What is a Stepmill Machine and how can it help you reach your goals? A stepmill workout is one of the best fat blasting, calories burning and sweat drenching cardio workouts you can do! In all the gyms I've been in however, I've never seen more than 3 or 4 stepmill machines in comparison to dozens of elliptical trainers, bikes, treadmills, and stair-steppers available. So if the stepmill / stairmill is such a great workout, why aren't more gyms dedicating more space to these beasts of burden? It's not a cost issue (they're about the same cost as any other piece of commercial cardio equipment), so I can only assume it's the intimidation factor of the machine itself!
What is a Stepmill Machine or Stairmill versus a Stairmaster or Stair Climber?
Usually tucked away in a corner of the cardio room at your gym, the stepmill machine looks like an escalator of moving steps and resembles a staircase. This is not to be confused with the step machine which has two peddles that you stand on and pump up and down.
There's lots of confusion between these two types of machines for good reason as they were both introduced to the world by the StairMaster company. In 1983 the Stairmaster 5000 debuted as the first stepmill or rotating staircase as we know it. Soon after, the same company released the StairMaster 4000PT which has two independent pedals and simulates stair climbing. The most recent Stairmaster release (independent pedals) gained popularity over the original stepmill (rotating staircase). Generally speaking stepmill and stairmill refers to the rotating staircase machine, and "Stairmaster" or step machine refers to the pedal climber. Still confused?
The rotating staircase machine duplicates actual stair climbing, while the two pedal step machine simulates stair climbing.
So is one better than the other?
Just like when people ask me if GymPaws® Lifting Grips are better than full workout gloves - it depends on what your goal is and your expectations of each.
1. Burn Calories and Get Leaner
When using a Stepmill (rotating staircase) you're using your bodyweight as resistance whereas with the Stairmaster you can set the resistance level. Most personal trainers will agree that when given the option of making an exercise easier versus more challenging, the average gym goer will opt for the "path of least resistance" as it were. Because the stepmill replicates climbing stairs using your own bodyweight you'll likely be burning more calories with this movement versus pumping up and down on the Stairmaster using a percentage of your bodyweight.
2. Building Strength and Increasing Range of Motion
If you're a newbie to the gym, or getting back into a workout routine you may be better off beginning with the Stairmaster because you can gradually build up your strength and endurance. Because the Stairmaster doesn't require you to actually pick up your feet and set them back down, it's also a lower impact exercise compared with the stepmill. If you suffer from limited mobility with the hip flexors, or knee or ankle injuries using the Stairmaster may be a better choice to start with. Consult with a good personal trainer before beginning any new exercise routine.
So what do you think? Do you prefer the stepmill /rotating stairs or the Stairmaster?