Mini Stepper Vs Mini Elliptical

Choosing gym equipment for your home can be challenging, although it largely depends on your exercise goals. Mini steppers and mini ellipticals are two similar home workout devices. That said, there’s enough difference between them to warrant an in-depth look.

And that’s exactly what we’ll do in this article. We’ll go over the differences between a mini stepper vs. a mini elliptical, so you can decide which is right for your home gym. If you are looking for the best mini stepper, check out our comparison article.

Mini Stepper vs. Mini Elliptical

Perhaps the best place to start is with a brief rundown of what each device does. While both work your legs, they do so in slightly different ways.

Mini Stepper

A mini stepper is fairly easy to understand. It consists of two footplates that move up and down in a vertical motion. You may have used a step machine at the gym; this is just a mini version.

It mimics the movement of climbing stairs, which we know is a decent aerobic workout.

This is my favourite mini stepper on the market, it’s one I also recommend to my clients:

Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistance Bands
  • 【ORIGINAL STEPPER】This is the perfect portable stair step machine, with its sleek and compact form, you can achieve your cardio goals anywhere, whether you’re watching TV or working at your standing desk.
  • 【FULL BODY WORKOUT】Dive into a holistic fitness routine! Engage your core, glutes, arms, and shoulders with this compact low-impact cardio training equipment. The included resistance bands ensure every part of your body gets a workout.
  • 【TRACK YOUR FITNESS】Stay informed with the LCD monitor, tracking steps, time, and calories burned. Shape your exercise regime to be more effective and aligned with your goals.

Last update on 2024-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Mini Elliptical

As the name implies, this is a mini version of the elliptical trainers you find in the gym. If you’ve used one, you should already know the difference between it and a step machine.

Where a step machine moves vertically, the footplates on this machine move in an elliptical motion (hence the name). They still go up and down, just on a slight arc.

This mini elliptical is by far the best I’ve used. I’ve been using this for a number of years after trying and testing some not so good machines!

Stamina InMotion E1000 Compact Strider – Seated Elliptical with Smart Workout App – Foot Pedal Exerciser for Home Workout – Up to 250 lbs Weight Capacity – Silver
  • FOOT PEDAL EXERCISER – Our Desk Pedal Exerciser is a compact exercise peddler that provides effective, efficient cardio and muscle-toning workout. Even while gaming or watching TV, make cardio easy with our seated elliptical.
  • SITTING AND STANDING CARDIO TRAINING – This compact and lightweight mini strider can be used while sitting or standing. Pedal in forward or in reverse to target different muscles with low-attention leg exercise movements that can help improve circulation.
  • COMFORTABLE, COMPACT DESIGN – This desk foot pedal exerciser is designed with textured non-slip end caps that hold your feet in place and gives you a low-impact routine that is gentle to your back, knees, hips, and ankles.

Last update on 2024-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Benefits of Mini Steppers and Mini Ellipticals

Both a mini stepper and mini elliptical offer similar workouts. Here’s a list of the health benefits of using a mini stepper or mini elliptical. We’ll cover the differences later so you can make a decision about which is right for you.

Aerobic Workout

Importantly, both offer a decent aerobic workout. They also burn similar amounts of calories if you work hard enough. For a home gym or office exercise machine, you’d be fine with either.


Both devices provide low-impact exercise. Because your feet don’t make contact with the ground, there’s no shock to absorb through your legs.

In contrast, running is a high-impact exercise because every time your foot hits the ground, your leg must absorb the shock. Over time, this can damage your joints.

Either device is ideal from a low-impact perspective. However, the mini elliptical is slightly better, but we’ll explain this below in the differences.

Targeted Muscle Groups

A mini stepper and mini elliptical offer lower-body workouts. They both target muscles groups in your legs and abdomen, although the specific groups are slightly different.

For example, a mini stepper targets your core, calves, glutes, quads and hip flexors. The mini elliptical, however, targets the hamstrings instead of the hip flexors. The difference comes down to the motion of the footplates.

mini stepper comparison with mini elliptical

Mini Elliptical Weight Loss

Weight Loss

Both machines offer the potential for weight loss because you exercise aerobically. Of course, choosing one of these machines should be done as part of a larger weight loss plan. The differences in calorie burning are almost negligible, but the mini elliptical just slips out in front.

