Stairmaster Vs. Treadmill 2022: Which Is Better For You?

By Inge
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This article is our comparison between the stairmaster and the treadmill.

Stairmaster vs. Treadmill
Stairmaster Vs. Treadmill: Which Is Better?

The stairmaster and the treadmill both provide cardiovascular exercise. And they are both useful for losing weight and increasing overall fitness. However, there are some crucial differences that may make one better suited to your needs than the other.

As a personal trainer, I had the opportunity to use both of these machines and see their benefits firsthand. In this review, I will share some of these benefits and help you decide which is better for you. Additionally, I added some recommendations towards the end. 

The treadmill wins over the stairmaster in terms of calories burned, high-intensity interval training, impact on joints, and versatility. It is also a great workout machine for overall body toning.

However, if you want to focus on toning your lower body only, then stairmaster is a great choice. Also, stairmasters are for you if you want a high-resistance workout or if you have limited space.

Both machines have their pros and cons. Whichever is better depends on your fitness goals.

Let’s start the review.

Table of Contents

Stairmaster vs. Treadmill Comparison

Calories Burned

Although the calories burned on a treadmill and stairmaster can vary depending on many factors, one study found that the treadmill burns more calories than the stairmaster. According to Harvard Health Publishing, a 125-pound person can burn up to 240 calories while running at a 5 mph speed for 30 minutes. On the other hand, a 125-pound person working on a stairmaster for 30 minutes can burn up to 180 calories. 

Also, the treadmill may be a more effective tool for weight loss, because it allows you to control your pace and incline. You can also use it for longer periods than the stairmaster. Since stairmasters are good for shorter, high-intensity bursts.

Winner Calories Burned Comparison

Treadmill is the winner, because it burns more calories than stairmaster.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a routine that alternates between intense bursts of activity and brief rest periods. Both exercise machines are great for getting your heart rate up and burning calories, but the treadmill wins out in terms of consistency and safety.

During a HIIT session, you will alternate intense activity with short breaks. Stairmasters are good for short and high-intensity bursts. However, this can be tricky—for example, you have to climb the stairs as fast as possible, and then stop to rest after a while. If you don’t have fast reflexes, this can lead to injury. And doing this consistently poses greater danger, as you may lose focus when breathing heavily.

Conversely, the treadmill is better because you are running on a flat and stable surface. You can run as fast as possible, then slowly reduce the speed as you slow down, giving you a better transition. You can even customize a program, so you don’t have to go through the trouble of pressing the buttons.

Winner HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) Comparison

Both exercise machines are great for getting your heart rate up. But treadmill is the winner, because it is more stable and safer to use. Also, treadmill gives a more consistent workout.

Resistance

Lifting weights usually comes to mind when you think of resistance training. In this case, it will be the body weight you will be lifting.

The stairmaster has a higher resistance than the treadmill. It has a higher incline, so you have to put in more effort to lift yourself up. The stairmaster gives you an intense workout, with a lot of resistance on your legs and lower body. You can feel the burn in just minutes of using this machine.

The treadmill usually gives you more room to move around and has a more natural movement as you walk or run. It has incline levels too, but not as high as the stairmaster.

Winner Resistance Comparison

Stairmaster is the winner, because it has a higher resistance and higher incline than the treadmill.

Body Toning

The stairmaster tones your legs, glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves [1]. So if you want to focus only on your lower body, go for stairmasters.

The treadmill also targets your lower body like stairmasters. But the treadmill involves your back, shoulders, pectorals, and arms at a lower intensity [2]. So for body toning, the treadmill is better.

Winner Body Toning Comparison

Treadmill is the winner, because it gives a full-body workout.

Impact Level

A stairmaster can be a great low-impact way to work out, but it’s not the best option for everyone. This is because the machine places a lot of stress on your joints and can lead to injuries if you’re not careful. You have to climb up a stair repetitively—and the motion can put a lot of pressure on your joints.

If you have some knee issues or other joint problems, treadmills are often a better choice because they provide support. Most treadmills have a shock absorption system or deck cushioning. Plus, you can control the incline and speed to your comfort.

Winner Impact Level Comparison

Treadmill is the winner, because most treadmills have a shock absorption system or deck cushioning which reduces pressure on your joints.

Versatility

The treadmill is more versatile than the stairmaster. You can use it for running, walking, and sprinting. The stairmaster focuses on stair climbing, which makes it less versatile in terms of the type of workouts you can do with it.

The treadmill gives you more control over your workout. You can change the speed and incline at any time, which makes it easier to customize your workout plan.

Winner Versatility Comparison

Treadmill is the winner, because you can change the speed and incline and it has workout programs. Also, you can use it for running, walking, and sprinting.

