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Lee Reherman

Professional Fitness Expert

Best Stair Stepper & Best Stairmaster

Featured On:

  • American Gladiators
If it’s not a rowing movement, it’s a swimming motion… if it’s not a swimming motion, how about climbing? Isn’t it funny how fitness equipment engineers are always attempting to recreate something? You may not have thought much about it, but the next time you walk through the gym, take a look at the rows of bizarre contraptions that line the machine area. I’m pretty sure two things will be obvious to you: first, you’ll have no clue as to what 50% of those crazy appendages on those machine do, much less know how to use them; and second, you’ll notice that those machines always seem to be empty!

OK, then glance over to where the treadmills, stationary bikes, and stair steppers are… packed!

I bring this up, not because I’ve got a sponsorship deal with a bike manufacturer (though if any of those companies are looking for a spokesman, I’m available!), but I bring this up because it illustrates a pretty basic principal of exercise: “Keep it simple, stupid!”

Now climbing stairs may not be as sexy as swimming the English Channel or conquering Mount Everest, but during peak gym hours that long waiting line to get on Stair Steppers keeps growing because as a cardio training tool, climbing stairs is pretty hard to beat.

All Stair Steppers are not alike, as they’ve been engineered differently, and thus have slightly different ranges of motion, angles of foot placement, and programming options. Thus, when searching for a Home Stair Stepper, I suggest three things to consider:

1. Does the machine and its range of motion fit me comfortably?
2. Does the computer track the variables and have the programming options I want?
3. Will it last?

The best stair stepper is an efficient way to burn calories, toning your muscles. We suggest the best Stairmaster and the best elliptical trainer selections that will get you in shape in no time.

Best Home Stair Steppers by Lee Reherman

The Best You Can Get

  • Stairmaster FreeClimber 4400CL Exercise System

    Lee says: Similar to when folks call tissue paper “Kleenex”, many refer to the stair stepper as a “Stairmaster”. Why? Because ever since Stairmaster built the first stair stepper in the early 1980s, it has been building great stair steppers ever since. The 4400CL is Stairmaster’s top home unit, and crams 25 long years of stair stepper expertise into a sleek economical design. All the features are there, including the wide sweet spots, and all the Stairmaster programs that make the 4400CL a “must-see” if you are looking to bring a stair stepper home.

    • This unique, rail-less design encourages you to adapt a more erect posture so that you use more lower body muscles throughout the exercise; this discourages bending at the waist, thereby preventing your arms from helping off-load your body weight
    • The computer console has been designed with new entertaining exercise programs and a fitness test to measure your progress
    • Built with independent step action, patented pedal geometry, and the electromagnetic braking system to tightly control your rate of descent
    • Wide “sweet spot” provides stability and comfort, and a new computer console motivates you during your workout with different program options and workout statistics
  • Taiwan Sunbanker Fold-A-Way Cardio Stepper

    Lee says: I’d planned on listing the Fold-A-Way Cardio Stepper as a bargain in Best of the Rest, but I just couldn’t think of a darn good reason to disqualify the Taiwan Sunbanker stepper from Best of the Best, just because it may save you about a $1000! The engineering of the stepper apparatus, and the variables the computer tracks and displays are as robust as those on machines three times the price. But if you consider the space savings and the cost savings, then the Fold-A-Way deserves a Best of the Best thumbs up!

    • This compact stair climber was named “Best Overall” mini stair stepper by the Wall Street Journal and offers a full aerobic workout and a full range of functions to increase your strength and endurance
    • The multi-function computer on the stair stepper panel tracks heart rate, pace, calories burned, training time, and distance; and can keep track of your total steps for the week or all workouts combined
    • Movable shaft on stair stepper frame adjusts for your exact height
    • Stair stepper folds down for easy, quick storage in a closet or under a bed, and the monitor automatically shuts off after five minutes of non-use
  • Cybex 800 Stepper

    Lee says: Though its surprisingly reasonable price tag put it within reach in the “home stair stepper” category, the Cybex stepper’s commercial quality from top to bottom shows. The 39 programmable levels are unheard of in a home fitness machine, but what really sets the 800 apart is the silent operation of the stepper apparatus. If you’ve got a thorny neighbor or accusatory family member… or heck, maybe you have both! Then the Cybex 800 Stepper may be the optimal “noise friendly” compromise for which you’ve been searching.

    • The patented braking system provides virtually silent operation and the cable drive presents the incredibly smooth feel and helps keep your flooring cleaner than messy chain drives
    • The welded, heavy-duty steel frame provides exceptional stability, with an epoxy powder-coated finish for extra protection
    • Whether a newcomer or an Olympic star, the broad speed range gives you 39 levels from 10200 feet per minute, with Manual mode, six preset programs, and five advanced options
    • The CardioTouch system monitors heart rate and the Polar compatible receiver provides hands-free heart rate monitoring and control
  • Precor C764 with Heart Rate Climber

    Lee says: Precor has built a reputation of top quality cardio machines in both the home and commercial categories, and the C764 is another sound example. Though the footprint may be a little larger than some home fitness rooms have space for, if stability and safety are a purchase criterion, then the extra wide stance with redundant hand placements may be the answer, if you’ve got the space. Similarly, the extra wide display screen also delivers “commercial size and quality” in a home unit.

