Exercise Bike Vs Stairmaster: Compared For Cardio & Fat Loss

When creating or refreshing your fitness routine, it is key to know what machines or workouts are best for you.

Burning fat is possible for a lot of machines; in the stationary bike vs Stairmaster debate, which is best? We discuss our thoughts down below. 

Your Personal Fitness Goals 

When considering using a bike or Stairmaster, you need to consider your goals carefully. Both machines simulate the very familiar cardiovascular walking upstairs and cycling movements.

Either of these machines can give a satisfying lower body workout while burning plenty of calories and fat during a moderate session.  

If you have joint pain or an injury, Stairmasters and bikes present low-impact alternatives to the treadmill.

This is because you are not bouncing up and down or otherwise putting excess pressure on your joints. This is also vital for those in recovery from injuries or those who have joint issues in general. 

In terms of calories burned, it is possible to burn hundreds of calories in an hour on either machine.

Experts give various estimates based on the user's personal information (weight, height, age, etc.).

Still, cardio workouts in all forms tend to shred over 300 calories quickly, depending on the resistance and intensity level. 

Winner: Tie. Both machines work similar muscle groups and utilize similar workout styles.

Related Article - Treadmill Vs Stairmaster

stair climber vs bike

Muscles Worked 

Both stationary bikes and Stairmasters focus on working your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, calves) and strengthening those major muscle groups.

Unlike ellipticals or rowing machines, these are not necessarily full-body workouts. 

However, it is possible to engage your abdomen and lower back while using the Stairmaster to stay balanced.

Likewise, spin bikes encourage you to lean forward, engaging your arms and shoulders, as well as your core, as you ride.  

Consider what you want to prioritize in your workouts and bear it in mind when choosing between the two machines.

We recommend weaving this in amongst other strength and cardio exercises to work your entire body each week. 

Winner: Tie. Each machine focuses on your lower body’s major muscle groups using familiar movements. 

Read More - Guide To Muscles Worked With Exercise Bikes

Intensity Options 

In terms of intensity, Stairmasters and stationary bikes differ in how they challenge you.

Bikes use a combination of resistance and how fast you pedal to create a challenge and burn fat. 

On the other hand, Stairmasters increase the speed at which the steps fall to force you to keep up.

The pace is a significant factor for both machines, but one is voluntary while the other is machine-controlled.

You can choose to follow preset programs or completely customize your workout to your needs on either machine.

Consider whether you want to control your pace or if you need something to force you to keep up with more intense workouts. 

Winner: Stationary bikes. Both stationary bikes and Stairmasters challenge you but differ slightly in terms of how they up the intensity.

Cycling will be easier to keep up with for beginners.

Read Also - Does An Exercise Bike Reduce Belly Fat?

Tracking Your Workouts 

In terms of progress tracking, both machines have various ways to track your data.

Most models of bikes and stair climbers have an LCD screen that tracks various metrics such as time, calories burned, speed, and more. 

How detailed these metrics are varies, and some models come with heart rate monitoring sensors or straps that can help you gain even more accurate information.  

Additionally, certain brands can use Bluetooth to sync your workout data with various fitness apps for convenient health tracking.

Read over the manual or product description carefully to ensure that you are getting exactly the progress tracking you need from your chosen model. 

Winner: Tie. Both machines make use of similar tracking features, and individual models will have additional useful apps or tools. 

Learn More - Are Calorie Counters Accurate On Exercise Bikes?

Ease Of Use (For Beginners) 

Indoor bikes and stair climbers use simple, familiar movements that we use in our day-to-day lives, making the learning curve much smaller for new users.

Stair climbers can be a little intimidating, however, due to the large bulky size. Once you get going, it is a breeze to use.  

Stationary bikes are a popular choice for newbies to cardio as they are easy to use and very common to find in gyms and for home use.

The main thing will be learning to set up and adjust the bike’s settings to suit your needs; you can ask for help from a fellow gym member or consult the manual to find out more.

