Stair step machines provide a low-impact equivalent to climbing a flight of stairs. Most step machines let you control the intensity of your workout can be controlled, which allows you to adjust for your specific fitness level. In spite of the excellent benefits, these machines are not always good for those with knee problems, as the motion of the machine can put stress on the joints. It's wise to consult with a doctor before purchasing one of these machines. Common brands of stair step machines include the Bowflex Max Trainer M5, the StairMaster Gauntlet and the Mini-Stair Stepper with Resistant Bands.

Step machines can provide many different health benefits, depending on your level of intensity. The climbing motion can help build the muscles in the lower-body and you can burn high levels of calories. These machines can also provide an adequate cardiovascular workout when used on a regular basis.

Step Machines: What to Look For

Stair stepper machines come in a variety of designs and intensity levels. Some machines have levers that work the arms, while others feature handrails for added stability. Consider these options when looking for a stair machine for your next workout.

Most stair steppers come with a display that shows you the details of your workout. These displays can be advanced, with detailed touchscreen controls, or simple, with a digital screen that tells you how many steps you are taking per minute. Some displays offer digital TVs you can watch while you are working out.

Workout Type
Basic step machines simulate the motion of climbing a flight of stairs and nothing more. More advanced machines offer several different exercises that you can do, often allowing you to even change the intensity level or the steepness of the incline.

Heart Monitor
A heart monitor can keep track of the cardiovascular intensity during your workout. Depending on your age and health level, you want to get your heart rate up to a certain rate for the most benefits. A monitor lets you know if you've reached that goal. Some machines come with a contact sensor, while others help predict your target heart rate.

Step Specifications
Manual machines do not provide any type of step information, but electric machines work at different speeds. Low-intensity workouts offer around 25 steps per minute, whereas more intense workouts fall around 160 steps per minute or more. Electric machines feature a drive system that determines how noisy and smooth the machine is when you take each step. Other specifications are the action of your step – which includes whether your foot actually comes off the pedal and whether you are climbing in an upward motion – and the smoothness of each step. Manual machines tend to be less smooth than electric machines because you have to perform more work.

Stair climbers offer an excellent workout if you want to strengthen your lower body and improve your cardiovascular health. It's best to consider all of the features and options before selecting the best machine for your needs.

Bowflex Max Trainer M5 Review

The Bowflex Max Trainer M5 offers advanced technologies with a high-intense workout. It features a large display, target-rate monitoring and a full-range exercise movement that is unique to the Bowflex line of exercise machines.

The Bowflex Max Trainer features both a large digital display and a control panel that is located directly in front of you while you work out. Along with keeping track of your workout while you go, you can also sync the machine via Bluetooth to an app on your Android or Apple device via the Max Trainer app. This app provides a detailed breakdown of your individual workout stats and gives you a big picture of your overall health. It monitors your heart rate during your workout and also tells you the number of calories you burned. The only drawback is the app only provides details for two users, so if you want to use this aerobic stepper to monitor your entire family's health, you have to pick and choose who gets the full report.

One of the unique features of the Bowflex M5 is its 14-minute workout. Although you are only on the step machine for 14 minutes, the company claims you will burn 2.5 times more calories than a traditional elliptical and 1.5 times more calories than a treadmill. The 14-minute workout is extremely intense, and the machine keeps track of everything for you. The analog speedometer lets you know what your true speed is, while the digital screen tells you what your target speed should be. One issue with the 14-minute workout is that it starts you at top speed without a warmup. You can do the warmup on your own, but the machine won't include it in the total number of calories you burned during your workout.

The step motion of the Bowflex stair stepper machine features a fan that acts as a resistor while you climb. The motion of the fan is quiet and smooth at first, but as you pedal faster, the fan gets much louder and can even drown out a television or your music, unless you're using noise-canceling headphones. The machine is controlled by durable motors that keep the momentum going during your workout. The steps do not have a startup assist, so it can be difficult getting the machine moving initially.

Overall, the Bowflex Max Trainer M5 stair step machine offers an excellent workout for those looking for guidance. The 14-minute workout tells you what to do each step of the way, and you can monitor your progress from your mobile device. This step machine is hard to get moving, but once you do, it should be simple to use.

