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TOP 13 Best Stepper Machines Buying Guide & Reviews 2023
The stepper machine gives you a great workout. If you are not using it, you should give it a shot!
Maybe the gym that has a few, but they are always occupied, usually by someone with a great figure who is very sweaty. (The stair master is an intense workout).
Maybe you think a stair-stepping machine is not a viable option for the home gym. (It actually is!).
The stair stepper machine is not only great for cardio, but it strengthens legs, hamstrings, glutes and claves. It has less impact than running and the treadmill, and works for people at all fitness levels.
I am going to explain just how stair-stepping machines will benefit you and review 13 of the hottest, best stepper machines of 2023.
11 workout programs and 20 levels of computer controlled resistance available
Syncs with Free Max Trainer app to set, monitor, and track goals while streaming video content from professional trainers that will instruct, motivate and help you be more successful with Max (Available for Apple iOS and Android devices)
M7 performance targeted programming learns and adapts to each user’s fitness level over time to set new targets
Oversized, high contrast, dual backlit LCD/LED display for easy use
Feeling good and want to extend your workout? Add a little more time to your workout with the press of a button through the Add Time feature
Review: The Bowflex Max series steppers are a cut above most other steppers designed for home use. To start with, this machine is built like a tank and does not feel flimsy at all. It also works your arms and legs/glutes at the same time. Talk about efficient!
This multitasking stepper includes the Max trainer app which acts as a personal trainer to track your data, keep you motivated and offer instructional content.
Another noteworthy feature of the Bowflex Max 7 trainer is its small footprint, this is a serious workout that is great for small spaces and compact home gyms.
Exercises both upper and lower body – full-body workout.
Easy on the joints – low impact.
Includes Max Trainer app that instructs, motivates and tracks.
The stride may feel short to really tall folks.
Best stepper machine of 2023 for home gyms. It’s compact, powerful, delivers a full body workout and will last a long time.
Review: The new 10G by StairMaster is no joke. It is more than a standard stair stepper. This unit is designed to give you a tough HIIT workout that simulates Sled Push and Farmers carry exercises, along with the standard stepping motion.
The handles on the 10G are unlike any you have ever seen on any stepper. They allow three different hand positions and are designed to allow push movements like the farmers carry and sled pull.
The unique drive train allows you to feel like you are carrying a load upstairs, giving your legs some resistance training. The 10G is also an excellent cardio machine and the stairs can be quite fast, up to 190 steps per minute.
Drive train allows for pushing movement.
Versatile, multi-grip and multi-level handrails.
Largest step surface with the lowest step height.
Pricy and large, weighs over 600 lbs.
If you want the best of the best, and the most intense StairMaster workout there is, the top-quality 10G is it.
SAVE TIME, MONEY, AND SPACE - We're proud to introduce our newest and most innovative stair stepper to date! The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber is a true full body workout machine. Combining elements of both elliptical and climber products, it is easier on the joints and very effective at toning the entire body, all in one workout!
SUPERIOR BUILD FOR A SUPERIOR WORKOUT - This Sole climber features a compact, space saving design, has a frame made with the highest grade welded steel, is backed by lifetime warranty, and rated for users up to 400 lbs, making the vertical climber the perfect step machine for exercise for home.
LOW IMPACT CLIMBER EXERCISE MACHINE - Because of the unique stair climber, elliptical design, you can workout with low impact on your knees and lower back. The Cardio Climber exercise machine includes adjustable handlebars and a resistance knob dial to vary workouts. Resistance is created through the Sole patented eddy current braking design.
MAXIMIZE YOUR HIT WITH TECHNOLOGY - Designed for High Intensity Interval Training or for toning/training workouts, the stair climber exercise machine features an integrated tablet holder for your smart devices. Sole's stair stepper exercise equipment let's you watch your favorite shows or follow your workout routines. These step fitness machines also come with a 5 x 3 inch LCD screen display to help you as you use the stair climber..
PREMIER NAME IN FITNESS - SOLE has been providing exercise equipment to North America for decades. SOLE is a premier name in fitness and has been the fastest growing brand in the US and Canada the last 5 years and counting.
Review: The StairMaster 8 Freeclimber is one of the highest quality steppers you can get. This step style is preferred by some because, unlike the revolving staircase style, the step style allows you to keep your feet firmly planted on each pedal.
This High-quality stepper has all the creature comforts you need to push through a tough workout, including a full-color LCD screen with OpenHub, cup holders and an electronically controlled step decent.
