Top 3 Stair Steppers

Buying a stair stepper is an asset to your fitness and an investment in your health, so you need to choose the best one for your goals and for your budget. Our favorite stair stepper is the Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer which retails at the top of the range, around the three thousand mark. We have written a fully detailed review of the Precor AMT100i.

If you are searching for a machine that costs a less, please check out our two recommendations that follow the AMT100i review (find them below, or use our table of contents to click right to them). These are the best lower costing, and budget stair steppers and whilst we have not written such comprehensive reviews of these models, we do highlight the best features of these steppers to help you decide on the right one.

Incidentally, if you are unsure which type of stair stepper to buy or the advantages these fitness machines have over treadmills or even normal stair walking, please read (or even download) our free Stair Stepper Buyers Guide & How to Choose the Best Stepper for Your Budget.

Note: Skip to any part of this review by clicking any link below, and you will go directly to that section.

On this page:

What Should You Look for in a Stair Stepper?

Choice #1 – Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer

Choice #2 – StairMaster 4400CL Stepper

Choice #3 – Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper

What Should You Look for in a Stair Stepper?

You probably have your own list of requirements, but when I was searching, these were some of the criteria I wanted:

  1. Floor space requirements.
  2. Maneuverability – I was in the middle of re-decorating and would need to move furniture around.
  3. Lots of resistance levels so all the family could use easily use the stepper, and get a great workout.
  4. Durability – My whole family would be using any fitness machine we bought, so sturdiness and strength of the machine was important, so we would get many good years use out of it.
  5. Computerized screen to easily show exercise time, steps completed and calories burned.
  6. You also want a stair stepper that is not going to hurt your knees every time you exercise.

Choice #1 – Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer

precor amt100 If you are anything like me, you want to exercise on a quality fitness machine that does exactly what the manufacturer says it will do. The Precor AMT100i does precisely that, and is perhaps  better suited for fitness ‘nuts’, who work out religiously every day (and perhaps night) in their home gym.

The notion that you can get a similar, challenging and smooth action workout on a different fitness machine that is going to last for many years, is quite questionable when you consider what the AMT has to offer you.

That is not to say that you won’t get a good workout on lower priced stair stepper, because you will for sure. And we do recommend several of them.

But the Precor AMT100i offers you something a bit extra special, if it is within your price range.

When you are exercising at home, you need to know that you WILL achieve your fitness and weight loss goals on this shiny metal apparatus that is now taking up a small portion of your home and your life. You also need to know that it is built to last.

So, I cannot express to you how thrilled I was when I saw a demonstration of the Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer (in my local gym). But, this stair stepper is not just a stepper! And that is why it is our top choice.

As easy as it is to take a step forward or up, it easily transforms into a skiing or elliptical trainer allowing you to vastly change the range and direction of motion. It can even mimic the way you walk, run and cycle with Precor’s uniquely trademarked “Adaptive Motion Feature”, that replicates your bodies natural movement.

On one machine, you can exercise in the following ways:

  • Stepping
  • Skiing
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Cycling

Without the high impact on your knees!

Why Does the Precor AMT100i Give You a Superior Workout Compared to Other Fitness Machines?

The Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer is a stair stepper, elliptical trainer, treadmill and stationary bike. This is depicted by the adjustments you can make to alter the range, height and length of the stride.

Because of the patented and harmonious way it glides with every move you make, this robust fitness machine is in a class of its own. You can have a very different and more challenging workout every time you jump on the AMT (if you chose). You are able to adjust the motion, stride length and also the stride height with a quick turn of the ‘stride dial’.

You simply won’t get smoother movements on any other type of stair stepper machine.

Assembling Your Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer

Assembling the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer is an easy 8 step process, that you will need assistance with. Alternatively, Precor offer professional installation which is easily organized.

You will need the following tools:

  1. Cross-head screwdriver
  2. Rubber mallet
  3. Socket set
  4. Cutter to remove ties

Step 1 – Remove side fastenings

Step 2 – With assistance, roll the AMT off its pallet stand into the position you plan to use it.

Step 3 – Insert end caps into frame tube openings either side of the AMT.

Step 4 – Remove the display console plate, feed through and attach cables. Replace console plate.

