Stair climbers are workout machines that mimic the motion you make when climbing stairs, giving you an effective cardio workout that also improves lower body strength. Studies have shown that combining cardio and resistance training is one of the most effective ways of losing weight.
Best Stair Climbers
1. Sunny Health and Fitness SF 1115 Stair Climber
The Sunny HealthySF 1115 Stair Stepper is our #1 pick and is designed to save space in your house. The built-in LCD monitor will clearly display various important metrics, including the length of your workout, calories burned, steps, and your heart rate.
It’s also powered by heavy-duty dual hydraulic piston cylinders making it easy to adjust your incline settings and tailor your workout. This stair climber supports up to 220 pounds of weight and has non-slip stairs to prevent injuries.
2. Sports Royals Vertical Stair Climber
The Sports Royals frame is made from frosted steel that protects against corrosion. It can safely hold up to 300 pounds, and is engineered with steep springs to reduce the impact on your joints.
With adjustable arms, this machine allows people of all heights to be comfortable. It’s also got a built-in LCD monitor that will track your workout metrics including your speed, distance, time, and how many calories you’ve burned. The pedals are very large and have non-slip materials to help prevent accidental injuries.
3. Maxi Patented Vertical Stair Climber
The Maxi Patented Vertical Climber comes with a fitness app to effortlessly sync all your data. Their patented design provides a low impact way to work out, with extra cushioning for your joints – making it great for older adults.
This system folds up to save 90% of the space on the floor while coming mostly pre-assembled, allowing for set-up in just a few minutes. The Maxi Patented Vertical Climber can support up to 240 pounds of weight and is engineered to fit any height.
4. Doufit ST-01 Stair Stepper
The Doufit ST-01 stepper has a built-in smart system that will track your calories, step frequency, workout time, and the number of steps you take during your workout. The ergonomic design offers a slight forward tilt providing a more comfortable position that decreases the impact on your limbs.
It’s also very stable, supporting up to 240lbs and comes with slip-resistant handles and textured slip-resistant pedals to prevent falls and injuries. Equipped with a hydraulic resistance system and removable resistance bands, this stepper adds safe resistance to your muscles without straining the joints.
5. Ancheer Vertical Stair Climber
The Ancheer Vertical Climber is very versatile and doubles as an exercise bike. It’s designed for a very low impact, making it perfect for people with joint issues. It is also very easy to assemble since it comes mostly pre-built, and folds away easily for storage.
The built-in monitor will track your speed, time, distance, and burned calories, to easily hit your workout goals.
6. Beouzo Stair Stepper
The Beouzo stair stepper is extremely compact and can be easily stored on a shelf. Despite its flexibility, it can support up to 300 pounds of weight, making it one of the sturdiest machines on the market. The handles are made of a custom foam material that can protect your joints from excessive strain.
With a hydraulic cylinder system, this machine offers strong resistance while remaining stable and safe to use.
7. Anfan Vertical Stair Climber And Bike
The Anfan vertical climber has a 2 in 1 design that works both as a climber and exercise bike. It’s made from lightweight durable materials that can hold up to 220 pounds of weight and withstand marathon-like workout sessions.
The LCD screen will track your workout metrics including the calories you burn, exercise time, speed and how well you are progressing.
8. Stamina 40-0069
The Stamina Space Mate Stepper has adjustable resistance through hydraulic cylinders that offer smooth motion, protecting your joints. With foam handlebars and non-slip pedals, this machine is engineered for maximum safety and comfort. The built-in monitor tracks how many steps you take each minute, your total workout steps, the calories you burn, and the number of steps you take.
It can handle up to 250 pounds of weight, making it safe for most individuals.
9. Shzond Vertical Stair Climber
The Schzond vertical climber can support up 330 pounds, making it the strongest stair climber on our list. With an adjustable height system, it can fit every body type.
This machine provides a very quiet workout, and folds easily so it can be stored when not in use.
10. Relife Rebuild Your Life Vertical Climber
The Relife vertical stair climber can support up to 260 pounds and comes with a lifetime warranty. It offers 5 adjustable levels to tailor your workout to your current fitness level.
How We Rank
Hydraulic cylinders were very important to us because they helped protect the joints from damage. Furthermore, hydraulic resistance allowed for more customizable resistance levels that tailor to your individual fitness levels. As such, products like Duofitand Beouzo ranked highly for being built from the ground up with hydraulic resistance.
