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Stair Climbing for Cross-Training

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In the last few years, the StairMaster machine has become one of the most popular machines in most health clubs, and with good reason. Minute for minute, a stair-climbing workout delivers the same aerobic benefit as running, delivering a particularly good workout for the quadriceps. At the same time, the high kneelifts demanded by stair climbing stretches your hamstrings and helps extend your stride length -- a nifty benefit for your running performance. Overall, it's a great strengthening exercise, not all that different from running hills.

Climbing stairs on a machine delivers a lower impact workout than running actual stairs, or "stadiums." The steps on a StairMaster are designed to give with each stroke, and the fact that you never get airborne reduces the pounding on your legs significantly.

If you're using the machine, don't hold onto the rail. You'll get a better workout (and promote better running form) if you avoid leaning forward and you pump your arms as if you were running. Try to keep your feet flat on the platform; running up on the balls of your feet can strain your Achilles tendon or aggravate the arch of your foot.


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