Winner: Stationary bikes. Stationary bikes are a less intimidating and more accessible option for both home and commercial gyms. 

Related Article - Different Types Of Exercise Bikes

stair climber vs stationary bike

Cost Comparison

Another thing to consider when choosing between stair climber vs bike models is the price. If you are going to a gym that has both, then the gym membership cost is a factor.

Those with home gyms need to know that stair climber models are both more expensive and less common than stationary bikes.

They are also bulkier and heavier, meaning that they may cost more to ship to your home.  

Stationary bikes are available in a wide range of designs and budgets from many popular brands, which is helpful for customers building a home gym

If you want a model of either type that is out of your budget, try finding a good deal or waiting for a sale. 

Winner: Stationary bikes. Even the most premium stationary bikes are generally more affordable than a Stairmaster, which is probably why they are usually not found in home gyms.

Pros & Cons Of Spin Bike Workouts

To continue the stationary bike vs Stairmaster debate, we must delve into the pros and cons of each model, starting with spin bikes.

Spin bikes are one of three types of stationary bikes that pitch your body forward slightly, encouraging you to use your arms and shoulders as well as your lower body to work out.  

bike vs stairmaster

These bikes are widely available at a range of price points. For gym lovers, many gyms hold regular spin classes for social butterflies.

We love this low-impact alternative to treadmill running due to its flexibility in training; it is easy to perform both HIIT and steady-state sessions on a bike.

With these models, you can make the workout as easy or as difficult as you want by upping the resistance or pedaling faster. 

What We Like 

  • Good low impact cardio 
  • HIIT and steady-state training 
  • Cheaper than Stairmasters 
  • Often compact or foldable 

Things We Don’t 

  • Positioning the bike is vital but often overlooked 
  • No bone-strengthening element 
  • Not a total body workout 

Pros & Cons Of Stairmaster Workouts

Now to consider the other half of the Stairclimber vs stationary bike debate.

Stair climbers are an easy-to-use low-impact machine that makes a daily chore into a cardio workout.

These models are an underutilized gym item that works your lower body as well as your abdomen and lower back. 

bike or stairmaster

While seeming intimidating to some, Stairmasters are very easy to use and utilize speed to increase the burn during sessions.

We recommend not leaning too much on the side railings to maximizthe effectiveness of these workouts. 

Suggested Equipment - Bowflex M8 Max Trainer

What We Like 

  • Great for muscle and bone strengthening 
  • Easy to use 
  • Can burn more calories overall 
  • Great for steady-state training 

Things We Don’t 

  • Large and bulky machine 
  • More expensive than bikes 
  • Easy to get used to and plateau over time 
  • Harder to HIIT 

Common Bike and Stairmaster Questions 

How long per day should you ride a stationary bike to lose weight? 

That depends on your physical fitness and goals. The CDC recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. The World Health Organisation supports this research, suggesting that 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity workouts are enough. 

Can you lose belly fat on Stairmaster? 

It is possible to see results in your general body fat percentage with persistence, a healthy diet, and plenty of rest and stretching. If you do not push yourself too hard but are consistent in your training, you should lose belly fat and improve your stamina on either machine. 

Is stair climbing high impact on the knees? 

It is still a low-impact activity on the joints but is a touch harder on them than bikes. This is because you are stepping on each level repeatedly while using a Stairmaster, whereas your feet remain in place through a cycling session. 


When choosing between a bike or Stairmaster, we recommend choosing the one that you are most likely to use regularly and finding a model that suits your needs and budget.

With the right diet and recovery routine, either of these machines can be incredibly helpful as a part of your weekly workout sessions. 

Last Updated on January 28, 2023

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Andrew White

Andrew White is the co-founder of Garage Gym Pro. As an expert fitness professional (gym building nerd) with over 10 years of industry experience, he enjoys writing about everything there is to do with modern fitness & the newest market innovations for garage gyms. When he isn’t testing out products for his readers, he’s usually out surfing or playing basketball.