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Stair Climbers

Get a great workout with a stair climber

Let's face it, there are few activities that challenge us more or burn more calories than running, be it outside or in using a treadmill. However, what makes running really difficult (and rewarding) is the incline, or the level on which you're jogging or sprinting. It's simple: if you're running uphill (or simulating that experience by raising the incline on a treadmill), then the challenge is more intense and the calorie-burning payoff is more significant.

Thus, it only makes sense that climbing stairs, or in this case, using a stair climber, could help maximize the calories burned while strengthening important muscles that can help in many different sports or physical activities. Note: if your gym doesn't have a stair climber, you can simulate the activity by using weights and a step bench.

Advantages of Stair Climbers

Stair climbers, otherwise known as stair steppers (or just "steppers") have several advantages. For one, they burn serious calories – an intense workout on a stair climbing machine can help you burn 250 calories in just 30 minutes, roughly on par with an outdoor run. In addition, these machines can help tone important muscles in your calves, thighs and buttocks.

In addition, stair climbers are also easy on your knees and feet. Like elliptical machines, stair climbers don't require you to lift and slam your feet into the ground, so the impact on your joints is limited. Obviously, this also helps improve endurance and keep injuries to a minimum.

Disadvantages of Stair Climbers

Although you're less likely to get sore feet, frequent users of stair climbers sometimes experience hyperextension of the knee, with painful results. However, these kinds of injuries can be prevented if you're simply careful with adjusting the device and watching your technique to make sure each step is done with a fluid and easy motion. If you position the stair climber near a mirror, you can watch yourself to make sure your form isn't going to lead to problems later on.

If you have a gym membership, consult a staff member or fitness instructor to make sure the device is properly set up for your body size and type, and to make sure you're using it properly.

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