Is a Stepper or Elliptical Better for Toning the Thighs?

When it comes to choosing cardio equipment, the major question you should ask yourself is, will this machine help you reach your fitness goals?.

3 min read


a lady is using elliptical and another lady is stepping a mini stepper

When it comes to choosing cardio equipment, the major question you should ask yourself is, will this machine help you reach your fitness goals? Picking a machine that aligns with your goals will ensure that your workout is effective and worth your time. Many people are interested in toning their thighs during their cardio workout - but which machine is better for toning the thighs: mini stepper or elliptical?

In this article, I’ll go over the differences between steppers and ellipticals and how to use them in combination with a well-rounded fitness routine to tone your thighs.


Muscles Engaged When Exercising on a Stepper or Elliptical

In truth, activation of muscles in the lower body is very similar for both mini steppers and ellipticals. On both machines, you’ll experience a combination of quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves working as the primary leg muscles used to push and pull on the pedals. You can target the glutes and hamstrings more specifically by pushing the hips back or make your workout more quad dominant by standing with a more upright posture.

While the lower body muscles worked are very similar between both machines, when using an elliptical, you also must consider the upper body muscles used to help you complete each stride. An elliptical workout would be considered more of a full-body exercise, while this is great for burning calories and achieving a well-rounded cardiovascular workout, it can take some of the work off the lower body.

A mini stepper, on the other hand, may come equipped with resistance bands to work your upper body as you step. However, this movement is in addition to stepping and doesn’t take away from the work your lower body will need to do to complete steps on the mini stepper.


Focus on Good Form

To see the best muscle activation when exercising, it’s important to move with proper form. On both the mini stepper and elliptical, it’s important to move with intention and keep bringing your form to the forefront of your thoughts throughout your workout to make sure you’re moving effectively and getting the most out of your workout.

Try to avoid bobbing up and down on these machines, or letting your momentum carry you throughout your workout. Instead, brace your core and focus on using your legs to push with power into the pedals. You’ll get the most out of your muscles from each workout and reduce your risk of injury.


Pay Attention to Resistance

Resistance will vary from machine to machine. Regardless of if you’re working with a mini stepper or elliptical, the resistance used during your workout will affect the muscle activation you get from your workout, thus the muscle toning potential. When shopping, look for a machine with lots of resistance so you can continue challenging your muscles and seeing results throughout your fitness journey.

To add more challenge to your elliptical or mini stepper workout, increase the resistance to complete HIIT intervals, which will burn calories long after you’re done with your workout.


If You’re Looking to Tone Your Thighs, Opt for a Well-Rounded Approach

Look at your mini stepper and elliptical workouts as an opportunity for training your full body, burning calories, and hitting major muscle groups. These machines are a great starting point for losing weight and building lean muscle tone in the lower body including the thighs.

While both mini stepper and elliptical workouts are great for burning calories, increasing cardiovascular endurance, and activating major muscle groups, they’re limited when it comes to focused strength training. That’s why a well-rounded approach, focused on a balanced diet, resistance training, and cardiovascular exercise is more likely to get you the results you’re looking for!


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