If you crave muscular glutes, toned thighs and calves, and a kick-butt cardio workout, then it's time to climb some stairs. Everyone from elite athletes to weekend warriors to beginners can climb stairs, making it an effective overall workout for all fitness levels.
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Not only are stairs a fantastic cardio workout, but stair exercises for abs can also shred the fat around your waist and leave you with that flat stomach you've always desired.
Climbing stairs to lose belly fat isn't a magic cure. In order to achieve the flat stomach of your dreams, you'll need a multi-prong approach of diet, cardio and strength training.
Understand Why Stairs Work
When you walk or run upstairs, your entire body is utilized. From your calves and glutes to your arms and abs, every muscle is activated to propel your body upward. There are multiple ways you can climb stairs — slowly, quickly or in intervals. For optimal fat burn, it's recommended that you climb stairs in high-intensity intervals.
According to an article published in the June 2015 issue of Kinesiology, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is more effective for removing abdominal fat than moderate-intensity continuous training. If you don't have access to outdoor stairs, you can use a stair-stepper to mimic the movement, as demonstrated by ExRx.net. Set the speed on slow and avoid using your hands as much as possible.
Stair workouts can be an intense interval workout. As you walk or run up the stairs, your lungs and muscles are taxed. In order to climb more stairs, you must walk back down the stairs, allowing your lungs and muscles to recover during that time. Because of this type of intense work followed by recovery, stair workouts act as a high-intensity workout.
Climbing Stairs to Lose Belly Fat
Stairs are an exercise that almost everyone can do. If you're a beginner, start by walking up stairs right in the comfort of your own home. As you progress, you can skip stairs and climb two stairs at a time.
For the intermediate to advanced athlete, try running stairs one at a time and two at a time. As you increase your speed, your distance and your repetitions, you'll increase your heart rate and burn more fat.
To burn calories even after you're finished with your workout, incorporate high-intensity intervals into your training. These HIIT workouts activate "EPOC," or excess postexercise oxygen consumption, which means that you continually burn calories even after your workout is finished, as explained by the American College of Sports Medicine.
That means if you complete a HIIT workout and then watch your favorite show afterward, you'll continue to burn calories while watching your show.
Proceed With Caution
Because HIIT workouts and sprints can be more intense on the central nervous system and the body overall, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you begin with just one HIIT workout a week. As you progress in your workouts, add a second interval workout a week.
Do not complete HIIT workouts back to back as your body needs time to recover in order to grow. Working out is catabolic, meaning it breaks your muscles down. Proper recovery time is needed for your muscles to repair and be ready for the next exercise day.