If you have access to a set of stairs -- at home, at your office, at a local park, wherever -- then guess what? You basically have access to a makeshift gym.

And not a froofy, sissy gym, either. Stair workouts are killer because you have to carry your own bodyweight up an incline against gravity. It's brutal. And if you're the type who sucks wind after climbing a couple flights of stairs (don't worry, most people do), this workout is pretty much guaranteed to knock you flat on your back.

Not all of the suggested exercises are appropriate for all people, so go at your own pace and focus on the exercises you can do, subbing in basic stair climbing for the exercises you can't. Over time, you can work your way up to completing the whole shebang.

Workout time: 35-45 minutes (depending on rest time between circuits)
You'll need: A timer

Warm-up: Climb and jack

Set your timer for five minutes. Start your warm-up by walking up a flight of stairs. At the top of the stairs, perform 30 jumping jacks before walking down the stairs. When you reach the bottom, do 30 more jumping jacks and continue.

Circuit #1: 10-minute conditioning series

Set your timer for 10 minutes. For this circuit, you'll complete the exercises as detailed, cycling through the series continuously for the full 10 minutes. The goal is to keep moving, so try not to take breaks between each exercise or at the end of each series. If you need a break, slow down and walk for a flight or two at your own pace before continuing.

  • Three flights stair running: Just like it sounds, run up the stairs as fast as you can, taking steps one at a time. If you're new to stair workouts, walk down the stairs on the way back to the bottom; if you're comfortable with the exercise, jog down the stairs at a comfortable pace.
  • Two flights two or three at a time: Run up the stairs as fast as you can, this time skipping at least one step with each step. If you're more advanced, try skipping two, or even three steps with each bound. Walk or jog comfortably back down the stairs.
  • Two flights half-grapevines: Turn so your right side is facing the stairwell. Take a step up with your right foot, cross your left foot in front of your right foot to take the next step, then take the next step again with your right foot, uncrossing your legs. Continue this step-cross-step-cross sequence all the way up the stairs, going as fast as you feel comfortable. When you reach the top, walk or jog back down at a comfortable pace. On the second flight, turn the opposite direction, this time leading with your left foot.
  • One flight two-foot hops: Stand at the bottom of the stairs, your feet hip-width apart. Hop up onto the first step, landing on the balls of your feet, with your knees and hips slightly bent. Without pausing, immediately repeat the action, hopping to the next stair. Go as fast as you comfortably can, swinging your arms to help with momentum. When you reach the top, walk or jog down at a comfortable pace.
  • 30 mini-stair mountain climbers (15 per leg): Set up in an inclined plank position on the stairs, with your feet on the floor just in front of the bottom step. Make sure your body forms a straight line from your heels to your head, your abs tight and your hands aligned with your shoulders. Place the ball of your right foot on the first stair. When you're ready, hop both feet into the air and switch their positions, so your left foot lands on the stair, and your right on the floor. Immediately hop both feet back into the air and switch their positions again. Continue for 30 total foot-switches, or 15 per leg.
  • One flight walking climb: This is a quick "recovery," simply walk up and down the flight of stairs at your own pace before continuing the circuit.

After 10 minutes, rest for one to two minutes before starting the next circuit.

Circuit #2: 10-minute lower-body strength & power series

The lower-body series is completed the same way as the conditioning series -- simply set your timer for 10 minutes and cycle through the following exercises continuously until time runs out.

