Updated at: 01-08-2023 - By: Matt Roberts

Choosing the best fitness equipment for optimal results can be a daunting task, particularly when comparing popular machines like the Stairmaster and treadmill.

Research shows that these exercise tools offer diverse workout benefits with various impacts on muscle groups and cardiovascular health.

This article will delve into an exhaustive comparison of the two, highlighting their unique features, strengths, and shortcomings to help you make an informed decision.

Ready to step up your fitness game? Let’s dive in!

Stairmaster vs. Treadmill

Differences in cardiovascular benefits

The cardiovascular benefits of the Stairmaster and treadmill vary significantly, largely due to their distinct workout patterns.

Exercising on a treadmill boosts your cardiovascular endurance by simulating an authentic running or walking experience.

Conversely, the Stairmaster focuses on replicating stair climbing, which naturally involves more muscle engagement and leads to higher energy expenditure.

This unique aspect can result in elevated heart rates and enhanced aerobic capacity over time.

Despite these differences, both machines contribute effectively to strengthening your heart muscles and improving overall cardiovascular health.

However, for high-intensity interval training aimed at significant cardio improvements within short periods, a Stairmaster could prove more efficient than its treadmill counterpart.

Impact on muscle groups

The Stairmaster and treadmill have different impacts on muscle groups. When using the Stairmaster, you engage a variety of muscle groups throughout your lower body, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

This is because each step requires you to lift your entire body weight against gravity.

On the other hand, when running or walking on a treadmill, the primary focus is on your quadriceps muscles.

While both machines provide a great cardiovascular workout, if you’re looking to target multiple muscle groups and build lower body strength, the Stairmaster may be a better choice for you.

Fat burning potential

When it comes to fat burning potential, the Stairmaster reigns supreme over the treadmill.

The intense and dynamic movements of climbing stairs on the Stairmaster engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, resulting in a higher calorie burn compared to running or walking on a treadmill.

In fact, studies have shown that individuals can burn up to 50% more calories per minute on a Stairmaster than on a treadmill at similar exertion levels.

This increased caloric expenditure not only helps shed unwanted body fat but also contributes to overall weight loss and improved cardiovascular health.

So if you’re looking for an efficient workout that torches calories and melts away belly fat, the Stairmaster is your best bet at the gym.

Impact and stress on joints

Running or walking on a treadmill can put a significant amount of impact and stress on your joints, especially if you have pre-existing joint issues.

The repetitive nature of these exercises can lead to wear and tear on the joints over time, potentially causing discomfort or injury.

On the other hand, using a Stairmaster significantly reduces the impact and stress on your joints due to its low-impact nature.

This makes it a better option for individuals who want to minimize strain on their knees, ankles, and hips while still getting an effective cardiovascular workout.

Additionally, the Stairmaster engages multiple muscle groups simultaneously, providing a more balanced workout that not only strengthens your lower body but also helps improve overall stability and joint health.

Advantages of the Stairmaster

Increased muscular activation

The Stairmaster offers increased muscular activation compared to the treadmill. When you climb stairs on a Stairmaster, your lower body muscles, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves, are all actively engaged.

This means that you can target and tone multiple muscle groups with each step.

Additionally, the resistance training aspect of stair climbing helps build strength in your legs and glutes while also increasing your metabolic burn.

So if you’re looking for a workout that not only burns calories but also builds lean muscle in your lower body, the Stairmaster is a great option to consider at the gym.

Greater calorie burn

One advantage of the Stairmaster over the treadmill is its ability to provide a greater calorie burn.

When using the Stairmaster, you engage more muscle groups in your lower body, including your glutes, calves, and quadriceps.

This increased muscular activation leads to a higher metabolic burn and calorie expenditure during your workout.

In fact, research suggests that exercising on a Stairmaster can result in up to 50% more calories burned compared to using a treadmill at the same intensity level.

So if you’re looking to maximize your calorie burn and shed those extra pounds, incorporating the Stairmaster into your fitness routine may be a great option for you.

More functional movement

The Stairmaster offers more functional movement compared to the treadmill. Functional movements are those that mimic activities we do in our daily lives, such as climbing stairs or walking up hills.

When using the Stairmaster, you engage your muscles in a way that closely resembles real-life activities, helping to improve your overall fitness and make everyday tasks easier.

This type of movement also targets a wider range of muscle groups, including your glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

So if you’re looking for a workout that not only burns calories but also enhances your strength and mobility, the Stairmaster is an excellent choice.

Advantages of the Treadmill

Beginner-friendly workout

For those who are new to the gym or just starting their fitness journey, the treadmill can be a great beginner-friendly workout option.

Walking or jogging on a treadmill is a familiar motion that most people already know how to do, making it easy to jump right in and get moving.

Unlike more complex machines like the Stairmaster, there’s no learning curve or specific technique required.

Plus, treadmills usually have adjustable speed and incline settings, allowing beginners to start at a comfortable pace and gradually increase the intensity as they build stamina and confidence.

One of the key benefits of using a treadmill as a beginner is its low impact nature. Running or walking on a flat surface reduces stress on the joints compared to activities like running outdoors or using high-impact machines.

This makes it safer for individuals with joint issues, such as knee problems or arthritis, to still engage in cardiovascular exercise without putting excessive strain on their bodies.

Easier on the joints

The treadmill is known for being easier on the joints compared to the Stairmaster. This is because running or walking on a cushioned surface helps absorb impact and reduces stress on your knees, ankles, and hips.

For individuals with joint issues or injuries, the treadmill provides a lower-impact option that allows them to still get their cardio workout without excessive strain.

By choosing the treadmill over the Stairmaster, you can protect your joints while still reaping the benefits of an effective cardiovascular exercise routine.

Versatile training options

The treadmill offers a wide range of versatile training options to suit different fitness goals.

Whether you’re an experienced runner or a beginner looking to start jogging, the treadmill allows you to adjust the speed and incline levels according to your preferences.

You can choose from various workout programs that focus on endurance, interval training, or even hill sprints.

Additionally, many treadmills also come with built-in features like heart rate monitors and pre-set workout routines that keep your workouts exciting and challenging.

With its flexibility and customization options, the treadmill is ideal for those looking for a diverse range of training possibilities within their cardio routine.


In conclusion, the Stairmaster and treadmill offer different advantages depending on your fitness goals.

If you’re looking to target multiple muscle groups and burn more calories, the Stairmaster is a great choice.

However, if you prefer a beginner-friendly workout with less impact on joints, the treadmill may be the better option.

Ultimately, it’s important to choose the equipment that aligns with your specific needs and preferences for an effective cardio workout.