Stair Stepper Tips

Stair Stepper Tips

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Stand upright and fully extend your legs when using the stair stepper.

A cardio workout on a stair stepper gives you an effective and safe way to exercise aerobically. Getting the most benefit from your stepping workout requires a quality machine and proper form. Don't fret if every time you hit the cardio center at the gym all the "good" machines are taken. You don't need the most expensive stair stepper with all the bells and whistles to get a challenging workout.

Choosing a Machine

Take a stair stepper for a test run before you use it for a workout, and don't feel bad about ditching it to find another one if it doesn't feel right. The frame, for instance, should be solid and stable and shouldn't wobble when you step. The handrails shouldn't be too high or too low, but they should be located so that you can easily maintain proper posture when working out. The pedals should be larger than your feet so that they support them entirely and not just the balls of your feet. In the book "Concepts in Fitness Programming," Robert G. McMurray tells readers that the units with independent pedals give a better work out than the synchronized ones. They also provide a stepping action that is closer to normal.

Proper Form

Most people use a stair stepper incorrectly -- they just don't know that they're doing it wrong. They lean forward on the arm handles with hyperextended elbows or grip the control panel as if it were a life preserver in the middle of the ocean. Keeping proper posture is essential for an effective stair stepper workout, so always focus on standing upright and keeping your body straight and not slouched over. Your knee should be behind your toes when your leg is extended and directly over your toes when it is bent. And don't mince around. Speedy baby steps do nothing for you. Instead, concentrate on full range of motion for your legs and your knees. Take large, deep steps that allow you to fully extend your knee.

Boredom and Plateaus

When your workout becomes stagnant or you've hit a weight loss plateau, allow yourself to switch to a different type of cardio equipment temporarily, such as the elliptical or a stationary bike. In their "10 Tips for Implementing a Weight Loss Strategy," IDEA Health and Fitness Association says that switching things up can help reignite your enthusiasm for your workout. If you absolutely love the stair stepper, though, and are loathe to give it up even for a few weeks, implementing a different way of using it, such as doing a high-intensity interval workout, can be effective, too. Cross-training is also a wise move for those who have joint problems that are sometimes aggravated by using stair steppers.

Simulating Programs

If you occasionally find yourself on the most basic machine in the cardio center, the one that doesn't have the pre-programmed workouts, you can use the resistance controls to simulate just about any of the programmed courses on your favorite machine. Just increase the intensity for the number of minutes that the higher-end machine has you climb a hill, and decrease it when you want to simulate walking downhill.