It is plenty fast for most athletes, at 174 steps per minute, accommodates folks up to 350 lbs and has a small footprint compared to most, so it fits small home gyms well.
20 training levels up to 174 steps per minute.
Comfortable and ergonomically correct step.
No need to lift feet off the pedal as you step.
Because it is not a revolving staircase, the faster you go, the shorter the step up.
Best stepper machine for home use because it’s of good quality and very compact.
Review: The Sunny stepper is a manual hydraulic stepper that is similar to those floor steppers you see for real cheap, but it is better than those flimsy steppers.
First of all, it has a handle you can use to keep you balanced and upright. It has a small LCD to track your fitness data and best of all, you can fold it up and store it in the closet when you are done.
This is the best stepper in the low-end budget price range.
Compact, space-saving and folding.
Adjustable resistance via the hydraulic cylinders.
Only holds riders up to 220 lbs.
Not ideal for riders over 6’ 2” because the handles are not tall enough.
Pricewise it’s a cheap stepper that gets the job done with reasonable quality for the money, for those on a tight budget.
If you have been considering a mini stepper for your home, or as a supplement to your training regimen, be careful what you choose. There are a lot of duds out there. Take a look at this list I put together of the best mini steppers available and pick up a good quality mini stepper that will not disappoint.
ELLIPTICAL 2023 TECHNOLOGY: The curved crank applies constant tension to the X and Y axes, delivering a dead-zone-free rotation as you step. With a smooth operation and efficient motion, you can get the most out of your cardio workout equipment for home workouts.
RESISTANCE TRAINING MACHINE AT HOME: The ergonomic crank allows you to easily and safely adjust the resistance level while still running for a full indoor HIIT workout. It features an LCD screen that tracks and displays calories burned, time, speed, and distance.
2 IN 1 HIIT TRAINER FOR HOME: An oval path with synchronized handlebars, plus stepper movement provides a total body workout in a space-saving elliptical machine that combines the benefits of a vertical climber, an elliptical trainer, and an exercise stepper & stair climber.
PERSONAL & FAMILY FITNESS MACHINE: With a compact design, 2 in 1 motion, patented curve-crank technology, transport rollers, and an LCD screen, this is the perfect home workout machine for anyone who wants to exercise in their home, apartment, or fitness room.
VERSATILE HOME GYM EQUIPMENT: This exercise machine is one of the easiest to use elliptical machines for home use and steppers for exercise. Its compact, practical, space-saving design and efficient motion will help you get the most out of any exercise session. Designed and tested for a weight capacity of 250 lbs.
Includes the Landmark Challenge Program as well as standard console programs.
The Landmark Challenge program allows users to climb well-known landmarks from around the world like the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty and the Taj Mahal. Standard console programs are also included
Electronically controlled alternator, brake and drive chain precisely control the stair speed, allowing a wide range of users to exercise smoothly within their comfort zones
Hot bar with stop button, heart rate, and level control. Bluetooth connectivity for user workout data tracking.
Revolving staircase with eight steps, 8 in (20 cm) high, 9 in (23 cm) deep and 22 in (56 cm) wide. Step rate: 24-162 steps per minute.
Review: This StairMaster shares the rotating staircase, 8” step height and speed range with previous StairMaster StepMill models.
The features that set this gauntlet apart are choice of console, novel new landmark climb challenges, a small step up installed near the floor to get up on the machine, and a ‘hot bar’ a hand bar with heart rate monitor, stop button, and in bar controls.
Choice of console, with special new programs.
Built-in heart rate monitor and controls in the front hand bar.
Requires a ceiling height of 10 feet and weighs 343 lbs.
The latest StairMaster with all the best features from the past, combined with new innovative console technology.
Jacobs Ladder The Stairway GTL Stair Stepper
Review: The Jacobs Ladder Stairway GTL Cardio Stair Stepper Climber is a self-powered revolving stair machine. Similar to the Stairmaster 7000 pt, this stair machine also has an 8” step height and a similar speed range of 25 to 160 steps per minute.
This machine is self-powered and compact, you won’t have to plug it in, and it fits smaller home gym spaces.
Shorter than stair masters, fits where they may not.
Self-powered, or user-powered, including the console.
Revolving staircase, very challenging and realistic.
No pre-set programs.
Best exercise stepper for the price with a revolving staircase. Less expensive than a stair master of similar quality with just about all the same features.
Review: This Kettler stair stepper is the best stair stepper machine in this price range.
