There's a reason why most people shy away from taking the stairs at work, and why coaches across the country have their athletes sprinting up and down stadium steps: Climbing stairs is hard work for your heart and your muscles.
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The StairMaster, a pioneer brand in the stair-stepper exercise machine industry, mimics that stair-climbing motion. While exercising on the StairMaster has plenty of health benefits, it can only help you reduce belly fat by decreasing overall body fat.
The StairMaster can help you lose fat overall, not just from the abdominal area. It can be more or less effective, depending on your diet and workout regimen.
The Myth of Spot Reduction
Doing squats or lunges will not burn only leg fat. Doing 100 sit-ups won't specifically burn stomach fat. Targeting fat loss in a certain area of your body is impossible, and the StairMaster is no exception.
Read more: The 7 Principles of Fat Loss
As strength and conditioning coach Tom Kelso points out, training specific muscles, such as your abs, will make them stronger but will have a negligible impact in terms of fat loss. Unfortunately, spot reduction is just a myth.
While exercising on the machine can lead to fat loss, its health benefits are not specific to the belly. The only way to lose belly fat is to reduce your overall body fat through diet and exercise. The StairMaster can be an effective part of your workout plan. When combined with clean eating, its benefits are even greater.
Why Use the StairMaster?
Losing fat requires creating a caloric deficit with diet and exercise. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body turns to stored fat for energy. When the caloric deficit grows to 3,500, you lose about one pound of fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A 30-minute session on the StairMaster burns an average of 223 calories, a good start in your quest for fat loss. This machine also helps build muscle in your legs, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even while at rest.
Lose Fat With the StairMaster
To achieve fat loss, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic activity most days of the week. The StairMaster could account for some or all of your aerobic exercise.
Just because spot reduction on your belly is impossible, it doesn't mean you won't see results. Belly fat is often the last to go, but stepping on the StairMaster can speed up the process. For faster results, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) — it's one of the best ways to torch fat, especially around your waistline, according to a 2016 review published in Sports Medicine.
Set the StairMaster at low or moderate intensity for 30 seconds, increase the intensity for another 30 seconds and repeat. Do it for five to 20 minutes. Depending on your fitness level, you can incorporate sprints, double steps, side steps or reverse steps into your workout to get your heart pumping and burn more calories.
Use HIIT when you work out on the StairMaster. This workout method alternates between short, intense bursts of exercise and low-intensity training. It's a proven way to burn fat and improve your overall fitness while preserving lean mass.
A Word on Nutrition
The StairMaster and other aerobic exercises make up only half the fat-loss equation. If you're burning 223 calories each day from 30 minutes on the StairMaster, you'll need to reduce your daily food intake by 277 calories to set a fat-loss pace of a pound per week.
If you're eating more calories than your body can burn, your hard work on the StairMaster won't do a thing to budge your belly fat. Remember, diet and exercise are equally important. What you eat influences your metabolism as well as your ability to lose fat and maintain your physique.
- Harvard Health Publishing: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Breaking Muscle: Spot Reduction: One Final Attempt to Kill the Myth
- Mayo Clinic: Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight-Loss Basics
- SpringerLink: Sports Medicine: Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training on Total, Abdominal and Visceral Fat Mass