The 7 Best Step Machines in 2023

If you’re looking for a great piece of gym equipment you can use at home to supplement your training, you really can’t go wrong with a step machine.

Stair steppers give you an excellent cardio workout and involve some resistance, too, engaging your core and strengthening your glutes, calves, quads, and hamstrings.

This means they really help burn those calories, with Harvard Health Publishing reporting that a 30-minute workout can torch through 180 to 252 calories, depending on your weight.

Steppers are also ideal if you don’t have a ton of room, since – unlike treadmills or ellipticals – they are generally vertical machines that take up very little floor space.

Choosing a stepper machine for your home gym can be a bit of a minefield, however, since there are just so many different types on the market.

This guide is designed to help and contains a list of my top 7 step machines to suit all budgets.

I’ve also included a summary of their main features and the reasons I recommend them.

First, though, let’s take a look at the things you need to consider when making your choice.

Best Step Machines

What to Look for in a Step Machine

One of the most important things to check when choosing a stepper is its maximum weight capacity.

Exceeding this limit can put the model you choose under quite a bit of stress and considerably shorten its lifespan.

Other things to think about include:

#1: Available Space

Although steppers generally take up less space than many other types of gym equipment, some can still be quite bulky – particularly the multifunctional models that blend 2 or more cardio machines into one.

I’ve included the dimensions for each of the models I’ve recommended to help you decide if it will be right for your home gym.

If lack of space is an issue, consider a mini machine that can be easily moved after use and even stored under your bed.

Just remember that some of the smaller models – whilst more affordable – won’t give you as intense a workout as some of the bulkier, commercial steppers.

man on a stepper machine

#2: Features

Steppers range from simple, no-frills models for a very basic workout, to sophisticated machines with screens on which you can enjoy guided workouts or picturesque climbs.

The price will, of course, reflect just how many features a step machine has and those offering a more interactive workout will usually be quite a bit more expensive.

They may require an ongoing subscription, too, so make sure you’re clear about any fees involved before making your purchase.

#3: Resistance Levels

As your training progresses it’s helpful to have the ability to adjust the level of resistance for a more challenging workout.

On some machines there will be resistance settings, on others you’ll be able to change the resistance by adjusting the step height (I’ve included these details for each of my recommended machines below).

On certain models, however, you may not be able to alter the resistance at all.

This can be a deal-breaker for some, so make sure you know just how adjustable your model is before buying.

step machine

The 7 best step Machines

#1. Best for Small Spaces – Sportsroyals Stair Stepper

Dimensions: 19.69 x 18.11 x 9.84 Inches, Weight Capacity: 330 lbs, Resistance Levels: None

Sportsroyals Stair Stepper Machine
Very little assembly neededRequires balance
Stable and smoothStep height/resistance cannot be adjusted
Comes with resistance bands

An excellent mid-range model, this machine from Sportsroyals is small enough for any home but designed to work as many muscle groups as possible.

You can attach the included resistance bands to the strong hooks at the front of the footplates to tone your upper body as you climb, and you can also take advantage of the machine’s unique ‘twist’ action to help strengthen your core.

I like the LED monitor on this model – it’s super simple but easy to read and displays your exercise time, step count, calories burned, and distance.

Seeing your stats helps keep things interesting and is a great motivation to push a little harder!

The machine is quiet and sturdy, but since you can’t increase the resistance to make your workout tougher, I wouldn’t recommend it for serious training.

#2. Most Affordable Multifunctional Machine – Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical and Stair Stepper

Dimensions: 24″D x 42″W x 62″H, Weight Capacity: 250 lbs, Resistance Levels: 8

Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical and Stair Stepper Machine
Very quiet operationTakes a long time to assemble
Includes a media rack to follow streamed workoutsCan be unstable
Transport wheels for portability

It’s always good to find a machine that combines two pieces of equipment, especially if you don’t have loads of room to spare in your home gym.

Not only does this model include both a stepper and an elliptical, but it does so for a very reasonable price!

Using ‘Curve Crank Technology’ to create a dead-zone free rotation, it moves very smoothly with zero impact, making it very gentle on your joints.

There are 2 sets of handlebars – one fixed and one moving in synchrony with the steppers for more of a full-body workout – along with a very straightforward LCD screen to display your stats.

My biggest issue with this model is that it may wobble if you are close to the maximum weight limit.

Personally, I’d only really recommend it for users weighing 200 pounds or less.

#3. Best Budget-Friendly Step Machine – Sunny Health and Fitness Mini Stepper

Dimensions: 16 x 12.5 x 13.5 Inches, Weight Capacity: 220 lbs, Resistance Levels: N/A – Intensity Adjusted by Step Height

Sunny Health and Fitness Mini Stepper
Almost no assembly requiredPretty low weight capacity
Lightweight and portable Hydraulic cylinder needs regular ‘rest periods’ to avoid overheating
Compatible workouts available free on YouTube

Some ‘budget-friendly’ exercise equipment really isn’t up to the job, but that’s definitely not the case with this fantastic step machine that has the added bonus of a very compact footprint!

Equipped with removable resistance bands to up your exercise intensity, it uses a hydraulic drive system for a smooth motion with every step and a simple height adjustment knob to make your workout more or less challenging.

