The 8 Best Stair Climbers for Your Home Gym, According to Certified Trainers

The 8 Best Stair Climbers for Your Home Gym, According to Certified Trainers

Best Ladder Stair Climber

Jacobs Ladder Step Climber

Step Climber

Best Ladder Stair Climber

Jacobs Ladder Step Climber

Pros
  • Easy on the lower back
  • Torches calories
  • Great lower-body strength workout
Cons
  • Large and heavy
  • No digital connectivity
  • Expensive

Diverging from the conventional steppers, where you adjust speed, elevation, or resistance, the Jacob’s Ladder operates on a unique principle: it keeps pace with your own stride, similar to manual treadmills. Longer steps crank up the intensity, while shorter ones ease off the challenge, meaning you dictate your pace as you move.

It really is quite like ascending a ladder—it requires some real effort, sure. But, stretch that climb to infinite heights and now you’re in for a serious workout. The climbing action takes a toll on major muscle groups—the quads, glutes, shoulders, and lats—resulting in a cardiovascular and muscular burn that torches calories at an impressive rate.

One more thing we love about the Jacob’s Ladder compared to more traditional step climbers is its 40-degree incline, which places users in a position to better activate your core muscles and protect the lower back from strain.

According to Sean De Wispelaere, a seasoned coach from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, this machine injects an element of enjoyment precisely because it deviates from the norm found in most gym exercise machines. He calls the Jacob’s Ladder “a refreshing departure that reaps substantial fitness rewards.”

Dimensions (LxWxH) 76 x 31.25 x 65.5 inches
Item weight 260 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 300 lb.
Display No

Best Stair Climber Hybrid for Bigger Guys

NordicTrack FS10i

FS10i

Best Stair Climber Hybrid for Bigger Guys

NordicTrack FS10i

Now 25% Off

Pros
  • Easier on the knees than steps
  • Versatile 3-in-1 design works as an elliptical, treadmill, and stepper
  • Adjustable stride and resistance levels
  • 10-inch touchscreen for streaming workouts, videos, and music
  • Bluetooth-capable with dual two-inch speakers
Cons
  • Movement pattern is slightly different than a true stair climber

The NordicTrack FS10i has a 3-in-1 design that brings an elliptical, treadmill, and stepper into a single footprint. Yes, it’s more elliptical than, say, StairMaster, but it makes a solid low-impact option for training that climbing action.

We find the auto-adjusting stride to be an especially user-friendly feature, which spans from zero to 32 inches and offers a level of customization fit for multiple users within a single household. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal; customized resistance and incline allow users to tailor the workout precisely to their preferences. With 26 resistance levels at your disposal and an incline that goes up to 10 percent, you hold the reins on the intensity.

At the helm of this machine is a 10-inch smart touchscreen that does more than just display your progress—it’s your gateway to on-demand workouts.

If you don’t have the space (or dough) for multiple pieces of large equipment at home, this elliptical hybrid is a solid addition that will last for years to come. But for $2,500 and tipping the scales at 300 pounds, if you’re really looking to train climbing, you might be better off with a VersaClimber.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 58.5 x 29.5 x 74 inches
Item weight 287 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 375 lb.
Display 14″ HD touchscreen

Most Affordable Stair Climber Hybrid

BowFlex Max Trainer M9

Max Trainer M9

Most Affordable Stair Climber Hybrid

BowFlex Max Trainer M9

Now 15% Off

Pros
  • Versatile elliptical-meets-stepper design
  • 10″ HD touchscreen display with streaming capabilities
  • Streams a wide variety of content
  • Easy on the knees
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Movement pattern is slightly different than a true stair climber

Like NordicTrack’s FS10i, the Max Trainer line from Boxflex merges the essence of an elliptical and a stepper into one sleek package that just makes sense. Within its frame (which is relatively compact compared to similar equipment), it has a few features that make for a versatile, user-friendly experience.

