The Stairs Workout

I used to hate stairs and all kinds of stair related workouts, but I’ve learned they are a great workout! They burn a ton of calories and build muscles at the same time. It’s worth trying to incorporate stairs workouts into your routine.

My Stairs Workout

It all started yesterday when I was waiting to go to water aerobics. There was nowhere to sit so I ended up standing on the stairs. Not one to just stand around, I started going up and down the half flight of stairs while we were waiting. I got a few comments how about how crazy/silly/tough/dumb I was for doing it, but I kept going. It turned out to be a more intense version of the pacing I like to do while waiting. It was – get this – relaxing.


So today I decided to use stairs as my cardio workout.  Awesome idea, right?  I had mentioned my desire to do cardio on stairs to Michelle, the fitness intern, and she told me to go do 10 flights up and down (which is two flights from top to bottom).  So I took that advice to start my workout… and then I ran with it.

I did 10 sets up and down as quickly as I could.  I don’t run stairs because I have bad knees, but I went up them quickly.  I then decided to do it five more times, putting a walk down the hallway inbetween each up and down.  I hit that and decided since I did it 15 times I could do it another five times.

So I did.

I went up and down the stairs here 20 times.

That is 40 flights of stairs.

650 stairs.

In a half hour.

Post Stairs Photo

I remember a time at my gym last September when I was working out sporadically and then realized I had a wedding to be in and needed to get in shape.  A trainer told me to go do stairs because it would work my legs and be the fastest way to get in shape.  I thought he knew a few things and should listen so I tried.  I got up and down the 3 flights at our gym twice.  And then I quit because I couldn’t do it.  I just did almost 8 times that many stairs and I feel like I could go do more if I really wanted to (I don’t).

It’s amazing how fit I am.  This was a good workout, but it was also a good test of my fitness level.

I took this picture after  my workout.  It’s hard to tell, but I’m definitely sweaty and my legs are shaking.  It was an awesome feeling.

Your Stairs Workout

You can do your own stairs workout by using stairs in your home or finding some stairs in a nearby building or gym. Simply set a time or quantity goal and get to it!

If you don’t have access to stairs or you prefer to workout on equipment, you can get affordable stair stepper machines for your home. This might actually be better because you could watch TV while doing a stepping workout – that would make it way better!

Here are a couple options under $100 from Amazon that would allow you to do a stairs workout at home:

stairs workout - aerobic stepper

Tone Fitness Aerobic Stepper

  • Non-slip surface for your stair stepping workout routine
  • Adjustable for two height levels: 4″ or 6″ heights

stairs workout - twister stepper

Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper

  • Compact, surprisingly versatile home fitness device
  • Portable elliptical machine with built-in resistance training

stairs workout - stepper with handle bar

Sunny Twister Stepper with Handle Bar

  • Twist stepper workout machine with handlebar and multi-function LCD computer
  • Twist action works and tones buttock and leg muscles with reduced bone/joint pressure
  • Adjustable stepping height; handle bar for balance

There is always a way to get in a stairs/stepping workout!

I’m not going to promise that I will always use stairs as a workout, but it is a nice option to throw into the mix of cardio choices since it is an excellent workout and can be done almost anywhere.

Have you ever utilized stairs in a pinch?  Or just love doing stairs workouts?

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  1. I do not love doing them. :-) But, I walk at an indoor track around our college’s basketball court. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll take a trip up and down the bleacher stairs in between laps. It is definitely a good work out, and my legs certainly hurt the next morning! Or two.
    .-= Janet´s last blog ..Paradise by the Elliptical Machine Light =-.

    • Yeah, I like throwing in some stairs if I’m doing another workout, just for a little burst. The stairs only thing was killer.

  2. The other day I was in Dunedin without a gym and feeling very frustrated with my lack of activity. So I went for a walk, found a massive set of stairs and went up and down twice before carrying on walking some MASSIVE hills. Those stairs got my heartrate up and while I was sweaty and puffed, it felt GOOOOOD.

