Most of us who are even remotely fitness inclined have a favorite type of workout or a favorite piece of fitness equipment for accomplishing our goals. One piece of equipment which may reside quietly in the corner of your gym is the Stairmaster Stepmill. Its benefits are astounding and it will make you sweat.
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The idea for an exercise mimicking the physical movements of climbing stairs was born in 1983 by Lanny Potts. He called it the Stairmaster Stepmill, which is now owned by Nautilus, Inc. The Stepmill closely mimicked actual stair climbing motions with an escalator-style platform instead of individual pedals, which models began to sport soon thereafter.
The lower body most benefits in strength gain from stairstepping. The Stepmill has adjustable speed and resistance. Using it requires simple balance, but significant strength. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and gluteal muscles are trained by lots of repetitions, which is known for building lean muscle and burning fat. Additionally, increasing the resistance of each stepping motion adds challenge. Core muscles are engaged by keeping your balance, which is more challenging on the Stepmill than other similar equipment.
The Stepmill is great for cardiovascular exercise due to its ability to raise your heart rate almost immediately. The level you set dictates workout intensity, but even at the lowest levels the heart is definitely getting a workout. Oneshot Fitness, a commercial fitness equipment provider, calls Stairmasters “one of the toughest cardiovascular machines on the globe.”
The Stepmill makes the user work hard without being hard on the user. The stepping motion incurs less impact than a treadmill, but with higher cardiovascular results. The thoughtfully designed handrails provide a safe grip should a misstep occur, but don't allow you to cheat by leaning on them. The actual stepping motion forces the foot to remain mostly flat while climbing, versus the pedal format, which does not require the foot to leave the pedal. The stepping motion uses nearly every leg muscle.
Though the concept of stair climbing itself is basic to most of us, the Stepmill offers significantly more advanced options. The user can reap additional balance benefits by performing climbing backwards or laterally. Elite athletes have been known to add further challenge by stepping with weights strapped to their backs. Endurance is improved by consistently increasing the levels of speed and resistance on the Stepmill.