Step 5 – Attach handlebars.

Step 6 – Adjust/rotate base levers to ensure the AMT is level.

Step 7 – Attach read back floor plate/buffer.

Step 8 – Test that heart rate display works correctly.

Unpacking/Assembly Tips

  • Unpack and assemble the AMT in the location you intend to use it.
  • Ensure there is adequate space to move around the machine.
  • Make sure the surface is flat and sturdy (ie, not carpet).
  • Use your fingers to fasten plastic bolts and other fasteners, wherever possible.

What’s it like using the Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer?

Repeating an earlier remark I made, the AMT is in a class of it’s own.

When I exercise on it, I will adjust the stride dial to allow me to step quite high, but I will hint towards a cycling motion as I find this works my thighs more. And when you are intensifying the stress placed on any muscle when you exercise, you burn more calories. And I have really bad knees, from my younger years doing way too much squatting with bad form, so this movement suits me best.

The thing I like most about the workout you get, is that YOU control the way the AMT moves and not the machine itself. With a (shall we say) ‘ordinary’ stair stepper, you are fixed in one position because it either goes up and down, or side to side. You really can use it in any motion you want to – cycle, step, ski, jog or walk!

Apart from regularly cleaning and polishing, it does not require any maintenance or any other care providing you follow Precor’s guidelines.

With daily use, it is very easy to stay in great shape and condition. My whole family uses it almost every day, so it gets around fifteen hours (plus) a week usage. We have never been disappointed with our choice of the Precor AMT100i.

If you’ve always been a runner (like my wife) and can no longer stand the ‘jarring’ of your knee joints on any hard surface (even a treadmill), the AMT is perfect for you. She tunes the dial so she can replicate the way she would run out on the road, but she is at ease with NO knee pain, which is wonderful for her.

For me, boredom is a huge factor when exercising on any machine, no matter if it’s out at a gym somewhere or in my home gym. But, I do not get bored while I am exercising on the AMT and I never fatigue before my target time. Because of the instant, interchangeable motion you can easily switch around from stepping to skiing, using your arms or not using them, the choice is yours.

How about building muscle on the AMT100i? I turn up the resistance dial and increase the stride height to maximum, when I want a really intense quadriceps and hamstrings workout. My wife does something similar. The increased height and resistance is like doing lunges which are great for muscle building. I don’t exercise for long this way, just fifteen minutes on this setting is enough to get a massive amount of work directed at your thighs.

The Precor AMT100i Features

Essential features worth making a note of:

  • Adaptive Motion. Precor’s trademarked feature of the AMT not only keeps your body engaged, but your mind too! If you are stepping for fifteen minutes and need a change – in a flash you can be running or skiing without losing your pace. Eliminates boredom immediately.
  • Intermittent/Dual handlebar action. When stepping you have fixed bars to hold, but switch to an elliptical or skiing motion and you have handlebars that move with your body to engage your upper body. Muscles worked are chest, back, arms and shoulders.
  • Contralateral movement replicates your bodies natural movement. Simply transfer the natural way you walk up a flight of stairs, be them steep or high steps, to the AMT and you will eliminate the heavy pounding on your knees. You will get a really intense workout, but you won’t get the joint pain.
  • Stride Dial. With the touch of this dial you will be targeting muscles you never thought existed. You can work each muscle a little bit harder the next time you jump on the AMT, once you know what type of movement works best for you. The ‘Stride Dial’ feature monitors what muscles you are using and provides feedback on how they are responding to different motions and resistance levels.
  • Dual Plan Resistance. With an ‘ordinary’ movement stepper, you just get resistance in the vertical motion. But the AMT also has horizontal resistance. What this means for you is a more intense workout that burns more calories and fat, and builds more lean muscle, because you are working harder!
  • Up to 27 inch Adjustable Stride Length. Not everyone is the same height. Neither do they have the same gait or stride length. This is another ingenious feature of the AMT that not only means you can really change up your workouts, but literally ANYONE can get the same intense (or not so intense) workout.
  • SmartRate Bio-feedback section clearly displays your heart rate and the calories you are burning in relation to cardio and weight loss target resistance/speed.
  • Quickstart button for starting immediately you are comfortable.
  • Numeric and programs keypad for entering statistics and data.
  • Audible ‘clicking’ so you know when you are increasing or decreasing resistance, etc.
  • Heart rate monitoring strap and wireless capability for easy reading of your heart rate.
  • Optical Cardio Theater. This gives you the option to listen and view many types of media.
  • Accessory holders for smart phones, books and also for holding water bottles.

