Fitness
Moderators: melkor


Burning calories - elliptical vs. stairmaster


Quote  |  Reply

I know that the calorie meters on cardio machines aren't 100% accurate.  That being said, when I spend an hour on the elliptical machine, I generally burn 700 calories without much effort.  If I spend an hour on the stairmaster I burn 600 calories and am generally "holding on for dear life" for the last 10 minutes.  I'm always a sweaty mess, with puddles on the machine, and breathing heavily.  I would think that this burns more calories than a workout on the elliptical machine where I might get a little sweaty, but am barely breathing heavy when I finish. 

Any insight?

29 Replies (last)

I had that VERY SAME question! i think that i get a pretty good workout on the ellipical but on the stair master im about to die within 15 minutes! i've heard that for every flight of stairs and average person climbs (something was stated about vertical feel but i think a flight of stairs is a flight of stairs???) either way, ive read in mulitple locations that per flight your body will burn 16 calories. and when im on that stair master (dying!) it says sometimes that i did 21 flights in 10 minutes. well that adds up to more then what the machine gives us.

also, i think that the way our body is being "worked," well, that is the true amount of calories that we burn, if we are drenched in sweat and breathing heavily i think we are burning a lot. we are working for it and struggling with.

either way, if you have the "FACTS" on this please let us know!

in general - the elliptical will burn more calories than the stairs for one reason mainly, it's the fact that you are doing a total body workout vs using your legs only on the stairs

- given that, i hate to sound snooty at all, but i want to point something out about the stair master- (and i hope it's the treadmill kind, not the 'stepper elliptical' kind that people confuse with the stairs rolling as you climb to hell... not heaven)

with the stair master- i see over & over people hanging on for dear life-- and lying forward on the rails-- this is NOT the intent of the rails - they are for balance only and holding on with your elbows out or leaning on the rails also decreases the effectiveness and calories burned during the workout!

I am not saying that on my last 10 minutes of a 60 minutes stairs that i myself am not wishing to hold on/lean down for dear life- but overall, it's a weight bearing exercise where you want to take advantage of your FULL body weight to maximize calories burned while generating muscle growth! holding onto the rails decreases your weight load on the stairs and is also decreasing the muscle building/bone building intent of the work out and decreasing calories burned bc you are not using your body weight!

Also, since you tend to lean as you hold on, you decrease the overall gluteal stress somewhat- and end up working your calves and quads more--

so, just keep in mind- while I am a stair master lover myself- the best way to get an effective butt blasting workout out is to act like you are  a las vegas show girl going up a set of stairs with a HUGE HEAVY head dress on your head -- think of it as doing a sexy sexy walk up a flight of stairs with like george clooney or antonio banderas right behind you-- and you want to shake your groove thing to have it noticed-- you need to plant your feet a slight bit outward with each step and drive your heels into the steps-- you should feel your hip flexors and glutes and hamstrings activated!

if you feel you need to hold on for dear life-- slow the steps down-- give your self breathers to catch up so you pay attention to effective stepping! the amount of calories burned becomes secondary to proper form! if you master the stairs and stand upright with perfect posture -- you will blast a better workout & more calories than leaning or holding on! I myself hold onto the magazine rack very lightly- with my thumb and index fingers and walk back straight - exagerated perfect posture - and dip my shoulders with each step-- i look like I am strutting - but man, does it work!

I do the elliptical for an hour also-- along with 30-60 mins on the stairs and 30-60 mins on the stepper -EVERY DAY- and do a treadmill on full incline for another 30 mins-- and believe me-- after 6 months of varying workouts- circuits, intervals, etc-- this is finally getting my butt up to a healthy level as compared to the back of my knees where it was!

Better form + high exertion rate= better results!

i am the total opposite.  I can be on the stair-master for 45-60 minutes and not even be phased....but I can only last 30 on the elliptical.  Maybe it has to do with the way we exert ourselves.  I find that I am getting more tired on the elliptical because I am using my arms as well. 
I don't have an answer to this question (except that I agree common sense says you're burning more when you're busting your tail) I just wanted to say that anyone who can do an hour on the stairmaster is absolutely my freaking hero.

