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Tone your buttocks without increasing its size on a stair stepper.
Running stairs is a common exercise used by athletes to strengthen their glutes, hamstrings, quads and calves. A stair stepper simulates the same lower-body movements, helping you to sculpt your buttocks as well as providing a rigorous cardio workout. However, it's easy to shortchange a stair-stepping workout by propping yourself up on the hand rails or leaning against the machine. Pay attention to form and do five to 10 minutes of light cardio as a warm-up.
Escalators or Pedals
In contrast to a stair climber, a stair stepper doesn't have hand grips that you push and pull. While the stepper offers a rigorous lower-body workout, it doesn't work the upper body in the same way as a climber. There are two main versions of stair steppers: the escalator and the pedal. Compared to the pedal-style stepper, the escalator-type stepper gives your glutes a workout that more closely resembles actual stair climbing. The resistance of the pedal is produced by a spring mechanism, piston or flywheel. While this machine places less stress on your knee joints, the workout is less demanding than that of the escalator-type machine.
Sculpting the Glutes
A common worry among women is that regular exercise on a stair stepper will increase the size of their buttocks. While a stair stepper provides resistance, the amount of resistance is not enough to overload your lower-body muscles and cause hypertrophy. In addition, stair steppers are primarily used for endurance workouts, activating the slow-twitch muscles fibers in your lower body. The advantage of the stair stepper is that your legs and glutes move through a full range of motion, which is necessary to sculpt your buttocks. The higher the step, the greater the range of motion and the more effective the stair stepper is as a sculpting tool for your backside.
Varying the Intensity
In addition to conditioning your glutes, a stair stepper workout can provide a fat-burning workout. On modern stair-stepper machines, you can typically choose from various pre-programmed workouts, ranging from intervals to simulated hill climbs. You can also gauge the intensity of an exercise by determining steps per minute. While a step rate of 35 steps per minute constitutes a low-intensity workout, a high-intensity workout requires a step rate of over 95 steps per minute, according to the "Navy Seal Physical Fitness Guide" by Patricia Deuster. A 155-lb. man burns about 250 calories for a 30-minute workout at 35 steps per minute. At 95 steps per minute, the calorie burn increases to 580.
Don't Lean on the Machine
If you want rock-hard glutes, you need to focus on form. If you're hunched-over with your buttocks sticking out and leaning on the machine, you're not getting an effective workout. Maintain an upright posture with your hips aligned over your legs. Either place your hands on the machine with elbows bent and a light touch or don't use the machine or the hand rails at all. Pump your arms back and forth as if you're jogging. Push your heel down on the step, which puts the maximum amount of pressure on your glutes and thigh muscles. If you don't use your heels, you'll limit the workout to your calf muscles. Try not to let the step rise to the very top or drop to the very bottom, which can cause your pelvis to rock and compromises your form.