Precor AMT100i Warranty Details

  • Frame is covered for 7 years
  • Moving parts and other pars are covered for 2 years
  • One year labor warranty

Specifications:

  1. Maximum user weight – 350 pounds
  2. Maximum stride length – 27 inches
  3. Dimensions – 74 x 28 x 69 inches (L x W x H)
  4. Weight of AMT – 445 pounds
  5. Resistance levels – 20
  6. Pedal dimensions – 14.5 x 7.5 inches
  7. Height of foot pedal, highest – 18.5 inches
  8. Height of foot pedal, lowest – 5.5 inches
  9. Maximum pause time – 30 seconds
  10. Maximum workout time – 240 minutes

What Do Other People Say About the Precor AMT100i?

User/customer feedback is fundamental when choosing a stair stepper. It is always a good idea to know what people liked and what people don’t like about a particular fitness product.

The Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer has been reviewed on many consumer sites, with a high level of satisfaction being it’s main quality. The AMT is not the most reviewed machine, but that is because of it’s higher than average value. On Amazon, 41 users rated it an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars at the time of writing this review.

Some great aspects of the product that people liked include:

  • In it’s own class for home fitness because of the ease at which you can change exercise programs.
  • This fitness machine suits multiple users, because of its ability to change stride length and vary height.
  • It is very reliable, with one user exclaiming that after twelve months of almost daily use it is as reliable as the day they bought it and it only requires a small amount of cleaning or maintenance.
  • Ex-runners with knee trouble say they can set the AMT to a running motion, but they do not experience any knee pain.
  • Customer service are very helpful with questions.
  • The best upper and lower body fitness machine available.
  • Many users found the ‘feedback’ from the AMT of great value, because it tells you what muscles you are using.
  • Ability to change motion eliminates the boredom.
  • Low impact starting ability.
  • Superior workout compared to ALL other stair steppers.

There were also some negative points:

  • It was hard to get going at first. Continuing with the same motion was difficult to replicate. However, this user did get the hang of it but did report a slight ‘bouncing’ feel. I don’t really see this as a negative myself. There is always a slight bounce on a stepper if you are exercising quite quickly.
  • Calories burned while exercising did not compare like for like with another Precor fitness machine. This user exclaimed their calorie output was higher on this machine, but they felt their heart rate did not increase as much as it did on the other machine. Again, I don’t see this as a negative, because not everybody has the same workout statistics every time they exercise, and on different machines. Calories burned is directly related to intensity and exercise time.
  • Another user declared the Precor AMT to be difficult to get started and keep up a good pace. All this says is that because of the adaptive motion feature, the AMT is very different than other steppers and elliptical trainers, and is hard to get used to it at first. This technology is incredibly advanced and complex, and most people are used to just jumping on a stair stepper and ‘off they go’. The AMT takes a little (or maybe, a lot) of concentration to use it effectively. Again, I don’t see the negative in this, other than it may take a few sessions to get familiar with the movement.
  • It was presumed by many users that the AMT would require more maintenance, because of the differing ways you put pressure on the moving parts. But this was refuted by two separate users, one of which came back a year later to update his review and said that with four family members using it practically every day, there was very little maintenance aside from it needed regularly cleaning.

Note: Out of 41 reviews (on Amazon.com), only two people gave the AMT a ‘One Star’. Both these reviews were very negative. However, one user seemed to be advertising another machine and the other, well, if you were to read the ‘sub’ comments left on that users review, they all rebut the negatives. Some agreed that yes, it is a steep learning curve getting used to the technology of the adaptive motion, and is a bit hard to keep up a steady pace at first. But they all stated how great their workouts were on the Precor AMT100i and virtually no other fitness machine compared.

Others quite rightly proposed that if those users weren’t sure what they were buying and if the AMT would suit them, why did they pay such a large amount of money in the first place, in the hope that they will like it? I must agree.

