Stairmaster vs Treadmill

Stairmaster vs Treadmill: Which is Right For Your Needs?

Sometimes getting into shape only takes a few compact pieces of equipment. Just as with your upper body fitness regimen, your home gym isn’t complete without a lower-body targeted workout. With our Stairmaster vs Treadmill guide, we look at all the aspects of what makes an effective lower-body machine.

We examine all the pros and cons of each product to offer an educated opinion for customers. What’s the overall better choice, the stepper machine or the treadmill? We may just have those answers for you.

Comparing the two, what sets them apart? There are differences between these machines, and there are elements that factor into this equation.


Main Differences Between Stairmaster vs Treadmill

The main differences between Stairmaster vs Treadmill are:

  • Stairmaster’s focus is on muscle building, whereas Treadmill targets cardio
  • Stairmaster has intensity step resistance, whereas the treadmill has more options, including incline, up to 35%, and decline features
  • Stairmaster is easier on the joints of the legs, whereas treadmill has more impact.

Exploring Stairmaster Vs Treadmill Features


There are notable factors that set the treadmill and the Stairmaster apart. Although innovative technologies have attempted to provide the same positive aspects to both machines, there are still variations that are catered for the public. The most important factor, however, is the quality of the workout. Which machine produces the best results overall and at the most affordable price.

Cardiovascular Aspects

You can get plenty of cardio exercise on both these machines. But when it comes to intensity, one outweighs the other. As with speed and consistency, another provides more positive results. So, examining the aspects of each product reveals how they affect the cardiovascular system in different ways.

The Stair Stepper

This machine provides a more demanding initial workout than the treadmill, meaning it quickly gets the blood flowing and heart pumping much faster. However, the stair stepper also can soon tire you out because of its intensity in the beginning. While it’s easier to climb stairs than run, it’s a bit harder to run than climb stairs.

The Treadmill

The treadmill builds intensity slowly, starting with a consistent walking pace then building into a jog. The stair-stepping does win out in the comparison with the treadmill’s walking pace, but when running begins on the treadmill, it can be much more intense than the steps on a Stairmaster.

In short, the treadmill has the potential to provide a better cardiovascular workout. To burn more calories, a tough running or jogging session will do the trick.

For a better cardiovascular workout, paired with nutritious aspects, the treadmill comes out on top. Considering the fast pace and power of jogging, the entire cardio session will be amplified.

Burning Calories


Speaking of calories and the impact of these machines, there is a difference. While one uses more power to burn calories, the other uses consistency in speed. But one burns more calories than the other. We can take a look at why the treadmill burns more calories.

The Stair Stepper

With a mix of resistance training and cardio, the Stairmaster provides the body with less of a cardio-type workout and more of a strength-centered session. In some particular cases, the Stairmaster may burn 400 calories a session on average.

The Treadmill

In this same session example of the stair stepping machine, while the Stairmaster may burn 400 calories, the treadmill can burn 700. This is because the main focus on the treadmill is to burn calories, which is made with the intention of being a cardio machine. However, if you’re only going to walk on the treadmill, the Stair Stepper will actually burn more calories.

While the treadmill is the better calorie-burning machine overall, when walking as opposed to stepping, the Stair Stepper has the capabilities to burn more calories. Factors involved make all the difference.


When planning a quick workout session in your home gym, what are your intentions? Do you want to burn a few calories? Do you want to get in a bit of resistance training or build muscle? Taking these needs into consideration will determine whether the treadmill or the Stairmaster is the better go-to product.

The Stair Stepper

If you’re looking for strength or resistance training, the Stairmaster provides a powerful stepping session that will leave you feeling like you’ve gotten in a substantial workout. Although if you go too fast, you can burn out too soon, as this machine can pack quite a tough session, as climbing stairs takes more strength than walking.

The Treadmill

If you’re looking to get in a quick fat-burning session, the treadmill can provide this with running. Of course, if you only plan to walk on the treadmill, this will not get the results you’re looking for in a short period of time. If walking on the treadmill is what you want to do, you’ll need to plan time for a long session.



Both the Stairmaster and the Treadmill have a certain amount of impact on the joints when in use. There are factors which determine which machine impacts the body the most. This doesn’t always depend on the strength it takes to do the exercise, either.

The Stair Stepper

While the Stair Stepper may seem like a tougher machine to navigate, with shorter exercise periods, it doesn’t have a huge impact on the joints. Only during the steps do the knees take the impact of the movements. Some of the other joints of the lower body may experience a small impact, but the Stairmaster isn’t much of an impact-producing machine.

The Treadmill

On the other hand, the treadmill can have a much larger impact on the joints of the lower body, many of them. While walking isn’t that jarring, when jogging, the joints can take quite a powerful impact with each landing of the foot. The faster the pace, the more impact the body takes.

Of these two machines, it’s clear to see that the treadmill is a high-impact producing product. However, while it burns calories and is good for the cardiovascular system, the impact can be an issue for some people.

Location and Assembly

Neither machines are extremely easy to relocate. So, it’s important to take note that a semi-permanent place should be chosen before putting the product together, in which it’s not recommended to attempt the assembly.

The Stair Stepper

There are main types of steppers, the mini stepper, and the motorized version. The mini version can be folded and stored underneath the bed.

The motorized version will need a permanent location where noise isn’t a concern. These motorized Stair Steppers can be loud. It is suggested that the manufacturer assemble the machine for you, as it can be quite difficult to put together unless you’re experienced.

The Treadmill

Treadmills can be just as complicated to construct, and they should also be put together by a professional. However, it’s well worth the money in exchange for the stress. Also, like the Stair Stepper, the location should be ready so that the machine can have a permanent place in your home gym among your other workout devices and weights.

