Stepping Up! Are Stair Climbers a Good Workout?

Have you ever seen professional sports players running up and down stadium stairs? Stairs are often forgotten about when it comes to exercise. Sure, some people choose them over taking the lift, but few use them as part of their main workout.

In this post, we are going to change the way you look at the stairs and encourage you to use them in your next training session.

Vertical Climber
Vertical climbers are machines that work legs and arms at the same time.Shown: Sportstech Vertical Climber, Amazon

What are stair machines good for?

A stepper and climber machine is an all-in-one that combines the motion of going up stairs with the vertical movement of climbing (like mountain climbing or bouldering). Steppers, as they are often known, use your body weight to deliver an effective full-body cardio workout – and it really is effective!

How many calories do steppers burn?

Do you know how many calories a person can burn simply walking upstairs at a moderate pace? In 30 minutes a 125lb person burns 180 calories, a 155lb person burns 223 calories, and a 185 person burns 266 calories. On a stepper, however, you can burn even more.

A light 30-minute session on the stepper burns around 210, 260, and 311 calories for a 125lb, 155lb person, and a 185lb person respectively. A heavy duty 30-minute session burns 300, 372, and 444 calories for a 125lb, 155lb person, and a 185lb person respectively.

The great thing about the stepper is that, even though the calorie burn results are intense, it offers a low impact exercise for the joints. This makes it suitable for everyone, including seniors, beginners and people recovering from injury.

Stepper With Bands
Above – Mini Aerobic Stepper, Amazon UK

What muscles does a stair stepper target?

Now that we have got the numbers out of the way, it is time to think about the other health benefits that steppers offer. In relation to the lower body, this exercise targets your hips, thighs, lower leg muscles, and your glutes.

One of the main aesthetic changes people report noticing is a tighter and higher bum (we never asked whether this was on themselves or other people!).

However, for older people or those recovering from injury, this can make a real difference to mobility and improve their quality of life.

Are steppers good for core muscles?

For the upper body, using the climbing handles properly by gripping and pulling them down as you move works out your core. A strong core enhances flexibility, improves balance, enhances posture, and protects against back pain.

On some models, the handles are extendable resistance bands. The action performed is therefore different, but the benefits to your core are the same. On both models, your lower abs will also be engaged as you keep your balance.

Are steppers good for weight loss?

Stepper with Handles
Above: HomCom Stepper with Handles, Amazon UK

Steppers deliver a comprehensive full-body workout that will blast through fat in-session and create a more toned physique over time. If you are working out to lose weight, it is important to build muscle too because the body uses more calories to build and preserve muscle than it does to simply store fat.

This increases your metabolic rate so you will burn more calories at rest, thus speeding up your weight loss. Moreover, as the fat strips away, the tone and definition of muscle mass creates a healthier and more attractive physique.

People who do not train their muscles can lose weight, but they never get rid of that ‘soft’ look that comes with being nothing but skin, bone and a layer of fat.

Main Benefits of stepper exercise machines

Regularly engaging in cardio exercises strengthens the heart and blood vessels and helps to protect against disease, including heart attacks and strokes. We have discussed the benefits of cardio before, so we will not go into any more detail here, but there is another aspect of cardio fitness that we think is really important to draw attention to right now – lung capacity.

The heavier breathing we do during cardio sessions trains the lungs and increases their capacity. With COVID-19 spreading rapidly, we all need to be more conscious of our respiratory health.

We are not saying that a few cardio sessions a week will give you full protection but keeping your lungs in good order lowers your risk profile for developing a more aggressive form of the illness should you catch it (although there are no guarantees).

Keeping it fresh: Stepper workout ideas

One final point about steppers is they offer a good workout but it is a fairly repetitive one, so we recommend having some entertainment available.

You can also take part in a Youtube video workout. Just search for stepper workouts or stair climber workouts. You’ll find an endless list of HIIT and other kinds of training to keep things fresh. Beginner and advanced. These workouts are free and you can get them on your phone or tablet.

The machines themselves are lightweight and easy to set up, so you could move yours into the sitting room and watch television while you exercise. Alternatively, use a tablet or put on a good podcast to keep your mind busy.

Final thoughts: Are home steppers any good?

What is particularly good about the lower body strengthening that steppers offer is that they train the muscles you use in everyday life. For some people, being able to run up a flight of stairs with ease will just be a nice boost that lets them know their sessions are working.

Home steppers and mini steppers are a simple, affordable way to burn off calories and tone up your body. The vertical climbers are definitely recommended if you have room, as they use more of your upper body and are easier to use in general. Youll also burn a lot more calories on the vertical ones.

References & Further Reading

Tom Armstrong

Hey! I've been training in all kinds of places, with all kinds of equipment for the best part of 30 years. I love training with my weights at home and writing about new products and training methods online. Well, with a name like Armstrong, I would have to be into training, right?

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