Among these highlights is a 10-inch HD touchscreen that not only allows users to access a library of training videos, but also offers the luxury of streaming music, Netflix, Hulu, and the like.

The handlebars offer an assortment of positions so you can choose between pumping your arms in motion as you climb, or holding them steady to let your legs do all the work.

But as we mentioned with the NordicTrack elliptical, it’s a pricey but durable option if you’re looking for a more versatile cardio experience. If, on the other hand, you do want a true climber, there are more suitable options $2000 can get you.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 49.2 x 30.5 x 65.1 inches
Item weight 148.8 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 300 lb.
Display 10″ HD touchscreen

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Best Vertical Stair Climber

VersaClimber H/HP Consumer Model

H/HP Consumer Model

Best Vertical Stair Climber

VersaClimber H/HP Consumer Model

Pros
  • Easier on the knees than steps
  • Offers a challenging workout
  • Works the upper body
  • Modest footprint
Cons
  • Movement pattern is slightly different than a true stair climber

For the serious hikers and climbers working on tackling those steep vertical challenges outdoors, the VersaClimber H/HP Consumer Model has got your back. This beast is built to last, boasting a durable coating that fends off scratches and rust even when sweat pours down onto the handles and middle support beam when the going gets tough.

Speaking of adjustments, the handles switch between three settings, ensuring that whether you’re tall, short, or somewhere in between, you’re well accommodated. The computer might not be the flashiest kid on the block—no Smart capabilities here—but it does roll out with pre-loaded training programs that’ll keep you climbing.

Whether it’s HIIT sprints or in lieu of running in a CrossFit-inspired workout or even long sustained sessions (good luck), the VersaClimber can do it all. Keep in mind, though, that this isn’t your starter pack. We recommend it for those who have already gathered a lineup of the basics (read: dumbbells, kettlebells, treadmill, rower, etc.). Consider it one of the final pieces of the puzzle.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 36 x 44 x 90 inches
Item weight 65 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 350 lb.
Display LCD

Best Traditional Stair Climber

StairMaster 8 Series 8G Gauntlet Stepmill

8 Series 8G Gauntlet Stepmill

Best Traditional Stair Climber

StairMaster 8 Series 8G Gauntlet Stepmill

Pros
  • Sturdy weight capacity
  • Durable construction
  • Comes pre-loaded with training programs
Cons
  • Heavy and large
  • Lacks advanced smart features

Few brand names are as synonymous with stair climbers as StairMaster is, and the Gauntlet StepMill has been on of its enduring classics for over three decades. It’s easily recognizable in any gym with its relentless design, which is, admittedly pretty massive. Though we’ve yet to see one of these babies in someone’s home in person, if you’ve got the money and space to burn, it’s a premiere option.

A set of revolving 8-inch stairs simulate the essence of stair climbing more accurately than many stair climbing and elliptical models out there. With step rates ranging from 26 to a staggering 162 steps per minute, the powerhouse can accommodate a range of fitness levels.

The sturdy, rust-free polypropylene step surface ensures this cardio machine will stay rust-free and looking good in the long run, which a 10-inch touchscreen display adds a touch of premium with basic metrics and some pre-loaded programs. And with the added connectivity to Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch, real-time data sharing between devices is simple.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 58 x 34 x 89 inches
Item weight 343 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 350 lb.
Display LCD

Best Connected Vertical Stair Climber

CLMBR Connected 02

Connected 02

Best Connected Vertical Stair Climber

CLMBR Connected 02

Pros
  • Compact footprint
  • Fun to use
  • Really simulates stepping, but better
  • Rigorous full-body workout
  • Low impact

The CLMBR steps in with a fresh take on climbing steps, one that essentially takes the VersaClimber concept and adds internet connectivity and video programs to keep you engaged. We find working out on this thing to be a pleasant deviation from the usual smart-connected suspects like treadmills and bikes.