Products like the Sportsroyals, that included non-slip technology ranked high, for helping to avoid injuries. Other products, like Stamina that included padded foam handles and adjustable height options, were also rewarded. Any product that supported less than 200lbs was axed from our list, since many men are over 200lbs. We rewarded products, like Shzond, with steel construction that could support over 300lbs.
Stair climbers tend to be bulky and take up a lot of space, which isn’t ideal, especially since they are not always in use. Products, like the Sunny Health stair climber, which made the top of the list, not only check all the boxes above but were also foldable and could be stored easily when not in use.
1. Stair climbers help tone and strengthen muscles in the legs. Stair climbers engage most of the major muscle groups in the lower body, improving strength and tone. They primarily work your quads, glutes, and calves, using your body weight as resistance.
Since stair climbers operate at a constant incline, they do more than treadmills or ellipticals to activate the glutes and calves. This leads to quicker gains in size, tone, and strength.
2. Stair climbers increase calorie burn by combining cardio and weight-bearing exercises. Stair climbers use your own body weight to engage muscles, increasing calorie burn and strength gains. They also raise your heart rate as much as running and cycling, making them an effective form of cardio exercise. Studies have shown that a combination of cardio and resistance training is more effective than either type of exercise alone (1).
By rolling both types of exercise into one, you can also save a significant amount of time.
3. Stair climbers are perfect for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Research has shown that high-intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways of losing weight and burning fat. With HIIT, you alternate short periods of intense activity with periods of moderately paced exercise (2).
Stair climbers allow you to quickly change pace, making them well suited to interval training. They also combine resistance with cardio, leading to more muscle activation and increased calorie burn.
4. Stair climbers let you workout no matter what the weather. One of the biggest reasons people miss their cardio workouts is bad weather. Stair climbers allow you to get a full cardio workout indoors, reducing the number of skipped workouts and improving adherence – which can help speed up weight loss.
5. Stair climbers can help you lose weight. Stair climbers activate most of the major muscle groups in the legs, using your body weight to create resistance. Since you have to lift your body weight and resist gravity with every step, you’ll burn more calories over a given period of time compared to running and cycling. Stair climbers are one of the most effective cardio machines for weight loss, allowing you to shed excess fat and slim down, without having to work out for as long as you would on a treadmill.
6. Stair climbers can lower the risk of knee injuries. Stair climbers engage more muscles in your lower body than other cardio machines. Although this can leave you sore the day after your workout, it leads to fast improvements in strength.
Stronger leg muscles help lower the risk of knee injuries, by providing more stability and reducing the wear and tear on your joints.
7. Stair climbers can improve heart health. Like other forms of cardio, stair climbers are an effective way of protecting your heart. It’s well known that regular cardio exercise can lower the risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes per day on a cardio machine can lower the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease (3).
Furthermore, stair climbers can improve circulation, helping strengthen your heart so that more blood reaches muscles. Other studies have shown that 12 minutes per day of climbing stairs reduced mortality rates from heart disease in women by over 30%.
8. Stair climbers can lower cholesterol. Stair climbers are an effective cardio workout that improve circulation. Like other cardio machines, they can also be used to help balance cholesterol levels. Research has shown that regular cardio exercise lowers levels of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol”) and elevates levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol). A more balanced ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of congestive heart disease and other cardiovascular problems (4).
9. Stair climbers exercise your gluteus muscles. Although running may help tone the glutes, it will do little to increase muscle mass. Stair climbers use your body weight to add more resistance to your workout, which engages the glutes more than running. This makes them one of the most effective cardio workouts for increasing glute strength, size, and tone.
10. Stair climbers can workout your core. Stair climbers engage most of the major muscles in your core, giving you a full-body workout. You should also drive your hips forward as you step, as this activates the obliques.
11. Stair climbers can increase bone density and strength. As you age, your bones begin to hollow out and weaken. One of the best ways to prevent this is regular resistance training as studies show that adding weight to your workout can increase bone density and strength (5).
Stair climbers use your body weight as resistance during your workout putting extra strain on your bones, which helps to improve their density and lower the risk of fractures as you age.
12. Stair climbers can protect your joints. Stair climbers are designed with soft treads that protect your joints as you exercise. They also involve much less pounding than treadmills, which can help protect your knees from wear over time.
13. Stair climbers are safer and more effective than real stairs. Although climbing real stairs is more natural, stair climbers are both more effective and safer. With a stair climber, you are forced to constantly climb – which helps burns more calories. Furthermore, most machines come with added grip to prevent slips and falls.
