This is the definitive guide to buying a stairmaster.

We have listed the 5 best Stairmasters in this guide.

Stairmasters are expensive.

Read on to make sure you don’t get stuck with a $5000 lemon.

Updated Nov. 10, 2021





This is the definitive guide to buying a stairmaster.

We have listed the 5 best Stairmasters in this guide.

Stairmasters are expensive.

Read on to make sure you don’t get stuck with a $5000 lemon.

Updated Aug. 10, 2021

If you are looking to buy a Stairmaster there are probably a hundred questions in your head.


Which one should you buy?


Is it worth the money?


Will it fit into my workout space?


I’m going to answer each of these questions for you and help you select the best Stairmaster to help you get that toned lower body and bubble butt.


Before I do that, however, here is a sneak peek of

The 5 Best Stairmasters on the market right now:

  1. Best Stairmaster for Home Gyms: Stairmaster Gauntlet Series 8 Stepmill


  1. Best Stairmaster on A Budget: Stairmaster SM3


  1. Most Affordable Full-Sized Stairmaster: Jacobs Ladder – The Stairway


  1. Best Stairmaster Money Can Buy: Stairmaster 10 G


  1. Best Stairmaster Series 8 Alternative: Life Fitness PowerMill Climber


  1. Honorable mention: Technogym Artis Climber

Table of contents

Top 5 Stairmasters Reviewed

Best Stairmaster


Home Gyms

Stairmaster Series 8

The Stairmaster Series 8 is the best overall Stairmaster on the list, and it gets everything just right.


The Series 8 is all you need for a home gym.


The Series 8 costs $9,000. 


This places it nicely between the extravagant 10G and the economical SM3. 


The same goes for its size as well.


It has a larger stepping surface and step depth than the SM3 but isn’t built like a behemoth and CAN be fit into most garage gyms unlike the 10g.


The Stairmaster brand and quality go hand in hand.


The Stairmaster brand guarantees quality, that’s why I have 3 of these on the list. 


The Series 8 is a well-built, sturdy machine that will probably last you a lifetime.


To put your mind even further at ease, it also comes with a 10-year warranty on the structural frame and a 3-year warranty on labor parts, so you don’t have to worry about maintenance costs or trying to fix it yourself if something goes wrong (unlikely to happen).

The Series 8 offers a big enough stepping surface, without a bulky frame.

The standout for the Series 8 is how ergonomic it is use. 


It has a big stepping surface with adequate stepping depth, but the overall size is not too big for a home gym.


The overall design of the Series 8 is a bit outdated


When compared to the 10G, the Series 8 looks a little dated in overall design as well as console options.


If you are looking for a better, more premium experience then you can graduate on to the 10G for a better console and overall design.


However, if the console doesn’t matter to you as much as the size of the stepping surface the Series 8 is perfect for you. 



It is easy to get confused between the SM3, Series 8, and 10G but it all boils down to what matters the most to you.


If you want the most economical Stairmaster experience, go with the SM3.


But if step size, depth, and joy when using matter more to you, the Series 8 provides you with exactly that.


If you, however, are on the other end of the spectrum and want the absolute best Staimaster with a huge console and a wide stepping surface, go with the Stairmaster 10G.


In the end, the Series 8 has something for everyone. 


A sturdy exterior, a big enough stepping surface, and a challenging step depth that helps you keep your workouts demanding enough. 

Spec Sheet – Series 8


Stairmaster Height

7.4 feet



4.8 feet



2.8 feet



381 lbs

Ceiling Height

10 feet


Best Stairmaster

on a


Stairmaster SM3

If you are looking for a compact Stairmaster that fits into your room as well as your budget, you have hit the jackpot with the SM3.


The SM3 is most economical Stairmaster you can buy.


The SM3 comes at a price tag of $3,500, which is modest when compared to the other Stairmasters on the list.


Its size is specifically designed for home gyms and apartments.


It’s narrow enough to fit through most average-sized doors, which means you don’t have to go through the hassle of assembling and reassembling it.




It has a recommended ceiling height of 8ft, not 10ft. 


But you would require more if you are taller than 6ft.


Even though the SM3 is small in size, there are no cutbacks on quality.


With Stairmaster products, you generally don’t need to worry about quality, and the SM3 is no exception.


The SM3 is not bulky like the 10G, but still looks sturdy enough to last you a lifetime. 


