Stairmaster Vs Treadmill: Calorie Burn, Risks,…

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Find out how the StairMaster and treadmill compare so you can choose the machine that aligns most with your situation.

It is generally just a bit easier to get a challenging workout by running on the treadmill.

This will involve slightly more calorie burning, cardio improvements, and the other health benefits of cardiovascular workouts.

Treadmills tend to be more budget-friendly and at-home friendly too.

On the other hand, StairMasters tend to be a better choice for people with sensitive knees who still want an intense workout.

Keep in mind that walking on the treadmill is an option too.

This will offer fewer positive effects than StairMasters but could still be worth it.

StairMaster vs treadmill summary

Calories Burned*220+ calories128-165+ calories (Walking)
293-421+ calories (Running)
Muscles EngagedLegsLegs a Tiny Amount (Walking)
Mostly Legs (Running)
Injury RiskLowLow (Walking)
Medium/High (Running)
Busy Schedule FriendlyAlright/GreatGreat (Walking)
Alright (Running)
Budget RequiredMedium/HighMedium
Complexity To DoEasyEasy
*Approximation for a 155-pound person doing the exercise for 30 minutes

Is the StairMaster or treadmill better for weight loss?

While the difference can be small if you increase the intensity of the StairMaster enough, running on the treadmill tends to be better for weight loss.

You do want to know that it is hard to estimate how many calories both gym machines work and that your intensity will influence your results a lot.

Similarly, your other lifestyle habits are still important for weight loss results no matter what workouts you do.

In any case, it is fair to say that walking on the treadmill will typically burn a lot fewer calories per minute than running or the StairMaster.

You can find more detailed estimations for the StairMaster and treadmill below (1).

Calories burned with the StairMaster

Due to the lack of good estimations for different intensities, you can find how many calories the StairMaster burns for different time frames.

Weight Person
1 Minute15 Minutes30 Minutes45 Minutes60 Minutes
125 Pounds (56 kg)6 calories89 calories177 calories266 calories354 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)7 calories110 calories220 calories330 calories439 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)9 calories131 calories262 calories393 calories524 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)10 calories152 calories305 calories457 calories610 calories
Chart of calories burned with general StairMaster usage

Calories burned with walking

If you like the estimations below, you can look at the article on the calories burned while walking for even more details.

Weight Person
(3 mph/4.8 kmh)
(3.5 mph/5.6 kmh)
(4 mph/6.4 kmh)
125 Pounds (56 kg)103 calories118 calories133 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)128 calories146 calories165 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)153 calories175 calories197 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)178 calories203 calories229 calories
Chart of calories burned per 30 minutes of walking at different speeds

Calories burned with running

Similar to walking, the article on how many calories running burns can be an interesting extra read.

Again, keep in mind that these treadmill statistics are rough estimations. Your actual results can vary.

Weight Person
(5 mph/8.1 kmh)
(6 mph/9.7 kmh)
(7 mph/11.3 kmh)
125 Pounds (56 kg)236 calories295 calories340 calories
155 Pounds (70 kg)293 calories366 calories421 calories
185 Pounds (83 kg)350 calories437 calories503 calories
215 Pounds (97 kg)406 calories508 calories584 calories
Chart of calories burned per 30 minutes of running at different speeds

Is the StairMaster or treadmill better for losing belly fat?

Burning calories is not always enough to do so but it also makes it so running on the treadmill is generally better than the StairMaster for losing belly fat.

You do want to keep in mind that losing belly fat is relatively challenging.

To achieve this goal, many people need to make positive changes in their other lifestyle habits too.

Even then, it can take a while to see the results you desire.

This applies whether you use treadmill or StairMaster alternatives or the machines themselves.

StairMaster vs treadmill for building muscle

It is a common misbelief that cardio machines like the StairMaster and treadmill are actually suited for bodybuilding.

Both of these machines will typically not really build any muscle.

At the same time, it is fair to say that improving leg muscle endurance is just a bit more present in the health benefits of StairMasters.

This is thanks to the larger range of motion for your muscles.

In theory, you could even skip a step and add extra weights but then you might as well do step-ups instead.

On the other hand, running on the treadmill does a decent job at this too.

Walking on the treadmill will not be the best for this purpose.

Some of the muscles StairMasters work include your glutes (butt), hamstrings (back thighs), quadriceps (front thighs), and calves.

Treadmill running works similar muscles but with a bit less focus on the quads.

Comparison of injury risk

Running on the treadmill sounds better than the StairMaster in many ways but you don’t want to forget it involves a higher injury risk too.

Especially for people who have a few pounds to lose running can be really tough on the ankles, knees, and lower back.

The StairMaster is not perfect either but if you keep your steps normal it should not be too much of a problem.

This difference is important since the health benefits of the treadmill and StairMaster go to zero if you can’t use them due to injuries.

In that sense, it can be worth giving up on the small extra short term benefits of the treadmill for the lower injury risk of the StairMaster.

Ease of implementation in your routine

Another part of actually doing workouts is how easy they are to fit into a daily routine.

When it comes to the StairMaster and running on the treadmill, these machines are very similar when it comes to ease of implementation.

For both, you need a machine at home or a 20-minute drive to the local gym.

The length of a good workout on each cardio machine is very similar too.

Lastly, it is fair to say that walking on the treadmill will be slightly harder to implement in a routine.

This is due to the extra time it takes to get in a good workout.

The budget required for each workout

For most people, the StairMaster vs treadmill comparison is relevant for the gym workout choice.

However, if you want to invest in one of these machines at home, a good treadmill is typically cheaper than a StairMaster.

Complexity to use the StairMaster vs treadmill

When it comes to ease of use, the StairMaster and treadmill are very similar.

Both machines involve movements that most people do in their daily lives.

One thing you can say is that StairMasters tend to be just a bit more challenging in terms of balance.

In that sense, some people may find the treadmill more user-friendly.

Is it better to do StairMaster or treadmill workouts?

People who are not as experienced with working out likely want to do StairMaster workouts instead of treadmill workouts in the local gym.

The main reason for this is starting with something that is easier on your body but still offers a lot of benefits.

If this goes well, you can consider running on the treadmill to get slightly more benefits.

For more experienced individuals who like the StairMaster more, the question is whether they want optimal results or more enjoyment.

Actually liking the workouts you do can help a lot with consistency.

In that sense, it is worth looking at the other treadmill alternatives too.


Is the StairMaster more effective than walking?

Yes, the StairMaster is typically more effective than walking although your speed will influence the difference a lot.

Is the StairMaster or treadmill better for the glutes?

The StairMaster is typically better than the treadmill for your glutes due to the bigger range of motion.

At the same time, how intensely you use each machine and the incline settings will influence the muscle endurance improvements a nice amount.

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Matt Claes founded Weight Loss Made Practical to help people get in shape and stay there after losing 37 pounds and learning the best of the best about weight loss, health, and longevity for over 4 years. Over these years he has become an expert in nutrition, exercise, and other physical health aspects.