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Step right up: Make the Stepper a must-do machine

Are you giving your legs the love they deserve? Think twice before skimping on stilt strengthening exercises at your next sweat session. A tree is only as strong as its roots and trunk.

Are you ready to step up your cardio routine?  Our society is suffering from an exercise epidemic - the Great Stair Scare of the 21st Century.  Elevators and escalators have been invented to rid people of their flight fright.  Unless you are hauling a 5-ton safe stacked with gold bars up to your apartment, there is no excuse justifying lethargically pushing that second floor button on the elevator.  If you want to shed extra weight, target major muscle groups and make your excess, unwanted fat cry out, take a spin on the heart-healthy StepMill Machine.  Follow this hybrid-hike routine to crank up your cardio and make the most of your time at the gym.

Warm-up.  Stepping starters should ask for assistance if you are having difficulty navigating through the machine's options.  At a glance, the screens on these machines resemble the switchboard of the Starship Enterprise.  Since this is a circuit workout, press the Quick Start button, as it allows the most flexibility in terms of adjusting your steps per minute.  The goal of your warm-up is to find and perfect your stride.   While it is tempting to look at your feet as you step, or hang on heavily to the handles, try to avoid these slip-ups as they will greatly affect your posture and diminish the effectiveness of the workout.  Start stomping for five minutes before amplifying your intensity.

Cardio Mash-up.

{Pause the machine between sets, using the floor to perform the following exercises}

  1. Increase your steps per minute by 10, hold this speed for 3 minutes

  2. 20 air squats

  3. 10 pushups

  4. Increase the SPM by 10, holding for 3 minutes

  5. 20 air squats

  6. 10 pushups

  7. Increase the SPM by 10, holding for 3 minutes

  8. 30 air squats

  9. 15 pushups

  10. Increase SPM by 10, hold for 3 minutes

  11. 60 Second Plank

  12. Increase SPM to your fastest pace and hold this speed for 60 - 90 seconds

  13. Decrease the SPM to a comfortable speed for a 2 minute recovery

Cool Down.  The final phase of this circuit involves fancy footwork.  Slow down the machine to a very comfortable pace.  Holding on to the rails, turn your body sideways and step up the machine laterally.  Keep the leg as straight as possible as you lift the leg to the side of the body.  Try to maintain good form, and refrain from looking down at your feet.  This exercise is not only key in targeting multiple muscle groups of the leg, it also strengthens neuromuscular activity between your muscles and brain.  At your own pace, practice lateral steps for 60 seconds a side.  Repeat 2 times.

Put your best foot forward.  Don't fall out of step by repeating the same old workout routine.

Earn it.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.