Similarities and Differences

As you can probably already tell, these are fairly similar exercise machines. Even so, let’s look at the similarities and differences in more explicit detail.



Both machines are lightweight and compact, and quiet, too. From this perspective, either would be ideal as an addition to your home gym or under your office desk.


Mini steppers and mini ellipticals fall into the same price range. You could get a decent version of either for less than £200. As such, budget shouldn’t be a deciding factor when choosing between them.

Resistance Workouts

Mini steppers and mini ellipticals both have resistance settings. These make the footplates more difficult to push down, which obviously gives you a better leg workout. If you’re building a high-resistance workout at home, either would be suitable.

Extra Features

You’ll find a range of extra features on both machines, although many don’t have a significant impact on your workout. The most important is the addition of upper-body exercises.

On a mini elliptical, this often comes in the form of resistance cables. The same is true for mini steppers, although this might also have handles, just like the full-size models. Either way, bringing the upper body into your workout is obviously beneficial.



As mentioned, there’s a minor (but fundamental) difference in the movement each machine offers. A mini stepper targets the muscles required to lift and drop your legs, whereas a mini elliptical targets the muscles needed to propel your legs forwards.

It might not sound like a massive difference, but it’s enough. If muscle toning is your main goal, a mini stepper is a better option because it uses resistant force. On the other hand, if your priority is weight loss, a mini elliptical is better.

Stepper vs Elliptical For Knees

Levels of Impact

Both devices are low-impact exercise machines. However, a mini elliptical is slightly lower impact than a mini stepper. It mainly comes down to the motion your legs go through when exercising.

On a mini stepper, you have to apply force to push your leg down against resistance. On a mini elliptical, your body weight is spread evenly across both legs and your feet are guided through the elliptical motion by the machine.

Use for Newbies

This is arguably a minor difference, but might be an important one for those new to home exercising. With a mini elliptical, there’s less chance for you to “cheat” the machine and get the motion wrong. It essentially guides you through what you have to do, meaning you have to exercise how it wants you to.

With a mini stepper, though, you can use the machine’s movement to ride the steps. In short, this means you can bounce on them and not push down with enough force. It’s not a big thing, but if you’re buying a machine for exercise, it makes sense to use it for this purpose.

Deciding Which is Right for You

Hopefully, you should already have a better idea of which is the more suitable machine for your needs. Just to finish things off, here are the situations in which a mini stepper is preferably over a mini elliptical.

Choosing a Mini Stepper

A mini stepper is a better option if you’re prioritising toned muscles over weight loss. Of course, it still burns calories and you will experience mini stepper weight loss results, but it focuses more on resistance exercise.

It might also be the better machine for those with experience in proper gym form. Both machines are easy to use, but mini steppers need a bit more concentration to get the most from them. As such, it probably helps to have used a full-size step machine at the gym before, just so you’re familiar with the actions.

Choosing a Mini Elliptical

A mini elliptical is a better option if you want to focus on more general, all-round weight loss. It has less of a focus on resistance exercise, making it a better choice for burning calories.

Mini ellipticals are probably better for people with previous knee or joint problems, too. Both machines are low-impact, but a mini elliptical saves you from having to put force on your joints, even if it’s minimal force.

Finally, a mini elliptical is a better choice for those new to at-home exercising. It basically guides you through the required motion, and there’s very little to get wrong with a mini elliptical. Unlike a mini stepper, there’s no real benefit from having used an elliptical trainer at the gym before.

Final Thoughts on a Mini Stepper vs. Mini Elliptical

Hopefully, you now have enough to make an informed decision about which machine is right for you. It ultimately comes down to whether you want to focus on muscle toning or weight loss.

If you’re still unsure, spend some time researching different models and see which appeals to you the most.

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An ex-triathlete, fitness coach and writer with a Masters in Sports Physiology. Fitness is my passion and I've had my fair share of home fitness equipment tried and tested!