StairMaster vs treadmill: Which Cardio Machine is better?


Considering a Stairmaster vs treadmill, which one is better for you?

The benefits and importance of fitness are undeniable. With our ever-busy schedules, slotting in gym time might be a challenge. Home workouts are the obvious solution.

Stairmaster versus Treadmill, which is better? A quick answer is that, treadmills have a flat walking or running pad for forward movement while Stairmasters have steps mimicking the climbing of stairs. Most stepper machines allow for the adjustability of both difficulty and speed while only speed is adjustable in treadmills!

Finding the correct exercise routine is a long shot amidst thousands of recommended approaches. Most people prefer whole-body exercises like running, walking, jogging and swimming as a fitness regimen.

Fortunately, there are several home fitness equipment that can help you achieve just that. Generally, two types of such machines are available. One that lets you walk/run like a treadmill and another that allows you to go through the motions of climbing stairs like a Stairmaster.

It can be difficult to know which one is best for you. Understanding the details of each will advise your choice.

In this Stairmaster vs treadmill article, we will review the features, buyer’s guide, benefits, similarities, differences and Frequently Asked Questions for both machine iterations.

Stairmaster review


These are stepmills best for people who want an intense workout without any of the discomforts of climbing real stairs. They are designed to support both cardio and strength training routines.

While older versions were manual and utilized only the weight of the climber to turn, modern steppers deploy a motor that varies the level of resistance to motion depending on your preference.

With the adjustable height feature, users of different body sizes can use the equipment. The orientation of your body during operation stimulates the glutes, calves, and quads to get your heart pumping.

The stepping action on the Stairmaster is smooth and therefore ideal even for older people who cannot perform high impact exercises. To accommodate different users, the machine comes with a control panel on which custom and stock training programs are stored.

Vital information such as the number of steps, time-lapses, distance, and calories will help you gauge your progress.

The machine remains stable at different, adjustable speeds. Although step sizes vary from 8-10”, maintaining an upright posture while “climbing the stairs” will provide the much-needed strain on your lower body which translates to burnt calories.

While on it, the sidebar handles allow you to work on your upper body and stay in balance. The build quality is solid although the price is steep compared to treadmills.

In contrast with cheaper, two-step machines, the Stairmaster is much more versatile, smarter and safer to use.


  • Stability
  • More intensity workout
  • Multi-program support
  • Suitable for interval training
  • Vitals monitor: e.g. heart rate
  • Great for strengthening bones
  • Fit for both muscle training and cardio.


  • Non-adjustable impact level
  • It takes a while to get used to it
  • Mostly works for lower body stimulation


Treadmill review


A treadmill is a piece of training equipment featuring a flat stepping pad rotating on a set of wheels to mimic walking motion.

They can be used to jog, sprint or run for set periods of time. These machines are suitable for people who want an all-in-one home solution synonymous with outdoor running.

Treadmills were initially developed to harness human power to complete activities like grinding grains and lifting loads using pulleys.

Today, they are motorized and have been adapted as stationery running tracks. With a myriad of flexibility in size, height, and difficulty, compact treadmills have gained popularity around the world.

From the comfort of your home, the recommended daily 30-minute light or a 15-minute intense workout can be achieved. Most treadmills come built with an interactive LCD display used to run a fitness tracking software. There are some foldable treadmills on the market today.

Personalized physical information and targets can be set to influence the speed and duration of your exercises. Safer, adjustable, intense workouts are possible on an inclined treadmill vs Stairmaster whose steps might lead to stumbling.

Most treadmills have a 1-15% incline adjustability option. Depending on your physical condition, the cushioning feature built into most treadmills allows for enhanced comfort. There are a ton of companies creating affordable treadmills starting from a few hundred dollars.


  • Stable footpad
  • Speed adjustment
  • Incline and decline modes
  • Support for a variety of exercises
  • High weight accommodation range
  • Minimal space restrictions for your hands.


  • Partial body workout
  • They can be monotonous
  • Less agility deters muscle coordination


Stair master vs treadmill, which one is better?

While there is no definite answer to this question, the right option is entirely reliant on your intentions and budget.

Treadmills are common and are found in most gyms. This opened doors for many companies to invent affordable options. On the other side, stepper machines such as Stairmaster are less common and more expensive.