And that is not an exaggeration.


It comes with a lifetime warranty on the frame, and a 5-year, 2-year, and 1-year warranty on its mechanical, electronics, and labor parts, respectively.

The SM3 is as compact as they get

Stairmaster SM3 Size

The standout feature of the SM3 has to be its compact size.


If you don’t have enough space for a full-scale Stairmaster like the 10G, you can easily choose the SM3 without compromising on power or quality.


The compact size of the SM3 is not for everyone though.


The biggest strength of the Stairmaster SM3 is ironically also its fatal flaw.


Since the machine is small, it has narrow steps and low step depth. 


This makes it difficult for you to perform single-legged exercises and criss-cross step exercises.


The machine also operates with a loud enough noise to make you reach out for a pair of headphones.


Take that into consideration before placing the SM3 in your bedroom.




In conclusion, the Stairmaster SM3 is the most popular Stairmaster for home gyms for good reason.


This should be your first consideration if you are looking to add a Stairmaster to your home gym setup.


Its size makes it practical.


It’s pretty.




Years of reliable Stairmaster products prove that you won’t be disappointed.

Spec Sheet – SM3



6.1 feet



3.8 feet



2.4 feet



212 lbs


Ceiling Height

 8 feet


Most Affordable

Full-Sized Stepmill

Jacobs Ladder - The Stairway

The Jacobs Ladder Stairway is a great choice for you if you want a full-sized Stairmaster without paying the price for one. 


Gives you the full-size Stairmaster experience at a great price.


Priced at $4,900, the Stairway is at par with the Stairmaster SM3 in price, but has dimensions similar to the Stairmaster 10G.


So, it comes close to giving you the best of both worlds.


Or, well, it at least tries.


Ironically, given its size, The Stairway requires a ceiling clearance of just 8 ½ feet, thanks to its low initial step height of only 11 inches.


This makes it perfect for you if you live in an apartment with low ceilings.


The build quality could be better.


Quality is not the strongest point for the Stairway.


As soon as you take a look at it, a lot of flimsy, plastic parts stare back at you, which fail to inspire the confidence a $4,900 machine should.


Compared to the Stairmaster SM3, which comes at a similar price point, the Stairway does look bigger and provides a better step depth, but lacks overall build quality.


However, it does come with a 4-year parts warranty and a 1-year labor warranty. 


So any lapses in quality that you might be worried about will be Jacobs Ladder’s headache and not yours.


Now, if your priority is buying a full-sized Stairmaster, but you don’t want to spend more than $5000 on it, then by all means try the Jacobs Ladder Stairway. 


But if quality is more important to you, take a look at some of the other options in the list.


The Stairway has a lot of step depth

Jacobs Ladder stairmaster step depth

The step depth of the Stairway is greater than most other options, which makes it that much better at targeting your glutes, hams, and quads.


The extra step depth is great for you if you are experienced at using the Stairmaster.


However, it might be a little daunting if you are just starting out.


With the Stairway, you control the speed


With the Jacobs Ladder Stairway, you have complete control over the speed of the Stairway.


The higher up you go, the faster the stairs come.


This is great for LISS cardio but does present a problem if you want to do HIIT because it takes a while to ramp up and slow down.


It is self-powered!  


Saving the best for last, the feature that makes the Jacobs Ladder Stairway stand out from the rest in this list is the fact that it is self-powered, making it extremely convenient to use and move around.


Too much plastic.


Like I already mentioned, the Jacobs Ladder Stairway does not feel like a very sturdy machine.


The overall frame has a lot of plastic components, which give it a weak look and do not inspire confidence.


Also, if you are a beginner, you might find the step depth of the Stairway a little too challenging in the beginning.




In conclusion, if you are looking for a full-sized Stairmaster because you want the additional step depth to tone your glutes, the Jacobs Ladder Stairway is a good option at a decent enough price.


It might also be your only option if your apartment or garage gym doesn’t have a 10-foot roof clearance for a full-size Stairmaster.


Spec Sheet – Jacob’s Ladder-The Stairway



6.25 feet



4.5 feet



2.5 feet



300 lbs


Ceiling Height

8.5 Feet


Best Stairmaster

Money can buy

Stairmaster 10G

The Stairmaster 10 G is the best Stairmaster that money can buy.