Girl!!! I am right there with you...i could last all day on the elliptical, but that stairstepper is going to be the end of me lol! I'm one of those people that just jump on the machine and hit the quick start button and go to town, but then i FINALLY realized (it took me long enough!) that obviously the more you weigh, the more calories you're going to burn. A 150 lb person may not burn as many calories as lets say a 300 lb person. For example, (i know this only because i tested this last night lol) that when i just do the quick start and go for it on the stairs the estimated calories per HOUR was like 600 something. So then i start over and put my weight in and lo and behold the estimated calories per hour LEAPED to 995!!!! Now I'm not part of the "1 hour stair stepper" club, not YET :) but i agree with iamme1270...I was a leaner...I'll admit it and could only do 15 min MAX, but a trainer friend at the gym came over and pretty much gave me the same exact speach...stand up straight, push through the heals, etc. So when i did (with his watchful eye on me) it SLASHED my time to like 7 minutes before I thought I was literally going to pass out and DIE!!! So even though it sucks that my time is cut off a litte, I'm working back up to those 15 minutes and hopefully a little longer, your body just needs to get used to the new "right" way of doing things lol!

But try entering your weight when you start, if you're not already...it might change!! Sorry this got so long, I didnt mean to write a novel for everyone!!

I generally don't let myself "lean" until I'm 30 minutes in, and never for more than 30-45 seconds at a time.  If it gets to be too much, I pause for 30-45 seconds, get a drink of water and resume.  I don't use the elliptical machines with arms, so I'm not getting extra calorie burn from using my upper body.  (Don't worry, my personal trainer sees to it that I get plenty of balance when I work out with him twice a week.)  I guess that if my heart rate is higher and I'm sweating more I feel more accomplished.  It just seems like that should be burning more calories.  Oh, and I do enter my weight 'cause I think the default is set to 150 pounds...

I dont lean or hold on either, but i DEFINATLY am dying....and i find it funny to read the las vegas show girl strutting thing! i do that, but i feel a little self conscious about it because that damn stair master is taller then every machine at the gym and i feel like im on display. but then i realize, oh well...let them check out my booty, its starting to look cute. ill flaunt it now that ive got it, thanks to the stairmaster :)

When i get to that gripping-on-for-dear-life point, i generally know that im dunzo and i need to get off. I dont EVER make it to the 60 min mark, or even the 30 min mark. Im usually at the 10-20 min area and thats fine with me... One day ill be able to do 60 mins! and knowing people ACTUALLY do it gives me even more hope!

LOL!  I know what you mean about feeling like you're on display.  I generally start off doing the whole Vegas Showgirl booty shake thing!  After about 20 minutes, though, I'm stomping more than strutting, and by 40 minutes I am not even thinking about form - just trying to find a song on the iPod to get me through!

I'm positive you'll be able to get to an hour - if that's what you're shooting for.  The first time I tried it I barely made it to 10 minutes.  When I worked up to 20 I thought that would be it - no way would I make an hour.  It took a few weeks, but I got there.  My secret is to do two 30-minutes sessions rather than setting it for 60 minutes.  It's all a mental game for me.  If I have to look down and see 42 minutes remaining I would just give up.  I used to do 30-15-15.  If my PT and I are working out together I will set it for an hour - somehow it's not as bad when I see him next to me struggling just as hard, if not harder.  Kind of like I'm not going through the torture alone - LOL. 

Good question!  I've been wondering this same thing myself for awhile now...

iamme - thanks for the informative post.  The main reason I started doing the stairmaster (other than the fact that I wanted a forth thing to mix into my cardio routine) is because people said they felt the work-out in their butt.  I never do!  Even though I'm very careful not to lean, I lightly hold on to the HR sensors (I don't have my own yet) to keep an eye on how my HR changes, I always only feel it in my calves and thighs.  I'll have to try out the 'las vegas show girl' strut next time!

That's exactly why I never go on the stairmaster! I feel like I am burning too few calories for all my sweat and effort.

I don't last very long on it at all. I start of fine, but then I keep going lower and lower... and after about ten minutes, my feet nearly touch the floor haha.  Then I am almost out of breath, huffing and panting, trying to get myself back up there, using my whole body... and the calorie meter says @#$%ing 53! I'm like... it's not worth it. Conversely, I can run at 6.5 for an hour with hardly any effort.
#11  
Quote  |  Reply
I wear an HRM on both machines. I use the stair master at the gym and in 45 minutes, fat burning setting, and ranging btwn level 4 - 6, I can burn about 750 calories, plus another 15 minutes on the bike to cool down it totals about 900 calories. I sweat a LOT too, but am not holding on for dear life - after a while everything stops hurting, except my big toe when I step to deep into the stair! OUCH!

