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Stairmaster workouts are a great way to get the most out of your workout time. Not only do they burn more calories than other cardio equipment, but they also offer you an opportunity to challenge yourself in ways that other cardio machines can’t. Stairmasters are designed to simulate walking, so they allow you to work out without putting too much pressure on your joints or feet. The best part? When done properly, stairmaster workouts can burn more calories than running!
Best Stairmaster Workout For Weight Loss
Stair climbing has been a workout option for a long time. For years, soccer players and other athletes jogged up and down the steps in their stadiums.
And one of the most inspiring moments in the classic movie “Rocky” was a shot of the boxing hero running up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with plenty of energy to spare at the top.
But rather than rely only on the steps in your home or out in the elements for a good stair-climbing workout, you can get those same benefits from a Stairmaster.
This fitness center staple has been around since the 1980s, but the technology has improved steadily. Features such as a heart rate monitor and calorie-burning calculator have been added through the years.
What is it?
In simple terms, a Stairmaster is a stationary fitness machine that rotates steps, similar to a treadmill, allowing the user to climb upward at the speed and duration he or she sets. It can provide an above-average cardio workout, while also toning lower-body muscles, especially the:
Stairmaster is a go-to cardio exercise machine for many people, as it offers an assortment of possible workouts that incorporate a variety of muscle groups. If you’re looking to slim down your hips and thighs fast, the Stairmaster is a great choice.
There are many variations of Stairmaster exercises that focus on the lower body. However, the best ones for losing back fat incorporate planks and other upper body movements to help you tone your arms, chest and back.
best stairmaster workout for glutes
Here’s a look at the five best exercises:
1) Single Step up
The stair machine is a great way to tighten your butt and thighs. All you have to do is go down then up on the stairs like you would on an escalator.
Here’s how you do it:
- Set your speed to a brisk walk, and press ‘start’.
- Your workout will be done when you’ve taken 10-20 steps up and walked back down the stairs.
- Go in a straight line, keeping your chest high, and don’t go up or down more than four steps at a time.
2) Skip a Step
After you get the hang of the stairclimber, try doing every other step. That will build strength in your hamstrings and give you a more intense cardio workout. Don’t overdo it, though. Start at a slow pace if you’re having trouble doing this move.
If you want to target your glutes, try skipping steps when you climb stairs. The more muscles you engage in your workout, the more calories you’ll burn. If you want to try this approach, start slowly. Concentrate on methodically climbing stairs while maintaining your balance before increasing your speed.
3) Side Step
Adding the Bum Steer Hip Lift (turn to right or left) to your Stairmaster routine will target your glutes and help your knees and lower back stabilisers. Take it slow the first few times you try it so that you don’t fall over while doing this exercise.
Here’s how you do it:
- Stand on your right leg, and pivot to the left away from the wall.
- Step your right foot behind you, and lift both arms high up towards the ceiling.
- Breathe out as you pull your right knee towards the chest by bending your right knee.
- Breathe in as you untwist back down to starting position. Repeat with your left foot leading.
4) Backward Climb
When you walk backwards on a Stairmaster, you activate your glutes and hamstrings more than when you walk forwards. To get used to this new feeling, start at a low speed. This isn’t something you do every day, so you’ll need to practise it first.
To do that, turn around, and walk up the steps with your heels leading instead of your toes. Walking backward isn’t something you do every day, so it’ll take some practice. This move helps you balance out your leg day workout, as it activates the hamstrings, calves and quads more than regular walking does.
5) Alternating Kickback
Anyone who has spent time with resistance band bodyweight workouts knows how to do this move.
When you’re on a step and using the momentum to jump higher, try this variation. Lift your rear foot up behind you till it’s almost parallel to the floor; put it back on the step. Go slowly so that you can get used to balancing and lifting your leg up behind you.
Proper Form on Stairmaster
To get the most out of your stair climbing routine, make sure you use proper form. A Stairmaster or other stair climbing machine is great for working your glutes and calves but not so much your abs. Keep your chest lifted, and straighten your back at all times while using the machine.
When using a Stairmaster or other stair-climbing machine, pay attention to your posture. Lift your chest, and keep a straight back without bending over.
Relax your grip on the handrails as much as possible, and only use them to catch yourself if you begin to fall backwards. That’ll make it more of a challenge, which means you’ll burn more calories, and gain muscle in your glutes and abs.
