of us go out of our way to avoid stairs, but using them as part of our
exercise routine is a great way to lose
weight, improve our fitness and
tone and strengthen problem areas, like our legs, tummy and buttocks.
This article explains why climbing stairs is such a great exercise for those of us with weight loss goals, and provides some very useful tips to get us started climbing stairs as safely and as effectively as possible.
Why climb stairs for weight loss
Stairmaster machines are among the most popular pieces of exercise equipment in gyms all over Australia and the world.
These machines certainly can provide us with an outstanding workout if used properly, but as with most things in life, there is no substitute for the real thing, and climbing stairs is no exception.
Climbing stairs for weight loss and fitness is great for many reasons. Here are just a couple of them:
Getting started climbing stairs
The hardest part of getting started climbing stairs for weight loss and fitness is usually finding some stairs to climb!
At first, it may not seem like there are any suitable stairs close by for us to climb, but when we start to think about it, it can be amazing how many stairs most of us have around us.
If possible, stairs with a reasonable number of flights is best, but with a bit of creativity it is possible to get a good workout even if the only stairs available have a single flight.
To help you find suitable stairs near you, here are a couple of typical places to find them:
Can you think of any more?
Getting the most out of stair climbing
With any form of exercise it is important to start off slowly and build progression into our workouts, and stair climbing is no different.
When we first start climbing stairs for weight loss, we may find ourself getting out of breath after only a flight or two and we may also find that our thigh muscles start to "burn".
To help our body acclimatize to this form of exercise, we should start by limiting ourselves to walking up two flights of stairs followed by five minutes of walking on the spot. At the end of the 5 minute walk on the spot, when our heart rate has come down a bit, we can try walking up another two flights followed by another five minute walk on the spot. This may be enough of a workout for us in the first week or two.
In future weeks, we can try adding another two flights of stairs and another five minute walk on the spot each week. Eventually we should be able to climb all the flights of stairs we want without having to stop to regain our breath.
When we start to get even fitter and stronger, we might want to try to make our stair climbing workouts even more intense by doing one or more of the following:
Aerobic versus anaerobic stair climbing workouts
Depending upon how we use them, stairs can predominantly improve our aerobic fitness or our muscle strength.
For strength improvement it is best to walk up two steps at a time and limit the number of sets of stair climbs we do per workout to between 1 and 5 sets. And instead of running up 20 flights of stairs, it may only be necessary to walk up a total of 15 to 30 steps per leg.
As well as strengthening all the muscles in our legs and buttocks, it is possible to magnify the strength and shaping affect of stair climbing by changing our technique slightly.
Here are some tips for working the inner thigh, hips and buttocks using stairs:
To get the most benefit out of any aerobic exercise, we should do it at least 3 times a week, for at least 20 minutes per session, at an intensity that elevates our heart rate to between 60% and 90% of our maximum (which is calculated by subtracting our age from 220).
With stair climbing however, we may not be able to continually climb stairs for a total of 20 minutes, so we may need to build up to this level by incorporating other activities with our stair climbing.
One example is to walk on the spot between flights (as suggested above). Another is to skip in between flights, etc.
For a combined aerobic and anaerobic workout, alternate five minutes of stair climbing with sets of exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, dumbell curls and presses.
A combined workout example might include a five minute warm-up, thirty to forty minutes of intervals (consisting of 2-3 minutes of stair climbing followed by 1 minute of muscle toning exercises), a five to ten minutes cool-down and stretches.
Think you'll get bored just climbing stairs?
Not a problem!
To help avoid boredom we can:
Safety tips for stair climbing
Generally speaking, stair climbing is relatively safe for most of us, but as with anything it is not totally without dangers.
To help us get the most out of our stair climbing workouts and exercise as safely as possible we should keep the following tips in mind at all times:
Climbing stairs is a great way to lose weight, improve our fitness and tone and strengthen our legs, tummy and buttocks.
This article explained why climbing stairs is such a great exercise for those of us with weight loss goals, and provided some very useful tips to get us started stair climbing and doing so safely and effectively.
Good luck with your weight loss and thanks for visiting weightloss.com.au.
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This article was written by Scott Haywood.
Scott Haywood is our editor at weightloss.com.au. Scott's expertise throughout his career has been in the fitness and food and weight loss industries which led him to launch weightloss.com.au back in 2005. He felt a need to provide people with factual information, healthy recipes, weight loss tools so people can make informed decisions to lead a healthier happier lifestyle.
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