Within the exercising community, elliptical machines and stationary bikes have dominated the field when it comes to minimal-impact exercise equipment. However, not only is the stepper considered a very legitimate and effective form of exercise, there exists a raging debate about which is more effective – bike or stepper. Some argue that the recumbent stepper is up to 17.4% more effective than the recumbent bike when it comes to caloric burn, and it’s considered to be even more gentle on the ankles and knees than the recumbent bike.
As today’s market is inundated with many providers promising every product under the sun all for the bargain price of $_.99, it’s hard to know in whom to invest your money. Here we’ll discuss the criteria necessary to effectively make an educated decision on which recumbent stepper to choose, as well as detail the 5 best steppers available on the market today.
Carry on reading or jump straight to our number #1 Amazon pick here.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Recumbent Stepper?
Most recumbent steppers include moving handles for a full-body workout, providing the opportunity to choose between lower body, upper body, or both. But when it comes to choosing which model to get, the additional details matter – like how big of a screen you want, how long you’re intending on using the machine in one sitting, whether you want built-in speakers, and how much you’re willing to pay. The list of criteria runs as follows – cost, function, appearance, warranty, and ratings.
#1. Cost: The cost of the machine is a huge contributing factor to which recumbent stepper is optimal for you. While some may have incredible features with surround sound and great ergonomics, it still isn’t necessarily the dream buy, because the price could make it irrelevant to you.
#2. Function: The function covers everything from how many resistance levels something has, to if it runs smoothly and if it is comfortable to use. It essentially includes all the perks which are provided and how well they work in actuality.
#3. Appearance: Even those, who pretend not to care about superficial things, notice when something is more or less aesthetic. It’s biologically ingrained, which is why we see the evidence in architecture, poetry, art, and the human pursuit of beauty even in the earliest occurring sapiens societies. In modern times the pursuit of beauty and symmetry has not disappeared, and it is obvious to the human eye when a product is more or less appealing. Considering that your home gym is one you hope to take pride in, this will be included in the list of criteria for choosing the best recumbent stepper.
#4. Warranty: Companies that both care about their consumers and believe in their product provide good warranty policies, mostly because they believe they won’t have to pay for lots of faulty machinery. This is an important aspect to pay attention to when making a major purchase, as it is indicative of the quality and also provides insurance in case of malfunction.
#5. Ratings: The ratings are the most objective response we have to the product. While companies are motivated to sugar coat their product, they are also less capable of knowing how their product compares to other brands or what the user experience is from start to finish. The ratings and reviews are our way of knowing how all those other people experienced the product and their reviews a precious resource in our search.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Recumbent Stepper
Using the criteria above, I compiled a list of recumbent steppers from many different companies, and then read through them one by one, looking at details like functionality, maximum weight capacity, wireless heart rate monitor, cost, warranty, and reviews. The point of this list is not to organize five recumbent steppers from best to worst, but to show different ones that exemplify different priorities like budgeting, technological advancement, or recovery.
#1: Teeter FreeStep Recumbent Cross Trainer (Best Value – All-Purpose)
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The Teeter FreeStep Recumbent combines the benefits of ellipticals, treadmills, and steppers in a condensed frame. With no-impact exercise consistent with recumbent designs, the Teeter gives you a full-body workout without placing strain on the joints.
Black with a few blue accents, the Teeter has a high recumbent design, so that while the seat has three levels of recline, the positioning of the feet and legs is dropped a little below in the position natural to walking, emphasizing the correct muscle groups. The push-and-pull mechanisms work to emphasize the glutes and upper leg muscles. Completely quiet, the Teeter FreeStep purportedly burns 17.4% more calories than a recumbent bike, meaning that your time is spent more effectively and that your fitness improves at a more rapid rate.
The handles of the Teeter are positioned well for upper body isolation, and the different handle positionings allow you to target arms, chest, shoulders, and back muscles depending on your goal. A small dial allows you to quickly and easily shift through resistance levels, thus fine-tuning your workout to your fitness level and maximizing your results. The console has a streamlined, minimalistic look, with the LCD screen showing workout stats, and the large, comfortable space left for a tablet or some sort of display.
