Running Stairs – The Most Badass Fat Loss Conditioning Drill… Ever!

Ever since I was a kid I remember being very winded when I had to climb up to the top of my building. And since lately I’ve been strapped for time, I decided to start running stairs when get home.

I’d just run up to the last floor and take the elevator down to my apartment.

There are very few people that run stairs and also very few people that don’t get winded when they climb a 8-9 storey building. Working the stairs makes girls trim and sexy and the dudes lean and mean.

This is why bodybuilders, soccer players, Shaolin monks and even Victoria’s secrets models keep their conditioning up with this drill

But many athletes such as basketball and soccer players, track athletes and martial artist include this drill in their conditioning. And for good reason. Running stairs kicks ass!

It melts fat and conditions you to be efficient at short distance sprinting such as running to catch the bus, scrimmaging on the basketball field, or rushing to get to class on time.

Running Stairs Technique

  • Step on every other step. I’ve found that it’s best to run stairs by skipping every other step. This manner of running ensures proper stride frequency and speed of running
  • Use your whole body. running and climbing are whole-body movements. Engage all your muscles – not just the legs.
  • Use the quads. Climb stairs by pushing with your thighs. Make sure not to completely extend your legs – this puts too much strain on your knees. Instead, run by keeping your legs semi-flexed throughout.
  • The role of the posterior chain. The muscles of the back of your legs – calves, hamstrings (back of your thighs) and glutes (your butt) are responsible for most of the movement that occurs in running and jumping. Don’t make the mistake to push through your knees only. Instead, try to use your posterior chain and extend your hips. Here is a post I wrote on this subject: Glute Activation.
  • Run on your toes. Just a quick note here – when running try to step on your toes or more specifically the place between your toes and your mid foot. That’s how all animals run – they step on their paws and on NOT their heels.
  • Use your arms. Make sure to use your arms to help you with the movement. Keep your elbows in, shoulders down (not shrugged) and your arms semi-flexed (like a sprinter).

running-stairs-cropped

Progressive Overload

  • Climb more stairs. The simplest way to increase the difficulty is to climb more storeys.
  • Run more rounds. A better option is, instead of climbing more storeys, to increase the number of times you climb the stairs.
  • Climb faster. Still better is to increase your speed. This will not give you more fat loss benefits, but will improve your conditioning level.
  • Climb slow but with a backpack. Another option – for hardcore guys or gals only – is to climb slowly but with a weighted vest or backpack on.

Stair Climbing Action Plan

  • Start small. Don’t rush it. Start with onle a few stairways and gradually increase your speed.
  • Increase difficulty once you get fitter. You will soon adapt and climbing the stairs will get easier. At this point increase the difficulty so that you continue getting fitter.
  • Add climbing stairs to your daily routine. I like to focus my training around my life and not the other way around. So evening when I get back from walking my Lab Lucky we sometimes go for a sprint up the building stairway. I don’t think he appreciates having to climb a nine storey building LOL.

Weight Loss and the Effectiveness of Exercise

In the video below nutritionist Brad Pilon explains how the effectiveness of exercise for fatloss drops as you progress towards your optimal weight. So even a running stairs routine will get less and less effective over time, as you lose weight. Here comes the need to use not only exercise, but also caloric restriction: eating less.

Brad Pilon is the author of the fat loss program Eat Stop Eat, the easiest diet program I’ve come across and one I have successfully been following for the past 2 years to control my body weight.

Babe by Georgie

136 thoughts on “Running Stairs – The Most Badass Fat Loss Conditioning Drill… Ever!”

  1. I actually havent ran stairs since track practice in JR high. I think Ill add it to my workouts this week. Should be BRUTAL

  2. Justin,

    yeah bro, it’s quite brutal at the top of my 9-storey building. And my lab Lucky doesn’t feel too happy having to climb after me either haha…

    Give it a go if you got access to stairs – quick and easy workout and you feel the effect almost immediately. Speed and endurance go up after 3-4 workouts…

    Yavor

    lucky beeing a goofball
    [Here’s the little goofball hoping we ain’t gonna run stairs tonight lol. Keep dreaming buddy haha]

  3. I don’t know how I missed this. I remember doing bleachers back in high school during off season football training. Never before have I puked so much in my life. It’s really a great way to build up some athleticism and endurance. However I find these can become dangerous when we are fatigued. Nice post.

  4. Terrific post, Yavor! Love running the ‘stadium’ stairs at my son’s old school…you’re right on target: best all-round conditioning drill and it’s FREE!

    Thanks!

    F.

  5. JC,

    no doubt bleachers are great to develop athleticism for football players. And yeah, one can get carried away and trip on those stairs so watch out when you are fatigued. I myself just do one round to the top of the building and go home so no danger here.

    Fred,

    Yeah bud, running on the stadium is a better alternative because you get the benefit of fresh air. Some of the best things in life are free – the sun, the summer evenings, body weight training, fresh water when you are thirsty…

    Great comments guys!

    Yavor

  6. Yavor-

    Great article! Makes me wanna throw on my workout clothes and go run the LSU stadium steps! LOL! Kidding, because i’m beat, but still…I still wanna tackle em! Also, the fun things other than running up ’em that you can do! 🙂

    Yours in Health,
    Sarah

  7. Sarah,

    haha yeah there are all kinds of evil drills you can do on the stadium stairs. I remember being unable to walk down from my apartment after stairway drills at the stadium for my basketball practice…

    Good stuff!

    Yavor

  8. Great Post Yavor,
    Stairs are a killer, but a killer workout. If I had the guts I would definitely run them more often because they are such a simple and effective workout. Whats even better is they can also be performed as HIIT. By the way how do I make it so my picture comes up when I comment. Is that through subscribing via RSS?

  9. Arya,

    thanks for pointing me to your latest blog post booze and lose – great headline btw!

