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The Stairmaster vs the Jacobs Ladder

The Jacobs Ladder vs The Stairmaster


The Stairmaster vs the Jacobs Ladder Machine - Which is Best for You? 

A customer reached out to us recently with a dilemma of choosing between a Jacobs Ladder and the Stairmaster, it piqued our interest to share our insights on the benefits, features, differences, and thoughts between these two mighty machines.

In this article, you'll find out the differences and similarities between two big cardio machines, either the Stairmaster or the Jacobs Ladder Machine.


Table of Contents (Click to Jump):


    The StairMaster

    Capable of providing a challenging workout and its vast range of features offered, we will start with the Stairmaster. 

    The Stairmaster is a step mill with rotating stairs, mimicing an ascending staircase without the user descending off the machine until the workout is complete. It offers a complete lower body workout utilizing the functional movement pattern of stair stepping. 

    Anyone can use the Stairmaster as it is adjustable in speed and resistance at the touch of an up and down button with motorized circulating stairs to fit within any fitness level.

    Paces can begin as slow as 26 steps per minute to a maximum speed of 162 steps per minute. The StairMaster is excellent for targeting the lower body muscle groups that include the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. 


    4 Stairmaster Benefits:

    1. Aerobic Conditioning and weight loss - The Stairmaster strengthens the heart and lungs which are key results from aerobic conditioning. The stronger you are able to breathe in more oxygen, the healthier the heart can pump oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to your muscles and organs, resulting in calories burned and weight loss. 

    2. Low Impact -The Stairmaster is very low-impact compared to the impacts of running on hard surfaces.

    3. Excellent Lower Body Workout - The Stairmaster targets the lower body muscle groups that includes the quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. 

    4. Aided workouts and programs provided - with all Stairmaster stepmills you can expect the familiar standard console programs, and now there are new Landmark Challenge Programs where users climb well known landmarks from around the world, such as the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, and the Taj Mahal. On some models, you can stream your favorite entertainment on the upgraded display console. 


    The Stairmaster Key Features:

    Display Console - Selecting your desired program, speed or intensity level is as easy as pressing a button or touching the screen. With the many workout programs offered on the Stairmaster display console, a user manual helps navigate through the many offerings to explore. This may challenge those who are not savvy in the latest tech, however, the Stairmaster offers online help and a toll free number in case you get stuck and need one-on-one advice. 

    Easy to Read Stats - Stats displayed include Heart Rate, Calories Burned, Floors per Minute, Level (1 to 20), Floors Climbed, Watts, and Mets (the higher the number, the harder you are working).

    Design - The StairMaster is ergonomically designed with handlrails that has controls for stopping and starting the machine, changing the intensity level and pulse rate monitors. 

    Step Motion & Rate- The StairMaster features a revolving staircase with eight steps. Steps can be programmed to rotate from 26-162 times per minute. 

    Assembly-The StairMaster arrives partially assembled with the manufacturer's easy-to-follow instructions for completing the assembly, along with the tools you will need.   

    Transport Wheels- Transport wheels make it easy to relocate the machine if required.


    Stairmaster Specs:

    Step dimensions – 59.5" L x 34.3" W x 88.6" H, Recommended Workout Area is 93" L x 72" W

    Ceiling Requirements – a ceiling height of at least 8 feet for SM3 and a ceiling height of 11 feet for the Gauntlet 8.

    Weight - 350 Lbs

    User weight – The device can accommodate users of up to 300-350 pounds.

    Warranty - 10 Years on Frame, 2 - 10 Years Parts (commercial vs residential), 1 to 3 Years Labor (commercial vs residential)

    Price - Stairmaster 3 is around $4,699, and the Stairmaster 8 ranges from $8,599 to $14,599 based on the LCD screen you select.


    The Jacobs Ladder Machine

    The Jacobs Ladder is a ladder-style treadmill climber that allows for an intense, low impact workout. Numerous studies have found that the Jacobs Ladders has an increase calorie burn more than any other cardio machine on the market today. This is because the Jacobs Ladder requires constant movement of the arms and legs. With the total body engaged and placed on a 40 degree angle, the Jacobs Ladder has very minimal impact on your lower hips and knees, maintaining the intensity in your muscles, not your joints.