Back to Top

Kettler Montana Stepper Review

The Montana Stepper from Kettler includes smooth hydraulics for a complete range of motion. This stepper has adjustable resistance bands, an ergonomic design and a steel frame for added durability.

The stair step machine features a simple digital readout that keeps track of how many steps you have taken and how far you have gone. The display is small and round and sits near the center of the unit. It has a small reset button that allows you to restart the statistics each time you work out, and the display keeps track of the total amount of time you have been on the machine. This number can be reset if you are using the unit for more than one person. The display also tracks your pulse and the height that you have climbed.

This step machine comes with two hydraulic pedals that should provide smooth and consistent movement. The range of motion does tend to change depending on how warm or cold the room is where the exercise equipment is set up. If it is very cold, you may experience some initial stiffness in the pedals, but if it is warm and humid, the pedals will likely work freely even on initial startup. The handle on the front of the unit is designed to give you a degree of stability, but it can be adjusted throughout your workout to change your level of climbing intensity. The handle also helps put your body in the correct position to climb for the most benefits. You can change the angle of the bar depending on what part of the body you want to target during your workout. You do not have to stop in the middle of the workout to change the bar settings; they adjust with you as you go.

The aerobic stepper does come disassembled, and once assembled, it can be folded down for storage. This stair stepper machine has a large footprint, so it takes up more space than a mini stepper. It can accommodate individuals up to 250 pounds, and the unit itself weighs around 75 pounds.

The pedals are positioned high off the ground, so shorter people may have some trouble getting the unit going. Once the steps are in motion, they offer a full range of motion that promises to provide an excellent lower-body workout.

The Montana Stepper is smaller than most professional-grade stair steppers, but it can provide you with a strong cardiovascular and lower-body workout. This step machine is quiet and durable and shouldn't have a lot of vibration even during a heavy workout, and the display is ideal if you want to track your fitness progress.

Back to Top

Life Fitness Integrity Series Stairclimber Review

The Integrity Series Stairclimber from Life Fitness provides a durable design with a variety of exercise options. It has smooth movement, offers heart-rate monitoring and works plugged in or self-operated.

The Integrity stair stepper machine is a professional-grade piece of equipment. It has an advanced control panel with a variety of options to choose from. You can connect your iPod and manage your playlist, or you can watch videos on the optional attachable TV screen. The control panel in the center of the unit also has built-in TV controls, so you can change the channels on your TV while you are in the middle of your workout. Instead of stopping in the middle of your workout to change the channel, you can control the volume straight from your exercise equipment. The panel has bright LED lights, so you can even read the unit in low light.

This professional step machine features 27 different workouts already programmed in. It targets five different training zones, and you can adjust the incline at any point during your workout. The goal-based workout can motivate you to keep going, and you can choose interval workouts to increase the intensity of your exercise. Workouts include the foothills, speed training, extreme heart rate, the Cascades and even Kilimanjaro.

One of the nice features of this stair climber is the heart rate monitoring. This aerobic stepper has built-in hand sensors that detect your heart rate as you move, and they feature a special technology that ensures the readouts are accurate. The display lets you know if you are working in your target heart rate range and tells you how long you need to stay there for the most effective workout. You can also track how many calories you have burned and the number of floors you have climbed, and you can set up a workout profile for each person who uses the machine.

The steps on this climber have nonslip pads, so your shoes should grip the pads for added safety. There are 20 different resistance levels to ensure you get the right lower-body workout for your fitness level.

The Integrity Series Stairclimber is a professional-grade stair stepper machine that promises to be ideal if you want to have more resistance during your workout. All of the controls are completely automated, and you can adjust your workouts depending on how much you want to push yourself. The equipment is heavy and takes up lot of room, but if you have the space, this machine offers an intense workout.

Back to Top

Phoenix Health & Fitness Review

The Phoenix Dual Action Mini Stepper from Phoenix Health and Fitness has an adjustable design to suit nearly any level of fitness. This stair stepper features a one-year warranty on parts and labor and quiet operations.

