If you’ve never tried a stair stepping machine (StairMaster, stair climber, etc.), you’re missing out on a fantastic cardio exercise that strengthens your legs and lungs at the same time. A stair stepper is a moderate-intensity option that anyone can do.
Not all stair stepping machines are alike, but most offer workout variables based on three things: resistance, pace, and foot position.
Start with a low resistance and ramp up until you have to push in order to move the pedal back down. If the pedal’s doing the work, resistance is too light. Don’t lean on the side rails or handles; these are for balance only.
Most machines allow you to control how fast the pedals move, either manually or in a preprogrammed workout. Go fast enough so that during the peak of your workout, you can answer a question comfortably, but not carry on a conversation.
Most of the time, you should start with your foot flat on the pedal, rising up onto your toes slightly as the pedal raises. But if you’d like to work your hamstrings or calves, you can scoot your feet back so your heels are off the pedal, pushing you up on your toes more fully and frequently.
*Extra Tip: Your body position should be upright at all times. Don’t lean your weight into the handlebars or console. Leaning to the sides or front of the machine actually decreases your workload dramatically and increases your risk of injury due to improper form. Think about standing tall and letting your hands just lightly touch the handlebars for support.