What Muscles Does the Stair Stepper Work?
Walk up and down your own staircase about ten times and you will really feel how a stair stepper mimicking this movement can build and tone your leg muscles, giving them a wonderful shape. And it will definitely benefit your cardio vascular health.
I did this only last week because I had been sat at my desk for over four hours and because I have circulation problems, I knew I had been sat there a bit too long. I needed the exercise to flex my legs and to give my circulation system a good boost, to keep the fluid that builds up, away from my ankles. I had a DVT (blood clot) in my left leg a few years ago, so I must constantly consider my cardiovascular needs.
Anyway, when I had finished my stair walking, my legs ached from the top of my thighs to the bottom of my calve muscles. My buttocks ached, my quadriceps (front of the leg) burned from the lactic acid build up and my hamstrings felt like they had been stretched to their full extension.
Stair Stepping Exercises Without Using a Machine Have Lots of Benefits
Using your staircase as a completely free way to exercise your legs has some real advantages.
- You don’t have to leave the house
- It is free to use
- You don’t have to worry about other people watching you
- If your house-bound, you have a great piece of exercise equipment right at your finger tips
Before we get into the basics and advantages of exercising on a stepping machine, I want to give you a few simple exercises you can do on your staircase at home. It will cost you absolutely nothing and you will be surprised at home much your legs will really burn and benefit from this exercise.
I think this is a great idea in itself, because if you are not sure whether to buy a stair or mini stepper doing this type of exercise before hand will really help you decide if you want to go ahead and spend some money on a machine.
Stand at the bottom of your staircase and with your right foot, step up to the first step. Then when that foot is flat, move your left foot up to join it, but do not put it down on the step. Instead just tap your toe on the step, immediately returning it (left foot) back to the start position.
Repeat this about ten times, before repeating with your feet reversed so you are exercising your other leg. To increase the intensity, just walk up to the second, third of fourth steps (depending how much you advanced your leg strength and your cardio health) and then aim for twenty ‘reps’ instead of ten.
Exercise #2 – Staircase Lunges
There are two ways you can do this.
- Walk up your staircase taking two steps at a time. Unless you live in a block of apartments or a three storey house, you will have to walk back down stairs and start over again to carry on. Repeat this about ten times. Another version of this is to concentrate on one leg at a time – ten reps or two flights of your stair case with your right leg leading. Then repeat for the other leg.
- The second way is a little less intense and less stressful on your knees, depending if you use the first or second step. You can use either. So with your first leg, place your foot on the (first or second) step and lower your body down until your leading leg is bent as far as you can go without straining yourself. Repeat this about ten or more times, and swap legs and do the same for that leg.
Exercise #3 – Basic Stair Walking
I talked a bit about this in the first paragraph. Honestly, if you walk up and down your stairs until your tired – you will raise your heart rate significantly enough that you will need a glass of water to prevent the bead of sweat running off your forehead! Repeat this until you can’t do any more. Or do a combination of all three exercises for around fifteen minutes.
DO NOT OVER DO IT. Please remember that you are on a staircase when doing these exercises and to stop if you feel tired, dizzy or out of breath. You don’t want to fall from the top step because you got carried away.
The Stair Stepper Mimics this Movement
Firstly your upper thigh muscles (quadriceps) feel the movement. The job of your quadriceps is to extend the leg out straight at the knee.
Try this. Stand on one leg, while holding on to something or leaning against a wall for balance. Try squatting up and down a few times on this one leg and you will work this muscle group. Can you feel it? One leg squats are more of an advanced way to build strength and definition to your upper thighs, but if you already have strong legs, just give it a go.
The next group of muscles you will work on a stair stepper is your hamstrings, or leg biceps as they are also known. Their job is to bend your knee, working in opposition to the quadriceps.
Try this. You can even do this without getting out of you chair. Concentrate on tensing the backs of you legs as if bending your knee, and you will feel them tighten just slightly.
Now try this. Hold on to something and stand on one leg. On your leg which is hanging free, concentrate on your hamstring and really squeeze it tightly bringing your calve up as far as you can to meet your backside. Then release it back down to the floor. Repeat this a couple of times. Do you feel the backs of your legs aching, or even burning?
The Stair Stepper Also Works Deep Into Your Buttocks
The muscle group in your backside is called the gluteus Maximus or ‘glutes’ for short. Their job is to roll your hips back and forth, while you are flexing the quadriceps and the hamstrings.
Try this. With your back starting in the normal standing up straight position, bend at the waist keeping your legs straight to touch your toes (if you can) and on the return movement (from bent over, back to straight) squeeze your buttocks and you will feel them tighten more than you usually can just by standing in one upright position.
Ladies, this is a really great way to tighten and define your buttocks! You probably won’t feel them, but your hip flexors are also worked by the stair stepper. They attach your pelvis to your femur in your upper leg.
Your Calves Also Play a Major Role in the Stepping Movement
They lift the heel off the floor.
Try this. Stand with your tip toes on the edge of a step and work them by lifting your whole body up and down a few times. This is a traditional and really great way to strengthen and tone your calf muscles.
Does a Stair Stepper Burn Fat and How Many Calories Does This Exercise Burn?
We have talked about this a couple of times before, but it is really worth emphasizing again because a stair stepper of any type will give you a vigorous cardiovascular workout, as well as working the muscle groups described above. This is a positive for your overall health, because your heart is the most important muscle in your body.
You will burn hundreds of calories from fat, depending of course on how long you workout for and a few other things like your body weight and intensity level. For example, if you weigh one hundred and fifty pounds and you exercise fairly intensely, you will burn around six hundred calories.
As a general rule for life, you will burn calories and thus lose weight (whilst eating a healthy diet) with any type of exercise you perform. A lot of people don not understand the definition of exercising. When they think of it, it usually means (to them) that you have to go for a run or lift a heavy set of weights.
But this is simply not true, just walking to the local shop instead of hopping in the car is one great step you can take to lose weight, it saves you money to. A brisk walk for around thirty minutes a day is apparently defined as adequate exercise for any adult. But the more you do, obviously the better you will feel.
What is the Difference Between a Stair Stepper and an Elliptical Cross Trainer?
An elliptical (cross) trainer and a stair stepper will both give you an intense cardiovascular workout, it is just a matter of personal preference which one you feel more comfortable on. The difference between them is that the stair stepper uses a stepping motion like walking up a flight of stairs and the elliptical cross trainer mimics cross-training skiing.
A cross trainer is perhaps a little easier on the knees, but in my opinion the stair stepper is better for toning your legs while you shed calories. I have used plenty of cross trainers and never found my legs to burn as much as when I use a stepper.
Does a stepper have an advantage of walking up a flight of stairs? Yes, because most machines these days are designed to be low impact movements which means that the motion is a lot smoother, than when your food bangs down on the step or a staircase. You get a kind of gentle ‘bouncy’ feeling at the bottom of the movement.