If you are looking for a light general cardio-vascular fitness option, treadmills will do it. However, if you are looking to train and tone lower body muscles, and can part with a few thousand dollars, then Stairmaster is for you.

It might be physically impossible for some people to use a Stairmaster vs incline treadmill which offers a steep ascent on a flat surface.

Regardless of your preference, there are multiple options available. To get the best value for your money, it’s important to understand what you are looking for.

Stair master vs treadmill: Factors to consider when buying – Buyer’s guide


Regardless of your budget, look for the highest quality machine for the money. This will offer an easier, quieter and longer service.

Since this is a one-time purchase, go all the way especially if you expect multiple users. Alternatively, consider buying a high quality, refurbished one instead of going for cheaper generic models.


Consider the size of the space, you wish to allocate to the equipment at home when choosing the size of the machine.

Fortunately, most vendors give the dimension information of their products online. Check out the weight rating of the preferred model to ensure compatibility with your body size.

Stepper machines are tall.

As such, you need to factor in both your height and the machine in relation to your ceiling level. When opting for a large model, you may consider one that has wheels for easy mobility.


This is the rating of the motor that drives the pad. It has a direct relationship to speed in treadmills and difficulty in stepper machines.

A minimum of 1.5 horsepower rating is sufficient for scarce use. If you foresee frequent activity, a 3 horsepower piece is ideal.


A machine that supports more customizability options is preferable. This includes the ability to set, store and track individual training regimens. Consider a unit that has an emergency stop button to prevent injury.


The equipment should be from a reputable brand with positive customer reviews in terms of meeting expectations in functionality and durability.

The availability of spare parts and technicians is also important in case of a breakdown. Having a lifetime warranty on the motor and frame will give you peace of mind considering other parts, usually electronics, rarely fail and are easy to replace.

A five-year warranty for the latter is ideal. Lastly, find out the cost of transport and opt for vendors who include free delivery on their packages.


Both machines offer in-built fitness tracking software.

They both burn calories and have a positive impact on your health.

They both offer adjustable operations in terms of intensity.


Treadmills have a flat running pad while Stairmasters have steps.

Stepper machines allow for the adjustability of both difficulty and speed while only speed is adjustable in treadmills.

Benefits of Stairmaster vs treadmill

The customizability of workouts:

Based on the amount of time you have in relation to your goals, both machines allow for short high-intensity and long low-intensity training sessions. This is made possible by granting you full control over speed and incline.

Smart integrations:

In-built fitness software comes pre-installed on modern versions. They also allow for third-party software installations and smart data transfer to your cellphone.

Aside from translating your effort, these systems make it possible for you to maintain precise workouts in terms of distance, time and calorie-burning rate. This ensures that you maintain discipline and motivation.

Better health:

Demanding activities such as running or step climbing consume calories which in turn helps you lose or maintain weight. Physical workouts improve lung capacity as the demand for oxygen increases.

More oxygen to the body means better brain function.

Endocannabinoids are hormones released during exercise and lead to feeling happy. Knees and other joints in the body are also strengthened. In addition to reducing your risk of cancer, regular training is known to increase life expectancy.


Running on the street poses dangers of injury from foot and motor traffic as well as rocks and uneven surfaces. In addition, to shock-absorbing, these machines have a flat surface that reduces the risk of falling substantially.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

#What does a Stairmaster do for your body?

It provides intense cardio while toning lower body muscles.

#Which one burns more calories, elliptical vs treadmill vs Stairmaster?

The Stairmaster burns more calories than the elliptical which burns a little fewer calories than a treadmill.

#How long should you be on the Stairmaster?

20-60 minutes are ideal sessions on the Stairmaster.

#Can you lose weight on a treadmill?

Using a treadmill is an excellent way of burning calories and losing weight

#What is the best speed on a treadmill to lose weight?

The ideal speed is the one you can remain consistent with every day. Gradually increase your speeds once you plateau.


Replicating the running track experience and Keeping fit from the comfort of your home is one of the best things you can do for your body.

Treadmills and stepper machines help you realize this dream. We especially like their minimal space requirements, adjustability, and effectiveness.

Once your package arrives, be sure to explore different programs to stay consistent and avoid monotony.

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