How to turn any stairs into fitness equipment

Personal trainer Andreas Tasci often uses stairs in his sessions for efficient training whatever the location. To do these five exercises all you need is a set of stairs.

Text: Clau Isenring

If you regularly take the stairs instead of the lift then you’re already doing something for your health, because climbing stairs increases your heart rate, strengthens your muscles and uses three times as much energy as walking on a flat surface. In a study* conducted by British sports scientists, participants increased their cardiorespiratory fitness by 17% in eight weeks – just by climbing stairs regularly.

*Source: British Journal of Sports Medicine

Five stair climbing exercises

These exercises offer a short fitness programme which can be done on any set of stairs. Let’s go – every step counts!

Climb on the balls of your feet – Good for  calves and gluteal muscles, arch of the foot, thighs and cardiovascular system

Treading only on the balls of your feet, raise one knee and tense your buttocks to actively push your body forwards. Repeat on the other leg. Tip: do the exercise barefoot at home. This makes it easier to tread only on the balls of your feet and maximises the training effect.

Frog jumps – Good for calves and gluteal muscles, arch of the foot, thighs and cardiovascular system

Stand with your legs shoulder width apart, crouch down and then jump onto the next step. Land gently and crouch down again. Important: bend forwards slightly with a straight back and make sure that your knees and toes point forwards.

Sideways and backwards – Good for coordination

To improve your coordination, climb the stairs facing sideways – stepping first in front, then behind. It’s also good for coordination to climb the stairs backwards. Start slowly until you feel steady. Hold onto the banister if necessary.

Lunges – Good for thighs, gluteal muscles and balance

Face away from the stairs and place one foot on the bottom or second-to-bottom step. Take a big step forwards. Move slowly up and down keeping your back straight. Important: the foot, leg and knee of the front leg should be in a straight line and the knee should not extend over the toes during the lunges.

Push-ups – Good for shoulders, arms, chest and back

Adopt the push-up position by placing your hands shoulder-width apart on the second or third step. Make sure to tense your stomach and back muscles throughout the push-up movement. The angle of the stairs means you have to support less weight.

Stair exercise plan

This training plan shows how you can integrate the five exercises into your daily routine. You’ll feel much fitter in just a few weeks. If the exercises become too easy for you, simply increase the number of repetitions or your speed. Options: increase the difficulty of the exercises by using a weighted rucksack, briefcase, full water bottle or other form of extra weight.

Andreas Tasci
Personal trainer