Want to take your fitness level to new heights? Scale a flight of stairs. You’ll crank up your heart rate, burn fat, and engage your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, and core more intensely than you would treading on flat ground. Michelle Lovitt, a Los Angeles–based exercise physiologist and personal trainer, routinely sends her clients huffing and puffing up and down all 189 steps of the infamously steep Santa Monica stairs. But here she has created a plan that’s ideal for those just starting out. All you need is a staircase with about 15 steps, indoors or out. Rocky sound track optional.
2 of 6Jason Lee
To get blood flowing in your legs, climb the stairs slowly, keeping your shoulders back and looking straight ahead, then walk down. Repeat three more times. Next, run up the stairs, then walk down. On the descent, put most of your weight on your heels so that your glutes (rather than your knees) absorb the impact. Repeat three more times.
3 of 6Jason Lee
Step-Up to Reverse Lunge
Face the stairs with your left foot on the second step and your right leg behind you on the floor.
(A) Lift your right knee to your chest, then quickly step back to the starting position.
(B) Step down to the floor with your left leg, positioning it behind your right, then do a lunge (with your right knee directly over your ankle). Quickly step back up, left knee to chest, and return to the starting position. Do 12 reps, then do 12 more on the other side.
4 of 6Jason Lee
Triceps Stair Dip
(A) Sit on the edge of the second or third step with your arms at your sides. Pressing down on your palms, lift your buttocks a bit off the step. Extend your legs, resting your heels on the floor. (If you have back issues, keep your feet flat on the floor and bend your legs at 90 degrees.)
(B) Slowly lower your rear by bending your arms at 90 degrees. Press back up to the starting position. This is one rep; do 10. Now run up the stairs, then walk down. Do 10 more dips.
5 of 6Jason Lee
Stand on the floor facing the stairs.
(A) Place your left foot on the far-left end of the second step.
(B) Follow with your right leg, bringing it to the far-right end of the fourth step. Continue climbing, taking the stairs two at a time with wide steps while keeping your head up. To boost the calorie burn, swing your arms and engage your abdominals as you go. After reaching the top, walk back down. That’s one rep. Do one more.
6 of 6Jason Lee
(A) Facing the stairs, place your hands on the second step with your arms pressed into your sides, legs extended behind you, and core engaged (essentially in a push-up position).
(B) Bring your left knee to your left shoulder, then return your foot to the floor. Alternate legs, bringing your right knee to your right shoulder, then returning your foot to the floor. That’s one rep. Do 12 without pausing. (You’ll feel as if you’re running in place.)