The Phoenix Mini Stair Stepper is designed for those who don't have a lot of space for heavy equipment but still want a step machine to help them stay in shape. It's small and light enough that it can be moved from room to room, and it folds up. The small size also makes it ideal if you want to take it with you when you travel. You can likely set it up in your hotel room quickly.

This aerobic stepper comes with an electronic monitor that allows you to keep track of how many steps you took and how long you spent on your workout. You can use the monitor to set goals or simply to track your progress over a period of time. Unlike some of the more standard step machines, this unit does not have a large display and does not have the ability to monitor your heart during your workout. The monitor itself uses two AA batteries.

This step machine is designed primarily for one type of exercise – to step. It can also be used for stretching before you use a heavier piece of equipment.

The steps on this mini stair stepper machine can be adjusted for resistance depending on your fitness level, and you can adjust the size of your steps. Regardless of how tight you adjust the steps, it remains quiet throughout your workout, and the foot action is smooth due to the dual hydraulic cylinders. The mini stepper is equipped with two handles, but they do not assist with balance. Instead, the handles are designed only to provide your upper arms with a slight workout while you are climbing, and the frame of the stepper is made from heavy-duty steel that can accommodate up to 250 pounds. The frame of the unit comes with a two-year warranty and the other parts have 90-day warranties.

This mini stair stepper machine can work for you if you need a small piece of home equipment for lightweight exercise. The device folds for storage and transport and the frame promises to be strong enough to accommodate daily exercise routines. The monitor is somewhat lacking in comparison to more expensive stair stepper machines, but if you are looking for something basic, this stair stepper machine might be a good solution.

Back to Top

Precor AMT 835 Review

The Precor AMT 835 is designed to fit people of various sizes to provide a personalized, low-impact cardio workout. This machine, which Precor calls an Adaptive Motion Trainer, is a combination aerobic stair stepper and elliptical trainer. In addition to providing both of these options, it offers a variety of programs to achieve your fitness goals. This is a professional quality machine that provides a full-body workout.

The AMT 835 provides a personalized cardio workout. It contains six preset workouts to help you achieve different goals. The preset options include cardio, power and strength workouts. You can select your workout mode on the large control interface.

The versatile Precor AMT 835 allows you to simulate walking, stair climbing, running and lunging with the Open Stride feature. Open Stride allows you to adjust the length and height of your stride. A lower setting with a longer stride is similar to running. The higher setting with shorter strides provides the motion of a stair step machine. The moving handlebars are designed with three different grip positions to accommodate people of various heights. You can increase the handlebar resistance for a more intense upper body workout.

The variety this machine offers lets you train different muscle groups. Interval workouts alternate intensity levels with rest periods to increase strength and fitness. You can manually adjust the 20 levels of resistance to create interval workouts. Higher stride rates increase cardio, while higher resistance increases power and strength.

The large interface shows your fitness stats while you work out. It has intuitive motion controls. At the end of your workout, the display provides a workout summary. The AMT also has a built-in heart rate sensor so you know if you are hitting your cardio goals.

Precor offers optional entertainment displays you can watch while you work out. The included warranty covers the frame for seven years, parts for two years and labor for one year.

The Precor AMT 835 provides a total body workout in one machine. It’s versatile and provides cardio, strength and power workouts to help you achieve several fitness goals. The large information display provides valuable information that’s easy to read. The machine is designed to be comfortable for people of many body types and fitness levels. This is a good machine to consider if you are looking for one machine to meet serval different fitness needs.

Back to Top

Soozier Aerobic Mini Twist Stepper Review

The Soozier Aerobic Mini Twist Stepper comes with resistance bands and a bright LCD display. The stepper also has an adjustable height and hand grips for added support.

The Aerobic Mini Twist Step is a portable step machine that is designed for use in small spaces or while you are traveling. This unit is made specifically to work the legs and to provide you with a light cardiovascular workout. It features a small LCD display screen in the center of the unit that keeps track of the number of steps you have taken, how long you have been on the device and how many calories you have burned. If you don't have room for a large workout area or you prefer to put the equipment up after each use, this mini stair stepper machine promises to solve these problems.

