Which is Better?

Stair treadmills are excellent pieces of equipment, but they are very expensive and will be too much for the majority of gym patrons. They require strong joints, a lot of cardio, and are difficult to use. Most people should stick to the treadmill or the stairclimber, we advise.

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