It’s built around the concept of harnessing a natural, athletic stance and spinal alignment while climbing, so you won’t feel the same incline as on something like the Jacob’s Ladder. An added perk: it stands upright, meaning it doesn’t gobble up your floor real estate like many other stair climbers do. Sure, accommodating its vertical orientation might require a bit of overhead clearance, but it’s a boon for those of us dealing with limited floor space.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 35 x 32 x 88 inches
Item weight 180 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 350 lb.
Display HD touchscreen

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Best Connected Traditional Stair Climber

STEPR+

STEPR+

Best Connected Traditional Stair Climber

STEPR+

Pros
  • Massive display
  • More compact that other traditional climbers
  • Well-designed, user-friendly technology
  • Robust library of trainer-led classes
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Still bulkier than some options

Meet the STEPR, which first stepped onto the scene in 2020 to bridge the gap between the gym and your living room. It’s the answer to that question: “How do I get a stair climber at home without it taking up the whole damn room?”

STEPR nails it with a design that is practical enough to fit into your home gym or basement without compromising on that true step climbing action.

It’s not just the compact footprint that’s great though, it’s the whole experience. Steady state or high intensity instructor-led classes and an interactive community features bring it to the next level. At its core, STEPR is not just a stair climbing company, but a technology and innovation company—think of it as the Peloton of stair climbing machines. On top of that, it comes with streaming capabilities that dish up your favorite tunes, shows, and movies, adding a touch of entertainment to your sweat sessions.

On the downside, this thing is not cheap. At $5000, it’s a serious investment, and one we thing is worth the commitment should you have the space and wallet for it.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 42 x 27.6 x 82 inches
Item weight 286 lb.
Maximum weight capacity Not rated
Display 27″ HD touchscreen

Best Splurge Stair Climber

Technogym Artis Climb

Artis Climb

Best Splurge Stair Climber

Technogym Artis Climb

Pros
  • Will outlast most comparable machines
  • Suitable for larger guys
  • Offers sophisticated, high-tech features
Cons
  • Massive
  • Incredibly expensive

The Technogym Artis Climb isn’t just for folks who want to splurge; it’s a playground for those who live for high-tech workout experiences. If your workout dreams involve touchscreen-enabled intensity, a virtual trainer to guide you through each step (whether that means a workout video or pop-up messages that keep you on track), and catching up on your favorite show while sweating it out, this climber fits the bill.

Now let’s talk mechanics. Unlike those platforms where your feet could play peekaboo through slats between each step, the Artis Climb ensures you’re secure while getting the full stair-climbing experience.

There’s no getting around it: the price tag is a sore subject. It’s a jolt to the wallet, and sure, there are options (like the StairMaster) that offer a more budget-friendly alternative along the commercial equipment path. But the quality and longevity (15-year warranty!) are two areas where Technogym products shine. The bottom line: if your budget can handle it, this climber’s a top-tier investment that’ll keep you stepping for years to come.

Dimensions (LxWxH) 51 x 30 x 74 inches
Item weight 419 lb.
Maximum weight capacity 397 lb.
Display HD touchscreen

How to Choose the Best Stair Climber (for You)

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Before you pull the trigger on purchasing a stair climber, here are a few key factors to consider:

Intended use: Dr. Pastuch recommends first asking yourself, “am I actually going to use this, consistently?” Having a plan for how (and when) you’ll use the machine not only helps to make the most out of your investment, but also guides you to determining which features are most important based on your needs.

Your goals: “Know how the equipment is going to fit into your program and goals before you buy it,” says Dr. Pastuch. Clarify your fitness objectives with yourself before committing to a machine. Need a climber for intense sprinting intervals, for example? Steady-state sessions? Knowing your goals will guide you to the machine that best aligns with your fitness journey.

Technology: Are you a fan of interactive programming, or do you prefer doing your own thing? Some machines offer fantastic interactive features (i.e., STEPR+), like classes and workouts, while others cater to those who like to chart their own course (VersaClimber). ‘Smarter’ machines will often run up the price, so take care not to pay for a feature you aren’t going to use.

