Stairmaster Workout For Weight Loss

Stairmaster Workout For Weight Loss

A stair climber workout is an excellent way to burn fat, while strengthening your legs and core. Stairmaster workouts are great for people who are new to working out because they are low-impact.

Stairmaster workouts can be completed in the comfort of your own home and don’t require any special equipment. They also do not take up much room, so you can use them at home or at the gym.

There are many different kinds of stair climber workouts that you can do depending on what you want to achieve. Some people may be looking to lose weight, while others may be interested in increasing their cardiovascular fitness level. However, if you want to get the most out of your workout, then it is important that you perform each exercise correctly so that you don’t end up injuring yourself.

Stairmaster Workout For Weight Loss

Smiling young woman on stairmaster machine in gym

Is the StairMaster Good for Losing Belly Fat?

Use the StairMaster to get your heart pumping and boost your metabolism.

Image Credit: Westend61/Westend61/GettyImages

There’s a reason why most people shy away from taking the stairs at work, and why coaches across the country have their athletes sprinting up and down stadium steps: Climbing stairs is hard work for your heart and your muscles.

The StairMaster, a pioneer brand in the stair-stepper exercise machine industry, mimics that stair-climbing motion. While exercising on the StairMaster has plenty of health benefits, it can only help you reduce belly fat by decreasing overall body fat.


The StairMaster can help you lose fat overall, not just from the abdominal area. It can be more or less effective, depending on your diet and workout regimen.

The Myth of Spot Reduction

Doing squats or lunges will not burn only leg fat. Doing 100 sit-ups won’t specifically burn stomach fat. Targeting fat loss in a certain area of your body is impossible, and the StairMaster is no exception.

As strength and conditioning coach Tom Kelso points out, training specific muscles, such as your abs, will make them stronger but will have a negligible impact in terms of fat loss. Unfortunately, spot reduction is just a myth.

While exercising on the machine can lead to fat loss, its health benefits are not specific to the belly. The only way to lose belly fat is to reduce your overall body fat through diet and exercise. The StairMaster can be an effective part of your workout plan. When combined with clean eating, its benefits are even greater.

Why Use the StairMaster?

Losing fat requires creating a caloric deficit with diet and exercise. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body turns to stored fat for energy. When the caloric deficit grows to 3,500, you lose about one pound of fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.

A 30-minute session on the StairMaster burns an average of 223 calories, a good start in your quest for fat loss. This machine also helps build muscle in your legs, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even while at rest.

Lose Fat With the StairMaster

To achieve fat loss, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity most days of the week. The StairMaster could account for some or all of your aerobic exercise.

Just because spot reduction on your belly is impossible, it doesn’t mean you won’t see results. Belly fat is often the last to go, but stepping on the StairMaster can speed up the process. For faster results, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) — it’s one of the best ways to torch fat, especially around your waistline, according to a 2016 review published in Sports Medicine.

Set the StairMaster at low or moderate intensity for 30 seconds, increase the intensity for another 30 seconds and repeat. Do it for five to 20 minutes. Depending on your fitness level, you can incorporate sprints, double steps, side steps or reverse steps into your workout to get your heart pumping and burn more calories.


Use HIIT when you work out on the StairMaster. This workout method alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and low-intensity training. It’s a proven way to burn fat and improve your overall fitness while preserving lean mass.

A Word on Nutrition

The StairMaster and other aerobic exercises make up only half the fat-loss equation. If you’re burning 223 calories each day from 30 minutes on the StairMaster, you’ll need to reduce your daily food intake by 277 calories to set a fat-loss pace of a pound per week.

If you’re eating more calories than your body can burn, your hard work on the StairMaster won’t do a thing to budge your belly fat. Remember, diet and exercise are equally important. What you eat influences your metabolism as well as your ability to lose fat and maintain your physique.

Calories and the Stairmaster

Cardio training at the gym

The Stairmaster can burn a lot of calories.

The StairMaster is an exercise machine that has either foot pedals that move up and down or a small staircase that revolves. Both machines simulate walking up stairs. Mayo Clinic considers stair climbing a weight-bearing activity that can help slow bone mineral loss and may control blood sugar. Using a StairMaster also burns calories.