Measuring in at a 54″ by 38″ footprint, the Teeter FreeStep takes up minimum space and provides maximum service, improving the small details of your work out with its water bottle holder for convenient hydration, transportation wheels for low-maintenance moving, and its ability to accommodate a wide range of heights, from 4’11” to 6’6″. While the weight capacity is only 300 lbs., making this recumbent stepper not ideal for everyone, for those who fall within these guidelines, this is a great machine.
The company offers a 1 year warranty, with parts and labor covered for 90 days. While not as comprehensive as other warranty options, the product is considerably cheaper than most of the quality recumbent steppers available on the market, so the benefit of the price is weighed against the shorter warranty. Depending on priority, this will be more or less problematic. If you are someone looking to budget then this is a great option. If you want something that ensures you more customer support, then a more expensive option is more suitable for you.
The reviewers’ ratings were extensive and positive, with people saying it was quiet and great to use, in addition to being easy to assemble. For anyone looking for a great machine they can depend on that won’t break the bank, this is the perfect recumbent stepper for you.
#2: SCIFIT Stepper (Best Rehabilitation Stepper)
The SCIFIT Stepper is a machine built to cover all bases – a machine that can be used by everyone. Grey with colorful accents, the SCIFIT is has a large, easy to use screen, moving handles for the upper body and core workout, and large footpads that strap all people securely in. Additionally, the nice heel cup ensures that you don’t slide off the back, while the adjustable seat makes matching the machine to your body and stride length easy. For those needing to recover from injury, the chair is fully removable for wheelchair access, so that during recovery you can workout out in a safe way. (Consult your doctor before taking risks with serious injuries.)
The SCIFIT is designed with more attention to detail than most machines on the market with a low starting resistance, adjustable arm and handle length, a saving function for workout data, and 191 levels of opposition, so that incremental increase is possible for those where small differences matter. In addition to providing wheelchair access, the SCIFIT also allows for three different seat options, (available during checkout) depending on the consumer’s preference.
The programs for the SCIFIT are customizable so that you can build the exercise that is most suited for you. The touch screen shows workout stats like stride length and intensity level, all in full color. The angle, height, distance, and direction of the seat can all be adjusted, allowing for the perfect combination of position and angles for each user to exercise to their full potential.
The SCIFIT is definitely on the pricier side, which is justified by its attention to detail, customizable seating, and touch screen user interface. The SCIFIT company provides a 5 year warranty for the frame, 3 years for mechanical and electrical, and 1 for parts and labor, as long as you register for the warranty within two weeks of purchase.
The reviews for the product were only positive, with comments on how good it felt to work out with and that the seat and handlebars were very convenient. For the person looking for a highly specialized, customizable recumbent stepper with great resistance levels, this is the perfect buy.
#3: PhysioStep HXT Recumbent Cross Trainer (Best for Recovering Cyclists)
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The PhysioStep HXT is designed to suit all users, with its low dismount, simple monitor display, and 16 resistance levels. Grey and black, the PhysioStep has a padded seat and backrest, giving you full back support to isolate the lower body and upper chest area, protecting the back from injury.
The user interface is nice and simple, displaying your stats like speed, pulse, and RPM in an organized format to make understanding and improving your performance easier. The heart rate monitor on the handles flanking the seat, as well as the 16 magnetic resistance levels, are all part of a great machine. The machine automatically shuts itself off after 15 minutes of inactivity, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally wasting power.
The PhysioStep has a semi-elliptical motion, which is a union between the circular motion of a bike or elliptical, and the straightforward push and retract of the classic stepper. This is a bit gentler on the knees than the more classic form of bike, and with a shorter arm distance, the PhysioStep minimizes the risk of overreaching. The added heel cups stop you from sliding off, while the 17 included preprogrammed exercises challenge you and keep you focused and motivated. The PhysioStep is suited to people of multiple fitness levels and heights, from 4’9″ to 6’2″ and with a maximum weight capacity of 330 lbs.
While not as expensive as the SCIFIT, the PhysioStep HXT is a bit more on the pricier side, making this a purchase for those able to invest a little more on their health and fitness.
