How to Get a Good Workout on a StairMaster?

Add climbing stairs to your cardio routine and you can get results much faster

Consider changing your routine a bit. Instead of running 20 minutes on a treadmill, try stair-climbing. You can burn as many as 250 calories in that time because it uses the body’s largest muscle groups to lift your weight up with every step. You need to run at least half an hour to get the same result.  

The StairMaster, or stepper, has similar effects – it strengthens your thighs, buttocks, and calves – but your legs go through a full range of motion, and that is pivotal for shaping toned muscles. Calves, hamstrings, quadriceps and glutes are trained when you do a lot of reps. That’s how you build lean muscle and burn fat. You even work out your core because you use those muscle to keep you balance.

This cardio machine is not very popular among gym-goers, certainly not compared to treadmills or elliptical machines. The stepper is a lot more challenging than either of the other two, but even more rewarding – you lose weight, build stamina, and form beautiful legs.

Stair-climbing is a great cardio exercise that doesn’t put a lot of pressure on the joints. It’s low-impact. You don’t bounce as much (and that’s helpful when you have eaten recently and your body hasn’t digested the food yet) and you target muscles in your lower body if you turn sideways or even backwards. You don’t even have to move fast to get results.


The StairMaster is a multipurpose machine. You can do high-intensity interval training and low-intensity steady-state cardio.

As is the case with most programs, mix them up and alternate. Never stick to what’s comfortable. Challenge yourself. Add kickbacks during the low-intensity sessions to really work out your tush.

Add a challenge

The American Council on Exercise calls walking uphill, “the best combination of aerobic activity to burn fat and anaerobic activity to shape muscles.”

Skip every other step. As if climbing stairs wasn’t hard enough! BUt you will get used to it after a few times, so make sure you get out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Skipping a step will definitely have that effect, and it’s the ultimate burner. Always squeeze through the glute as you pull your legs up.

Step sideways

If you want to work out your hips and quads more than anything else, go on the step mill and climb stairs sideways. Turn to the right and hold the middle bar for extra support if you need it. Try and last for at least five minutes and then switch. Think balance. Don’t work out one side without the other.

High intensity interval training (HIIT)

HIIT is considered to be a more effective cardio routine because the intensity is higher. You increase both your aerobic and anaerobic endurance while burning more calories. The idea is to alternate low to moderate intensity intervals with high intensity intervals.

Start slow and warm up. Then climb stairs for a minute by skipping a step. After that, increase the speed and sprint for about half a minute. Then rest.

Step sideways. Work each side for a minute. Then spring for another 30 seconds and rest.

You can repeat the sequences 3-4 times, depending on how many intervals you include in each one.


The reverse climb works the hamstrings, calves and quads more than any other muscle group. Make sure you decrease the speed before trying it out. And be patient, because it takes time for the body to adjust to the new motion. Hold the railings for extra support and balance. You don’t want to miss a step or slip.

More readings: 

15 Workouts to Do in 15 Minutes or Less

6 Easy Exercises for a Strong Behind

17 Most Common Fitness Injuries and How to Prevent Them