Best Mini Steppers 2017 - Reviews & Buyer's Guide

mini stepperIf you want to exercise but find going out to the gym for your workout impractical or expensive or if you find that having a full-sized stepper is too big and unwieldy for your home, then the mini stepper is the best bet for you.

Basically, a stepper is an exercise machine that replicates stair climbing and is a fantastic way to tone your legs, thighs, calves and hips, while also getting some low-impact cardio exercise going.

A mini stepper is essentially a miniature version of the full-sized stepper that you can easily use and store in your home, carry with you wherever you go and also use it at your office while you are working away at your desk and burn calories at the same time.

Now, isn’t that really something?

Best Mini Steppers of 2017

Check our comparison table. Our Buyer’s Guide section below the reviews will provide you with more in-depth information about mini stepping machines.

Mini StepperSizeWeightWeight Capacity 
Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster
(Editor's Choice)
N/A14 LBS400 LBS Check Price
Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper
(Loaded with Features)
19" x 17" x 8"38.5 LBS250 LBS Check Price
Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper with Handlebars19" x 17" x 44"19 LBS220 LBS Check Price
Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper With Resistance Bands16" x 15" x 9"15 LBS220 LBS Check Price
Gold’s Gym Mini Stepper
(Best Sit-down Stepper)
16" x 13" x 7"13.1 LBS250 LBS Check Price
jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper27.2" x 15" x 11"26.5 LBS250 LBS Check Price
Stamina In-Stride Pro Electronic Stepper16.2" x 12.1" x 12.2"17 LBS250 LBS Check Price
Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer24" x 20" x 12"17 LBS250 LBS Check Price
A mini stepper is a wonderful and convenient piece of workout equipment to have at home or in your office minus the bulk and weight. Although the exercise machine is quite compact, it still offers a good lower body workout plus some good cardio exercise too. However, the most convenient aspect of the mini stepper is its small size and portability.

1. Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster - Editor's Choice

Xiser Commercial Mini StairmasterIf you are looking for a high-quality, top of the line stepper and the cost is not a showstopper, then you can probably consider the Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster.

The model has a fantastic build quality and has a stylish airframe aluminum alloy construction that is strong and durable. All the parts of the product are cast molded, which essentially means that the stepper does not have any welding spots and weak points. At the same time, the machine is also very light and portable.

The hydraulic configuration of the model allows you to do steady state or HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. It is equipped with a resistance knob that allows you to adjust the training resistance levels and you have three levels available – walk, run and high speed.

Overall, the Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster caters both to a serious trainer as well as a fitness enthusiast and since the resistance can be adjusted, you can use it for dancing exercises, spinning, CrossFit and even sprint on it for around 60 seconds.

Features

  • Cast airframe grade alloy construction.
  • Patented hydraulic cylinder system.
  • Adjustable resistance.
  • Smooth and quiet operation.
  • No assembly required.
  • Weighs 14 lbs
  • Weight capacity of over 400 lbs
  • 1-year gym warranty and 5-year consumer warranty
Pros
  • Durable and stylish construction made of aluminum alloy.
  • Offers a range of resistance levels.
  • Well-suited for advanced training.
  • Suitable for HIIT training.
  • Light, portable and easy to use.
  • Can support a weight of up to 400 lbs.
Cons
  • Does not have the provision for upper body training.
  • Quite expensive.
  • Does not have a computer tracking system.

2. Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper - Loaded with Features

Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair StepperOne of the most highly rated twisters available in the market is the Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper. This model is loaded with features – it has a twist function, step height that is adjustable and to make your workouts tougher, you have the variable tension feature.

The knob at the bottom of the unit allows you to adjust the resistance of the machine, so that you are able to get more tension. It is equipped with large-sized, anti-slip footplates for greater stability and security.

The unit is compact and has a weight capacity of up to 250 lbs. It is portable and can be easily stored in a closet or under the bed once you have finished exercising.

The LCD monitor allows you to track the calories burnt, time exercised and also allows you to track the number of steps taken. The product is equipped with resistance bands that allow you to get a complete upper body workout as you twist and also helps you to accelerate your heart rate to increase the calorie burn.

Features

  • Compact, versatile and portable.
  • Heavy-duty strong steel construction.
  • Anti-slip footplates.
  • Built-in resistance training.
  • Twisting action.
  • Exercise bands.
  • In-built computerized LCD display.
Pros
  • Made of heavy-duty steel.
  • Quick and easy to assemble.
  • Inexpensive.
  • Compact and portable.
  • Supports a weight of 250 lbs.
Cons
  • Cannot be used for more than 15 minutes at a stretch as the hydraulic pistons get overheated.
  • Can get squeaky with regular use.
  • Difficult to adjust tension.

3. Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper with Handlebars

Sunny Health and Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper with HandlebarsThis model is a great option if you are looking for a stepper with a handlebar. The exercise machine has a strong steel construction that makes it heavy duty and durable.

It has an LCD monitor that displays the calories burned, step count, time and it also has a scan function. The height of the unit is adjustable and the handlebar provides balance when you’re working out.

The twisting action of the machine allows a great low-impact cardiovascular workout to burn calories and helps you tone your thighs, hips, calves and buttocks while working out.

The Sunny stepper is equipped with slip-resistant footplates that help you maintain your balance and keeps you safe while you exercise. It is very easy to assemble.

Features 

  • Twist action.
  • Handlebar for greater stability.
  • Large-sized, slip-resistant footplates.
  • In-built computerized LCD display.
Pros
  • Compact and durable.
  • Easy to assemble and use.
  • Adjustable stepping height and handlebar for balance.
  • Built-in LCD computer display.
  • Anti-slip footplate for safety and stability.
  • Can be easily carried around and stored.
Cons
  • With regular use, the stepper develops noisy or squeaky joints.
  • Built-in computer not equipped with pulse monitor.
  • More suitable for beginners.
  • Extended use without taking a break can cause overheating and cause a reduction in tension resistance.

4. Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper With Resistance Bands

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper With Resistance BandsThe model is equipped with very strong rubber resistance bands that stimulate the exercises done using dumbbells. The resistance bands help to raise your heart rate. This stepper can help you burn more calories and you can also workout your upper body.

The machine is equipped with adjustable tension and an LCD monitor. Although the model is compactly built, it can support a user of up to 220 lbs. It has extra-large footpads that offer greater stability and safety. The stepper is very easy to set up and it is portable and easy to store after use.

Features

  • Compact, versatile and portable elliptical machine.
  • Built-in resistance training.
  • Exercise bands.
  • Twist action.
  • Heavy-duty strong steel construction.
  • In-built computerized LCD display.
Pros
  • Compact build, portable and easy to use.
  • Package includes resistance armbands.
  • Has an LCD display.
  • Extra-large footpads for safety and comfort.
  • Adjustable resistance.
Cons
  • Can get squeaky and noisy over time.
  • Resistance armbands can be stronger.
  • Supports a maximum user weight of around 250 lbs.

5. Gold’s Gym Mini Stepper - Best Sit-down Stepper

Gold’s Gym Mini StepperIf you are looking for a basic stepper without any fancy features than you can opt for the Gold’s Gym Mini Stepper. It has a high-quality construction is durable and quite inexpensive.

The model can support a maximum weight of around 250 lbs. It does not have any time restrictions for use and you can use it as long as you want.

The product is equipped with a basic LCD monitor that provides data about your workout like steps per minute, total time spent and calories burned. The unit is compact in build, is lightweight and is easy to carry around and also store after use.

Features

  • Compact build.
  • Portable and easy to store.
  • Electronic LCD display monitor.
  • Weight capacity: around 250 lbs.
  • Anti-slip, large-sized footpads.
Pros
  • Affordable.
  • Equipped with LCD display to track exercise progress.
  • Compact and lightweight.
  • Anti-slip footpads for added security and comfort.
Cons
  • It has only one resistance setting that cannot be changed.
  • Not suitable for people who are large-built.
  • May get loud and squeaky.

6. jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper

jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical-StepperThe jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper is very robust and durable and has several unique features. The model has an adjustable pedal which makes it suitable for you to use the stepper both when you’re sitting down or standing up. It is great for burning calories even while you’re sitting at your desk and working.

It has four functions – distance traveled, time of use, speed and number of calories burned. The dial can also be turned in such a way that you can read it when sitting down or standing up.

The unit has a handle that facilitates easy transportation and the front rollers allow you to move the machine quickly and easily. The tension dial can be used to adjust the resistance.

Features

  • Compact design, versatile.
  • Silent operation.
  • Series 1050 monitor to track progress.
  • Tension dial to adjust resistance
Pros
  • High-quality construction.
  • Can be used while you are sitting, standing or even placed under the desk.
  • Compact, durable and portable.
  • Handle and front wheels for easy transportation.
  • Anti-slip textured foot pedals for superior grip.
  • Adjustable resistance.
  • Adjustable position of pedals.
Cons
  • The machine requires regular lubrication to remain squeak-free and quiet.
  • It is a bit bulky compared to other models and heavier too.

