Stair climbers are the unsung hero among the cardio machines. Thankfully, as their duality and major benefits come to light, stair climbers are coming out of the shadows—and if you know how to use one, you can do so to your advantage. Worried that you’ll get bored just step, step, stepping away? Don’t be. The stair climber is perfect for combating boredom, as you can switch it up whenever you want. Read on to see how you can mix up your stair climber workouts.
Take Cardio Up a Notch
Adding high intensity intervals makes an already heart-pounding workout even more so—not to mention, much more interesting. For a climbing HIIT routine that’ll get your heart pumping, try “One, Two, Thirty.” Just starting out? Go for “Raise the Bar.”
This minor variation is just what it sounds like. While you typically use this machine facing forward, this adjustment has you facing sideways. First, slow down your pace. Face the railing on your left and step onto the first stair with your right foot. Then, cross your left foot over your right and onto the next stair. Continue for three to five minutes and switch to the other side.
This move offers a higher range of motion for your legs and works those muscles a bit more, too. Step up with your left leg and raise your right knee straight up as your left leg straightens. Then, place your right leg down on the next step and raise your left knee. Repeat with each step. Add a small hop at the top to turn these high knees into a skip. As always, watch your balance!
You’re probably familiar with this warmup move—you know, the one where you jog in place and literally kick your butt with your heels. If you’re using the stair climber, you can easily lend this move to your routine, too. Take one step up with your left foot, then raise your right leg behind you (“kicking” your butt). Then, step forward with your right foot and raise your left leg behind you; repeat.
Build More Muscle
Attempt these only after you master box jumps and jump squats. Before starting the machine, stand on a stair like you would on flat ground before doing a squat—feet shoulder width apart. Start the machine at a slow pace; squat down and spring up, landing on the next step (or two, depending on how tall you are). Reduce any shock to your joints or knees by landing with your knees bent. Remember to keep your hands atop the rails in case you need to regain your balance.
Don’t worry, we’re not asking you to line dance on a stair climber. Typically, when you do the standard stair climber workout, you step up one stair at a time. In this variation, you step up two steps at a time. While stepping one at a time targets your quads, stepping two at a time works your glutes and hamstrings. Start off slow to get used to the larger steps.
This move, while similar to buttkickers, requires you to kick all the way back. Avoiding leaning forward while kicking and keep your upper body form as you usually would. This move challenges your balance, while toning like no other. Try it out in “All Around Glutes” and “Play Harder.” Don’t worry if your kick isn’t sky high. If you consistently stretch and add this into your workout, it’ll get higher.
Hitting this machine with the intent of burning that booty? Hit it with some crossovers. Pick up your left foot and place it where you would usually place your right foot on the next step, rather than straight forward. Once up on the step, step onto the next stair with your right foot and place it where you would usually place your left foot. Thus, each foot crosses over the other. Keep your hands close to the rails for balance and safety.
Want to tackle some upper body or increase the difficulty on your lower half? Add weights. This could be ankle weights or free weights. If you plan on including free weights, make sure you’re comfortable enough with the stair climber to not use the bars. Light weights and many reps (shoulder press, deltoid squeeze, bicep curl…) are recommended.
This modification is actually done with the machine off. Stand in front of the stair climber, facing sideways. Place your closest foot on the bottom stair and squat. Rise and repeat. While it may look a tad awkward, this deeper squat is a must between routines. Just remember to repeat facing the other direction. Want more difficulty? Place your foot on the second step; squat then stand, balancing on the leg that is on the step. Lift your other leg out to the side. Bring your kicking leg back in and repeat.
Standing Side Lunges
Just like standing squats, these side lunges should be performed with the machine off. Stand sideways to the staircase, two or three feet away (height depending). Put your closest foot on the bottom step and side lunge. Press up to balance on the foot that is on the step, kicking out to the side with your other leg. Bring your kicking leg back in and repeat.
Standing Split Squat
With the machine off, face away from the stairs; place the top of one foot on the second step from the bottom. Now, bend both knees to do a split squat. Stand and repeat, switching legs halfway through to even out both sides. To take it up a notch, bend your knees and jump with your front foot, landing softly.