Your ultimate source for bodybuilding, nutrition, supplements, and full workout plans based on scientific evidence and written by experts.

The 4 Best Stair Climbers for Weight Loss

The 4 Best Stair Climbers for Weight Loss

Are you looking to lose weight quickly in the comfort of your own home? Maybe you’ve tried at-home video workouts or jogging around your neighborhood, but you don’t feel like you’re being challenged enough to lose weight. If you’re looking to step up your current cardio and weight loss routine, think about purchasing a stair climber for your home fitness space.

Discover the best stair climbers for your home in this article which includes product reviews so that you can really get to know the best options on the market. We’ll even cover the research that backs these sorts of products. To help you navigate the options, we will give you the most important information about these stair steppers so that you can make an educated purchase. If you really just want the highlights, skip ahead to “The Rundown” section where you’ll find a summary of the key points.

Don’t forget to try our sample stair stepper workout once you’re ready to start using your new equipment. With all the tips, research and options discussed in this article, we hope to help you make a wise investment in your home fitness space. On your new stair climber machine, you can start losing weight in no time!

How can a stair climber help me finally lose weight?

Woman Using Stair Climber For FitnessIf you’ve tried other cardio machines for weight loss, like ellipticals, with little success, maybe you’re skeptical that a stair stepper machine will be effective. Unlike treadmills and ellipticals, stair climbers can give you an intense cardio workout while also working several muscle groups.

When in use, stepper machines ignite the muscle fibers in your major leg muscles to get your heart pumping. Much like a rowing machine, stair steppers offer dynamic workouts that work many if not all of the muscles in your legs and challenges the heart. Intense, dynamic workouts such as those on a stepper machine combine cardio exercise with resistance training. Along with weight loss, dynamic workouts may also help with overall health and immune function (1).

Benefits of a Stair Climber

Aside from offering both resistance training and cardio exercise in one session, there are many other benefits to purchasing a stair stepper for your home.

Improves balance and coordination: 

Using a stair climber requires some coordination! While some have safety features to prevent you from falling, many people experience improved balance and coordination, as they did in this 2015 study. In another study, researchers found that training with stair climbers improved the quality of life and musculoskeletal function of the participants (2).

Saves on space:

If you think about an elliptical, rowing machine or treadmill, these cardio machines have a large footprint. Stair climbers, however, tend to need more vertical space than horizontal space. For those who don’t have lots of room in their home fitness area, a stair climber may fit better in their home. If you can save space with your cardio equipment, that gives you room for weight sets, dumbbells or a squat rack. Plus, you won’t have to go to a local stadium to climb stairs!

Some can be portable:

Some stair steppers are portable! If you are looking to increase your calorie burn while traveling or at your desk, mini stair steppers are the answer! In this article we will discuss a great mini stair stepper to consider.

Basic versions can still be effective:

Have you ever seen those 1980s step workout videos? Those are effective workouts using non-mechanical stair steppers! If you decide you do not want to purchase a mechanical stair stepper machine, you can always purchase a stair stepper block. With a little creativity, you can do many different workouts on a non-mechanical stepper.

Purchasing a Stair Climber for Your Home: What are the options?

Choosing A Stair Climber For Working OutNow that you know the various benefits of a stair machine, make sure you know the several types of stair steppers available. Here is a list of the types of climbing machines you can purchase:

  • Step platform: A step platform is a non-mechanical, free standing stair stepper. Depending on the package, you can purchase a step platform with various heights to up the ante of your workout.
  • Stair stepper (aka stair climber): Compared to other types of step machines, the stair steppers are one of the most low impact steppers. On a stair climber, your feet are constantly supported by a step pedal that moves with your foot. So, since your foot never leaves the pedal, you don’t have to continuously strain your knees to step up onto a platform. When you do an Internet search for stair steppers, you may find upright, seated and portable stair steppers.
  • Stepmill: If you want a truly intense cardio workout, try a stepmill. Unlike other types of stair machines, once the stepmill starts, it does not stop! Stepmills have a rotational belt that will continue to move, even if you get tired. For those who want a challenging and unforgiving workout machine, choose a stepmill.
  • Step ladder machine: Similarly to the stepmill, a step ladder machine operates with a rotational belt. The main difference, however, is that the person exercising on a step ladder machine uses both their legs and arms to crawl up the machine (just like you would on a regular ladder). This type of stepper machine offers a full body workout.

