Does the Stair Stepper Burn Belly Fat?

Climbing stairs can be hard work, there’s a good reason why people choose the lazy option and jump in the lift or escalator. For a good reason, coaches have their athletes using these during training because they work your cardiovascular system.

The best stair stepper benefits are vast but does the stair stepper burn belly fat? The stair stepper burns belly fat because it is a cardiovascular machine that burns calories by moving your legs in a repetitive and steady motion, they mimic the stair climbing motion. This in turn burns fat in stored areas – such as the stomach.

It’s important to note that it is used as a tool to reduce overall fat, as opposed to reducing belly fat. If you are look for the best stair steppers, check out our comparison article. 

Let’s dive into how the stair stepper burns belly fat.


Stair Stepper Weight Loss

To lose body fat your body requires a calorie deficit through both exercise and diet. If you burn less calories than you consume your body will store this as fat.

A good rule of thumb is that you lose 1lb of fat when you calorie deficit hits around 3500 over a given period.

To achieve a sufficient calorie burn and accelerate fat loss aim to use the stair stepper at a moderate to intense pace for 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a week. To put this into context, using a stepper machine whether it’s a Stairmaster or stair stepper for 30 minutes can burn around 223 calories.

Stepper for Weight Loss

Many people look at the stepper for weight loss. If you are just getting started with your fitness journey and cannot achieve 30 minutes you can do this at a low intensity and do a HIIT style session. To do this set the stepper to a low intensity for 30 seconds, then increase the intensity to a high level but where you still feel comfortable.

You can repeat this for 20 minutes until you are comfortable with a steady state moderate-high intensity for a longer period. 

Burning belly fat

Fat loss requires an overall calories deficit and unfortunately targeting certain areas for fat loss is impossible. For example, if you were to do lunges or squats you won’t just burn leg fat.

Similarly, if you were to do 150 sit ups daily, you don’t burn belly fat. You just stimulate the muscles in those areas.

While exercising on a stair stepper will lead to fat loss, it won’t necessarily lead to belly fat reduction. It will eventually as your body will burn the fat on your body.

So the only way to burn belly fat using the stair stepper is to use this consistently in conjunction with a balanced diet.

Stair Stepper Weight Loss

Is the Stair Stepper Good for Losing Weight?

Yes it is if you remain consistent on the stair stepper. But as we’ve mentioned, you simply cannot spot reduce fat through exercise but using a stair stepper for aerobic exercise will burn calories.

Here are 5 tips on how to burn more calories through the stair stepper:

1 – Interval Training

Increasing the intensity through interval training burns more calories during your workout but also afterwards due to the afterburn effect. The afterburn effect is a scientific process known as excess post exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

This is the process of oxygen travelling around the body in order to restore itself to a pre workout state. In doing so, your body uses oxygen to produce fuel and stored energy sources (fat).

Interval training typically utilises this more so than steady state exercise, according to studies your body will continue to burn more calories after your interval session, around 6-15% of the total calories burned during exercise. 

You can perform your interval training using the stair steppers pre-programmed routines or do your own. You may find it more beneficial to do your own as you can tailor this towards your own fitness levels.

But do remember to set the upper level setting to a moderate/high intensity to get the most out of your interval training session and get your sweat on!

2 – Full Stride Movement

The success of your workout depends on how you are using your stair stepper. While you can increase the speed and resistance on your stair stepper machine, doing so sometimes forces smaller steps.

Therefore if you are increasing the speed keep in mind to go through the full step movement rather than a shallow step, the bigger your steps the more muscle fibres you will activate – thus burn more calories.

While on the stair stepper maintain a good speed while taking a full step, you can then increase the intensity by increasing the resistance. But only do this when you are satisfied that you are performing the full movement comfortably.

3 – Workout Length

The length of your training is impacted by your fitness level. I wouldn’t expect a total beginner to keep up with someone who has been training for years but that doesnt mean both can do a high intensity workout.

If you are a total beginner or anywhere up to advanced level, try and do an all out sprint on the stepper for a given period, if 30 seconds is too easy then try and do 45 seconds, likewise if 30 seconds is too difficult reduce the sprint time. 

It’s important to consider rest periods during your workout, if you have a longer rest period, like 2-3x longer than your working time, it will help you push harder during your sprints.

Also take into consideration the time it takes to get up to full speed, if it takes 15 seconds for you to get up to full speed then really your intense work period is only 15 seconds if you’re working for a 30 seconds period.

Try and time yourself going all out for a given time. That will really get the calories burning!

using the stair stepper for fat loss

4 – Use your body 

In short, don’t hold onto the handrails! When using the handrails for balance most people make the mistake of putting all their body weight in their hands for support.

If you absolutely need to hold the rails for balance then try to just use your finger tips to keep your balance, this will put more work on the legs and build metabolically active muscles in the lower body and core.

If you want to improve your balance on the stair stepper without having to hold onto the hand rails, focus on your posture. Keep your torso upright and brace your core.

Swing your arms from the shoulders in rhythm with how you would walk normally. Doing this not only keeps you balance but also engages the muscles in the upper body, thus burning more calories.

Similar to an elliptical machine, for a full comparison on both machines check out our stepper vs elliptical article.

5 – Check your Heart Rate

Most stair steppers are equipped with sensors on the handlebars that you can hold onto for a few seconds which displays your heart rate as you exercise. Checking this is a good way to make sure you’re hitting the right intensity during your cardio workout.

For example, working at around 80% of your maximum heart rate is considered high intensity. Calculating your max heart rate is a piece of cake, the equation is simply 220 – your age.

This indicates your maximum heart rate and you can easily calculate your intensity while you workout, aim for hitting 80% to really step up the calorie burn.

stair stepper for fat loss

Other tips to improve calories burn through the stair stepper

Alternate interval training with steady state cardio.

If you’re regularly doing interval training on the stepper you need to allow time for your muscles to recover. Having active rest days where you perform steady state cardio on the stepper is a good way to speed up recovery and growth.

Studies suggest that this type of cardio exercise offers the same calorie burning and recovery advantages as interval training.

Does the Stepper Help Lose Weight? Is it Good for Weight Loss?

The stepper is a great tool to help lose weight but it must be used in conjunction with a balanced diet. To achieve a sufficient calorie burn and accelerate fat loss aim to use the stair stepper at a moderate to intense pace for 30-60 minutes 4-5 times a week.

Good nutrition is the biggest contributing factor to reducing belly fat and body weight. The type of food and amount you eat will determine how much belly fat you have.

The easiest way to reduce overall calorie intake is through intermitted fasting. Some believe that fasted cardio is one of the best ways to lose belly fat. 

To incorporate this into your day to day, skip breakfast and do your interval training on the stepper in the morning for 30 minutes. 

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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!