Does Stairmaster Burn Fat? 8 Tips to Lose More Weight

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: February 2, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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Stair climbing is a demanding workout for both muscles and the heart. As a certified personal trainer, I incorporate Stairmaster workouts into my regular fitness regime.

Drawing on my professional experience and insights from fitness experts and medical professionals, I'll explore the Stairmaster's effectiveness for fat burning.

Plus, I'll share five impactful exercises to enhance your Stairmaster routine for even greater fat loss.

Quick Summary

  • The Stairmaster is effective for fat burning, offering a high-intensity workout that strengthens muscles and boosts heart health.
  • Incorporating exercises like sumo strides, cardio squat circuits, and alternating leg lifts can intensify a Stairmaster workout for better fat burning.
  • The American Council on Exercise notes that a Stairmaster can burn 180 to 260 calories in 30 minutes, varying with weight and effort.
  • In my experience, blending Stairmaster routines with various workouts such as weightlifting and stretching is key to achieving comprehensive fitness and effective weight loss.

Is Stairmaster Good for Weight Loss?

A woman measuring her waist outdoors

Stairmasters are great for fat-burning cardio and boosting heart health, no matter your fitness level.

Compared to treadmills and ellipticals, Stairmasters uniquely work several muscles at once, delivering an intense, efficient workout.

The American Council on Exercise says a Stairmaster burns 180 to 260 calories in 30 minutes, based on your weight and effort [1].

Moreover, Mayo Clinic research shows stair-climbing strengthens legs, improves leg artery flexibility, and enhances blood flow for a healthier heart [2].

With Stairmasters, you set the pace.  Move faster and burn more.

Amp up your calorie burn by picking up the pace and not leaning on the rails.

“Fat burning results from a stairmaster are a combination of resistance training and intense calorie burn through the stepping motion.”

- Naom Tamir, CEO TS Fitness

If you just started your weight loss and fitness journey, consider getting one of these best stair climbers if you want to burn more fat and calories and get your lower body toned quickly.

Yet, while Stairmasters are powerful, they shouldn't be your only weight-loss tool.

Spice up your routine with a mix of weightlifting, stretching, strength, and cardio workouts for both physical and mental engagement.

8 Tips on How to Burn More Fat On a Stairmaster

A woman on a stairmaster

Drawing from my 25 years of fitness coaching, here are some tried-and-tested tips to enhance your Stairmaster workout for optimal gains:

  1. Interval workouts: Use the interval feature for switching speeds and intensity. A longer low interval than the high ensures a complete workout.
  2. Leg kicks: I often incorporate leg kicks into my clients’ routines. This simple addition has consistently proven effective in targeting the lower body muscles more intensively.
  3. Set timing: Your fitness level dictates the set duration, aiming for 40–60 seconds with longer rest periods. This strategy boosts effort and fat loss.
  4. No handrails: Avoid leaning on handrails for full leg muscle engagement, enhancing calorie burn.
  5. Proper gear: Wear gym apparel to stay warm, increasing sweat and calorie burn.
  6. Step skipping: Even though the rhythmic stepping motion can induce a meditative state and promote mental clarity and emotional well-being, skipping steps occasionally activates more muscles.
  7. Heart rate check: Monitor your heart rate to ensure optimal workout intensity, as stated in the Cleveland Clinic [3].
  8. Weighted vest: Increase workout intensity with a weighted vest, accelerating weight loss. Check with a coach for the right weight.

5 Intense Stairmaster Workouts For Body Fat Burn

Close up image of a Stairmaster

Here are five intense workouts to add to your Stairmaster high-intensity interval training routine to lose body fat and burn more calories.

  • Sumo stride: Take wide steps like a sumo wrestler. Keep your back straight and your shoulders pulled back.
  • Cardio squat circuit: Mix in squats to target your glutes and ramp up sweating. Stay low for maximum calorie burn.
  • Climb backwards: Backward steps increase muscle work, boosting fat loss.
  • Alternating leg lifts: Kick back each leg as you step, squeezing your glutes. Balance is key.
  • Side stepping: Face sideways, stepping and crossing your feet. Move slowly for this coordination-heavy exercise.

4 Common Stairmaster Mistakes To Avoid

A woman using a stairmaster machine

If you’ve been working out on a Stairmaster for a while and have not seen big changes, there could be a couple of things you’re doing wrong and need to change.

  1. Leaning in: To burn more belly fat using a step climber, don't lean on the rails or hunch over your phone. Stand tall, lightly hold the rails, and let your legs do the work. Leaning reduces fat burn and increases injury risk.
  2. Skipping warm-up: I always advise my clients to start with a 4-6 minute slow climb as a warm-up. From my experience, this effectively raises body heat and blood flow, preparing your muscles for a more intense, fat-burning session.
  3. Climbing on toes: Balance your feet to avoid muscle strain. Staying on toes can overwork calves, risking Achilles tendonitis or plantar fasciitis. Keep a rhythmic motion for effective muscle collaboration.
  4. Improper knee posture: Although low-impact and gentle on joints, incorrect knee posture during side climbs can stress the hips and cause low back pain. Avoid folding your knees inward. Focus on controlled step-ups and maintaining a straight back.


Does Stairmaster Burn Fat Thighs?

The Stairmaster burns fat thighs as it tones your lower body.

How Long Should I Be on a Stairmaster to Lose Weight?

You should be on a Stairmaster for 30 minutes per workout session to lose weight.

Does the Stairmaster Burn Belly Fat?

The Stairmaster burns belly fat and overall body fat too.

Does Stairmaster Count as Cardio?

Yes, Stairmaster does count as a cardio workout.

How Long Does It Take To See Results from a Stairmaster?

It takes about a week or two to start seeing results from a Stairmaster.


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About The Author

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer
Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Holistic Nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health and is the owner of Taylor Made Fitness. Her philosophy centers on cutting through the hype and misinformation surrounding dietary supplements, focusing instead on practical, science-backed strategies for health and weight loss.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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