Who isn’t looking to plow through calories at the gym? The StairMaster is the way to do it. Although those rotating stairs can look a little intimidating at first, it’s one of the best ways to torch calories while working your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. It will probably become your cardio workout of choice! In just 10 minutes, you’ll burn about 100 calories or more.
Not only does the StairMaster scorch calories, but it does so at a low impact, because there is little force from your foot to the stair. Add some stepping to your weekly workout regime to save your joints in the long run. Alternate days of higher impact activity with 20-30 minutes on the stairs and save yourself the pain. It’s also a great choice for people with old injuries or budding soft tissue injuries like shin splints.
The repeated climbing motion will not only build your endurance and cardiovascular fitness, but you’ll build strength in the front and back of the thigh and your backside as well!
How to Climb
When you hit the StairMaster for the first time, easy does it. Step on and immediately step up to the top, holding on to the rails. Be careful–the stairs can move even if the machine isn’t turned on. Start the machine and raise the level to a slow step while you hold the rails. Climb slowly for the first 3-5 minutes to get your footing, to get used to the machine and to get warmed up.
Speed it Up
After your warm up, raise the speed to a comfortable walking pace–around a level 6 or 7 and step for two minutes. Then, speed it up even more so you are stepping quickly. Maintain that speed for 1 minute, then go back to level 6 or 7 for another two minutes of active rest. These intervals will help you burn more calories without overdoing it and stave off boredom while you work.
No Leaning Allowed
Keep the speed up to a pace that you can maintain without holding the rails. Feel free to hold on lightly at the top, as though you were riding a bike. You will burn 30% more calories if you only hold lightly rather than leaning over onto your elbows. You’re better off lowering the speed or resistance and maintaining an upright position.
However, that higher number just might be what motivates you. Try adding short 30 second bursts at the high level, then drop it down to a level that you can maintain with minimal contact.
Even though climbing is great on its own, adding speed bursts like the ones mentioned above is the best way to push your endurance and calorie burn to the next level. Incorporate 30 second intense bursts, and 90 second active recovery intervals at a lower pace. This should be a comfortable pace that allows you to carry on a conversation. The shorter, intense interval should be tough enough to force you to keep quiet. As you get stronger, add 5 seconds to your high interval every week to sizzle more calories and build endurance.