Mini Stepper vs Mini Elliptical – Which Is Better?

 by Dr. Steve Hruby, D.C.

I’m a fitness advocate with a holistic approach to health, wellness, and longevity. I’ve walked the walk since 2009 - using my personal development methods to unleash the fitness champ within you.

  Fact Checked
 by Rhealyn Celestial
Reviewed by Rhealyn Celestial

I’m a researcher, and I’m also a full-time mom. I spend my weekdays crafting thoughtful articles for small businesses, and my weekends with my son learning about the world together

If you’re looking for a cardio exercise that takes up little space and doesn’t cost too much, the mini stepper or a mini elliptical are both great choices.

I recently had to choose between these two myself, and have come to my conclusions about which one would be better for me. Mini stepper vs mini elliptical, which one is better?

5 Differences Between Mini Stepper and Mini Elliptical

The mini stepper and the mini elliptical are both designed to help you burn calories and get in shape, and they are both compact and space-saving, the some folks even place their mini stepper under the desk or bring their portable elliptical stepper at the office, so that they can squeeze in a quick workout despite their busy schedules.

Convenient as they both are, there are some differences between them that can help you decide which one is right for your needs. Let’s compare:

#1 – Burning Calories

Both the mini stepper and the mini elliptical have been shown to be effective at burning calories. When comparing the two machines, however, it is important to note that many people find that using their arms while working out on a mini elliptical can help increase caloric expenditure.

With a mini elliptical calories burned are higher they use more muscles and move in a larger range of motion than mini steppers. This means that it’s easier to get into a rhythm and keep moving for longer periods of time. It also helps that you’re using your arms, which adds more energy expenditure than leg movement alone does.

#2 – Muscles Worked

When it comes down to which machine works for more muscle groups, the mini elliptical wins again—by far!

In addition to working your legs, which are attached to your hip bones, it also works your arms and shoulders while they’re in motion on the pedal platform. The fact that these machines have handles also helps with balance, a key factor when it comes down to choosing between these two machines.

#3 – Strength And Endurance

While both machines provide a great cardio workout, the mini elliptical is better for building strength and endurance than the mini stepper is. The elliptical’s larger range of motion allows you to engage your entire body more effectively than a smaller machine as the mini stepper does.

On top of that, ellipticals have handles or bars at different heights that allow you to change up your workout by changing how high or low you have to reach while exercising.

mini stepper

This helps increase muscle fatigue and improve overall strength over time as well as giving you more options for customizing each session based on how much time you have available for working out during each session.

#4 – Cardio Workout

Another difference between these two pieces of equipment is how much calorie burning they do per hour. While both machines can burn calories at about 250 per hour, which is equivalent to walking 3 miles, ellipticals tend to burn more calories due to their higher resistance levels and longer stride lengths compared to steppers.

#5 – Product Cost

Mini ellipticals tend to cost more than mini steppers because they offer more features such as handlebars for upper body workouts; however, there are some cheaper models out there as well.

You should keep this in mind when buying either machine because it could mean saving hundreds of dollars over time by opting for a cheaper model instead of going straight for an expensive one without doing any research first.

How to Use a Mini Elliptical vs Mini Stepper

A mini elliptical is like a cross between a treadmill and an exercise bike. It’s typically less than three feet long and only has two foot pedals, one for each foot. Propelling yourself forward with your feet causes the machine to move in an elliptical motion. The resistance can be adjusted so that it’s harder or easier as needed.

Using a mini elliptical is pretty straightforward: You just hop on, put on some music, and start going! Most machines will allow you to adjust the resistance so that it’s easier or harder depending on how much effort you want to put into the workout.

If you find that the machine isn’t giving enough resistance for your desired level of difficulty, try adjusting the settings on your device or increasing the number of repetitions per minute (RPM).

Mini steppers on the other hand are great for getting your heart rate up and toning muscles. They can also be used as part of an exercise routine with other equipment. If you’re just starting out, though, it’s important to know how to use a mini stepper properly so that you don’t end up injuring yourself or performing ineffective exercises.  

To get started, unfold the mini stepper. Place your feet on the platform of the stepper and keep them parallel to each other, with your toes pointed forward.

Push down on the pedal below your right foot as if you were stepping up onto a step, and then pull it back up to repeat this motion for one full revolution.

You can also choose to alternate which foot you push down first by switching between them every time you complete one full revolution or do two sets of eight repetitions per leg for a total of 16 repetitions per set (one revolution). Repeat with your left leg until you’ve completed eight sets per leg for a total of 16 sets total (two revolutions).

Alternative Machines Great For Weight Loss

The mini elliptical and mini stepper are both great machines for weight loss, but they’re not the only options out there.

man using a rowing machine

If you’re looking for something that can be used at home and doesn’t require as much space as a full-sized machine, you might want to consider a recumbent bike or a rowing machine. Both of these machines target different muscle groups and will help you burn calories while toning your body in ways that are similar to what you’d see with the mini elliptical or mini stepper.

Recumbent Bikes

Recumbent bikes are usually not as intense as ellipticals, but they still help you burn calories quickly. They also work your lower body more than other machines, so if you’re looking for something that does double duty for both legs and arms (like an elliptical), this might be the way to go. Similar to bikes, using a peloton vs elliptical is also another great option.

Rowing Machines

Rowing machines are another option if you want something that works both arms and legs, but they don’t have as much resistance as other cardio machines like treadmills or ellipticals. If you’re trying to lose weight fast and aren’t interested in building muscle mass too much (which sometimes happens with resistance training), then this may be better suited for your needs.


Not to forget the classic, the first of which is the treadmill. When used properly, treadmills can be an excellent way to burn calories and lose weight. Treadmills allow you to walk or run without having to worry about falling over or injuring yourself on uneven ground.

Stationary Bike

Another good option is a stationary bike. Stationary bikes are also great for burning calories while giving you stability and support. A stationary bike will help build muscle tone in your legs, which can help prevent injury when running or walking outdoors later on down the road.


If you want that extra challenge, you might also want to consider getting your own StairMaster. While a StairMaster vs elliptical is a common comparison amongst exercise machines, your selection always comes down to your fitness goals and other factors such as space and budget.

Stepping Up: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Which Is Better Mini Stepper or Elliptical?

It depends on what you’re looking for! If you want something low-impact but still challenging, then go with the stepper because it offers more resistance options than an elliptical does. However, if you’re looking for something more intense with more resistance levels (and less impact on joints), then go with an elliptical instead.

step training

Are Mini Steppers Effective?

YES. Getting on a mini stepper for 15 minutes every day will help you burn calories and lose weight.

When you step up and down, your body engages all the major muscles in the lower body, including the quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes. These muscles burn calories as they work to move your body.

In addition to burning calories, mini steppers can help improve balance and coordination. This is because when you step forward on an elliptical machine, you have to balance yourself against gravity while also moving forward. This strengthens your core muscles in order to support your body weight in this position.

Are Mini Ellipticals Effective?

Do mini ellipticals work? Yes.

The best mini ellipticals are designed to make sure you get a good workout without putting your joints at risk of injury. They use a low-impact motion that mimics walking, so you can burn calories without straining your knees or ankles like you would when running or jogging.


Whether you’re looking for an elliptical and stepper in one, or an “under the desk” stepper, in the end, there isn’t that much of a difference with these two machines. This depends on the variability and reliability of each machine as well as your personal preferences. Hopefully, these differences helped you in making an informed decision on which is better for you.

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