These 6 Top-Rated Mini Steppers Can Give You an Effective At-Home Workout (Then Get Stashed in the Closet)

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Did you know that stair climbing is one of the most efficient low-impact workouts you can do? Hopping on one for a stepping sesh will combine cardio and resistance training in one, strengthen your lungs, improve your heart health, and majorly challenge your lower body muscles. Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? But if you're looking for a way to get in your steps at home, installing a StairMaster in the living room is not exactly the most space-efficient move you could make (nor the most affordable). That's where the best mini steppers come in. Below, hear what a physical therapist has to say about the benefits of mini steppers and who they're a good fit for—then explore six compact options for you to try in your own home.

Experts In This Article

The best mini steppers at a glance

Who are mini steppers good for?

According to Katie Kernoschak, PD, DPT, physical therapist and trainer at Brooklyn Athletic Club, there are a few groups who can benefit from adding a mini stepper to their at-home workout routine:

  • Anyone seeking low-impact cardio: “Mini steppers are a great option for someone who is looking for a way to get more steps in during their day with a low-impact, high intensity workout that targets the posterior chain muscles,” explains Kernoschak.
  • Anyone short on space: Kernoschak says that, because mini steppers are so compact, portable, and relatively affordable, they’re an easy addition to an at-home gym—even if you have limited space for gym equipment.
  • Those with limited mobility or balance: “Some mini steppers can also be used in a seated position,” she adds. “This makes the equipment accessible to those with limited mobility or balance issues.” Older adults in particular can benefit from adding a seated step machine or small space elliptical (with handles) to their routine for low-impact cardio.

Are mini steppers effective?

If your goal is to integrate some low-impact cardio into your at-home workout routine, the answer is yes. Research suggests that stair climbing in general can help stave off conditions like high blood pressure and obesity. Plus, Kernoschak says that mini steppers do a good job of targeting the quads and glutes, while also activating the hamstrings and calves. “If your mini stepper doesn’t have handles, the core will also have to work for balance purposes during the exercise,” she adds.

Still, Kernoschak notes that even the best mini steppers won’t give you quite as vigorous of a workout as a commercial-grade stair climber you’d find at a gym. “A disadvantage to the mini stepper is that they have a smaller step height compared to a full-sized stair stepper, decreasing the intensity of the mini stepper workout,” she says. “Due to the step height, one will burn fewer calories on a mini stepper compared to a full-sized stair stepper.” For context, most storable steppers only have a 5- to 6-inch step height, while a StairMaster can go up to 14 inches.

To put it plainly, if building muscle is your goal, mini-steppers aren’t exactly the crème de la crème of workout equipment. But, if you’re hoping to squeeze some cardio into your routine, these easily-tucked-away machines can help get your heart rate up from the comfort of your home. Here are six picks of portable and stowable steppers to explore.

Shop 6 of the best mini steppers for at-home workouts

The sunny health and fitness mini stepper advanced for at-home workouts
Best portable stepper: Sunny Health & Fitness, Mini Stepper Advanced — $88.00

If space is at a premium in your home, our top pick for the best portable stair climber is this pick from Sunny Health & Fitness. Weighing just over 16 pounds, it can easily be stored in a closet or under the couch when not in use. When you’re ready to get your step on, it takes up just over a square foot of space. That tiny footprint is particularly impressive when you consider that this machine can give you a full-body workout: There are integrated resistance bands allow you to work your shoulders, arms, and back muscles while stepping. You can also customize your workout by turning a knob to adjust the amount of resistance on the pedals.

Weight: 16 pounds
Supports: Up to 220 pounds
Footprint: 16 x 12 inches
Display: Digital display shows step count, workout time, and calories


  • Highly rated
  • Arrives with batteries included
  • Easily portable or stowable


  • May not be a fit for those with balance issues
The sportsroyals stair stepper for at-home workouts with included resistance bands
Highest weight capacity: Sportsroyals, Stair Stepper — $153.00

The Sportsroyals Stair Stepper is crafted from durable stainless steel components so it can support users up to 330 pounds. Plus, this is another mini stepper that comes with removable resistance bands to get more of a full-body workout if you so choose. Folks rave about the comfort of the cushioned pedals and the security they feel given the non-slip textured pedals. An LCD monitor helps you keep track of your workout metrics as you go to increase motivation, and the hydraulic drive system keeps your steps quiet.

Weight: 24 pounds
Supports: Up to 330 pounds
Footprint: 20 x 18 inches
Display: Digital display shows step count, workout time, calories, distance (in miles)


  • Generous weight capacity
  • Quiet operation


  • Pricier pick
  • Slightly larger profile
The stamina inmotion E1000 under-desk elliptical for at-home workouts
Best under-desk stepper: Stamina, Inmotion E1000 Elliptical — $132.00

The Inmotion E1000 Elliptical is more of a mini elliptical than a mini stepper. It’s a great option for those looking for more of an under-the-desk exercise machine, or for those who need to sit down while exercising (though it can also be used standing). It’s easy to use, lightweight (24 pounds), and syncs with a free app to keep track of your workout stats. You can also pedal forwards and backwards to target different muscles and mix up your workout.

