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Steppin' Out: Pros and Cons of the Stair Climber

Steppin' Out: Pros and Cons of the Stair Climber

With daylight saving time, those who used to fit their workouts in after work will be left in the dark. So working out in a gym is a great option. There are so many cardio machines to choose from, ranging from the ever-popular treadmill, to the lower-impact elliptical, to the stationary bike. The stair climber is another option that I don't see too many people using. Check out the chart below to see what's good and not so good about this machine.

Pros Cons
  • There are two types of stair climbers: one with pedals (often called a stepper) and one that has a rolling set of stairs (called a stepmill), so alternating between the two different types can keep boredom at bay.
  • If you don't belong to a gym, buying a new stair climber is will cost between $1,500 and $3,000 for a good one.

To see the rest of the pros and cons,


Pros Cons
  • If your thighs or booty are your problem areas, this machine will tone and strengthen them beautifully. It works just about every muscle in your legs, so you'll feel the burn within minutes of hopping on.
  • This machine will get your heart rate up within a matter of seconds, so it's an awesome cardiovascular workout.
  • It simulates climbing a never-ending flight of stairs, but is easier than using an actual flight of stairs because you only have to climb up, and never have to climb down, which is hard on people's knees.
  • The readout keeps track of your workout data including time, number of stories that you climbed, and calories burned, so you can monitor your progress.
  • You can watch TV while on the stair climber, which prevents boredom.
  • Since you're indoors, you don't have to worry about the weather or time of day, so you can always get in a good workout.
  • If you're training for a road race that has hills, using the stepmill can be a great addition to your training routine.
  • This machine is all about your legs, and since it can be difficult to balance, people tend to hold on to the handles. That means you're missing out on an upper body workout, which translates to fewer calories burned. Using the handles also causes people to lean their torsos forward, which results in poor posture and sore wrists.
  • Stair climbers require power, so they're not exactly the greenest type of exercise. You could climb stairs in a tall building instead.
  • The repetitive stepping motion may be too hard on someone with weak or injured knees.
  • The monotony of this machine can be so boring that you exercise for less time.
  • The readout on the machine may not be accurate.

If you're a fan of either machine, speak up! Tell me why you like steppin' out.

cdelaney cdelaney 7 years
i think that machines like these do a disservice and provide inaccurate data regarding calorie burn. real results don't come from spot training in a gym--it comes from actual exercise that engages and overhauls the whole body. i run, do yoga/pilates, and train with kettlebells. i haven't belonged to a gym for over 6 years and i am in better shape than all my gym rat friends.
ckeller825 ckeller825 7 years
I'm really excited to try the stair mill at my gym now!
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
Real stairs are better, but this is one of my favorite machines.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I wish my gym had a stepper or a stepmill. I love doing stairs! I work in a 6-story hospital, so sometimes if I want to do a stair workout, I'll run up and down the stairwell during my lunch break and really get my heart rate up.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
I've tried both a couple times but have never lasted long on it, with the exception of one time when I actually went 1hr on the stepper. It's not the easiest thing on my knees :\ But my fiance loves using it.
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I cheat and take the stairs to the reception at the gym. It's three flights up, and two flights down to the cardio room so I've burned a few extra calories that way and don't have to negotiate the impossible stairmaster at the gym! (Noone knows how to use the thing!)
Mila_83 Mila_83 7 years
I just discovered stepmill recently. Before I did not realize what a great workout stepmill machine can offer.Very important to challenge yourself with higher intensity level and keep proper posture.According to my heart rate monitor,yesterday morning I burned 550 ccal in 60 min.
LouLou12 LouLou12 7 years
Also, on mine you can put it on a fat burner or calorie burner program so I always do one of those
LouLou12 LouLou12 7 years
Ckeller I have the same wariness about bulking up using the stairclimber, but my gym has one of the stepmills and I've been trying to use it for 15 mins every other day after my normal workout to get a little more of a sweat in. And you do sweat A LOT, so far I haven't noticed any bulk, but I haven't been doing it long so I guess we'll see...
TammyO TammyO 7 years
I'm forever using both of these in turns at the gym. Ckeller, just about ANY type of cardio helps lose body fat overall, the more intense the better. And nothing makes you sweat like the stair climbers. I wouldn't avoid any exercise cause of the myth of bulking up, any added muscle will help wittle down the fat since it speeds up metabolism. You'll end up more sculpted and toned not bulky.
ckeller825 ckeller825 7 years
Is it true that stair climbing "bulks" already thick thighs/behind? I'm usually into running/walking intervals on the treadmill, or I'll go on the elliptical for 30 minutes, and my ultimate goal is to reduce my overall body fat. Would the stair climber help?
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