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7 StairMaster Benefits: 3 Workouts For All Fitness Levels

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Stair climbing has been known as an effective exercise since antiquity. You may have seen boxers and soccer players jogging up and down the staircase to the arena. Now, we have the equipment to make life easier and workouts tougher.

Let’s look at Stairmaster benefits and how these gym staples can help you climb to the ultimate fitness nirvana.

What are StairMaster benefits? There are multiple stairmaster benefits for your aerobic capacity, balance ability, as well as lower-body and core strength while minimum injury risks await. All in all, Stairmaster results in a crazy-good calorie burn.

7 stair master benefits

What Is StairMaster?

Stairmaster is the trademarked name of an American company and its flagship product line. The stationary cardio machine feeds a belt into an infinite loop of stairs. You can dictate its speed and intervals. 

Although multiple styles are available, most consist of a stairway and handrails. Touch-enabled LCDs, heart rate sensors, and calorie counters are all the rage. Think of them as vertical treadmills with a stepping motion instead of running.

7 Benefits of StairMaster Workouts

The seemingly simple machine can essay the climax of your fitness routine. Should you choose to get on board, the following aerobic and strength conditioning benefits of using the Stairmaster will come your way.

✅ Cardiovascular Benefits

Is the Stairmaster cardio sufficient? It can be a good change of pace while retaining the head-to-toe benefits of a cardio workout. It revs up your heart rate, blood supply, breathing, and metabolism for an extended period. Increased aerobic capacity (VO2 max) culminates in a strong heart, brain, and other muscles. By decreasing the risk for obesity, diabetes, and CVD – you’re expected to live a long and healthy life. 

✅ Calorie Burn

The effectiveness of cardio boils down to one point. How fast and how many calories does Stairmaster burn? A 30-minute session says farewell to 180-250 or more calories, depending on your weight and speed. The rate of calories burned with stairmasters is above jogging. A small study involving sedentary office workers and homemakers approved the regular use of stairmaster for weight loss without strict dietary controls. 

Female athlete training on stairmaster machine in gym

✅ Strength Gains

You don’t want to shred a ton of stairs for no strength and muscle gains. But don’t worry! Each time you step up, you’ll lift your heel and bend your knees, thus working up muscles in your thighs and calves. 

Compared to a flat surface, walking on an incline targets your glutes. It builds and tones your lower-body muscles. In order to stabilize and resist gravity, you take help from the core. Stair climbing also boosts your running performance. 

✅ Knee Pain Relief

Stairmaster machine benefits for cardio and strength are unique due to its low-impact nature. You don’t pound as hard on a surface like running or jumping. Still, the impact on kneecaps is greater while descending than going up. Stepping machines take out that excruciating return journey. 

Also, they strengthen muscles surrounding the knee. Peeps with osteoarthritis are recommended various aerobic and resistance exercises to combat knee pain.


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✅ Bone Density

There are two branches of osteoporosis exercises. First is weight-bearing like acing stairs and playing tennis. It can prevent and rehabilitate fractured bones. The second type is muscle-strengthening, which employs external resistance. 

In a separate research, a gamut of physical activities was pitted to promote bone mineral density. And stair climbing emerged at the top. It gets more critical as you age and naturally lose bone mass. 

✅ Balance & Coordination

Do you know a senior suffers a fall every second in the US? Balance and coordination training is essential to carry out daily mundane tasks. 

Additionally, you’ll excel at sports that require instant direction changes and weight shifts. Patients with neuromuscular disorders, such as chronic stroke, can improve balance ability with stair walking. A stable pelvis and strong legs induce it.

✅ Mental Health

Exercise may leave you tired but never troubled. Your body secretes endorphins – a group of hormones associated with positive vibes. These don’t only make you feel good but also help with fighting stress, depression, and anxiety. Volunteers reported more energy and less fatigue after brief bouts of stair climbing. 

However, the heightened cognitive capacity to tackle challenges was only found in male participants.

Woman athlete with towel training on stairmaster machine

6 Muscles Targeted By StairMaster Exercise

What muscles does stairmaster work? You might have picked some notion that we’re primarily working up our legs. 

However, the entire posterior chain mobilizes to help you rise and balance with each successive step. It stretches from ankles to your hips and spinal erectors. The upper-body engagement isn’t stellar, especially if you hold on to the railing.

1. Calves

Training often neglects twin calf muscles at the back of your legs. However, these exist at the vanguard of all ground impacts. They help you jog and jump by propelling you forward and absorbing the load. Adjoining knees and ankles, joint strength is fused with these muscles. StairMaster is, in a way, a bent knee calf raise workout as you’re continuously stepping up and working your calves. 

2. Quadriceps

Let’s creep up a little, and you’ll meet quadriceps. A large group of four muscles at the front of your thigh is among the most vital body parts. Not only explosive movements such as deadlifts and squats but everyday tasks like standing and walking rely on quads too. They are basically extensors that allow you to straighten your non-weight-bearing leg during the stair work. The kneecap owes its stability and strength to quads.

