Gym Equipment

6 Clear Benefits Of Stairmaster Cardio Workouts For Fat Loss

benefits of stairmaster

Over the years the stairmaster machine has been growing in popularity, especially among women.  

Even though it was invented back in the early 80’s, the fast rise in popularity is down to an increased desire to develop the glutes.  

You might be thinking ‘How can a StairMaster be used for strength training?’ 


Recommended Reading – 6 Best Anaerobic Conditioning Workouts For Workout Endurance


It is, after all, a cardio machine

However, while its intended purpose was to improve cardiovascular health and assist with weight loss, we’d go so far as to say that stair climbing is the best type of cardio for the glutes.

But besides that, what are the other benefits of the StairMaster?  

Keep reading to find out! 

The Key Benefits Of Stairmaster Workouts

Using a stair stepper is a bit like walking up a never-ending staircase.  

Woman-using-stairmaster-in-gym

It may sound a bit dull, but different models (especially the newer ones) have a variety of features to break the monotony of the continual stepping motion, giving your lower body muscles a fantastic workout.  

So it’s a little bit different to walking up real stairs.  

Let’s look at the key benefits of StairMaster training and how it could help you achieve your fitness goals.  

Using the StairMaster is a great way of keeping your heart healthy and improving your fitness level, and this is because it gets your blood pumping!  

This intense cardio workout increases your heart rate, which strengthens your heart muscle and improves its efficiency by pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout your entire body. 

Most forms of cardiovascular exercise, including stair climbing, also contribute to stronger lungs.  

This is because your body needs more oxygen to help fuel your muscles as you become out of breath.  

In time, this can improve the efficiency of your respiratory system meaning the StairMaster is an effective way of making your lungs stronger and more resilient.  

Increasing the intensity of the workout fires up your cardiovascular system even more and, over time, this leads to better circulation, reduced blood pressure, and a lower risk of developing things like heart disease making it one of the most important health benefits.  

When you compare using the stair climber machine to running on the treadmill or rowing, it’s a much better option if you want to keep stress off of your joints, like your knees and ankles. This is because stair climbing is a low-impact workout.  

Let’s consider running for a second.  

The continual pounding of your feet on the treadmill can result in joint pain, especially if you do it often and are not properly conditioned for it.  

The risk of injury increases even more if you do it on a hard surface, like the sidewalk.  

Because the stepping motion when stair climbing is much more controlled, smoother, and low impact this significantly reduces the stress placed on your knees and ankles.  

This makes using the Stairmaster a great option if you have joint issues or just want to minimize the impact on your joints while still getting an effective workout.

Using the Stairmaster primarily works several major muscle groups including your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.

The repeated action against resistance by pushing through each step not only builds muscle endurance but also contributes to the increased strength of your lower-body muscles while improving muscle tone.  

What’s more, because you’re lifting your body weight with every step, it’s an effective way to build strength to the main muscle groups in a functional and balanced way.  

When you improve your functional strength through physical activity this can help to make daily activities involving lifting, bending, or reaching much easier to do.  

While using the Stairmaster doesn’t target a huge number of muscles in your upper body, you’ll still be engaging your core muscles throughout to help you maintain stability.  

Improving core strength is important for things like good posture and reducing common conditions like lower back pain.  

As we previously mentioned, if you want to know the best form of cardio for building your glutes, then the Stairmaster is it.  

When you walk on a flat surface or a very slight incline, your glutes don’t need to do much work. Instead, it’s your hamstrings that play a more dominant role with each step you take.

Next time you’re out walking, pay attention to how your glutes activate.  

If you’re walking on the flat, place your hand on your glutes.  You should notice very little activation of your glute max muscle.  

But the moment you incorporate an incline into your walking, whether that’s flights of stairs or walking on the Stairmaster, your glutes are called into play to perform hip extension and to help keep your torso in an upright position.  

The steeper the incline, the more you’ll isolate your glute muscles and their connective tissues. 

When stair climbing, your glutes contract to extend your hips and drive your leg back so that you can propel yourself upward.  

