Try This High-Intensity Stair-Climbing Workout

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Try This High-Intensity Stair-Climbing Workout

There’s no doubt that climbing stairs is an extremely effective way to burn calories. According to the 2011 Compendium on Physical Activities, stair climbing expends approximately 9.0 METs. (A MET, Metabolic Equivalent, is a unit of measuring energy output from physical activity; 1 MET = 1 calorie/kilogram (of bodyweight) per hour and is the amount of energy expended while sitting at rest.) Walking at a comfortable pace is approximately 3.3 METs, which means that running stairs can burn about three times the number of calories as going for a walk for the same amount of time.

If you’re looking for a fun and challenging way to kick your workout up a notch, try this stair-running workout, which can be done indoors or outside. In many parts of the country it’s been a long, cold winter, but as the weather warms up, it’s always nice to step out of the gym and exercise in the fresh air and sunshine.

The length, height and steepness of the stairs will influence the level of difficulty. When starting out, use a set of stairs that takes about 10 to 30 seconds to run up. From there, you can increase the distance or number of repetitions to increase the intensity of your workout.


3-5 minutes of toe-taps, jumps and light stair running

Toe taps


Run every step up, walk down – repeat 5-8 times

Stair running

Run every other step up, walk down – repeat 3-5 times

Run laterally every step, walk down – repeat 3-5 times each side

Stair running

Run steps in a crossover pattern (right leg in front of left) – repeat 3-5 times each side

Stair running

Cool down:

Stretch calves, hips and quadriceps

Pete McCallPete McCall Contributor

Pete McCall, MS, CSCS, is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and long-time player in the fitness industry. He has been featured as an expert in the Washington Post, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Runner's World and Self. He holds a master's degree in exercise science and health promotion, and several advanced certifications and specializations with NSCA and NASM.

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