This machine comes with two red resistance bands that help tone your upper body while you step. The bands have sturdy handgrips that help you maintain your balance and provide support while you step. The bands are approximately 38 inches long, so they work well regardless of how tall you are.

Unlike more expensive pieces of equipment, the Soozier step machine does not feature a heart monitor, but you can enjoy a complete workout without having to go to the gym or go outside when it is cold. If you need a heart monitor or if you are required to monitor your heart during your workouts for health reasons, you will need to purchase a separate device.

The steps of this machine can be adjusted to different height levels and widths to handle different body types. It doesn't offer a full range of stepping motion, but this is ideal for beginners or for those who do not want to place a lot of stress on the knees and other joints. The motion of the step machine is designed to help you work out your quads, hamstrings and gluts. The unit only weighs 20 pounds, but it accommodates up to 220 pounds because it is constructed from heavy-duty steel.

This mini step machine is designed primarily for those who want a quick workout without the hassle of a big piece of equipment. Because it's so compact, you can likely take it with you anywhere and it stores neatly and out of the way. You can work out your upper and lower body muscles and increase your cardiovascular fitness with one small machine and monitor your progress with each workout.

Back to Top

StairMaster Gauntlet Review

The StairMaster Gauntlet delivers a wide variety of advanced features for a low-impact workout. It includes several different workout schedules, a bright display and a 15-year frame warranty.

The StairMaster Gauntlet stair stepper machine comes with a large 10-inch touchscreen LCD console that allows you to control your speed and target workout range. The screen also has HD capabilities, so you can watch videos or movies while you are walking on the stairs. The screen is also backlit, so if you decide to work out in low light, you won't have to struggle to see the display. You also won’t have to turn on the lights and disturb others. The smooth movement of each step ensures a comfortable workout regardless of the speed.

This step machine is equipped with a unique workout system that allows you to watch the display while you climb well-known landmarks from around the globe. You can visit the Eiffel Tower or climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty. Or you can complete one of many standard console programs. This option promises to ensure you won't get bored with your workouts and opt for something else. The maximum weight for this machine is around 350 pounds.

Monitoring your heart rate during your workout is extremely important to ensure you are getting the most efficient cardiovascular workout. This machine comes with a contact heart rate sensor that can monitor your heart while you are working out. You can set your target goal and watch your heart through every stage of your workout.

The Gauntlet features a revolving staircase that simulates climbing an actual staircase. The stairs are 8 inches high, 9 inches deep and 22 inches wide, so you should have plenty of room to get a good foot placement for added stability. You can program the machine to go from 24 steps per minute for a warmup to 162 steps per minute for a high-intensity exercise routine. This stair stepper also has preprogrammed fitness tests that keep track of your level of fitness.

The StairMaster Gauntlet stair stepper machine is an excellent exercise machine for getting the most out of your workout. You can choose from one of the many preprogrammed workouts or set your pace and go it alone. The bright display keeps track of everything you do, while the electronically controlled alternator keeps the steps running smooth regardless of how fast you travel.

Back to Top

Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper Review

The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper is designed to provide an excellent cardiovascular workout in a foldable machine. This stepper features a durable design and handlebars for stability.

The Stamina is a portable step machine that promises to be easy to move around. It is equipped with a small LCD monitor that tracks the number of steps you take, how many revolutions per minute the steps are making, how long you have been working out and the total number of calories you have burned. The display is battery operated, so you can use it on your patio or deck or even when the power goes out.

One drawback of this portable step machine is the inability to adjust your workout. This machine provides only one type of exercise movement, and you can't even change the level of resistance or incline on the pedals. This can be an issue for those who are used to a professional-grade stair stepper. The handles do offer stability and allow you to change how far in you lean, but they are immobile, so you can't work out your upper body while stepping.

