Close up of a womans feet using a stair stepper

How Many Calories Does a Stair Stepper Burn?

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Written by fitness expert Chris. Last updated:

The calories you burn using a stair stepper depend on your weight and the intensity of your workout. For instance, someone who weighs 175 pounds and workouts for 30 minutes will burn about 243 calories. A person doing that same workout, but who weighs 130 pounds, will burn 162 calories.

This discrepancy boils down to energy requirements. Heavier people need to use more effort because they are moving a more substantial mass. The same goes for intensity, where a higher pace requires more energy than a slower one. If you are curious about how many calories you would burn on a stair stepper, you can use this calculator.

How Does a Stair Stepper Work?

A close up of a woman using her stair stepper machine

A stair stepper works by simulating the movements of walking up a flight of stairs. As the name suggests, a stair stepper, also known as a StairMaster, is a stationary fitness machine. The device uses a rotating set of steps so that the user can walk indefinitely. Stair stepping is a more robust version of a cardio workout, though, because of the built-in incline.

Generally, during a walking workout, an individual moves along a flat surface at their desired pace. The stair stepper, however, forces more concerted action on the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, and glutes with each step. That is because the person must not only move forward to continue the workout but also fight against gravity in the process.

What Are the Benefits of a Stair Stepper?

A woman using her stair stepper machine in her home

Cardio Benefits

The largest benefit of a stair stepper is the rigorous cardio workout you get from using it. The machine taxes your heart and lungs and bolsters your overall aerobic fitness. It also strengthens your heart as it can more easily pump oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body, especially during rigorous exercise.

Additionally, stair steppers are an enhanced form of calorie burning. Remember, 30 minutes on a stair stepper burns 243 and 162 calories, respectively, for people weighing 175 and 130 pounds. Consider this. Someone walking briskly on a firm surface would only burn 180 and 133 calories during the same amount of time.

Stronger Muscles

Stair steppers are a tremendous resource for fast and intense calorie burns. Using the machine targets visceral fats that the body stores along the waistline, hips, and intestines. Of course, the stair steppers also work to strengthen and tone your core and leg muscles.

Your hamstrings and calves will be the biggest winners of any stair-stepping routine. These are the muscles located in the back of your tight and lower leg. These are vital anything you need to bend your knee to step up or push off the ground. Stair stepping requires both with every step, so your hamstrings and calves will get a thorough workout.

Another winner is the glutes. These buttock muscles are among the strongest and are essential to the movement of the hip and thigh. Your body needs the glutes to thrust forward with each step, which is why your backside may be sore after an especially intense workout.

Let’s not forget about your core, either. While stair-stepping primarily uses the legs, it also requires stomach muscles. That is because each step works to expand and contract your center. The result is stronger muscles that can improve your posture, stabilizing your gait, and reduce lower back pain.


Close up of a stair stepper machine that has different programs

Working out can be monotonous. Fortunately, stair steppers have a variety of built-in programs to ensure you get a different workout every time. For instance, you can do sessions that specifically target your glutes or an interval workout where you change pace every minute or two.

Temptation Bundling

If these perks are not enough, many stair steppers come with computer monitors where you can watch TV to take your mind off the exercise. If you are not inclined to use a stair stepper, the monitor can be an excellent form of temptation bundling. Temptation bundling is a way of combining a “temptation” with another activity to engage in the desired behavior and adopt positive habits.

Let’s say you find yourself continuously avoiding your trips to the gym. An incentive may be to watch your favorite show only when you are exercising. There are mini steppers available which are more suited for the home due to their portability and size. The combination of the thing you love with the activity you want to do is a form of temptation bundling and ensures you get the result you want.

Stair steppers are a great way to burn calories and get cardio exercise, but it’s not the only way. The top rated recumbent exercise bikes available on the market can offer many of the same benefits and make a great addition to using a stair stepper.

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