When you’re looking to increase fitness, stamina, or perhaps lose a bit of weight, we’ve all been told the top tip of taking the stairs rather than the lift. Increasing your heart rate and working the muscle in your legs, workouts with a step have been popular since the 1980s. Since the days of step classes and neon Lycra.
But the step machine in the gym can get overlooked. It gets branded as boring. Truth is, the stair climber can deliver an efficient and well rounded workout, whether used as part of a wider gym routine or on its own for a whole workout session.
So let’s delve into the stair climber benefits. You might soon find yourself swapping that treadmill workout for a stair climber workout. Or combining the two.
What is the stair climber?
The stair climber does what it says on the tin and simulates walking up stairs. Unlike some of the other scary looking gym equipment, it’s very easy to use. It rotates steps to simulate climbing a flight of stairs and you can vary the resistance and speed.
There are two types of gym stepper machines, the pedal type steppers and the step mill.
The pedal steppers require you to push down on pedals and keep your body mostly still as you do so meaning it gets your core more involved. Whack up the resistance or take smaller or larger steps as you prefer, to vary the difficulty level.
The step mill is more like a traditional flight of stairs, that moves like an escalator. Up the speed or take the steps two at a time for a more challenging workout variation.
What is the difference between a StairMaster and a stepmill?
StairMaster is actually a brand. Hence the use of capital letters. Call it a step machine, stepper, stair stepper, StairMaster, stepmill, Power Climb mill, stairclimber or stepping machine – they are all the same thing.
How do you use the stair climber?
The golden rule is: don’t slouch. Step machine benefits are maximised when you hold the handrail as little as possible and keep your core strong. Keep your feet flat and avoid coming up onto your tiptoes. Don’t let your knees stick forward of your toes. If your knee comes forward too much it stresses your knee joint and quadriceps tendon.
What does the stair climber do for your body?
Stair climber benefits are huge. A step machine workout is a good bit of cardiovascular exercise, burning calories as it increases your heart rate and gets your blood pumping. If weight loss is your goal, you can help create that calorie deficit here. It’s also low impact compared with other cardio machine workouts, like the treadmill. A plus for those with joint issues.
But it can also double as strength training. The repetitive motion of using your legs to push yourself up is a great way to test that endurance and activate the muscles in your lower body. Stair climber workouts are great if you’re looking to tone your lower body.
Additionally, this exercise gives your core muscles a decent workout too. Having to readjust your balance as you climb helps you to develop a stronger core. Make sure you keep an eye on your posture to make this efficient and ease lower back pain.
Is the stair climber in the gym better than real stairs?
It definitely lets you be more efficient with your stair climbing workout.
Real stairs don’t provide you with differing levels of resistance like the stepper in the gym. The harder your step, the harder your muscles are working, and the more likely you are to start to tone your lower body.
An interesting point is that if you’re climbing real stairs, you’re going to be coming down them again. Going downstairs can place a strain on your joints, especially the knees. Anyone who’s experienced knee problems like runner’s knee will know the pain of walking down stairs. As you are always on the upward climb on the stair stepper, there is no strain on your joints.
How long should you stay on the stair climber?
If you’re new to it, start with 15 minutes. That way you can test out your resistance and speed. Gradually build up so you can stay on the stair climber for 30 minutes. For the average person, a 30 minute stair climber session can burn around 200-300 calories.
Aim for a speed of about 60-80 steps a minute. But it’s also great to mix it up. Try periods of faster speed or increased resistance followed by rest. That way you can build up both your stamina, endurance, and give every muscle in your lower body a good workout.
Which is better, the treadmill or stair climber?
The benefits of gym treadmills are that you run less risk of injury than pounding the pavements. Gym treadmills are easier on your joints than a hard concrete pavement and there’s no injury-causing uneven ground to worry about. As a general rule, running is an extremely efficient cardio and therefore calorie burning activity.
Gym stair steppers share the same benefits of the reduced impact, but aren’t as calorie busting as running. However, it can be seen as a form of strength training too, which running can’t really. Stair climbers can work every muscle in your legs if you’re using them correctly.
And if you’re the clumsy type, it’s hard to fall off a stair stepper. So if you like to zone out and watch TV in the gym while you exercise, this one is for you.
Does the stair climber burn belly fat?
The burn belly fat question is one that comes up every time.
Whilst you can’t spot reduce and target fat loss to particular areas of your body, you can burn belly fat by reducing the overall amount of calories that you take on board and burning fat with aerobic exercise. Therefore the stair stepper will burn belly fat as part of a calorie burning workout, as it is a good aerobic exercise.
Stair climber workouts also works your stomach muscles and strengthens your core, engaging those muscles underneath the belly fat and helping to keep your tummy toned.
Where can I use a Stair Master?
There are plenty of gyms with StairMasters.
Most gyms will have a StairMaster or similar machine. If you’re not sure if your favourite gym has a stair climber, ask one of the gym instructors. Just as you would expect to find a treadmill in most gyms, you can expect to find a stepping machine too, especially in the larger gyms.
Stair climber workouts
The beauty of the stair climber is there are actually lots of variations you can do on the machine in addition to just walking up stairs.
Incorporating additional movements such as a lunge, a squat, an overhead press, or even adding a resistance band is a great way to making your workout even more efficient at working the muscles in your body.
Ready to take your climber workout to the next level? Pun intended. With Hussle, you can make your fitness routine flexible by getting access to multiple gyms in whenever, and wherever you like.