    To answer your other question – to get a picture – go to gravatar.com and register there with the same email you use to post to blogs. The just upload a pic there…

    As for subscribing by RSS – it doesn’t have anything to do with the pictures but I still encourage it LOL

    Cheers,

    Yavor

  10. Yay!, I do this every weekend either one day or both if I can for 20-30 mins. I contribute this routine for my very sexy backside 🙂 I run 5 flights at a local college building and I alternate running every step with running every other step. I did this yesterday but after reading this article I regret not doing it today also. I don’t do it during the week because there are too many people around so I’ll have to wait till Saturday. I truly love running stairs it makes me feel strong, fit and accomplished!

  11. Kxm24,

    Running stairs def makes girls’ backsides sexy 🙂 Way to go, girl!

    Cheers,

    Yavor


    [Christina Milian is known for running stairs to stay sexy]

  12. DDDUUUUUUUDDDDDEEEE!!!!

    That shaolin video is fricking AWESOME!

    Love it 🙂
    Caleb

  13. Hi

    I live in India. I’m a fat guy trying to loose fat. I’m healthy overall though, have not had any health issues so far but I know it will start in the latter years if I don’t do something about it now. I just recently started working out AGAIN. Running stairs has helped a lot. I feel better conditioned. And yeah, since the age of 14 or 15 I had developed AWESOME definition and muscle on my lower body. My legs are perfect, really. It’s because I cycled a lot to school and tution’s and my legs had to carry my heavy upper body :). even some of the best bodies in the gym don;t have the legs I got. So now I’m mainly focusing on my upper body. I walk up bout 6 floors a day but need to get more disciplined in the way I do it. I include stair walking into my regular activities and not as an individual activity that i set up. Basically instead of taking the elevator to my 6th floor office I just walk it up. saves time and you get a great workout.

    Thanks for this article. It really helps. You guys are blessing to people like me. Thanks and keep up the great work!!

    Joshi

  14. Joshi,

    keep training hard man – soon you will have a great upper body in addition to the muscular legs.

    Cheers,

    Yavor

  15. Hi,
    Good article, i do run stairs everyday , a flight of 16 steps. Since i have no access to apartments or places where a chain of stairs are present. I climb up and down the 16 stairs for some 10 counts . is that the right way of doing it

  16. Stephen,

    you are doing good buddy! Just make sure to mix it up from time to time and make the workout harder by using some of the methods outlined here.

    Cheers,

    Yavor

  17. Hi
    I have been doing stair sessions about once a week for a couple of months now, and they are hard! A friend introduced me to them. There’s a university near my work that has a building with 12 floors- we go up and down (the down being a bit of recovery, so its an excellent interval training method). I do between 7-8, he does 8-10, but he’s really fit- professional water skier and can run 10km in about 35min. Its all over in about 25min or so, but its hard!! Good form of cross training- I like to mix it up constantly so I don’t get bored. Great site by the way, just found it today…
    Cheers
    Anna

  18. Anna,

    sounds like you guys are quite fit! The biggest challenge is the mental struggle to start climbing again after you are back from the top. My building is 9 floor high…

    Kieran,

    the monks are bad ass, ain’t they 🙂 I really enjoy this documentary btw – that’s why I’ve created a playlist for all the parts here.

    Yavor

  19. Running up stairs, got it. But running back down? Isn’t that hard on one’s knees? Do you recommend stairs only where there’s an elevator? I would love the convenience of doing stairs at home.
    Thanks!

  20. Lor,

    I personally only run up the stairs. Just use an elevator or walk down the stairs, instead of running. Hope that helps!

    Yavor

  21. hi,
    i have roughly 22 stairs i my house. it comes in a set of 4 ans 2 sets of 9 i was wondering if ishould run up them, walk back down then run up them again and do this for 1-20 mins?
    i would love a respons

  22. Yes – but make sure you start slow and gradually increase the time over a period of a few weeks. Also – if you have a lot of weight to lose, be careful with runing stairs. Maybve just start with walking. And above all – cut back on the food you eat. It is far easier to lose weight by eating less than by exercising more.

    Good luck!

  23. hi me again
    lol im not over weight but i do eat alot of fruit and veges each day.
    imthinking of doin a fast stair climb then a slow then a fast then a slow and so on.
    ill do this fo 10 mins
    do you think tis is a good idea?

  24. Hi Yavor
    It’s been sometime since i visited…
    I have tried out intermittent fasting and its been great..
    Strangely I lost some of fat from my face and thighs and there’s not much difference in my waist…yeah but many tell i got a good six pack :)…Though there is a a big pinch of fat under my navel..
    For the first time in two years since i started training,i find a small drop in my enthusiasm for working out…and also eating good foods…started taking a little junk lately…as people start appreciating my body…To start with i was a bony 46 kilo
    at 5.9′ inches…slowly i am now at 70 kilo…but still my muscle size is not big…
    Your work here motivates me a lot. Thanks!

  25. Would doing this with burpees and heavy bag training be sufficent enough to get a good cardio workout in, or would I need more? Sample workout:4 two minit rounds on bag, 2 sets of max burpees and stairs till I feel like passing out or puking

  26. Oh man, no kidding – these are definitely a badass exercise, not to be underestimated!

    I had the perfect long staircase before I moved to Hollywood… now I’m in pursuit of a similar set but haven’t had success just yet 🙂

  27. Running stairs has helps a lot in weight lose…but i can’t even walk propely due to pain in joints…do you have any alternate to lose weight with some exercise that i can try?

  28. Cho Yung Tea,

    you will lose weight even faster, if you cut down on the food – try eating a very small dinner for example.

  29. If it’s a lower back injury, I suggest

    1. doing planks to strengthen the abs, which in turn willl protect the back.
    2. no running – simply climb the stairs up and take the elevator down
    3. decrease the food to lose weight.

