Which Burns More Calories: Treadmill vs. Stairmaster?

You can’t deny that you can burn a lot of calories on a treadmill. But what about a Starimaster? Whether you are headed to the gym for training or looking to invest in equipment, you probably wonder this: does the Stairmaster or treadmill burn more calories in a given amount of time? In order to answer this, you need to look at both pieces of equipment and weigh the potential each workout has to offer. 

Stairmaster Overview

This stepper machine comes in two models: the step climber and the stair mill. The step climber consists of two footplates that shift with your body weight by pulling internal chains. The step mill is a revolving staircase that simulates the actions of climbing a set of stairs.

If you have ever run bleachers in high school gym class, then you know how brutal a Stairmaster can become.  Stairmasters are great for building your quads, hamstrings and glutes. The also greatly improve your cardiovascular endurance as well as your balance.

Treadmill Overview

A treadmill provides a revolving surface on which you can walk, jog or run. While training, you can increase the speed, ramp, and incline to enhance the intensity of your workout. Depending upon the model you use, a treadmill offers a variety of speeds and inclines to simulate outdoor exercise.

The Calorie Breakdown

The benefit of your training is really determined by the intensity at which you train. When training on a treadmill, most exercise enthusiasts train at a steady state. This means they continually train at the same pace with the same heart rate for the duration of the workout. Thus, if you run 6mph for 1 hour, then you will burn 350 calories.

On the other hand, when training with a Stairmaster, you are more apt to train at a higher intensity for a shorter duration. You can easily burn between 250 and 400 calories in 30 minutes. The upward motion also builds strength in your legs and glutes.


If you have trouble balancing or have issues with your knees, then the treadmill is a better option. The best way to gauge your ability to use the Stairmaster is by how well you climb stairs. Though the Stairmaster is user-friendly for beginners, it may greatly increase the pain in hip flexors due to joint injury or sensitivity.

The Bottom Line

If you want to get the most from your training in a short time, alternate between the Stairmaster and the treadmill for your workouts. The step mill is a greater workout than the climber because you actually lift your feet from the platform in an ascending motion. The treadmill offers you the ability to improve your cardio at a steady rate.

Both the Stairmaster and treadmill offer the option of interval training. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the best ways to torch calories and build lean muscle. When you set up your training, choose an interval course offered on the cardio equipment. If your equipment does not offer different options, then manually change the intensity of your workout by increasing/decreasing your speed, ramp and incline.


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