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Cardio exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is one of the best ways to get the heart pumping faster. Cardio can strengthen your heart muscle, improve oxygen flow throughout the body, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of numerous health issues.
Some of the most common cardiovascular exercises include brisk walking, running, jogging, swimming, boxing, and the like. If you’ve been doing any of those cardio workouts, then you’re already in the right direction towards better health!
Sometimes though, those workouts can become repetitive and boring, especially if you’ve been doing them for quite a while. There are also times when you’re way too busy at work to hit up the gym for a cycle. One way to keep up with your cardio is to use something that’s almost everywhere — a flight of stairs!
Your office building, apartment building, a sports stadium, a park, or maybe even your own home, almost all of these places will have stairs. A stair workout includes cardio and strengthening moves, giving your whole body a workout without any additional equipment. Read on to know more about the benefits of stair workouts and try them out for yourself!
Are Stairs a Good Workout?
Using a set of stairs as a workout is not only good, in fact, it’s an absolutely great idea! Stair exercises help you challenge yourself and build your lower-body strength as they use more muscles in the legs, particularly your thighs and glutes. Using the resistance of your own body weight to build strength in your legs and burn calories at the same time.
Building strength in the legs not only helps build endurance but also improves your stride and speed while avoiding injury. These elements can help you out, especially if a walking workout is a part of your fitness routine.
Benefits of Stair Workouts
A stair workout is an incredibly effective way to improve your fitness and overall health. Stair climbing forces your muscles to resist gravity and move in a vertical pattern, placing a higher demand on the lower body. Your leg muscles are working extra hard to overcome the resistance, making staircase workouts intense and therefore a great way to jack up your heart rate. Moreover, a stairs workout can help you burn fat and calories, reduce cholesterol levels, and increase your stamina and energy.
Stair exercises can also be very versatile. You can climb fast, go slower, or even incorporate other exercise forms such as mountain climbers, lunges, dips, push-ups, calf raises, and more. You can even alternate between the steps, jump up or down, hike up sideways, cross one leg in front of the other as you take a step, and so on.
These variations can spice up your fitness routine, challenge your coordination, and work your muscles laterally. Exercising on the stairs can essentially fill up both strength and cardiovascular fitness meters, making it an incredible two-in-one workout.
Surprisingly, a stair workout also places less pressure on the feet. Climbing the stairs makes use not only of your soles but also the legs, ankles, knees, hips, and basically the entire body. You can reap aerobic and muscle-building benefits just by hiking up the stairs.
Exercising on the stairs also improves neuromuscular and cardiorespiratory performance in the body as it improves gait, balance, and endurance. The base support, which is the stair step, changes and shifts as you move, making you focus on keeping your balance on point.
Last but not the least, one of the biggest benefits of a staircase workout is that you can do them on any set of stairs that you find. They don’t cost a single thing either. If you have access to a flight of stairs nearby, whether in the office or at home, or at the park, try exercising on those steps now!
How Many Stairs Should I Climb for a Good Stair Workout?
According to a Harvard Alumni Health study, climbing 10 to 19 flights a week can help improve your health and longevity. That means you should climb two to four flights on a regular basis. For beginners, it’s best to try and start climbing stairs with 10 to 12 steps, one step at a time. For more advanced exercisers, you can increase your pace by jogging or running. You can also alternate between going up the steps at a moderate pace and at your fastest pace.
You might think that climbing two steps at a time will give your muscles a more strenuous workout, however, it is actually very risky. If you have poor balance, knee problems, or short legs, you’re more likely to injure yourself by taking two steps at a time. Instead, proceed with your stairs workout carefully by switching between single-step to double-step climbing for better balance.
As always, with any exercise, consistency is the key. The more you walk using the stairs, you’ll be able to build up your endurance and hike up more steps over time.
How Long is a Good Stairs Workout?
In general, it’s good to aim for 25 to 30 minutes maximum to burn calories and really get your heart rate up. There’s also research that shows climbing a minimum of 20 seconds can bring about a quick change to your daily physical activity level.
If you’re busy at work, one way to ensure that you get your steps in is to take the stairs from the ground floor of your building to where your office floor is. That way, you can acquire a minimum of 20 seconds or more of hiking the stairs. If you’re a newbie and you want to start with a stairs workout, it’s recommended that you start slow. Begin building up to a 10-minute session and slowly build up to more time as your endurance increases.
What Kind of Exercises Can You Do with Stairs?
A good stair exercise is more than just climbing the steps! We’ve rounded up several exercises that you can mix and match to complete a whole stair fitness routine. Before doing these workouts, make sure that you warm up your joints first. Also, pay attention to your foot placement. It’s recommended that you plant your entire foot on each step when doing these workouts. Sprinkle in 1-2 minute rest periods during your session as well. Once you’re properly warmed up and ready, go on and try out these exercises!
Run as fast as you can up a flight of stairs, hitting each step. Then, jog down. Continue running up and jogging down for one minute.
Stand at the bottom of the staircase. Send your hips back into a quarter squat with your arms behind your back, and bound up two steps at a time to the top of the staircase. Jog back down to start.
This exercise works your leg muscles and will correlate over to your abs. To do this, keep your back flat against your chair while seated. Bring your left leg up and keep it straight and parallel to the floor. Put your left leg down, and then repeat the steps for your right leg. Do 20 to 30 times, alternating between opposite legs.
Stand facing the stairs and step up two stairs with your left foot. Bring your right foot to meet with the left and then step the left foot back to the bottom of the staircase. Step your right foot to meet the left once more. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue to do this for 30 seconds. If two stairs are easy for you, make it even more physically demanding by trying three stairs at a time.
Stand on the floor facing the stairs as your starting position. Place your left foot on the far-left end of the second step. Next, follow with your right leg, bringing it to the far-right end of the fourth step. Continue climbing, taking the stairs two at a time with wide steps. Remember to keep your head up. For a greater challenge, swing your arms and keep your core engaged as you do so. Once you reach the top, walk back down, completing one rep.
Triceps Stair Dip
To do this, sit on the edge of the second or third step with your arms at your sides. Press down on your palms and lift your buttocks a bit off the step. Next, extend your legs and rest your heels on the floor. If you have back issues, you can keep your feet flat on the ground and bend your legs at 90 degrees instead.
Next, slowly lower your rear by bending your arms at 90 degrees. Press back up to the starting position. This is one rep. Do 10, then run up the stairs, and then walk down. Do 10 more dips after.
Begin in a high plank position at the bottom of the stairs with your feet on the first step, hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width on the flat ground. Keeping your abs engaged and your back in a straight line, bend your elbows to lower your body until your chest touches the floor.
Push through your hands to raise back to the initial position, arms fully extended with elbows locked. Repeat as many push-ups as you can before your form gives out.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Start at the bottom of the stairs, facing away about 2-3 feet in front of the bottom step. Lift your left foot onto the second or third step, about knee height. Rest your toe on the step and assume a lunge position. Lower down on your right leg, keeping your torso straight ahead and hips square. Ensure that your knee doesn’t fall over your toe. Extend your right leg, and then repeat. Switch to your left leg after 10 to 12 reps. Repeat for a total of 3 sets per leg.
A set of stairs can provide you with a great workout. It can help you burn more calories, increase your heart health, improve muscle strength, sculpt your body, and aid you in attaining your fitness goals. Best of all, stair workouts are free to do and can be done anytime, anywhere as long as you have access to a staircase. You can even incorporate a stair workout into your regular walking routine to get the best of both worlds and maximize the benefits.
If you feel any discomfort during your workout, stop and seek the advice of a personal trainer or a medical professional.