The Best Step Machines of 2020

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best step machines

You know that you need to work out, but finding the time to get to the gym is difficult between everything else you need to do. This is where the convenience of having your own stair stepper machine or at home stairmaster machine would be obviously beneficial. The luxury of being able to work out in the privacy of your own home whenever you want is clear. But what is not as obvious would be what are the best step machines on the market in 2020. Here, I will review some of the best machines and help you find the best stepper exercise machine for your budget and needs.

1. Bowflex Max Trainer M8

bowflex max m8

This Trainer is great for beginners up to advanced fitness levels. Combining the movements of an elliptical and a stair stepper, the M8 is the pinnacle of great low impact workout equipment. It comes with 20 levels of resistance, meaning that you can use it for years as you continue to improve. 


This stepper machine is integrated with the Max Intelligence App, adding another layer of challenge in a fun and motivating way. The app measures your performance and suggests the next levels of difficulty to help you make progress. However, the app is not free with a purchase of the M8 and must be paid for with a subscription. You still get 17 free workout videos for basic guidance.


Using the LED/LCD screen show calories burned during workout activity. Track your heart rate with the integrated contact grips. Use multi-grip handles for your most comfortable full-body workout. Use one of the four workout profiles for individual workouts for the rest of the family. Use the media rack for smartphones and tablets to keep you entertained during workouts.


Check out my full review of the M7.

PROS

  • 20 Resistance levels for making Progress
  • Max Intelligence App for tracking and making suggest
  • Dual Mode LCD/LED Screens
  • Compact Size with a small footprint
  • Four fitness profiles to support all the users at your home

CONS

  • Some have complained of grinding noises not long after purchase
  • Not the best machine for people with bad knees

Product Specifications

2. ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer

ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer

The ProForm Cardio HIIT Trainer provides a smooth cardio workout combining the smooth motion of an elliptical with the vertical motion of a stepper machine. After completing a workout on this machine, more calories burned than with other exercise machines. When you purchase this trainer, you also get a free 30-day iFit trial giving you access to interactive training sessions. Other services include global workouts, on-demand studios, and connected fitness tracking. 


This stepper machine comes with 24 levels of trainer controlled resistance. With an inertia-enhanced flywheel, the SMR Silent Resistance works for a smooth resistance. The large pedals are cushioned for comfort, while the heavy duty steel construction keeps your workout stable. Grip the multi-function handlebars for total-body HIIT exercise. 

PROS

  • Very quiet and very stable
  • Easy to use
  • Smooth and easy on the joints
  • Gives you a great calorie burn in only 20 minutes of use

CONS

  • Some have complained of squeaks during use
  • Calorie counter doesn’t adjust for your weight

Product Specifications

3. Kettler Home Exercise/Fitness Equipment: Montana Stair Stepper

Montana Stair Stepper

This Montana Stair Stepper is an excellent choice for improving cardiovascular and muscular health. With included workout fitness grades from 1 to 6, you have a way to progress as you improve. The textured anti-slip footplates ensure safety while the hydraulic cylinders provide easy-to-adjust resistance settings.


This model comes with ergonomically shaped handlebars to support you and keep you safe during exercise. 

With an LCD monitor, you can keep an eye on important data such as steps per workout unit, steps rate, room temperature, pulse rate, and energy consumption. These heavy duty stepper machines also includes an infrared earlobe clip heart rate sensor. The built-in floor levelers can keep your machine level even if your floor is uneven. And with a weight capacity of 250 lbs, this model should be suitable for most users. 

PROS

  • Lightweight but stable machine
  • Crafted from quality materials
  • Large footbed allows for different foot positions

CONS

  • No place to hold a water bottle or entertainment device
  • Hydraulics get very hot after a workout

Product Specifications

4. Sunny Health Fitness Twist Stepper

Titan Fitness Twister

Among the lower priced choices among stepper machines is the Sunny Health Fitness Twister Stepper model. This unit gets around the issues faced by steppers that do not have handlebars by providing resistance bands that allow you to work your upper body.


As a more portable stepper, these straps can be removed if you do not want to use them.This unit also has a low profile, so you can store it under a bed or an end table. It's quiet enough to be used without disturbing others in the same room, but the LCD is not easy to read while in use.

PROS

  • Low profile for easy storage and home use
  • Resistance bands give the option of working the upper body
  • Operates quietly
  • Adjustable resistance for foot pedals
  • No assembly required
  • Ready to use out of the box

CONS

  • Difficult to read LCD screen when in use
  • May not fit larger feet properly

Product Specifications

5. Mini Stepper w/ Resistance Bands

Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper

The Sunny Health and Fitness Mini Stepper definitely looks like one of the cheaper stepper machines. It is small with very few frills. But along with the size and low cost come some unexpected advantages. Weighing only twelve pounds, this machine can easily be stored in a suitcase for use while traveling, or left at the office to work out during a break.

Unfortunately, some heavier users have had issues with the bolts and footplates breaking after only a few weeks of use. The resistance can be finicky and require adjustment. Still, this is the best stepper machine for people with limited space. 

