While a mini stepper may be small and portable, it's not the best way to work your abdominal muscles. You can grab a bit of an ab workout with a mini stepper, but the machine's main job is to get your legs moving and your heart rate up. It's better used as a cardiovascular tool than one to define your six-pack.
Standing up while you work out on a mini stepper is one of the best ways to get your stomach muscles working along with your legs. Stair-climber machines at the gym have handles to help you keep your balance, but mini steppers don't. This works to your advantage because your body must constantly adjust to maintain balance. And what part of your body works to keep your center of gravity focused? Your core muscles, including your abdominals. The mini stepper doesn't make you lift your knees high enough to truly engage your abs, but keeping you upright gives them a little bit of action.
One of the main advantages of a mini stepper is its small size, which allows you to use it under your desk at work or while you're sitting in your living room watching TV. This keeps your feet moving and your blood pumping, but it doesn't do much for your abdominal muscles. The chair is supporting your body, which takes the heat off your abs. If you want to add some abs, you'll have to stand up on the stepper.
No slouching allowed if you want to maximize your abdominal workout with your mini stepper. Since it doesn't require a ton of ab work, make the time as effective on your stomach muscles as possible by standing up straight with your shoulders back. Don't lean forward; keep your body as straight as possible. If you use resistance bands, which some mini steppers are designed to work with, make big movements with your arms to pull in your abs whenever possible. For example, keep your arms straight and lift them in front of you from your legs to up above your head, pulling your abs in tight.
One thing mini steppers can help with is burning calories, which helps you lose fat. Your ab muscles might be well defined but hidden by a thin fat layer. The stepper might not help you create the washboard abs you want, but it can help you trim fat away from your stomach and other areas of your body. Standing up on the mini stepper for a half hour, a 155-pound person can burn 223 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. Keep it going under your desk when you can't stand up to work out and you can still burn 100 calories per hour sitting down, says James A. Levine, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher at the Mayo Clinic.