What Cardio Does

The StairMaster is a cardiovascular machine. When you do cardio, you move your body in a repetitive motion for an extended period. This increases your internal body temperature and causes you to burn calories. With that being the case, the main function of the StairMaster is to promote weight loss.

Your Size Matters

Body size is a major contributor to caloric expenditure on the StairMaster. People who are larger naturally burn more calories than people who are smaller. This is even the case when you are resting. A 155-pound person, for example, burns about 223 calories in 30 minutes on the StairMaster. A 185-pound person burns about 266 calories in the same time frame, according to Harvard Health Publishing.

Calorie Burn Time Frame

Total caloric expenditure on the StairMaster depends on how long you work out. For example, a 125-pound person burns about 180 calories in 30 minutes and 540 calories in 90 minutes. To effectively maintain or lose weight, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderately-intense cardio exercise or towards 300 minutes weekly for weight loss.

Raise Your Metabolic Rate

When you step up and down on the StairMaster, you bend your knee, hip and ankle joints simultaneously. This, in turn, causes you to recruit multiple muscles, such as the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. By building muscle, you increase your resting metabolic rate — RMR — and burn calories at a faster pace when you are sitting still, according to ACE Fitness.

Intensity Plays a Role

The intensity of your workouts plays a role in the calories you burn on the StairMaster. Interval training, for example, is performed by alternating back and forth from a vigorous to low intensity. Not only does this cause you to burn a high amount of calories while you step, but the effect also lingers after your workout. This is called the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. The more intensely you exercise, the greater the effect will be.

Create a Calorie Deficit

Weight loss takes place when you create a caloric deficit. This is achieved by doing cardio and by cutting back on your caloric intake. A reduction of 500 to 1,000 calories a day can lead to one to two pounds of weight loss a week, while never going below 1,200 calories a day for women and 1,500 for men, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Burning 500 calories a day on the StairMaster will cause you to lose an additional pound a week.

Lean on Tight

The StairMaster comes equipped with handrails for assistance when you first get onto the machine and for balancing yourself as you exercise. Leaning on the handrails while you step will make your workouts easier — but increase stress on your back and reduce your caloric expenditure.

12 Benefits of Using a StairMaster

Stair climbing has been a workout option for a long time. For years, soccer players and other athletes jogged up and down the steps in their stadiums.

And one of the most inspiring moments in the classic movie “Rocky” was a shot of the boxing hero running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with plenty of energy to spare at the top.

But rather than rely only on the steps in your home or out in the elements for a good stair-climbing workout, you can get those same benefits from a StairMaster.

This fitness center staple has been around since the 1980s, but the technology has improved steadily. Features such as a heart rate monitor and calorie-burning calculator have been added through the years.

What is it?

In simple terms, a StairMaster is a stationary fitness machine that rotates steps, similar to a treadmill, allowing the user to climb upward at the speed and duration he or she sets. It can provide an above-average cardio workout, while also toning lower-body muscles, especially the:

  • quadriceps
  • hamstrings
  • calves
  • glutes

Let’s look at a dozen health benefits of using a StairMaster and why it might be worth climbing aboard during your next workout.

Cardio benefits

Using a StairMaster provides benefits from head to toe. If you’re normally a runner or walker, stair climbing can be a good change of pace in your exercise regimen.

1. Aerobic conditioning

Stair climbing strengthens the heart and lungs — the keys to aerobic fitness. Stronger lungs allow you to breathe in more oxygen, and a healthier heart can pump oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to all your muscles and organs.

2. Calorie burning

The StairMaster is an efficient and effective tool in losing weight or managing your current weight. A half-hour workout on the StairMaster can burn anywhere from 180 to 260 calories — or more — depending on your body weight and intensity of the workout.

A faster “climb” will burn more calories than a slower session. A 180-pound person tends to burn more calories than a 125-pound person doing the same workout.

Most StairMaster machines come with calorie-burning calculators, which estimate the number of calories burned with each workout based on your current weight.

Strength benefits

In addition to cardio benefits, StairMasters can strengthen and tone your body, which is also good for your bones.