After reading the information above, make sure you take a glance at the product reviews which cover Fitnessator’s top picks in stair steppers. Then, don’t forget to read and test our sample climber machine workout that will teach you how to use your new equipment for maximum results!

Fitnessator’s Top Pick

Max Trainer M6 by Bowflex

Why We Love It:

Max Trainer M6 by BowflexThe Bowflex M6 climber machine earned the Fitnessator’s Top Pick due to its wide range of resistance levels and ability to exercise your entire body. Aside from the mechanics of this stepper, the Bowflex climber machine is loaded with extra tech features for monitoring your stats and progress.

The Research:

With some stair steppers, some people worry about knee pain associated with a continuous stepping motion. If you have knee pain and are trying to lose weight, you may be at an even higher risk for knee pain (3). Choosing a low impact stair climber is imperative for losing weight with knee pain. Luckily, the Bowflex M6 stepper is extremely low impact in that your feet are always supported by the pedal in every part of the motion. As you will see, not all of the stair climbers on this list are necessarily low impact. 

Details:

  • Up to 16 levels of resistance
  • Various handles for hand placement comfort and heart rate monitoring
  • Max user weight is 300 lbs (total product weight is 148 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 49in x 30.5in x 65.5in
  • Price (Bowflex Website): $1699 (additional $169 for expert assembly)

Things to Consider:

For some people, the price of this stair stepper may be a turn off. If price is an issue, make sure you weigh the benefits and cost of each of these stair climbers. Keep in mind that the Bowflex offers a full body resistance and cardio workout. However, the high price may also take into account all of the high tech features. If you’re not interested in the technology, don’t pay for it! Look at some of the other options on this list. Also, since this machine has a max user weight of 300 lbs, make sure you fit within the height and weight requirements of the machine.

Customer Reviews:

As you can imagine from a low impact machine, customers who suffer from knee pain, hip pain and sciatica love this product. Even with regular exercise, these customers are pain free and achieving their weight goals.

On the flip side, customers complain that the Bowflex machine is quite loud during use. Be sure to check that all moving parts are securely fastened to prevent wobbling and loud friction noises.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you love to incorporate technology into your workout, the Bowflex stair climber has all the bells and whistles for a high tech workout. With 16 levels of resistance, you can be sure to grow and progress when using this machine in the long term. Since the Bowflex has several handles you can use for added resistance in your upper body, you can burn more calories from head to toe. Also, for those who feel that their leg or back pain inhibits them from working out, this low impact machine may help you reach your goals.

Fitnessator’s Runner Up

7000 PT Stepmill by StairMaster

7000 PT Stepmill by StairMasterWhy We Love It:

The StairMaster stepmill climber may be exactly what you see in a commercial gym. The unforgiving rotational belt will challenge you and make you drip with sweat. If you want to start losing weight quickly and immediately, save up and try out this awesome stepmill machine.

Details:

  • Contains 20 speed levels (24 to 162 steps per minute) and 6 different programs
  • Stairs are 8 inches high to mimic the feel of real stairs
  • Max user weight is 300 lbs (total product weight is 447 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 29in x 78in x 50in (10-foot ceiling required)
  • Price (Amazon Website; available at other retailers): $3598

Things to Consider:

Even though this is a large and expensive machine, it is one that will get you sweating within minutes to help you lose weight quickly. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that this is not a low impact machine. If you have joint pain, this may not be the right stepper for you.

Customer Reviews:

As you may imagine, the StairMaster stepmill gets customers drenched in sweat within minutes. According to customers, this kick-butt machine allows you to climb forwards, backwards and even sideways to tone the various leg muscles.

