Which Exercise Machine Burns the Most Calories?

Which cardio machine should you use when you want to quickly burn off last night’s cheesecake?

Ben Greenfield
5-minute read
Episode #1
Exercies machine

How Many Calories Does the Stairmaster Burn?

Sorry, Jane Fonda, but I just don’t have much praise for the good, ol’ stairmaster. It incorporates tiny-teeny calf muscles, and just a little bit of your backside and butt, but really won’t give you more than about 400-500 calories per hour. In addition, anybody who has low back pain will almost surely find it aggravated during the straight up and down motion of the Stairmaster.

Now, for those stair-lovers out there, I do have good news. You know the “stairway to nowhere”, or, as I had one client describe it, “the stairway to heaven because you feel as if you’re about to die”? Yes, I’m talking about the moving belt of stairs that actually make you climb a stationary staircase. That will give you just as much calorie-burning benefit as running up an incline on a treadmill, but this is not for the faint of heart.

Quick and dirty tip for climbing stairs: Use the trick of holding a small set of 1-3 lb dumbbells in either hand as you climb for maximum calorie burning.

How to Burn the Most Calories When Exercising

Of course, there are many additional forms of cardio; but for maximum calorie burning benefit no matter which form you choose, be sure to incorporate a form of cardio that is inefficient or unfamiliar to your body. So if you always walk, try switching to cycling or using the elliptical; or if you always run, try the rowing machine. Keep throwing those cardio curveballs at the body, and you’ll burn more calories and lose that weight. Of course, most importantly, have fun when you’re exercising. And clean the sweat off that machine when you’re done, for goodness sake.

Treadmill Cartoon image from Shutterstock


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.