Buying a stair stepper machine can be confusing, especially if you are not a fitness aficionado. Apart from the sheer variety of choice in the market, there are also a number of machines that look deceptively similar to a stair stepper, an elliptical trainer for instance. So if you are in the market for a stair stepper, there are few things we should take a look at before we go any further.
A stair stepper is a machine that simulates the motion of walking up a flight of stairs. They are a staple of most professional gyms and thanks to their affordable price tags they are also perfectly suited to a home environment. Now, let’s get the most obvious question out of the way first: should you buy a stair stepper if you already have stairs at your home. The answer depends on your workout preferences and priorities.
Stair Stepper Machine vs the stairs
Climbing conventional stairs puts a lot of explosive strain on your knees and ankles, mainly because they sustain the body’s entire weight when your other foot is in the air. Stair stepper machines are designed ergonomically to reduce the impact on your joints while still giving you the benefit of an intensive work out. You can also maintain a comfortable pace on a machine while working out, which is something that you cannot do on an actual staircase; you need to maintain a minimum speed and upward momentum, which can quickly tire you out.
Additionally, there are practical reasons to using a stair stepper machine over simply climbing regular stairs. In the event that you reside in a particularly busy household, your repeated running up and down the stairs can create difficulty for other family members. Also, wooden steps and carpets can get damaged by the regular high force impact of repeated stair stepping. Finally, it is fairly difficult to maintain the will to continue running on a staircase unless you are a fitness freak. A stair stepper machine allows you to work out in front of your TV or while listening to your favorite tunes.
Stair stepper machine vs elliptical trainer
Another question on your mind might be the difference between stair steppers and elliptical trainers. The answer to that is the direction of motion of the skis (the flat bars attached to the footrests). In a stair stepper, the skis move vertically while in an elliptical trainer, they move back and forth. Most elliptical machines also have handles attached to the skis that you hold on to while working out; this exercises both your legs as well as your upper body. This means that you are able to burn more calories and enjoy a workout that is a lot more taxing.
Elliptical trainers are also a lot gentler on your joints since your legs move in a circular rather than a jarring up down motion. The primary disadvantage of elliptical trainers however is their price tags. Compared to stair steppers, they are a lot more expensive. While they are extremely versatile workout machines to have at home, sometimes you do need to stick to a budget.
What to look for
A solidly built stair stepper will last you years and is also an extremely versatile home exercise machine. They are extremely stable, more so than treadmills and elliptical trainers, making it highly unlikely that you will injure yourself while working out on a stair stepper. While stair steppers can be motorized, they difference between a manual and a motorized machine is not as obvious as the difference in the case of treadmills. With stair steppers, a manual version is the way to go. It’s cheaper as well as offering you a more effective workout that more closely resembles the physical exertion of climbing a flight of stairs.
Most stair steppers are pretty quiet too, especially the manual ones, which means you can sneak in an early workout before breakfast without waking up your significant other. Many stair steppers also have a large usability range, meaning one piece of equipment can be used by people of varying heights and weights with the same efficiency. Stair steppers can also be customized with elastic arm bands and resistance tubes, which exercise your upper body at the same time. Stair steppers generally work on your body from the lower torso down, but adding a resistance tube greatly improves the impact the workout has on your upper body as well.
Now that you are well-versed in the various options and features of stair stepper machines, let’s take a look at some options. We have reviewed three of the best steppers available. Check them out below.
Sunny Health and Fitness Twister Stepper
This product technically falls into the category of the mini stepper. In short, it is the portable cousin to the full sized stair stepper. Barring a few compromises, it delivers pretty much the same functionality as its bigger sized alternative. Measuring 18.5 in. x 16 in. x 8 in., the Fitness Twister is small enough to slip under your bed. It could also be stored neatly in the corner of any room.
This stepper augments the traditional stair stepper action with rotation about the vertical axis as well. This twisted step is great for targeted action on your things and buttocks. Allowing you to achieve a well-toned look without any additional workout. This horizontal sliding action makes it closer to an elliptical trainer than a stair stepper by virtue of the movement.
The stainless steel construction is sturdy and will last you years of regular use. The oversized slip resistant footrests provide grip and traction without sacrificing long-term comfort. The resistance is fully adjustable. It also comes with integrated exercise bands with arm grips to work out your upper body as well. The maximum weight capacity is rated at 250 lbs, which means it should be perfect for any reasonably healthy adult. There is also an in built LCD display that shows the total step count and workout time. It also shows the number of repetitions, and the amount of calories burned.
You can find the Sunny Health and Fitness Twister Stepper around $55 . It is currently listed at $45.43 on Amazon.
Sunny Health and Fitness Twister Stepper with Handle Bar
Functionally identical to the previous stepper, this device comes with one additional item: an integrated fixed handle bar. The LCD is now mounted on the handle bar, which makes it easier to see while working out. Otherwise, it does not offer any increased functionality whatsoever. If you are susceptible to back issues or have chronic back pain, a solid handle bar might help you alleviate the pressure on your back. Additionally, a handle bar is also great for when you just want to get a quick workout done. Or even while enjoying a TV show or other activity.
Listed for $69.99. You can currently find the Sunny Health and Fitness Twister Stepper with Handle Bar for a reduced price of $56.99. Check it out on Amazon.
Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper
The SpaceMate Folding Stepper from Stamina is a full sized stair stepper. It is also portable enough to discreetly slide under your bed. The hydraulic piston design offers variable resistance. This allows you to customize your workout intensity to match your abilities and your fitness goals.
The integrated handle bar helps you gain support and balance on the stepper while working out. The foam covered insets provide adequate grip so that you do not lose your grip from sweaty palms. The stainless steel construction can sustain a maximum weight of 250 lbs, enough for the average adult. The integrated LCD monitor displays your pace, number of steps per minute, workout time, and calories burned. The frame itself has non-slip rubber feet that keep the machine rock steady even when working out at a rapid pace.
Listed at $220, the Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper is currently on sale for $104.99 on Amazon. At this price, we definitely cannot complain about anything and the SpaceMate definitely ticks all the boxes.