Hold onto the stair treadmill rails for safety and balance.
Stair treadmills offer powerful lower-body workouts that also ramp up your calorie burn by providing a potent cardiovascular exercise option. Unlike regular treadmills, stair treadmills have stairs that rotate at your chosen speed instead of a flat surface to walk or run on. This low-impact workout helps you burn calories while toning muscles throughout your legs and hips.
A stair treadmill builds muscle in your lower body, but it also provides an effective cardiovascular workout. This allows you burn calories, helping you slim down throughout your body, not just in your legs and hips. A 160-pound person can burn 657 calories an hour stepping on a stair treadmill, according to MayoClinic.com. In comparison, that same person can burn up to 314 calories in an hour walking briskly. Considered a low-impact workout, a stair treadmill can still put some pressure on your knees. Talk with your doctor to ensure the stair treadmill is right for your workout.
Getting Hips Into the Action
The constant motion of the stair treadmill keeps the muscles that support your hips engaged throughout your workout. Your gluteus muscles help raise and lower your legs with each step, as do your hip flexors in the front of your hips. These muscles contract to help pull up your thighs as you step up. To help you maintain balance, your abductor muscles, along the outside of your hips, kick in to add stability as your legs constantly shift position.
With safe speeds up to 120 steps per minute, the muscles in your thighs get quite a workout as they propel your body up each step. When you bend your knee and lift it onto the next step, you engage your hamstrings along the back of your thighs. Pushing down on the step to lift your body as you straighten, your knee gets power from the quadriceps in the front of your thighs.
Loving Those Lower Legs
Some stair climber machines, specifically those with pedals that your feet stay on throughout the workout, encourage you to stay on your toes as you exercise. On a stair treadmill, however, you must lift each foot and plant it firmly on the next step. Staying on your toes gives your calves a stronger workout, but it's not the safest way to use a stair treadmill. Instead, put your feet firmly on each step and push up through the heel. This still works the gastrocnemius and soleus in your calves as you move your ankles to point and flex your toes during the lifting and stepping movement. It also engages the shin muscle, the tibialis anterior.
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