  30. Thanks for the great advice on running stairs. I’ve been eyeing these posts for some time… I haven’t had issues with needing to lose weight, and I haven’t really exercised for most of my life. Needless to say, I’m out of shape. I think I want to start by walking up and down stairs. There’s a building with 7 floors, 17 steps each floor… Can you recommend a good length of time for me to walk up and down, as a beginner? Should I track time in minutes, or should I count how many times I go up and down? Thanks so much for all your help, the posts here are very motivating!

  31. Sammi, sounds like your building is perfect. Here’s what to do:

    start climbing the 7 floors once every day, six days per week. Don’t count or track time, just climb once. The second week, try to climb twice. If its super hard, postpone it until the third week, etc. Once you can climb comfortably 2-3 times (which is quite a workout in itself), you may start running. Hope that helps,

    Yavor

  32. Yavor,

    That helps tremendously, thank you! I’ll follow what you’ve laid out, and keep you posted on the progress. Thanks again!

  33. Dude, running stairs is awsome. I injured myslef a while back and put on all this weight. I just recently started running and watching what i eat. Found this awsome set of stairs in a park. Down 25 pounds got another 20 pounds to go.

  34. Grant, they rule, don’t they? Also – I’m sure you’ve noticed how much of a difference food makes. A simple thing like eating a very light dinner can add up to thousands of calories less per week…

    Keep kicking ass!

    Yavotr

  35. Grant- Congratulations on your big success! That’s very exciting! How long did it take before you saw those results?

    Yavor- I started walking the stairs this Monday. After going up once, I felt a bit winded, but not too challenged, so I went up and down again. A total of 242 steps! I figured I’d do it twice for 6 days, then increase the reps by 1 each week, or as I was able. I did it again yesterday . By evening my calves were so tight and painful!! =•D Any time I sat still for a few minutes, my muscles would stiffen up so badly. Painful to walk, everything. But I’m fine. I’ll keep going. I’m skipping today. But will be back at it tomorrow. And definitely will be going up and down only once!!

  36. Yavor- Yeah, and changing to a healthier diet has introduced me too some amazing food that I would have never tried. Way better then the crap I was eating, haha.

    Sammi- Thanks, it is exciting, took me long enough to get motivated though. I’ve been at it for 2 months, but i just started the stairs a couple days ago. Starting out small and increasing the reps as you feel the need to be more challenged is the best way to go. This prevents you from burning yourself out and making it hard to be motivated. Goodluck tm with the stairs:)!

  37. Yavor,
    Is caloric reduction the best way to lose weight? I’m trying to add exercise to my routine as much as I can but I’m constantly on the road. I have tried low carb dieting but I seem to gain everything back as soon as I slip a little. Any ideas on exercise for a road warrior?

  38. 1. re: low carbs. If it isn’t working for you – find something else. Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and attempting a different result. So any way to reduce calories is ok if it works with you.

    2. re: caloric reduction the best way to lose fat. Yes – but you still need to resistance train in some way, or you will lose muscle mass.

    3. re: fat loss for a road warrior:
    the answer is two-fold:
    a. body weight circuits 3x times per week (either in the morning or in the evening in your hotel room
    b. also a lot of walking (but waking alone will not result in weight loss without caloric restriction and resistance training such as the above circuits).

    Here is a sample body weight circuit from Craig Ballantyne:

    1. Y Squats – 15 repetitions
    2. Regular Push-ups – 15 repetitions
    3. Bodyweight Lunges – 12 to 15 repetitions
    4. Decline Push-ups – 15 repetitions
    5. Jumping Jacks – 60 repetitions (here reps are higher because the move is easier)
    6. Mountain Climbers – 15 repetitions

    Do the exercises with no rest between. After you are done with all six exercises, rest for one minute and repeat 1-3 times for a total of 2 to 4 circuits.

    Note: You can start with only one circuit per workout and add another round when you are ready. Also – if some of the exercises are too difficult, reduce the number of repetitions until it gets easier – for example 5 or 10 instead of 12-15 repetitions.

    To scale up – add circuits or reps (total of 20 reps per exercise is still ok)

    For whole 6 months of such workouts try Craig’s Turbulence Training Bodyweight Manual

    Good luck!

    Yavor

    p.s. remember calories come first!

  39. Thanks for the road warrior advice. I’ve been getting the walking in some but the circuit instruction will be what I add to my schedule. Plus keep the calories down!
    Thanks again!

  40. I love running stairs, been doing it for years. I typically run them 5 times a week, then do a short (but intense) weight or circuit workout. The great thing about stairs is I travel a lot for business, and although some of the better hotels have decent gyms, they all have stairs. I’ll typically pick out 65 to 80 steps, then mix up some running and sprinting for 20 to 25 minutes (up and down). One of the best things about it is doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, although the stairwells in Vegas can be a bit warm. Was in San Diego last week, one of my favorite places. Great stairs by the convention center. I actually go to the ones around the far side, sort of in the back. There are more of them and no real landings or breaks. Plus, I don’t feel like people are “gawking” at me like I do when I run the ones out in the front.

    At home I run the back stairwell of my office, 72 steps from floor to roof. I will mix it up quite a bit. Sometimes I just run up and down for 20 to 25 minutes, but most of the time I’ll mix in the sprints. I like the ‘walk one, run four, sprint two’ routine, do that one a couple times a week. That’s walking from floor to roof, jogging down, then running it 4 times, sprinting it 2 times. 4 sets of these takes around 24 minutes and it’s a great workout. What’s event better is then I go to the gym at the other side of the building, and do a 20 to 25 minute lifting routine. I’m all warmed up and I keep a great sweat throughout my lifting.