As you’d expect at this price point, the LCD monitor is pretty basic but still tells you all you need to know, including number of steps, time, and calories burned.

The footplates are roomy with a textured coating that ensures you won’t slip, and the machine operates almost silently, so you can get in your workout while the rest of the family is sleeping!

#4. Best Interactive Step Machine – ProForm Pro HIIT H14

Dimensions: 66″D x 29″W x 52″H, Weight Capacity: 325 lbs, Resistance Levels: 26

ProForm Pro HIIT H14 Step Machine
Combines vertical and horizontal steppingScreen can’t be rotated for off-equipment workouts
Handlebars engage your upper body Fan is weak
Includes 30-Day iFIT Family Membership

ProForm’s Pro HIIT H14 features a 14-inch touchscreen displaying your metrics and also giving you access to iFit, where you’ll find heaps of on-demand workouts, live events, and studio classes to keep you entertained and make your training a lot more enjoyable!

Once your free month is over, you’ll need a monthly subscription to continue, but the good news is that you can still use your machine without it – there are a handful of iFit classes available subscription-free, along with a selection of pre-programmed workouts.

The HIIT H14 works a little differently from other steppers and has a unique 10” vertical and 5” horizontal stride, making it more of a hybrid model somewhere between a step machine and an elliptical.

This gives you a great workout which you can step up even more by using the multigrip handlebars to engage your upper body with boxing-style movements.

#5. Best for Your Core and Obliques- Sunny Health and Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper Machine

Dimensions: 21.9 x 18.5 x 49.8 Inches, Weight Capacity: 250 lbs, Resistance Levels: N/A – Intensity Adjusted by Step Height

Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper Machine
Padded handlebars for a stable feelHydraulic cylinder needs regular ‘rest periods’ to avoid overheating
Smooth hydraulic drive systemHandlebar may be too short for very tall users
Great value for moneyNowhere to attach resistance bands

Another great offering from Sunny Health and Fitness, this stepper machine adds something a little extra to your workouts by twisting as you step.

This further challenges muscles like your core, obliques, glutes, and inner/outer thighs, as they’ll have to work a bit harder to keep you stable.

With a compact footprint that’s perfect for small spaces, the twisting stair stepper comes with a height-adjustable handlebar, making it a great alternative to the brand’s mini-stepper (above) if balance is an issue.

You also get a simple digital monitor to track your progress, plus a stabilizer ring at the bottom for a solid foundation.

#6. Best Option with Incline/Decline – NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride

Dimensions: 58.5″ L x 29.5″ W x 74″ H, Weight Capacity: 375 lbs, Resistance Levels: 26

NordicTrack FS14i FreeStride Elliptical
Smooth, easy transition from one funtion to anotherLimited funcyionality without iFit subscription
Features a -10% decline to a 10% inclineNeeds a lot of space for the 32 inch stride range
Includes wheels for transportationCan be tricky to get on/off

The FS14i FreeStride is an advanced 3-in-1 machine for serious training, and – if you’re prepared for a significant investment – you’ll enjoy its versatility and great range of features.

Equipped with a 14-inch smart HD touchscreen and designed for streaming workouts from iFit, it’s like having a stepper, treadmill, and elliptical all rolled into one.

The way it moves depends on how you use it – if you hold the handlebars still, for example, the pedals will move like a typical stair stepper, or you can slide the pedals back and forth for more of a treadmill feel.

It can take a bit of getting used to at first and I found that it didn’t feel quite like using a traditional treadmill or elliptical, but it’s definitely fun to exercise on and gives you a challenging, varied, full-body workout.

Just be aware that you’ll need plenty of free space in front and behind it to accommodate the extended stride range.

#7. Most Effective Workout – MaxiClimber Vertical Climber

Dimensions: 57 x 10 x 6 Inches, Weight Capacity: 240 lbs, Resistance Levels: N/A – Resistance is Bodyweight Only

MaxiClimber Vertical Climber
Targets multiple muscle groupsNo media rack
LightweightPedals are quite small
Folds easily for storage

Most step machines are designed to replicate the experience of walking upstairs, but the MaxiClimber goes further and requires you to use your arms too, as if you were climbing a ladder.

This calls on a far wider range of muscles – delivering an incredibly effective full-body workout and increasing the calorie burn.

I definitely found it a lot more challenging than some of the other models I tried.

The height is adjustable, although the unit is only suitable for users 6.2 ft or less (if you’re taller, check out the MaxiClimber XL, which has a higher weight capacity and also offers resistance options beyond body weight).

To get the most out of your machine you can download the free MaxiClimber Fitness App, where you’ll find coach-led classes, a 21-day Maxi-Challenge interval program, and a 21-day meal plan with recipes.

The 7 best Step Machines: Key Takeaways

There are many benefits to using a stair stepper machine and you’ll soon see improvements in both your strength and your cardiovascular endurance.

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful in choosing a model that fits your budget and available space, enabling you to get in a great workout in the comfort of your own home.

Photo of author
Christine Albury is a dedicated runner and fitness nerd and certified personal trainer: when she's not working out she is studying the latest fitness science publications, and testing out the latest running gear!

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