This action works all the muscles of your glutes; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus which work together to help stabilize your hips and maintain balance as you climb.  

It’s also worth pointing out that stair climbing is a little different from uphill walking.  

Using the Stairmaster with proper form emphasizes the entire range of motion of your glutes.  

This includes both hip extension and hyperextension at the top of the step.  

This leads to greater muscle activation when compared to just walking on an incline when the range of motion and intensity are usually lower.  

One of the great stairmaster benefits is that with regular workouts you can improve your bone health.  

This is because it’s a weight-bearing exercise where you need to use leg drive to push the stairs downwards as you ascend to the next step.  

This continual stepping motion places stress on the bones in your legs, hips, and lower back which is actually a good thing as it signals to your body that these bones need to be stronger.  

Stair climbing is an intense workout and requires a forceful push from your leg muscles which transfers a significant amount of force to your bones, which further stimulates bone growth and strengthening.

A Stairmaster workout, whether you’re doing it steady state or moving at a faster pace, will increase your heart rate which in turn boosts your metabolic rate, leading to a fantastic  calorie burn and not just during your workout, but for several hours afterward as well.  

What’s more, by adjusting the speed and intensity, you can customize your workout to suit your fitness level while still ensuring a challenging session.  

A moderate Stairmaster session can burn quite a number of calories ranging from 200 to 300 calories in just 30 minutes, depending on your weight and intensity. 

The combination of cardiovascular and strength training accelerates fat loss, making the StairMaster a great exercise machine if your overriding goal is to get rid of some unwanted body fat.  

A regular Stairmaster workout can create a caloric deficit, which is key for burning fat, all while strengthening and toning your lower body.

We found a study that shows how you perform stair climbing can determine how many calories you burn.  

Interestingly, if you take two steps at a time this leads to greater energy expenditure but actually burns fewer calories when compared to taking just one step.  

Different StairMaster Workouts To Keep Things Varied

While the benefits of aerobic exercise are undisputed, many people just don’t like doing it, with the main reason being that it’s boring.  

Using a treadmill, rower, or stationary bike for, what feels like, hours can be a drag and this includes stair climber workouts.  

Let’s look at some ways in which you can mix up your stair climbing cardio workout to make it a little more interesting.

stepper stairmaster cardio workout

Try alternating between periods of high intensity climbing and lower intensity recovery periods.

For example, climb at a fast pace for around 1-2 minutes, then switch to a slow speed for 3 or 4 minutes so that your heart rate slows and you catch your breath before repeating.  

Instead of climbing forward, turn around and walk backward.  

Doing this will put more activation on your quads which is great if you to target different muscle groups.  

It’s a good idea to focus on engaging your core when doing this and it may take a little practice to do it right. 

To target your outer thighs, hip abductors, and glutes on the Stairmaster try performing side steps.

Simply turn to face one side with your feet on different steps, take your lower foot, and cross it over your top foot up to the next stair.  

Complete a set time on one side and be sure to do the same when you switch sides to work each side equally.   

Cross-stepping on the Stairmaster is a great way of working your adductors (these are your inner thigh muscles), your side glutes, and hip flexors.  

Step across your body as you climb, crossing one leg over the other to engage these different muscle groups.

Two-stepping on the stair climber involves taking two steps at a time instead of just one.

This technique can be a more advanced way to increase the intensity of your workout and increase the engagement of your glutes.  

By varying your Stairmaster workouts you can recruit different muscles, still get an effective cardio workout and, prevent boredom from setting in.  

Before You Go…

If you’ve never used a StairMaster before it can be a little daunting, which is understandable.  

It’s a big machine that requires a bit of practice before you get used to it.  

But it’s one of those cardio machines that’s worth incorporating into your exercise routine due to the number of benefits it can offer.  

If you’re a regular on the treadmill and would like to know how it compares to the StairMaster, why not head on over to our article; StairMaster vs Treadmill to discover more about how they are different and if one is better for cardio than the other. 

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