It’s clear that exercising can offer many health benefits. There are however a lot of options, how do the elliptical machine and stairmaster compare?
The health benefits of a good workout range from weight loss to longevity and a lot in between. Using the elliptical machine and stairmaster are cardio workouts that can offer you these benefits.
In general, using the elliptical machine is better if burning a lot of calories in a shorter amount of time and building some muscle mass over your entire body are your priorities.
On the other hand, if your main goal is to build leg muscles a good stairmaster is likely better. If you can only find small blocks of free time throughout the day you can climb the actual stairs in your house in these time blocks.
In the end, you want to weigh the factors in this article against each other for your personal situation and think whether you can see yourself stick better to elliptical machine or stairmaster workouts.
The elliptical machine vs stairmaster summary
|Calories Burned*||330+ calories||220+ calories|
|Building Muscle||Mostly Legs, Upper Body a Bit||Legs|
|Busy Schedule Friendly||Alright||Alright/Great|
|Budget Required||Medium||Medium/High Unless You |
Use Actual Stairs
|Complexity To Do||Easy||Easy|
The elliptical machine vs stairmaster for calorie burning
The main difference most people care about when comparing the elliptical machine vs the stairmaster is how many calories each exercise burns.
The first thing you have to know is that it is hard to make accurate predictions when it comes to calorie burning during workouts. These numbers vary a lot from person to person. Things like age, weight, activity levels, key hormone levels, and a lot more influence the actual amounts.
Another factor that makes these calorie-burning estimations less precise is that doing a workout at high intensity can also cause something called “afterburn”. This is basically having an increased metabolism for a while after you stop doing the exercise.
On top of that extra muscle mass will also benefit long-term calorie burning. If you gain more muscle mass with one exercise this can be a big benefit depending on your goals.
If you compare using the elliptical machine vs the stairmaster the estimations would say that using the elliptical machine is a lot better when it comes to maximum calorie burning in the least amount of time.
Calories burned with the elliptical machine
For the elliptical machine there are less precise estimations available for different speeds or resistances. Because of that the below table is for different time intervals instead of different resistances like calorie-burning estimations for other workouts.
If you want to learn how to burn more calories while using the elliptical machine make sure you read the article on how many calories the elliptical burns.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||9 calories||133 calories||266 calories||399 calories||532 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||11 calories||165 calories||330 calories||494 calories||659 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||13 calories||197 calories||393 calories||590 calories||787 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||15 calories||229 calories||457 calories||686 calories||914 calories|
Calories burned with the stairmaster
The same goes for the stairmaster, there are less precise estimations available for different speeds or resistances.
Because of that, the below table is for different time intervals instead of different resistances like calorie-burning estimations for other workouts.
If you want to learn how to burn more calories while using the stairmaster make sure you read the article on how many calories the stairmaster burns.
|1 Minute||15 Minutes||30 Minutes||45 Minutes||60 Minutes|
|125 Pounds (56 kg)||6 calories||89 calories||177 calories||266 calories||354 calories|
|155 Pounds (70 kg)||7 calories||110 calories||220 calories||330 calories||439 calories|
|185 Pounds (83 kg)||9 calories||131 calories||262 calories||393 calories||524 calories|
|215 Pounds (97 kg)||10 calories||152 calories||305 calories||457 calories||610 calories|
The elliptical machine or stairmaster for fat loss
Some people get the impression that to burn fat you have to stay at a certain heart rate, eat certain foods, or do specific workouts.
Unfortunately, targetting fat loss in a specific area like your belly is generally not possible. To burn fat, or more specifically belly fat, you have to lose weight overall.
Since the elliptical machine has more calorie-burning potential it would also be better for fat loss than the stairmaster.
The elliptical machine vs stairmaster for building muscle
While using the elliptical machine and stairmaster are both cardio exercises, which means that they mainly focus on your cardiovascular system, they also help you build some muscle in other areas.
The health benefits of working out are great but building some muscle in the right places is also a nice bonus. On top of that the extra muscle mass will also help you burn extra calories after your workout is over.
