These are not overly common in the gyms but are an excellent tool to use for cardio conditioning. It’s like doing moving stadium stairs! Sly Stallone has been quoted as using this with weights on his back in prep for his movies. There are handle bars for safety but for maximum results you want to work toward mastering the Stepmill without using the side bars. The programs and speeds are programmable making this machine user-friendly for anyone from beginner users to advanced users.
The difference with this machine compared to the Stair Master is that it is a bit harder when lifting and placing the foot each time. With the Stair Master the movement is similar but the foot never really leaves the pedal and is not supposed to.
Balance is a larger factor on the Stepmill and some athletes will get fancy with training their balance by doing it backwards. Another benefit is that you can do lateral training on this machine by walking up sideways on the left or right. Of course again this is advanced.
Beginners are encouraged to use the handles and take it slow because this will surprisingly get your heart rate up very fast with very little speed. Keeping the program on manual will help the beginner keep control of the speed and give him or her ability to slow down when needed and return to a higher speed once rested. This is called interval training and is a great way to introduce more intensity as you go from being a beginner to intermediate as well as breaking in the beginner.
The hip, knee, ankle and spine all benefit from this exercise so not only are you conditioning your heart and lungs you are also working on muscle groups with muscular endurance. The core is hit by it having to keep you properly upright throughout the motion, another added bonus!
Many reviews show that consumers find this product easy to use and have no issues with the console. Reviews quote successful fat loss with desired results and find this machine to be extremely easy on the joints. The problems that have been found is that you need to be careful especially if you have balance issues or are not as well coordinated as you would like to be. Not to say that this machine cannot be mastered and by using the handles you can train your balance and coordination to become improved! The other issue is that they are not cheap and not common in the gyms so if you are one of the lucky one whose gym owns a stepmill I would suggest incorporating this into your workout routine.
Depending on your fitness level you will start off with 10 mins if you are an untrained person, 15-30 if you are beginner but have exercised, or 30-45 for intermediate and fat loss. Advanced would use it as needed toward their specific sport goals, sometimes carrying weighted vests! Of course you would want to stay with a lower intensity and manual mode until you get the hang of it and then can try out some of the other programs such as cardio or fat burn.
Expect that you will get a great sweat no matter what level you are at!