Stairmaster vs Treadmill For Weight Loss: 5 Comparisons

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Stairmaster vs Treadmill for Weight Loss 0

If you want to amp up your cardio and have been comparing stairmaster vs treadmill for weight loss, then chances are you’ll want to know what the pros and cons each machine has.

Both machines are great options as they are both indoor equipment that you can have at home or use at the gym. They will help you lose the calories and are even suitable for beginners.

Still, though they are both some of the best weight reduction equipment and cardio machines, their effectiveness will greatly depend on how much exercise you put in and how suitable it is for you. 

They work in fundamentally different ways and choosing the one you enjoy the most will help leverage you to be more consistent with your training and thus lose more weight.

Stairmaster And Treadmill

When it comes to cardio equipment, the stairmaster and treadmill are the most distinct machines you can think of. Most gym users are familiar with the treadmill where you walk or run on it, delivering a simple aerobic workout that serves as the core of endurance training.

However, there are many individuals who are unfamiliar with how a stairmaster differentiates from a treadmill beside the usual cardio benefits. The stairmaster is designed to look like an endless escalator. The machine works out the lower body to a large extent, but its selling point also serves as its downfall.

Before we get through the similarities and differences of both cardio equipment, let us first discuss the pros and cons of each equipment down below:

Stairmaster Pros And Cons

Stairmaster also known as “Stair Stepper” is a cardio machine that looks like a never-ending escalator that works your glutes, thighs, and hamstrings. This device offers numerous advantages, including improved cardiovascular fitness and muscle mass, simple heart rate monitoring, low impact on joint health, and compatibility with interval training.


  1. Calorie Burner – If losing weight is your major objective for working out, then a stairmaster should undoubtedly be a part of your routine. Most stair steppers include calorie counters, allowing you to see how much energy you’ve expended in real-time. You can change the pace as needed to get the appropriate calorie burn rate.
  2. Low Impact – One of the reasons the stairmaster is such a terrific aerobic exercise is that it is low-impact. This is especially important for persons who suffer from joint discomfort and other running-related issues. The stairmaster is so effective that runners may obtain a strong aerobic workout throughout their leisure day without overstraining their knees and ankles.
  3. Optimize Cardiovascular Health and Stimulate Muscle – Stairmaster workouts can significantly improve your cardiovascular health by trying to boost your heart rate and strengthen your heart muscles. Climbing stairs puts additional strain on your lower body, making it a good way to train different muscle groups in your lower extremities.
  4. Enhance Bone Density – This workout enhances bone mass, strength, and density while also developing muscles that can support the skeletal system, which is essential for overall health and injury prevention.


  1. Lower Body Focus – The stairmaster is fantastic for training lower body muscles, but it does not provide enough upper body stimulation. You’ll be able to work your abs and core muscles if you’re proficient at utilizing the machine, but that’s about it.
  2. Risky for Beginners – Although safe for beginners, you are more likely to hurt your back on a stairmaster than on a treadmill. That is primarily because you might slouch when using a stairmaster, particularly near the end of your workout. Like any workout, you’ll need to build tolerance.
  3. Monotonous Workout – Stair climbing is a repetitive workout program, as opposed to treadmill workouts, which allow you to alternate between running horizontally and on an incline.
  4. Possible Back Issues – Working out on a stairmaster is likewise not recommended if you have persistent back pain. The reason behind this is that, again, if you have a tendency to slump while climbing stairs. You might become so fatigued that you slump as you try to complete your exercise.

Treadmill Pros And Cons

One of the most interesting cardiovascular workout machines in any gym is the treadmill. Treadmills are often used as the foundation of cardiovascular fitness by many people. You can use this machine to improve your walking, running, and interval training.


  1. Low Impact – Treadmill workouts can be low-impact, making them ideal for you if you deal with existing injuries or delicate joints. Treadmill running has a lesser impact than outdoor running, which is why it is so popular.
  2. Easy to Use – Nobody wants a complicated machine that takes time to grasp how it works. The treadmill checks this box because it is an easy-to-use piece of fitness equipment. All you have to do is change a few basic parameters, such as your desired pace or warm-up period, and then walk or run on the treadmill belt.
  3. Joint Health – The padded belt is more forgiving than hard concrete or cement. Treadmill running can help you decrease some of the effects on your joints and your body as a whole. This is very useful while rehabbing or recovering from an injury.
  4. Cardiovascular Fitness – Regular exercise is critical to lowering the risk of heart disease. Running or walking on the treadmill is an aerobic workout that can improve your cardiovascular significantly. It can enhance blood circulation in your body and strengthen your heart if done regularly.


