Walking stairs is an excellent way to develop lower body musculature. It targets all major muscle groups in the legs and is less expensive than joining a gym and using the stair climber. There are several benefits of walking stairs for muscular development and a few ways to diversify this activity for best results.
Muscles Developed From Walking Stairs
Walking stairs strengthens and builds muscular endurance in all the major muscle groups of the lower body. The quadriceps, hamstrings, gluteals, and calves are all used in extending the knees and hips. The hip flexors help you lift your knees. The adductors and abductors of the inner and outer thighs, respectively, help stabilize the leg from swinging side-to-side. Even the tibialis anterior on the front of the shin is active, especially when you walk back down the stairs.
You don't have to go to your local football field and walk the bleachers to incorporate stairs into your day. Choose stairs over elevators and escalators at work, malls, airports, subways, and stadiums. The stairs in your house or apartment building count, too. To improve fitness, add an extra flight onto stairs that you climb frequently throughout the day and walk back down.
Move Sideways to Work Your Inner and Outer Thighs
Lateral stair walking enables you to additionally challenge and develop the adductor and abductor muscles. While facing sideways with your left foot closest to the base of the stairs, step onto the first stair with your left foot and then your right. Repeat this pattern all the way to the top of the stairs. For balance, do your next flight of stairs facing in the other direction and lead with your right foot. Moving sideways shifts the primary emphasis of muscular development to the inner and outer thighs.
Stepups for Bigger Muscles
To stimulate even more muscular growth, take a break from walking stairs to perform the stepup exercise. At the base of the stairs, place your right foot on the second step. Using the strength of your right leg, step your left leg onto the second step next to your right foot. Landing softly, step your left foot only back to the base of the stairs, and keep going. This exercise requires continuous effort of the right leg and will lead to improved muscular strength and size. Repeat the stepup with the left leg on the second step. You can perform this exercise standing sideways as a lateral stepup to emphasize the inner and outer thigh muscles. Add dumbbells to your stepup workout to more efficiently develop your lower body muscles.
- American Council on Exercise; American Council on Exercise Certified Professionals Say Do More Squats, Lunges
- American Council on Exercise; High Intensity Stair Workout
- National Strength & Conditioning Association's Performance Training Journal; Functional Exercises for Improving Snowshoe Performance; Tami Dick; February 2004.