  41. Phil, thanks for sharing your routine. I do stairs in my building and always feel a bit self-conscious about people gawking (I would typically go for a walk with my lab Lucky and then on the way back go or sprint to the 9th floor 1-3 times instead of just going home to the 3rd floor… Lucky doesn’t appreciate this!), to be honest. But – folks in my neighborhood already know I am the weird guy who works out etc lol!

    There is a playground just in front of my home with pullup bars, monkey bars, parallel bars, and there are only a few people who take advantage of this (free workout outside!) during the warmer months (March – September)

    -Yavor

  42. I began competing in bicycle racing when I was 11 yrs old. In the off season I would speed skate and run stairs. By the age of 17, I had a waking HR of about 39 bpm, body fat of around 2%, at 6′ 170 lbs.

    I became one of the most feared(and successful) sprinters in my state. I really believe “my secret edge” was a vicious off season, stair running program. I got to the point where I could run the local community college steps for about 4 hrs (without breaks) wearing a backpack loaded with (2) 10lb plates taped together cause they slap around.

    I really leveled off hard about the 5th year of racing.I over came this by getting radical with my stair running in the off season. (Not sure how smart this was), but I then ran stairs barefooted. That year my calves and thighs began to look like a spiderman comic. I set many school track records as well despite never actually formally competing in anything (hey, it interfered with my bike racing man!). Anyway, moral of the story I guess…. STAIR RUNNING RULES!!!!

  43. I’ve just started climbing stairs in my building. My question is how do I increase or change up my routine for better results (shapelier legs, I am 5’4″, 117lb). I also do strength training 4-5 times a week, climbing stairs is my cardio (I used to do the elliptical), I climb every other day 26 flights walking fast, 2 at a time, 3 reps (total 78 flights). It takes me 5 minutes to walk up 26 flights… I don’t know if that is good timing, but I get slightly winded by the time I get to the top, then take the elevator down as a cool down and start again. By the time I finish my third round I am done. Any suggestions on improving my workout would be greatly appreciated.

  44. Iza, your routine is good actually. If you want better results, pay attention to your diet. I’d replace some of the food with veggies for better results.

  45. Iza,

    One of the things you can try is to pick a section of stairs (flights) that contain 60 to 80 steps and go up and down several times. Coming down works a different set of muscles. You can start by walking (up & down) occasionally throwing in some double steps (2 at a time) or even 3 at a time (good stretch). Then, when you feel ready you can mix in some running, and eventually you can run (up & down) and add some sprints.

    Good luck!

  46. Thanks for replying. I have a second questions, I have a 2 day strength training routine. My day 2 is leg work such as lunges, inner thighs, and calves. Now that I do stair climbing as a regular routine (4-6 times a week), should I still bother working my legs, if so how do I change up my training. Mind you I’ve only just started climbing stairs last week, but have ben strength training for a couple of months. (I’ve just lost about 30lb since February, and am looking forward to see my body at its prime, because I’ve never been there so its a big deal for me to achieve this goal that I never thought I could get to until now). Thanks in advance

  47. Iza, let me put it this way. Do you want to build muscles in your legs? I guess no, right? Ypu want tight, slim legs?

    So, the main goal of your strength training should be

    1. preserving lean mass
    2. tightening the muscle
    3. aiding in fat loss.

    Right now it seems to do the trick on all 3 points.

    If you wanna step it up a notch, I’d say do circuit training workouts (which are focused on fat loss).

  48. IZA,
    First of all, congratulations on the weight loss and the commitment of almost a year now. That’s huge!

    Something you might want to consider as you get more “into” the stairs routine. You can do the stairs 3 to 4 times a week (example, Mon. Wed. Fri. Sat.) and your resistance/weight training 2 days a week (Tue. & Thur.). As Yavor mentioned, if you’re not looking at adding size/mass to your legs, but the goal is to continue with the fat loss while adding/maintaining lean muscle, then hitting the stairs 3 days a week and doing some upper body resistance training twice a week should help with your goals.

    You can actually keep the weight workouts relatively short, say 30 to 35 minutes tops, and get the most out of them. As suggested, circuits are great, as are compound exercises. Compound (joint) exercises are those exercises that involve multiple joints and multiple muscles. These are things like bench press, rows, standing military press, dead lifts, pull-ups (or pull downs on the machine) dips, push-ups, squats… You can avoid the isolation type exercises like triceps ‘kick backs’ and curls, leg extensions.

    What I’ve found to work great is combining some of these like rows to straight leg dead lifts, squats to military press.

    Here’s a routine you can try. Try it with dumbbells.
    2 days a week resistance training
    • Push-ups (a warm up, do 15 to 25)
    • Dumbbell bench press (a medium weight for you) set of 12
    • Push-ups (10)
    • Dumbbell bench press (a more challenging weight for you) set of 10
    • Push-ups (10)
    • Dumbbell bench press (a heavy weight for you) set of 8
    • Push-ups (10)
    • Bent over rows (a medium weight for you) set of 12
    • Bent over rows (a challenging weight for you) set of 10
    • Bent over rows (a heavy weight for you) set of 8
    • Pull downs (a challenging weight for you) set of 10
    • Standing Military Press (a medium weight for you) set of 12
    • Standing Military Press (a challenging weight for you) set of 10
    • Standing Military Press (a heavy weight for you) set of 8

    Try to take less than a minute between sets to get the heart pumping.

    These exercises will ‘hit’ your chest, triceps, back, biceps, shoulders and abs (yup, lots of abs in push-ups, pull downs and standing militaries…)

    Between this and the stairs, you’re pretty much covered. And you can mix things up after a month or so. Do alternating one arm benches and standing militaries. Do more pull downs and/or switch to one arm rows… There’s no lack of exercises or routines and it doesn’t take much to change it up.

    Good luck!