  1. Monotonous Workout – Running inside is monotonous. Even if you have the best playlist or are watching TV, it’s too simple to peek at the clock directly in front of you and see that only 30 seconds have elapsed from the last time you checked it. When you run outside, time seems to move faster because you are covering more distance.
  1. Not all Muscles are Exercised – The motorized belt on a treadmill subtly changes the muscle mechanics and the way you run. Instead of pushing yourself off the ground and driving yourself ahead as you would outside, the treadmill handles a lot of the work for you. As a result, you use your quadriceps to propel yourself forward, but your hamstrings and glutes aren’t firing as strongly as they would if you were jogging outside.
  1. Lacks Physical Variation – Aside from the lack of topographical variations, jogging on a treadmill eliminates the need to sprint downward or turn. If you are planning to take running seriously or run in a marathon, this can mean that your body will not be as prepared for the elements on race day. Furthermore, the top speed of most treadmills is between 10-12 km/h, which may be slower than your top sprint speed. This makes treadmills less effective if you want sprinting and interval training outside.
  1. Cost – That is not to argue that joining a gym or owning your own treadmill is a terrible idea. However, you can acquire the same benefits for free by running outside, making investing such money superfluous. If you prefer to go to the gym, you must consider training frequency, membership fees, and the cost of gym equipment.

Stairmaster vs Treadmill For Weight Loss: Comparisons

Now we’ll get into what the two fitness machines have in common and their differences.

  1. Calories Burned
    • The stairmaster is a useful and efficient tool for decreasing or maintaining weight by burning calories. A half-hour stairmaster workout can burn 180 to 260 calories1 or more, relying on your body weight and workout intensity.
    • Walking at a leisurely pace of roughly 3.5 miles per hour can be called a low-intensity treadmill workout. A person weighing around 125 pounds who walks on a treadmill at a modest and steady speed can expect to burn approximately 125 calories in 30 minutes.
    • The quantity of calories expended on the stairmaster versus the treadmill will vary depending on the type of activity and difficulty level or incline you use. The stairmaster will be a better tool for these workouts because of its great range of intensity programs. It’s more of a HIIT cardio machine, which means it works better in short spurts.
  2. Better Cardio Workout
    • Both devices are beneficial to cardiovascular health, as previously stated, but the treadmill is superior. Although both get your heart rate up, the treadmill offers you greater cardiac activity than the stairmaster. Walking, running, sprinting, interval training, and other activities provide you much more room to build on your cardiovascular endurance than a stairmaster.
    • When comparing walking on a treadmill to walking on a stairmaster, you will burn more calories and work up a sweat on the stairmaster because you are engaging more muscles throughout this workout. However, when your intensity increases, the stairmaster may become limited in this aspect.
  3. Muscle Gain
    • If you want to build muscle, choose one that can target your preference. You particularly engage your gluteal and hamstring muscles on both machines but will depend on what muscle it primarily works. The hamstrings are in the back of your thigh, while the gluteal muscles are in your buttocks. While you run on a treadmill, you are actually moving forward. This implies that you’re pushing off with your gluteal muscles and pulling your foot back up to the treadmill with your hamstring. When you use a stairmaster, though, you travel upward. As a result, you focus on your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
    • If you want to work on your gluteal and hamstring muscles, the treadmill is the preferable alternative. The stairmaster is the superior alternative if you want to work on your quadriceps muscles.
  4. High Intensity Interval Training
    • Interval programs are available on both the treadmill and the stairmaster. When it comes to interval training, though, the treadmill is an absolute beast.
    • It is not recommended to undertake HIIT workouts on the stairmaster because it is not as stable and may result in an injury. A treadmill provides a more stable and level surface. A treadmill HIIT workout can be short and effective, and it allows you to build yourself up to avoid damage.
  5. Weight Loss
    • Both machines can promote weight loss and are a great exercise to include. The right weight loss machine will not matter if it is a workout you feel uncomfortable to do. It may depend on your goal; if you are more focused on body composition and fat loss rather than sheer cardiovascular capacity, you’ll still need to decide which equipment is best for you and will engage you. The important thing to remember is to select a machine that fits firmly into your workout routine, one that you can continue with for a longer amount of time because the majority of your weight loss success will be about consistency.


You’ll notice that each machine has advantages and disadvantages. The final decision will be entirely dependent on your personal needs. The treadmill unquestionably delivers a greater aerobic workout, whereas the stairmaster targets more muscle regions. To limit the chance of injury, practice the appropriate form on any machine you use.

Finally, get a feel on each machine to help you decide on which best suits you. If in the end you find yourself in a dilemma, consider incorporating both machines into your workouts to make the most of their benefits.


1 Harvard Health. (2021, March 8). Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights


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