    • The C746 climber is an exercise in simplicity, in durability, and in common sense, that works with the natural forces of the human body
    • Our advanced fall-rate control system responds instantly to deliver accurate speed adjustments and smooth, fluid climbing action regardless of the weight or climbing style of the user
    • Exercisers touch the machine with their feet, with their hands, and with their minds, so we made those points of contact comfortable, easy, and stimulating
    • The most meticulous life testing in the industry ensures reliability and performance
  • Bowflex Treadclimber TC1000 Cardio Machine

    Lee says: Bowflex’s streamlined version of its Treadclimber series is all the engineering quality of the commercial steppers, less a little “sizzle” that you’ll never miss. The stepper apparatus is the same as the TC5000, and the panel display and programming options are as complete and robust as any home unit on the market. If you’ve got the space, this is a big heavy-duty unit that will last a long time and accommodate all users big or small, beginner or advanced, young or old.

    • The simplest way to achieve fast, effective weight-loss at a price almost anyone can afford
    • Same unique Bowflex technology as top-of-the-line machine, the TC1000 Treadclimber offers the essential controls and features you need for great results
    • Tailor your workout specifically to your fitness and comfort level, from beginner to elite athlete with 12 intensity settings
    • Starting or stopping exercise is safe and easy with large footboards along tread belts

You will be happy with any of these

  • Stamina 55-2010 Extended Stride Elliptical Stepper

    Lee says: Stamina has built a combination stepper and elliptical that land at the top of our “Best of the Rest” list as the economical no-brainer. On the 55-2010, the process of switching back and forth between stepper and elliptical is remarkably easy, and even with that dual functionality, the 55-2010 has a fairly small footprint. If you’re building a home workout room, yet don’t have money to burn, then the two-in-one capability of both stepper and elliptical make the Stamina hybrid an option worth looking at.

    • A state of the art stepper and elliptical all in a compact design that fits in small workout area, yet quickly and easily converts from elliptical mode to stepper mode and back
    • 8 levels of smooth magnetic resistance, and a multi-function electronic performance monitor that displays RPM, speed, time, distance, calories burned, and heart rate
    • Dual-action padded handlebars with durable steel and aluminum construction with floor protectors to safeguard your workout area and prevent skidding
    • Gives you a workout that is a unique blend of stair climbing, cycling, skiing, and walking, all in one machine
  • Multisports ST-2200

    Lee says: The Multisports ST-2200 is a solid stepper at a very attractive price. It tracks and displays all the variables you need, and the programming capability rivals most commercial models. If you are shopping for a stepper that can accommodate multiple users across a wider range of sizes, ages, and ability levels, then an especially attractive feature is the wrap around handlebar for unlimited hand placement options and safety. Another attractive feature is the “no-noise chain mechanism”, especially if a noisy machine might pose a problem with family members, roommates, or neighbors.

    • Displays time, resistance level, steps per minute, calories, heart rate, scan, count, and pulse
    • Patented programmable tension control has a no noise chain mechanism and a wireless and contact heart rate monitor.
    • A variety of challenging preset programmed courses includes both manual Quick Start and customizable interval programs so you can design your own punishing workout!
    • Other outstanding features include: Friction free electromagnetic eddy current resistance, independent stepping action, and rugged construction with multi-position side rails
  • Kettler Power Stepper

    Lee says: I’m a free weight sorta guy, but I’ve always been a fan of the “hydraulic machines” as a way to change things up a bit. The general idea is pretty simple: the hydraulic drum is engineered like a shock absorber and thus the harder you push, the more resistance you get from the apparatus. Kettler has put this technology into a stepper and the result is a quality stepper that will give you the exact resistance you need, in real time, with no adjustment necessary! Also, the hydraulic technology has always been as dependable and maintenance-free as any technology out there.

    • Excellent training for the heart and lungs while simultaneously strengthening the muscles of the seat and legs
    • The footplate surfaces are mounted on separate bearings, thus allowing a natural climbing movement
    • Training computer measures time, stepping speed, steps climbed per session, energy consumption, total height climbed, and pulse rate
    • 2 hydraulic cylinders for setting resistance force from 1-12, and 2 handrails for safety during training
    • Wheels and height adjusters make it portable and versatile for the whole family
  • NordicTrack Stepper, MTN 740

    Lee says: NordicTrack is certainly known for quality fitness equipment, but it is equally unknown for targeting the economy space with those products. But somewhat surprisingly, with the MTN 740, NordicTrack has delivered a high-quality stepper for a reasonable home gym price. The MTN 740 has the high quality engineered stepper mechanism from NordicTrack’s commercial line, but many of the features have been left on too, including the sensors in the hand grips, the higher end display, and the built-in fan to help keep you cool.

    • There has never been a better exercise for toning and shaping buns, thighs, and calves
    • With the NordicTrack MTN 740 stepper, you’ll get a killer cardio workout, complete with adjustable resistance, CardioGrip Pulse Sensors, Competitor Console, and more
    • All with the comfort of a built-in CoolAire fan to keep you comfortable.
  • ActiveForever Duro-Med Mini Stepper

    Lee says: It’s dirt-cheap and it’s tiny, but believe it or not, the darn thing works! If you are just getting started into an exercise routine, or are looking to supplement your time at the gym, then ActiveForever may deliver the exact product you’re looking for. Throw it in your trunk, toss it in your travel bag, hide it in the corner of the office; you can literally take the Duro-Med Mini Stepper with you anywhere you go!

    • This space-saving, low-impact, portable stepper is perfect for toning the waist, hips, calves, and thighs
    • Features a unique adjustable tension pulley system that makes stepping action smoother for low impact exercises, and the dual hydraulic cylinders work independently, replicating stair climbing
    • Constructed of heavy gauge steel, the footrests are high-impact plastic composite and the non-skid feet prevent slipping
    • Includes a built in digital computer that calculates elapsed time and number of steps

Related Articles

The best stair stepper is a step above treadmills, stationary bikes and other exercise equipment. We suggest the best Stairmaster and elliptical machines that offer a good range of motion and lots of variables to program the best workouts. Choose the best elliptical trainer, stair stepper and other home gym equipment all at the best price.