Are you torn between the StairMaster and the treadmill? Both machines can give you a great cardio workout, but which one is worth your sweat?

If you want to increase your heart rate and burn calories, you might assume the treadmill is the way to go. After all, you can go faster and simulate running or jogging.

However, the StairMaster offers a unique challenge that the treadmill can’t match. Stairmasters use a stepper motion to mimic the act of climbing stairs, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to tone their lower body and increase their endurance.

This article will dive into the Stairmaster versus treadmill debate and help you decide which machine is best for your fitness goals.

Stairmaster Vs Treadmill Workout Difficulty

When comparing a StairMaster vs. an incline treadmill, one of the critical factors to consider is the difficulty level of the workout.

The StairMaster involves rotating stairs that you ascend, providing cardio and resistance training in one machine. Meanwhile, a treadmill can be used for walking or running and adjusted to an incline for a higher-intensity workout.

Walking on a treadmill is a lower-intensity workout than running, but adding an incline can increase calorie burn and muscle engagement.

Similarly, using a StairMaster briskly or adding hard intervals can also increase the intensity.

However, the StairMaster has a steeper learning curve and requires more coordination, making it a better choice for experienced gym-goers.

Beginners may find starting with a treadmill workout easier until they have improved their stair-climbing technique.

StairMaster Vs Treadmill For Cardio

When comparing the StairMaster vs. treadmill for cardio, assessing your fitness goals and exercise preferences is vital.

If you are aiming for a challenging workout that targets both your legs and cardiovascular system, then the StairMaster is an excellent choice.

The stair climber provides a hybrid of resistance and cardio, making it a practical option for building endurance and toning your lower body.

On the other hand, if you’re a runner looking for a machine that provides a focused cardio workout, then the treadmill is your best bet.

However, regardless of which machine you choose, remember to invest in the best running shoes to maximize your comfort and prevent injury.

StairMaster Vs Treadmill For Strength And Building Muscle

If you want to build strength and tone your muscles, you may wonder whether the treadmill or StairMaster is better. While both machines can be effective, they each target different muscles in the body.

Stair climbing on the StairMaster predominantly works the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, making it an excellent choice for lower-body strength training.

You can also engage your upper body and core if you avoid holding onto the handrails.

On the other hand, walking or running on a treadmill works all the muscles in the lower body, as well as the core and arms, provided you don’t hold onto the handrails.

Increasing the incline can target the calves, glutes, and hamstrings even more.

StairMaster Vs Treadmill Calories Burned

If you’re trying to decide between a StairMaster workout or a treadmill, the number of calories you burn may be critical. Research shows that the StairMaster burns more calories than the treadmill if you run slower than 5.2 mph.

But if you’re running faster than that, the treadmill wins out. To calculate your calories burned per minute, you can use the formula: METs x 3.5 x (your body weight in kilograms) / 200.

For example, a 165-pound person doing the stair climber machine at the gym at 9 METs would burn 11.8 calories per minute.

Multiply that by a 30-minute workout, and you get 354 calories burned.

StairMaster Vs Treadmill For Weight Loss 

Regarding weight loss, the age-old question of whether the StairMaster or treadmill is better is still up for debate.

The answer depends on which workout you can sustain for a more extended period or with greater intensity to burn more calories.

While the treadmill is great for long, hard runs, research shows that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the most effective way to burn fat. Incorporating a HIIT workout on either machine can help boost your metabolism for hours after exercising.

Furthermore, building lean muscle mass through the StairMaster can also aid in shedding body fat, making it a valuable tool for weight loss.

StairMaster Vs Treadmill: Injury Risk

The StairMaster is a great option for individuals who are bodybuilding or trying to tone their lower body since it provides a high-intensity workout with minimal effect on your joints.

But unlike the natural action of running on a treadmill, using the StairMaster requires some coordination if you’re a beginner. The impact of jogging on a treadmill can also be lessened by purchasing trail running shoes, lowering the chance of joint soreness or injury.

The damage risk associated with each piece of equipment must ultimately be considered before choosing which is best for you.

Does A Treadmill Provide a Better Cardiovascular Workout Than A Stairmaster?

Regarding cardio workouts, people often wonder if a treadmill or a StairMaster is better.

