12 Moves to Maximize Your Stair Stepper
updated August 3, 2018
The stair stepper is a very effective cardio and muscle worker. But, just like the treadmill, it can quickly get boring.
Mindlessly plodding back and forth, trying not to look at the time, can easily do your head in. For most people, it leads to simply giving up.
In this article you will discover 12 ways to keep your stair stepper workout fresh, exciting and invigorating.
We’ll break it down to give you 4 of the best StairMaster workouts, 4 great Stair Climber moves and 4 tips on how to get the best out of your conventional step machine workout.
StairMaster Training Tips
Move #1: Skip a Step
After a two minute warm-up, use your lead leg to bypass the second step and go directly to the third step. Use your arms to pull through on the same lead leg. Now do the same with the opposite leg. Skipping a step in this manner will place the training emphasis on your glutes and hamstrings. To activate them even further, squeeze your buns tightly as you lift and push into the pedal with your heel.
Move #2: Jump Squats
Jump squats on the Stairmaster are a challenging move that requires a good level of balance and coordination. Don’t try this if you’re not feeling confident.
When you do jump squats you will alternate with each step from a wide to a narrow stance. Reduce the speed for this move.
Start with your feet as wide as possible on the first step. Now jump up to the next step, bringing your feet together to a narrow stance as you land. As you come down on the step, drop down into a deep squat position to fully engage the glutes.
Now, move directly into the next jump. This time land with a wide stance. Repeat the wide, narrow alternations for a full minute of jumps.
When you first begin performing jumping squat steps, be sure to hold onto the hand rails. This will give you support and allow for a back up if you happen to fall.
Move #3: Low Cross Over
This move also takes a considerable amount of coordination, so take it slowly. Stand in a sideways position on the StairMaster. Grab a hold of the handle rail with your inside hand for support and balance.
Now begin to step by bringing your outside foot up and over your inside foot. Bring it up to the step above your inside foot. Do this for 30 seconds. Now you’re ready to increase the intensity.
Bend you knees to drop down into a parallel squat position. Continue to perform the cross-over squat in this position. Stay low throughout the entire movement. You’ll really feel this one in your glutes and front quads.
Move #4: StairMaster HIIT
HIIT sprint training on the Stairmaster will allow you to ramp up your fat burn ability both during and after your workout. It will also allow you to get in a great workout in a shorter amount of time. During your 30-second rest periods, you should quickly reduce the speed down to a slow walk.
Start with a two-minute warm-up. Set the speed to a brisk walk and focus on squeezing and feeling the muscles in your legs. Now being the workout by skipping a step each time for one minute.
Next sprint for 25 seconds.
Then rest for 30 seconds.
Now perform jump squats, going from a wide to a narrow stance each time, for one minute.
Move straight into another 25 second sprint.
Then rest for another 30 seconds.
Next, go into a minute’s worth of low cross-overs.
Another 25-second sprint follows. Then have another 30 second break.
Repeat this sequence three times to give you lower body an amazing fat scorching workout.
Stair Climber Training Tips
Because it utilizes the upper body more than the stair stepper does, the stair climber provides more options in terms of workout versatility. The following moves provide for a total body stair climber workout while burning nearly twice as many calories as a traditional lower body only session.
Move #1: Bear Crawl
Perform the bear crawl by starting on the floor in a plank position, with your hands resting on the first step of the climber. Now move, first your left foot, then your right hand up a step to make your way up the stair climber. Repeat this action with the opposite foot leading.
Move #2: Burpee - Sprint HIIT
Stand alongside the Climber. Perform 5 burpees, then immediately go to the Climber and perform a 45 second sprint climb. Rest for exactly thirty seconds, then jump off the machine and do 10 jumping jacks. Next, go directly back to the Climber and do another 30 seconds sprint. After a further 30 second rest period, dismount from the machine and do 15 deep bodyweight squats, with your hands behind your head. You have now completed one circuit. You need to go through three circuits to complete your workout. The only rest should be the 30-seconds between rounds.
Move #3: Kickback with Ankle Weights
A great way to increase the intensity of your glute, hamstring and calf work when using the step climber is to wear a pair of light ankle weights and perform a kick back on every single step that you take. A kick back is just as the name suggests; as you push down with your foot on the step, perform a backward kick to bring your foot back beyond the level of your torso. The added weight resistance will really target this extra movement to the areas that need it. I recommend starting with 5 pound ankle weights.
Move #4: Segmented Workout
Take your traditional 30-minute stair climber workout and chunk it out into usable portions. Start with a 5 minute gradual warm-up. Then increase the resistance and speed levels,. Next spend 5 minutes doing high knees, where you tackle two stairs at a time. If you can make a min-muscle connection here, you will benefit more. So, really focus on your glutes, squeezing them tightly with each step. Push through your heel to help to isolate the quads and hamstrings.
After five minutes, switch to a single leg kick-back. In this variation you kick your straight leg back as far as you can behind you on each step. 5 minutes of single leg kick-backs will be very taxing, so go back to a slower pace for the next five minutes. At this point you’ve been on the stepper for 20 minutes. Spend the next 5 minutes doing a side-step, where you are facing side on to the machine. Do two and a half minutes on each side. Complete your workout with a 5 minute warm down.
Stair Stepper Training Tips
#1: Keep Your Feet Flat on the Pedals
Many people tend to step with the emphasis on the toes. This will make the calf muscles more prominent. To even out the workload over all of the muscles of the lower legs, stay flat footed. If anything you should push through your heels as you step. For most people this involve consciously retraining their stepping motion.
#2: Keep your knee over your midfoot
The less movement there is of the knee forward and beyond the toe, the better. If it comes too far forward, you are going to be placing a lot of stress on the knee joint. The quad tendon will also be put under pressure when your knee drifts forward on the stepping motion. You should also consciously avoid your knees from buckling in toward each other, as this will also cause knee (and ankle) problems.
#3: Maintain an upright body posture
Maintain an upright body posture as you exercise on the stepper. Make sure, also, that you don’t slouch on the machine. Initially, you will want to use the handrails to support yourself.
As you become more experienced, however, try taking your hands off the rails and support yourself with just your bodyweight. Pull your shoulders back and your core in. Make sure that you maintain a neutral spine position at all times when walking on the stair stepper. Maintaining this upright position will allow you to engage your core far more effectively.
#4: Keep a Steady Pace
Unless you are doing a specialized workout, such as HIIT training, you should set your speed to perform between 60 and 80 steps per minute. If you travel at a much slower speed than this, you will not get enough of a calorie burn.
Going too much higher may reduce the effectiveness of your stepping motion. Rather than increasing the speed, putting up the resistance level will allow you to get a more intense workout in while ensuring that your good stepping form is maintained.
Your Stair Stepper will provide you with years of faithful exercise service as it helps you to tone, shape and remodel your body. Use the 12 exercise suggestions provided here to stave off cardio training boredom. The innovative moves will keep you motivated as you use a range of workout types and exercise options to stimulate and activate the muscles of your body.
Don't forget to check out this article about stair stepper guide for better understanding of the latest product reviews and another article about the five best aerobic steppers in the market-place today.