The 8 Best Stair Steppers in 2022: Step Up Your Cardio Training

woman using a stair stepper


Climbing stairs boosts your heart rate, increases calorie burn, strengthens the lower body, enhances lung function, and improves balance. But finding a set of stairs for a quick workout isn't always easy. Fortunately, a stair stepper can be an excellent substitute, especially when the weather is not cooperating.

Stair steppers range from portable budget machines that fit under your desk to high-end models with luxury features like an HD touchscreen and multiple resistance levels. Determining the best stair stepper for your needs often comes down to budget, space, usage, accessibility, and goals.

Are you wondering how a stair stepper can fit into your home gym cardio lineup? The ACTIVE Reviews Team looked at eight stair steppers with varying prices, tech features, and sizes to help you narrow your search. Here, we break down the details of several brands and what to look for when shopping for a stair stepper.

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Best Stair Steppers in 2022 – Our Top Picks

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What to Look for When Shopping for a Stair Stepper


Size

The space required for a fully assembled stair stepper is called the footprint. Larger machines are often difficult to move and designed to stay in one place. They typically require a large footprint with plenty of space around the stepper for safety. If space is an issue, consider a small, portable stepper you can store under your desk or a foldable stepper you can move to a corner when not in use.

Multi-functional

Some steppers are two-in-one machines offering a stair climbing and elliptical workout experience. These step machines tend to be more expensive, so make sure the sticker price matches your budget.

Handlebars

If you want a full-body workout, consider a stepper with moving handlebars. Steppers that come equipped with handlebars that allow for a push-pull movement give users the ability to synchronize their arms and legs while training. This movement helps increase your heart rate, boost calorie burn, and targets upper body muscles like the biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, and chest. Portable steppers often do not come with handlebars, but some do have resistance bands attached to the equipment, allowing you to get an upper-body workout while using the step machine.

Weight capacity

All stair steppers have a maximum user weight capacity, and machines designed for home use tend to have a lower weight capacity than steppers built for gym use. The maximum capacity for home stair steppers ranges from 220 to 300 pounds, while some gym-quality equipment can support up to 500 pounds. Most manufacturers will list the maximum user weight on the box or promotional materials for their machine. Also, factor in the number of people potentially using the stepper. If more than one person regularly uses the stepper, you may want to consider a more solid machine built for heavier weight or multi-users.

Best Overall Stair Stepper - ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

ProForm Carbon HIIT H7

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 29.25"W x 52"D x 66.7"H
  • Weight: 225 lbs. (in box)
  • Adjustable step height: No
  • Handlebars: Multi-function handlebars that add resistance and movement
  • Max user weight: 325 lbs.
  • Display: 7" Smart HD touchscreen
  • Special features: EKG Grip Pulse heart rate sensor, built-in fan, water bottle holder, oversized pedals
  • Warranty: 10-year frame, 2-year parts, 1-year labor

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Tech-forward features, multiple resistance levels, best-in-class workouts, and a sturdy build are just a few reasons we chose the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7 as the best overall stair stepper. Serious fitness enthusiasts who want a solid stair-stepping cardio workout at home will appreciate how this machine also mimics elliptical movements by allowing your feet to travel on a 10-inch vertical and five-inch horizontal path. You'll also get an upper body burn since the handlebars simulate a punching or boxing action.

We also like that it offers 24 resistance levels—which is a lot compared to the competitors—and has a connected HD touchscreen that works with the iFIT membership to bring you thousands of live and on-demand classes. Other notable features include a built-in fan with two settings, Bluetooth speakers, high maximum user weight capacity, and silent magnetic resistance for a smooth and quiet ride. While designed for home use, the machine does require a decent-sized footprint, so be sure to measure the floor area before purchasing the Carbon HIIT H7.

