What is a Stair Stepper?
Stairs are great for fitness, as they work your lower body and are a great cardio workout. There are two different types of stair steppers on the market; those that are similar to a flight of steps and depend on the action of your feet to move or those that are completely independent with two pedals. Read on for stair stepper benefits and machine information.
The Right Form
To get good results, you need a good form on a stepper. Hold your body upright with your elbows out at 90 degrees or hold them as you would when running.
When you step, use your heel rather than the ball of your foot to press down but if you're using a dependent stepper don't push the step the whole way or let it get too high. Squeeze your glutes with each heel step and try and keep the steps from getting too big or too small.
Dependent stair steppers are not meant for fast paced working out which means they are ideal for the person who wants to take it slow but wants a good result, while the small pedal versions can easily be used at a faster pace.
What Muscles Does it Work?
A stair stepper is a lower body workout that focuses on your larger muscles. This means your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves are all engaged when taking steps. Depending on your speed, you can also engage your cardiovascular system and provide a good two-punch workout. The exercise also works as a load-bearing type with your own body weight so your core is engaged to strengthen abdominal and lower back muscles.
Stair Stepper Benefits:
- Using a stair stepper is great if you haven't got several flights of convenient stairs to climb, the pedal type is also a small and compact piece of equipment that is easily stored away. You can move the small pedal-powered unit anywhere unlike a bike or treadmill. Most steppers are also fairly silent which means this won't make it hard to watch TV or distracting for others.
- The pedal type machines are also extremely cheap compared to equipment like treadmills. A pedal stair stepper will run you less than $100 normally, unlike your basic treadmill which might be three times the price.
- Unlike a bike or running, you're also getting more of a muscle workout because you're using your body weight to push the pedals or steps. This means it's more effective than just walking or using an elliptical, especially as cardio. You'll get better muscle tone and you'll burn more calories in the same amount of time compared to almost any other piece of equipment. This is a great workout for losing weight fast. For an hours working out, stair stepper benefits allow you to burn upwards of 400 calories!
- While nothing to do with weight-loss, using a stepper is actually good for your bones. With proper form, you support your weight along your spine and down to your legs. It is essentially a weight bearing exercise at that point and this strengthens bones and prevents mineral loss.
- There's a lot of evidence that cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to health. It can help you live longer, keep your heart healthy, and is good for weight-loss. Strength training has its own benefits and with the stepper, you can get both.
- Since this is also an aerobic exercise you'll find that you're less winded and tired doing everyday things. Some more stair stepper benefits include lung function improvement and your overall sports performance.
- Stepping also increases metabolism since it's a cardiovascular workout. This will help with weight-loss and weight management.
- While stair climbing is a vigorous exercise it can be tailored to fast or slow pace. Pedal steppers are easier to go faster on but dependent steppers will give you more of a resistance based workout combination.
- Stairs are actually known to improve endurance, unlike other workouts. It's possible to be able to run a 5k or even lift heavy weights but still get tired from stairs. It challenges your body to work as a whole which is why it's so effective.
- Taking the steps can be high-impact for the knees, but you can adjust your steps on a stepping machine so that you're not taking such a high step or stepping as vigorously and still be able to use the exercise. Essentially, you can make it into a low-impact workout.
Top 5 Stair Steppers
Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper with Band
StairMaster SM3 StepMill
StairMaster 7000 PT Stepmill
Maxi Climber Vertical Climber
Gold's Gym Mini Stepper
If you're looking for a big calorie burn in a total body workout, then a stair stepper is the perfect piece of equipment. There are benefits to stamina, metabolism, aerobic capacity, and it burns calories faster than other exercises. Stepping is clearly a good choice, and, whether you're young or old, you can see benefits from as little as 10 minutes a day.
When choosing a stepping machine, you'll only have two types to look at, but for home use and cost effectiveness the pedal type is a clear winner.
Once you've bought a stepper, don't forget to enforce correct form otherwise you risk injury and will not get the full benefits of the exercise.