Young Man Exercising On Stairs In The CityShare on Pinterest

We’re not talking about gym stair-climber machines, though they have their place. We’re talking about a good old-fashioned set of steps, be they the zigzagging flights in your office building or the well-trod bleachers at a nearby stadium.

A staircase workout is an incredibly effective way to improve your fitness and overall health. A 2005 study found that walking 200 steps twice a day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks can cause a 17-percent increase in VO2 max, a common measurement of aerobic fitness.Boreham CAG, et al. (2005). Training effects of short bouts of stair climbing on cardiorespiratory fitness, blood lipids, and homocysteine in sedentary young women. DOI: 10.1136/bjsm.2002.001131

Newer research highlights the benefits of stair-climbing too. A 2017 study found that a few minutes of sprint interval training (STI) on stairs three times a week improved overall cardiovascular fitness after just 6 weeks.Allison MK, et al. (2017). Brief intense stair climbing improves cardiorespiratory fitness. DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001188

A 2019 study also found that “exercise snacks” (i.e., three quick stair-climbing breaks during the day) led to increased oxygen uptake, a sign that cardiovascular fitness is on the up and up.Jenkins EM, et al. (2019). Do stair climbing exercise snacks improve cardiorespiratory fitness? DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0675

Plus, strength trainer Jordan Syatt says running up stairs is easier on the joints and better at improving an athlete’s range of motion than regular sprints.

But the best thing about staircase workouts? They can be done on any staircase — and they don’t cost a thing.

So find some steps and get ready, because Syatt has put together two incredible high-intensity interval training staircase workouts: one for beginners and one for the more advanced peeps.

You shouldn’t need too many stairs for this — just enough that you can run continuously for 10 to 15 seconds (about two to three flights). Remember to keep your focus on the top of the steps ahead of you. You can do it!

If you’re newer to the staircase game, this is the workout for you. Before you begin, warm up with 5 minutes of squats and jumping jacks.

Perform each of the following exercises for 10–15 seconds. Once the exercise is complete, jog back down the stairs and begin the next one.

  • Walk or run: 2 steps at a time
  • Sprint: 1 step at a time
  • High knees: 1 step at a time
  • Hop on one foot: 1 or 2 steps at a time
  • Broad jump: Jump with both feet over as many steps as possible

After each circuit, rest for 1–2 minutes. Repeat for a total of 15 minutes.

Get ready to sweat, y’all. This staircase workout is no joke. Be sure to warm up with 5 minutes of squats and jumping jacks.

Perform each of the following exercises for 15–30 seconds. Once the exercise is complete, jog back down the stairs and begin the next one.

  • Sprint: Clear as many steps as possible
  • Hop on one foot: 1 or 2 steps at a time
  • High knees: While facing right
  • High knees: While facing left
  • Step hops: Hop on and off the bottom step as quickly as possible, 10 reps per leg
  • Deep lunges: 2 or more steps at a time

After each circuit, rest for 1–2 minutes. Repeat for a total of 20 minutes.