Stairmaster workout for beginners
Don’t be worried to try out the aforementioned Stairmaster exercises. Whether you’re doing these workouts in the gym or on your own at home with your personal stair master machine, the end result will still be the same: toned and firm glutes.
For more effective results, as mentioned above, try increasing your incline so that your heart rate increases more, or try increasing the number of reps and sets. Just remember: the key to this routine is to not only perform these routines nearly every day but to make sure you never miss a step.
Benefits of Using a Stairmaster
Let’s look at a dozen health benefits of using a StairMaster and why it might be worth climbing aboard during your next workout.
Using a StairMaster provides benefits from head to toe. If you’re normally a runner or walker, stair climbing can be a good change of pace in your exercise regimen.
1. Aerobic conditioning
Stair climbing strengthens the heart and lungs — the keys to aerobic fitness. Stronger lungs allow you to breathe in more oxygen, and a healthier heart can pump oxygen-rich blood more efficiently to all your muscles and organs.
2. Calorie burning
The StairMaster is an efficient and effective tool in losing weight or managing your current weight. A half-hour workout on the StairMaster can burn anywhere from 180 to 260 calories — or more — depending on your body weight and intensity of the workout.
A faster “climb” will burn more calories than a slower session. A 180-pound person tends to burn more calories than a 125-pound person doing the same workout.
Most StairMaster machines come with calorie-burning calculators, which estimate the number of calories burned with each workout based on your current weight.
In addition to cardio benefits, StairMasters can strengthen and tone your body, which is also good for your bones.
3. Core muscle strength
Because using a StairMaster requires you to keep your balance the entire time you’re climbing and pumping your legs, it also gives your core muscles a workout. Stronger core muscles help improve posture, prevent lower back pain, and reduce the risk of injury.
4. Healthier bones
Weight-bearing exercises, such as climbing stairs, can help reduce your risk for osteoporosis, and treat it if you already have it. Bones are living tissue, and climbing stairs helps increase bone mass. This is especially important as you get older, because natural bone loss tends to increase as you age.
5. Stronger quadriceps
The quadriceps femoris is a group of four muscles in the front of the thigh. These muscles are essential for walking, running, and just standing up from a sitting position. The quads extend or straighten the knee, so each time you push off from one step to the next you’re strengthening these large, important muscles.
6. Stronger hamstrings
The hamstrings are the three muscles in the back of the thigh that work in conjunction with the quads. They help bend the knee, so they’re also critical to walking, running, and sitting down. Each time you bend your knee to take another step up, the hamstrings are doing much of the work.
7. Stronger calves
Like the other muscles in your legs, your calves allow you to run, walk, and jump, while also being essential to maintaining your balance while standing. Your calves contract every time you lift your heel to take a step.
When climbing, whether it’s on a StairMaster, your front steps, or up a hill, your calves have to work hard to keep lifting your heels step after step.
8. Stronger glutes
The gluteus maximus muscles are located in the buttocks, and are some of the strongest muscles in the body. Their main function is to move the hips and thighs, so climbing stairs is a task that relies heavily on strong glutes.
Aside from the cardio and strength benefits, using the StairMaster is good for a few other things, including mental health.
9. Knee pain relief
Strengthening the knee reduces stress on the joint, which can help reduce pain if you have osteoarthritis. Using a StairMaster is considered low-impact exercise compared with the pounding, high-impact consequences of running on a hard surface.
10. Positive vibes
As you climb stairs your body releases endorphins, which are “feel-good” brain chemicals that boost your mood and reduce your stress levels. You may feel a little exhausted at the end of a StairMaster workout, but you should feel good about the work you put in.
Like treadmills, a StairMaster has a variety of settings to mix up your workouts. You can program the number of minutes you want to exercise. So if you’re just starting out, you can set the machine to go for 5 or 10 minutes and work up from there.
Some StairMaster products even come with built-in computer screens that display famous landmarks to make it seem like you’re climbing up structures like the Eiffel Tower.
12. It’s only up from here
Unlike climbing an actual staircase, which requires a return walk down the stairs, a StairMaster keeps you moving up all the time. This is helpful because walking down stairs is much tougher on your knees. The tissue and fluid you use as “brakes” take a greater toll on the joints with every downward step.
Because using a StairMaster provides a great cardio workout while also strengthening the main muscle groups in the lower body, you’re really getting two workouts in the time it takes to do one. As a result, it will take you less time to see and feel the results of your new exercise routine.