The steps on this folding stair stepper machine are equipped with two adjustable-resistance hydraulic cylinders. These cylinders ensure each step is smooth and quiet. The pedals are slide resistant, so you shouldn't slip off when you are in the middle of an intense workout. The frame of the unit is made from heavy-duty steel and assembles easily in just a few minutes. When you get through working out, the unit is equipped with rollers, so you can fold the stepper flat and slide it under your bed or tuck it neatly in a closet. Even though it is extremely lightweight and portable, it can accommodate up to 250 pounds. One disadvantage to the design of this stair stepper machine is it has some plastic parts. Even though these parts aren't structural, they can still break very easily if you aren't careful. If you have any problems with the unit, customer service is excellent and can assist you with the one-year warranty on parts and labor.

The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper offers a dependable and effective workout while you are on the go. It has a sturdy frame, and you can monitor your progress. Some of the parts are quite flimsy, but the company is very helpful if you even have issues with construction or assembly.

Back to Top

Sunny Health & Fitness Fitness Mini Stepper Review

The Mini Stair Stepper from Sunny Health and Fitness promises to deliver a low-impact workout while you are traveling or on the go. It has adjustable resistance bands and an LCD console.

The Mini Stair Stepper has a bright LCD display with a counter that keeps track of each step you take. You can use the display to create goals and to reach your target fitness level. This stair stepper also comes with attached resistance bands that help to promote balance while strengthening and toning your upper body. The LCD screen does have a slight problem with staying on this step machine when you are working out due to the vibrations of the machine. If the screen falls off, it obviously won't monitor your steps.

You can create your own workouts with this machine. The armbands increase the level of your cardio workout. One issue with the arm bands is that they do not snap back soon enough after they have been extended, which tends to slow your workout down over time. Many users report that this step machine also gets noisier each time you use it due to the inexpensive design. This step machine is compact, however, and can fold down.

Unfortunately, it does not come with a heart monitor, so you can't monitor your heart rate with the device. If you are looking for a very basic lightweight machine, this aerobic stepper machine is one of the most efficient designs on the market. If you want to monitor your heart rate for health reason, you can purchase a separate monitor from the manufacturer along with a variety of other options.

This inexpensive machine is small and relatively portable, not a common trait among step machines. However, it still promises to give you an intense workout. In order to advance with your fitness workouts, the device has adjustable incline levels. The greater the incline, the more intense your workout will be.

The Mini Stair Stepper from Sunny Health and Fitness offers a simple and low-profile design so that you can store the machine or carry it along when you travel. It is completely adjustable and it has arm bands that strengthen your upper body while the stair stepper machine works on your lower body at the same time.

Back to Top

Wagan Mini Stepper Master Review

The Mini Stepper Master from Wagan Tech features a compact design with a digital workout display. This stepper also has a sturdy frame and it operates quietly.

The Wagan Mini Stepper is a compact piece of exercise equipment that is designed for small spaces or for bringing with you on your travels. Unlike full-sized stair stepper machines, this unit does not come with a large display with a lot of bells and whistles. It does however have a small digital display between the handles that tells you how many steps you have taken during your workout, how many calories you have burned and how long you have been on the machine. You can reset it after each use, so all users can keep track of their workouts.

The handles on this aerobic stepper are stationary and are designed to provide you with stability while you step. The machine has a very small footprint, so it can even be used in apartments or offices where space is a minimal. The frame is constructed from durable steel and the entire unit only weighs around 27 pounds. This mini stair stepper machine is mainly designed for those who desire to add a few minutes of exercise each day to their daily routine, and it is ideal for use when it is too cold or wet outside to work out. The manufacturer promises that 20 minutes each day can improve your level of fitness as much as a full-sized machine. The resistance level can be adjusted by a small screw on the back of the machine, but you must stop in the middle of your workout in order to change the resistance level.

Each step is designed with hydraulics, so you get a quiet and efficient workout each time. Because this step machine is so small and not designed for extremely heavy workouts, it can get slightly squeaky over time. If you are trying to watch TV or listen to music, the noise may make it difficult to hear. The steps do not offer a full range of motion and do not get very far off of the ground, but they are molded to fit your feet to add comfort and safety. The unit comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor.

The Wagan Mini Stepper is a fitting stair stepper machine if you want a lightweight piece of equipment you can take with you when you travel. It doesn't take up a lot of space, so you can likely assemble it quickly and it offers basic monitoring for calories and steps taken.

Back to Top

More Top Stories