  49. Wow…. Thank you all for your suggestions, I will change up my routine. As I mentioned before this is the first time in my life (37 years next week) I will look at my best ever, a lot of firsts for me this year, especially exercising for this long, in order to reach a goal I never knew I could reach. The most exciting part about all this is that my body is changing and getting smaller and tighter in areas I didn’t think could get that small (buttox mainly). And seeing me so small is so unreal, still not used to it… but loving every minute. I will defenetly keep up with the workout long in to my old age for youth and vitality. Thank you again to all who read my post and for your replies I will defenetly keep coming back to this site to read about others and let you know how I am doing.

  50. Hey Phil
    I’ve been away for a while, tweaking my routine, and let me say.. WOW… what a difference when you push your self. I have started to climb stairs 5 times a week, I do between 6-7 laps (thats 26 floors as one round x 6-7 rounds equals anywhere between 2184 to 2548 steps) on average I burn between 500-700 cal. Then I move on to resistance training, 3 day routine legs, uper body pull, upper body push. I’ve never known what doing your best meant until these past couple of weeks. I have seen my body transition so much that I cant believe what I see in the mirror… Like I said before I have never seen my body this fit nor this small. I will say that thanks to stare climbing (I walk fast every 2 steps) I am finally seeing the results I have been fantasizing about. Every one at my building is amazed that you can get a workout with climbing stairs, I always have time to talk to everyone I meet to let them know that its the best cardio you can do. I am so glad I came upon this site, and realize how important exercise is, but also how stair climbing is an effective means of getting your daily dose of health.

    Thanks everyone for their advice and support, keep up the good work.

    Iza 😉

  51. Just started stairs today. I am pretty fit, but have an over layer of fat I’m trying to shed. My diet is now in check and I’m doing toning 3 times per week.

    I have 2 kids, I’m 4’9″ and 105lbs. Right now, I only have access to the stairs in my house. It’s 1 flight with 16 steps. Today I ran up / walked down about 10 times. Then I tried to sprint a few times and run skipping 1 step a few times. How many minutes should I aim for?

    Today was a bit less than 10 but my baby woke up and needed me. Also, I was beat – I won’t lie.

    Thanks for the info – really enlightening!

  52. Ness, check out Iza’s comments here.

    My suggestion – go with a the same workout for 2-3 sessions and gradually increase. Also – weight loss will be easier if you eat less. So when you say diet is in check, really focus on eating less.

  53. Just started doing this today, training for the CN Tower stair climb in Toronto in April, also doing a half marathon in may. Way more tiring than the treadmill, much more high stress muscular endurance required. Right now doing my whole bulding which is 59 floors but gotta take two breaks on my way up! Still nowhere near where i want to be

  54. don’t write off running on every step. this will help you build and tone calves. it will also allow you to spend more time on the stairs. running on every other step is a whole different exercize. that way you will gas out 4-5 times sooner than while running on every step. they’re two different workouts, each good for something else. if you want nice calves- run every step. if you want more endurance- run every other. both whork wonders as far as burning calories is concerned.

  55. Is it okay to walk or run stairs daily. A coworker told me she does not think that is good as you need to give your muscles time to repair and rest and if you do them daily you are not shocking the body. I am using the stairs as my cardio so I thought everyday was not a problem. Now if I added weights to my ankles when doing the stairs then I’d probably skip a day but I am simply walking and jogging the stairs without any additions. Is she right or not?

    I also do squats almost everyday should i do every other day instead?

  56. nIKA,

    you should be fine doing it daily. If you need, take time off – go by how you feel. And be careful with the weights on your ankles. Stair running is stressful as it is.

    Yavor

  57. I lived on fifth floor of my apartment building for 4 years till recently and always climbed stairs at least 5-6 times a day all the time.

    Now I have moved to other 5 storey building and living on 2nd floor but daily morning I climb, from the ground floor, 4 times up to the terrace thus making it 6 x 4=24 floors + 2 more floors back to my flat from the ground floor. I climb 2-3 times more depending on number of times I may have to go to out. Although I have not attained weight loss I certainly feel healthier. I also have cut down sugar intake to almost zero to reduce my weight.

  58. Hey Yavor,

    awesome post man! 😉
    Interesting twist for the city dweller, to mane sure the training never gets boring (and to be ready in case the lift breaks down! 😉 )

    Mark

  59. I have a small correction to the article. It says that increasing speed will not increase fat loss but only conditioning.

    Conditioning increases overall metabolism, even AFTER the workout, partly due to larger muscle size and increased blood flow. All this expends energy, part of which comes from fat.

    Overall, it is pretty pointless to think about fat loss during a workout. The ONLY thing that matters in the end is calorie intake versus expenditure.

    Losing weight is simple and hard: stop eating freaking twinkies and exercise…

  60. Yavor~

    Im 35 and a former athlete. In high school I was a decent baseball and football player that was on some good teams. In my 20’s I became an ice hockey player and excelled at that. Ive always been active… until 2004. The last 8 years I have lived in a location where hockey is not available and frankly its so hot here its not very fun to do things outside. Couple that with being older, I just dont want to do it anymore. I have exploded up to 297 pounds. In the past week I have lost about 4 pounds through not eating and walking. This morning I got up and briskly walked a mile at a running track nearby then I walked/ran bleachers for 10 minutes. I cooled down by walking a 1/4 miles the went and got lunch at Subway… one of those low fat low calorie subs. I also have a couple of grapefruit trees in my yard and have been eatingone a whole grapefruit every moring the last few days.

    I know this is certainly good because any excercise is. Im just curious as to your take on it. Any tips or suggestions. Keep in mind I do have the mind of an athlete and a competitors heart. I knwo my limits yet I also know how to push myself.

  61. Let me clarify something…. I still eat. Im not eating junk anymore. Havent had ice cream sundaes is a week. Only junk food I have had was an egg McMuffin a couple of days ago. Eating normal sized portions of normal food is what I am eating.