    The Jacobs Ladder can be used in many different settings including, high intensity interval training, to low impact rehabilitation workouts. Anyone can use the Jacobs Ladder as it is a self powered and self paced climbing machine. The user controls the speed and the intensity by the rate of speed the user climbs. 

    A belt is worn with an attached cable that controls the resistance mechanism on the machine. The higher you climb up the ladder, the more the resistance is pulled at the cable. This signals the ladder rungs to circulate faster. Conversely, the lower on the ladder the user climbs, the less resistance that is pulled, and the slower the rungs will circulate. You can expect a speed range between 25 and 160 hand-over-hand climbing-steps per minute. 


    7 Jacobs Ladder Benefits

    1. Total Body Workout 

    Using Jacobs Ladder is a great way to add diversity to your workout routine and is designed to allow you to train each muscles in the upper, core, and lower body muscle groups. The key areas the Jacobs Ladder targets are the outer and inner thighs, hamstrings, glutes, abdominals, shoulders, triceps, and to a lesser degree the biceps - revving up the metabolism and burning more calories in a shorter amount of time. 

    2. Serious Calorie Burn and It Feels Like Less Work 

    Cited in a study by the LSU School of Kinesiology, users training on a Jacobs Ladder have a “scientifically superior workout” compared to traditional treadmills, and other general cardio machines.  User reach higher levels of energy expenditure, with a lower VO2 max. In other words, Jacobs Ladder users burned more calories in a shorter amount of time, and had a lower rate of perceived exertion (the workout felt easier to users than the calories burned).

    3. Extremely Low Impact on Joints 

    Jacobs Ladder rungs are spaced 12" apart, the same spacing as fire department wooden ladders. Climbing is very low-impact on the joints, and with the body postioned in a 40 degree angle on a Jacobs Ladder, the user is distributing the impact between the arms and legs. A quick take away is a low-impact workout means a speedier recovery in the short term and a healthier, happier body over the long haul.

    4. Increase Aerobic and Anaerobic Endurance

    Aerobic Benefits- Activities like running, cycling, and low-intensity strength training are aerobic where the body is consuming and transporting oxygen to the muscles. An important benefit is that aerobic exercise burns fat, so it can help change body composition with weight loss. Training on the Jacobs Ladder is an excellent full body engaging aerobic workout.
    Anaerobic Benefits -Activities such as weight lifting, sprinting, and high intensity interval training are consider anaerobic, where the body uses glucose, not oxygen, to produce energy. Anaerobic exercise builds musles that aids in change of body composition and also weightloss. The Jacobs Ladder was designed to train the upper, core, and lower body muscle groups, at a self-paced intensity as the user builds the power and endurance to go at longer time sessions. 
    A popular challenge among Jacobs Ladder loyalists is challenging yourself to a time trial workout by measuring the feet climbed inside a set time frame.

    5. Functional Movement Pattern

    The Jacobs Ladder is a unique piece of equipment that combines high and low intensity conditioning with a highly functional movement that requires the stabilization of your core as your upper body perform a contralateral movement. Crawling is a highly functional movement that is often overlooked during athletic training, but is a great way to help restore, reinforce and improve coordination, posture and balance. Training on a Jacobs Ladder is a welcome break from the monotonies of a treadmill or stationary bike.

    6. Choose your intensity

    The Jacobs Ladder is self-powered and self-paced, so the user is never underworked or overworked, which makes the Jacobs Ladder a great tool to work out any athlete aerobically or anaerobically.

    7. There's No Fussing with Settings, or Outlets 

    Display - The Jacobs Ladder is a straight-forward exercise machine with no unecessary frills. The same is considered for the display console, which offers simple stat readouts such as rate & feet per minute, heart rate, total feet climbed, elapsed time and calories burned.
    No Outlet - The Jacobs Ladder is self powered, so there is no need to plug the unit into any outlet. This offers freedom to place or relocate the Jacobs Ladder anywhere in your home gym or facility.  



