StairMaster vs Elliptical: Don’t be Fooled
There are those who may readily conclude that a StairMaster vs. elliptical machine showdown is already a foregone conclusion with the latter being the runaway winner. For a time, ellipticals along with stationary bikes have been regarded as among the most popular cardio machines in the gym next to the treadmill. Its popularity may easily be one of the reasons why some may think that ellipticals are better than the StairMaster. However, this StairMaster vs. elliptical machine showdown is not a popularity contest.
Moreover, a 2016 survey from Ecofit, an asset management company, shows that the StairMaster has overtaken stationary bikes and ellipticals in terms of the equipment used in fitness centers across North America. The StairMaster, according to the Ecofit data, has silently become the most preferred cardio equipment next to the treadmill. However, an objective StairMaster vs. elliptical equipment comparison will not be conclusively settled via popularity alone. To make a definitive comparison, one needs to consider important variables, including the fitness benefits from each machine and the effort put in by the user.
So in an objective StairMaster vs. elliptical machine comparison, which one is better? Since StairMaster also has a line of other cardio equipment, this discussion will refer to its iconic exercise machine, the StepMill.
StairMaster vs. Elliptical Machines: How They Work
Elliptical machines are somewhat like stationary bikes without the seats. Users set their feet on two pedals and then workout by striding on the machine via a predetermined pedal path. Most elliptical machines have a fixed stride length that can vary between 16 to 22 inches. The movement on ellipticals is supposed to replicate the body’s movement when hiking, or when using the handlebars, cross-country skiing. Studies show that working out on an elliptical machine not only can help burn calories, but it can also help improve your stamina.
If you want to learn more about our recommended StairMaster machines and elliptical bike machines click to go through our in-depth reviews. StairMaster equipment, particularly the StepMill, gives you a workout with steps that rotate on a belt to simulate the motion of ascending a flight of stairs. StepMills that are rated for commercial use, such as the Gauntlet, have steps that have an 8-inch rise, 9 inches deep and 22 inches wide, which closely replicates working out on real steps. The step rate ranges from a leisurely 24 steps a minute to an intense 162 steps per minute.
Pros and Cons
Elliptical machines became a favorite because it is relatively easy and fun to exercise on them. The striding movements are flowing, and you can build up a good rhythm that you can sustain for a good half-an-hour or more. While ellipticals give you a good workout, the movements are fixed, and our body can soon get used to the movements, thus slowing down your gains over time. The strides and pedal path are also fixed, which may not always be in tune with your biomechanical movements. With ellipticals, the stronger leg also tends to compensate for the weaker one.
StairMaster StepMills have been shown to give you good gains even at low workout intensity. Unlike the treadmill, StairMasters hit more of your lower body muscles effectively and efficiently. Not only will your stamina improve with workouts on a StairMaster, but you’ll also build muscle strength in the lower body since it hits your core muscles, quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes with each step. However, workouts on a StairMaster can hit beginners hard. It takes a bit of time to build lower body muscles to get used to working out on a StairMaster.
StairMaster vs. Ellipticals: Which Works Better?
Deciding which cardio machine is better in this StairMaster vs. elliptical equipment showdown can be a bit tricky. Both machines have their own advantages and disadvantages. The answer can vary depending on the fitness goal. For instance, when trying to lose unwanted pounds, elliptical machines may hold an edge if the user works out at a high and sustained intensity. High-intensity cardio workouts on an elliptical machine burn more calories than workouts on a StairMaster.
However, high-intensity workouts have also been shown to cause the breakdown of lean muscle mass. Losing lean muscle mass can significantly hamper your metabolism. This means that steady-state, high-intensity workouts may actually make you more prone to storing fat because of a slow metabolic rate.
StairMaster StepMills help you gain more muscle and strength in your lower body. Since muscles weigh more than fat, the benefits of working out on a StepMill may not immediately reflect on a weighing scale. However, more lean muscle translates to a faster metabolic rate, and this can make you more efficient in burning stored body fat. For overall fitness and long-term benefits; therefore, the StairMaster is far ahead in this StairMaster vs. elliptical machine head-to-head.
It is essential to keep in mind that their users will ultimately decide the true winner in this StairMaster vs. elliptical showdown. If a user prefers one cardio machine to the other, and that he is willing to push himself with each workout on it, then his favored fitness equipment is the better machine for him.