It comes with all the bells and whistles you can expect and is the most premium experience you can get while working on your rich ass.


The Stairmaster 10G is not cheap. At ALL!


The 10 G costs close to $10,000.


Yes, let that sink in.


It costs a lot.


And it is HUGE.


I mean look at the size of that thing.

Stairmaster 10G size

But a big machine means bigger steps, more step depth, and consequently better workouts. 


If you can justify its price, the Stairmaster 10G is the best Stairmaster out there.


As I have already said, quality is generally not a concern with Stairmaster products.


And when you pay 10 grand for a machine, you better believe the quality would be top-notch. 


Every aspect of the 10G is a standout.

Stairmaster 10g wallpaper

The Stairmaster 10G is almost entirely comprised of standouts.


Everything from its price to its size is a standout.


It has the widest and deepest step surface in the industry.


This gives you the freedom to perform tons of different exercises which would not have been possible on a compact Stairmaster like the SM3.


It also comes with a unique OverDrive training mode, which simulates carrying or pushing a load upstairs, making an already difficult workout even harder.


This helps you burn more calories in a shorter period of time and is a great way to progressively overload your cardio as well.


The 10G is not for home gyms.


The biggest drawback for the 10G is its price.


At $10,000, I’m not expecting to see this machine in many garage gyms.


Even if you could afford one, the sheer size of this beast makes it an unwise choice for home gyms, let alone small apartments.


Now for commercial gyms, even though this is a significant investment, its imposing size goes a long way in impressing potential members. 




The bottom line is if money is no object and you want the best functionality and all the features a Stairmaster has to offer, the Stairmaster 10G is the way to go.


It is the undisputed king of the Stairmasters.

Spec Sheet – Stairmaster 10G



6.9 feet



5.3 feet



2.8 feet



646 lbs


Ceiling Height

10 feet


Best Stairmaster

Series 8 Alternative

Series 8


Life Fitness PowerMill Climber

The PowerMill is very similar to the Stairmaster Series 8.


The LifeFitness PowerMill costs close to $6500 and has a full-sized exterior. 


The closest thing you can compare it to is the Stairmaster Series 8.


It costs the same but looks just a little bit bulkier than the Series 8.


Since its a LifeFitness product, quality is a given.

Lifefitness stairmaster quality

Life Fitness has been doing things right in cardio and strength for a long enough time, and there is no reason to start doubting its quality now.


The Powermill sports a solid exterior and the build quality lives up to its price tag.


It also comes with a 7-year warranty on the frame and a 2-year warranty on other parts, so you can rest easy for the next decade.


The Powermill has a huge array of different speeds.


The stand-out feature of the Powermill is its wide range of speeds.


You can go from as low as 12 steps per minute to a whopping 185 steps per minute.


So, whether your goal is working on your butt with slow, concentrated movements, taking two steps at a time, or burning a ton of calories as fast as you can, the Powermill can easily do both.


This is especially great for you if your cardio routine has a combination of HIIT and LISS workouts.


The Powermill does not rock the most innovative design.

LifeFitness Powermill design

After having looked at enough Stairmasters, I can tell you that the Powermill’s design looks a little jaded.


For a $6500 price tag, Life fitness could have gone a little beyond the conventional Stairmaster design.


The same goes for its buttons. 


They feel a little clunky and out of place in a machine of this decade.


Especially one that costs this much.




Comparing the Powermill to its Stairmaster counterpart, the Series 8, both of these machines look similar.


Right from the looks to their price, there aren’t many points that set them apart.


If you want a big, interactive console then you would like the Powermill better, but if you want a better overall “stepping experience” then the Series 8 would be the way to go.


Or if you feel like both of these machines leave you wanting for a better experience, there is always the Stairmaster 10G that gives you both a huge console and a premium overall experience.


In my opinion, the Life Fitness Powermill gets the small things right.


Right from the small assistance steps to its huge stepping surface, it checks nearly all the boxes for being a great Stairmaster. 


Add to that the years of expertise and trust of the Life Fitness brand, and you have a winner on your hands.

Spec Sheet – PowerMill



4.6 feet


Step Depth

0.82 feet



2.7 feet



530 lbs


Ceiling Height

9 feet


Honorable mention - Technogym Artis Climber

The Technogym Artis Climber is an honorable mention in the list, just in case you were looking for a piece of art for your living room that doubles as a Stairmaster.