    The Jacobs Ladder Key Features:

    Easy to Read Display Console - Simple stat readouts such as rate & feet per minute, heart rate, total feet climbed, elapsed time and calories burned, so you can measure your progress and stretch everytime.

    Design The Jacobs Ladder machine is quality-built from welded tubular steel with solid maple climbing rungs. 

    Assembly - The Jacobs Ladder arrives completely assembled. No missing parts or assembly tools needed.  

    Transport Wheels- Transport wheels make it easy to relocate the machine if required. Since the Jacobs Ladder is self powered, you can place the machine anywhere in your facility without worrying about an outlet to plug into. 


    Jacobs Ladder Specs:

    Dimensions – The Jacobs Ladder measures 76″ (L) x 31.25″ (W) x 65″ (H).

    Rung Spacing – 12″ apart (same as a fireman's ladder specs)

    Ceiling Requirements – To use this model, you will need to house it in a room with a ceiling height of at least 8 feet to 9 feet.  Minimum ceiling height is 7.5"

    Weight – It weighs 325 lbs.

    User weight – The device can accommodate users of up to 350 pounds.

    Warranty - The Jacobs Ladder includes 4 Years Parts, 1 Year Labor

    Price - $3,495 - $5,195


    Comparison Chart - Jacobs Ladder vs Stairmaster

    Stairmaster Jacobs Ladder
    Muscle Groups: Lower Body, Core Lower Body, Core, Upper Body 
    Size Differences:

    StairMaster 8 Series 8G Gauntlet

    L 59.5" x W 34.3" x H 88.6" 


    Jacobs Ladder X

    L80" x W30.5" x H69.5"


    StairMaster SM5 


    Jacobs Ladder 

    L 76″xW 31.25″x H 65″ 


    StairMaster SM3 


    Jacobs Ladder 2

    L 76″x W 27.25″x H 65″ 

    Ceiling Height
    Recommended 11" (3 feet above height of machine for user) Recommended 8" to 9" depending on model, Minimum 7.5"
    Display Console
    perfomance stats and different programs (varied between different models) streaming options. simple standard stats and workout routines are based on user
    Power Requirements

    Requires a dedicated outlet.

    Please consult an electrician or review the Stairmasters Owners Manual.


    Jacobs Ladder / JLX- 


    Jacobs Ladder 2-

    Standard Outlet 


    Arrives partially assembled that comes with tool to complete the unit. Arrives fully assembled
    Delivery and Lead Time

    All models made in overseas, ready to ship.
    USA made-to-order and crafted by hand.

    6-8 weeks delivery time

    Competitors Outlet is proud to offer free freight shipping with lift-gate.

    Stairmaster SM3s ($4,299)

    StairMaster SM5 ($4,899)

    Stairmaster 8, ranges from $8,599 to $14,599 based on the LCD screen you select.

    Jacobs Ladder 2 ($5,299) 

    Jacobs Ladder ($6,495)

    Jacobs Ladder X ($6,995)


    Varies 4years parts / 1year Labor


    Final Thoughts - The Jacobs Ladder vs The Stairmaster

    The Stairmaster and the Jacobs Ladder are very different machines, yet similar in their own ways. Both machines provides a low-impact exercise that a wide range of people can use.

    The Stairmaster appears to provide alot of high tech and programable features, that target the lower body. Conversely, if you're looking for an effective low impact, full body workout the Jacobs Ladder is a better option. No frills, a self paced intensity at a high calorie burn rate in a shorter amount of time, the Jacobs Ladder offers the most benefits you'll get out of a cardio machine on the market today. 

    If you're interested in the Stairmaster, check out the Stairways made by the Jacobs Ladder company.  Our comparison of the Stairway vs the Stairway GTL can help inform you. 

    Competitors Outlet is available via a call, text, email, or reach us on the website chat at the bottom right-hand corner. Customer Care is always on standby to answer any question, or assist in anyway. 




    The Complete Guide to the Jacobs Ladder Machine

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    Lotus - September 19, 2022

    Very helpful article.

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