The PhysioStep has 16 electromagnetic resistance levels, providing a challenge to every consumer. The swivel seat makes getting on and off easy for both the healthy and the recovering. The low adjustable seat and semi-elliptical motion make this recumbent stepper ideal for those trying to get back into general movement exercise like walking or biking, and the included exercise programs provide a good format for someone needing that consistent workout schedule.
HealthCare International is a family-owned business, and they ensure their products with the attention you’d expect from a well-loved enterprise. The lifetime warranty on the frame, 3 years for parts, and 1 year for labor mean that possible issues are covered by the company and ensure you a satisfyingly long workable time.
The reviews for the PhysioStep were good, consumers saying that the delivery box was very heavy but that assembly was easy. People loved how this recumbent stepper functioned and that it was effective, efficient, and quiet. One customer said that he had a question for customer service and they took a while to respond to him, however on the whole that he had a great experience with this stepper.
For those looking for a high quality, affordable means of working out or recuperating from an injury, this is a relatively affordable, worthwhile choice.
#4: XTERRA RSX1500 Recumbent Stepper (Best Low Cost)
The XTERRA RSX1500 is a pure black cross-training recumbent stepper with subtle blue accents, giving it a modern, polished sheen. The padded seat is complemented by a sculpted, ventilating mesh backrest, supporting your lumbar spine while not keeping all the heat trapped where it’s unwelcome.
The dual moving handles provide that sought after upper body workout, and the multiple hand grips target different muscles for an even tone, making sure no muscle gets left behind. The low impact movement spares your hips, knees, and ankles. The motion is a natural walk.
The XTERRA has adjustable straps for the ideal fit, taking care that your foot doesn’t fall off the pedals while you work out. This is also a convenient model for those in PT (physical therapy) or injury recovery.
The incorporation of the leg and arm motions make the XTERRA an ideal buy for those wanting a full-body burn, with minimal impact, which does not mean that fitness and intensity need be sacrificed. With 13 different preset workout programs that work towards different fitness goals, among them body fat, heart rate control, and stamina, the XTERRA provides the full package of high function and convenience.
The small touches like water bottle holder, audio jack with built-in speaker allowing you to play your favorite tunes, the reading rack, and wireless heart rate monitor receiver, only emphasize that you as the consumer are the primary concern.
The LCD monitor is large and easy to use. The screen itself is 2.5 inches by 5 inches, visibly displaying stats like speed, calorie burn, RPM, and all 25 resistance levels. Built low to the ground, the XTERRA is easy for people of all ages and fitness levels to mount and dismount. With a weight limit of 300 lbs., this is a recumbent stepper that accommodates a range of sizes and shapes, from 4’7″ to 6’2″. Assembled, the XTERRA weighs 130 lbs. and has a footprint of 52.1″ by 14.7.”
While not the cheapest, the XTERRA RSX1500 Recumbent is very affordable when it comes to high quality in the field of expensive exercise equipment, and with the included lifetime warranty on brakes and frame, 3 years on parts, and 1 year labor, the XTERRA is assured to give you good service or be replaced by the company.
Reviewers said that the XTERRA is sturdy, works great, and is very quiet, so that you can watch TV while working out. One said that he tore his ACL and meniscus and so chose the XTERRA as a way to work out while in recovery. He has no problem with the XTERRA, not causing any exacerbation to the recovering injuries. Virtually everyone else unequivocally loved the XTERRA, the only complaint that there was no water bottle holder. Finally, one consumer said that the customer service was positively amazing, sending him a new machine within the week because he had a small issue with the seat adjuster.
For anyone looking for a generally good recumbent stepper for an affordable price and solid performance, this is a great choice for you and your family.
#5: CS3 CARDIO STRIDER (Best for Taller Athletes)
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The CS3 Cardio Strider is a black, modern-looking piece of equipment made of heavy-duty steel with red and chrome accents. Slim, the Cardio Strider has a well-padded seat with a 3 point back tilt, so that all can be comfortable with the correct angle between them and the pedals.