It operates using adjustable resistance hydraulics, and has an ample sturdy handrail, wide-set feet that keep the machine stable, and an LCD console that displays basic data like total time, steps climbed, heart rate and energy consumption.
Unit includes an ear clip heart rate monitor.
Sturdy stable upright step machine.
Very affordable, but not “cheap” feeling.
Compact machine, can be used in a home gym, bedroom, even an apartment.
Some portions of the display use German, as the unit is German made.
Best portable stepper, top quality at an excellent price.
Review: Finally, a smaller StairMaster! This stair master is the best exercise stepper from StairMaster that is appropriate for the home. It has a revolving staircase which makes for an intense workout that mimics the movement of climbing a real flight of stairs.
This machine has a smaller 6” stair height, but has a similar speed range as commercial StairMaster models.
Built-in heart rate monitor on the handle.
Console displays basic data and offers several workout programs.
Far more affordable than commercial StairMaster models like the Gauntlet.
Not as rugged as commercial machines.
A real StairMaster at an accessible price, best stair climber machine for the home.
Review: This ProForm is not a strict step machine, but it is still one of the best step machines reviewed.
It is a step machine with a 5” elliptical path, which actually lowers the impact on joints, while still giving a step experience. In addition to that, this stepper incorporates the arms with “punching action” armbars, making it a full-body workout.
Upper and lower body workout.
10” step up, that is 2” more than the commercial StairMaster.
Console holds a tablet on top, water bottle below and even has a built-in fan.
Built-in heart rate monitor in the static handles.
Users mention occasional problems with the heart rate monitor not working.
Best home stepper for a full body workout, with a compact footprint for home use.
First Things First, What is a Stair Stepper Machine?
A stair stepper machine is essentially a cardio machine, designed to mimic the action of climbing stairs.
Target muscles of the stair stepper are:
There are three general styles of stair stepper machines:
Rotating or revolving stepmills – Stairmasters are famous for have revolving stairs that move around and around as you step. They look like traditional steps, except they move down and around as you step up.
Vertical motion pedal steppers – This type of stepper is usually less expensive than the revolving staircase designs. The steps move up and down, as you step. They are designed to keep in contact with your foot at all times.
Hybrid machines – there are several step machines that have pedals, like the vertical step machine, but follow an elliptical, or oval, path as you move. These machines often have arm handles that move and bear some resistance as well, giving a full-body workout.
What are the Benefits of Stepper Machines Compared to Other Cardio Machines?
Shaping, Toning, Building Leg Muscles
The stair stepper is special among cardio machines. It is able to give an aerobic workout, with a strength training workout for the legs.
This works to build muscle, shaping the butt, thighs and calves into the sexy body you want.
You may not realize, but there are several ways to use the revolving Stairmaster to work various muscles.
You can work the inner thighs by stepping up sideways. Face backwards and step up (slow speed, please) to work calves. To further firm and shape the glute muscles, try skipping a step and stepping up two at a time.
Great for Home Gyms
The versatility of step machines makes them a good choice for a home gym.
Steppers both give an intense workout and help lose weight, as well and firm and strengthen, and several models are compact enough for a bedroom or apartment.
Some people go to the gym just to use the Stairmaster. Why travel when you can get that workout at home any time you want?
Good Cardio Option for Senior Citizens
Low impact exercise just 15 minutes a day can increase life span and quality of life in senior citizens.
The Stairmaster can be adjusted to go as slow or fast as the rider can manage, and many are made with a low step up to make them easy to get on and off of.
During Injury Recovery
Stairmasters and especially hybrid elliptical steppers are very low impact and easy on the joints.
One study used the Stairmaster on cyclists with a knee injury and found that the Stairmaster had no negative effect, and helped the cyclists maintain fitness.
What to Pay Attention When Choosing a Stepper
There are several machines in the reviews above that fit well in a home gym, bedroom or small apartment.
Stepper Machine Height
However, traditional revolving stair mills tend to be large, heavy, and tall, sometimes requiring 9 or 10 foot ceilings. Be aware of the unit size and measure your intended space before choosing the best stepper machine
Stepper Machine Weight
Think about if you will ever need to move the unit.
Some Stairmasters weigh three or four hundred pounds, while other stair steppers have manageable weights. In the reviews above are the best portable steppers, if you need one you can move.
Standard step height is 8”, and there are those that have a height as low as 6 and as high as 12.
Decide what height you are comfortable with before deciding on a machine.