Weight: 24 pounds
Supports: Up to 250 pounds
Footprint: 17 x 25 inches
Display: Digital display shows distance, workout time, calories burned, and stride count


  • Can be used seated or standing
  • Multiple color options
  • Can view stats on the display or in the free app


  • Doesn’t come with resistance bands
a woman using the sunny health and fitness twisting stair stepper for at-home workouts
Best for balance: Sunny Health & Fitness, Twisting Stair Stepper — $109.00

Another pick from Sunny Health & Fitness, this stepper offers the benefit of having an adjustable handlebar you can hold onto to help you stay balanced and safe. The digital display sits on top of the handlebars, so you don’t need to bend down to see your progress. Plus, at only 25 pounds, you can still pick it up and tuck it away when you’re done. The resistance is adjustable, although some customers suggest that turning the resistance knob didn’t make their machine didn’t feel very different.

Weight: 25 pounds
Supports: Up to 250 pounds
Footprint: 22 x 19 inches
Display: Digital display shows calories, step count, workout time


  • Safer pick for those seeking balance support
  • Display is higher, making it easier to read


  • Customers suggest there’s not much variety in resistance
A picture of the maxiclimber vertical climber for at-home stepper workouts
Best full-body workout: MaxiClimber, Vertical Climber — $199.00

Although it’s not technically a mini stepper, the MaxiClimber Vertical Climber will give you a full-body session by working your legs in a stepping motion while also getting your arms in on the action, too. Yet the machine is relatively lightweight (33 pounds) and folds down for easy storage. The height quickly adjusts so multiple family members can use it. A free companion app offers HIIT routines and workout challenges targeted to different fitness levels, and lets you set daily workout goals.

Weight: 33 pounds
Supports: Up to 240 pounds (and 6′ 2″ in height)
Footprint: 26 x 42 inches
Display: Small digital display shows steps and workout time


  • Highly rated by customers
  • Offers a full-body workout
  • Comes with a free companion app


  • Customers say the display is awkward and not very helpful
  • Pricier option (although it’s often on sale)
The nordic lifting mini stepper in black, best mini stepper with resistance bands
Best with resistance bands: Nordic Lifting, Mini Stepper — $100.00

While mini steppers are mainly focused on your lower body muscles, resistance bands can help get your upper body involved. This pick from Nordic Lifting comes with three sets of resistance bands, and each set has a different tension level. That means you can either mix it up depending on how challenging you’d like your workout to feel. It also means you’ll have an easier time finding a resistance band that works for your height! On the con side, there isn’t a knob to adjust the step resistance on this machine.

Weight: 16.5 pounds
Supports: Up to 330 pounds
Footprint: 12 x 17 inches
Display: Digital display shows step count, workout time, calories, steps per minute


  • Multiple resistance band options (shorter and longer bands accommodate different heights)
  • Another pick with higher weight capacity


  • No adjustable resistance
  • Several customers report squeaking

Things to consider before buying

Your space

Think about how you like to organize your home gym and where this machine will live when it’s not stowed away. While all of the mini steppers on this list are relatively small pieces of at-home workout equipment, when you’re short on space an extra inch or two can make a big difference!

Resistance bands vs. handles

Decide whether you’d prefer the extra support of handlebars or the added challenge of resistance bands for your upper body. If you’re someone who struggles with balance, having handlebars can help you feel more secure and, as a result, help you get the most out of your workout.

Weight capacity

This goes without saying, but safety is key when using exercise equipment. Be sure to check out the weight capacity of each mini stepper to make sure it’s a fit for everyone in your home.

Frequently asked questions

Do mini steppers tone legs?

“While the mini stepper will target and tone your lower body muscles, the machine itself doesn’t provide the proper range of motion or resistance to build muscle,” says Kernoschak. If you’re hoping to improve your leg strength and physique, you’ll want to incorporate some strength training into your at-home workout routine.

Is a mini stepper better than a treadmill?

There are a handful of differences between treadmills and mini steppers (as well as StairMasters), but both machines work your lower body muscles. A mini stepper may offer a lower-impact workout than a treadmill, so if you’re concerned about your knees that’s something to consider.

Are mini steppers hard on knees?

On the contrary! Mini steppers—when used correctly—reduce impact and are relatively safe for your knees. If you experience knee pain, it’s wise to speak with your doctor before trying any new exercise equipment.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Whittaker, Anna C et al. “Daily stair climbing is associated with decreased risk for the metabolic syndrome.” BMC public health vol. 21,1 923. 14 May. 2021, doi:10.1186/s12889-021-10965-9

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