Summary and Conclusion of the Precor Adaptive Motion Trainer

The Precor AMT100i Adaptive Motion Trainer is a great stair stepper, that should really be in a fitness machine class of its own. I like it a lot. I love to use it as a stepper, but I often find that my arms need to be exercising at the same time as my legs, so I switch it to a different motion and stride to involve my upper body more. And I can do this in the blink of an eye. I am very impressed with the price and adaptability of this machine, particularly when you compare it to a top of the range StairMaster Stepmill, which is around the same value. Comparing them both, the Precor AMT100i is the better alternative, better value for money and is similarly reliable and maintenance free.

Where Can You Buy the Precor AMT100i?

We recommend buying the Precor AMT Adaptive Motion Trainer at Amazon.com. Their prices are always very competitive, and are often lower than the manufacturers websites. I don’t claim to understand how or why Amazon can do this, but if you save money buying it from their shopping platform, that is a real bonus. Another great feature of Amazon is that you can read all user reviews to get some great advice on this product.

Choice #2 – StairMaster 4400CL Stepper

stairmaster 4400cl The StairMaster 4400CL is our second choice, and for very good reason.

Comparing the StairMaster 4400CL to the Precor AMT100i

Like the AMT, you can expect the Stairmaster 4400CL to be of the highest quality and it is quite unique for this type of stair stepper. Ok, it doesn’t have the changeability feature of the AMT, but it costs half as much. And because it is made by Stairmaster, you know it will be extremely well made and designed to last many, many years of use.

Aside from being a normal ‘up and down’ stepper, the feature we like most about this and the reason why it is our #2 recommendation is because it is almost half the width of the AMT at just over twenty inches wide. So it really does not take up too much space, and is ideal for use in tight areas or small homes. And, the handlebars are designed in such a way that you can hold on to them or you can hold on and rest your elbows on the lower bar.

Features of the Stairmaster 4400CL

  • Stepping range of up to 14 inches
  • 26 – 174 steps per minute
  • 20 resistance levels
  • 15 year warranty on the frame, 3 year warranty on parts, labor and wear
  • Space saving
  • Dimensions: 41″L x 22″W x 69″H (cm: 104L x 56W x 176H)
  • Weight: 57kg

If you love stepping to lose weight and keep in shape, the 4400CL is a really great choice. It also has a patented movement. Not like the Precor AMT, but it has ‘independent pedal geometry’ movement that makes sure your feet and ankles are level at all times throughout the step range.

StairMaster are known for producing the highest quality fitness and rehabilitation equipment, for over a quarter of a century. But the 4400CL stands out from most of their other fitness products, because of the lower price and because its size is comparable to (the width) of some mini steppers.

On the whole, this is a great stair stepper which boasts top quality and durability. It’s not as versatile as the Precor AMT100i, but for a substantially lower cost it is one of the best steppers you can buy.

Buying the StairMaster 4400CL

Amazon is the best place to buy the StairMaster 4400CL because their prices are always very competitive and they offer you several buying options. You may also find a company that offers free shipping, which is a great cost saving. Read more about the StairMaster 4400CL.

Choice #3 – Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper

sunny-folding-climbing-stepper The Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper is a great budget stepper.

On Amazon, out of an average of 4 stars, 43 people have rated this stepper the top five stars. It really is a huge favorite among home fitness enthusiasts who don’t have the available finances which the Precor AMT or the Stairmaster 4400CL demand.

Folding away for easy storing, the Sunny Climbing Stepper offers an intense cardio workout that will challenge your legs and your heart. Because it is a ‘climbing stepper’, the steps are higher. This may not suit people new to stepping, if they have short legs.

For just over a hundred dollars, you’ll get cardiovascular workout that is designed to be low impact. And you really can’t go wrong with this one.

As with all steppers, if you have had knee problems in the past then you may want to look at another model because of the height of the steps, otherwise be prepared to burn calories, lose fat and tone your legs!

If you are looking for a stair stepper that offers great value for your money, this is the stepper for you. Read more about the Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper.

Again, Amazon is our recommended shopping platform for buying the Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper because it qualifies for FREE shipping.

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