When it comes to traditional stair workouts, the stepmill reigns supreme. But if you can't make it to the gym (or every machine is occupied) you can do this 20-minute stair workout right at home.
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Next time a trip to the gym seems particularly burdensome, try this routine, courtesy of Matt Cheng, CSCS, to keep your relationship with stair workouts alive and well — no machine needed.
1. Towel In and Out Push-Ups
- Place your hands on a towel shoulder-width apart on the first, second or third step of your stairs. Extend your legs out behind you, coming into a high plank. Keep your body in a straight line from head to hips to heels.
- Bend your arms at a 45-degree angle from your ribcage and lower until your chest hovers just above the ground.
- On an exhale, push into the ground and return to the starting position.
- Then, use the towel to glide along the step and bring your hands closer together (about 5 inches apart).
- Then, bend your elbows again, lowering until your chest hovers just above the ground.
- Exhale and push back up to high plank.
How difficult this move is depends on where you place your hands. The higher your hands are from your feet, the easier it will be. Conversely, if you put your feet on the stairs and your hands on the ground, the move will be harder.
2. Stair Climb
- Begin standing at the bottom of your staircase.
- Climb up the stairs, one foot after the other.
- Once you reach the top, climb back down.
- Up and down the staircase is one lap.
3. Bulgarian Split Squat
- Stand a few feet away from the bottom of your staircase, facing away.
- Root your left foot into the ground and lift your right leg and place it on the second step (or wherever feels comfortable for your hip mobility).
- Bend your left leg to 90 degrees, making sure that your knee doesn't extend past your toes.
- Keep your weight in your left leg and return to standing.
Reps: 15 on each leg
Split squats can be challenging. If you struggle to return to standing, use the staircase rail for a little extra support.
4. Stair Climb
- Begin at the bottom of the staircase.
- Climb up the stairs, then back down — that's one lap.
5. Stair Step-Ups
- Stand at the bottom of the stairs.
- Step up onto the first or second stair (depending on your ability and height) with your right foot. Straighten your right leg and let your left leg dangle behind you.
- Step back down off the stair, then step back up using your right leg.
- Try to rebound as quickly as possible, going right into the next step-up.
Reps: 10 on each leg
You can make this move more challenging by holding either a pair of dumbbells or two full gallon water jugs at your sides.
6. Stair Climb
- Begin at the bottom of your staircase.
- Climb up the stairs and back down.
7. Towel Lateral Lunge to Curtsy Lunge
- Stand with your feet at hip-width apart, a towel under your right foot.
- With your weight in your left leg, bend your left knee to 90 degrees and simultaneously extend your right leg out to your right side, keeping the leg straight, toes pointing forward and slightly out.
- Keeping the weight in your left leg, begin to straighten your left knee.
- At the same time, keeping your right leg straight, return to the starting standing position.
- Keeping your left leg rooted, begin to bend the knee again.
- This time, bring your right leg back and across your body, bending the knee until it hovers slightly above the ground.
- Your right foot should finish a few feet behind and outside your left foot.
- Straighten your left knee and bring the right foot back to standing position.
Reps: 10 per leg
If needed, use your staircase railing for some extra support. Or, you can perform this move without the towel to make it a little easier.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.