Since this a complex product, customers say that anyone who purchases this product should consider expert assembly and the additional warranty. While these are additional expenses, they may be worth it if something goes wrong on this machine.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

Consider this stepmill stair climber if you are absolutely ready to start shedding the pounds. If you want to feel like a champion who can master hundreds of flights of stairs per workout, this may be the stair machine for you. While it is a steep investment in your home fitness space, with consistent use, you can see weight loss results on this machine. This is the no-cheat, hard-work-only stair stepper.

Fitnessator’s Honorable Mention

30-Inch Aerobic Adjustable Stepper by Calhome

30-Inch Aerobic Adjustable Stepper by CalhomeWhy We Love It:

If mechanical stair climbers are too big or too expensive for your lifestyle, this step platform is a great product on the other end of the spectrum. While it does not have all of the fancy features and resistance levels as the other steppers on the list, you can still get the benefits of a step workout. With a little creativity and workout accessories, you can be sweating and stepping on this simple stair platform.

Details:

  • Platform is non-skid, non-stick and shock absorbing for safety and less impact during exercise
  • Can be used for cardio step workouts or any free weight workouts
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Dimensions: 33in x 13in x 5in
  • Price (Walmart Website): $21.69 (includes the basic platform + 4 risers)

Things to Consider:

Even though this is not necessarily a low impact piece of equipment, those with joint pain and arthritis may benefit from this type of product due to the built-in shock absorption. Since it is a stable step platform, you can also practice balance and stability exercises. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you want resistance training with this platform, you will need to purchase other exercise equipment. With this product, consider using weighted vests, free weights and/or resistance bands.

Customer Reviews:

While you may be skeptical that this little product is sturdy during use, rest assured with the positive customer reviews of this product. Not only it is solid during exercise, but it contains several height adjustments for intense exercise or knee rehabilitation alike.

According to one customer who ordered 2 of these step platforms (on separate occasions), both products arrived damaged in the box. While this can happen to any product, make sure to open the box immediately upon delivery and do an inspection for damage before the return policy expires. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a damaged product!

Who Should Purchase This Product:

As you can see, the step platform stepper varies in cost, size and mechanism of exercise compared to the Fitnessator’s top pick and runner up. Even though this is a non-mechanical stepper, you can still get a great workout. For those who already have dumbbells, resistance bands and other free weights, the stair stepper platform may be a good option for you. This small, lightweight and inexpensive stepper can still work several muscles and give you a cardio workout. Sometimes basic exercise equipment can give you killer results!

Best Mini Stair Climber

Twist Stepper with Resistance Bands by Sunny Health & Fitness

Twist Stepper with Resistance Bands by Sunny Health & FitnessWhy We Love It:

As with many mini stair steppers, the Twist Stepper by Sunny Health & Fitness can be used in the round, under your desk, in a hotel or while watching TV. The main difference between this mini stair climber and others, however, is that this model comes with removable resistance bands. In order to increase the intensity of your workout, these resistance bands can work your arms and back to tone and increase the heart rate.

Details:

  • Removable resistance bands for added versatility
  • Adjustable step height for comfort and to increase or decrease intensity
  • Max user weight is 250 lbs (total product weight is 20 lbs)
  • Dimensions: 19.7in x 17.3in x 18.2in
  • Price (Bed Bath & Beyond Website): $54.99

Things to Consider:

While this may be a great little stepper to include in your home or office space, keep in mind that the max user weight is 250 lbs. As with any equipment, make sure you obey the recommended height and weight limits.

Customer Reviews:

Since this machine offers a full body workout, it is not surprising that customers had toning and weight loss success. One customer was able to lose 80 lbs in 6 months by using this stepper! 

With other exercise equipment, it may not make much of a difference if you are slightly over the weight limit. Per one customer who weighed just 10 lbs over, however, their weight caused the machine to crack. If you are over 250 lbs, it may be best to choose one of the other stair climbers on the list.

