Unless you need to steady yourself for a moment, don't hang on to the hand rails.
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Stair steppers are a popular piece of equipment found in most gyms. Made to simulate walking up flights of stairs, they feature two hydraulic foot pedals that can be adjusted to different levels of resistance. They are not to be confused with stair climbers, which feature a revolving set of stairs like a small escalator. Stair steppers are effective at building both strength and cardiovascular endurance. They target your quads, hamstrings, gluts, hips and calves. Before incorporating a stair stepper into your workout routine, learn the best stair stepping methods.
It is important to warm up before doing any strenuous activity. This will prevent injuries. Because muscles are usually tight before a workout, they may be pulled or torn if not warmed up properly. Do a dynamic warm-up instead of static stretching. A dynamic warm-up may include five minutes on an elliptical, stretching while walking and jumping around. A proper warm-up also increases the flexibility of your muscles, which helps support good exercise form. For best results, use static stretching at the end of your workout as a cool down.
Stair steppers are fairly simple and easy to use. Push your legs down against the pedals in a controlled rhythm. Allow each pedal to go down as far as possible. This will allow you to step with a full range of motion. Stand straight up and avoid leaning on the handrails, because it will reduce the intensity of your workout. While stepping, keep your hips, knees and toes pointed forward. If you have not performed cardiovascular exercise for a long period of time, start with low-intensity stepping.
Time & Frequency
MayoClinic.com suggests at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise or 75 minutes a week of high intensity cardiovascular exercise. When performing cardiovascular exercise on a stair stepper, aim for 30 minutes per day. If you want even more health benefits, perform up to 300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per week.
Different resistance levels provide different benefits. A low resistance level will allow you to step faster and is best for developing endurance. A high resistance level will make you step slower and is best for developing strength. If you are new to stair steppers, start with a moderate resistance level.