PROS

  • Quiet, smooth workouts
  • Comes with a HD touchscreen for streaming live and on-demand workouts
  • 24 resistance levels
  • Generous factory warranty
  • Multi-functional handlebars equipped with grip-pulse heart rate sensors
  • Built-in fan
  • Appropriate for a variety of body sizes
  • Bluetooth-enabled

CONS

  • High sticker price
  • Heavy and difficult to move
  • Requires a larger footprint

BUY: Proform Carbon HIIT H7

Best Stair Stepper for Runners - Bowflex M3 Max Trainer

Bowflex M3 Max Trainer

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 46.5"L x 22.5"W x 26.5"H
  • Weight: 143 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: No
  • Handlebars: Fully moving handlebars for front and back motion
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Display: Backlit digital display
  • Special features: Interactive display has 2 workout programs, 8 resistance levels controlled with dial, shows calories burned per min.
  • Warranty: 1-year

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Regular running can wreak havoc on your body, especially if you're not cross-training. Fortunately, stair stepper machines like the Bowflex Max Trainer can provide a challenging workout that boosts your cardio level while reducing wear and tear on your lower body. The M3 MaxTrainer is the original Bowflex MaxTrainer. This compact stair stepper operates similarly to an elliptical with a stair-stepping motion, which is great for runners looking for a low-impact aerobic workout that challenges the lower body muscles and cardiovascular system. It features eight resistance levels, two workout programs, a chest strap for heart-rate monitoring, and a water bottle and device holder.

The M3 is an older version of the MaxTrainer, so it is not available on the company's website. If interested, you will need to purchase it through Amazon or another retailer. Bowflex now only carries the M6 and M9 MaxTrainer machines. Because it is an older version, it is not compatible with the JRNY platform workout app.

PROS

  • Combines stair-stepping with elliptical features
  • Accommodates several body types
  • Most affordable of all Bowflex Max Trainers
  • Ideal size for smaller footprints
  • Includes chest strap for heart rate monitoring
  • Comes with a water bottle and tablet holder
  • 8 resistance levels

CONS

  • Only tracks workout history for 2 people
  • Limited warranty
  • Not available on Bowflex website
  • Not compatible with the Bowflex JRNY platform workout app

BUY: Bowflex Max Trainer Series

Best Portable Stair Stepper - Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper Stair Stepper

Sunny Health Fitness Mini Stepper Stair Stepper

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 16"L x 12.5"W x 13.5"H
  • Weight: 14.5 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: Yes
  • Handlebars: No
  • Max user weight: 220 lbs.
  • Display: LCD digital monitor displays calorie, count, reps, minutes, time, and scan
  • Special features: Comes with removable resistance bands to use while on the stepper, quick to assemble, pedals are non-slip
  • Warranty: 1-year on structural frame, 180-day on other parts and components

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If you're on the hunt for a grab-and-go cardio machine, then consider the mobility of Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper. This portable stair stepper is ideal for travelers, people who want to get a quick workout in at work, or anyone with limited space who wants to stash the stepper out of sight when not in use. The Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper has a simple design, making it easy to operate, regardless of your exercise experience.

We also like the hydraulic cylinders, which give the machine a smooth ride, and the adjustable steps allow you to dial in the correct motion height for your fitness needs. Plus, it has non-slip pedals, two removable resistance bands you can use to target upper body muscles, and a built-in display that tracks calories, reps, minutes, and time. However, it has a lower maximum user weight and no handlebars, so it may not be appropriate for people with balance issues or over 220 pounds.

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Portable, small footprint, and lightweight
  • Comes with resistance bands for upper-body workout
  • Adjustable step height
  • Non-slip pedals for safe exercising
  • Easy 1-step assembly
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

CONS

  • Max user weight is lower than other steppers
  • Does not have handlebars
  • No added resistance

BUY: Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper Stair Stepper

Best 2-in-1 Stair Stepper - XTERRA Fitness Seated Stepper

XTERRA Fitness Seated Stepper

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 52.1"L x 14.7"W x 50"H
  • Weight: 132 lbs., 143.3 lbs. shipping weight
  • Adjustable step height: No
  • Handlebars: 360-degree handle rotation with multi-grip hand position
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Display: 5.6" LCD digital screen
  • Special features: Seated machine ideal for all fitness levels and abilities, multiple resistance levels, good-sized display, articulating padded hand groups for 360-degrees of rotation
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame and brake, 3-years parts, 1-year labor

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Engaging in effective dynamic exercise depends on your body, ability, and fitness level. And for many people, it also needs to be accessible and safe, so we recommend the XTERRA Fitness Seated Stepper for anyone who needs a cardio machine that provides a seated full-body aerobic workout. This unique stepper provides a similar lower-body workout to a vertical or standing stepper with the added comfort of sitting down. Additionally, the articulating padded hand grips come with 360-degree rotation allowing you to challenge upper body muscles differently each time you work out. We also like that the handlebars pivot out of the way for easy entry and exit.