PROS

  • Low price
  • Small size makes it ideal for travel and home use
  • Ready to use out of the box

CONS

  • Can break after limited usage
  • LCD counter can unreliable
  • Low Quality Resistance Bands

Product Specifications

6. Wagan EL2273 Mini Stepper Master

Wagan EL2273 Mini Stepper Master

The Wagan EL2273 Mini Stepper provides most of the things that a more expensive machine might have, but without the frills. This machine takes up very little floor space. Assembly is simple, and the device is light enough to move around the house with ease. With this efficiency does come a few drawbacks.

This stair stepper does not fold down for easy storage in your home gym. Nor does it allow for an upper body workout, since the handles do not adjust for height. This piece of equipment can feel stiff and requires greasing to prevent squeaks. For more examples of mini steppers like these, check out my full round up review.

PROS

  • Small machine does not take up much space
  • Simple design allows for quick assembly
  • Lightweight and easy to move

CONS

  • Machine feels stiff and squeaks
  • Handles cannot be adjusted to your height

Product Specifications

7. Sunny Health and Fitness Stair Stepper

Sunny Health and Fitness Stair Stepper

What's surprising about this Fitness Stair Stepper is that even with its low price it is durable and stable. It's difficult to tip over and does not seem to have the issues one would expect when buying something in its price range. You can fit it into any corner of you home for quick, convenient use. This is the best stepper machine available on the market for using hydraulic cylinder resistance. 


The easy-to-read LCD monitor tracks, time, calories, scan, and time. The dual hydraulic piston cylinders have twelve different tension settings that are distinct and easy to set up. One problem with this unit is that the hydraulic pistons can leak.

PROS

  • Lower priced than almost any other climber on the market
  • Very few issues with breakage
  • Wide variance in tension settings

CONS

  • Pistons are prone to leakage
  • Maximum recommend weight of 220 pounds

Product Specifications

8. Sportsroyal Vertical Climber

Sportsroyal Vertical Climber

This model is one of the latest improvements made to climber design, with better durability and comfort. The Sportsroyal Vertical Climber comes with a frame of heavy duty steel to protect against corrosion. With the suction cups at the base and the triangular structure, you can enjoy a more stable experience.


Apart from the quality design, this machine also folds, meaning that you can easy store it if you live in a smaller space. While folded, this climber’s dimensions are 17.9 x 25.6 x 53.5. 


This climber comes with an adjustable height to accommodate various body types. The LCD monitor helps you track all of your fitness information, including speed, distance, calories burned, and time. Using this machine for 1 hour day will help you help an average of 500 calories. And to top it off, this climber comes with a two-year warranty with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can purchase with confidence. This climber folds; for more examples of these kinds of products, check my guide on the best folding exercise equipment.

Product Specifications

9. Gazelle Freestyle Step Machine

Gazelle Freestyle Step Machine

Well known as a mainstay of late-night infomercials, the Gazelle Freestyle offers a full body workout like a climber with the low impact of a stair stepper.


This elliptical trainer allows for a full range of motion and lets you change your pace seamlessly. The LCD offers the standard features as well as providing a pulse monitor.


This machine requires a lot of space and does not allow for resistance adjustments. It's a great addition to any home gym. For more details on the more basic version of this product, the Gazelle edge, click here.

PROS

  • Allows for a full range of motion
  • Offers a low-impact, easy workout
  • Pulse monitor allows you to track heart rate automatically
  • Folds up for storage when not in use

CONS

  • Only isometric resistance
  • Requires space to operate safely
  • Difficult to store
Maxi Climber Vertical Climber

Burning 500 calories an hour, the Maxi Climber Vertical offers a complete workout without stressing your lower body. Almost entirely assembled on delivery, this unit can be quickly and easily set up and taken apart as needed.


It is lightweight in construction, so it can be prone to breaking when used by heavier exercisers. It tends to rock a bit when used at higher intensities and doesn't provide much resistance for your arms. Click here for my full review of the Maxi Climber Vertical Climber.

PROS

  • Quick to set up
  • Gives a great cardiovascular workout

CONS

  • Tends to rock with intense use
  • Heavier users may notice rocking even at lower intensity

Product Specifications

11. StairMaster SM3 StepMill

StairMaster SM3 StepMill

The StairMaster SM3 brings the toughness of a commercial stepper machine like that you might find in the gym. This stair climber machine provides a high-intensity workout for people with space limitations. With a revolving set of six-inch stairs, you can strengthen your legs and boost your cardio at a rate of 26 to 126 steps per minute. 


The console tracks no small number of details, including watts, calories, heart rate, segment time, and floors climbed. There is even a profile feature so you can track your personal progress over time. There are also a variety of workout options, such as Calorie Burner, Fat Burner, Heart Rate Zone Trainer, and Heart Rate Intervals, you can get some of the most efficient cardio and strength workouts.


Additional features include an automatic safety stop sensor at the base of the steps, ergonomically designed handrails with mounted pulse grips to track your heart rate, and a 275-pound weight capacity.