Space

Stairmasters are more compact and require less space than treadmills. This makes it a good option for people with limited space. You can find many models of treadmills that fold when not in use. But some of them will still take up more space than a stairmaster.

Winner Space Comparison

Stairmaster is the winner, because it is more compact and require less space.

Cost

Stairmasters are generally more expensive than treadmills. The price difference is likely due to the fact that treadmills are more popular and have been around longer than stairmasters. The demand for stairmasters could increase in the future, as people become more health conscious.

Winner Cost Comparison

Treadmill is the winner, because it is more affordable.

Stairmaster vs. Treadmill: The Winner

Upon looking at the several factors I listed above, it is evident that the treadmill wins over the stairmaster.

  • The treadmill burns more calories.
  • The treadmill is more stable and safer to use.
  • The treadmill gives a more consistent and versatile workout.
  • The treadmill provides a full-body workout. 
  • The treadmill provides support to your joints.

Treadmill Recommendations

Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill T7603

FeaturesSunny Health & Fitness Treadmill T7603
DimensionsLength: 62 in (157.48 cm)
Width: 27 in (68.58 cm)
Height: 47 in (119.38 cm)
Step Up Height6.93 in (17.60 cm)
Weight103.6 lbs (47 kg)
Maximum User Weight220 lbs (99.8 kg)
Incline3 Manual Incline Levels
Speed0.5-9 mph
Running Surface16 in x 49 in
Workout programs9 built-in programs
StorageFoldable
Other FeaturesShock Absorption
Soft Drop System
Transportation Wheels
Emergency Stop Brake
Warranty3 Year Structural Frame
180 Days Other Parts And Components
Treadmill Recommendations: Sunny Health & Fitness Motorized Treadmill Electronic Running Machine

If you decide to buy a treadmill, I recommend Sunny Health & Fitness Treadmill T7603

It has three different incline levels, which is excellent if you are a beginner runner. You can practice and get used to running on a lower inclined surface at first. The nine built-in programs also give enough workout variety if you are a beginner.

The speed goes from 0.5 to 9 mph, so you can pick up your pace when you feel like it. There is a quick speed button, where you can change the speed to 2, 4, or 6 mph in just one push of a button.

You can fold this treadmill for easy storage and save space. It uses a soft drop system that helps you gently lower the treadmill if you decide to unfold it. Also, it will help avoid damage to the treadmill if you accidentally let go of your hold while unfolding.

Like most treadmills, Sunny Health & Fitness Motorized Treadmill has a shock absorption deck and an emergency stop clip.

This treadmill has the lowest weight limit on this list. However, if your weight is below 220 pounds, this is still a good treadmill to consider.


Sole F80 Treadmill

FeaturesSole F80 Treadmill
DimensionsLength: 86 in (218.44 cm)
Width: 38 in (96.52 cm)
Height: 17 in (43.18 cm)
Step Up Height8 in (20.32 cm)
Weight278 lbs (130.18 kg)
Maximum User Weight375 lbs (170.1 kg)
Incline0 – 15 Levels
Speed0.5 – 12 mph
Running Surface22 in x 60 in 
Workout programs6 Standard Programs
2 Custom Programs
2 Heart Programs
StorageFoldable
Other FeaturesBluetooth Speaker Compatible
Tablet/Phone Holder
USB Device Charging
Pulse Grips & Chest Strap
Cooling Fans
Sound System
WarrantyLifetime Frame
Lifetime Motor
Lifetime Deck
5 Years Electronics
5 Years Parts
2 Years Labor
Treadmill Recommendations: Sole F80 Treadmill

Sole F80 Treadmill is another option if you want a higher incline and speed than the Sunny Health & Fitness Motorized Treadmill.

It has 15 different incline levels and can go from 0.5 mph to 12 mph. So you can run at an easy pace or kick it up to get some speed and incline in. This is an excellent treadmill for both beginner and experienced runners.

The Sole F80 Treadmill also comes with 10 built-in use programs; 6 standard programs, 2 custom programs, and 2 heart programs.

The deck cushioning reduces joint impact by up to 40%, making it easier for your joints to get in shape. You can also sync this treadmill with your phone through Bluetooth, which lets you track your workouts or listen to music on the sound system.

Plus, it has a heart rate monitoring feature, so you can ensure your workout gives you exactly what you need. You can use the pulse sensor on the handle or the chest strap if you prefer not to hold on to anything while running.


NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

FeaturesNordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill
DimensionsLength: 67.5 in (171.45 cm)
Width: 35.75 in (90.81 cm)
Height: 73 in (185.42 cm)
Step Up Height7.5 in (19.05 cm)
Weight203 lbs (92.08 kg)
Maximum User Weight300 lbs (136.08 kg)
Incline0-10°
Speed0 – 10 mph
Running Surface22 in x 55 in Tread Belt
Workout programs20 workout routines
StorageFoldable
Other FeaturesDual CardioGrip™ Heart Rate Monitor
30-Day iFIT Membership
iPod™ Compatible Sound System
Warranty10-Year Frame Warranty
2-Year Parts Warranty
1-Year Labor Warranty
Best Treadmills For Low Ceilings: NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill

Another option with many workout programs like Horizon T101 is the NordicTrack T 6.5 S Treadmill. This treadmill includes twenty preset programs, studio classes, and trainer-led exercises—allowing you to select the workout that best meets your needs.

This treadmill has a 0.5- to 10-mph speed range and an incline that goes from 0 to 10°. It enables you to run faster and sprint because it allows you to work out in various settings.

The console displays everything from the time elapsed to calories burned to distance traveled—and readouts are large enough that you can see them even if you’re running at full speed.

To accommodate this treadmill in your gym, the estimated minimum height of your ceiling should be around 8 feet and 0.5 inch or 2.45 meters.

Estimated Minimum Ceiling Height = Deck Height + Incline Height + User Height

  • Deck Height = 7.5 inches
  • *Assumed Incline Height = 7 inches
  • *Assumed User Height = 6 feet and 10 inches

*Check height consideration.


Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Strider Treadmill

Smart Treadmill by Sunny Health and Fitness
FeaturesSunny Health & Fitness Smart Strider Treadmill
DimensionsLength: 62.6 in (159 cm)
Width: 29.3 in (74.42 cm)
Height: 47.6 in (120.90 cm)
Step Up Height3 in (7.62 cm)
Weight117.9 lbs (53.48 kg)
Maximum User Weight250 lbs (113.4 kg)
InclineNo
Speed0.6 – 9 mph
Running Surface20 in x 47 in
Workout programs9 built-in programs
StorageFoldable
Other FeaturesSunnyFit App
Device Holder
USB PortS
hock Absorption System
Warranty3 Year Structural Frame
180 Days Other Parts And Components
Treadmill Recommendations: Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Strider Treadmill

Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Strider Treadmill is an excellent option if you don’t want an incline feature and prefer to run at a level surface.

It has almost the same features as the Sunny Health & Fitness Motorized Treadmill Electronic Running Machine. With speeds ranging from 0.6 up to 9 mph, 9 built-in programs, and a shock absorption system. However, the Smart Strider Treadmill has a wider deck and higher weight limit than the Motorized Treadmill.

This is also a great treadmill for low ceilings, as it has a step-up height of approximately 3 inches.


Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill

FeaturesGoplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill
DimensionsLength: 49 in (124.46 cm)
Width: 27 in (68.58 cm)
Height: 42 in (106.68 cm)
Step Up Height5 in (12.7 cm)
Weight69.5 lbs (31.52 kg)
Maximum User Weight265 lbs (120.20 kg)
InclineNo
SpeedWalking: 0-2.5 mph
Running: 0-7.5 mph
Running Surface16 in x 40 in
Workout programsNone
StorageFoldable
Other FeaturesRemote Control
Phone Holder
Safety Key
Power Cord
Instruction
Warranty‎30 days
Treadmill Recommendations: Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill

Another treadmill with no incline feature is Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill. With a step-up height of only 5 inches, it is also a great treadmill for low ceilings like the Sunny Health & Fitness Smart Strider Treadmill.

Goplus is a 2-in-1 treadmill, so you can use it as an under-desk walking treadmill or a treadmill for running. It offers walking and running speeds up to 2.5 mph and 7.5 mph, respectively.

The best part? Goplus 2 in 1 Folding Treadmill is the most affordable option on this list. Though it is cheap, it still has some features that are worth considering if you’re looking for a basic model.

The only drawback I see on this treadmill is its short deck length of 40 inches. So if you are tall, you will probably have some trouble running fast on this treadmill.

Stairmaster Recommendations

Some StairMasters are typically manufactured for commercial gyms. These machines are relatively expensive. They are also very massive for a home gym. Therefore, I recommend the stairmasters below, that are suitable for a home gym.

SOLE CC81 Cardio Climber

Sole Fitness CC81 Total Body Machine
FeaturesSOLE CC81 Cardio Climber
DimensionsLength: 59 in (149.86 cm)
Width: 31 in (78.74 cm)
Height: 86 in (218.44 cm)
Pedal Step Height10 in (25.4 cm)
Stride LengthNot Specified
Weight265 lbs (120.2 kg)
Maximum User Weight400 lbs (181.44 kg)
Resistance LevelsHas a resistance knob but the levels are not specified
Workout Programs6 Standard Programs
2 Custom Programs
2 Heart Programs
Other FeaturesTablet/Phone HolderChest Strap
Sound System
WarrantyLifetime Frame
5 Years Electronics
5 Years Parts
2 Years Labor
Stairmaster Recommendations: SOLE CC81 Cardio Climber

If you prefer the stepper style to revolve stairs, SOLE CC81 Cardio Climber is one of my recommendations. The pedal step height is 10 inches, which is lower than the Jacobs Ladder.