The XTERRA Seated Stepper features 24 resistance levels and a large, easy-to-read LCD screen that tracks your speed, distance, calories, and heart rate. In addition, this seated stepper can accommodate body sizes up to 300 pounds and six-foot-two. Even though the pros outweigh the cons, it's still important to point out that this machine is expensive, heavy, and requires a large footprint.

PROS

  • Seated machine with mesh back seating for comfort and accessibility
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Articulating hand grips
  • 24 resistance levels
  • Sturdy frame
  • Accommodates users of various sizes and abilities
  • Generous lifetime warranty

CONS

  • High price tag
  • Requires a larger footprint than standing steppers
  • Not designed to be portable

BUY: XTERRA Fitness Seated Stepper

Best Budget Stair Stepper - Sportsroyals Stair Stepper with Resistance Band

Sportsroyals Stair Stepper with Resistance Band

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 18.5"L x 17.32"W x 15.75"H
  • Weight: 25 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: No
  • Handlebars: No
  • Max user weight: 330 lbs.
  • Display: LCD monitor displays time, count, total count, and calories
  • Special features: Removable resistance bands, anti-slip foot pads, wide non-slip pedals, twisting action
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

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Home exercise equipment often requires a significant up-front investment, and while some of the pricier machines are worth the cost, there are also plenty of budget-friendly alternatives that can check most, if not all, of the boxes. If cost is a consideration and you're not adamant about having handlebars, then the Sportsroyals Stair Stepper with Resistance Bands is worth checking out. What we like about this stepper is the twisting motion that allows you to go side to side in addition to up and down. This variety of movement gives you additional workout options that increase the challenge and target different muscles, such as your core.

This machine also has one of the highest maximum user weight capacities—330 pounds—making it an excellent choice for most body types. However, the Sportsroyals Stair Stepper does not have handlebars, so it may not be suitable for people with balance issues or other health conditions that require help with stability.

PROS

  • Comes with resistance bands for upper-body workout
  • Mini stepper for easy storage
  • Large LCD monitor
  • Generous maximum user weight
  • Comes fully assembled
  • Moves up and down and side to side

CONS

  • Does not have handlebars
  • Limited warranty
  • No adjustable tension or resistance levels

BUY: Sportsroyals Stair Stepper with Resistance Band

Best Compact Stair Stepper - Sunny Health & Fitness Advanced Total Body Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper

Sunny Health Fitness Advanced Total Body Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 19.3"L x 17.9"W x 14.2"H
  • Weight: 19.4 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: Yes
  • Handlebars: No
  • Max user weight: 250 lbs.
  • Display: Digital monitor displays count, time, calories, total count, and scan
  • Special features: Upper-body resistance bands, stabilizing ring for added safety and security
  • Warranty: 1-year structural frame, 180 days parts and components

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If being able to slide a stepper under your work desk or in a closet at home is a must-have feature, we like the Sunny Health & Fitness Advanced Total Body Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper. Like the Sportsoryals stair stepper, this Sunny Health & Fitness stepper has a twisting motion that allows you to target the inner and outer leg muscles, glutes, and core muscles. The Advanced Step Machine also has resistance bands for a muscle-building upper body workout.

One thing we noticed about this stepper is the unique stabilizer ring on the foundation of the stepper that keeps your steps steady. This added safety feature is not standard on all stair steppers. That said, it does not have handlebars, so you may need to consider a different stair stepper if balance and stability are an issue. This stepper does have a slightly better maximum weight capacity at 250 pounds, but it is still lower than several other models.

PROS

  • Comes with upper-body resistance bands
  • Easy-to-adjust step height
  • Large textured pedals for a safer workout
  • Very lightweight and easy to transport
  • 3-step assembly process
  • Twisting foot action

CONS

  • No handlebars
  • Limited warranty
  • Low step range

BUY: Sunny Health & Fitness Advanced Total Body Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper

Best Stair Stepper for Small Spaces - The MaxiClimber XL-2000

The MaxiClimber XL-2000

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 25.78" x 41.33" (unfolded), 14.17" x 25.78" (folded)
  • Weight: 52 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: Yes
  • Handlebars: Vertical handlebars
  • Max user weight: 300 lbs.
  • Display: Small LCD monitor tracks time, distance, and steps; requires mobile device and free MaxiClimber fitness app to view routines
  • Special features: Free MaxiClimber fitness app for iOS and Android, compact and durable, foldable for storage
  • Warranty: 1-year limited warranty

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If you're limited on floor space but want a vertical stepper with a smaller footprint, we recommend the MaxiClimber XL-2000. This unique stair stepper targets upper- and lower-body muscles while giving you an excellent cardiovascular workout. Because of the arm motion used while working out, the MaxiClimber requires your body to be in a position that challenges the core muscles more than other stair steppers. But, you don't have to power the arms, or you can choose to do it intermittently during a workout session.

