The treadmill and elliptical are probably part of your cardio routine, but if you haven’t added the StairMaster (or just regular stairs) into the mix, you’re missing out. While climbing steps can sculpt and tone your butt, it can also help you lose weight, according to Chris Kelly, a NASM-certified personal trainer.
“You can lose weight from climbing stairs, as long as the principles of exercise are accomplished,” Chris told POPSUGAR. “The overload principle of exercise states that a greater load or resistance should be placed on the body than it is normally accustomed to — over time, this creates an increase in fitness and weight loss.”
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise each week. So, just how much time you’ll need to put in on the stairs depends on whether you’re walking, jogging, or running them, and what other forms of exercise you get throughout the week. (Also key: watching what you eat.)
As with any exercise, your body will grow accustomed to climbing stairs and need more of a challenge to continue shedding pounds. At that point, Chris suggests upping the intensity as opposed to spending more time on the stairs. If you’re using a StairMaster, increase the resistance or speed. If you’re utilizing regular stairs, add some ankle weights.
However you step up to the challenge, Chris recommends putting your entire foot on each stair and not just the balls of your feet. This will help with balance and the amount of pressure on your knees. Most people should also avoid climbing stairs that create more than a 90-degree bend in the knee — in other words, don’t be a hero and take two at a time.