At $13000, the Artis climber is beyond expensive but exudes class from every nook and cranny.


It has a lot of unique features that are impossible to find in any other machine.


Like the AI-powered workouts that track your progress and accordingly tweak your workouts to maximize results.


Lateral footrests that help you focus on just single-legged workouts and the ToeSmart Design that ensures your foot doesn’t get pinched between the steps.


The attention to detail on the Technogym Artis is immaculate.

Technogym stairmaster design

Everything from its posh design to the futuristic-looking console reminds you that you are working out on a $13000 machine.


Also, small things like a wireless charger for your phone and seamless connectivity to your Apple Watch leave little to be desired. 


The best way to describe it would be, that it feels like working on your ass and pampering it in one go.  



All in all, the Technogym Artis Climber is a work of beauty.



Now The Artis is not for the average Joe and it’s probably more suited for an Equinox than a gnarly commercial gym, but I will let you be the judge of that.


In the meantime, if you were wondering how Beyonce gets her cardio in for the day, this might just be it.

Is it worth it buying a Stairmaster?

If you are planning to buy a Stairmaster, the first thing you need to know is, these babies cost a fortune.


If you’ve read the reviews or done a bit of your own research you already know you should be ready to shell out anything between $4000 to $10000.   

Stairmaster vs treadmill vs elliptical

Yeah, I know what you are thinking.


I can almost hear you complaining that your first car cost the same..


And it doesn’t even get you to work like your old Jetta did!


But it does get you a really nice butt, and toned legs, and a healthier life in general.


Can you put a price on that?


Cutting to the chase, if you are a single mom whose weekdays are filled with important meetings and soccer practices, having a Stairmaster at home is priceless for you.


A 20 min HIIT workout on the Stairmaster, first thing in the morning, is all you need to stay in shape.


On the other hand, if you are a firefighter who climbs Staircases every day as a part of their regular job, you can give it a pass.


Take a look at this list of benefits of a Stairmaster to make a more informed decision.

Stairmaster benefits chart

If your goals look something like this:

  • Losing fat
  • Training your glutes and calves
  • Supplementing knee strength
  • Working on your cardiovascular health
  • Wanting to workout from the comfort of your home

You can explore each of these 7 reasons to use a Stairmaster in detail and decide yourself on whether or not a Stairmaster makes sense to you.


If they do, you might be able to live down the cost of buying a Stairmaster.


However, if you want to build upper body muscle, the Stairmaster won’t do much for you.


You are MUCH better off investing in a quality barbell, some weight plates, and a squat rack.

What kind of workout can I do on a Stairmaster?

The Stairmaster is a cardio machine, and that is what you should use it for.


It cannot replace your lifting routine.


It adds a minor element of resistance training to your cardio but that is mostly focused on your glutes, quads, and hamstrings.


Once you understand this, you can decide whether you want to use your Stairmaster for HIIT or LISS cardio.


Choosing between HIIT and LISS mostly depends on:


1.    Your goals


2.    The time you can dedicate to working out


3.    Your current fitness levels

Stairmaster Hiit vs LISS

If you are still not sure whether to go with HIIT or LISS, take a look at these workouts, and figure out which works best for your individual goals.

You need a high ceiling because Stairmasters are huge!

In order to fit a medium-sized Stairmaster, you are going to need around 5 feet (length) * 2.5 feet (width) of carpet area and at least 8 to 10 feet of ceiling clearance. 

Man measuring stepmill height

To get the ceiling height right, measure the height of the topmost step, then add your height to it.


To find out the step height, just look up the spec sheet of the Stairmaster you want to buy, mostly available on the company website, or measure it out at your gym. 


If you are planning on placing some rubber mats under the machine, take the thickness of the mat into consideration too.   


You don’t want to buy a $5000 Stairmaster only to find your head hitting the ceiling every time you try to climb onto the highest step.


Also, the Stairmaster not only looks like a monster, it also weighs like one.


The machine can weigh up to 381 lbs!

Now combine that with your own weight and the force you would be generating with each step.

I think you understand where I’m going with this. 


Please make sure you put the Stairmaster on reliable flooring.

You need a Stairmaster not a Stair Climber.

The Stairmaster and StairClimber sound similar enough to confuse you into thinking they are the same thing, but the name is pretty much where the resemblance ends.

stairmaster vs stairclimber

As simple as it gets, the Stairmaster is a machine that gives you an endless flight of stairs to climb.


