20 Minute StairMaster HIIT Workout (Ultimate Calorie Burner)

Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT
Published by Lisa Lorraine Taylor, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer
Last updated: April 30, 2024
FACT CHECKED by Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

As an experienced fitness expert, I constantly seek to enhance my clients' workout routines by incorporating diverse aerobic training methods.

Though treadmills are perfectly capable of burning fat through their usage, I have StairMaster provide an intense cardiovascular workout while being gentler on the joints.

After several weeks of research, I decided to share the best StairMaster HIIT workout and delve into the many benefits it offers.

Quick Summary

  • The 20-minute StairMaster HIIT workout comprises a series of dynamic exercises, including double steps, low squats, and fast-paced and moderate-paced intervals.
  • The benefits of the StairMaster include promoted weight loss, increased heart rate, greater core muscle activation, improved lower body appearance, and enhanced bone health.
  • Harvard Medical School's study shows a 30-minute StairMaster session burns 180-260 calories, more with body weight and intensity variations, and combining it with HIIT exercises increases calorie burn.
  • In my opinion, the StairMaster is an excellent choice for gym enthusiasts with limited time availability who still want to engage in an efficient cardiovascular activity.

20-Minute StairMaster HIIT Training

A person doing home stairmaster workouts
  • Step 1: Begin your StairMaster workout with a three-minute warm-up at an easy level, setting the speed to eight to prepare your body for the upcoming movements.
  • Step 2: Perform a double-step motion while engaging your core muscles and maintaining a speed of eight for one minute.
  • Step 3: Rotate your body to the right side and perform a sidestep with your left leg, followed by a double-step with your right leg. Continue this movement for one minute at a speed of ten.
  • Step 4: Rotate your body to the left side and repeat the same sidestep and double-step pattern for one minute, keeping the speed at ten.
  • Step 5: Move to the front of the StairMaster and get into a low squat position. Begin walking in this position for one minute, maintaining a speed of ten.
  • Step 6: Transition into a steady pace for one minute.
  • Step 7: Increase the speed to eighteen and challenge yourself for one minute.
  • Step 8: Transition back to a low speed of eight for one minute.
  • Step 9: Repeat the same sequence of steps.

“Once you get comfortable with the above workout, you will want to switch it up. Not only will a new workout invigorate your body, but it also can help build your endurance level, and get you in even better shape.”

- Jennifer Purdie, Personal Trainer

What Are the Benefits of the StairMaster HIIT Workout?

A person with good knee bones and muscle

As a trainer, I've observed firsthand the benefits of the StairMaster HIIT workout with my clients. They've experienced enhanced weight loss, a noticeable increase in heart rate during sessions, greater activation of core muscles, improved lower body appearance, and better bone health.

Clients frequently ask me if the StairMaster burns fat. Based on the significant impact I've seen on their weight loss and muscle activation, I confidently say yes.

The StairMaster HIIT workouts have consistently shown to be effective in fat burning and overall fitness improvement.

  • Improved bone health - Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) revealed that weight-bearing aerobic exercises, including stair climbing, promote bone mineral density, which means engaging in this exercise can help you prevent bone-related conditions like osteoporosis [1].
  • Enhanced cardiorespiratory fitness - Research by NIH has shown that a ten-minute intense stair climbing can be an efficient form of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to significantly improve cardiorespiratory fitness in as little as forty-two days [2].
  • Increased weight loss - According to the Harvard Medical School, a 20-minute session on the StairMaster can burn from 180 to 260 calories, or potentially even more, depending on factors like your body weight and workout intensity [3]. You can burn more calories by incorporating high-intensity interval training exercises alongside stair climbing.
  • Improved core activation - StairMaster HIIT workouts demand more balance than other forms of cardio, leading to reduced abdominal fat and increased core muscle strength.
  • Enhanced lower body appearance - Incorporating the StairMaster into your workout routine stimulates and engages the major muscles in your lower body (the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and glutes). Additionally, high-intensity workouts on the StairMaster trigger the release of growth hormone (GH) and enhance free fatty acid transport.
  • Prevented cardio boredom - Incorporating different cardio equipment may help you prevent boredom and keep your exercise routine engaging.

Related Articles:

Tips to Optimize Your Workouts

A gym coach teaching someone at the gym

Focus on Proper Form

I always advise my clients to maintain an upright position while using the StairMaster, ensuring their core muscles are engaged and shoulders relaxed.

I emphasize the importance of not leaning too heavily on the machine’s handles, as this can significantly reduce the effectiveness of the workout.

“Relax your grip on the handrails and try not to keep a hand on them at all times. They’re useful for quickly catching your balance, but over-reliance on them will make your workout less challenging and lead to fewer calories burned and less glute and ab gains.”

- Cam Speck, Fitness Editor

Warm Up and Cool Down

It is essential to warm up before diving into your StairMaster HIIT workout to prepare your muscles.

Similarly, cool down afterward with stretches to promote flexibility and promote recovery.

Incorporate StairMaster Intervals

A person working out on a stairmaster at the gym

Rather than keeping a steady pace during your StairMaster workout, you can alternate between pushing yourself to the maximum for thirty seconds and slowing down when needed to catch your breath and recover before pushing yourself again.

This technique not only boosts calorie burn but also enhances cardiovascular endurance.

Add Resistance

Once you master your form on the StairMaster, you can gradually increase the intensity of your HIIT workouts by adding gym equipment like resistance bands to burn more calories.

Nutritional Tips for HIIT on StairMaster

Engaging in StairMaster HIIT workouts demands targeted nutrition for optimal performance and recovery.

  • Pre-workout, focus on a balance of complex carbohydrates and protein for sustained energy; a banana with a scoop of almond butter is ideal.
  • Post-workout, prioritize protein and carbohydrates to aid muscle recovery and replenish glycogen stores.
  • A smoothie with whey protein, berries, and spinach offers a quick, nutrient-rich option. Hydration is crucial, so drink plenty of water before, during, and after workouts.
  • Additionally, incorporate magnesium-rich foods like almonds and spinach to support muscle function.

Remember, balanced meals and snacks are key to fueling and recovering from intense HIIT sessions.


Are 20 Minutes on StairMaster Good?

Yes, 20 minutes on StairMaster are good due to its demanding nature. Your body experiences a prolonged calorie-burning effect for up to seventy-two hours following a StairMaster HIIT workout. During this time, your body works to restore your oxygen levels, eliminate excess lactic acid build-up, and regulate your body temperature. So the intensity of the exercise directly correlates with the level of effort your body exerts.

What is the 25-7-2 Workout on the StairMaster?

The 25-7-2 workout on the StairMaster is a cardio exercise routine that resolves around specific settings. To perform this workout, set your StairMaster to level seven and climb the machine for twenty-five minutes, two days a week.

Elevate Your HIIT Performance with a High-Quality Pre-Workout Supplement

The StairMaster HIIT workout offers an effective way of incorporating a cardio workout while increasing lower body strength, muscle growth, and overall fitness level.

Ensure you’re getting the energy you need to optimize your results by including a healthy diet and one of the high-quality pre-workouts below:

As indicated by our tests, these supplements, containing potent stimulants like beta-alanine and Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), can boost alertness during workouts and accelerate recovery.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6323511/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28009784/
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
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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
Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Senior Coach
Christiana Mikesch, CPT is a personal trainer and author with contributions to publications like the Chicago Tribune and Yahoo. She emphasizes a holistic approach to weight loss, combining an energy-fueling diet, goal-oriented workouts, and daily habits. Her approach avoids short-term goals and fosters a lifelong commitment to health and well-being.
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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