7. Stamina In-Stride Pro Electronic Stepper

Stamina In-Stride Pro Electronic StepperThis is a lightweight and compact exerciser and weighs just around 20 pounds. The model is equipped with two smooth hydraulic cylinders that provides resistance. There are 2 rubber resistance tubes that are connected to the stepper, which enables you to exercise your upper body.

The product also comes with a multi-functional fitness monitor that is battery-operated. This stylish unit delivers a great workout at a cost-effective price.

The anti-skid foot pedals offer greater comfort and security and make sure that your feet don’t slip while you exercise. The built-in computerized monitor enables you to track your exercise progress.

The machine is very portable and can be stored very easily too. However, despite its compact build, the model offers a solid workout. Although it weighs only 20 lbs, it can withstand a weight of around 250 lbs.

Features

  • 2 hydraulic cylinders that provide resistance.
  • In-built computerized LCD display.
  • 2 resistance tubes made of rubber.
  • Requires some assembly.
  • Battery operated multi-functional fitness monitor.
  • Warranty: 90 days on parts, 1 year on frame.
Pros
  • Compact and lightweight build.
  • Sturdy steel construction.
  • Anti-skid rubber floor protectors.
  • Textured, wide foot pedals.
Cons
  • Does not have adjustable resistance.
  • May squeak with regular use.

8. Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer

Stamina In-Motion Elliptical TrainerThis elliptical trainer allows you to get an effective and safe workout and is fantastic for a strength and low-impact cardio workout. The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer can be used both in the standing as well as in the sitting position. The stepper comes with resistance bands that allow you a complete upper body workout along with lower body exercise.

The model is very durable as it is made of steel and can withstand plenty of use. It is equipped with an electronic monitor that helps you track the distance covered, time of exercise, calories burned and the number of strides.

You can choose the intensity of the workout with the help of the tension control. The exercise unit has bi-directional foot pedals which allow you to work your muscles from various angles.

This compact machine offers a workout similar to jogging and can be stored easily anywhere in your home, even under your desk. The Stamina In-Motion Elliptical Trainer is a hybrid between a mini elliptical machine and a mini stepper.

Features

  • Lightweight, compact
  • Durable and strong steel construction
  • Anti-slip pedals.
  • Foot pedal only.
  • Easy to store.
  • Low-impact design.
  • In-built computerized LCD display.
  • Requires some assembly.
Pros
  • Offers elliptical foot pedal motion.
  • Small and portable and easy to assemble.
  • Equipped with textured foot pedals for greater grip.
  • LCD display to track progress.
  • Has bi-directional motion.
Cons
  • Not ideal for tall people.
  • Needs to be lubricated regularly.
  • Stride length a bit short.

How Does a Mini Stepper Work?

under the desk mini stepperA mini stepper is operated manually and has two pedals which move in an elliptical fashion (up and down) and there are some models which come with handles or resistance bands for added support.

When you place both your feet on the foot pedals of the unit and force them downwards in a stepping motion, it stimulates the action of climbing stairs or climbing uphill. And you need to exert some kind of resistance as you move your legs while “climbing stairs” on the stepper.

The repetitive movement on the machine gets your lungs and heart pumping and provides an aerobic workout that helps to enhance your endurance and also your cardiovascular health. Exercising on a mini stepper can help to burn calories and you can lose weight too.

Working out on the mini stepper can help in boosting your immune system, controlling your blood sugar levels and improving your overall fitness and health. If you are overweight and when you run, if your knees, hips and ankles hurt easily, then the mini stepping machine is ideal for you.

There are many types of models available. While some can be used only when you are standing upright, there are some models that you can use under your desk while you are seated. An under the desk stepper is quite efficient, however, you will get more benefits if you use a model meant for upright use.

Some FAQs Answered

Why Should I Get a Mini Stepper?

The mini stepper helps to exercise the muscles in your legs i.e. your hamstrings, glutes, calves, quads, etc. Not only does help in a good lower body workout, the stepping action gets your heart rate going and aids in low-impact cardiovascular exercise too.

The size of the machine can be misleading, which may lead you to believe that a mini stepper cannot have much effect. But this is a misnomer and far from the truth. Although compactly built, mini steppers can help to burn plenty of calories, if used regularly. And the key to getting maximum benefits from such an exercise machine is “consistency.”