At home I have a precore elliptical without arms. I will usually do the weight loss setting, intervals of 4 minutes for 28 minutes with a 5 minute cool down, high stepping at setting 13 and resistance at 8, low stepping at setting 7 resistance 4. Additionally, depending on what song is on my ipod, I will either up or lower the resistance. Generally speaking, I will burn about 300 calories on the elliptical (according to my HRM and not the procore screen). I sweat with this work out too, but not at much as on the stair master. Unless and I do this often, I will usually get off every other interval and do a one minute plank or 8 push-ups to up my calorie count. Afterwards I'll dance like a wild woman and do crazy jumping jacks until I reach 800 calories.

Lastly, the stairmaster will under estimate the calories burning by about 100 calories (in 45 minutes) , and the elliptical will over estimate the calories by about 100 calories (in 33 minutes). Of course these results are according to the HRM, which I've heard is the best way to gage your actual calories burned.
#12  
Quote  |  Reply

Original Post by iamme1270:

I'm so glad I saw this...I'm pretty happy with my body, but have been wanting a boost on my booty. I've been told the stairmaster is the best, but it goes without saying without proper form you don't maximize your results. I'm hitting the Stairmaster today...just like a Vegas Showgirl! Thanks for the advice.

in general - the elliptical will burn more calories than the stairs for one reason mainly, it's the fact that you are doing a total body workout vs using your legs only on the stairs

- given that, i hate to sound snooty at all, but i want to point something out about the stair master- (and i hope it's the treadmill kind, not the 'stepper elliptical' kind that people confuse with the stairs rolling as you climb to hell... not heaven)

with the stair master- i see over & over people hanging on for dear life-- and lying forward on the rails-- this is NOT the intent of the rails - they are for balance only and holding on with your elbows out or leaning on the rails also decreases the effectiveness and calories burned during the workout!

I am not saying that on my last 10 minutes of a 60 minutes stairs that i myself am not wishing to hold on/lean down for dear life- but overall, it's a weight bearing exercise where you want to take advantage of your FULL body weight to maximize calories burned while generating muscle growth! holding onto the rails decreases your weight load on the stairs and is also decreasing the muscle building/bone building intent of the work out and decreasing calories burned bc you are not using your body weight!

Also, since you tend to lean as you hold on, you decrease the overall gluteal stress somewhat- and end up working your calves and quads more--

so, just keep in mind- while I am a stair master lover myself- the best way to get an effective butt blasting workout out is to act like you are  a las vegas show girl going up a set of stairs with a HUGE HEAVY head dress on your head -- think of it as doing a sexy sexy walk up a flight of stairs with like george clooney or antonio banderas right behind you-- and you want to shake your groove thing to have it noticed-- you need to plant your feet a slight bit outward with each step and drive your heels into the steps-- you should feel your hip flexors and glutes and hamstrings activated!

if you feel you need to hold on for dear life-- slow the steps down-- give your self breathers to catch up so you pay attention to effective stepping! the amount of calories burned becomes secondary to proper form! if you master the stairs and stand upright with perfect posture -- you will blast a better workout & more calories than leaning or holding on! I myself hold onto the magazine rack very lightly- with my thumb and index fingers and walk back straight - exagerated perfect posture - and dip my shoulders with each step-- i look like I am strutting - but man, does it work!

I do the elliptical for an hour also-- along with 30-60 mins on the stairs and 30-60 mins on the stepper -EVERY DAY- and do a treadmill on full incline for another 30 mins-- and believe me-- after 6 months of varying workouts- circuits, intervals, etc-- this is finally getting my butt up to a healthy level as compared to the back of my knees where it was!

Better form + high exertion rate= better results!

 

Excellent post, iamme1270!

Original Post by iamme1270:

I do the elliptical for an hour also-- along with 30-60 mins on the stairs and 30-60 mins on the stepper -EVERY DAY- and do a treadmill on full incline for another 30 mins-- and believe me-- after 6 months of varying workouts- circuits, intervals, etc-- this is finally getting my butt up to a healthy level as compared to the back of my knees where it was!

Better form + high exertion rate= better results!

So you are spending 2.5-3.5 hours every day on cardio machines?  I think I would rather kill myself. 

I have to say I am much happier with the "lift" my butt has gotten by lifting weights 2-3 times per week for an hour.  And I don't spend 3 hours a day in the gym. 

lunges w/ weights for ten minutes 3 times a week has totally shaped my lower half.