For better heart health, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes per weekTrusted Source of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. That means five 30-minute sessions on the StairMaster at a reasonable speed each week. Within a week or two you should also start to feel your legs getting stronger and more toned.
If you haven’t exercised regularly, try it out for 5 or 10 minutes the first few days and see how you feel. Then add to your time and increase the speed as your workouts get easier.
A note about weight loss
If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help reduce your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood glucose levels, as well as take some of the burden off your joints. But an exercise routine that includes aerobic exercise and strength training is best for weight loss and overall fitness.
A StairMaster accomplishes both of those goals. However, including stretching exercises, upper-body weight training, and a mix of sports and exercises will keep things interesting for you mentally and physically.
Watching your calorie intake and eating a well-balanced diet packed with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, while limiting your consumption of added sugars and saturated fats, are also keys to losing weight and keeping it off.
The bottom line
If you’ve never used a StairMaster, take the time to work with a trainer at your local fitness center, or someone who can help you use the equipment safely. You can find a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise in your community.
Using a StairMaster is a relatively simple exercise, so you won’t need a lot of training or supervision. And if you find you can use one safely and on a consistent basis, you may be quite pleased with the energy boost you feel from improved fitness.
Stairmaster Hiit Workout
The Stairmaster is similar to a treadmill, except it features revolving stairs at a high grade.
Now, if you’ve ever decided to take the stairs instead of riding the elevator up more than a flight or two, you know how deceivingly intense just walking up stairs can be.
That intensity is just one of the amazing benefits of the Stairmaster.
Why You Should Do a Stairmaster Workout
Read on to see why you need to stop the treadmill and switch to the Stairmaster for your HIIT cardio workouts.
1. Serious Fat Burn
As we know (or have at least heard), working out on the Stairmaster is intense.
When used as a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, this intensity is increased even more, setting up the perfect environment for serious fat burn.
Unlike low-intensity, steady-state cardio workouts (like most typical treadmill workouts), HIIT has been proven to burn fat more effectively than any other type of workout.
This is because high-intensity exercise creates chemical and structural changes to your DNA that increases your number of fat-burning proteins. And of course, the more fat-burning proteins you have, the more efficient your body is at using fat as a fuel source, rather than storing it.
Not only that, but high-intensity workouts also boost the release of hormones (including growth hormone), leading to greater muscle growth and fatty acid mobilization.
Perhaps the best effect of HIIT workouts – like those we can get with the Stairmaster – is their ability to create a nifty little side effect called “afterburn.”
Officially termed excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (or EPOC for short), afterburn is defined as the number of calories you burn following a workout, rather than during. And nothing creates a bigger afterburn than HIIT workouts.
Why is this?
To put it simply, after a workout your body works to restore your oxygen levels to normal, clear lactic acid buildup from your muscles, and return your body temperature to normal, among other things.
All of these actions require calories. So in essence, the harder you exercise, the harder your body has to work (or more calories it has to burn) to recover.
Burning major calories even when you’re not working out? Who doesn’t want that?
2. Sculpts Your Stems
Don’t let all of this cardio talk fool you. Once you hop on the Stairmaster, you’ll realize what a powerful lower body workout you’re in for.
The stair motion is similar to that of a step-up on a box, which engages your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves to push your bodyweight up and forward.
The great thing is that by changing your angle of walking up the stairs, or by “skipping a step,” as you’ll see below, you can target different areas of the legs and glutes, so you get some versatility in your workout as well.
3. Low-Impact, High-Intensity
If you’ve been avoiding adding HIIT to your workout routine due to the belief that all intense exercises are high impact (running, plyometrics, etc…), the Stairmaster might be a way to increase your workout intensity without causing pain.
Walking on the Stairmaster doesn’t involve bouncing or jumping, which allows you to get your heart rate up without jolting your knee joints.
4. Beats Cardio Boredom
Another amazing aspect of doing a HIIT workout on the Stairmaster is the fact that you’ll be in and out of the gym in under 30 minutes.
In fact, if you’re only doing the Stairmaster workout below, you’ll be out in a mere 15 minutes!
And the best part?
You’ll be burning more fat and seeing better results than you would have if you had spent an hour slowly jogging on the treadmill.
One study showed that three-minute HIIT intervals repeated five or six times created the same muscle and cell adaptations as a steady-state workout lasting 90 to 120 minutes.
