A stair climber workout may seem to be an innocuous challenge, but if you have ever climbed more than three flights of stairs you will know just how effective a workout stair climbing can be. If you want to use a stair climber workout as part of your workout schedule you have two choices. You can either workout at home or in a tall building using real stairways, or you can go down your gym and use a “never ending stairway” or stair climbing machine. The question is are there any real benefits to stair climbing? We look at some of the basic facts and benefits here :
What Muscles Do These Machine Exercise?
The main muscle groups you are going to work when carrying out this type of workout are the leg muscles. The primary leg muscle used is the quadriceps on the front of the thigh. This muscle is the prime antagonist when it comes to lifting your body vertically up the steps and as a result takes the most punishment. The hamstring muscle at the back of the thigh and the calf muscles in the lower leg also play a role in the stepping and lifting action but their use is overshadowed by the quadriceps action.
Stepping up and lifting also require the use of the glutes and the hip flexors, and balance requires some core muscle use. The glutes carry a significant load and get a firm workout whereas the hip flexors and core muscles add stability and balance to the workout.
Do They Give You A Good Aerobic Workout?
If you think you are physically fit then the stair master or a stair climber workout can offer a re-education in your thinking. These workouts are intense! The glutes and thigh muscles are big muscle groups that can burn lots of energy quickly and restrict blood flow to the lower legs when contracted. This means your heart is going to get a good workout. When running or walking these muscles provide some general lift but mainly momentum, on a bike they just provide momentum. During stair climbing each leg effectively lifts your entire bodyweight during each action. That is big energy expenditure right there and big demand on your heart. If you want a cardio workout that will really push you the stair climber is for you.
How Many Calories Can I Burn On A Stair Climber?
Judging calories burned is always a very individual affair. Your energy expenditure during exercise depends on your age, height, weight, lean muscle mass development and the exertion you are using. Having said that the action of stair climbing puts loads of demands on your muscles and heart and is going to burn loads of calories as a result. The freedieting.com calories burned calculator can give you a pretty reasonable guestimate that allows you to compare stair climbing with other activities.
For myself, the calculator reckons I burn 343 calories in half an hour at a rigorous pace. This compares with myself running at 5mph on the flat for 30 mins or rowing vigorously for 30 mins. The data used in the calculator is supplied by the Arizona State University Compendium on Physical Activities so can be considered reasonable source data.
Any Good For Weight Loss?
Weight loss through exercise is all about burning off excess calories. Stair climbing is an arduous workout that can burn loads of calories. If weight loss is your goal then a stair climber can significantly contribute to achieving your goal. If you want to lose a pound of body fat it is generally recognised that you need to burn off 3500 calories above and beyond your daily required intake. At my figures it would take me two weeks using a stair climber workout for 30 minutes a day for five days a week. Of course I could accelerate the loss by running a calorie deficit diet at the same time.
Will You Build Muscle?
One of the key benefits of stair climbing workouts is that they can actually build muscle. Treadmill and elliptical work generally tones but does not add muscle as the action does not generate much body lift but mainly focuses on momentum generation. With stair climbing each leg has to physically raise your body weight with each exercise action, almost like doing one legged squats. A stair climber workout will add lean muscle and tone to the thighs and butt like no other workout without weights. Ladies if you want to tone your butt the stair climber is the place to be! Gents if you want more powerful thighs try a stair climber with a weighted vest!
Stair climber workouts are low impact, joints are unlikely to be damaged. Unlike running, you are not slamming your bodyweight down with each step from a height. You are lifting and placing on to a step so the joints are for the most part subject to far lower impact loads. Stair climbing won’t damage knees or hips whilst giving you a fantastic workout.
So are stair climbing workouts any good? Absolutely, if you want a cardio workout that tones legs and glutes and promotes lean muscle growth whilst burning calories with little to no impact this is the exercise for you. You will get better leg tone and strength than you could get on an elliptical and less impact than a treadmill. Just be sure you are really fit enough before you take on a stair climber workout or keep each workout short and build up your endurance over weeks.