With a smooth LCD display and Bluetooth capability, the Inspire is made to provide a quality experience, and with the 40 resistance levels, everyone can be challenged at the pace that best suits them. Additionally, the CS3 Cardio Strider comes with 10 preset exercise programs, to help tailor your workouts into more efficient time commitments. The adjustable handles for upper body workouts allow you to match the length of the handles to each person’s body, and the electromagnetic flywheel makes the workout a smooth, quiet one.
While the CS3 Cardio Strider purchase doesn’t include a wireless heart rate monitoring device, the CS3 can connect with such a device, providing you with a more efficient way of monitoring your heart rate. If, however, you are not interested in purchasing a wireless heart rate monitor, the CS3 heart rate monitors are positioned on the handles beside the seat, giving you an accurate reading of your heart for maximum awareness of your body while you exercise. Another great feature of the CS3 is its ability to log your workouts, giving you past stats to improve your goal building with more detail and allowing you to compete with the you from yesterday.
The CS3 Cardio Strider is designed to satisfy all needs and is built in an ergonomically savvy way. With a multi-media holder and a place to put your water bottle, the Cardio Strider is a good way to get your workout in while staying updated on the news. The standard maximum weight for this machine is 300 lbs., but with a locking pin in place, can support up to 400 lbs., making it a great machine for bigger athletes as well as smaller ones. The additional adjustments necessary to the seat positioning and arm length work together to make the CS3 Cardio Strider optimal, out of all the options discussed here, for larger users, who might feel constricted and unstable on smaller, less sturdy exercise machines.
Not the cheapest, the CS3 is significantly less expensive than the SCIFIT, making it a great choice for anyone wanting a tough workout and not requiring all the rehabilitative benefits that the SCIFIT provides. While both are great machines, the SCIFIT focuses on incremental improvements, while the CS3 Cardio Strider creates a more intense exercise program for those really pursuing physical fitness.
The Cardio Strider is covered under a lifetime warranty on the frame, 5 years on parts, and 1 year for labor. Measuring 36″ wide, 60″ long, and 54″ high, the CS3 is not the smallest, so this machine is better for those with a little extra space in their home gym. However, with great customer reviews, the CS3 is well worth the money and floor space.
For those searching for that ideal, high quality, high powered workout, at a more affordable price than the SCIFIT, this is the perfect machine for you.
Is a Recumbent Stepper Right for You?
The recumbent stepper is ideal for those wanting to improve their exercise regimen through indoor activity, which is specifically designed to be easy on joints like the knees and ankles. Additionally, anyone with back problems can use this as a solution to exercising muscles that would otherwise atrophy.
The recumbent stepper works on the push-pull motion, defining the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. The upper body motion activates the chest, arm, and back muscles, and with a dual motion of legs and arms, the core is activated, without placing strain on the back.
Also, for those in wheelchairs, this is an effective way of maintaining fitness while exercising safely. For those who work from the home, the recumbent stepper is a cool way to exercise while still staying on the clock, multi-tasking by getting up your blood pressure and getting some necessary reading or even just binge-watching done.
Finally, for those who want to keep up their fitness but are finding the present climate challenging with the shutting down of nations and the unpredictable quarantines, the recumbent stepper is a nice way to exercise. Regardless of public policy, your workout routine can continue unchecked.
Verdict: Your Best Recumbent Stepper
Knowing what to buy and where to buy it from is always a challenge, but refining your criteria allows for a more direct, efficient process when picking your ideal recumbent stepper.
If you’re looking for a general good recumbent stepper then the Teeter Freestep with its upright frame and ergonomically optimized leg and arm positioning protects your back while combining the benefits of an elliptical, treadmill, and bike into the stepper motion, for an affordable price.
If you can afford to spend top dollar and dedicate some extra space, the SCIFIT Stepper is the ideal best recumbent stepper for rehabilitation, with its removable chair for wheelchair access, large, maximum-grip footpads, and wide range of resistance levels.
If you aim to get a good workout machine on a budget with an accessible user-friendly interface and at an affordable price, the XTERRA RSX1500 is a great buy, helping you keep track of your workouts and being adjustable for people of different heights.
I hope that this has helped you refine your search and that this year is better than the last. Happy shopping!