Which Burns More Calories: Elliptical Trainer vs. Stairmaster?

Which Burns More Calories: Elliptical Trainer vs. Stairmaster?

When you compare the amount of calories elliptical training burns to the number of calories burned on a StairMaster, which piece of equipment wins? What are the similarities and differences between the two types of exercise equipment? Also, which one is safer and why?

How are They Similar?

Both pieces of electronic equipment utilize a walking motion to exercise the user. Ellipticals and StairMasters also both usually provide a monitor to let you know how many calories you are burning and what your heart rate is while you are exercising. Both pieces of equipment can help you lose weight and get healthier by making you aware of your progress.

How are They Different?

At first glance, an elliptical and a StairMasters look pretty much the same. However, an elliptical is actually a cross between a treadmill and a StairMaster. The elliptical provides a wider than normal walking stride while the StairMaster walks the user up an endless (or at least as long as you can stay on it) flight of stairs. If you have joint problems, particularly in your knees, the elliptical machine may be a better option. It provides a lower impact workout, and is therefore easier on the joints than a StairMaster.

Which Burns More Calories?

A person who weighs 150 pounds and is doing a 30 minute workout on an elliptical machine will burn 300 calories. The same person doing 30 minutes on a StairMaster will burn only 200 calories. Of course the piece of equipment that burns more calories for you may be the one that you will consistently use. So try them both and go with the one that you feel you can and will keep using.

Do They Provide the Same Results?

Since an elliptical works out your upper and lower body at the same time, it will help you lose weight faster. Ellipticals will also tone your legs, which will give you more of a sleek look instead of a muscular one.  A StairMaster will help you  build more muscle in your legs because it focuses on your lower body.

Which Should you Choose?

If you are going for quicker weight loss and/or toning up your legs your best choice is the elliptical trainer. Also, if you have joint problems you should definitely opt for the elliptical trainer to protect your knees and lower back. If you need to build muscle you should go with the StairMaster. Just remember that the muscles a StairMaster will build include not only your legs but also your buttocks. Many women have sweated buckets on StairMasters only to discover that they have been building up their backsides instead of whittling them down.

Ultimately, choosing a piece of exercise equipment to work out on comes down to your personal health conditions, goals and preferences. You may want to consider switching out which one you work out on periodically. That way you can build muscle on the StairMaster and lose weight on the elliptical. Either way, good luck burning those calories on that elliptical or StairMaster.

  • Steve Converse

    Not sure where you got your info on climbing vs elliptical but the vertical componant of stairclimbing involves greater muscle activation in the large muscle groups of the lower body which means more work and more calories burned. The caloric estimates on elliptical machine give very padded feedback. As far as impact on a stairclimber… there is little to none. Don’t confuse localized muscle fatigue with joint pain.
    The elliptical may be a good starting point for the deconditioned client, but they will need to “step up” their to see serious gains in cardiovascular conditioning and lower body strength.