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Answer: Absolutely not, says Michele S. Olson, PhD, a professor of exercise science at Auburn University in Montgomery, Alabama. Cardio machines build muscular endurance, not size, says Olson. It may be a common misconception, since your hips, butt, or thighs might actually look slightly larger immediately after a workout on the stair climber. This is because the arteries and veins in your legs dilate during your workout due to increased blood flow. But this change is only temporary, says Olson. The effect quickly diminishes as soon as your heart rate and blood pressure fall back to normal. So the long-term effect will not be bigger thighs, says Olson. For toned legs, do the stair climber three days a week along with other sculpting moves.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.