What is the Stairmaster workout and will it help me lose weight?

Can you add the Stairmaster workout into your weight loss regime? Expert says yes!

Woman completes a Stairmaster workout at a gym
(Image credit: Getty)

The Stairmaster workout has shot to TikTok fame thanks to its supposed lower body and cardiovascular benefits. 

But what is the Stairmaster? Essentially, it’s a stationary step machine. It has rotating steps, which much like a treadmill, can be set to go faster or slower. The faster the steps, the quicker the climb, and the harder your body has to work to keep up! 

Alongside a balanced diet, workouts, such as the Stairmaster workout, can be a useful tool for burning unwanted fat as well as improving fitness and toning muscles. The Stairmaster along with the other best exercise machines to lose weight, can fit nicely into a weight loss plan.

Keen to get to grips with the Stairmaster workout? Here we delve a little deeper into what exactly the Stairmaster workout is and along with expert advice, the benefits of the Stairmaster, and easy ways to incorporate it into a healthy weight loss plan. Get ready to climb!

What is the Stairmaster workout?

So far on TikTok, the hashtag #stairmasterworkout has accumulated 102.5 million shares, along with endless videos accumulating over 525 million views. The Stairmaster workout is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin; a workout on the Stairmaster machine. Such as the one below.


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The workouts are varied; from 20-minute high-speed workouts to a mixture of fast and slow, single step and double step, for five minutes up to 30 minutes, or even longer! Some are based around HIIT training; a high-intensity interval training style, with intervals of harder work, broken up by ‘active recovery’, where the pace is slowed down to allow time for the body to recover. Many people use HIIT workouts for fat loss due to them being a very efficient way to get results from exercise.

What muscles does the Stairmaster workout?

Personal trainer Aimee Victoria Long says that the Stairmaster is a popular piece of cardio equipment, with the lower body muscles working the hardest throughout a Stairmaster workout. 

“The stepping motion is similar to a step up so you will be working your legs overall, which includes your quads, glutes, calves.” Generally, the Stairmaster works the muscles in the posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings, calves, erector spinae, lats, and also the rear shoulder muscles.

“As well as your legs the Stairmaster works your core muscles,” says Long.

“Using the Stairmaster requires you to use your balance, especially if you’re not holding on to the handles, so without even realizing it, you’re going to be working your core as this helps to hold you upright,” she adds.

Added to this, according to research in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle, stair climbing has actually been connected to a lower risk of premature death; a pretty impressive reason to get on the Stairmaster!

Long says that if you fancy making the Stairmaster a little tougher on muscles, it can be useful to increase the speed.

“This basically just means that the stairs move faster so you’re having to step faster. Another thing you can do is do two steps rather than one. Then if you want to take it up another level you could use ankle weights to add a little bit of extra resistance.”

Does the Stairmaster burn belly fat?

“First things first, no form of exercise can spot target fat loss, so using the Stairmaster isn’t going to directly make you burn belly fat,” explains Long.

“With that being said, using a Stairmaster will help increase your energy expenditure, and combining that with a well-balanced diet could lead you to be in a calorie deficit.”

Essentially, this means you are burning more calories than you are consuming and if you’re in a calorie deficit for a sustained period of time you will lose body fat. However, where you lose it will vary among individuals; you might lose belly fat first or you might lose fat on your legs first. But, generally, the calories in vs calories out equation is the fundamental equation for losing weight and burning calories on the Stairmaster can help. 

Research has found that stair climbing actually burns twice as many calories as walking, so if you are wanting to burn more calories, the Stairmaster can really help boost the burn. 

Aimee adds that if you’re incorporating the Stairmaster into your workout routine on top of what you’re already doing and eating fewer calories than you’re burning per day you’ll definitely start to lose weight.

How to incorporate the Stairmaster into a healthy weight loss plan?

To incorporate the Stairmaster into a healthy weight loss plan, Long recommends performing two to three Stairmaster workouts a week, ‘to help increase your energy expenditure’.

“I wouldn’t recommend dropping everything else you’re doing and just using the Stairmaster. Having a well-balanced workout program involving resistance training, core work, mobility and cardio is the best way to go about it.”

All of these together can help further your weight loss efforts.

How so?

“Resistance training is great for weight loss because for one it burns calories but not only that, the more lean muscle you have on your body the more calories you burn at resting,” explains Long.

“The mobility side of things means you’re able to reduce the risk of injury and be able to perform better when doing higher strain forms of exercise. Then the additional cardio will help increase your energy expenditure as well as helping you to maintain good cardiovascular health.”

Long does add that the most important thing when it comes to exercise on a healthy weight loss plan, is to find what works for you. “In my opinion, a mixture in your training is the way to go. By doing this, you’re less likely to get bored and your body will receive a different stimulus meaning you’ll be far more likely to see better weight loss results than you would if you were to concentrate on just one activity, again and again.

Of course, nutrition also comes into the weight-loss equation, as it’s important that in order to maintain a calorie deficit, the amount of food you’re consuming isn’t going to tip you into a calorie surplus.

Enjoying plenty of protein-rich foods is an important thing to consider as protein has been proven to help in weight loss and maintenance and it can control appetite. It’s best if you can get as much of your protein intake as possible from lean sources of it but there’s no harm in adding one of the best protein powders for weight loss to help you meet your protein requirements.

Ultimately, the Stairmaster is a useful exercise machine to add to your weekly workout regime, to help burn calories, work muscles and boost cardio fitness!

Lucy Gornall

Lucy is a freelance journalist specializing in health, fitness and lifestyle. She was previously the Health and Fitness Editor across various women's magazines, including Woman&Home, Woman and Woman’s Own as well as Editor of Feel Good You. She has also previously written for titles including Now, Look, Cosmopolitan, GQ, Red and The Sun. 

She lives and breathes all things fitness; working out every morning with a mix of running, weights, boxing and long walks. Lucy is a Level 3 personal trainer and teaches classes at various London studios. Plus, she's pre- and post-natal trained and helps new mums get back into fitness after the birth of their baby. Lucy claims that good sleep, plenty of food and a healthy gut (seriously, it's an obsession) are the key to maintaining energy and exercising efficiently. Saying this, she's partial to many classes of champagne and tequila on the rocks whilst out with her friends.