Not too long ago I was working as a personal trainer at a local gym. As I walked around the floor trying to find some potential clients, a woman approached me.
She had just signed up for personal training services and wanted to know the names of all the cardio equipment.
I explained to her that the best workout for her would involve the free weights section.
She proceeded to say that’s what she would be doing with her newly hired personal trainer (sadly not me). She was more curious about her favorite cardio machine, the Stairmaster.
A secret that most people don’t realize is that most personal trainers despise cardio machines. If you walk into any gym in America, the most out of shape people are always on cardio machines.
She seemed like a nice person, so I kept my opinions to myself and walked her over to that gym’s stairmaster.
As I explained the controls, she mentioned that this was her favorite machine of all time. She would literally walk stay on this machine for hours at her old gym.
It was at that moment that a lightbulb went off on top of my head.
As great as the stairmaster is at getting you tired, I realized I could do better.
Not necessary for her, but for all those out there in the working world. I realized something that almost everyone that works have in common.
Whether staying at a hotel, working from home or working inside a big office building, everyone seems to have access to some stairs!
The Young Engineer’s Discovery Out Of Boredom
Once upon a time, MicVinny worked as an electrical engineering for this cool government contractor project. My team consisted of 4 people.
The project revolved around using a person’s automatic brain response to detect whether or not that person recognized the image being displayed to them.
It was a pretty cool experiment!
The only problem I had with the job was that when we were not running experiments; I didn’t have much to do.
Working eight-hour days was extremely boring!
To make the day go by faster, I would go to the top of the building and proceed to walk down the stairs.
I could not get on the staircase from the ground floor so I had to go all the way to the top. I figure it was better than nothing.
MicVinny’s Top 14 Stair Workout Exercises
In the tradition of me walking down those stairs, I have put together 14 stair related workouts for anyone with access to stairs.
You can do this during your office breaks, lunch break, after work, your home, in a hotel or whenever.
The key is to understand that you don’t need a fancy expensive piece of machine to get the benefits of stairs.
Just use real stairs!!
Warning: You will definitely sweat and feel painful sensations in your legs with a side benefit of better cardio endurance, fat burning and more strength in your legs.
Stair Exercises For Cardio & Conditioning
Race To The Top
Set a timer and proceed to go up the stairs as fast as possible (but in a safe manner).
Once at the top, check your time.
Walk back the steps and repeat.
Each day, try to beat your previous best time.
If you have several flights of stairs, try small progressions. (sets of 2 flights of stairs today, sets of 3 flights next time, sets of 4 next week, etc.)
From The Bottom To The Top
Just like Race To The Top except you’re going to keep the timer rolling as you quickly make your way down to the bottom.
Once at the bottom, you’ll stop your timer and check our time.
Take a short rest and repeat if necessary.
Some buildings have emergency doors that prevent access to stairways from the ground floor.
If you have such a situation in which you cannot access the stairs from the bottom floor, try getting into the staircase from a higher floor.
The object of Down Low is to go down the stairs as fast as possible.
Once at the bottom, take the elevator up, and repeat as fast as you can for as many rounds you want to go.
This routine is not as effective as running up stairs, but it’s better than nothing.
2 Steps Up 1 Step Down
For every two steps you go up, go down one step.
Repeat until you’re up at the top.
You will want to go at a slower pace to avoid tripping. Time yourself and try to beat your time.
3 Steps Down 2 Steps Up
Like the previous, but you will be starting from the top of the stairs.
For every three steps you go down, you will go two steps up.
One Small Step for Man
Take just one small step forward and bring both feet together.
Now use opposite foot to go to the next step and repeat.
This movement will take longer to complete but will give you a nice tension in your quadriceps
One Giant Leap for Mankind
As you go up the stairs, try to stretch your legs out so you can skip 1-3 stairs. The idea is to fully stretch your legs out.
By stretching your legs out, you will emphasize your glutes and quadriceps.
Walk up and down the stairs backwards. Takes some coordination and balance, but stick with it for a change of pace.
The Animal Crawl
Crawl up the stairs like an animal with all four limbs helping you up. This is an upper and lower body movement.
Resistance Stair Exercises
So far everything has been more cardio focused. These last exercises are more about using the stairs to help build some muscle.
For those who suck at push ups, use the stairs for assistance.
Go as far high as you need to go to be able to do at least 5 incline pushups.
Try to improve each time.
As you reach 15 reps, go down one stair. If able to do 15 again, keep going down…repeat until you can do 15 normal push-ups.
One of my favorite squat progressions (see: 4 Simple Bodyweight Squat Progressions You Should Learn). Go as low as you comfortable can.
Seated Leg Curls
Just like the machine you will find at a gym except instead of weights you’re going to be using the side of a step for resistance.
While seating on a step, squeeze your hamstrings as you try to bring your legs towards your glutes. Squeeze for 3 – 5 seconds before releasing.
Single-leg partial squats
If you can’t squat I’ll make an exception if I see you do this one!
Go up and lateral stand on a step with your left leg. Slowly lower your right leg down until your foot is just above the ground.
Pause for 3 seconds and try not to touch the ground or the wall for stabilization. Slowly raise your right leg up in two seconds.
Repeat 4 – 8 more times. Switch sides.
This is like a lunge but with your back foot resting on a stair. Choose a step level that’s comfortable. Place your right foot behind and proceed to squat down with your right foot.
After doing these exercises, you’ll never look at a flight of stairs the same way again!