Stair exercises are a great way to add variety to your regular cardio routine. With just a set of steps in your apartment building, office, or in a public park, you can go for a good stair workout that will surely make you pant and sweat.
However, although accessible and practically free, actual stairs can't provide a variety of resistance and intensity levels, which can hinder your progress. The good news is there are several stairs workout machines that offer these options to allow you to do more with your exercise.
In this article, we'll be discussing the types of stair workout machines that you will find on the market today - from the popular stepmill machines to elliptical climbers. Not only will you be able to improve your fitness level in no time, but you'll also be able to enjoy a comfortable workout session whether in the gym or at home.
Stepmill / Stairmill
You probably have seen an escalator-like machine at the gym with moving steps that don’t seem to stop. That powerful and fascinating piece of equipment is a Stepmill, also popularly known as Stairmill.
Stepmills are a favorite among gym-goers because of its ability to burn a large number of calories in just a short span of time. They challenge the lower body muscles by simulating the movement of walking, running, and climbing up the stairs with varying speeds and resistance.
- It provides a high-intensity cardio and strength workout in a low-impact way as it does not put too much stress on the body joints. This makes it an excellent choice for people struggling with joint problems or injuries.
- Stepmills provide the option to adjust the intensity of the exercise by changing the speed and step height, depending on your current fitness level -- something that actual stairs don't have.
- It allows a variety of positions and foot placements to help target the leg muscles differently. Taking two steps at a time, for example, will target the glutes and hamstrings while the usual one step at a time will work the quads.
How To Use
If you have climbed the stairs before, you will most likely not have trouble using the stepmill. It is easy and straightforward, but there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that you're using it safely and effectively.
First, familiarize yourself with the machine's console. You can begin by simply pressing the Start button on pretty much any stairmill but other brands have more options such as pre-programmed workouts and more resistance levels. Knowing the machine that you use will allow you to feel more comfortable in doing your stair workout.
Mount the machine and move your feet in a walking or running up the staircase motion with even, moderately deep steps. Plant your whole feet on the steps to get a good range of motion. Do not make the mistake of climbing with just your toes and leaving the heels hanging of the step, which a lot of people tend to do. This will put too much stress on your calf and hamstrings.
Make use of the handles on the side to maintain balance while performing the workout, but make sure not to rest your upper body on the rails (or lean forward) as this will take away the effectiveness of the exercise. Focus on not bending at or putting pressure on the waist, and maintain a correct, upright posture from head to heels.
The StairMaster 8 Series Gauntlet is one of the best stair climber machines for your home gym. With its 8-inches high, 22-inches wide and 9 inches deep revolving steps, it will give you an accurate feeling of using real stairs.
There is a wide range of intensity levels you can choose from as can change the speed at which the steps revolve at, ranging from 26 steps per minute to 162 steps per minute. It features a 10-inch touchscreen console that lets you tune into TV and stream videos from your own devices.
This machine also comes with a USB port for charging devices and software updates, a personal fan that you can program via the console, and a hot bar on the handrail which can be used to remote stop, adjust levels, and contact pulse rate monitor.
You can safely get off the Gauntlet by using the step assistants which are on the bottom stairs on the side and can even be used while the steps are still revolving. If that’s not enough to give you a high-quality workout, then maybe the two bottle holders on either side of the console will convince you.
Step Machine / Stepper
Stair steppers are another great equipment for cardio and strength training. It also simulates the motion of walking or climbing up the stairs like a stairmill but instead of a rotational belt that continuously moves, a step machine is made with two hydraulic pedals that the user stands on and pushes up and down alternately. They come in different sizes and forms. Some are smaller, but most are about the same size and weight as a stationary bike, making them a great addition to a home gym.
- A stepper allows a variety of movements that will change the intensity of the exercise as required. Users can increase the speed and resistance to adjust the difficulty, depending on their needs. They can also control the height of their steps by taking smaller or larger steps, unlike a stairmill that has a fixed step height.
- Using a step machine will likely improve your stability and balance as well, on top of its cardio and strength benefits.
- There are mini-steppers available which generally cost lower and are smaller in footprint than other cardio equipment. This means you can exercise with ease and get all the benefits of the cardio exercise without having to take up too much space.
How To Use
The key to using the Step machine safely and effectively is rhythm. It involves a little bit of technique to get the hang of the stepper, unlike the stairmill where you just have to climb like you would with an actual stair.
With rhythm and form in mind, start moving at a reasonable speed and rhythm until you are comfortable. Make sure to keep your full feet flat on the machine as this will allow you to work and target the right muscles in your legs.
Step Machine Recommendation
The Deco Home Step Machine is a great little addition to a household. It may be small but it is not fragile and can support up to 220 pounds due to the heavy-duty steel frame. Like other stair climbers, this one has an LCD screen that tracks calories, time, and step count.
Two adjustable handlebars are there for you to provide balance along with the non-slip pedals that keep your feet in the right position. Even during intense workouts, your floor will remain unscathed thanks to the rubber footpads on the base of the machine.
Elliptical Stair Stepper Machine
The Elliptical stepper machine offers comprehensive cardio and strength-training workout as it combines two of the best cardio equipment you can find in the gym -- the elliptical trainer and step machine. It simulates the experience of hiking and climbing, allowing you to burn a great number of calories and work your lower body muscles.
- If you prefer to work at home or are short on space, this machine is definitely a great option. It takes up minimal footprint and is portable.
- The elliptical climber machine offers a unique workout that can be performed by anyone of any fitness level.
How to Use
Using this combo machine is similar to how you would use an elliptical trainer. Start with a light resistance and even pace as you pedal. This is important for you to find your rhythm and be comfortable throughout the exercise.
Grab the handles and move them as you pedal. When your foot is straightened and goes down, the opposite handle should be pulled towards your body. Be mindful of your form, keep your back straight and make sure your knees do not lock out on each stroke.
Once you're comfortable, pick up the resistance and speed to a higher level to increase the intensity of your exercise.
Elliptical Stair Stepper Machine Recommendation
The ProForm Pro HIIT H14 mimics the movements of an elliptical and stair-stepper in a 10-inch vertical and 5-inch horizontal path, putting you on track for weight loss and strength gain. It features a broad range of intensity to accommodate anyone of any fitness level with it 26 digital resistance levels.
Although it is a heavy-grade machine, its price and compact footprint makes it perfect even for home use. It's smaller than the normal elliptical exercise machine but gives you the benefits of two exercises in one.
The Pro HIIT 14 also features a 14" smart touchscreen console that tracks and shows your progress. It even streams live iFIT workouts to keep you motivated throughout the exercise.
This checks all the boxes in terms of durability, functionality, design and price. Definitely one of the best machines to add to any gym or health facilities.
Stairs workout machines are built differently from each other, but all have the same goal -- to simulate the workout of walking or running up a set of stairs with the option to increase resistance and intensity for even better results. So, if you're looking to add excitement and variety to your fitness journey, make sure that you fit stairs workout machines into your upcoming gym routines!