Walking Stairs Increases Calorie Burn and Works More Muscle Groups

You’re nearing the end of your first 10 weeks as a walker, walking up the museum steps like Rocky in the movies, your arms raised in triumph, proud that you have transformed your well-being by taking up a regular walking routine. But as you become an intermediate walker, you might notice that the pounds and inches don’t come off so easily anymore. You’ve reached the dreaded fitness plateau that many people new to exercise experience.

The key to getting over that plateau is stair walking—climbing stairs as part of your regular routine. You can do this using a stair-climbing treadmill or finding a local building that has many staircases, such as parking garages, stadiums in public parks, or your high-rise office or condo. Indeed, stair climbing has become a competitive sport, with many cities hosting skyscraper stair climbs as charity events.

Walking a 5K race up a skyscraper is a challenging goal for any athlete, let along an intermediate walker. But walking stairs can burn up to 50% more calories than normal walking. Walking stairs also works many more muscle groups, helping you build more muscle and burn more fat:

  • Quads
  • Glutes
  • Hip flexors
  • Calves
  • Hamstrings

While stair walking is an excellent way to add variety to your walking routine, you don’t want to overdo it. Too much stair walking can lead to knee problems. Forget about the popular boast “no pain, no gain”—if an exercise routine causes physical pain, stop immediately and consult a doctor. If you have known knee problems, it’s best to avoid running or jogging up or down stairs.

Walking Stairs Workouts Get You to the Next Level

To avoid the fitness plateau, add stair walking to your routine no more than twice per week to avoid possible injury. When using stair walking for fitness, think of your safety first.

As for walking stairs workouts, variety is the key. You can get good results just climbing a flight of stairs 5 times, but you can do so much more:

Stair jogging is a good intermediate workout: jog up and down a flight of stairs 5 times in a row.

Side step ups work more leg muscles: at the base of a staircase, place your feet close together, then take one step up and one step down; do this 15 times per leg and repeat the whole cycle 3 times.

Stair lunges build stamina: climb a flight of stairs taking two stairs at a time, then descend normally; repeat 3 times.

Stable stair lunges is a great stretching routine: at the base of the stairs, lunge up one step with your left leg 15 times, then with your right leg 15 times; repeat 3 times.

Stair sprints are an intense, advanced walking stairs workout: run up a flight of stairs as fast as you can, pumping your arms to increase the workout, walk down normally, and repeat 5 times.