    It’s also amazing to do it and realise how far you’ve come – 2 years ago I would have been puffed just walking up those stairs once, much less running them!
    .-= Gemfit´s last blog ..A need for numbers =-.

    • That’s awesome!

      I love the feeling of knowing I’ve made progress. It makes me happy to know that I can now do something I couldn’t have done before.

  3. That’s awesome girl. I’ve been taking the stairs at work to get a lil mid-day workout in…I hate stairs but not near as much as I hate the elliptical.

    • Really? I love the elliptical and hate the stairs!! Like, so much. I would much rather do the elliptical. But good for you getting a mid-day workout in!! Woot!

    • Haha, I’m sure you have stairs where you are!! Get on them! Or if you want to come back in the next two weeks, feel free! I’ll be here!

  4. I used to use the step machine at the gym, which is sorta like stairs, before my dr told me not to cuz of knees. BUT I do always walk up and down our stairs in my apt building instead of taking the elevator (unless I’m carrying something heavy). Of course, it’s only 2 flights. On days when I don’t get to go to the gym or have a small workout, I do skip the bus and walk the last part of to my house instead, which is all uphill. And if you’ve ever seen SF, we have BIG hills. It always makes me feel a lil better!
    .-= merri´s last blog ..Judging a Book by its Cover =-.

    • You guys do have giant hills. I think hills are just as good a workout. When you mentioned the knees on twitter I knew I probably should have taken it easy, but sometimes I forget they will hurt afterwards. I never used to do the stair stepper at the gym for that very reason. I guess I just felt like torturing myself today.

      Oh well, ice time!!

  5. i work on the 32 floor of a building and my coworker and i used to do the stairs everyday at 2pm. just 7 flights (of 20 stairs each) can make your legs shake for hours. i’ll have to get her to start back up with me. thanks for the reminder!
    .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Boom Shake the Shroom =-.

    • Wow. WOW. I would totally be lame and take the elevator if I worked there. Yeah, my legs were shaking after 10 trips up…. by the end I could barely move them! … Good luck getting back into the stairs! It is a fantastic workout. :)

      • wait, just to be clear, i don’t go up all 32! hell to the no! :) we’ve go down 32 every few months and we can’t walk for days. if we went up, there would trained emergency professionals involved :)

        40 flights is amazing – nice work!
        .-= Adrienne´s last blog ..Boom Shake the Shroom =-.

        • Oh ok! That makes more sense! That is a lot of stairs! It is always best to keep from doing things that would require emergency personnel. Hehe.

  6. Mary, you are just plan awesome! I haven´t been commenting, but I have been reading your blog. After 2 weeks here, I´m feeling the effects of not enough exercise, so am trying to get little things done today, so I have time all week to get in a workout each day. Maybe I´ll go find some stairs!

  7. @Margie
    I’ve missed you!! It’s okay, I’m bad at commenting on other blogs myself. I just never seem to have the time to do that in addition to everything else I need/want to do. So it’s okay if you don’t… but I do LOVE hearing from you!! It’s so easy to get out of the habit of exercising! Just do a little bit, any little bit is better than nothing! Stairs are hard but they are always available. But at the very least you can go walking. That’s exercise! :)

  8. @JackSht
    I’m sorry the fear of my mom is censoring your comments. I would just like to mention that there is no elevator here. Sorry.

    I used to be scared of them. Now I’m not scared, I just don’t prefer doing them. Hehe.

    They do! My whole lower half was working hard! And thanks. :)

    When it gets warmer I’m totally going to do a stadium workout. It’s a new goal.

  9. what a great idea! and its totally free.
    we have two flights of stairs to get to our flat… i dont know if the neighbours would like me thundering up and down them all the time though.

  10. I am on the 4th floor of my building. To get to each floor you have to do 3 flights of stairs (9 flights of stairs, 81 stairs total) I do that in the morning when I come to work and when I am returning from lunch. I love it, definitely gets my heart pumping.