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When I was at my most fit as a gymnast I could do some really impressive athletic and strength and endurance things, but put me on a stair machine and you’d think it was my 2nd day ever working out. They’ve always been so hard for me
I find that to be the hardest cardio machine.
Stair machines, or actual stairs, or elevation work in general, is/are NOTORIOUSLY rough. An entire stair race up 69 floors might only last 5-20 minutes.
If you are on a stair machine or going up stairs, you need to stop thinking of cardio in terms or running or of 30m+ sessions of continuous movement.
Now, caveat – I don’t know what your health situation is, I don’t know how fast you’re trying to go, and heart palpitations are a bad sign, please talk to a medical professional.
But I will say that at an 80 stair per minute rate, which is not even a jog, just a brisk walk, 5 to 7 minutes is enough to climb 400-560 stairs, or 800-1120 if you double stepped the whole way, which is the length of a decent sized full stair race
…which are ABSURDLY rough on the body and which most people would train for specifically.
So it is always possible that you are setting the machine to a speed that looks “reasonable,” but are calibrating your expectations based on flat ground when that is a really bad model for what you’re actually doing.
Like everything else it’s all about speed.
Slowly walking for 10 minutes is easy. Running full blast for 10 minutes is impossible.
Reduce the speed. Put it on slowest setting. Do you still gas out immediately? I doubt it. Ok. Increase the speed by one. Now how’d it go? Repeat until you find your level. Train at that level. Increase level over time.
Cardio 101. It doesn’t matter how you’re doing it. You have to train at your current speed and slowly increase over time.
Stair-climbing is more energy intensive than walking. You’ll climb slower than you walk.
It doesn’t get any easier, you just get faster.
I lost 100 lbs using the stairs almost daily. Absolutely the hardest cardio machine, but once you get used to it, everything else is a piece of cake.