While the StairMaster is an effective way to tone your lower body and increase endurance, the treadmill is the winner for burning calories at a higher intensity.

Running fast on a treadmill can burn up to 700 calories in a typical session, while a StairMaster workout of equivalent intensity will only burn around 400 calories.

So, if you are looking for a high-intensity cardio workout, the treadmill may be your better choice.

However, the StairMaster can still provide a great cardio workout and is a popular option for those who want to target specific areas like glutes, hamstrings, and calves, compared to the Stairmaster vs elliptical.

What Is The Stairmaster Good For?

Looking for a way to improve your cardio while also strengthening your legs? The StairMaster might be just what you need. This machine provides a low-impact, weight-bearing workout to help burn calories and tone your lower body.

By mimicking the act of climbing stairs, the StairMaster engages your glutes, quads, and calves, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to build strength and endurance in their legs.

Cardio Stair Stepper Alternatives

If you’re looking for an effective and affordable alternative to a Stairmaster or treadmill, a cardio stair stepper may be what you need.

This compact and versatile machine mimics the motion of climbing stairs, providing a low-impact yet challenging workout that can help you burn calories, strengthen your leg muscles, and improve your cardiovascular health.

Unlike a Stairmaster, a cardio stair stepper is much more budget-friendly and easily stored in your home or office for convenient use anytime.

The Stairmaster Targets Muscle Groups More Effectively Than the Treadmill

The Stairmaster is a highly effective workout machine that targets various muscle groups in the lower body, burning significant calories.

Unlike the treadmill, which primarily targets the quadriceps and hamstrings, the Stairmaster provides a more comprehensive workout by engaging the glutes, calves, and core muscles.

This is due to the vertical movement involved in stepping on and off the machine, which creates more resistance and requires more effort from these muscle groups.

As a result, the Stairmaster is an excellent choice for those looking to maximize their calorie burn while toning and strengthening multiple muscle groups. 

The Treadmill is a More Beginner Friendly Workout Than the Stairmaster 

When choosing a beginner-friendly workout machine, the treadmill is better than the stair stepper.

One of the main reasons is that walking on a treadmill is a simple movement that requires less expertise compared to the weight shift of the Stairmaster.

With a treadmill, you can adjust the speed and incline to suit your fitness level and gradually increase the intensity as you progress. Moreover, treadmills are more accessible and familiar in most gyms and fitness centers.

Types of Treadmill Workouts

30-Second Interval Sprints

Interval training is an effective way to build endurance and burn calories. One popular interval workout on the treadmill is 30-second sprints followed by 30 seconds of rest. This workout can take 20-30 minutes, depending on your fitness level.

It helps to increase your heart rate, build stamina, and improve your running speed.

To perform this workout, set your treadmill to a challenging speed and sprint for 30 seconds, then reduce the speed and rest for 30 seconds before repeating.

Side Stepping Workout

The side-stepping workout is an excellent way to target the muscles in your legs and hips.

This workout involves stepping laterally on the treadmill while holding onto the handrails. Start slowly and gradually increase the speed to challenge your muscles.

Aim for 30 seconds of side-stepping followed by a 30-second break, then repeat for 10 sets. The side stepping workout effectively improves your balance, coordination, and overall lower body strength.

Alternating Incline Workout

The alternating incline workout is a great way to add variety to your treadmill routine.

This workout involves alternating between different incline levels to challenge cardiovascular endurance and leg muscles.

Start with a warm-up at a 0% incline for 5 minutes, then increase the incline to 5% for 2 minutes. Return to 0% incline for 1 minute, then increase the incline to 8% for 2 minutes.

Repeat this pattern, increasing the incline to 10% and 12% for 2 minutes each. Finish with a cool-down at 0% incline for 5 minutes.

The alternating incline workout is a challenging way to burn calories and build lower body strength.

Types of Stairmaster Workouts

Alternating Step Workout

The alternating step workout is an excellent stairmaster cardio routine that improves endurance and lower body strength.

To perform this workout, alternate between stepping up with your left foot and your right foot.

Maintain a steady pace and engage your core muscles throughout the workout. This exercise will challenge your cardiovascular system and target your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

Sidestep Workout

The sidestep workout is another fantastic Stairmaster good cardio routine that targets your inner and outer thighs, glutes, and calves. To perform this workout:

  1. Step up with your right foot, followed by your left foot.
  2. Take a sidestep with your right foot, followed by your left foot.
  3. Repeat this pattern, alternating between stepping up and sidestepping.

