Hit the Stairs!

By Michelle Kennedy

Take your workout to new heights, literally! Doing stairs is a great way to get your thigh muscles engaged while giving your heart a whole new challenge. Because the human body is really effective at adapting (which means workouts get easier), give your exercise plan a makeover every four to six weeks to stay on top of your game. This program for stairs (the StairMaster or revolving staircase at the gym) actually gives you 15 15-minute workouts—try them over the course of four to six weeks. Let’s step to it!


Day 1: Do 15 minutes at one continuous speed—just find your groove.


Day 2: Mountain Climb. Start at a low level and increase resistance every minute until minute 8. Then start decreasing resistance each minute until the end.


Day 3: Intervals. Alternate between 1 minute at a low resistance (moderate pace) and 30 seconds at a high pace for 15 minutes.


Day 4: Peaks and Valleys. Do 1 minute at a low level, then increase by one resistance until minute 3. Decrease resistance until minute 5, then start back up again. Repeat until you reach 15 minutes.


Day 5: Start/Stop. Do 15 seconds of fast-paced climbing. Step off the stair stepper for 30 seconds, then repeat.


Day 6: Hill. Start at a low resistance and move up one level each minute.


Day 7: Valley. Start at the top and decrease intensity one level every 30 seconds. When you get to the bottom, jump back up to the top and repeat.


Day 8: Two by Two. Climb at a low resistance for two minutes; switch to a high resistance for two more. Repeat until the end of set.


Day 9: Flat. One intensity the whole way through again—the challenge is to see if you can do it at a higher level than at day 1.


Day 10: Plateau. Begin at a moderate level for one minute; step up two levels for three minutes, then drop back down for one. Repeat.


Day 11: Long Steps. Take long, slow steps, imagining that you’re pushing through to the ground. Maintain the same intensity and speed throughout.


Day 12: Speed. Aim for small, quick steps at a high intensity for the full workout.


Day 13: Choose your favorite workout from above.


Day 14: Intervals. Alternate between 30 seconds on the machine at a high intensity and 30 seconds off.


Day 15: Final day. Climb as many steps as you can in 15 minutes!


This entire program can be repeated as many times as you want. When you notice that you are starting to get bored or aren't really feeling the intensity you once did, then time to switch it up again!

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