Stairs are the perfect exercise accessory—they’re everywhere, they’re versatile and they’re free. Even if you live in a one-story home or apartment, you can easily find a set of stairs in your community. Here are 5 easy workout ideas to get your whole body moving:
The most obvious exercise to do with a flight of stairs is to simply climb them. Even with just one set of stairs you can really get and keep your heart rate up by climbing up and jogging down. Just be careful not to slam down on your feet on the descent—keep your steps light and your knees lifted to protect your joints. Consider changing up each climb by varying your speed: climb taking one step at a time, skip steps, jog, or side step your way up on one side and then the other.
If you’re looking for a high intensity, heart pumping workout, try jumping. Start out by simply jumping with both feet together up a flight or single step. Switch to alternate leg hops, where one foot lands back on the ground and the other raises up to meet the step, then jump again to switch your feet. Jumping down a flight of stairs, however, is not recommended because of the increased impact on your joints and the risk of falling.
Raised leg lunges strengthen the front and back of your thighs. Place one foot on the floor a few feet from the step and the second foot on top of the step, toes pointing forward. Keep your front foot flat on the floor and come up onto the toes of your back foot. Bend your top leg to 90 degrees while your lower knee bends to almost touch the floor and push back up to straight legs. Do not let either knee bend past 90 degrees. To add an upper body workout, hold a dumbbell in each hand and curl each time you lower your body. Start by doing 3 sets of 20 on each leg.
Turn your body to the side so the step is parallel to your feet. Place one foot on the step and slide the other foot out so that you have taken a wide stance. While raising your arms up to shoulder height, bend your knees and lower your gluts to pretend like you are sitting down in a low chair. Do not let your knees come forward; keep them directly over your ankles. Push back up, lower your arms by your sides and squeeze your gluts and thigh muscles at the top of your extension. Start out with 3 sets of 20 on each leg. Add hand weights to increase the intensity.
With your back to the step, place your palms face down on the edge of the step, fingers pointing forward and elbows pointing back. Extend your body out in front of you in a straight line. Bend your elbows until your upper arms are parallel with the floor, extend back up. Start by doing three sets of 15. As these become easier, consider raising one leg for one set and then other.