#16  
Quote  |  Reply

I feel the eliptical machine is much better then the standard stairmaster.  If you really push yourself and get your heart rate up, both your arms and your legs will feel it.  Plus it's non-impact so your knees won't feel the wear and tear of the stairs.

#17  
Quote  |  Reply
Original Post by iamme1270:

in general - the elliptical will burn more calories than the stairs for one reason mainly, it's the fact that you are doing a total body workout vs using your legs only on the stairs

- given that, i hate to sound snooty at all, but i want to point something out about the stair master- (and i hope it's the treadmill kind, not the 'stepper elliptical' kind that people confuse with the stairs rolling as you climb to hell... not heaven)

with the stair master- i see over & over people hanging on for dear life-- and lying forward on the rails-- this is NOT the intent of the rails - they are for balance only and holding on with your elbows out or leaning on the rails also decreases the effectiveness and calories burned during the workout!

I am not saying that on my last 10 minutes of a 60 minutes stairs that i myself am not wishing to hold on/lean down for dear life- but overall, it's a weight bearing exercise where you want to take advantage of your FULL body weight to maximize calories burned while generating muscle growth! holding onto the rails decreases your weight load on the stairs and is also decreasing the muscle building/bone building intent of the work out and decreasing calories burned bc you are not using your body weight!

Also, since you tend to lean as you hold on, you decrease the overall gluteal stress somewhat- and end up working your calves and quads more--

so, just keep in mind- while I am a stair master lover myself- the best way to get an effective butt blasting workout out is to act like you are  a las vegas show girl going up a set of stairs with a HUGE HEAVY head dress on your head -- think of it as doing a sexy sexy walk up a flight of stairs with like george clooney or antonio banderas right behind you-- and you want to shake your groove thing to have it noticed-- you need to plant your feet a slight bit outward with each step and drive your heels into the steps-- you should feel your hip flexors and glutes and hamstrings activated!

if you feel you need to hold on for dear life-- slow the steps down-- give your self breathers to catch up so you pay attention to effective stepping! the amount of calories burned becomes secondary to proper form! if you master the stairs and stand upright with perfect posture -- you will blast a better workout & more calories than leaning or holding on! I myself hold onto the magazine rack very lightly- with my thumb and index fingers and walk back straight - exagerated perfect posture - and dip my shoulders with each step-- i look like I am strutting - but man, does it work!

I do the elliptical for an hour also-- along with 30-60 mins on the stairs and 30-60 mins on the stepper -EVERY DAY- and do a treadmill on full incline for another 30 mins-- and believe me-- after 6 months of varying workouts- circuits, intervals, etc-- this is finally getting my butt up to a healthy level as compared to the back of my knees where it was!

Better form + high exertion rate= better results!

 

I concur.  Too many times while at the gym I see people on the stairmaster completely hanging over the hand bar or talking on their cell phone.  Come on a workout should be intense enough that you cannot be simply having a "la di da" convo" with your boyfriend on the cell.

Total body workout?  What, swinging your arms and legs back and forth?  What is that?  I see lots of people at the health club doing the elliptical at a frantic pace for an hour, and some of 'em aren't even sweating.

If I want a great aerobic workout without putting a hurt on the knees (like standard running tends to do), I hit the Stairmaster for 40 minutes.  After a 40-minute Stairmaster session, I feel like a wet rag in oxygen deficit.  If I want a total body workout, I hit the weights.  I think that a good workout routine should include both aerobic training and resistance training.

#19  
Quote  |  Reply

I agree with the fact that you need to do weights also.  However, the stairmaster is using your legs, while the eliptical if you use it right works your posture and arms slightly.  Did I ever say it was a TOTAL BODY?  You want total body pal try Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or mma.  But what I said was it will work your arms somewhat more then someone hanging themselves over the stairmaster.

Forget about the Brazilian workouts.  Those guys are crazy.  Besides, when was the last time a Brazilian won anything at the Olympics, so I'm not too sure about the effectiveness of their workout programs anyway.  However, from some pictures I've seen, the Brazilian women do have pretty nice butts, so they're probably doing something right.

And by the way, while I do not "hang myself" on the Stairmaster, there are a couple young women at the club who do, and while I can't condone their technique, it doesn't look all that bad.

 

29 Replies (last)
Recent Blog Post
At one point, Kris hated taking pictures because she disliked the way she looked. After a phenomenal shift to a healthier lifestyle, she now wants to try taking more pictures of herself. Kris realized that maintaining her weight (she lost almost 40 pounds!) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle require a life-long change – and the change is so worth it!   

Continue reading...