14. Stair climbers can create a runner’s high without running. A runner’s high is a rush of endorphins released by your brain as you exercise. These endorphins make you feel happy, focused, and motivated, and give you the kick of energy you need to get through the last stretch of your workout (6).
Although you won’t be running on a stair climber, you can still get a runner’s high. Stair climbers will release most of the same endorphins you’d get from running, giving you a rush of happiness and motivation towards the end of your workout.
15. Stair climbers help save time. Cardio exercise is one of the best ways to lower mortality risk and protect your heart. However, cardio workouts can take up a large amount of time, making it difficult to get the required amount of exercise every day.
Stair climbers burn more calories than most other forms of cardio exercise, as they use your body weight for added resistance. This activates more muscles and helps your body burn more fat quicker. One study found that climbing stairs for just a few minutes every day lowered mortality risk from heart disease by around 20%. To get the same benefits from walking, you would have to walk for around 2 miles, which can take up to 40 minutes (7).
16. Stair climbers can improve running performance. Although runners should spend most of their training time running, there are benefits to adding a stair climbers to your routine. Stair climbers do more to improve leg strength than running, activating most of the major muscle groups in the lower body. You can also give yourself a break by varying your workout routine after long runs, which can protect your joints.
17. Stair climbers can lower the risk of depression. Cardio exercise has been shown to lower the risk of depression and a number of other mental illnesses. Stair climbers are also effective for improving mental health, helping prevent depression and anxiety (8).
Regular cardio exercise on a stair climber can stimulate nerve cell growth in the brain, which may be able to prevent depression, as well as treat it (9).
Furthermore, stair climbers boost mood by releasing a stream of endorphins, making you feel happier throughout the day after your workout. Cardio exercise can also increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is crucial for mood and motivation.
18. Stair climbers can improve sleep quality. Studies have shown that regular exercise can improve sleep quality. Stair climbers are just as effective as other forms of exercise for improving sleep, helping ensure you get a full night’s rest (10).
It can also lower anxiety, which can improve sleep quality.
1. Stair climbers can cause injury. Stair climbers are always moving, forcing you to pick up your feet quickly. This makes falling more common than a treadmill since it’s easy to trip if you don’t pay attention. You should not handle weights on a stair climber as they increase the risk that you will fall, and can also prevent you from holding onto the bars if you slip.
2. Stair climbers can cause muscle strains. If you’ve recently had a knee injury, you should avoid stair climbers as they put added strain on the lower body and can wear out joints. People with muscle strains should use the machine with caution, as it can worsen the condition.
3. Stair climbers may not be appropriate for those with certain health conditions. If you have a cardiovascular condition, speak to your doctor before using a stair climber. They can be more exhausting than other cardio workouts, as they force you to lift your body weight. This can lead to rapid increases in heart rate, which can be dangerous if you’re at risk for a cardiac event. Most stair climbers come with heart rate monitors, and some allow you to program your desired heart rate. If you have a heart problem, you should set a maximum heart rate on the machine. Once you reach it, the machine will stop and allow you to rest.
Stair climbers can be used daily if you are under the supervision of a trained professional. Otherwise, they should be used a few times a week while adhering to the following guidelines.
Avoid leaning on the bars as you exercise. This can strain your back, and your legs won’t get as good of a workout.
Keep your back straight as you climb, as this will prevent strain on your spine and help engage the muscles in your core. Drive your hips forward as you climb to engage core muscles further.
There are a number of workouts that you can do while on a stair climber, such as side steps, cross steps, and squats. Take caution while doing any workout on a stair climber, and start at a slow pace to practice the movements.
Many stair climbers have preset programs designed for different types of fitness goals. You can also track your progress as you improve over time and increase the difficulty of workouts so that they continue to challenge you.
Stair climbers are an effective substitute for other cardio exercises, such as running and cycling. Just make sure you get your heart rate up high enough. A good target is around 60% of your max heart rate for moderately paced cardio exercise.
Experts recommend around 3 hours of moderately paced cardio exercise per week for weight loss. You can shorten this time a bit if you work out at an intense pace. If you don’t have time to get 3 hours of exercise per week, studies show that as little as 10 minutes per day is still effective for improving heart health.
Are stair climbers safe? Yes, although you should always exercise with caution. Stair climbers are as safe as treadmills and have few safety risks if used properly.
Exercise at a comfortable pace, especially when first getting used to the machine. Also make sure to lift up your feet, as it’s easy to trip on the stairs, especially when you start to get tired.