Steppers vary quite a bit in the console and display. Some have simple basic displays with just workout data, while others have more involved consoles that allow you to choose different workouts, play music, upload and download data, connect to apps, etc.
Stairmaster even has a unit where you can choose a console from three choices, and includes challenges like climbing the Eiffel Tower.
Needless to say, the more intricate the console, the higher the price tends to be.
Note: Some steppers, like the StairMill style with revolving steps, need to be specially calibrated for use by persons weighing less than 120 lbs.
Stair Stepper and Stair Climber Machine FAQs
Is a Stepper as Good as Walking?
Walking is good for cardiovascular health, and certain fitness watch manufacturers would have us believe that we need at least 10,000 steps per day…
…but what is better, the stepper machine or walking?
For a 150 lb person, a moderate workout on a Stairmaster burns 260 calories. A Stepmill revolving staircase style workout at a moderate pace can burn nearly 400 calories. Not bad.
Compare that with walking at 4 mph, which only burns 160 calories. You would have to walk uphill, with a 12 lb load, to equal what you would burn on a Stairmaster.
Plus, a Stairmaster strengthens and firms the thighs, hamstrings and glutes better than walking… so there is that. Almost everyone would like a more firm, toned backside.
What’s Better Treadmill or Stepper?
Essentially, using a treadmill is equal to walking or running, albeit with less stress on the joints than walking and especially running cause.
If you have bad knees, a treadmill may be a better choice, but personally I would recommend an elliptical trainer before a treadmill.
A stepper burns more calories per minute because you are using the weight of your body as resistance and the stepping up movement firms and shapes your thighs, glutes and hamstrings more than the flat motion of a treadmill.
If you like the idea of an elliptical trainer, I have a list of the best elliptical trainers here. An elliptical trainer combines the low impact benefit of a treadmill, with the strengthening and toning aspect of a stepper.
Ellipticals don’t burn as many calories as steppers, but they strike a happy medium and are a good choice for those with knee, hip and joint issues.
What’s Better Elliptical or Stair Stepper?
Elliptical trainers and steppers each have their pros and cons.
Stepper Pros and Cons
A stepper will burn more calories, forces you to carry your body weight and push it up, repeatedly, so it builds leg and butt muscles, and it tires you out faster than just about all the other cardio machines at the gym.
The drawback to stair steppers is they can be quite challenging if you are out of shape, and they may be hard on the knees if you have bad knees.
Elliptical Trainer Pros and Cons
An elliptical trainer will be easier on the joints and knees than a stair stepper, but the workout will not be as intense as a stepper workout because you are not pushing up your body weight the same way you do when you step up.
Ellipticals, overall, give a gentler, less intense workout.
What is it about climbing a flight of stairs or going past level 4 on a Stairmaster that leaves us out of breath and gasping for air?
Even people who are trained athletes and those who are “in shape” find the stair stepper is brutal.
But why is the step machine so hard?
The reason is intensity. When you are doing any INTENSE exercise, like HIIT, sprinting, going full bore on an air bike or yes, the dreaded stair stepper machine, your body is using your ATP stores and glycogen in our muscles up fast. This energy comes from our phosphocreatine system.
Since the stair stepper machine literally forces us to push our full bodyweight up repeatedly, it uses a lot of energy.
After our body uses up the energy from the phosphocreatine system you will feel exhaustion and your body must move on to the aerobic system, which uses oxygen to create energy, hence the labored breathing.
Eventually, our bodies acclimate to the training and it gets a little easier as the workout progresses. So stick with it, and soon the stair stepper will be the cardio machine you love to hate.
Are Stair Steppers Bad for Knees?
If you use a stair climber the right way, it will not cause injury.
If your knees are already hurt the stair stepper may not be the best choice for you because it can aggravate an injury or weak knee.
The stepper machine works muscles attracted to the knee and muscles that stabilize the knee.
When you step up, you activate these muscles and place stress on the knee joint itself because you place the weight of your body on the knee joint.
If the knee joint is not working properly, is injured, swollen or weak, the stress from the stepping motion will make it worse.
Is a Stepper a Good Way to Lose Weight?
Yes! The stepper, done at an intense pace is a form of HIIT exercise which burns calories long after the exercise is finished.
Steppers also burn more calories per minute than walking, elliptical and treadmill. The reason the stepper machine burns more calories is because you are lifting nearly your entire body weight up with each step. That’s a decent load for just about anyone. Lifting a heavy load repeatedly uses a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories.
If your goal is to lose weight, cardio should be a regular part of your routine.