  • 8-Foot Height Ceiling Clearance
  • Front Wheels for Easy Transport

PROS

  • This Stair Climber is perfect for the Home
  • Highly Effective Workouts

CONS

  • Not a very quiet machine to run at home
  • Takes a long time to assemble

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12. StairMaster 7000 PT Stepmill

StairMaster 7000 PT Stepmill

With a patented revolving staircase, this high-quality machine offers an incredible lower-body, cardio workout. Some of the goodies included are a backlit LCD display, a reading rack, an accessory tray, and a water bottle holder. Completely serviced and reconditioned, this machine simulates walking or running up a flight of stairs very well. 


One you start running on this stair climber, you'll feel you're on the stairs of local auditorium. While The 8" stairs provide a realistic stair-climbing experience, the display console is equipped with over 20 resistance levels and 6 programs. They include manual, fat-burner, quick start, speed intervals, and heart rate zone trainer. You'll always have instruction to ensure you'll make progress during home use. 

  • Electronically Controlled Alternator Brake
  • Wireless Heart Rate Monitor
  • Reading Rack
  • Wireless Entertainment System Control Pad
  • Wide Range of Climbing Speeds

PROS

  • Suitable for Beginners and Pro Athletes Alike
  • Great Warranty
  • Runs Smoothly

CONS

  • Installation is not Included in Price

Product Specifications

13. StairMaster SM5 StepMill with 2 Window LCD Console

StairMaster SM5 StepMill

Similar to the other Stair Climber in this list, this commercial machine has 8-inch climbing stairs. This one of the best stair climber machines you can buy. Coming with an electronically controlled alternator, the chain drive modifies the pedal descent, allowing you to customize your workout to your liking.


With a quiet step design, your joints won't be so negatively impacted. The oval handrails provide ergonomic support  while the revolving staircase simulates the climbing experience effectively. 


Ranging from 26 to 162 steps a minute, you can complete 10 total workout programs with this device. You can monitor your progress, and heart rate with an easy-to-ride 2 window backlit LCD display. One thing to keep in mind is that his machine requires a 10-foot high ceiling.

  • Multi-Stage CPAT Fire-Fit Test
  • Electronically Controlled Alternator
  • Quiet Step Design
  • Ergonomically Designed Handrails

PROS

  • Easy to Read Display
  • Excellent Support from StairMaster

CONS

  • Some Assembly Required
  • Requires a 9 to a 10-foot Ceiling for use

Product Specifications

  • To learn more about the unique benefits by these kinds of machines, check out my full article on StairMaster Benefits.

14. Jacob's Ladder - Total Body Exerciser

Jacob's Ladder

You might recognize this one as the machine being used by the character Axelrod in the hit show Billions. This machine is intense. It provides a full body workout using both your arms and legs for a superior cardio workout.

It’s low impact, so it should relieve any unnecessary stress on your hips or lower back. It is commercial grade quality, but still suitable for the home. And it’s a highly sought-after fitness machine in most gyms.

  • Automatic Speed Adjustments
  • Belt and Tether Activation System
  • Small footprint
  • 115 V/AC/5 Watts

PROS

  • Works the Whole Body

CONS

  • Pricey for a Machine in this Category

The benefits of a stepper machines are multi-faceted. First of all, stair steppers provide a low-impact workout which is easier on the body than many other aerobic exercises which jar and shock the joints. They make it easier for you to achieve your fitness goals. While there are risks of strain to the knees, this is an issue with any leg exercises, and a doctor should be consulted before beginning any regimen.

A stair stepper, like an elliptical trainer, also targets many of the muscle groups of the lower body, including the buttocks, legs, calves and thighs. This can improve muscle toning and does not overwork the body like weight machines potentially could. Also, because stair exercises are aerobic exercises, they are great for cardiovascular health, even at lower intensities.

For the purpose of this discussion, I'll consider two types of step machines: the stepper and the climber.

Steppers

A stair stepper is fairly simple and usually easy to store in your home gym. They tend to be comprised of two pads for the feet with either hydraulics or rubber bands to add resistance. Depending on the model, there are usually handles to help you keep your balance while using the stepper and resistance bands to provide an upper body workout. Steppers add a twisting motion to the range of motion, allowing you to strengthen your core muscle groups in the lower back.

Climbers

Climbers are another excellent addition to any home gyms. They attempt to emulate rock climbing through an apparatus that combines arm and leg movements to help you reach your fitness goals. These models are usually a few feet tall and have places for your feet to connect to a long bar with handles for your hands. While at first, this might not seem like a very challenging workout, but many novices are only able to handle a couple of minutes before their bodies can adjust.

While available for sale, there are motorized steppers that you would find in gyms and health clubs, but the cost and size of these units make them a little too steep for most consumers. 

Conclusion

Whether looking a stepper or a climber for home gyms, there are many options available at budget-friendly prices to help you burn calories and reach your fitness goals. Most of these options are low impact and perfect for anyone worried about injuring their joints and ligaments.