Stair Climbers vs. Treadmills: Which Should You Use?

Whether you enjoy it or choose to run away from it, performing cardiovascular exercises helps you improve your physical fitness. While running a mile under the sun is a quick, cost-effective way to get your cardio in for the day, machines can fill in the gap where outdoor activity falls short.

As tried-and-true cardio-focused machines, stair climbers and treadmills are favorites in and outside of the gym. Both options provide efficient ways to elevate heart rate and improve endurance. But when it comes down to the cardio comparison of stair climbers versus treadmills, which should you use?

Read on to discover what option may be best for you in this battle-of-the-machines breakdown.


Whether a stair climber or treadmill, head-to-head burns more calories can depend on several factors, like your body composition and preferred workout intensity. For instance, someone comparing caloric outputs would notice that they’ll expend the same amount of energy on a stair climber as they would jogging on the treadmill, but in less time.

Treadmill Benefits

Running on a treadmill provides several benefits that can improve overall health. Running is an aerobic and cardiovascular workout, meaning that it elevates your heat rate while pumping blood and oxygen to other parts of your body.

A treadmill workout strengthens the muscles in your calves, lumbar, glutes, and abdominal area. Surprisingly, you’ll get a light-strength workout on your upper back and shoulders as you swing your arms while engaging in the exercise.

Treadmill workouts can also strengthen joints, improve mental health by releasing endorphins, and improve your sleep. Workouts on the treadmill improve the quality of sleep by boosting your brain’s capacity to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep more soundly.

Stair Climber Benefits

Looking into stair climbers, you’ll notice the workouts on this machine provide similar benefits, but in a different way. While a workout on this machine also helps increase oxygen flow the way a treadmill would, it also decreases your resting heart rate while promoting lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It’s easy to become bored with your daily workout, thus leading to a plateau in progress and hindering achievements. Stair climbers offer a different approach to the usual treadmill workout by replacing the moving belt with moving stairs.

The stairs are on a constantly turning conveyor belt, simulating an everlasting climb. Stair climber workouts activate your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, thus improving muscle tone and body composition, all while promoting better posture.


Both machines can increase and decrease the intensity of training output by increasing speed. The treadmill will approximate speed through in mph, while a stair climber measures speed through the selection of different levels—specifically between one and twenty.

Given the machine’s adjustable intensity, you can personalize your workout to cater to your goals by making activities more challenging and promoting a higher caloric output.

How To Use a Treadmill

Using a treadmill is relatively simple. First, your machine may include a magnetic clip that regulates the machine’s power. You can attach the piece to your shirt or secure it onto the machine; for safety reasons, you can pull on the clip to turn off the machine during emergencies.

When using a treadmill, it helps to walk before you run. Warm up your joints by walking for 5 minutes and then gradually increase the speed as you get more comfortable. While it’s natural to have labored breathing throughout the workout, you should be able to carry on a conversation without significant struggle.


Here are a few movements to try during your next treadmill workout.


Side-stepping involves the usage of your abductors and adductors. Standing sideways on the treadmill, you perform steps between 2 to 2.5 mph. You can also rotate the direction you face every three shuffles to make the workout more dynamic.

30-Second Intervals

30-second intervals are periods where training intensity is relatively higher. In between those periods, jogging and a maintained, lower training intensity takes place to prepare for the next interval. This form of exercising is a fantastic way to increase VO2 max and expend more energy.

Incline Workouts

Incline workouts mimic walking uphill, and adding elevation to your workout can encourage the body to work harder.

How To Use a Stair Climber

Using a stair climber is fairly similar to using a treadmill. Some machines may provide a safety clip that ensures the machine’s pace does not outpace your threshold. Home stair climber machines offer the same benefits as those in the gym.

Follow the onscreen prompts and begin with a pace that you can comfortably manage. As the conveyor belt begins to move, you’ll climb each step. It helps to note that the belt will start at the starting pace. You can adjust the levels as you become comfortable, but you want to be careful with your footing.

As you start to increase the intensity, be mindful of how long you are able to stay at higher intensities so you can push to break those personal records the next workout!


Here are a few workouts to try when on a stair climber:


Alternating side steps, forward steps, and backward steps will target your abductors, adductors, quads, and hamstrings.


Just like on the treadmill, some applications on stair climbers allow for higher pacing and intensity for 10 seconds, with periods in-between at lower pacing and lower intensity.


Some workout modes on stair climbers allow you to focus on recovery through steady-state, low-intensity training. These recovery modes are more suitable to perform after weight lifting or weight training.

The Final Verdict

When it comes to the battle of stair climbers versus treadmills, you should use the machine that best suits your goals. Since the two activities boast similar results, you can interchange workouts on each. If you prefer running and its differing elevations, working out on a treadmill may be best for you.

If you enjoy the constant intensity of an uphill journey, consider using a stair climber. The great news is that you can find both machines on our Treadmill Planet webpage!


Stair Climbers vs. Treadmills: Which Should You Use?