Step into Summer
13 September 2018
You might bypass this piece of fitness equipment thinking it's just a set of boring, movable steps, but it turns out the stair-climber can actually offer up some serious gains.
It’s easy enough to use. You put one foot in front of the other as you would when you go up the stairs. But before walking right past this glorious piece of equipment, thinking it's not for you, ask yourself this… should I really give this thing a go?
Every step on the stair climber engages your calves, glutes, quads and hamstrings, so it’s a great way to target and tone your lower body just in time for summer. Keep your core engaged and your back upright to practise proper posture, this will ensure your lower body is getting the workout you want. In other words, don’t pull a Quasimodo on the steps.
Keep in mind, while the machine will burn calories and improve muscular endurance, it's a bodyweight exercise which means it’s not designed for you to skip leg day. It won't build the muscles in the same way that resistance training moves like weighted squats, deadlifts, or lunges will.
The stair-climber is also a smart choice if you're trying to tone up for summer. That’s because it utilises the largest and most metabolically active muscles in your body (your quads, hamstrings, glutes, core). By working these larger muscle groups, you’ll use more energy and speed up your metabolism. Because the stair climber is a combination of cardio and lower-body strength training, you’ll burn more calories during and after your workout then you would doing moderate intensity continuous training (MICT).
The stair-climber is also a great way to help you recover from an injury. While some people might prefer doing high intensity interval training (HIIT) on the machine, keeping the speed at an appropriate level for you means you could use the stair climber for exercise rehabilitation. Research published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development shows the machine was a useful tool to relieve low-back pain partially because it's so effective at activating the gluteal muscles. With the glutes being the largest muscle in the body, getting them working properly takes pressure off your lower back. Although, don’t forget that the stair-climber is literally a machine in which you climb stairs, so it may not be the way to go with a pre-existing knee injury.
If you want to jump in and see what all the fuss is about, don’t forget it’s also a great way to improve your posture. It seems to be a common occurrence that people lean forward when they’re walking up stairs, which means there’s a chance you’re going to do the same thing on the stair climber. Engage your core to support your lower back and drive through your heels to activate your glutes as you take each step.