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Tips on Using the Stairmaster

by
author image Marie Mulrooney
Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. A retired personal trainer, former math tutor, avid outdoorswoman and experience traveler, Mulrooney also runs a small side business creating custom crafts. She's published thousands of articles in print and online, helping readers do everything from perfecting their pushups to learning new languages.
Tips on Using the Stairmaster
A stairmaster machine in a gym. Photo Credit XiXinXing/iStock/Getty Images

The term "Stairmaster" may refer to a stair climbing machine with two pedals, or another exercise machine that resembles a short, never-ending escalator. The latter machine is also called a stepmill; Stairmaster produces both types of equipment. Both types of Stairmasters work your hamstrings, glutes, quads and calves. You'll get the most benefit out of using either Stairmaster if you focus on proper technique.

Work Out for at Least 10 Minutes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. That works out to 30 minutes of moderate exercise or 15 minutes of vigorous exercise every weekday. Keep track of how long you work out on the Stairmaster; if your workout lasted 10 minutes or more at a moderate or vigorous intensity, it counts toward your total exercise quota for the day. Adjust your the stepper's intensity level until your heart rate goes up and you break a sweat, and you've reached a moderate intensity. If you step so fast that you breathe hard and fast and can only get a few words out at a time, you're working out vigorously.

Stand up Straight

Some Stairmasters have handles, some have handrails, and some have both. Hold onto the handles or handrails for balance if you must, but don’t lean your body weight on them. Not only does leaning over encourage poor posture, it also reduces the benefit you get out of the workout since you’re not supporting your entire weight, and thus not putting forth as much effort. If you can’t possibly keep up with the Stairmaster's current speed without leaning over, slow it down or reduce the intensity level to something you can manage with proper form.

Input Your Weight

Do input your weight accurately if the Stairmaster prompts you to do so. This information will help it better estimate how many calories you burn as you work out. No shirking; being heavier is actually an advantage, in some ways, because you burn more calories during any given activity than a lighter person does. You might also be prompted to enter your age. This helps the Stairmaster make more accurate heart rate calculations.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Do take five to 10 minutes to warm up at the beginning of your Stairmaster workout. Adjust the intensity level to half or less the intensity level of your usual workout. Think of it as walking up the imaginary flight of stairs slowly instead of trying to jog. Although this might seem like wasted time the warm-up still burns calories but, more importantly, gives your body time to adapt to the demands you’re about to place on it. A warm-up literally raises your body temperature and increases blood flow to your muscles, increasing your performance and reducing your risk of injury. Once the warm-up is over, adjust the Stairmaster back to your normal intensity level and push yourself as usual.

After the workout, reduce the intensity level again and take another five to 10 minutes of slow, gentle stair climbing to cool down. This cool-down period may help reduce soreness, stiffness, and further reduce your risk of injury.

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