    I have also been depressed lately due to a bunch of family issues that are beyond my control and capped off with my girlfriend who I dearly love breaking up with me. I would put my depression into crap. One day a couple of weeks ago I ate an entire box of Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies (12). I have been putting my emotions. Back in my sports days a coach once told us that if you put crap in you get crap out. My goals in losing weight and getting into shape are to get healhty, be able to wear my old clothes and to be able to buy clotes off the rack again, and quite honsetly to make the ex think Im really good looking as a thinner man. She never had any issues with my weight in the past. But I kinda want her to see the new me and everything she could miss out on.

    Also, I am 6 feet tall. In my sports playing days from ages 16 to about 25 I weighed in the range of 190-220 pounds.

  62. John, sorry about your family issues. As for GF and wanting to look good – the best thing is not to think about her and move on. You gotta get your self respect back. By the way if you move on, and really commit to moving on from her, she will want you. But you gotta commit. You gotta be cold and busy doing your thing and living your life.

    Now onto walking. It is very effective. But you are going to have to slowly increase the duration up to 30-40 even 60 minutes for it to burn somewhat significant calories. I was just writing an article on walking, check back if you like.

    You can lose weight! Just allow yourself the time, because it is a relatively slow process (compared to gaining weight which can happen fast). Every calories has to be burned off by your body – either by it’s normal functions or as an extra by exercising.

  63. Hi I was wondering if it was safe to run with a weight over your head , while running up the stairs? Thanks for you post by the way it has been an real inspiration on my part… 🙂

  64. I haven’t really had an active lifestyle, And I am trying to get fit for summer. I am 5’2″, 142 lbs. How long would it take for me to see any results if I do it every other day(at least)? Is this good for ridding cellulite?
    I plan on doing walking the first week, on both bleachers at the local school, then running when I’m capable.

    I’ve already started eating healthier.

  65. Bethiee, walking is great even on flat surface, as long as you do it for longer periods. The workouts will get you results, but you might need 4-6 weeks to start seeing them. Same for cellulite.

    Also, try to eat smaller portion sizes, this will make a huge difference.

  66. hi while on vacation in Jamaica just before Christmas 2011 I realized that at 43 six foot 2 and 220 pounds I really felt out of shape. I decided for New Years I would do whatever it took to get fitter. I began to watch my carbs, cut down on treats ( my weakness) and do the stairs at work 3 days a week on my lunch hour along with some resistance training at home 2 times/ week.

    I began slowly walking the stairs, 5 story building 10 times per workout. Quickly I progressed to taking every second step, increasing intensity and speed. Unreal how strong and conditioned I became so fast. I began challenging myself , lunge type movements, calf raises on each step , going up backwards to burn the quads ( carefully) my girlfriend was blown away at my leg development almost overnight. I have at this time began to do deep knee bends (25) between sets and am so strong riding my bicycle it’s unreal. I intend on keeping this up for the long haul, my weight is down to 202 and my body fat has dropped tremendously.I figure around July I should be down to a ripped 190 pounds and strong and fit. LOVE the stairs and always looking to challenge myself and push my self to new levels. I wish all who attempt to keep up the effort, it pays dividends, torture to some but to me the price to pay for unreal fitness gains. Thanks and good luck to all !

  67. great site just found it know.i am a 27 yr old mother of 3 and bn workingout @home and dieting,lost 15lb got to loss total 40 ibs but my bum thighs and lower belly has alot of stubborn fat,and just a week ago i have started to climb my apartment stair and i climbed 19 floors in one go wow i was so happy but when i looked down to wave at my kids oh did i scare the life outta myself!i was soooo high up.anyway i have been doing it every other day and my thigh are and lower belly fat and the bum have actually shrinked it was like magic.im soooo happy that i saw this thread i have got more info and keep up the good work bye

  68. Hi There!

    Question for you. I stair climb for fitness. Sometimes I single step and sometimes I double step. I get good results from both. Double stepping definitely makes me sweat more, makes me breath harder and results in faster muscle fatigue. I assume it burns more calories as well. What I cannot figure out is if single stepping and double stepping work the same muscle groups or are they different? Is it just that double stepping works the same muscles as single, but just works them harder? I’m asking because if the muscle groups are the same then I might as well eliminate single stepping and do only double but if they are different then I’d rather do both to have better overrall toning. I need tighter thighs and butt. Any help you can give me?

  69. Nika, they are similar but single steps work more front of the thighs, while double steps work more the back of the leg and the butt.

  70. Thanks Yavor!

    I know I’m over thinking this stuff. One last thing. When I run up the stairs (double stepping) vs briskly walkign double stepping am I givign up some strength training for more cardio. Seems like when I run my breathing gets tired faster than my legs vs when I walk double step my muscles fatigue faster. Could be a fluke. But I’m walking on tighter legs so I would think I’d want to err on the side of strength vs cardio. Thoughts? Am I losing some strength benefits when I run it instead?

  71. Nika, do as many rounds up th4e stairs as you can and don’t worry about speed. If you want to make this even mroe effective, go for a walk around the block after the run (20-40 minutes). This will burn additional fat which is the best thing to tighten the legs.

  72. I have barely any fat on my legs. As a result, if I do stairs exercises, will my legs gain muscle, and as such get bigger?

  73. I have always been taught to run down the stairs and walk up every other step in hockey, I’m going to try running up and walking down on my stairs in my house which is I flight. Is the way I’ve been doing good and effective, and on my way down is there anything else I can do that will help me lose weight instead of walking.

  74. Reid, both ways work – main thing is to do enough exercises to burn enough calories. Also watch out what you eat because fat loss is achieved mostly through eating less.

