Five Stair Workouts You Need to Try

Mix up your next cardio session with these energizing exercises.

We all know that running is a great cardio workout — but running stairs takes it to the next level.

We consulted strength and conditioning coach and exercise physiologist Kevin Shields for inventive ways to change up our regular stair running routine. “Because you’re in a state where you’re burning more calories and keeping your heart rate elevated, this workout has more of a cardiovascular effect, making it more like interval training,” Shields says.

Start by mastering the basic form, then we’ll take you through four more challenging movements to add intensity. “This workout becomes increasingly challenging, especially by putting exercises like this back to back to back to back,” Shields says.


Complete each exercise in succession, without rest in between. Rest for 60 to 120 seconds, then repeat each exercise for a total of three to four rounds.

“Put effort into getting up the stairs as quickly as possible. On the walk down, take your rest time,” Shields says. “These five exercises in a row will give you a solid workout.”


This is your basic exercise. Here’s how to maintain proper form.

  • Pump your arms as you run.
  • Swing your hands up and down from cheek to cheek — let this help you to create momentum.
  • Stay on the balls of your feet. This is an “explosive, power-type workout.”
  • Keep your head and spine in a neutral position.
  • Gaze straight ahead.


  • Maintain proper form.
  • Begin by placing one foot on the first step, quickly followed by the other.
  • Continue repeating with the same lead foot all the way up.
  • Lead with the opposite foot on the next round.


  • Maintain proper form.
  • Alternate one foot per step, skipping one each time you stride.


  • Lunge up the stairs by skipping a step in between each time.
  • Alternate your feet as you lunge continuously.
  • Move steadily, firmly planting your entire foot on the step.
  • Don’t let your knee extend past your toes.


  • Start by sprinting to the top of the steps.
  • Laterally step down one to two steps at a time, depending on what is comfortable for you.
  • Squat down as your bottom foot reaches the step.
  • Sit back with each squat.
  • Once you reach the end, sprint back to the top and repeat with the opposite leg leading to complete one round.

Ready to get your heart rate up? Find a set of stairs and go. If you’re looking for more ways to change up your workout, try our full-body bench workout and 20-minute HIIT workout as well.