A year later, the same group revealed through an additional study that HIIT is more effective at burning fat than steady-state cardio.
During the second study, one group performed aerobics while the other started a HIIT regime. At the end of the study, researchers found that the aerobics group burned 48 percent more calories per session than the HIIT group, but the HIIT group burned 900 percent more fat over the 15 weeks than the first group burned in 20 weeks.
This effect occurs due to the “afterburn” effect, as well as the DNA changes HIIT induces that I mentioned above.
Do These 4 HIIT Stairmaster Variations
Still wondering if the Stairmaster is a good workout? You won’t have any questions about that after you complete this workout.
Before you get started, check out some of the climbing variations this workout calls for, so you can make sure you’re doing them correctly during your intervals.
Here’s an important thing to keep in mind: try not to hang on to the handrails too heavily, as that takes away the intensity of the workout. If you find that you need to lean on the handrails, slow the machine down so you can use proper form.
“Sprinting” on the Stairmaster doesn’t necessarily mean flying up the stairs the way you would during a sprint on the ground. The intensity of the stairs, even when increased to just a fast-paced walk, will be enough to feel like sprinting at first, especially if you’re a beginner.
As a general rule, a sprint on the Stairmaster (as with any other work portion of a HIIT workout) should be the speed at which you feel you’re giving at least 75 percent effort. You shouldn’t be able to carry a conversation and your heart rate should be high. Tailor the “sprint” to your individual fitness level based on this.
2. Side Step
The side step involves turning your body to one side and shuffling up the steps. It’s great for working the outer hips and glutes.
Be sure to hold on to the middle railing and turn the speed down so you can comfortably climb sideways. You will alternate climbing sides during the workout. Also, be sure you aren’t stepping only on your toes – try to make sure your heels are also touching the stair treads.
3. Double Steps
Taking double steps, or skipping a step, is another way to up the intensity of the Stairmaster without sprinting. Simply skip a stair with each step you take – your glutes and hamstrings will love you for it!
4. Reverse Step (Optional)
The reverse step is essentially walking backwards up the Stairmaster. This is an optional exercise, and I wouldn’t really recommend it until you’re used to the feel of the Stairmaster (no falling off, please!).
However, if you feel up to it, the reverse step puts extra emphasis on your glute and hamstring muscles. You will want to slow down the pace of the machine before you do these, and have your hands near the rail in case you need to catch yourself.
The Stairmaster HIIT Workout
As always, don’t forget to warm up with a 5- to 10-minute dynamic warmup consisting of bodyweight lunges, leg swings, and jogging in place before hopping on the stairs.
Perform this workout twice a week for best results. Lengthen the “slow climb” intervals and/or shorten the sprint intervals if you find yourself unable to complete the workout.
Perform three rounds of this HIIT circuit for a total of 15 minutes. Rest for one minute between rounds.
- Interval One: Slow Climb (45 seconds)
- Interval Two: Double Steps (25 seconds)
- Interval Three: Slow Climb (45 seconds)
- Interval Four: Side Steps (60 seconds – 30 seconds on each side)
- Interval Five: Sprint (25 seconds)
- Interval Six: Slow Climb (45 to 60 seconds)
- Interval Seven: Double Steps (25 seconds)
- Interval Eight: Slow Climb (45 seconds)
- Interval Nine: Sprint (25 seconds)
- Rest one minute
Old-School Stairmill HIIT Combo
If you’re looking for a simpler version of this Stairmaster HIIT workout without any fancy footwork, try doing just the slow climb (45 to 60 seconds) followed by the sprint (20 to 30 seconds) for a total of 15 to 20 minutes.
You can also play around with which two variations you use, such as doing double steps in place of sprints, or even side steps in place of sprints.
Pace Yourself For Results
Just remember: if these routines are pretty intense, you’re doing them right.
Again, it’s important not to shy away from intensity during HIIT workouts (or any workout for that matter), because in the end it’s intensity that brings results.
This is one of the reasons I love the Stairmaster as a tool for HIIT workouts: it’s close to impossible not to get an intense workout once you get on.
Give it a try – I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the results!
Burn More Fat in Less Time
Looking for more ways to boost your fat-burning? Try my Speed Burst Workout!
It’s a follow-along interval cardio workout that’s designed to burn more fat while improving your cardio endurance. And it only takes 5 minutes!