Stair climbers are workout machines that mimic the motion you make when you go upstairs, giving you a full-body workout while standing in place. They are an effective cardio workout that can also improve muscle strength in the lower body. Studies have shown that combining cardio and resistance training is one of the most effective ways of losing weight. Stair climbers use your own body weight as resistance, engaging the major muscle groups in your lower body.
This makes them effective for improving strength in your legs, and can also help tone muscles. Stair climbers engage your glutes and calves more than treadmills, which can increase muscle mass.
Furthermore, stair climbers give you the convenience of 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.
1Stair 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.
2Stair 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. By rolling both types of exercise into one, you can also save a significant amount of time.
3Stair 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 (1).
Stair climbers allow you to quickly change pace, making them well suited to interval training. They also combine resistance with cardio, as your own body is used as a weight. This leads to more muscle activation, as well as increased calorie burn.
4Stair climbers let you workout no matter what the weather. One of the biggest reasons people miss their cardio workouts is bad weather. Rain or cold can give you an excuse not to exercise, disrupting your workout routine.
Stair climbers allow you to get a full cardio workout without having to brave the weather. This reduces the number of skipped workouts, which can help speed up weight loss.
5Stair 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.
Since stair climbers burn a significant number of calories, they are one of the most effective cardio machines for weight loss. You’ll be able to shed excess fat stores and slim down, without having to work out for as long as you would on a treadmill.
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 can lower the risk of knee injuries, as your muscles help reduce wear on joints by providing greater stability.
6Stair climbers can improve heart health. Like other forms of cardio, stair climbers are an effective way of protecting your heart. Research has shown that regular cardio exercise can lower the risk for a number of cardiovascular diseases.
Stair climbers elevate your heart rate to similar levels as running, meaning they give you a full cardio workout. Studies have shown that as little as 10 minutes per day on a cardio machine can lower the risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease (2).
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%.
7Stair climbers can lower cholesterol. Stair climbers are an effective cardio workout and can improve circulation. Like other cardio machines, they can also be used to help you 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” type) (3).
A more balanced ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol lowers the risk of congestive heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
8Stair 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.
Stair climbers are one of the most effective cardio workouts for increasing glute strength, size, and tone.
9Stair climbers can workout your core. Stair climbers do more than just workout your legs. They also engage most of the major muscles in your core, giving you a nearly full-body workout.
Make sure that you stand up straight while on a stair climber, as this helps engage muscles in the core. You should also drive your hips forward as you step, as this activates the obliques.
10Stair 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. By adding weight to your workout, you increase bone density and strength (4).
Stair climbers use your body weight as resistance during your workout. This puts a greater strain on your bones, which can improve density and lower the risk of fractures as you age.
11Stair 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.
12Stair climbers are safer and more effective than real stairs. Although climbing real stairs can be satisfying, stair climbers may be a more effective workout. With a stair climber, you are constantly climbing, which burns more calories than walking downstairs.
Furthermore, going downstairs is when most injuries occur, and it also puts much more strain on the joints on your knees. With a stair climber, you can reduce the risk of slips and falls, as well as protect your joints from long term damage.
13Stair 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 (5).
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.
14Stair 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.
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 (6).
15Stair climbers can improve running performance. Although runners should spend most of their training time running, there are benefits to adding a stair climber to your routine. Stair climbers do more to improve leg strength than running, activating most of the major muscle groups in the lower body.
By using a stair climber, you can make your first step more explosive while running. You can also give yourself a break by varying your workout routine after long runs, which can protect your joints.
16Stair 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 (7).
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 (8).
Furthermore, stair climbers boost mood by releasing a stream of endorphins. This makes 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.
17Stair 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 (9).
Exercise tires the body out, which makes it easier to fall asleep. It can also lower anxiety, which can improve sleep quality.
1Stair climbers can cause injury. Stair climbers are always moving, forcing you to pick up your feet quickly. There is a small risk of falling off the machine, and it’s easy to trip if you don’t pay attention as you exercise. Take extra caution if using weights on a stair climber. They increase the risk that you will fall, and can also prevent you from holding onto the bars if you slip. 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.
2Stair climbers can cause strain. If you have recently had a knee injury, you should avoid stair climbers, as they put added strain on the lower body and can wear out joints if not used correctly.
3Stair 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.
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.
Stair climbers can be an effective workout for building leg strength after lower-body injuries. However, they can also be dangerous if not used correctly.
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.
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 much do stair climbers cost? Stair climbers are more expensive than most other cardio machines. Most models will cost over $3,000, with more expensive brands costing well above $6,000.
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.
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.
Stair climbers are an effective substitute for traditional cardio exercises, such as running and cycling. It can improve heart and lung function, as well as lower the risk for a wide range of cardiovascular diseases.
Studies have shown that a combination of resistance training and cardio exercise is best for overall health. Stair climbers give you a full workout in one exercise machine, saving you time.
Furthermore, stair climbers can protect your bones as they age. By using your body weight to add resistance to your workout, they 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 with repeated exercise. 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.
Stair climbers may also be able to 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 safe, although they do come with a few risks. You have to climb as you exercise, so there is a small risk of falling from tripping on the stairs.
You should also exercise with caution if you have a cardiovascular condition, as stair climbers can make your heart rate rise to dangerous levels.