Who Should Purchase This Product:

If you fall within the weight limit and you feel you would do well with using this stepper while you work, you could burn extra calories outside of your designated workout time. These extra calories burned during non-workout time could equate to extra weight loss! Similarly to the step platform, this is a cheaper and smaller climbing machine than the Fitnessator top pick and runner up. Unlike the step platform, however, this mini stepper comes with some accessories for upper body resistance.

The Rundown on Stair Climber Machines

Looking for a shortcut? This comparative chart covers all the climbing machines reviewed in this article. With this list that features the highlights of each machine and makes them easy to compare, finding the best stepper for your needs will be easy.

Product Under $100 Under $1000 Works both arms and legs Type of exercise mechanism
Bowflex M6 (Top Pick) X Pedals
StairMaster Stepmill (Runner Up) Rotational belt
Step Platform (Honorable Mention) X X (resistance accessories may be needed) N/A
Mini Stepper with Resistance Bands X X Pedals

 

Sample Workout: Stair Climber

After reading our reviews, you can now better determine which stair climber is the best fit for you, your home and your goals. Regardless of which stepper you choose, this sample workout is a great way to use the machine. As will become clear when you read through it, this workout strives to help you get a whole-body workout. If you want a mixture of muscle building and cardio, follow the detailed workout below. Because everyone has different requirements for the rate of steps that gets their heart pumping, you’ll need to decide for yourself exactly how fast to step.

If you want a higher intensity session, try this workout with a weight vest. According to one study, using a weighted vest during exercise improved lower body strength and lean muscle mass. 

Exercise Interval Notes
Hamstring and quad stretches 0:00 to 1:00 Stretch before engaging in these exercises!
Warm up stepping 1:00 to 3:00 Aim for at least 60 to 80 steps per minute
Forward stepping 3:00 to 6:00 At least 80 steps per minute
Stepping with arm exercises 6:00 to 12:00 Use weights, machine resistance or water bottles for light arm exercises while you step (you may need to decrease your step rate for safety)
Forward stepping 12:00 to 18:00 Aim for at least 80 to 100 steps per minute
Cool down with calf raises if able 18:00 to 20:00 Decrease step rate to 30 to 50 steps per minute

 

Before You Purchase

As you can see, stair climber machines range from huge, expensive and complex to very simple and cheap. If you find it difficult to decide, review the types of stair climbers available and weigh the cost and space required for these products.

Regardless of which stair climber you choose, all of these options give you a mixture of cardio exercise and resistance training for an effective calorie burn. Once you have your stair climber assembled in your home, you can start finally losing weight and getting fit!

Since stair climbers require some coordination, balance and skill, make sure you talk to your doctor about stepping exercises. This is extremely important if you have pain, poor mobility or a lower body injury. With proper education and training, you may still be able to use a stair climber.

Which type of stair climber do you think will be the most effective for you? The mini stepper? What about the stepmill? Tell us in the comments.

4 Comments

  • Lindsay Niles says:

    If I were to decide that a mini stair climber is right for me, are resistance bands the best way to engage my whole body or are there other ways to get the most out of my workout?

    • Amanda Kostro RD, LDN & Professional Dancer says:

      Resistance bands would be a great option for engaging the whole body during a stair climbing exercise, however you could also use light free weights during certain cardio exercises as well. It really depends on how the stair climber works. Some can be used with resistance training whereas others need to be used solely as cardio machines for safety purposes. Some elliptical machines have some resistance features for the upper body.

  • Halyna R says:

    I like working out on stairs but there is an element of anxiety to it – I always think that I might trip and fall. Would a stair machine be a solution to this little problem? I don’t think I’ll have enough room in my apartment for a big one with handles I can hold on to. What about mini stair steppers? How accident-prone are those?

    • Amanda Kostro RD, LDN & Professional Dancer says:

      The step mills and the rotary step ladders may require the most balance since you are constantly trying to keep up with the steps. With the others, however, many stair climbers are similar to an elliptical where your feet are supported the whole time. Those types of machines may be best for you. Step platforms (non-mechanical stair steppers) work well on a budget and with limited space. Sometimes these old fashioned steppers can do the trick!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.