A mini stepper is an effective way to get yourself a great, low impact, cardio workout that can additionally offer you the opportunity to tone up those thighs and calves. Think about using this type of fitness equipment as climbing stairs in front of the TV and you get the picture.
If your ankles, knees and hips suffer when you run or if you are carrying a little to much weight and don’t want to risk damaging your joints, a mini stepper could be ideal for you.
Forcing the footplates downwards (without bouncing!) mimics stair climbing. We all know that climbing stairs for a few flights can get the heart rate up! When your heart rate is up with physical exertion then you are burning calories and potentially promoting weight loss.
The added benefit is that you are using leg muscles so you will contribute to improved leg tone from the extra exercise a stepper can give you.
All in all this could be a convenient piece of equipment to promote your fitness with, aid weight loss and improve the tone of your legs. Problem is how do you pick one? There are multiple options and styles, which should you go for?
- 1 Which Type of Should I Choose?
- 2 Mini Stepper Reviews
- 2.1 Best Mini Stepper Twister – Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Twister Stepper
- 2.2 Best Mini Stepper With Handle – Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper With Handlebars
- 2.3 Best Mini Stepper With Resistance Bands – Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper
- 2.4 Best Mini Stepper – Golds Gym
- 2.5 Commercial Mini Stairmaster – Xiser Commercial Mini Stepper
- 3 Our Top Choice
Which Type of Should I Choose?
Life would be simple if there was just one style of to choose from but unfortunately there isn’t. You can get steppers with a twisting action, units with handlebars, equipment with resistance bands and even extra hard wearing commercial style models. Here we will guide you through the pro’s and con’s of each type so you can make an informed decision as to which is going to suit your needs most. Then we will identify the best in each category for you so you can get the best model on the market to suit your needs.
Mini Stepper Twister vs Mini Stepper?
When you look for a stepper you’ll find twister steppers, plain steppers and mini ellipticals. All a bit confusing. Mini ellipticals are covered here, they are very different to steppers and involve a different style of workout so we won’t comment on them here other than to say you can check out the differences here.
Twisters and standard steppers differ in as much as the footplates on the twister have an uneven stepping motion. The step motion semi rotates as the footplate is depressed and then rises. Seems to be a bit of a novelty but there is thinking behind it. The idea is that the twisting stepper motion recruits more muscles in the thigh as the footplates are depressed. The motion creates additional stress on the outer and inner muscles of the thigh giving a workout to more of your thighs than a standard up-down stepper might give you.
Before you go thinking “that’s for me”, there are practical considerations to evaluate here. How balanced are you going to be when you use such a machine? Are you going to have a near by hand hold or not? Might you want to use your hands for other exercises? Perhaps you might be considering using dumbbells at the same time?
If you are well co-ordinated, have little intention of doing other exercises simultaneously and want a better thigh workout than the standard stepper a twister could be for you.
With or Without Handle Bar?
Should you get a model with handlebars? Both twisters and standard steppers are available with handlebars. Handlebars can be a nice safety feature if you are a little unbalanced on your feet but do have some disadvantages.
The two main disadvantages are that they take up more storage space and they reduce the opportunity you might have to do some upper body workouts whilst stepping. On the other hand a twister stepper can be difficult to use without a balancing aid so a handle bar can be particularly useful on a twister model.
On a standard stepper the handlebars may be overkill if you already have reasonable balance or you have a spare table or chair back you can use until you are confident enough to do without.
With Tension Bands?
If you are after a bit of an upper body workout whilst you step, then a stepper with resistance bands might be appealing. The bands attach to the base of the stepper for secure anchorage and can then be used to carry out arm curls or the like whilst stepping. The effect is to increase the possible aerobic workout you get and to offer a bit of upper body strength training whilst you step.
This option certainly adds more exercise options whilst maintaining easy storage options for the equipment. Additionally, if you are a little unsteady then a stepper with resistance bands might be ideal as you may get additional stability from holding the resistance bands.
However, be sure to check the rating of the bands on offer – are they going to offer enough resistance? Would you be better off with a set of dumb bells that could offer more practical exercise options?
Commercial or Domestic?
Should you opt for a domestic or commercial model? Putting your whole body weight through a stepper is going to create pressure and wear on joints and components.
Carefully investigate whether the model you are interested in can really withstand the punishment it will go through if it is used regularly. You can check online reviews easily these days to evaluate a models reliability.
It may be worth buying a cheap option first to see if the style of equipment is really for you or whether it will be discarded after a period of time before opting for an expensive commercial model.
Mini Stepper Reviews
Best Mini Stepper Twister – Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Twister Stepper
There are few twisters available on the market but the one that stands out as the most highly rated is the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Twister Stepper.