3. Hamstrings

Hamstrings are antagonists to quads, forming the backside of your thighs. As you lift your leg for the next step, they contract to bend the knee. Treadmill addicts often find their hammies tight and itchy while running outdoors since motorized belts pull them in the gym. 

On the other hand, a flight of stairs is free of such deceiving convenience. A high gradient and speed are suitable for both quads and hams.

Athlete in leggings training on stairmaster machine

4. Glutes

Big and bulky gluteal muscles form your butts. Rarely you’d be able to hammer quads, hamstrings, and glutes with a single exercise. Stairmaster benefits range from a fantastic calorie burn to fair muscle engagement. The largest of them, the gluteus maximus, is responsible for hip extension.

At the same time, quads look after the knees. Its younger siblings, medius and minimus, guard hips from sideways and maintain anatomical planes.

5. Hip Flexors

Iliopsoas are major muscles that independently originate from the abdomen and coalesce into the femur. Stair gait consists of swing (hamstrings and hip flexors) and stance (quads and glutes) for unilateral motion in each leg, rounding out a killer lower-body workout. It hosts both eccentric and concentric phases. Avoid slouching, hanging off your heels, or dragging by handrails for healthy posture and max muscle activation.  

6. Core Muscles

Tonic muscles in your core, trunk, and lower back power up most activities. They mark the center of gravity and a foundational column between the lower and upper extremities. Their involvement is inevitable as long as you’re keeping a straight back and puffed chest. One study advocates for an abdominal draw-in maneuver (ADIM) to spike activity in the abs, external obliques, and vastus muscles while ascending stairs. 

Female athletes training on stairmaster machine

4 Advantages Of StairMasters Among Other Cardiovascular Machines

You have an array of options when looking to squeeze in a good cardio workout. Stairmasters are often stacked up against treadmills, exercise bikes, ellipticals, and rowers. These over-the-counter pieces of gym equipment are unique in their dominance and drawbacks. We’ll list a few Stairmaster benefits that others seem to lack.

✅ Muscle Building

Daily Collegian sought the same dilemma and ranked stairmasters above all else. Honestly, they provide a well-rounded cardio as well as resistance. You can actually develop mass in your lower body without alternating ramp inclines as on a treadmill or riding out of saddles. The equal activity in quads, hams, calves, and glutes is built into the stair climbing pattern. 

Furthermore, bikes and elliptical trainers don’t engage your core since you’re sitting down. Their non-weight-bearing nature renders them inefficient for bone health

✅ Low Impact

Treadmills elbow out contenders as far as energy expenditure and muscle engagement are concerned. You’re bearing your weight, using your torso, and swinging your arms. What are the Stairmaster machine benefits in that case? It’s the low-impact nature. Unlike bikes and ellipticals, stairmasters don’t trade core and upper-body activation for injury prevention. The Compendium of Physical Activity calculated the metabolic cost of different exercises, translating into the exact number of calories burned.

Make no mistake – there is more to stairmasters than meets the eye.

MachineMetabolic Equivalents per Minute (METs)Calories Burned in a Minute For a 75 kg/165 lb person
StairMaster, general9.011.88
Treadmill, walking (5 mph)8.310.89
Bicycling, moderate (90-100 watts)6.88.92
Elliptical, moderate5.06.56
Rowing, moderate4.86.30

✅ Workout Difficulty

Cardio busters provide the maximum control of training. You can set different modes, programs, intervals, and countdowns. You’ll have virtual games and sceneries on higher-end models to forget the pain. Imagine climbing the China Wall or Eiffel Tower from your bedroom. Stairmasters go one mile ahead. You can control the speed and distance between two steps falling after one another. In all settings, aerobic and strength conditioning is a must! 

✅ Learning Curve

There isn’t any huge learning curve. You can hop on stair steppers, stationary bikes, and motorized treadmills unless you’re dealing with any extraordinary balance and coordination issues. They mimic everyday movements of walking and stair climbing. Side rails compromise gains to an extent, but they’re an assurance that most intimidating machines lack. You’ll reap health benefits all your life by being independent, self-reliant, and mobile. Getting the hang of the elliptical straddle and rowing glide will take a little longer than usual. The more time you spend on polishing skills, the later your main fitness regime kicks in!

Female athlete training on stairmaster in front of a window

3 StairMaster Workout Examples

If you’re climbing endlessly for its sake, boredom will soon catch you. A half-hour session may feel like a stretch of eternity. You should wonder how to shake up mini-escalator workouts to stay energetic and attentive throughout. The following examples will spell out a hidden realm of possibilities for you.

1. Beginner (10-Minute Get Started Workout)

Duration (minutes)Intensity (Level 1-20)Movement
25-10Forward Climb
15-10Side Steps (1x Right and Left – 30 seconds each)
25-10Forward Climb

2. Intermediate (10-Minute Level Up Workout)

Duration (minutes)Intensity (Level 1-20)Movement
110-12Forward Climb
15-10Recovery Walk
110-12Forward Climb

3. Advanced (15-Minute Burning Bums Workout)

Duration (minutes)Intensity (Level 1-20)Movement
28-10Squat Walk
15-10Recovery Walk
28-10Two Steps at Once
212-15Forward Climb
15-10Recovery Walk
212-15Squat Walk


First, let’s see the type of exercise you can do besides climbing forward. You can hit corners of steps in a crossing motion. Do knee raises altogether. You can skip two at a time for challenging glutes and inner thighs. The squat walk is an advanced feat, requiring amazing strength and stability. Alternating kickbacks are another tiktok-trendy addition that you can try out. Make sure to craft a subconscious rhythm among moves like a dance practice.