Can It Really Help with Weight Loss?

Exercising on a mini stepper provides a moderate intensity, low-impact workout. It is a fantastic way to burn calories all through the day. The energy that you expend while working out is akin to brisk walking.

Using the exercise machine under your desk while you’re working or watching TV can help to burn around 200 calories for every hour of use. And, if you are working out vigorously when standing upright on the stepper, you can burn even more calories.

exercise for weight lossWhile burning calories if you watch what you eat, you can lose weight pretty quickly. For more calorie burn and enhanced cardiovascular health, it is recommended that you use the machine for at least 30 minutes in a day.

The best part of exercising using a mini stepper is that it allows you to workout for extended periods of time without really much strain on your joints. Most of the models are equipped with a calorie counter that allows you to track your calorie expenditure.

However, a point to note is that the mini stepper does not quite reach the same calorie burning power as the full-sized stepper which burns around 450 calories in an hour.

Will a Mini Stepper Tone My Legs and Thighs?

Mini stepping mahines are fairly effective for working your lower body and toning your legs, thighs and hips. Exercising on the mini stepper can help to tone the soleus and gastrocnemius, the muscles comprising the calves, the tensor fasciae latae, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles present in the glutes, quadriceps and hamstring muscles in the thighs.

Usually, the core muscles of the body are not exercised. However, by maintaining proper posture and form, you can exercise your core i.e. by keeping your spine straight, engaging your abdominal muscles by keeping them firm and contracted and using your core to maintain your balance on the stepper. If you use resistance bands or dumbbells while exercising, you can get a full body workout.

Is It Bad for My Knees?

Using a mini stepper to workout can be quite safe on your knees if they are healthy. As such, climbing stairs is the best exercise that can strengthen the muscles in your leg, support the knee and can also help to prevent knee problems.

And since a mini stepping machine essentially stimulates climbing stairs, it can help to achieve the same objective. It provides a low-impact exercise that strengthens the muscles and bones and is also beneficial for cardiovascular health.

knee problems and injuriesA mini stepper uses the quadriceps, hamstring, hip flexor and calf muscles. Strengthening the leg muscles can help to reduce stress on the knees, as the leg muscles support the knee joint. The exercise machine helps to support the knee by strengthening all the surrounding muscles.

Also, the repetitive low-impact motion of the knees while using the machine stimulates the production of joint fluid that helps to lubricate and nourish the joint and also eliminates the toxic wastes.

However, if you already suffer from any knee problems such as pain or some sort of an injury, then the mini stepper may not be the right choice for you. If you have any knee problems, then use exercise equipment that does not impact the knees. Also, if you suffer from arthritis, using one can cause knee pain. Overuse of the stepper can also cause pain or injury in your knees, even if they are healthy.

Tips for Mini Stepper Usage

  • Maintain proper form when exercising in order to prevent any excess stress on your knees.
  • Keep your body straight and upright and don’t bend forward. Avoid letting your knees go past the toes.
  • Hold the handlebar if the model is equipped with one. Avoid leaning and putting your body weight on the handrail.
  • Choose a model that feels comfortable when you exercise.
  • Buying a machine with independent pedals is a better option as it has a lesser impact on your joints and knees. Also, independent pedals provide a higher-intensity workout.
  • When you begin exercising, start with a few minutes and then build on your time as your stamina and fitness levels improve.
  • Start exercising with the least levels of resistance and then gradually increase the intensity and resistance level.

Pros and Cons of a Mini Stepper

Pros of a Mini Stepper

The best part of buying a mini stepping machine is that it has several benefits despite its reduced size. Some of the advantages are:

  • Portability
    It is extremely convenient and its compact build allows you to carry it and exercise wherever you go. It is very useful to exercise at home, while you are on vacation or even at your desk while you’re working.
  • Can Be Used Indoors
    Using a mini stepper can be as beneficial as walking. However, unlike walking outdoors which can be hampered by the weather conditions or the outdoor temperature which can be unpleasant, using the exercise machine indoors is an ideal alternative. Just set up your mini stepper in a suitable place inside your home and get set to workout.
  • Ease of Use
    It is extremely simple and easy to use, even if you have not used any exercise machine in your life. All you have to do is to place your feet on the foot pedals, press down with one foot and allow the other foot to move upwards.
  • Size and Cost
    Its compact and small size makes it very easy to store in your closet or under your bed when not in use. Also, most of the models are fairly inexpensive and you can buy one that costs anywhere between $60-$100.
  • Tones and Strengthens Muscles
    The main benefit of using one for your workout is that it helps to tone your legs, hips, thighs and buttocks and also strengthens the lower muscles. Mini steppers with resistance bands can help to exercise the abdominal muscles and upper body too.
  • Helps to Lose Weight
    It is wonderful for cardio workout and you can burn a lot of calories and when combined with a healthy diet, you can lose a ton of weight.