This routine is excellent for improving your balance and coordination.

Backward Climb

The backward climb is an advanced stairmaster cardio routine that targets your hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

To perform this workout, face backward on the Stairmaster and step up with your left foot, followed by your right foot.

Then, step back with your left foot, followed by your right foot. Repeat this pattern, alternating between stepping up and stepping back. This routine is ideal for challenging cardiovascular systems and improving lower body strength.

Alternating Kickbacks

The alternating kickbacks are an excellent workout for targeting your glutes and hamstrings.

To perform this exercise, step up with your left foot and kick your right foot back as you extend your left arm forward.

Lower your left foot and repeat the same motion on the other side. This routine will help tone and sculpt your glutes while improving cardiovascular fitness.

The Ultimate Abs and Glute Stairmaster Workout

The ultimate abs and glute Stairmaster workout combine different exercises targeting your abs, glutes, and legs. To perform this routine:

  1. Alternate between stepping up and down while lifting your knee towards your chest.
  2. Perform a sidestep, followed by an alternating kickback.
  3. Repeat this pattern for a challenging and effective full-body workout.

This routine is ideal for improving balance, coordination, and overall fitness.

Pros and Cons of Stairmaster


Here are some of the advantages of incorporating a Stairmaster workout into your fitness routine:

  • More lower-body muscle activation: Over time, the Stairmaster builds strength and tone by concentrating on major lower-body muscular groups like the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves.
  • Lower impact: As opposed to high-impact exercises like running, the Stairmaster offers a low-impact workout that is easier on the joints, lowering the chance of injury and enabling people with joint problems to still engage in cardiovascular exercise.
  • Greater joint range of motion: The stairmaster’s up-and-down motion promotes a broader range of motion in the joints, which helps to increase the lower body’s flexibility and mobility.
  • Elevate heart rate without running: Without the need for jogging or other high-impact exercises, the Stairmaster offers a strenuous cardiovascular workout that can help boost heart rate and enhance general cardiovascular health.


  • Too expensive for most home gyms: The Stairmaster is often considered one of the best cardio machines available. However, there are some notable cons to using this machine. For instance, the cost of a Stairmaster can be prohibitively high, making it unattainable for many people to have in their home gym.

Pros and Cons Of Treadmill


  • Improve Efficiency: A treadmill can help you increase the effectiveness of your running or walking action, which will eventually lead to the development of a more effective gait.
  • Boost Aerobic Capacity: When you do cardiovascular activity on a treadmill, you can increase your aerobic capacity, which will help you gain strength and endurance.
  • Longer Cardio Sessions: You can easily fit in longer cardio sessions with the convenience of a treadmill in your home gym without worrying about the weather or gym hours.
  • Incline Adjustment: Adjusting the inclination on a treadmill makes it simple to simulate uphill or downhill jogging and adds variation to your training.
  • Affordable Home Gym Option: Treadmills are frequently more affordable for home gym setups when compared to other cardio machines, offering a convenient and economical method to engage in a solid exercise without having to leave the house.


  • Higher impact on joints: Running or walking on a treadmill can stress your knees, ankles, and hips more than running outside on natural terrain. This can lead to joint pain and even injuries over time. To minimize this impact, it’s recommended to wear proper footwear and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your treadmill workouts. 

Stairmaster Vs Treadmill: Which One Gives A Better Workout?

If all you’re looking for is a cardio workout, the treadmill, though, might be a fantastic option.

The amount of intensity of your workout will also depend on whether you choose to run or walk on an inclined or flat treadmill.

Choosing a device that you love using is crucial, to say the least. First, how well your workout builds your aerobic endurance will depend on how long it is.

Second, the level of intensity you train at is essential since a higher level of intensity results in a workout that is more fruitful. The StairMaster might be a better choice if strengthening your muscles and working your heart are your objectives.

If all you’re looking for is a cardio workout, the treadmill, though, might be a fantastic option.

The amount of intensity of your workout will also depend on whether you choose to run or walk on an inclined or flat treadmill.

Choosing a device that you love using is crucial, to say the least.