The MaxiClimber is also suitable for taller people, with a maximum recommended height of 6-foot-6 and a user weight of 300 pounds, higher than most home stair steppers. Plus, the XL-2000 offers a bi-directional hydraulic resistance system with 12 levels of resistance. The climber has an integrated mobile device holder for a smartphone to track metrics or view workout programs through the app.

PROS

  • Max user height of 6'6"
  • Folds for compact storage
  • Does not require an outlet or electricity
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Small footprint when in use
  • 12 hydraulic resistance levels
  • Bi-directional resistance
  • Relatively affordable

CONS

  • Requires high ceilings
  • Limited warranty

BUY: MaxiClimber XL-2000

Best Stair Stepper for Beginners - Sunny Health & Fitness Performance Cardio Climber

Sunny Health Fitness Performance Cardio Climber

SPECS

  • Dimensions: 42"L x 23"W x 60.5"H
  • Weight: 69.3 lbs.
  • Adjustable step height: No
  • Handlebars: Full motion handlebars
  • Max user weight: 220 lbs.
  • Display: Digital monitor measures time, speed, distance, calories, odometer, and scan
  • Special features: Comes with a mobile device holder, floor stabilizers for leveling and balance, front-drive flywheel
  • Warranty: 3-year structural frame, 180-days parts and components

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Working out at home has several advantages for beginners, but you also need to have equipment that is safe, reliable, and easy to use. The Sunny Health & Fitness Performance Cardio Climber is a terrific option for anyone exercise newbie who wants a full-body workout combining horizontal elliptical and vertical stair-stepping motions for a fluid climbing experience.

The Performance Cardio machine has eight levels of magnetic resistance, which is plenty for a beginner. And the swinging handlebars make it easy to get an upper-body workout. It also comes with a mobile device holder for a tablet or smartphone, allowing you to stream workouts or your favorite show.

Moving the machine is easy with the built-in transportation wheels, while the floor stabilizes and allows for a quick balancing and leveling process once it's in a new location. It has a lower maximum user weight, and it requires a decent-sized footprint, so make sure to consider those things before purchasing.

PROS

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Mobile device holder
  • Easy to move with built-in transportation wheels
  • Reasonable price for the quality and features
  • 8 resistance levels
  • Swinging upper-body handlebars for total-body workout
  • Combines stepping with a unique striding motion

CONS

  • Low max user weight
  • Noisier than some steppers
  • Requires a decent-sized footprint
  • Display is not Bluetooth-enabled

BUY: Sunny Health & Fitness Performance Cardio Climber

FAQs About Stair Steppers


Are stair steppers quiet?

Stair steppers are certainly quieter than a treadmill, but they are not the most silent pieces of cardio equipment. Steppers that require your feet to push the step up and down, similar to climbing stairs, may produce more noise than step machines that mimic an elliptical movement of gliding back and forth. If a quiet stepper is a deciding factor for you, test a few models or double-check the user reviews before purchasing one for your home.

What is the maximum weight capacity for a stair stepper?

Generally, the maximum weight capacity for a stair stepper ranges between 220 pounds to 325 pounds, with the average being between 250 and 300 pounds. Some commercial-grade stair steppers can support up to 500 pounds, but these are often very expensive and not ideal for home use. For example, our top pick, the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7, has a maximum user weight of 325 pounds, considered one of the highest weight limits available. It's best to compare the product specifications before purchasing a stair stepper.

Do stair steppers come assembled?

Some stair steppers come fully assembled, while others require owner assembly. Smaller portable steppers like the Sportsroyal Stair Stepper with Resistance Bands come in one piece, allowing you to unpack and begin using right away. Other steppers, such as the ProForm Carbon HIIT H7, are larger machines shipped in several sections. Some steppers have add-on features like water bottles and tablet holders that require a few extra steps to secure. Stair steppers typically come with a user manual that details step-by-step assembly instructions and can take about 15 to 60-plus minutes to build. Some models also post videos online that show you how to assemble them. Additionally, if you purchase a more complex machine, hiring a pro to put it together is always an option.

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