  75. I’m 66 years old and decided to try to climb Half-Dome at Yosimite. I decided the best training was to climb stairs at my son’s old high school stadium. I started a little over a year ago. Walking them got boring so I started running. I now do it for 25 minutes a day-huffing and wheezing and sweating and groaning. But each day I wake up feeling great and by the way, made it to the top of Half-Dome easily. Looking for my next hiking challenge.

  76. Thanks very much for the specific advice about muscle engagement and correct pacing for, not only max work-out effectiveness, but for keeping the flow of gait and gettin’ up them stairs! I am running in a “fun race” in my town here in England tomorrow morning that is essentially a cross-country circuit of a little over a mile, containing around 240 steep uphill steps. I tried out the steps a couple of different ways in practice, remembering back from my cross-country training as a teen, but wasn’t totally happy with either the verging on power-speed-walking or quick-trotting high step that I tested. Now I’ve found your article I’m gonna go out tonight later and try out the alternate-step approach with the aim of maintaining the flow of the regular running gait while also engaging those glutes, the core abdomen and using the arms. I think this could be the best way to go. The hardest part of the race is right at the beginning with all the steps and then there’s a lovely piece of green field straightaway but you are wasted by the time you get there and the first part is still uphill. There is a place to catch one’s breath but then there is a hairy downhill portion over muddy woodland steps through a small forest with ditches, thorns and nettles on either side! You emerge down more stone steps from that on to a street and then it’s a flat-out downhill run on road for the last third. Would be nice to get some advice for downhill and down-stair running too. OH well, not in time for tomorrow but I’ll let you know how I do!

  77. I leave in an 18 storey building. Today was my second day and it gets easier the more you do it. I am starting to do it twice a day (morning and evening). It is brutal for sure but for me I focus on the gains at the end. I play basketball and it helps with keeping up with the younger players

  78. I have basketball conditioning for bball. What we is we run up the bleachers and then down the other side and then run around the track. We repeat that about 4 times I get very winded after about just one! What should I do to help myself get better because it bothers me I’m always the last one to finish.

  79. Stan, you need to make time for additional workouts (2-3 per week) that you do by yourself, not with the team.

    What you need to do is some type of drill that gets you winded. Stairs, sprints, suicides, doesn’t matter – just make sure you get really tired from it. If you don’t push yourself and don’t get tired, your fitness level won’t improve.

  80. Hey there, just wanted to let you know that I came in 3rd for women over 35 in that race I mentioned. Have to be honest though – all that good advice about how to run stairs kinda went out the window about half way up – I was just trying not to die! But I’m practicing way more stairs now. Thanks again.

  81. way to go Diana. By the way from a certain point on it’s about conditioning. To improve it you gotta train at a high intensity (pushing yourself beyond point of comfort) at least some of the time.

  82. Hi Yavor,
    My boyfriend and I live on the 27th floor and we’ve been working in climbing the stairs at the end of our workouts. Today, for example we did 3 sets of 20 burps with 3 sets of abs in between then ran (power hiked) the stairs to cap it off. Yesterday we were short on time and just ran the stairs. It completely kicks my butt! Is this a good way to burn calories or is it better to do less flights repeatedly? We are both very athletic but recently moved to China and are trying to get back in our work out groove after several months of eating and being lazy getting acquainted with our new life.

  83. Lindsay, yes you are doing a great job with those stairs. To make it even more effective, go for a brisk 30-45 min walk after the stairs.

  84. i started yesterday….25 flights took 3 breaks, went again today 25 flights took 3 breaks….. im concerned about the break part… i go right home after …. any help or info, sorry if you’ve coverd it already.. greatly appreciated. nice lab by the way

  85. also i am 25 years old, weight 285 and am about 5’10 give an inch or take it away….how long should i expect to see physical result’s if i do this 5x a week…? …. is that to many times a week?

  86. Licari, don’t worry about the break. Also don’t reun – jst walk. Results will come within a few weeks. Also take out a notebook and write every single think you eat (and drink, unless it is water). Then cross over half of those things. You need to eat less to lose fat.

  87. also i was reading up on the eating part and it say’s eat every 5 hours? wat kind of portion’s ? snack size and then a small meal for dinner? or small meals each time ahh so confusing. every 5 hours wow

  88. Yavor,

    Daily climbing stairs has now become a thing of past for me as I am now living in a single storied house but I use stairs wherever and whenever I get a chance. For some days, 1-2 days a week, I don’t get to climb stairs but on other days i climb 5-15 floors or more by avoiding lifts in multi storied buildings.

    Irregularity has resulted in reduced stamina, how can I increase it now ?

  89. I’m trying to loose baby weight after several babies close together and a tubal. I’ve read how hard it is to loose after a tubal. I’m not considered over weight to the doctor but my mirror motivates me. I’m doing sit-ups, crunches, leg lifts and yoga. I just started attempting to run stairs. My basement stairs (maybe 10 steps. But I can’t even do 5min. I end up running 2-3x n barely forcing myself up n down the rest of the 3.5minutes. What can I do? I don’t eat alot.

  90. I started stairs climbing roughly two weeks now. I ran up and walk down 14 steps of stairs in my duplex home. Started with 20 rounds of this in the morning and 20 in the evening everyday for the first week. As at the time of writing this, I do 60 trips twice each day now equivalent to about 80mins of total workout per day. I am doing this mainly to lose my belly fat and get that flat tommy back.

    Do you think I ‘ll achieve my goal doing this continuously?

    I have also cut down on my food intake and also gave up drinking cold water most especially when eating oily food in the form of stew and meat. I now drink hot water 90% of the time I have to take water.

    Do you think all these will expedite the time I ‘ll require to achieve my goal?

    Thanks as I await your response.

