If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you know I do “the stair hike” all the damn time. I seriously love it.
For those of you who aren’t in the know, this magical “stair hike” is a glorified long walk in my neighborhood that involves a shit ton of stairs. In the hills neighborhoods of LA (Silverlake, Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood Hills, Laurel Canyon etc.) there are these “secret staircases” built into the hills. These cement staircases were built way back in the day to allow butlers, maids and other home staff to easily get from one estate to another for work. A lot of these people worked at one or more different homes in the area and back then, it wasn’t so easy to get from one place to another in the high hills, so the cement stairs were poured. And these staircases are seriously huge. SO long, so many stairs AND they are public property!
Now, there are many many more homes in the hills (and no servants going from estate to estate anymore obvs), but these staircases are still there and often basically take me through people’s backyards. It almost feels like you shouldn’t be there, but then you remember they are owned by the city of LA and it’s totally fair game. Just don’t make eye contact if you happen to see into anyones house! HA! Find out more about LA’s Secret Stairs here!
So, the stair hike loop that I do is a bit longer that 3.5 miles. I think it ends up being about 3.7 miles, according to my trusty Fitbit. It includes 5 staircases (6 if I do the LONG route which makes the whole thing 4.3 miles instead), and only one of those 5 is a descending staircase. So for the normal hike I do, I huff it up 4 huge staircases. Oh, and since the stairs are old, they are bigger steps than the average stairs we are all used to! Think about 3-4 inches taller which is pretty significant when you are doing so many.
In between the stairs, there are inclines and declines through the neighborhood. I live pretty high up in the hills, so I start at my house, walk to the tip top, then descend to the very bottom, back up the other side to the tip top, back down to that center bit again and then back up to my house. Think of it like a V shape with lots of wiggles in between. And it is a loop so you get to see so many different homes, so many CUTE DOGS, and you will certainly see other people hiking and running too.
I love this workout because it is serious work, but it somehow also feels leisurely! I put on a podcast and next thing I know, I am back on my block and just logged some serious miles and major booty burn!
Now…I know most of you don’t have a “stair hike” outside of your house. But there are stairs EVERYWHERE you guys. No matter where you live, you can find sets of stairs to use as a workout. It’s free, it works all the muscles in your legs and it really burns a lot of calories in a short amount of time. It is a very effective and efficient way to exercise. I’ll get into all the details of the benefits of stair climbing below, but before I do that I wanted to give you some tips about tackling them, making it interesting and incorporating them into your routine.
Stair Climbing Options :: Beat Boredom!
♥ I like to make it about more than just the stairs. If you spend too long just doing stairs, you’ll probably get bored and burned out on it…which will make you less likely to want to do it again. So to combat that before it even sneaks up on you, I like to make the stairs just one component of the workout, which is why I love the stair hike- there are hills and declines in between that I can run or walk. If you have a set of steps to use outside, I recommend incorporating them into a run or a walk. For example, run a mile then do 3-4 stair sprints, leisurely jog another mile, then do 5-6 stair sprints, run another mile and finish off with 3-4 stair sprints. Or something similar that fits your running ability!
♥ I also like climbing stairs in unique ways to mix it up. I’ll do two at a time on the left leg for half the stairs, then switch to the other leg. This method really gets that one side burned out and just when you are about to give up, you switch legs. Go back and forth like this and burn out those legs and alternate between them to give just enough rest. I also love to sprint up the steps, then walk back down, and continue like this to get the heart rate up and down to create a maximum calorie burn. Sprints are SO hard, but also SO good for toning your core…more on that below.
♥ Incorporate some body weight moves into your stair circuit. Warm up my doing a light run for about a mile, then get into the stairs and strength! After you run to warm up, run or briskly walk the stairs three times (up and down is one time). Then do a little circuit at the bottom like this:
20 reverse lunges on each leg (40 total)
20 jump squats
20 tricep dips using the bottom step
15 pushups using the bottom step
Then go back up and down the steps, keeping up your pace, three times. Then, do the above circuit 2 more times through, with those same three stair sprints in between. Alternate between stair sprints and the strength circuit!
Now lets talk about the benefits of doing the stairs and tips for getting the most out of it. These stair workouts can be pretty short too if you make it intense enough!
♥ Tone and firm up your legs…every part of them! Stair climbing is a VERY effective way to tighten and firm up your butt, hamstrings and thighs. It also builds that booty if you are shifting the weight correctly! They also work your calves really well, which helps create a sexy, shapely leg. The ankles also kick into gear here, and that is amazing for training those small muscles that help you stay balanced and supported in all other workouts you do!
♥ Build that booty! Stair climbing really helps you attain that perky, round bum we all want! Just make sure to step down on your full foot and push off with your heel (unless you are doing sprints). I also like to just shift my mental focus to my butt so that it takes most of the work from the quads…I know that sounds weird and I don’t really know how else to explain it exactly, but just shift the focus to your butt and squeeze it and I guarantee it’ll work! TRUST! Stairs also help to firm up that pesky area where your booty meets your upper thigh- that area that can sometimes just blend together. Help to create that separation with stair climbs. If that doesn’t convice you, I don’t know what will.
♥ Engage your core and work those lower abs to the extreme. Stairs are an incredible core workout, believe it or not. Make sure to engage your abs and squeeze them in while you are huffing it up the steps and you will be majorly working those deep transverse abdominals. Extra credit for stair sprints- they REALLY work the abs!
♥ Major calorie burn in a short amount of time is the way to see incredible results, fast. Plus, the road to weight loss is found in efficient workouts that give you a lot of bang for your buck. Including stair runs into my routine ups my calorie burn from a walk by A LOT. Stairs are not easy to do, but you do get better at it..plus you get that cardio conditioning in that is so important for your body.
♥ Cardio and muscle building in one fell swoop- again with the efficiency! You will tone and tighten your butt, legs and core all while getting in cardio that is great for your heart! All of this at once leads to more calorie burn ALL DAY LONG! You already know that muscle building is the way to keep your metabolism stoked, but you also don’t even need to add weights if you are using stairs! To up the ante a bit, add in some plyometric moves in between stair runs like squat jumps, jumping lunges etc.
I do my stair hikes a few times a week. Sometimes, when I have time, I will do them along with another workout like a pilates class or HIIT workout. I find that taking these walking/stair workouts at the end of the day really clears my head and gives me alone time to just think. BUT I also love taking Ben or a friend with me! You can spend the time catching up, laughing and not even realize that you are getting in a workout together! Sometimes Puffin will come, which just ends up being more of a workout for me because I have to carry his lazy ass half the way LOL.
Additionally, whenever I can in life, I love to take the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator in every day life. Just adding extra stair steps in each day can do so much for your overall health and fitness. Plus, if you get in the mindset of doing that, you will most likely make other healthier choices every day. WIN WIN. Also, if you have a Fitbit like me, you will log extra steps every day and beat all your friends…totally worth it.
Hope everyone is having a great holiday season and staying sane so far! We have some family staying with us from my hubs side starting tomorrow night…but other than that, we are just here in LA enjoying the fact that everyone else leaves town. LOVE an empty city!