If you're searching for a machine to sculpt your buns, the mini stepper might seem like an attractive option. And it's true that these devices work your glutes, resulting in shapelier buttocks with regular use. However, they can be awkward to use, which might keep you from hopping on them for your daily workout. No machine works your glutes if you leave it sitting in the corner collecting dust, so don't make the plunge unless you're convinced you'll use it regularly.
About Mini Steppers
Mini steppers are abbreviated versions of stair-stepping machines. Many consist of little more than two pedals to stand on, although some have poles stemming from the base to help you keep your balance. The pedals move up and down as you push with your feet, simulating walking up small steps. These machines focus on glute and thigh muscles for upper-leg and hip shaping. Mini steppers cost substantially less than full-size versions, and like many things, you get what you pay for. The diminutive size translates to restrictive motion, which is not so comfortable.
Yes, they're expensive, but normal-sized steppers are far more user-friendly than minis. They allow you to step higher, offering more natural movement. Most gyms have steppers, and many also have the stepper's close cousin, the stair treadmill. If you'd rather purchase your own equipment than trek to the gym, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you test-drive your machine for at least 10 minutes before opening your wallet.
Thinking beyond steppers, you can get a fabulous glute workout at home -- for free -- with the right moves. Squats, lunges and lying hip extensions all work your rear end. If you love the stepping motion, try step-ups using a box or bench. For extra resistance, perform squats and lunges holding a dumbbell in each hand. Whichever exercise you choose, perform two sets of 12 repetitions, working up to three sets over time.
Don't stop at your glutes; the rest of your body needs exercise, too. To be precise, you need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardio activity along with at least two days per week of strength-training, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The mini stepper counts as cardio as long as you use it at least 10 minutes at a time. Other options include jogging and swimming. Squats, lunges and other body-weight exercises count as strength training, as does lifting weights. Work all major muscle groups to avoid imbalance.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.