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A Beginner's Guide to Buying a Stepper

When you're always on the go, it's not always so easy to keep up with your body. Adding a stepper to your home gym can help you stay fit and save some time and money where it counts. This machine not only is great for cardiovascular fitness, but it also can help you tone muscle and lose weight. Before you make a purchase, here are some types of steppers and features to consider.

Types of Steppers

Stair Steppers

Designed for any home gym and body type, the same stair stepper you've seen at your local gym engages the lower muscles of your body in your home. Select models are referred to as "stepmills" and resemble mini-escalators.

  • Low-impact workout - If you have achy joints or need something for a light workout, stair steppers are easy on your legs and provide an easy up-and-down stepping motion.
  • Durable design for consistent use - These steppers are built sturdily and give you the stability you need to get many years of use.
 
 
 
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Side Steppers

A side stepper makes you step from side to side, targeting your thighs from every angle. Certain options come without handles, forcing you to balance and work your core.

  • Keeps your blood pumping - This cardio machine helps to make sure your blood is pumping throughout your system and expands your lungs as you perform the steps.
  • Easy on the knees - If you have knee problems, the convenient design can help soften the impact on your knees.

 

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Twist Steppers

A twist-stepper performs a twisting motion while you step. This machine is designed to target your abs, obliques and lower body.

  • Provide a deep workout - This option works the muscles deep in the legs and on the sides whenever you turn. Unlike standard steppers that focus on the front and back muscles, twist designs let you achieve a whole workout on your legs. Select models come with resistance bands that allow you to train your upper body as well.
  • Mimics a jog around the block - The twist design creates the feeling you might get while jogging around the block by increasing your heart rate. The machine is also designed to not put excess stress on your joints, which you might experience when jogging regularly on a hard surface.
 
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Mini Steppers

A mini-stepper machine is a compact version of a standard stair stepper, designed to work the same leg muscles. This model is available in compact configurations of stair, side and twist machines.

  • Take this machine anywhere - A mini stepper is lightweight and completely portable so you can workout from your living room or under a tall desk at work. Due to the compact size, it's typically more affordable than larger steppers.
  • Whole body exercise - Many mini models come with resistance bands or dual-action arms so you can give the rest of your body a great workout while stepping along.


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Elliptical-Stepper Cross Trainers

The elliptical-stepper machine uses a more fluid and round motion and features special arms that tone your upper body while you work on toning your lower body.

  • Best of both worlds - This hybrid model gives you the smooth action of an elliptical and the low-impact, high-calorie burning motion of a stepper.
  • Intuitive motion - Pedaling on an elliptical stepper is easy with a simple gliding motion. This makes burning calories and fat easier than other steppers.
 
 
 

Stepper Features

Performance Features

  • Motorized tension - Most steppers feature a motor engineered to provide resistance with smooth motion. This allows you to create a highly intense workout with ease.
  • Hydraulic cylinders - Similar to motorized tension, select models come with tension resistance. However, hydraulic cylinders are augmented by the swivel motion and are solely designed for low-impact use, helping you to make workouts easier on your joints.
  • Adjustable resistance levels - Change the amount of tension in the motor to allow for more aggressive routines or to cool down after a hard workout.
  • Adjustable height - Whether you're short or tall, an adjustable height feature allows you to fit the machine perfectly to your body.
  • Preset programs - Select stepper consoles feature preset programs that automatically adjust resistance with unique courses, routines and timed modes.
  • Self-leveling pedals - Special pedals allow for a stable, smooth stepping motion for added comfort on your joints during your workout.
Convenience Features
  • Foldable design - Select models come with hinges so you can fold the stepper and store it away in your closet or storage. This means you won't have to keep it in the corner of your living room.
  • Handlebars - Non-stick grip handlebars allow you to hold on comfortably as you workout. Select models feature sensors that are used to monitor your heart rate.
  • Electronic console - The center display screen lets you check the duration, speed, heart rate and calories burned during a session. Some models let you select modes, routines or courses with automatic tension control.
  • Transport wheels - Many options come with wheels on the edges that make it easy to move your stepper from one room to another.
  • Attached resistance bands - Select models make it easy to add upper body workouts with resistance bands, allowing you to tone the arms, chest, back and shoulders as well.