Stair climbers are one of my top recommendations for our clients who require a low impact machine that specifically focuses on the lower body.
If you’ve had any problems with treadmills or an elliptical machine, then it’s most likely down to the strain those machines might put on your ankles, knees, and hips.
Unfortunately, we’ve encountered a lot of stair steppers that were really not fit for purpose and could do more damage than good.
So, we decided to put 30 different models to the test to see which ones would be most suitable for a home gym.
Our Top Stair Climbers (September 2023)
1 - Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper Trainer (Editor's Choice)
For the most flexibility in your workout routines, we’d recommend the Body Power 2-in-1. It has been designed to allow you to switch between a stair-climbing machine and elliptical with a pretty simple adjustment.
There’s also plenty of flexibility with 8 different levels to switch between.
The large buttons next to the screen make this easy and don’t require you to get off the equipment to make a manual adjustment.
You can check out the best budget ellipticals here.
- 8 Resistance Levels
- Lcd Monitor
- Easily switch between stepper and elliptical
- Easy to adjust resistance levels with large buttons next to the LCD monitor
- Positive reviews about the system providing a smooth resistance level
- It’s a bulkier design that may not work for tight spaces
Just keep in mind that this might not be the most suitable if you don’t have enough space to spare.
2 - Maxi Stair Climber
This is more of a vertical climber, which may allow you to work on your whole body during one exercise routine.
Despite its reasonably compact design, it should still be suitable for anyone up to 240 pounds.
If you are tight on space, you can check out our list of compact rowing machines.
There is a fitness app that it may integrate with, which could be helpful to better plan your weekly workout routine.
- Ladder Design
- App Integration
- Functions well as a vertical climber to target your upper body
- Good weight capacity of up to 240 pounds
- Comes with a fitness app to plan and track your progress
- Timer display seems to be a bit too low to easily read
One thing we noted was that some people mentioned that the timer display was a bit too low to easily glance at during a workout.
3 - Jacob's Ladder Gronk Edition Step Machine
This vertical climber is the real deal, and I’ve used one in gyms before.
It could be a great way to work on your entire body with a lot less strain on all of your joints.
It’s a completely different style from the others, but that may be an advantage to work your muscles just a bit harder.
There’s also a feature for digital workout-tracking so that you might get a better idea of how well your progress is going.
- Heart Rate Monitor
- Automatic Speed Adjustment
- May keep track of workout data to see your results
- Unique and solid steel design to make it more stable
- Max weight capacity of 300 pounds
- It’s quite a bulky design that will require some space
Just make sure that you take some precise measurements in your home gym before you place an order.
4 - Aceshin Vertical Climber Steppers
The Aceshin Vertical Climber is another good choice if you need to focus more on a full body workout.
But there are also static handles on the frame in case you don’t want to add additional movements.
The screen is basic, but that might be an advantage as it’s not a distraction with tons of data that you don’t need.
It might also be a good choice for heavier people as this product has a capacity of 300 pounds.
- Upper-Body Workouts
- May work well for upper and lower body workouts
- Simple display shows time, steps, and calories burned
- Maximum weight capacity of 350 pounds
- Some people found the stepping pedals a bit small
The one negative about it is that the stepping pedals don’t seem large enough, which may not be suitable for larger feet.
5 - Doufit Stepper for Exercise Machine
This is another stair stepper machine that might be suitable for anyone living in a small apartment.
What we liked most is that despite being a basic and affordable model, you may still be able to keep track of things like steps per minute, calories burned, and time for each workout.
It also may be helpful if you want to work on your arms, shoulders, and chest, as it includes exercise bands that could provide a lot more flexibility.
- Resistance Bands
- Fully collapsible into a small package for easy storage
- Comes with some resistance bands to work your upper body as well
- The simple display may provide important workout session data
- It’s a basic model with no resistance settings
Just keep in mind that it’s a basic step machine where you won’t be able to adjust the resistance.
6 - Bowflex M3 Max Trainer
This Bowflex stair climber is a commercial grade machine at a price point that is a lot more acceptable to a home gym setup.
What we liked about it is that you may choose from preset programs or come up with your own cardio workout intensity.
Switching between different levels also seems to be easy without having to stop your movements
There are also a lot of positive reviews that mention the display may show accurate data about calories burned as well as your heart rate.
This should give you better information to adjust your workout routine to get to your personal goals.
- Heart Rate
- 8 Resistance Levels
- Preset Programs
- Good variety of 8 resistance settings for all levels of fitness
- Easy to read display shows vital workout info
- Comes with a heart rate chest strap for targeted training
- Has wheels on the front to make it easier to move
- Doesn’t seem to integrate with apps
The one thing we were missing with this model is an integration of the machine with some fitness apps.
7 - Sunny Health & Fitness Stair Stepper
The Sunny Health & Fitness stair stepper is possibly a good option if you have a limited budget and space.
The compact design means that you may be able to fold it down small enough to store under a bed.
Even though it might look a bit limited, you’ll still be able to choose from 12 different settings on the hydraulic cylinders.
That should be enough for a cardio workout as well as building up muscle strength.
- 12 Resistance Settings
- Foldable Design
- Simple and compact design for light cardio training
- People like that it can be folded into a small size for storage
- Hydraulic cylinders seem to be easy to adjust while you keep moving
- No heart monitor integration
The downside is that you’d need to get a separate app to monitor your heart rate for optimum intensity levels.
8 - Stamina Space Saving Stepper
The Stamina is possibly the smallest stair stepper machine we found that still works well enough to get you into a sweat.
It might be limited in its design, but if you just need something for moderate levels of activity, then this could be a great choice.
