When it comes to walking for fitness, the StairMaster is a great tool for taking your cardio workouts up a level - literally!
If you've tried this machine before, you know it's different than the standard cardio machines - it's a challenging workout that works your lower body and leaves you sweating. But are you making the most out of your StairMaster sessions?
If you're ready to transform your StairMaster workouts from boring to brilliant, keep reading. We've got you covered with expert tips and tricks to help you conquer those stairs and maximize your results on the StairMaster!
How to Properly Use the StairMaster
Getting the most benefits from any exercise requires proper form and execution. Although it's not using heavy weights, the StairMaster is no exception. Having poor form while on the StairMaster could result in targeting the wrong muscle groups and increase your risk of injury.
Maintain Good Posture.
Engage your back muscles to maintain a straight spine. When you lean or hunch over, you are putting more strain on your back instead of your glutes and hamstrings (not to mention that you probably are putting a portion of your body weight on the machine.)
It is ok to hinge forward at the hips slightly to engage your glutes more, but be sure to keep your spine straight!
Don't Hold On.
Although this machine will get you moving, it's not going anywhere. Holding on for dear life isn't helping your body work any harder. If you feel off-balance, lightly grasp the side until you feel steady - don't rely on it to keep you upright.
Ultimately, holding on will reduce the load off your body and reduce the effectiveness of your StairMaster workout.
Stay Off the Top Stair.
It can be tempting to stay near the top of the StairMaster to avoid slipping too far down the machine, but when you stand closer to the top, you sacrifice half of the stepping motion. Stay near the middle of the StairMaster so you are able to stop down on your whole foot, fully activate your glutes and quads, and use the full range of motion to activate more of those lower body muscles.
4 Tips to Maximize Your Results on the StairMaster
Use Intervals to Vary the Intensity.
You've probably heard of using intervals on the treadmill, but you can translate the benefits of interval training to the stairs too. There are pre-programmed interval workouts you can use in the machine, but you can also follow your own StairMaster interval workout like this:
- Start with a 10-minute warm-up to get your muscles warm, and your heart rate up.
- Begin 10-15 minute intervals where you increase your speed for 1 minute and drop the speed for a 1-minute recovery.
- Then finish with a slow, 5 to 10-minute cooldown.
Skip Stairs to Target New Muscles.
Once you are comfortable on the StairMaster, take your workout to the next level and try skipping a step. By taking bigger steps, the same stepping motion will target more muscles in the glutes and upper thighs. The more muscles you get involved in your workout, the more calories you'll burn, and the more effective it will be in helping to reach your fitness goals!
Walking forward on the StairMaster targets more of your glutes and hamstring. By turning around and walking on the StairMaster backward, you work more muscles in your quads. This is great for breaking up the monotony of climbing stairs for 30 minutes.
You can also try cross-over steps by turning to the left or the right to help hit your abductors, stabilizing core muscles and your glute medius.
Monitor Your Heart Rate.
Heart rate training (although not an exact science) measures how hard your heart is working to help you gauge how much effort you're putting into a workout. Working within a specific heart rate can help you avoid training too hard, which is a great way to control and track your exercise intensity as you go. Take note of how your body is reacting during the workout. As your body becomes more conditioned, you'll see your recovery time will get shorter, and your heart rate will lower.
Now you're ready to take a step in the right direction for reaching your fitness goals (literally!) Remember, to get the most out of your workouts on the StairMaster, you need to start with perfecting your form. Then you can incorporate intervals, a change in the direction you are stepping, and more!
Let's get to work on those Summer fitness goals ASAP. Grab a free 21-day trial pass at O2 Fitness Clubs and get started today!