The toughest workout is also the most rewarding. One of the best things you can do for your health on a daily basis is climbing stairs.1 Climbing stairs activates muscles all over your body, especially in your legs, arms, back, and abs, leading to a full-body workout that’s also good for your heart.
That’s why the StairMaster machine is so popular. They combine the practical exercise of regular stairs with the repetitive movements that are a hallmark of working out, strengthening endurance, and building muscle. This makes a StairMaster workout an HIIT workout (for those that don’t know, HIIT stands for high intensity interval training). They are also good for when you don’t have access to a long flight of real stairs.
But what are the best StairMaster workouts? Keep reading for five exercises to make the most of your stair climber machine.
#1 Simple Step Workout
Whether you’re new to the StairMaster machine and want to ease yourself in or you’re looking for a simple, low-intensity way to burn calories and build muscle mass, the Simple Step Workout is for you.
This workout takes full advantage of the activity the StairMaster was designed for—climbing. In doing so, it’s an excellent way to work out your:
- Core muscles
The Simple Step Workout is also great for cardio. Here’s how to do it:
- Set your effort to easy (3 – 4 RPE) and do 30 seconds of crossovers for each side.
- Decrease the effort to between 2–3 RPE and walk for 30 seconds.
- Increase effort to 3–4 RPE and do 30 seconds of side or parallel steps for each side.
- Return effort to 2–3 RPE and walk for 30 seconds.
- Increase effort to a moderate between 6–7 RPE and do 30 seconds of kickbacks per side.
- Close your workout by walking for 60 seconds at an effort of 2–3 RPE.
#2 Interval-Focused Workout
You’ll need a resistance band for this workout, but the extra equipment is well worth it. Before you begin, loop the resistance band around your ankles. Resistance bands are a great way to add the muscle-building benefits of weight training to any workout.
To boost this workout, you can repeat the following four steps as many times as you like. For the first three steps, set your StairMaster effort to 6–7 RPE. Then:
- Perform box walks for 60 seconds, stepping to the far corner of each step.
- Perform three-quarter squats for 30 seconds.
- Do 30 seconds of kickbacks for each side.
- Decrease effort to 3–4 RPE and perform crossovers for 30 seconds on each side.
Throughout this workout, be sure that there’s an adequate amount of tension on the resistance band to engage your muscles.
Looking for a StairMaster workout that’ll whip your glutes into shape? Then look no further than the Step-N-Squat. Among StairMaster exercises, this is among the best for achieving a toned, shapely bottom.
Here’s how to perform the Step-N-Squat:
- Set a moderate effort of 4–5 RPE and perform kickbacks for 30 seconds
- Slightly increase the effort to 5–6 RPE and walk for 60 seconds
- Decrease effort to moderate and box walk for 60 seconds
For extra burn, repeat these steps as much as you’d like.
#4 High-Intensity Cardio Burn
Ready to step it up a notch? This high-intensity workout places extra emphasis on your cardio health while also helping you strengthen your core muscles, glutes, and hamstrings. But be warned—this StairMaster workout is not for the faint of heart.
The High-Intensity Cardio burn involves:
- Setting your effort to 5–6 RPE and skipping one stair at a time for 60 seconds
- Decreasing effort to easy (3–4 RPE) and performing side steps for 30 seconds per side
- At the same effort, performing sideways step-ups for 30 seconds per side
- Ending your workout by doing backward steps for 30 seconds at an easy effort
If a single repetition doesn’t take too much out of you, you can repeat these steps for an even more intense workout.
#5 HIIT Cardio StairMaster Crunch
In fitness speak, HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. HIIT workouts are cardio-intensive exercises that combine high-intensity intervals with low-intensity intervals to elevate and decrease your heart rate. HIIT workouts are thought to be optimal ways to burn more calories in less time, increase your metabolic rate, and burn fat, among other potential benefits.2
The total HIIT Cardio StairMaster Crunch takes about two and a half minutes, so for the best balance between high and low intensity, you should repeat each step about eight times for a 20-minute workout. The steps are:
- At an effort of 4–5 RPE, stair jog for 30 seconds
- Decrease effort to 2–3 RPE and walk for 30 seconds
- Increase effort to 6–7 RPE and run for 15 seconds
- Bring effort back to 2–3 RPE and walk for 60 seconds
- Increase the effort to 9–10 RPE and sprint for 15 seconds
Other tips for an effective workout:
While a StairMaster workout is effective, a little variety could also benefit our exercise regimen. On certain days, you can have a barre workout, while others you can either have a Yoga vs Pilates routine or circuit training vs HIIT. However, you go crazy with all these workouts, you should know your body’s limitations and needs. Research what to eat before a workout and if you should workout when sore.
Chuze Fitness—The Obvious Choice
If you think a StairMaster is the right workout routine for you, then prepare for a HIIT workout. Ready to recommit to your fitness goals? Chuze fitness has everything you need to get started, like fitness classes for all levels and an original Spotify playlist that’s calibrated for maximum motivation.
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. She’s had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercise and instructor training. Ani lives with her husband and son in San Diego, CA and loves hot yoga, snowboarding and all things wellness.
- Very Well Health. 6 Reasons to Take the Stairs. https://www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-to-take-the-stairs-2509609
- Healthline. HIIT Benefits: 7 Reasons to Try High Intensity Interval Training. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-hiit