Can stair climbers be used for a cardio workout? Yes, although you should make sure that you get your heart rate up as you work out. If you don’t get your heart rate up to around 60% of your maximum, then you won’t get the same heart benefits as you would with other cardio workouts, such as running.
Are stair climbers bad for your knees? In most cases, no. Most stair climbers have soft surfaces that help absorb impacts as you climb, which can help prevent wear to your knees.
Stair climbers are also gentler on your knees than climbing real stairs. With a stair climber, you don’t have to go downstairs, which can be hard on your knees and cause wear to joints.
However, stair climbers do put more strain on the knees than many other cardio machines such as ellipticals and stationary bikes. If you have a knee problem, start slow on the stair climber to see how your body responds, and then slowly increase the pace.
Do stair climbers build muscle? If you are following a sound nutrition plan, stair climbers can indeed help to build muscle – especially in the lower half of the body. If you are following a diet, you will most likely tone your muscles instead of building muscle.
How long should you work out on a stair climber? Stair climbers burn calories at roughly the same rate as other cardio machines. That means you should try to exercise just as long as you would during other cardio workouts.
If you cannot make it the full length of your normal cardio workout while on a stair climber, you may need to slow down the pace.
Will stair climbers strengthen legs more than running? Yes. Stair climbers are at a constant incline, which forces you to lift your body weight as you exercise. This leads to greater activation of the major muscle groups of the lower body.
How many calories can you burn in 1 hour on a stair climber? Using a stair climber for an hour will allow you to burn off about 500 calories on average and will help tone your glutes, cores, arms, and legs while also improving your heart health.
How much do stair climbers cost? Stair climbers are more expensive than most other cardio machines. Most models will cost a few thousand dollars, even more if they are high end.
Are stair climbers as effective as climbing real stairs? For the most part, yes. Stair climbers will burn an equivalent amount of calories to real stairs. Since you’re always going up, you may be able to burn even more calories during your workout.
However, stair climbers don’t activate quite as many muscle groups as regular stairs, since you won’t ever be climbing down. This can put more strain on your quads, glutes, and calves.
Do stair climbers hurt your back? No, although they can if you do not exercise with good form. Try not to hunch over as you climb the stairs, and don’t lean on the bars. This can put extra strain on your back and misalign your spine.
If you already have lower back pain, start slow on stair climbers, as pushing yourself too hard could lead to injury.
Should you use weights on a stair climber? It’s not recommended. Stair climbers use your body weight to provide resistance as you exercise. Although added weights can make your workout more intense, they come with an added safety risk. If you use weights, you won’t be able to hold on to the bars, increasing the risk that you slip and fall. If you choose to use weights, exercise at a moderate pace where you feel comfortable not using the bars for support.
Are stair climbers safe for pregnant women? Stair climbers are generally safe for pregnant women. However, they do have a slight risk of falling and are more dangerous than stationary bikes and ellipticals.
What is the best aspect of owning a stair climber? The greatest asset of owning a stair climber is the convince to perfrom a cardio workout without having to go outside. Bad weather won’t stop you from working out, which makes it easier to stick to your exercise routine. Stair climbers do come with a few downsides. As you work out at a constant incline, there is a small risk that you slip and fall off the machine.
Will stair climbers make my legs bigger? Stair masters should not increase the size of your legs, because the method of action doesn’t use excess weight that would cause muscle building. Stair climbers will most likely help with fat loss and muscle toning, if your diet is in check. Stair climbers will also help improve your overall cardio health as well.
Do stair climbers improve muscle tone? Stair climbers have a moving tread that simulates the motion of going upstairs, giving you a full cardio and leg workout. By using your own body weight, stair climbers work out most of the major muscle groups in your legs, increasing strength and improving muscle tone.
How do stair masters save you time? Stair climbers give you a full workout in one exercise machine, saving you time.
Are stair climbers safer than real stairs? They are safer than climbing real stairs, as there is a lower risk of falling, and you won’t have to go down the stairs, which is when most accidents occur.
Can stair climbers improve mental health? Research has shown that regular cardio exercise lowers the risk for depression, and can also boost mood and increase happiness.
Stair climbers are an effective substitute for traditional cardio exercises such as running and cycling. They can improve heart and lung function, as well as lower the risk for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases. By using your body weight to add resistance to your workout, stair climbers can increase bone density, which lowers the risk of fractures.
They also put less strain on your knees than running, which can prevent your joints from wearing out faster. Since stair climbers can increase your heart rate, people who suffer from any sort of cardiovascular disease should exercise with caution.
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