It comes with a number of features – it has an adjustable step height, variable tension to make workouts harder, twist function, LCD monitor (tracking steps, calories, time) and features resistance bands that can give you an upper body workout whilst you twist or help you boost your heart rate for increased calorie burn.
Additionally, this twister has a small footprint at 18.5x16x8 (WxLXH) and a great weight capacity at 250 lbs. This machine is small enough to slide under a bed or put away in a closet when your workout is finished.
However, this equipment does have some issues – it is not perfect. It comes with a manufacturers recommendation to use for 15 minutes at a time due to overheating of the hydraulic pistons. Additionally users report that it can get squeaky over time, can be difficult to adjust tension and LCD monitor and cables can break overtime.
All in all these are minor user gripes and this model scores favorably with reviewers on the net securing it top spot for best twister stepper.
Best Mini Stepper With Handle – Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper With Handlebars
If a stepper with a handlebar is attracting you as the best option for your circumstances then the Sunny model mentioned previously in handle bar variant could be the best option for you. With handlebars this equipment stands at 48 inches tall. It does not feature the resistance bands of the standard twister and, strangely, does not feature the variable tension.
Users confirm it does need assembly on delivery but is not too complex that you need any special tools and despite the slightly lower technical spec it does get a higher rating than the standard model.
It does suffer from similar drawbacks to the standard model – it does have a reputation for getting squeaky, does have a user time limit and may not give a thorough workout for your average gym bunny.
If you are concerned your balance may not be good enough to use a standard stepper then this is the model for you.
Best Mini Stepper With Resistance Bands – Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper
If you think a standard stepper is not going to give you the workout you need and you don’t own dumbbells then a model with resistance bands might bridge the gap for you. The most highly rated stepper with resistance bands is not the Sunny Twister but rather the bog standard Sunny Mini Stepper.
The resistance bands should help you get your heart rate up if you are finding stepping too easy.
This model obviously doesn’t have the twist action of the sister model but like the twister model features a small footprint, adjustable tension, LCD monitor and takes a user up to 220 lbs. It also seems to suffer from fewer defects than other models in the Sunny range. However some users report issues with leaking shocks over time but this is not a widespread issue which has helped make this one of Sunny’s most popular models.
Best Mini Stepper – Golds Gym
If you want a basic model without additional bells and whistles then the Golds Gym model is the most highly rated basic model on the market. It’s only negative aspect is that it only has one resistance setting. Apart from that, this model is renowned for build quality.
Unlike the Sunny models the Golds Gym actually has no issues with squeaking, high levels of customer satisfaction and a slightly smaller footprint at 16x13x8.
This model will take a max user weight of 250 lbs and does not have time restrictions on use – you can go as long as you want.
The Golds Gym is relatively feature free but does come equipped with an LCD monitor which can give you basic data on your workout.
Golds Gym have focused on build quality and no-nonsense features with this model but this has reaped benefits with widespread positive reviews from users over the net.
Commercial Mini Stairmaster – Xiser Commercial Mini Stepper
If money is no object and quality is everything you may be tempted to buy a commercial model. Perhaps you have owned one of the other models discussed and have suffered from build quality issues or have found your fitness levels have outstripped other domestic equipment. In either case the Xiser could be the equipment for you.
Commercial steppers are going to take lots of punishment so build quality has to be fantastic. Gym users are also going to be fitter than average so equipment has to be capable of giving a worthwhile workout. This is where the Xiser excels. Here are some of it’s notable features, good and bad, as identified by owners :
Stylish polished airframe grade alloy construction.
5 year consumer warranty, 1 year gym warranty.
100% USA manufactured.
No time restrictions – use as long as you want.
Patented hydraulic configuration that allows for HIIT workouts or steady state workouts.
Very quiet in use.
Good, hard workout possible for fit people.
Not comparable to the average domestic stepper in terms of build quality or use – far superior.
May need a mat beneath to prevent scratches to tiled or timber floors.
Adjusting resistance requires use of a screwdriver or quarter.
Needs minor assembly on delivery – under 5 mins.
Clearly, the Xiser is built to last and is a high quality construction. Additionally you are guaranteed a good workout no matter how fit you are. The quality allows for extreme use and any machine that can take the stresses of a HIIT workout is going to last the course. For these reasons, as well as the fact it simply looks great we are going to confirm the Xiser as our top choice.
Our Top Choice
The Xiser is simply the best on the market offering gym like performance, reliability, build quality and awesome levels of user satisfaction. If you buy this you simply will have the best on the market and it will last you years.