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Easy StairMaster Workout

Say Hello to the Perky Booty You're About to Have, Thanks to This Easy StairMaster Workout

Let's start with a confession. I haven't been on a StairMaster in probably two decades. True story. But I used to crush it in college. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and no one had heard of wheat grass shots or keto diets. I graduated, time passed, and my workouts changed, as did the available equipment (and fitness trends). And I left the StairMaster back with my Spice Girls and No Doubt CDs. That is until this week, when I hopped back on and tried to find my climbing legs again. I didn't have to fight for a machine — especially compared with all the fancy, state-of-the-art machines in the gym that seem less, shall we say, old fashioned? I know that the StairMaster may not be your first pick in your shiny fancy gym routine. But here's why both of us have been missing out.

The premise is simple. Start the machine, set the pace, and lift one foot after another as the steps revolve underneath you. Simple, yes. Challenging? Hell. Yes. Once you get about two to three minutes in, you begin to think, "This was a huge mistake. This is really hard!" After the realization that this will be no joke, your initial plan of cranking out 45-60 minutes turns into a gut-busting 10. And that's OK. So what is it about the StairMaster that turns a basic move into major effort? One word: elevation.

Treadmills, ellipticals, and striders put one foot in front of the other, but unless you add incline on a treadmill, you aren't LIFTING that foot and planting it above the other. Repeatedly. That extra effort requires greater muscle recruitment paired with a much bigger cardiovascular commitment. Your glutes, hamstrings, and quads work on pulling your body weight up, while your calf muscles lift and stabilize as you move forward. That's why three minutes on a StairMaster feels like a hike up a steep mountain. And unlike a treadmill, there is no leveling off, only slowing down, so it is relentless.

If you are just getting into a fitness routine, don't let the work intimidate you. Like anything else, you'll build tolerance. Start small, with 10-15 minutes of work, then add more in five-minute increments until you reach 30-40 minutes. Once you have the time down, you can increase your speed threshold. Try this 11-minute workout, adjusting the speed and/or length of the workout to suit your own level of fitness. There are some footwork variations included that you can skip until you feel comfortable on the machine. Want to make it harder? Try climbing hands free or adding in small hand weights. You'll reach your fitness goals, one step at a time.

Time Action Level
2 minutes Warmup 3-5
30 seconds Forward Climb 5-8
30 seconds Side Step Right* 5-10
30 seconds Side Step Left 5-10
30 seconds Forward Climb 5-10
1 minute Forward Climb 8-12
15 seconds High Knee Climb** 8-12
15 seconds Forward Climb 8-12
15 seconds High Knee Climb 8-12
15 seconds Forward Climb 8-12
1 minute Forward Climb 6-10
15 seconds High Knee Side Step Right 8-12
15 seconds High Knee Side Step Left 8-12
15 seconds High Knee Side Step Right 8-12
15 seconds High Knee Side Step Left 8-12
1 minute Forward Climb 6-10
1 minute Rear Leg Lift, 30 seconds each side 4-5
1 minute Cool Down 3-5

*Turn your body toward the left side of the machine, feet at 45-degree angle, and lift the right foot to the step above. Follow immediately with the left foot in a slight crossing motion.

**As you step, lift your knees waist high.

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