A stair stepper workout is challenging enough on its own. After all, you’re not just putting one foot in front of the other, as you do with a treadmill, but you’re simulating a climb up a seemingly never-ending staircase. Nevertheless, a standard stair stepper workout isn’t enough for everyone. If you want to put an extra charge into your cardio workout, swing a pair of hand weights while you’re stepping.
Grasp a pair of 1-pound hand weights, if you’re a beginner. Work up to 3-pound weights for a greater challenge.
Swing your arms as you normally do during a stair-stepper workout. To burn the most calories, pump your arms aggressively. As you step with your left foot, for example, bend your right elbow at a right angle and swing your arm forward from the shoulder. Your hand should reach about mid-chest height, then should swing back to the side of your right hip when your right foot steps down on its pedal.
Use the hand weights as part of an interval workout. If you don’t want to swing the weights during your entire session, lay them carefully on the machine’s control panel, then pick them up periodically. For example, you might swing the weights while you step for one minute, put them down for two minutes, then pick them back up for another minute. Repeat the pattern throughout your session.
- Adding hand weights to a cardio workout can increase your heart rate by five to 10 beats per minute and your oxygen consumption by 5 to 15 percent. All else being equal, the increased intensity allows you to burn more calories during your workout.
- Swinging hand weights while you’re stair-stepping may be aerobically beneficial, but if you’re not careful, the risks can surpass the benefits. Carrying hand weights heavier that 3 pounds can lead to strained arm muscles and shoulder, wrist or elbow injuries.
- Speak with your physician before increasing your workout’s intensity, particularly if you have high blood pressure. Swinging hand weights while stair-stepping may raise your pressure.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.