Both machines require assembly, preferably by a professional. This will incur a fee. Customers should make preparations beforehand so there will be no unexpected costs involved.

Comparing Stairmaster Vs Treadmill: Costs


Both the Stair Stepper and the Treadmill have separate cost options. Depending on what you’re looking for in terms of your personal gym, the variations in costs reflect the capabilities and power of the machine.

The Stair Stepper provides a simple mini stepper with only the bare basics of a two-step machine for a truly affordable price. However, if you’re looking for a Stair Stepper that’s more in line with an escalator-type machine, then the price will be much higher.

The same applies to the treadmill as well. A manual machine is just as affordable as a mini Stair Stepper, but with no extra features and a small belt. Although the motorized version costs a bit more, it’s recommended over the manual treadmill.

Of course, the choice is yours, depending on the room you have in your home gym. While some individuals have ample room for all their devices and machines, others are limited. This may also factor into costs.

Comparing Stairmaster Vs Treadmill: Ease of Use

The Stair Stepper machine and the treadmill are easy to use. Each machine comes with an operation manual that can help you get started. But for a quick overview, there are few things you should know.

The Stairmaster controls the speed at which your legs go according to the control panel. If you move deeper and faster into the step, this creates a more intense workout. You can make your workout more challenging by adjusting the rate at which the stairs move.

As for the Treadmill, each model has a varying minimum and maximum speed. The speed can be adjusted from 0.1 mph to 15 mph. You can also adjust the incline from 0.5% to 35% and the decline by 3%, all of which are a wide variety of options for the workout.

Many similar machines like the Elliptical machines or Stationary Bikes have adjustable aspects and are also easy to use. Enjoy them all in the home gym.

Pros and Cons

Stairmaster – Pros

  • Great for building muscle
  • Good source of cardio workout
  • Advanced controls for adjusting the intensity
  • Mini versions can be folded and stored away

Stairmaster – Cons

  • Advanced machines are more expensive than Treadmills
  • Only full-scale versions have extra features.

Treadmill – Pros

  • Running is a great source of cardiovascular workout
  • Burns fat when jogging
  • Mechanical version is cheaper than Advanced Stair Steppers
  • More features on the control panel
  • Manual versions are cheaper than basic Stair Steppers

Treadmill – Cons

  • Walking doesn’t burn as much fat
  • It doesn’t build muscle quite like the Stair Stepper

Are There Any Alternatives?

There are a couple of alternatives to the Stair Stepper machine and the treadmill. There are two notable options that can deliver similar results in your home gym.

Stationary Bikes

Stationary Bike

This home gym option provides many of the same benefits for the lower body. The bike is a great way to get your heart pumping and motivated to get results. It’s fun to use as well. You can just use the bike or pair it with additional features to improve performance.

The stationary bike improves cardiovascular health due to the speed intensity. It burns fat quickly, helping and ultimately helps with weight loss due to fat. This product offers a low-impact workout that strengthens the legs and other lower-body muscles.

The bike allows for interval training. One of the best aspects of owning a Stationary bike is that it keeps you off the road and promotes safety. What better way to bike than to enjoy the same rugged feel in your home gym setting. The only drawback is that the bike does not promote muscle building as does the Stair Stepper machine.



The Elliptical machine provides a great alternative to the stationary bike and other gym equipment. As it mimics the movements of skiing, it provides many benefits to the body.

This machine boosts cardiovascular capacity as it burns fat. It improves stamina while placing less stress on the joints in the lower body. Considering the movement of both arms and legs, the product dramatically improves balance and works both the upper and lower body.

With targeting leg muscle capabilities, the Elliptical shows it’s a contender among the other machines in the home gym. Compare this product with the stationary bike when considering options for your workout.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Does the Stairmaster Reduce Belly Fat?

Answer: The Stairmaster does induce fat loss, but it does not target certain areas of the body for fat loss. This is only a myth. Overall improved diet and fitness regimens can help with fat loss, and certainly, the Stair Stepper machine can fit into this equation. However, the Stairmaster focuses mostly on building muscle in the lower body.

Question: What is the Main Purpose of the Treadmill?

Answer: The treadmill improves flexibility and builds strength. However, this isn’t the main benefit of the machine. This product works wonders with burning calories and improving cardiovascular health.

But, of course, the benefits are better with a nutritious diet and consistent workouts. The treadmill allows you to walk or run at chosen speeds, inclines, and declines according to what you need the most out of your routine.

Question: Does the treadmill build muscle?

Answer: Yes, the treadmill can build muscle over time, and this is a consistent and proper way to build muscle. With consistent workouts on the treadmill, you can also retain muscle.

Question: Can you really lose weight using a Treadmill?

Answer: The treadmill is one of the best ways to lose weight due to the fact that you burn loads of calories with consistent use. In essence, you’re replacing fat with muscle, but weight loss still occurs even when muscle weighs more than fat. This is because the treadmill does not focus on body-building goals with heavier muscle mass.

Verdict: Choose The Treadmill for a Consistent Workout

The Stairmaster is a quality addition to any home gym, just as the Stationary Bike or the Elliptical. It builds muscle and goes easy on the joints of the legs. But overall, we pick the treadmill for its many additional attributes that benefit the body.

The treadmill not only burns fat, improves cardiovascular health, but it also builds muscle as well. It’s many resistance and speed options like degrees of incline and mph speeds. So you get a complete lower body workout that extends well beyond the upper body in terms of fat burning as well.

The treadmill is well worth the cost of purchase and assembly, paying you back with a better body, better health, and better diet. So make room for this more-than-capable machine in your home gym.

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