3. Core muscle strength

Because using a StairMaster requires you to keep your balance the entire time you’re climbing and pumping your legs, it also gives your core muscles a workout. Stronger core muscles help improve posture, prevent lower back pain, and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Healthier bones

Weight-bearing exercises, such as climbing stairs, can help reduce your risk for osteoporosis, and treat it if you already have it. Bones are living tissue, and climbing stairs helps increase bone mass. This is especially important as you get older, because natural bone loss tends to increase as you age.

5. Stronger quadriceps

The quadriceps femoris is a group of four muscles in the front of the thigh. These muscles are essential for walking, running, and just standing up from a sitting position. The quads extend or straighten the knee, so each time you push off from one step to the next you’re strengthening these large, important muscles.

6. Stronger hamstrings

The hamstrings are the three muscles in the back of the thigh that work in conjunction with the quads. They help bend the knee, so they’re also critical to walking, running, and sitting down. Each time you bend your knee to take another step up, the hamstrings are doing much of the work.

7. Stronger calves

Like the other muscles in your legs, your calves allow you to run, walk, and jump, while also being essential to maintaining your balance while standing. Your calves contract every time you lift your heel to take a step.

When climbing, whether it’s on a StairMaster, your front steps, or up a hill, your calves have to work hard to keep lifting your heels step after step.

8. Stronger glutes

The gluteus maximus muscles are located in the buttocks, and are some of the strongest muscles in the body. Their main function is to move the hips and thighs, so climbing stairs is a task that relies heavily on strong glutes.

Other benefits

Aside from the cardio and strength benefits, using the StairMaster is good for a few other things, including mental health.

9. Knee pain relief

Strengthening the knee reduces stress on the joint, which can help reduce pain if you have osteoarthritis. Using a StairMaster is considered low-impact exercise compared with the pounding, high-impact consequences of running on a hard surface.

10. Positive vibes

As you climb stairs your body releases endorphins, which are “feel-good” brain chemicals that boost your mood and reduce your stress levels. You may feel a little exhausted at the end of a StairMaster workout, but you should feel good about the work you put in.

11. Versatility

Like treadmills, a StairMaster has a variety of settings to mix up your workouts. You can program the number of minutes you want to exercise. So if you’re just starting out, you can set the machine to go for 5 or 10 minutes and work up from there.

Some StairMaster products even come with built-in computer screens that display famous landmarks to make it seem like you’re climbing up structures like the Eiffel Tower.

12. It’s only up from here

Unlike climbing an actual staircase, which requires a return walk down the stairs, a StairMaster keeps you moving up all the time. This is helpful because walking down stairs is much tougher on your knees. The tissue and fluid you use as “brakes” take a greater toll on the joints with every downward step.


Because using a StairMaster provides a great cardio workout while also strengthening the main muscle groups in the lower body, you’re really getting two workouts in the time it takes to do one. As a result, it will take you less time to see and feel the results of your new exercise routine.

For better heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per weekTrusted Source of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. That means five 30-minute sessions on the StairMaster at a reasonable speed each week. Within a week or two you should also start to feel your legs getting stronger and more toned.

If you haven’t exercised regularly, try it out for 5 or 10 minutes the first few days and see how you feel. Then add to your time and increase the speed as your workouts get easier.

A note about weight loss

If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels, as well as take some of the burden off your joints. But an exercise routine that includes aerobic exercise and strength training is best for weight loss and overall fitness.

A StairMaster accomplishes both of those goals. However, including stretching exercises, upper-body weight training, and a mix of sports and exercises will keep things interesting for you mentally and physically.

Watching your calorie intake and eating a well-balanced diet packed with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while limiting your consumption of added sugars and saturated fats, are also keys to losing weight and keeping it off.

The bottom line

If you’ve never used a StairMaster, take the time to work with a trainer at your local fitness center, or someone who can help you use the equipment safely. You can find a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise in your community.

Using a StairMaster is a relatively simple exercise, so you won’t need a lot of training or supervision. And if you find you can use one safely and on a consistent basis, you may be quite pleased with the energy boost you feel from improved fitness.

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