  91. Hameed, the water doesn’t matter. Your workout is good but also decrease your food intake if you don’t see results.

  92. Thanks Yavor. I heard that cold water causes coagulation of oily stuff also known as cholesterol which may line the intestine and may even causes cancer. Don’t u think the hot water can help in the digestion of this oily stuff instead of been stored in the body as fat? Please shed more light on this.

  93. I doubt there is a difference to be honest. Drinking warm water is fine – but don’t expect this to be a miracle. Eat less and be very active and you will lose fat.

  94. I am a stair-climber freak. I workout at my job. The bldg has 198 steps from basement to penthouse. My record has been 10 consecutive rounds a year ago! I take the elevator on the way down and hit the stairs on my way up. I had stopped stairclimbing a year ago because I wanted to bulk up a little. Unfortunately I hurt my knee and had to stop exercising altogether for months. I am feeling better on my knee now and I resumed stairclimbing about two months ago. I am doing ~4 rounds (5 rounds today, 11/10/15) now, but hope to keep increasing them! For those who are starting this self-imposed torture my advice is to start slow with progression. After a while you will not feel the soreness on legs, calves, hams; however, you will be really winded ! Hope this will be of some motivation 🙂

  95. Yavor-
    Ha! Thanks Yavor! all the points that you mentioned on this article are so true. I have to share my little stairclimbling story. I used to walk a lot. When I did my first stairclimbing, I ran up the stairs to the penthouse floor. When I reached the top I was breathing so heavily that I thought I was going to die (it was Friday, late in the afternoon and I was alone in the staircase!). My mouth tasted blood ! The next day I could hardly walk. My thighs were in pain. I felt as if my calves were sliced with a sharp knife. For some crazy reason I liked it ! Two days later I hit the stairs again, and again and that’s how I started the stairclimbing exercise. Stairclimbing is definitely a humbling exercise, but the results are phenomenal. It tones the legs, hardens the butt, improves the blood pressure, and it is good for heart and lungs. In my case I was losing more weight than I wanted to. Although this exercise tax your heart and lungs, it is incredible that the recovery period is relatively short. My rest period is basically the time it takes waiting on the elevator and walking back towards the staircase. Good luck guys/gals !

  96. For those who say that they cannot lose weight no matter how hard they try, try serious stairclimbing. I mean, as Yavor pointed out, try progression and consistency and there is no way you wouldn’t lose weight. Let’s test stairclimbing: If you are that person who eats 3 cheesteaks in the morning; 3 cheesteaks hoagies at noon; 3 cheesesteaks hoagies with mayo in the afternoon, just keep eating them 🙂 Don’t change your eating habits. Now, start the stairclimbing exercise and follow the Progressive Overload tips that Yavor mentioned in the article. Be serious, be consistent no matter what, be aggressive. Do it for a month and then check your weight. I guarantee you that you will see a weight loss. Of course, my eating example is a bit exaggerated but, I guess you get the point. stairclimbing burns more calories than cycling and running, and it is a low impact exercise. Yavor, I am hyped now ! you better block my comments in the future because I can keep going !!

  97. Hi Yavor

    Great article. I am so glad I have found this site.
    I will be starting my stair climbing as soon as I get to work in two days.
    I will keep you updated.

  98. I run up the stairs in my home and at the top do a burpee , I repeat 10 times with a burpee each time at the top I do 5 sets with a minute rest in between each set , I’ve just started it of last week so seen how it goes..

  99. Hi Yavor,

    I chanced upon this site whilst searching for info whether staircase climbing was harmful at 45 years. Great article I must say.

    About 12 years back I gave up working out in the gym due to time constraint & work commitments.

    As time of the essence here, I started climbing stairs on reaching home from work.
    Climbed 8 floors every alternate day for 2 weeks, progressed to 18 floors on the 3rd week. Now hoping to complete the entire 21 floors of four building in the 4th week.
    Till this while it has only been 1 set, 2 steps at a time.

    My routine goes like this; walk till 8 floors, rest for 5 mins, then run up till the 16th floor (totally winded by this time) then walk till the 18th floor. The thighs get really tight & sore and takes about 5-8 mins to recover.

    My aim is to do 3 sets of 21 floors (that would be 63 floors) with 5 mins of rest in between sets, thrice a week. I take the elevator down always.

    Let me know if this would be okay at my age. So far my knees haven’t complained.

    Thanks much in advance.

  100. Ram,

    I like your routine as well as the progressions that you have come up with.

    As far as knees go – remember that the safer option for the knees is to climb 2 steps at a time and strive to push through the heel. This engages the glutes instead of only the quads.

    Also, if the routine becomes too tough at some point, back off to an easier progression for a while, and then build back up.

    -Yavor

  101. hi stair climbers. We run 5 or 6 times 32 story building in St. Pete, FL. We do 1 by 1 step, 2 by 2 and 3 by 3, then we mix them up the fourth and fifth time. We sprint 12 floors, then we just run. I am doing it once a week for four years. I like when we do 100 pushups and 300 situps in between.

    It’s a brutal exercise for beginners. Don’t eat right before. Be ready for a very painful legs 2 days after you run first time. I am 50 years old lady, in better shape I have ever been, love it, since it is such a concentrated exercise, and it is free!

  102. Old guy here (68), my local high school football stadium has 25 steps and I do 100 repeats to get in shape for mountain hiking. I find it enjoyable and less stressful on my lower back than road running.

  103. Marty, totally agree man! Stairs are both more intense AND easier on the body than regular road running.

  104. I am 55 yo and I run 2-steps at a time for 4 flights. I get out of breath after that. I am planning on doing 3 reps spread over the day. I am hoping I’ll be able to do more than 4 flights in a few weeks.

  105. Yeah, kick a** workout. And for every fifteen minutes you run up those stairs (287 cal for 180 lb man), you burn the equivalent of 5.4 Oreo cookies (160 cal/3 cookies). But then it takes running 35 miles to burn one pound of body fat, so yeah.

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