Are You Ignoring the Most Effective Cardio Machine at the Gym?

Photo: Stocksnap/ Bruno Nascimento
Stationery climbers, like the StairMaster 5000 that's been gathering dust in your mom's basement since the '80s, don't get a lot of love these days. And Seth Maynard, director of fitness and lead instructor at Switch Playground in New York City, says that's a sweaty shame. "It's actually my favorite cardio machine. It lifts and tightens everything, burns a lot of calories, and is easier on the knees."

But this retro piece of exercise equipment, commonly known as a stairmill, is seeing a resurgence in popularity thanks places like Switch, which uses it in group classes. (You can also find it languishing behind the rows of treadmills and ellipticals at most gyms—just make sure to stick with the moving staircase version and not the outdated pedal-pumping style.)

Maynard says there are plenty of awesome reasons you'll want to make a beeline for the machine and start climbing for your cardio.

"It lifts and tightens everything, burns a lot of calories, and is easier on the knees."

The stairmill works your glutes, thighs, quads, and calves, while putting less pressure on your joints than a treadmill, he explains. "You can also let go of the handles and keep your chest up high, which is going to increase core strength and engage your stabilizers."

For a great workout, aim for 20–30 minutes of climbing. Want to target your butt even more or go for a challenge? "You can also do a lunge walk on it—instead of doing every step, do every other step to really engage the glutes," says Maynard.

Time to lace up your throwback sneakers and get climbing.

Elevating your heart rate is really good for your health—just make sure you're not overdoing your cardio intake or skipping out on the heavy weights

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