I trot up lots of stairs every day. What techniques can I use to maximize muscle-building benefits?
With proper technique, you can receive almost the same benefit on stairs as you do performing lunges in the gym. Namely, you’ll improve tone and strength in the glutes, quads and hamstrings -- the three visible leg muscles everyone wants to firm up.
Stair Climbing for Fitness: Rules
Rule No. 1
: Slow down. Your emphasis isn’t on endurance or aerobic capacity, it’s muscle building, so you don’t want to cheat by using momentum to propel yourself upward.
Rule No. 2
: Take the stairs two at a time. If you’re really tall and the motion feels comfortable, take three, even. And no hands on the railing.
Stair Climbing for Fitness: Technique
To start the exercise, place your left foot two stairs higher than the right. Bend your left knee forward so your shin is at nearly a 45-degree angle to the stair. Place all your weight on that left foot, then lift your right leg upward. (Make sure you’re not launching with the back foot because that would create momentum.) Plant the right foot two (or three) stairs up and repeat the exercise, distributing all your weight on it as evenly as possible. Even two or three flights of stairs work great.
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About the Expert
Jay Blahnik was chosen by Shape magazine as one of the world’s top five fitness instructors. The IDEA
Health and Fitness Association also named him International Instructor of the
Year. He’s a spokesman for Nautilus fitness equipment and the author of Full