StepMillThe other day after finishing up a workout I had 15 minutes to kill before tackling another task, so I decided to hit the StepMill for some extra cardio.

I frickin’ LOVE the StepMill … when I’m done using it. Well, the truth actually is that while I’m using it I do love the burn — both muscular and metabolic — it gives me.

But what I hate is the boredom factor.

Why is it boring? Because you have to pay attention when you’re using the StepMill so you don’t fall off. You also have to stay alert because it’s easy to slack by leaning onto the railings and not using all your muscles.

All that paying attention … Zzzzz.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to increase the intensity and keep things a little more exciting when using the StepMill. Here’s an extra boredom-busting bonus: going hard — doing high-intensity intervals — means you don’t have to work out as long.

But before you go hard, let me put on my personal trainer hat. You should only go hard enough so that you can still STAND UP TALL AND USE YOUR MUSCLES when you’re on the ‘mill.

Cranking up the intensity and then half-falling over the machine is cheating yourself and training your muscles in a bent-over and unbalanced way.

What is it we always say? Train how you want to look! That means stand up tall, turn on your core and come to full hip extension at the top (straighten your leg!). Use the railings for balance, not for support.

Here’s a short video showing proper form with the various steps in the circuit(s) below: single step, skipping a step, and waking up sideways. (Yes I have wild crazy post-workout hair going on here. Don’t judge. 🙂 ) (a very special thank you to my videographer Isaac Geaghan, who was on school vacation from the second-grade and happened to be in the gym when I decided at the last minute to shoot this video.)

Here’s the circuit I did the other day.

Basic Circuit

Minutes 1-5 — warmup with single steps
Then I rotated through the following:
1 minute skipping a step
30 seconds walking sideways, left foot leading
30 seconds walking sideways, right foot leading
1 minute skipping a step
1 minute regular steps

I repeated that circuit for a total of 20 minutes. If the sideways stepping feels uncomfortable on your knee or hip, don’t do it. 🙂

There are several ways to add on to the circuit. You could warm up, do the basic circuit one time through, get off the StepMill and do the following bodyweight circuit:
10 burpees
10 speed skaters, each side
10 fast football runs/drop
10 squat jumps

Or if you want to keep the impact down, this one:

10 pushups
10 lunges each side
10 plank shoulder taps (in a controlled plank, lift your left hand and tap your right shoulder, alternating sides for 10 on each side)
10 squats (or jump squats)

And then climb back on the Stepmill for another round of the circuit, continuing till you’ve done 3-4 total circuits.

Always cool down for at least 5 minutes so that your heart rate can drop back to near-normal, either by slowing down the StepMill or getting off to do a less-intense form of continuous movement (like treadmill walking).

I hope you enjoyed this! If you did, let me know, and share with a friend!