Get Ready for Shorts & Swimsuit Season NOW with This Stair Climbing Workout

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Looking for a workout that will really kick your butt? If typical cardio options – running, biking, elliptical, etc. – don’t feel like enough for you, try a stair climbing workout. Besides being incredible for cardio and fat burning (over 900 calories per hour!), stair climbing lets you exercise and tone your entire legs.  There’s really nothing else like it.

Lower Leg View of Sneakers-Clad Woman Doing Stairs Workout Outdoors | Vitacost Blog

Benefits of stair climbing exercise

Strengthen and tone: Quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves are all engaged with every step taken on the stairs. This results in toning, tightening and strengthening. It’s like doing a leg press, lunge or squat with each step!

Promote heart health: Because of the steepness of the stairs, climbing is a vigorous cardio workout. It will accelerate your heart and let you take in more oxygen to be converted into energy for your workout (as well as to strengthen your lungs and overall cardiovascular health).

Burn calories: Continuously using these large active muscle groups during a session raises heart rate causing calories to burn not only during your workout but throughout the day, which means your metabolism is working all day long. 

Improve posture: Practicing good posture during a stair climbing workout is imperative and can help to break a poor posture habit. Climbing stairs using proper posture will engage your core and help to burn more calories. It also can help you to keep your posture strong all of the time – and boost your confidence!

A few guidelines . . .

Walking, jogging or running up stairs seems as easy as step and go; however, proper technique can make a difference in whether you’re wasting precious workout time or having a productive workout.  Follow these tips to ensure a dynamic workout.

No hunching. Stand tall, back upright, shoulders relaxed, core engaged.

Hand rails. If you choose to hold onto handrails, grip lightly, using only for balance. Gripping too tightly usually turns to hunching during the workout.

Focus. Keep your eyes straight ahead, not looking down.

Foot landing. Step with your foot, then push through your heel as you bring your foot up. This not only targets the glutes and quads but also puts less pressure on your knees.

Descending. As you’re coming back down the stairs, it’s best to walk and not run. Running may cause injury to ankles and/or knees.

Warm up. Always warm up at least 5 minutes before starting your workout.

Take breaks: Always take breaks when needed. Stop to stretch, hydrate and listen to your body.

Progress. Take your time and progress slowly adding 1 minute to each workout as you feel comfortable.

Surrounding. If you’re climbing stairs outside of the gym, beware of uneven surfaces, the weather and lighting. Put safety first!  

3 Stair climbing exercise plans

Now, you need a plan! There are several places you can do a stair climbing workout: the bleachers at a local school, stairs at the park, on a stair climber (stepmill) machine at the gym or just stairs at home. Here are three workouts to get you started:

Beginner (20 min. workout)

5 minute warm-up: walk up and down stairs

Jog up stairs at a medium pace for 30 seconds

Walk down steps for 30 seconds

Repeat for 5 rounds

Next, run/sprint for 20 seconds, then slow down for 10-second recovery

Repeat 10 more times if possible (if not, work up to this)

Cool down 5 minutes with an easy climb and stretch

More advanced (20 -30 minute workout)

5 minute warm-up

Run/sprint up stairs 20-30 seconds; descend back down

Repeat sequence for 10-20 minutes

5-minute cool down and stretch

Gym Stair climber HIIT workout (25 minute workout)

5 minute warm-up

30 seconds at a high tempo pace, then recovery pace for 60 seconds

Repeat this sequence for 20 minutes

Tempo and pace are up to you and what you feel comfortable doing