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All you need is a staircase for cardio and strength workouts

You can gain supreme fitness without access to weights or a gym. Here are some great workouts you can do with just a staircase

A staircase is a versatile aid to fitness.
A staircase is a versatile aid to fitness. (Istockphoto)

Achieving your fitness goals should not depend on access to equipment or a gym. Whether it’s just bodyweight exercises, or if you have access only to a wall, there is always a way to figure out a list of exercises that can be done with minimal fuss. The best way would be to mix and match these workouts in a way that helps you progress through the difficulty levels and meet your goals.

Just like a wall, another underrated workout tool is a staircase. Not just for cardio, but even for muscle-building for both the upper and lower body. After a quick floor warm-up and some mobility exercises, the stairs offer a great option for increasing your heart-rate for what is to follow. That is why a lot of fitness instructors who work in gyms which are not on the ground floor will ask their clients to warm-up using the staircase.

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“It’s a well-rounded, lower body routine because everything comes into the picture. The entire movement happens in a vertical plane and you drive it through your hips. Besides involving lower body muscles, it also engages the core since it is used to stabilise the upper body,” said mountaineer Kuntal Joisher in a Lounge article on the importance of staircase climbing as a standalone exercise.

Focusing on the legs for the time being, the staircase can be used for a step-up lunge. The most obvious upper body exercise to do would be the incline push-up but even better is the combination of both exercises which can be done not only as a warm-up but as part of a full-fledged workout.

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Stairs can also be used as a bench alternative for tricep dips. Just place your feet together on the landing and use the steps as support for your arms to flex back for the dip. While these are the basics, steps can also be used to merge a few other exercises together. One of the popular ones for a full body workout is the side step-up plus a quick punching or boxing combo.

Also Read: How to build strength with just bodyweight exercises

There is something extra that a staircase offers compared to working out on a flat surface or using conventional equipment. Research findings indicate that “short bouts of stair climbing in a naturalistic setting can induce cognitive benefits for more challenging tasks.” This is because of the nature of the staircase which needs one to be more careful of the surroundings which in effect help the mind-muscle connection to solve a problem of terrain.

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Mountain climbers for the core can be done in different angles, be it decline or in an incline position on the steps. This adds a bit of weight from gravity also depending on the angle of the mountain climbers you are doing and the feeling of these can be very different to traditional mountain climbers done in a plank position.It’s the same with sidestep crossovers, as Aja Dang says in her video on staircase workouts. The crossover is especially good for the adductors and even the glutes, so doing them while also climbing a step with every rep will be felt.

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Another exercise for the glutes would be the step-up and kickback. The kickback (as shown in the video below) is an excellent exercise on its own so matching it with a step-up just adds a lot more zing. If you are someone who adds weight to their kickbacks in the gym, then wearing ankle weights while doing this on the staircase will be an added bonus.

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All the calf exercises which you do at the gym can be done on a staircase. It is extremely effective as well if you climb up a step before every rep, which can also compensate for the lack of weights in this routine. Nathan Loy’s video of calf exercises on a staircase is a good starting point.

Also Read: How to strengthen your adductor muscles

For those who have access to weights and a staircase handy, you can easily do a single hand row using the stairs as support (and stop complaining about not having a bench) as well as the incline bicep curl using water bottles or dumbbells. Staying with the upper body and all the vanity muscles, steps are also brilliant to slowly work up towards a proper pike push-up. Every week, just try to use one step lower, narrowing the angle for the pike push-up which is excellent for the shoulders.

And lastly, the explosive exercises. Jumping squat hops, quick taps on the step with the feet, and even box jumps (or stair jumps in this case) are all highly effective exercises for HIIT. Just remember to be careful, and the steps can be a great value addition in your fitness journey.

Pulasta Dhar is a football commentator and writer.

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