The elliptical machine is mostly focused on your leg muscles. You do get some upper body muscle building training but generally not that much.
One additional benefit of the elliptical machine is that you can get a resistance-like workout by increasing the resistance setting. This is beneficial for building muscle.
On the other hand, the stairmaster is also more focused on leg muscles.
Whether you want to choose the elliptical machine vs the stairmaster for building muscle depends a bit on your muscle-building goals. If you want to tone your upper body the elliptical machine is likely the better choice, if you only want to focus on your legs the stairmaster is likely the best option for you.
Using the elliptical machine, especially at high resistances, is a better workout than the stairmaster if you want to build a lot of muscle mass.
In any case, if you are serious about building muscle it’s better to turn to weight lifting exercises like for example squats.
Comparison of injury risk
Another important thing you need to look at in the elliptical machine vs stairmaster comparison is the injury risk with each of these workouts. An injury can reduce the amount of time you can exercise to 0 in the worst case.
Consistency is an important factor when improving your health. Doing one big workout is often not as effective as three medium ones.
That means that a workout with a smaller injury risk may burn fewer calories today but more in the long term by avoiding periods of injury in which you do no exercise at all.
The most important muscle you have to consider first is your heart. If you have not exercised in a while, and carry around extra pounds, exercising at high intensity right from the start may be dangerous. Even using the elliptical machine may be too intense in that case which would make the stairmaster, or even something softer like walking, the safer way to start.
Besides that both the elliptical machine and stairmaster are workouts with a generally low injury risk.
Ease of implementation in your routine
As mentioned before, the workout that doesn’t get done doesn’t offer any benefits. How easy an exercise is to implement into your daily or weekly routine is very important.
To use an elliptical machine, you obviously need an actual elliptical machine, either at home or the gym. For most people that means driving at least 20 minutes to their local gym. Once there you have to change your clothes and you can start your workout.
The same goes if you want to use an actual stairmaster machine. You could also simulate the same workout by climbing stairs at your home or somewhere near your house. In that case the stairmaster would likely be slightly more busy schedule friendly.
A good workout on the stairmaster does take more time to do than a good workout on the elliptical machine.
All in all using the elliptical vs the stairmaster can both be easier to implement in your routine depending on the details of how you will do each workout.
The budget required for each workout
Money put into improving your health is generally a great investment but sometimes you can get the same effects with less. Depending on your situation this may be relevant.
If you plan to do each exercise in the gym using the elliptical machine vs the stairmaster require the same budget.
Let’s say you want to invest in your own workout machine. Prices for equipment like this vary a lot but generally stairmasters cost a few hundred dollars more compared to the same quality elliptical machine.
Lastly if you work out on stairs in your house or near you, you don’t actually need to invest anything to get in a “stairmaster workout”.
Which workout requires a smaller budget depends again on the details. However, the place most people do each workout, at the gym, makes it so you need about the same budget for the elliptical trainer and the stairmaster.
Complexity to use the elliptical machine vs stairmaster
Some machines and workouts almost require a university degree before you can use them optimally. For example some kettlebell workouts or something like dancing can be slightly more complicated to get started with.
When trying to stick to an exercise routine you want as few reasons as possible to not work out.
The difference between the elliptical machine and stairmaster in terms of complexity to do is not super relevant. Using the elliptical may feel slightly more uneasy at first but there isn’t really any complex technique involved.
Which one is right for you?
Whether using the elliptical machine or the stairmaster is the best choice for you ultimately depends on your personal situation.
If you want to burn as many calories as possible in the shortest amount of time and want to build some muscle mass over your entire body using the elliptical machine is likely a good stairmaster alternative.
The stairmaster can be better if you want to build muscle mass specifically in your legs. If you only can find small time blocks throughout the day you can also walk the stairs in these time blocks.
You also preferably want to like doing your workout. If you don’t, it becomes harder to stick to. The exercise that doesn’t get done doesn’t offer any health benefits.
Ultimately you want to weigh each of these factors versus each other for each workout and your individual situation. You can then decide which one suits you best. You can also give both a shot and find out which one works the best for you.