Stair Climber vs Elliptical: Which One Is Best for Home Use?

Stair Climber vs Elliptical: Which One Is Best for Home Use?
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If you dread the thought of putting on a swimsuit out in public, then it might be time to start thinking about getting in shape ready for the summer. Working out at home will not only save you a lot of money on gym passes, but it is really convenient too.

However, not everyone has room in their house for a home gym, so you will want one piece of gym equipment that is going to give you a good cardiovascular workout and target the areas of your body that you feel need toning up.

In this article, we compare the stair climber vs elliptical trainer.

Stair Climber vs Elliptical: Direct Comparison

Both of these machines offer great cardio workouts with little or no impact on the joints, but which one is better for home use? We took a closer look at each of them to help you decide which one will make you a better investment.

Stair Climber

  • Workout benefits: Lower body
  • Impact on joints: Some impact
  • Calorie expenditure: 815 calories per hour
  • Size: Some models can be stored easily
  • Noise: Generally quiet
  • Ease of use: Very easy to use

Elliptical Trainer

  • Workout benefits: Whole body
  • Impact on joints: Low impact
  • Calorie expenditure: 860 calories per hour
  • Size: Can be very large and hard to store away
  • Noise: Can be quite loud
  • Ease of use: Elliptical movement of feet feels unnatural

Breaking It Down

Both of these workout machines will help improve your aerobic capacity, but there are some features that make them quite different from one another. We put them head to head in six categories for comparison, so keep reading to find out how they did.

Workout Benefits

One of the first things you need to consider when investing in an exercise machine is what benefits you will get from the workout. This is done by looking at what muscle groups are targeted so that you know which parts of your body will be strengthened and toned.

A stair climber imitates the motion of walking up the stairs and will, therefore, provide a targeted workout to your lower body. Weight tends to accumulate in areas like your tummy, hips, thighs, and bum, especially in women, and the stair climber is a fantastic workout for these problem areas.

Elliptical trainers have two pedals and two handles, and the motion of the workout works out the same muscle groups as stair climbing, running, and walking. The pedals will help strengthen and tone your abdominals, hips, thighs, and glutes, giving your lower body a great workout. You can also choose to use the handles as well, which will also provide a great workout for your arms, shoulders, back, and chest.


In this category, the elliptical trainer wins, hands-down. It is really versatile in the fact that it can be used to work out your entire body, or just your lower body.

Impact on Joints

Next up, we compared the level of impact each piece of equipment has on your joints. If you are elderly, have had surgery, or suffer from any type of joint problems, then it is very important that you avoid any exercise that has a high impact on your joints.

The stair climber provides a good low-impact workout. The movement is very natural and flowing, making it a good choice for people with joint problems.

The elliptical trainer provides an excellent, zero-impact workout. On an elliptical trainer, your feet are always in contact with the pedals and the movement is flowing, making this machine perfect for people with joint problems.


This is another win for the elliptical trainer thanks to the impact the exercise has on your joints. Although, this time, it is much closer, as the stair climber also provides an excellent, low-impact workout.

Calorie Expenditure

Many people work out because they want to lose weight, so the number of calories you will burn per hour while exercising is also significant. Obviously, the number of calories you burn will also depend on your starting weight, and how hard you work out, but which machine will help you burn the most calories?

Using a stair climber will burn approximately 815 calories per hour for a 200-pound user. This is a great exercise machine to help you lose weight.

Using an elliptical trainer will burn approximately 860 calories per hour for a 200-pound user. The extra arm movements that elliptical training offers makes this machine slightly better for weight loss than most other pieces of gym equipment.


Yet again, the elliptical trainer wins by burning more calories per hour than the stair climber.


Another thing that is important to think about is the size of the machines. If you don’t have a very large house, then you should consider how much space the machine will take up, and how easy it will be to store away when not in use.

Some stair climbers feature handles and an electrical console to control your workout. These are very large and cannot be stored away very easily. On the other hand, you can also opt for mini stepper models that are just pedals, where the resistance is managed with a dial. These are very easy to move about and store away in a cupboard or under your bed.

As elliptical trainers feature pedals and handles, they tend to be very large and relatively heavy, making them awkward to move about and store. Then again, you can also find folding models that make them easier to store away. These models tend to be lighter so that you can move them around more easily.


Finally, a win for the stair climber! If you look out for models that don’t have waist height handles to help you balance, you can easily find a stair climber that is compact enough to move and which stores away easily when you’re not using it.

If you find that you need help balancing, then you can place the machine near a wall or near a piece of furniture that you can hold on to.


If you’re exercising at home, then you should probably consider how noisy your exercise machine is. A noisy machine may make exercising in front of the television more difficult and may bother other people in the house who are trying to relax or concentrate.

Most stair climbers and stepper are quite quiet, but the noise can vary from model to model. If the amount of noise produced by the machine is important to you, then look out for models that have more heavy-duty, hydraulic cylinders. These are very quiet and great for working out with in front of your favorite show.

You probably wouldn’t notice it at a busy gym, but elliptical trainers can be pretty noisy. If the noise level is an issue for you, then be sure to look for models that operate with magnetic resistance. They’re more expensive but reduce the noise level quite dramatically.


Overall, stair climbers are quieter in operation than elliptical trainers, so we awarded the win to the stair climber in this category.

Ease of Use

The last thing we considered was how easy to use each machine is. A user-friendly piece of equipment is much more likely to get used more often, and the whole family can get involved.

Stair climbers are very easy to use as the movement is so familiar to the body. If you can climb a set of stairs, you can use a stair climber! You can also stop and start exercising immediately.

Elliptical trainers take some getting used to when it comes to rotating the pedals. The movement feels very unnatural when you first get started. Although this machine works out the same muscles as if you were running, the elliptical pattern that your feet move in is unlike any movement performed by your legs before!

Once you get going, you also have to slow yourself down and come to a complete stop before stepping off of the machine.


Stair climbers are much easier to use than elliptical trainers due to the movement being so much more familiar to your body. For this reason, yet another win goes to the stair climber.

Final Recount

Before announcing our winner, let’s review how these two exercise machines fared in the stair climber vs elliptical trainer comparisons that we made above.

  • Workout benefits: Elliptical trainer
  • Impact on joints: Elliptical trainer
  • Calorie expenditure: Elliptical trainer
  • Size: Stair climber
  • Noise: Stair climber
  • Ease of use: Stair climber

With a score of three all, the stair climber and elliptical trainer ended up tied in our six comparisons! So, which will be the ultimate winner?


Despite the early lead taken by the elliptical trainer, we decided that the stair climber is the best piece of gym equipment that you can work out on at home. The workout benefits of the elliptical trainer are superior, but it would be really easy to add in some upper body exercises while using the stair climber.

Adding in coordinated arm movements with each step will not only work out your upper body but also burn more calories, which would probably make the stair climber take the lead in that category. You can easily challenge yourself more by holding weights while doing so.

The lower noise level of these machines make them fantastic for home use, and they’re also much more user-friendly. This means that the whole family can make use of this low-impact, cardiovascular workout equipment.

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