Treadmill or Stairmaster: Which is a more effective machine?

Treadmill or Stairmaster: The more effective cardio machine?

In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a Treadmill or Stairmaster. Both are used for a cardio workout, we will discuss the similarities and the differences between them based on their level of impact on the body.

Nowadays, both the Treadmill and Stairmaster have a dedicated presence in many of the fitness centers. Overall, fitness workouts on both machines will effectively strengthen and target your lower body. So, it all comes down to preference.

Stair Climber

It consists of either two-foot pedals or a set or revolving stairs. Basically, you work out by stepping as the machine moves or by lifting and pushing against the force of gravity. You can manage the speed and can add variations on the machine.

Studies show that climbing the stairs is also more effective in terms of improving heart and lung health than the stair climber. The stair climber has a similar heart-rate building effect – puts your heart rate into high gear right away as it works your cardiovascular system.  

Also, it directly targets your lower body muscles and strengthens your thighs, buttocks, and calves – but your legs go through a full range of motion, and that is pivotal for shaping toned muscles. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes are trained when you do a lot of reps. And the repeated use effectively strengthens and shapes these areas building lean muscles.

The stair climber also generally places more weight on your quads than a treadmill, making it a killer upper-leg workout.

A Stairmaster is a low-impact machine, making it ideal for those with leg injuries and joint issues or if you are older.

However, be cautious if you have knee problems. Though it’s good for the lower body, it can be hard on your upper body if you’re inclined to slouch. Plus for the best results, you need to maintain an upright position.

Must read – Low impact exercises and their benefits

Also, the machine requires better co-ordination than a treadmill, and it can be challenging to keep up with the Stairmaster even if it’s going at a normal speed.

It may seem intimidating at first you’ll likely take to the machine easier than you realize. Many of the small gyms either have it in one or two in numbers or may not.

Treadmill or Stairmaster
Treadmill or Stairmaster


Everyone is familiar with the treadmill as every gym is going to have a treadmill, so they are very accessible. Either you run, walk or incline walk, it is considered as the cardiovascular kicker workout machine.

Walking or running on a treadmill can help strengthen your backside, calves, thighs, and glutes. In fact, incline walking is actually the better option if you’re looking to tone up your glutes.

Running is also one of the best ways to burn calories and lose weight, so depending on your pace; you’ll likely burn more on the treadmill than the Stairmaster.  

Must read – Treadmill running or Running outside, which one to choose?

The treadmill is a higher impact than the stair climber, it is especially true as you increase the speed.

You can expect a solid calorie burn from incline walking. This will vary depending on the height and speed of your workout.  Whether incline walking burns more calories than stair climbing depends on a few things. These include your weight, fitness level, and the intensity of your workouts.

Studies show that using a stair climber activates 24 percent of your gluteus Maximus while walking on a flat treadmill activates 24.3 percent. This, of course, increases with an incline.

Most treadmills increase in height from 0 to 15 percent. A few specialty treadmills can lift all the way to 35 percent.

You’ll get all the exercise benefits from the treadmill — stronger bones and muscles, more endorphins, and improved mental and emotional wellbeing.   

Finally, treadmills vary in quality. If your gym is smaller, you probably don’t have a lux treadmill, and, if it’s older, it might not give you the best workout possible.


If you are healthy and looking to increase your level of fitness while losing a bit of weight, you should incorporate both stair-stepper and treadmill work into your exercise routine.

Cross-training reduces the chance of overuse injuries and boredom. It also keeps your body challenged so that you do not fall into an exercise plateau. Consider your any injuries or discomfort in your lower body.

Must read THIS – Indoor vs Outdoor exercise?

  • If a low-impact workout is better for you, definitely stick to the stair climber.
  • If you don’t have any leg injuries and joint issues, the treadmill is a safe bet for you.

But if you’re free to work out without any major pain issues, use both – Treadmill and Stairmaster.