It might seem like a simple piece of equipment, but as with any exercise gear, you'll get what you put into it. It's totally possible to do a so-called "easy" workout with the mini stepper, but it's also possible to use that same machine to get a vigorous workout. Try some basic adjustments and set a disciplined schedule to help you get the best results with the mini stair stepper.
Adjust the height of the mini stepper so that it is higher than the lowest setting. The bigger the "rise" in the steps, the more intense the workout and the more calories you'll burn.
Adjust the tension on the machine to add more resistance. You don't have to set the dial to the most difficult tension, since you might make it so difficult that you won't last very long. Set it at a middle-level tension and then gradually add more tension bit by bit as you continue to use the mini stepper over time. On some models, turning the tension knob to the right makes it more difficult; turning the knob to the left makes it easier.
Hold the resistance bands in your hands, if your mini stepper has them. Some models come with rubber tubing attached to the base, allowing you to do bicep curls, upright rows or lateral arm raises as you continue to step. If the resistance bands cause you to move slower on the mini stepper, however, don't try to do those additional exercises; instead, bend your elbows and pull up on the bands enough to create some tension in the bands. This will add a little more intensity to your workout, working your arms in an isometric fashion.
Monitor your heart rate to ensure that you're in the target zone for an effective cardiovascular workout. To get your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. Then multiply that max heart rate number by 0.5 and 0.85. For a good cardio workout, your heart should be beating at between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum. If your heart is not beating within this range, speed up or increase the resistance of the stepper to make the workout more difficult.
Set aside about 30 minutes, five days a week, to work out on the mini stepper. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week, to maintain health. Vigorous-intensity exercise will have your heart beating at between 70 and 85 percent of maximum. For even greater health benefits, though, the CDC recommends 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise each week.
Tips & Warnings
- A proper warm-up is always important to get your heart gradually beating faster and to prepare your body for exercise. Before you get on the machine, warm up by walking or jogging lightly for five to 10 minutes.
- Don't start any cardiovascular routine without getting your doctor's OK -- especially if you have a chronic condition such as heart disease or diabetes.
- LifeGear: Mini Stepper Owner's Manual
- American Council on Exercise: Fitness Product Reviews: Mini Twist Stepper with Resistance Tubing
- BCG: Assembly Instructions: Mini Stepper
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise Intensity: Why It Matters, How It's Measured
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images