There’s a display that shows your progress, including time, steps per minute, and calories burned, which is pretty good at this price point.
We also saw quite a few comments that it has a stable frame to avoid any wobble.
- Resistance Bands
- Suitable for people with limited space as it folds down
- Includes resistance bands for some upper body strength training
- Positive comments about the stability and durability
- You can’t adjust the intensity which limits workout adjustments
The limiting factor is that you might outgrow this as you get fitter and can’t adjust the intensity level.
9 - ANCHEER Vertical Stair Climber
This equipment might be suitable if you have multiple users that are different heights. It should be adjustable enough with 5 levels to allow for a quick change.
The screen is basic but shows the relevant information about your climbing exercise so that you may be able to target specific goals for each session.
And if you don’t fancy spending a lot of time to follow complicated assembly instructions, then the 5 minutes to get this set up may be best suited to you.
- 5 Height Levels
- Simple LCD screen shows you time, speed, and calories
- Requires very little assembly and is pretty much ready to go
- Seems to help you stay in a natural body motion
- Even though it’s foldable, it’s not the smallest design
The only thing we found is that even when it’s folded, it may require a bit of space to store it.
10 - ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer
The ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer is another one of the commercial stair stepper machines that we would recommend for a more serious home gym.
If you want to replace a gym membership with a proper gym in your garage, then this is one of the products we’d put high on your list.
We liked the number of intensity levels and that you could avoid interrupting your workouts by simply pressing a button in front of you.
- Heart Rate
- 24 Resistance Levels
- Good LCD screen design with all the workout info in one place
- Bluetooth integration with heart sensors
- May allow for personalized workouts to automatically adjust the intensity
- You’ll need quite a bit of space for this machine
Just keep in mind that it’s a lot bulkier than the above equipment choices, so make sure you do some measuring first.
1 - Ease Of Use
A lot of people favor a stair stepper over other cardio machines and equipment because of the low impact on their joints . But all that is no good if you end up having to go through complicated steps to get the adjustable settings configured right.
The more expensive options should allow you to make an adjustment by pressing a button. But even on the basic models, this should be a feature that takes less than 10 to 20 seconds to manually adjust.
2 - Display Type
I’m a total geek when it comes to technology, but I think that screens on exercise equipment might actually become a distraction. That’s why I don’t have a problem seeing something that looks more like a 1980s pocket calculator.
“To make your training effective, you should aim to get your heart rate up to a certain level during exercise—and keep it there. These ranges are commonly known as heart rate zones, and they have different potential benefits for your workout.”
- Reegan Von Wildenradt, health and fitness writer.
It does help if you get important information like total steps, time, and heart rate measurement . But the less distracting it is, the better.
3 - Portability
We found two types of exercise steppers during our research.
The first type is the commercial style one that is possibly most suited if you’ve got exercise plans which involve using it every day. Your fitness levels will gradually improve when you’re working towards a significant goal.
That’s when you need more advanced features like automatically changing the intensity. And you’ll only get that with more advanced and larger products.
The second type is the adjustable and foldable product. These are more basic, but may still be effectively used to get fit and build muscle. These are the portable ones that should be easy to store under a bed or in a wardrobe.
Regardless, portability is a great feature because it allows you to take the stair climber to more places, especially if you want to maintain your routines while out on a vacation.
4 - Resistance Levels
If you’re planning to use a stair stepper just to get your body moving a bit more, then different intensity settings might not be a top priority.
But if you’re trying to get fitter gradually, lose some weight, and build up some muscles, then you need to be able to increase the intensity .
If you want to build leg muscles and improve cardiorespiratory health, try stair climber workouts.
Some of the above products will provide up to 24 different levels, which may be an effective way to avoid outgrowing your stepper, but those features come at a price.
But I would suggest that you buy one that has at least a couple of intensity settings, even If you’re on a budget.
5 - Integration With Apps
Some steppers will have the technology to allow you to fully integrate with more advanced smartphone apps. This could be a great way to have all your workouts in one place.
But we also like to see an integrated heart rate monitor .
It’s a great way to measure how much you’re pushing yourself by checking how hard your heart is pumping. It’s a great technology that might transform your fitness goals.
6 - Dimensions
You have to check out the dimensions of a staircase climber even when you’re buying a foldable machine.
I used to live in a tiny apartment and bought a stepper that could be folded. But it was still very long, which meant part of it was sticking out from under the bed.
I don’t remember how often I tripped over it.
It’s a simple thing to do to avoid these problems and getting into trouble with your significant other.
How Long Should You Stay on a Stair Climber?
You should stay on a stair climber for at least 15 minutes to generate heat in your muscles. As you get fitter, you should increase that to about 30 minutes. This should also involve increasing the intensity level to push your muscles further.
Is a Stair Climber a Good Workout?
Yes, a stair climber is a good workout, especially if you have some problems with your leg joints. Some climbing machines also allow you to get into a ladder-type motion that may provide a full body workout.
Does a Stair Climber Burn Belly Fat?
Yes, a stair climber may burn belly fat. If you consciously engage your core body muscles, you may be able to melt away some unwanted fat. And if you gradually increase the intensity, you should be able to burn more calories and shed some weight.
Is a Stair Climber Better Than a Treadmill?
Yes, a stair climber is better than a treadmill for many people who suffer from joint issues. The low impact of the movement on a stair stepper machine still creates a strain on your muscles but should avoid stress on your joints.
Our Best Stair Climber
After testing a load of stair stepper machines, we decided that the Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper Trainer was going to find a permanent home in our office gym.
It has just the right features to give us more flexibility for a workout plan but doesn’t come with the price tag of a commercial product.
Order yours today to find out how it could transform your workouts.
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