20 Minute StairMaster HIIT Workout

Work up a sweat with this quick and effective 20 minute StairMaster HIIT workout! Your legs will be burning and your heart will be pumping.

I have a love/hate relationship with the StairMaster. It’s HARD and takes a lot of energy, but it’s also one of my favorite machines at the gym because you can work your backside while getting your cardio in and you don’t have to stay on the machine forever in order to work up a good sweat. I usually only do like 20-30 mins on the stairmaster before I’m in need a serious water break… especially if I’m doing intervals like the ones in this workout.

And don’t let the short time fool you. 20 minutes on the StairMaster is no joke, I don’t care what level you’re using! I should note that this is an advanced HIIT workout. You can easily modify the workout to meet your fitness level.

I know it’s holiday weekend, but here’s a quick stairmaster workout — just in case you have time to pop in to the gym for a quickie. If you do end up trying this workout, let me know in the comment section or on social media. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

20 Minute Stair Master HIIT Workout

Level refers to the level on the stairmaster machine, which goes from 1-20.

Work up a sweat with this quick and effective 20 minute StairMaster HIIT workout! Your legs will be burning and your heart will be pumping.

Benefits of the StairMaster

Climbing stairs is known to be one of the most effective cardio (and strength building workouts) you can do for several reasons:

  1. Stair climbing engages the body’s largest muscle groups to lift your body weight up, step after step, so you burn more calories than you would exercising on a flat surface.
  2. Stair climbing raises your heart rate immediately so with a 20 minute workout you’ll likely spend 19 minutes with an elevated heart rate. Perfect for maximizing your cardio benefits.
  3. Stair climbing requires more balance and strength than other cardio modalities. The act of maintaining your balance while stair-stepping engages core muscles and increases core muscle strength.
  4. You’re toning and sculpting your lower body (glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves) while getting a cardio workout at the same time. More bang for your workout buck!
  5. Using the stairmaster is better on your knees, because with “real” stairs you have to go up to the top and then back down. Descending stairs is considerably harder on your knees than climbing up because your muscles and connective tissues are being used as “brakes” to fight the effect of gravity, and you are hitting each step with more impact. With the stairmaster machine, you get all the benefits of climbing while avoiding the negative elements of descending.


Question for you – Do you love or hate the stairmaster?

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    1. Ken
      June 11, 2022 AT 8:53 am

      I LOVE it but, as you say it is hard. 20 usually, but sometimes, 30 mins. I do not touch the rails, ever. That is the balance part. Cheers.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        June 13, 2022 AT 9:25 am

        You’ve got this! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I appreciate it!

    2. Alexa
      April 3, 2022 AT 6:49 pm

      Maybe all stair climbers are calibrated differently I do CrossFit and Pilates and cardio but don’t run marathons or anything I love this format!
      16 level is def doable for a minute… doing it as I type drenched in sweat!!!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        April 4, 2022 AT 9:08 am

        Woo! So glad to hear that, Alexa! Stair climbers are the best kind of brutal.

    3. Melanie Sakowski
      November 14, 2020 AT 7:51 pm

      Ok dayyyymnn level 16 that’s no joke 💪🏻

      1. Chelsea
        April 23, 2021 AT 3:34 pm

        Yeah I feel like something isn’t translating to the stepmill I use. I’d like to know what the steps-per-minute of this “HIIT” (is it really?) workout is. Like the “high intensity” intervals are very long for a HIIT workout, somethings not adding up. You’re doing 10, 12, 14, and 16 for 4 minutes, followed by a 1 minute rest? Not adding up.

        Look around on the web for other stepmill hiit workouts. They make much more sense. I feel like she just guessed and threw some interval levels with some times and edited it all cute and people are supposed to eat it up.

        1. A
          December 22, 2021 AT 10:20 am

          For sure, has she used level 16 on a stepper? That’s fast. I can manage 12 at the moment and that near enough tries to kill me, couldn’t imagine doing 16 unless your mount Everest training.

    4. Alexis Trujillo
      May 6, 2020 AT 11:48 am


      Can somebody tell me please how many steps per minute corresponds for every level in the stair master machine?

      Thank you

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