Be cautious, and never overestimate your capabilities. Get the hold of a trainer when trying something new in the cardio room. 

Lastly, maintain medium-intensity levels at max settings (i.e., 10-12 out of 20). Slipping recovery downtimes only increase total effectiveness and endurance, whether training to lose weight, define lower-body muscles, regain mobility, or generally stay fit!

StairMaster We Recommend

StairMaster Gauntlet 8

StairMaster Gauntlet 8 Series is a top-of-the-line stepmill with enviable specs. A 10″ OpenHub LCD is embedded with landmark challenges, various fitness tests, and an electronically-controlled drive chain. It’s pre-wired with Polar heart rate monitoring, ECOFIT asset management, and PVS entertainment. Not to mention Bluetooth connectivity! You’ll get ten workout programs. The smooth transition of eight steps with an 8″ height and 24-162 rpm is suitable for a wide range of users.

The commercial-grade polypropylene construction can withstand frequent abuse and rust. It supports 350 lbs and weighs the same. Frame and parts are covered with a 10-year warranty. The company provides an in-house setup. You’ll need about 8 ft of ceiling clearance and a 100-240 VAC outlet.


Is Stairmaster Good For Losing Belly Fat?

Sure! A Stairmaster is a fantastic cardio machine, helping you slide into calorie deficit quickly and lose weight. Does Stairmaster burn fat? 100%. Does it spot-reduce belly fat? Well, nothing can! You will lose visceral fat holistically from all over your body, not only selected parts.

What Happens If I Do The Stairmaster Every Day?

The CDC recommends 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity physical activity. So, you can do five 30-minute sessions with two rest days. However, daily Stairmaster usage isn’t as detrimental as powerlifting because you have plenty of recovery time. 

Does Stairmaster Shape Your Body?

You can tone and tighten muscles in thighs, legs, and buttocks as Stairmaster makes for an intense booty-burning workout. To define abs, chest, shoulders, and arms – you’ll have to throw in some weight training.


StairMaster is a do-it-all workout master, edging ahead in efficacy, versatility, and safety protocols. It couples cardio and strength training. It targets your legs in its entirety. Piecing similar results together will take a drawn-out routine of multiple exercises. Stairmaster benefits are open for all people regardless of existing health status and age.

Do you think stairmasters are a good alternative to treadmills? We’ll wait for your response in the comments down below!

Also read:


  1. Benefits of a Cardio Workout // ClevelandClinic:
  2. Calories burned in 30 minutes // Harvard:
  3. A Workplace Intervention to Promote Stair Climbing // Wiley Online Library:
  4. Effects of Three-Week Stair Climbing Exercise // ResearchGate:
  5. Does walking on an incline build glutes? // DataMax:
  6. Effects of stair-climbing vs run training on treadmill // PubMed:
  7. Effects of methods of descending stairs forwards // BMC:
  8. The pain-relieving qualities of exercise in knee osteoarthritis // NCBI:
  9. Weight Bearing // BHOF:
  10. Habitual physical activity // PubMed:
  11. Keep on Your Feet – Preventing Older Adult Falls // CDC:
  12. The Effects of Stair Walking Training // NCBI:
  13. Effects of a Brief Stair-Climbing Intervention // FrontierSun:
  14. Triceps surae muscle // Wikipedia:
  15. The Importance of Calf Strength // Sport and Spinal Physio:
  16. Quadriceps // Wikipedia:
  17. Hamstring // Wikipedia:
  18. Gluteal muscles // Wikipedia:
  19. Iliopsoas // Wikipedia:
  20. Stair Gait // Physio Pedia:
  21. Core // Wikipedia:
  22. The effects of abdominal drawing-in maneuver // NCBI:
  23. Plethora of cardio equipment could confuse gym goers // PsuCollegian:
  24. Cycling and bone health // NCBI:
  25. Compendium of Physical Activities // Wolterskluwer Vitalstream:
  26. Physical activity guidelines for adults aged 19 to 64 // NHS:

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Ihor Shymechko

Author: Ihor Shymechko
Pro Olympic Weightlifter, Coach

Experience: 26 years
Best Results: Snatch – 208 kg,
C&J – 240 kg

Ihor has been a professional weightlifter since 1996, boasting over two decades of competition experience. His notable achievements include clinching the European Championship in 2009 and securing a silver medal in the 105kg division at the Senior World Championships in 2011. Ihor represented his country in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Summer Olympics. After retiring from competitive weightlifting, he transitioned to coaching, leveraging his vast experience to guide athletes who now compete on both national and international stages.

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