You can adjust the resistance using the resistance knob to ensure it’s comfortable for you. This climber has adjustable handles, which you can adjust to 4 heights using the push pin design. So the machine can accommodate your height, whether you’re short or tall.

To reduce strain on your knees, joints, and ankles, SOLE Cardio Climber uses a pedal with a 2-degree inward slope for your comfort. Also, Sole uses a heavy and thick steel frame built to support high user weight capacity. So among other stairmasters on this list, this model has the highest weight capacity.


Bowflex Max Trainer M8

Stair climber Bowflex M8
FeaturesBowflex Max Trainer M8
DimensionsLength: 47.9 in (122 cm)
Width: 30.8 in (78 cm)
Height: 65.2 in (166 cm)
Pedal Step HeightNot Specified
Stride LengthNot Specified
Weight148 lbs (67 kg)
Maximum User Weight300 lbs (136 kg)
Resistance Levels20 levels
Workout Programs7 programs
Other FeaturesJRNY AppUSB charging port
Bluetooth® heart rate compatible
Heart rate monitor (integrated contact grips)
Warranty3 years frame
3 years parts
90 days labor
Stairmaster Recommendations: Bowflex Max Trainer M8

If you’re looking for a stepper that can help you get in shape, look no further than the Bowflex Max Trainer M8. With 20 levels of resistance, this machine will always give you a challenge as you improve.

It also has seven guided workout programs, so you can follow the routine or just use it to try out new things. This machine has connectivity for up to four individual users, so you can share it with your friends and family.

But wait—there’s more. The Bowflex Max Trainer M8 also has custom workouts on the JRNY app that automatically adjust to your fitness level as you improve.


Sunny & Health Premium Cardio Climber Machine

FeaturesSunny & Health Premium Cardio Climber Machine
DimensionsLength: 44 in (111.76 cm)
Width: 25 in (63.5 cm)
Height: 64 in (162.56 cm)
Pedal Step HeightMin: 11.02 in (28 cm)
Max: 19.64 in (49.89 cm)
Stride Length10 in (25.4 cm)
Weight94.8 lbs (43 kg)
Maximum User Weight260 lbs (117.93 kg)
Resistance Levels8
Workout ProgramsNot Specified
Other FeaturesDevice Holder
Pulse Sensor
Floor Stabilizers
Bottle Holder
Transportation Wheels
Warranty3 Year Structural Frame
180 Days Other Parts And Components
Stairmaster Recommendations: Sunny & Health Premium Cardio Climber Machine

If you’re looking for a stairmaster that will give you a great workout without breaking the bank, I recommend the Sunny & Health Premium Cardio Climber Machine. This is a great option if the first four stairmasters I recommended are too expensive for you. This is the most affordable stairmaster on this list.

The Sunny & Health Premium Cardio Climber Machine uses eight levels of resistance. It has less resistance than the Bowflex Max Trainer M8, but this is good enough considering the price.

The pulse sensors on the handle let you track your heart rate while working out. It helps ensure you’re getting a good workout.

The only downside of this machine is that it’s not as sturdy as some of its competitors. It has the lowest weight limit on this list. However, if your weight is below 260 pounds, then this is still a good stairmaster to consider.

FAQ StairMaster vs Treadmill

Is StairMaster or treadmill better for weight loss?

According to Harvard Health Publishing, running on a treadmill is better for weight los than working out on a stair stepper. A 125-pound person can burn up to 240 calories while running at a 5 mph speed for 30 minutes. Compared to 180 calories working out for the same time on a stair climber. 

Is a stair climber better than a treadmill?

Both machines are great for high-intensity training. For toning your lower body, the stair climber is a great choice. The treadmill wins in terms of calories burned and impact on joints

What to do next?

Stairmasters and treadmills both have their benefits and specifics. I hope this article helps you choose the machine that best fits your needs. If you have any questions or want my advice on this, contact me.

Happy training in your home gym!
Inge van Haselen
Personal Trainer

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Inge van Haselen is a certified Personal Trainer and Health Coach. For over 17 years, she has been coaching hundreds of clients in her gym. Inge published several programs on health and fitness. It is her passion to help you have the best Home Gym for your needs. So you can be in the best shape of your life.

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