Space considerations: Measure your available space carefully before purchasing. You wouldn’t want a machine to show up just to realize it overwhelms your home (or worse, doesn’t fit). Height is an added challenge you don’t want to forget about when it comes to stairclimbers, because they have verticality that perhaps only matched by the ski erg.

If you’re tight on floor space but have ceiling height to spare, consider taller vertical options like the VersaClimber or CLMBR, which have a significantly smaller footprint than a more traditional climbers. For spaces that are more limited vertically than on floorspace, the Jacob’s Ladder or BowFlex Max Trainer are reasonable choices.

Price: Prices of stair climbers can vary significantly, ranging from $1,200 to well over $10,000. It’s essential to set a budget first, or explore financing options if needed. Make sure you’re comfortable with the investment you’re making.

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Can You Lose Belly Fat Using a Stair Climber?

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Fat is the most abundant form of energy that our bodies use to function, which is why our bodies store fat to use as fuel when needed. Spot targeting fat loss isn’t a thing—fat loss from the belly, or anywhere else for that matter, happens when we burn more calories (energy) than we intake (food).

Maintaining as much muscle mass as possible and cutting away extra storage of fat through exercise is one effective way of burning calories. “Muscle burns fat throughout the day better than any workout could while you’re doing it,” explains Dr. Pastuch. “Focus on building muscle if your goal is to lose belly fat, do not buy a stair climber with the intent of losing belly fat.” Whether it’s strength training, running, or stair climbing, you can lose belly fat doing anything.

Should I Buy a Stair Climber or a Treadmill?

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Instead of comparing a climber and a treadmill side by side, consider them as complements to one another. “A stair climber is more likely to add muscle mass than a treadmill, and a treadmill is more likely to develop aerobic capacity without tendon dysfunction than a stair climber,” explains Dr. Pastuch.

In terms of the movements a stair climber works, “it’s great for developing hip flexion, hip extension, knee flexion, and knee extension.”

Why You Can Trust Us

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At Men’s Health, we take great pride in providing our readers with reliable and trustworthy product recommendations. We believe that our readers deserve the best, which is why we always make sure to conduct thorough research and testing before making any recommendations. For this story, we spent hours testing and researching top-rated stair climbers for sweaty warmups and cardio workouts. We also interviewed experts including Dr. Sean Pastuch, chiropractor, fitness coach, and CEO and Found of Active Life.

Our writers and editors are also experts in their own right, using their informed opinions to select products and ensuring that our content is of the highest quality. Our product recommendations are purely editorial, and while we may receive free products to test and review, we only recommend the products we are most impressed by. We never let retailers or public relations contacts dictate our content or product coverage, which is why you can trust us to provide you with reliable and unbiased product recommendations.

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How We Selected the Best Stair Climbers

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For the past several years, Men’s Health‘s Fitness editors and writers have been testing the best stair climbers for cardio in the gym. Experts, including our fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., senior fitness editor Brett Williams, NASM, and fitness and commerce editor Talene Appleton, NASM, tested and assessed the best stair climbers from top-rated brands through various warm up and cardio sessions. When evaluating each climber, we looked at factors like durability, user experience, resistance and speed settings, and size. We also considered cost, as some stair climbers offer a better overall value than others.

Read More About the Best Stair Climbers to Buy Now

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Headshot of Talene Appleton, NASM-CPT

Talene Appleton, NASM-CPT

Fitness and Commerce Editor

Talene Appleton is a fitness and food writer and editor, certified personal trainer (NASM-CPT), and former professional dancer based in New York City. Passionate about both exercise and cuisine, she merges her fitness, nutrition and culinary expertise with the goal of motivating others to embrace balanced healthy living. Her work has appeared in Men’s Health, General Surgery News, The Food Institute, The Nessie, and more.

Lettermark

Chiropractor and Coach

Dr. Sean Pastuch is a chiropractic doctor and certified personal trainer as well as CEO and founder of Active Life.

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