Drawbacks of Mini Steppers

  • Difficult to Maintain Balance
    Most of the models available are not equipped with handles or rails that are usually available in large-sized models. This makes it quite difficult to balance and stay on the stepping machine while exercising. The absence of handles and proper support also makes it very difficult for users to get accustomed to the mini stepper.
  • Noisy Operation
    With use, most of the models start squeaking or develop noisy joints. This can usually be avoided by lubricating the machine periodically.
  • Effectiveness
    Another drawback is that the step height of these units is usually shorter than full-size steppers and you may not get as effective a workout as you will on a bigger stepping machine.
  • Quality
    This is one of the main disadvantages of mini steppers. Most brands offer a 1-year warranty. However, most of the models have a common complaint of the electric or hydraulic resistance being too light, uneven or not adjustable.

Mini Stepper Buyer’s Guide

Factors to Consider Before Buying a Mini Stepper

Once you have made up your mind to buy a mini stepper for your workout, you must consider a few aspects of the machine before finally buying one. These exercising machines are fairly inexpensive; however, if you opt for one with more features and higher quality, the price may go up.

And, the price is not the only factor you should consider, there are other things you must evaluate before making your final decision:

Size
Material Used for Construction
Pedals
Noise
Tracking Your Exercise Progress
Weight Capacity
Ease of Assembly
Versatility
Adjustable Resistance
Warranty

Which Type of Mini Stepper Should You Buy?

There are many types of mini steppers out there and you have models that are packed with various features. There are steppers that offer a twisting action, units equipped with handlebars, with resistance bands, commercial models and even motorized mini steppers! You should evaluate the various features before deciding the ones that you will use and help you get the most out of your workout.

Manual vs Motorized

Most of the models available are manual and are equipped with pedals that must be operated manually. However, you also have motorized options that you can consider. Motorized machines are smoother to operate and more ergonomic compared to the manual ones. However, the motorized models are pricier and more expensive than manual ones.

Mini Stepper vs Mini Stepper Twister

When you are looking for a stepper to bring into your home, you may find simple steppers, twister steppers and mini ellipticals. It can all be extremely confusing. While mini ellipticals offer a completely different style of workout, regular steppers and twisters are more similar.

The difference between the simple stepper and the twister is the fact that in a twister, the stepping motion of the foot pedals is uneven. When the foot pedal is depressed, the step motion undergoes a semi-rotation and then the foot pedal rises.

The twister uses more thigh muscles when the foot pedals are depressed. This motion creates an additional stress on the inner and outer thigh muscles, giving a deeper and more intensive workout to your thighs when compared to a regular up and down stepper.

However, before you consider going in for a twister, evaluate how well-coordinated and how good your balance is and if you plan on doing other exercises at the same time while using the machine. If you want a better workout for your thighs, then you could opt for the twister stepper rather than a simple one.

With vs Without Handle Bar

The question often is whether you should consider buying a mini stepper with or without handlebars. Both simple regular steppers as well as twisters are available with handlebars, which is a nice addition that offers additional safety if you are a bit uncoordinated or unbalanced on your feet.

However, the disadvantages of the models with handlebars are that they occupy more space and also reduce your opportunity to get an upper body workout while stepping. A twister model may be quite difficult to workout on without a handlebar for balance. So, having a handlebar on a twister can be particularly beneficial.

A regular simple stepper may not really require handlebars if your balance is good or until you’re confident in using the machine without any support, you can use a chair back or table for support.

With vs Without Resistance Bands

If you’re looking for complete body workout and want to workout your upper body while exercising your lower body, then you could consider a mini stepper equipped with resistance or tension bands. Usually, the bands are attached to the base of the unit and offer increased stability if you are a bit unbalanced. You can additionally also use the resistance bands for arm curls while stepping.

However, it is a good idea to check the resistance offered by the bands and their durability. Another option for an upper body workout would be to use dumbbells while stepping.

Final Words

Now that you have looked at all the pros and cons of a mini stepper and understood the factors that you must consider when buying one, you are all set to buy your own mini stepping machine and begin working out your legs and get them into perfect shape.

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