The stair climber machine and cycling are both aerobic exercises that work similar muscle groups. Both workouts give you stronger, more powerful legs and burn calories. The American Heart Association suggests that healthy adults get 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. Both cycling and the stair climber count as a moderate form of exercise.
Stair Climber Basics
According to “Women’s Health” magazine, stairmasters, or stair climbers, are popular cardiovascular machines because they sculpt your hips, legs and buttocks in a low-impact environment while also torching calories. To get the most out of your workout, make sure to use the correct form. Keep your body upright, hips centered over your legs with your hands just gently resting on the machine. As you step, evenly press your entire heel down and avoid pressing the step all the way down, which can lead to soreness in your hips. During your workout, keep your core and glutes engaged to maximize your results.
A bicycle engages all of the major muscle groups in your lower body including your quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and glutes. According to WebMD, cycling is recommended over a stair climber for people who suffer from knee pain because you don't have to support all of your body’s weight on the bike. Similar to the stair climber, proper form is essential when riding. According to “Men’s Health,” if you aren’t positioned properly on the bike, you can injure your hamstring muscles and lower back. If you are on a stationary bike, stand next to the bike and adjust the seat height so it is even with your hipbone. On a road bike, consider having an expert properly fit you on your bike.
When it comes to comparing the weight-loss benefits of a stair climber and cycling, it depends on how hard you ride. According to Health Status, a 200-pound person burns 792 calories when cycling at a moderate pace of 12 to 14 miles per hour. If that pace is stepped up to vigorous, between 14 to 16 mph, you can burn 960 calories per hour. According to the Mayo Clinic, you can burn 819 calories in an hour on the stair climber.
Both a stationary bike and stair stepping machine are solid fitness machines for beginners because they do not require any special coordination or training. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout. If you are cycling outside, learn the rules of the road in your area, always wear a helmet and use hand signals to maximize your safety.
- American Heart Association: Guidelines for Physical Activity
- Women’s Health: Stair-Climbers: Use Them Right!
- Men’s Health: Cycle Stronger
- Runner’s World: Treadmills Drive Me Nuts: Can I Train on the Stair Machine?
- WebMD.Com: All About Exercise Machines
- Mayo Clinic: Exercise For Weight Loss: Calories Burned In 1 Hour
- Health Status: Calorie Burn Calculator
- ivillage: Fitness Machines
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.