  • Two flights lateral squat climbs: Turn so your right side is facing the stairwell and place your right foot on the second step. With your weight in your heels and your core tight, press your hips back and perform a squat, lowering your glutes toward the stairs. Press back to standing and shift your weight to the right, stepping your left foot up onto the first step before taking another step up the stairs with your right foot. Perform another squat, and continue all the way up the stairs. Walk or jog comfortably back down the stairs. On your next flight, turn your body the opposite way to lead with your left leg.
  • 20 Bulgarian split squats (10 per leg): Stand facing away from the stairwell, placing the top of your right foot on the second or third stair (whichever feels most comfortable). Stand balanced with your weight primarily in the heel of your left (front) foot. Tighten your core and bend both knees, lowering your back knee toward the floor. Reach your hands toward the ground on either side of your left foot. Press through your left heel and return to standing. Complete all 10 reps to one side before switching legs.
  • One flight squat jacks: Stand facing the stairs, your feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart, your toes angled slightly outward. With your weight in your heels, squat down, then jump up into the air as you draw your legs together, landing on the first step with your feet side by side. Immediately lower yourself into a narrow-leg squat, pressing your hips back and keeping your core tight. Jump into the air again, spreading your legs before you land on the next step in a wide-legged position. Continue this squat jack sequence all the way up the stairs. If jumping is too hard, step it out, stepping your legs wide, then narrow, performing a squat on each step. Walk or jog at a comfortable pace back down the stairs.
  • Two flights step skips: Walk up the stairs slowly and methodically, skipping two to three steps at a time. At the top of the stairs, walk or jog down at a comfortable pace. Lead with a different foot on each pass.
  • Two flights angled lunges: Start centered at the bottom of the stairwell, take a wide step up and laterally with your right foot, skipping over the bottom step, so it's positioned to the outer right edge of the second step. Step your left foot up, bringing it to meet your right foot before taking a wide step up and laterally to the left, placing your left foot to the outer left side of the fourth step (skipping over the third step). Continue this action all the way up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, walk or jog back down at a comfortable pace. On the next pass, lead with your left leg first.
  • One flight walking climb: This is a quick "recovery," simply walk up and down the flight of stairs at your own pace before continuing the circuit.

After 10 minutes, rest for one to two minutes before starting the final circuit.

Circuit #3: 10-minute upper-body series

No surprises here, you'll continue your workout by performing a 10-minute continuous series of the following exercises. Do what you can and take it slow if you need to -- chances are you're already tired, so don't actually kill yourself, OK?

  • One flight push-ups: Start in a push-up position with your feet on the floor in front of the first step, your hands on the stair that enables your palms to be aligned under your shoulders. Perform a push-up, lowering your chest all the way to the stair, then pressing back to start. Step both feet up to the first step before moving your hands to the next step. Perform another push-up and continue all the way up the stairs. At the top of the stairs, simply reverse the exercise, performing a push-up before stepping your hands down a step and following with your feet.
  • One flight dips: Sit on the ground, facing away from the stairs, your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Place your palms on the first stair, your elbows pointing backward. Engage your shoulders, triceps, and core, and press down through your palms, extending your arms as you lift your hips off the ground until you can sit on the first step. Really focus on using your triceps and shoulders to lift your weight, rather than using your legs. Place your palms on the next step and continue, climbing all the way up the flight. At the top of the stairs, reverse the movement, this time placing your palms to either side of your hips on the top step, then using your triceps and shoulders to carefully control your body as you lower your hips to the next step.
  • One flight bear crawls: Crawl up the stairs, one at a time, keeping your knees bent in a crouch-like position, but never letting them touch the stairs. Take a step up with your left hand, then right foot, then right hand, then left foot. Try to keep your hips down, rather than pointing them up toward the ceiling. At the top of the stairs, reverse the movement and crawl backward in the same way you crawled forward.
  • One flight crab walks: Start seated at the bottom of the stairs, facing away from the stairs with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Place your palms on the ground behind you and press through your palms and feet to lift your hips from the ground. From this position, crab walk backward, up the stairs, moving continuously without allowing your hips to touch down. Take a step with your right hand, left foot, left hand, right foot, all the way up the stairs. At the top, reverse the movement and crawl back down the stairs in the same way you crawled up the stairs.
  • One flight walking climb: This is a quick "recovery," simply walk up and down the flight of stairs at your own pace before continuing the circuit.

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Laura Williams is an exercise physiologist and fitness writer who got tired just writing this workout. Grab a copy of her book, Partner Workouts, and connect with her on Twitter @girlsgonesporty.

Clickbait

close

Learn More