Stair Stepper: How To Make The Most Out Of It

by Michael Brown on December 30, 2018

two people push up together

 Stair steppers are popular gym machines that you’ve more than likely seen if you’ve ever stepped inside. They’re also in many homes across the country.

If you decide to use one on a regular basis, you join the ranks of people that have decided to make their lives better by toning muscle, keeping themselves fit, and even burning fat.

What Is A Stair Stepper?

Many people get stair steppers and stair climbers confused when the truth is that the two are both very different pieces of equipment. Steppers have two pedals while stair climbers have revolving stairs.

Stair steppers are also perfect as low-impact machines meaning that you and your joints won’t have to deal with the impact from more jarring exercises like running.

They also work specifically on your hips, thighs, buttocks, and calves. Depending on where you want to focus will determine the kind of work out you do to get the most out of your stair stepper.

Using one of these is more than just going through the motions. There are a series of activities you should do before you put the stair stepper through your workout.

Always Begin With A Warm-up

woman warming up at the gym

Just like with any other form of exercise, you want to make sure you warm up first. The purpose of doing an adequate warm-up is to ensure that you don’t suffer from any injuries.

Think about it. Muscles get used to a given range of motion from your daily activities like sitting in front of a screen or standing behind a counter. Your muscles aren’t typically used to doing more strenuous exercise because you don’t do that every day. Doing it suddenly can be a shock to your muscles.

To prevent injury, start off with what is called dynamic stretching. That means that you’re warming up with smaller movements like inchworms, the cobra yoga pose, or arm stretches. You may also consider doing a short walk to get yourself moving and the blood flowing. This will all increase your muscles’ overall flexibility.

Getting Started With Your Workout

woman starting to workout

It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever worked out before because this next statement is critical to anyone who has worked out or not. Always workout with proper form.

Proper form is vital to getting a good workout and preventing injury. Even if we’re not talking about something as complex as Olympic lifting, using a stair stepper requires good form, too.

Movement And Range Of Motion

range of motion

Lucky for you, getting your form right isn’t hard with a stair stepper. You push down with your feet to mimic the movement that you would get if you were going up and down the stairs.

The key here is getting your full range of motion as you go up and down. What this means is that you need to push the pedal down all the way as far as you can make it go. When your foot goes back up, you want to make sure your knee is at least perpendicular to your body before pushing back down.

As you’re standing up at the stair stepper, you need to stand straight and tall. By keeping your body upright, you can keep the intensity of the workout up, plus, you’ll engage all the right muscles.

Stand Up And Preventing Injury

women stretching at the beach

Some people will lean forward as they work out on a stair stepper, but they’re really not doing themselves any favors. Not only does it lower the overall intensity of what you’re trying to do, but it can also set you up for injury.

Your body is not designed to walk, climb stairs, or run in a hunched over position. It is designed for you to remain upright with your center of gravity more or less centered. When you hunch over, you throw off your center of gravity which can cause you to lurch forward unintentionally resulting in a lower back injury or other muscle strain.

If you feel the need to rest while you’re working out, then relax. Don’t lean against the rails. Take a minute or two, and then get going again. You’re going to build up better endurance doing it that way, and you’ll be safer, too.

How Much You Should Push Yourself

You’ll also need to get to know your limitations. If you have never worked out a day in your life, first of all, kudos to you for starting on this journey. Understand, too, that you’re going to need to take it slow because it is something your body hasn’t ever done.

That means if you can only make it for maybe five minutes, that’s still five minutes more than you’ve ever done. You may need to take baby steps to get to where you can go for a full thirty minutes without stopping. Remember, you’re not in competition with anyone but yourself, so don’t compare what you do to someone else who has been working out for years. It’s not a fair comparison, and you can end up disappointing yourself. Just don’t do it.

Be Careful And Don’t Overdo It

women wearing a gym wear

If you’ve worked out in the past, but it has been a long time, you may want to take it a little slower in the beginning, too. Your body is going to feel great going at the pace you used to have when you worked out ten years ago. At least at that moment, it will because your muscles are going to remember the movements without much effort.

Once you’ve completed the workout, you may feel a little sore. You might even say that the soreness feels fantastic. You’re going to realize the next day that you’re probably going to be in a lot of pain. Some pain is normal, but pain that keeps you from being able to get out of bed or sit down on the toilet without crying out may be a result of pushing yourself just a bit too much.

Others will say that you can’t push yourself too hard, but the reality is that if you push yourself so hard that it makes it difficult to function the next day, you may have done too much. Scale back just a bit and build your intensity over time.

How Often And How To Adjust For What You Need To Workout

The amount of time that you should dedicate to working out has changed a lot over the years. The most recent number states that you should exercise for a total of about 75 minutes every week if you’re hitting it hard. If the workouts are moderate then closer to 150 minutes per week is what you should be looking at.

On a stair stepper, you can adjust your intensity to fit what your goals are regarding health and fitness. In other words, if you need to change the resistance level to increase your power, then you’re going to raise your heart rate faster. If you’re looking for a more moderate workout, a good place to start is with moderate resistance.

Alternatively, if you’re specifically looking to build your endurance, then you’re going to want to use a low resistance while stepping quickly.

If you’re focused on building muscle strength, then you’re going to want to set your stepper to lower resistance. A lower resistance will force you to push down harder to move the pedals and will work to develop your lower body muscles.

How To Use Stair Steppers For Weight Loss

Most people start looking at exercise as a way to lose weight. While that’s not wrong, it’s also not entirely correct.

Let’s put it this way, if you usually consume 2500 calories, burn 500 calories, and allow yourself that extra donut at your midday break, you’re not going to create much of a calorie deficit.

Stair steppers can help with weight loss because you’re burning calories you weren’t burning before. That works for any exercise that you pursue so long as you don’t overestimate how much you can eat in relation to the workout.

In other words, if you consume 2500 calories daily and then burn 500 calories with your stair stepper, don’t reach for that donut.

Main Types Of Stair Steppers

You’ve got two main types of stair steppers. The big ones that you see at the gym come in those models as well as collapsible models for easy storage. The other types of stair steppers that you’ll see are more compact and can even fit under your bed to store.

Larger ones are more expensive, but they do offer a greater range of options. For one, they have arm rails to steady yourself with, but they also take up more room.

Smaller ones will fit under your desk, allowing you to step while you work, but it may be harder for you to keep your balance since there is nothing to lean on when you’re standing up.

One Last Thing About Stair Steppers

Stair steppers are great for easy, low-impact exercise for those who want to achieve higher fitness levels. Just about anyone can use on e which makes this a great choice as a piece of family equipment.

To pick out the one that works best for you, you’ll want to read reviews and do your homework, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Measure the space you want to use and know where you’re going to put it before you purchase it.

Remember if you need to, start slow and work up from there. There is no shame in only making it through a few minutes on your first day. Cheers to your health!


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