What Gives a Better Workout: a Treadmill or a Stair Climber?

Burn calories and strengthen your core with the stair climber.
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If you’ve ever jogged to catch a bus or climbed a flight of stairs, you’ll notice how much energy is required for these actions. Both jogging and climbing stairs strengthen your heart and muscles, help you burn calories and improve your overall fitness. Both the treadmill and the stair climber can give you an excellent workout. Which you choose depends on your specific needs.


    A treadmill's continuous belt allows you to walk, jog or sprint at your own pace. Its electronic monitor allows you to adjust your speed and keep track of your heart rate, calories burned and distance covered. Most treadmills also have an adjustable incline to simulate running up hills.


    A stairclimber is an exercise machine with a revolving staircase that simulates walking up stairs. This is an electronically powered machine that allows you to control the speed and intensity of your workout. Stair stepping is a low impact exercise that allows you to burn a large amount of calories without putting too much stress on your bones and joints.

Use of Muscles

    Treadmills and stair climbers focus on engaging your lower body and core muscles. These muscles include your calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes, hips, abdominals and obliques. The treadmill specifically engages your hip flexors and extensors, which are used to move your thighs forward or backward. The stair climber engages your core, which is needed to keep you balanced and assist in the constant lifting motion of your legs.

Types of Workouts

    On the treadmill, you can do strength-training exercises like walking lunges, or you can do hill workouts and interval training that not only strengthen muscles, but also burns major calories. The stair climber, while it offers an intense, low-impact workout, does not offer as much variety. On the stair climber, you are limited to climbing stairs, but since you can change the speed, you can increase or decrease the intensity of your workout and also perform interval training.

Calorie Burn

    In general, you can burn more calories in a shorter period of time on a treadmill than on a stair climber. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you can burn 546 calories in one hour running at 5 mph on the treadmill, whereas you would only burn about 508 calories during that same amount of time on a stair climber. Increasing the speed or intensity of the workout on either machine also increases the calorie burn.

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