On the other hand, a Stairclimber is a motor or piston-powered machine that looks like an elliptical with stationary handrails.


Unlike the Stairmaster, it doesn’t have actual steps but tries to simulate the motion of stepping on a staircase with two pedals that go up and down.

Coming to whether you should buy a Stairmaster or a Stairclimber, the only reason why you should consider buying a Stairclimber is if you have 4 grand laying around that you need to burn and have nothing to show for.


Now that may sound a little harsh and this is not an attack on the StairClimber, but its cost to reward ratio is basically non-existent.


Why would you spend $4000 on a machine that barely simulates the feeling of climbing steps when you can have an endless flight of actual stairs for the more or less the same price? 


If you are morbidly obese or rehabilitating from a knee injury, an argument can be made that the Stairmaster could be too difficult for you to begin with.


But then you don’t need a StairClimber either, you can start with a low impact exercise like walking or use an aerobic stepper before graduating on to the Stairmaster.


Head-to-head with the Stairmaster, the StairClimber fails on all aspects, be it:


     Price – Costs almost similar to an entry-level Stairmaster


     Size – Takes up a similar amount of space as the Stairmaster


     Benefits – Sure it does help you burn some calories, but that’s nothing in comparison to the number of calories you would burn on the StairMaster, not to mention you would be toning your butt and thighs at the same time.

So, if it wasn’t clear before, let me say this again.


Buy a Stairmaster, NOT a Stairclimber!


Anyway, here’s everything else you need to know about StairMasters.

Q. Why are Stairmasters so expensive?

Because they do what no other cardio machine can. They help you build muscle while doing cardio. 


You could argue that climbing actual stairs is a much cheaper option, but by that logic you also don’t need dumbbells you could just pick up heavy rocks and there is no need for gyms, you can just workout in the middle of the street.


Look, I agree that Stairmasters are quite expensive.


Stairmasters like the 10G cost around $10,000 for Christ’s sake.


But it’s a once-in-a-lifetime investment that will help you see a drastic difference in your overall body fat and quad, ham, and glute development from home.

Besides, the margin for the manufacturers isn’t as high as you might think. 

Making the Stairmaster costs a lot of money too, so that lends to its high price.

Q. How do I use the Stairmaster?

A Stairmaster is pretty simple to use.


Just find a Stairmaster, pick a workout on the console and start your climb on the stairway to heaven.  


On a serious note though, if you are using a Stairmaster for the first time, 


      Remember to start slow and steadily build up your pace.


      Once you start fatiguing, make sure that you maintain your posture. Don’t slouch forward or start leaning on the side railings.


Q. Which muscles does the Stairmaster target?

The Stairmaster targets all the muscle groups in your lower body.

      Quads (Quadriceps femoris)

      Glutes (Gluteus maximus)




Since it’s a cardio machine, it also helps you work on your heart health and supplements knee health. 

Q. Can’t I just use a treadmill instead of a Stairmaster?

You can, but first you got to ask yourself what are your goals?


If you just want to get a cardio workout in, the Treadmill and the Stairmaster are both great choices. 


Just keep in mind that the treadmill puts more pressure on your joints, especially your knees.


However, if you want to lose fat AND tone your lower body while working on your cardiovascular health, the Stairmaster is a much more effective choice. 

Q. Should I buy a used Stairmaster?

A used Stairmaster is not a bad idea, if you can find a Stairmaster that is in good condition and under warranty


Just make sure you inspect it thoroughly before making buying. 


The best way to do that is by actually working out on it.


You can try your local gyms, you’ll find good quality commercial Stairmasters there, which they might be willing to sell.

Q. Does the StairMaster burn belly fat?

In a word, yes.


But the answer is a little more complicated than that. 


Read this carefully.


Spot reduction is a LIE!


But working out on the Stairmaster will help you burn a ton of calories.


And paired with a calorie deficit diet it will help you bring down your body fat percentage, aka you will burn belly fat.

Q. Should I use the Stairmaster every day?

That depends on:

  • The kind of workout you are performing on the Stairmaster.
  • The program you are following.
  • Your goals.
  • Your current fitness levels.

If you are following a HIIT cardio program, 15 – 20 minutes is enough. But a LISS workout will last closer to 50 – 60 minutes.

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