Watch Nastia Liukin Crush This Intense Lower-Body Stair Circuit

She teamed up with celebrity trainer Kira Stokes to share the full routine, so you can try it, too.

nastia liukin at the 2018 ESPYS
Photo: Rich Fury/WireImage/Getty Images

Throughout quarantine, five-time gymnastic Olympic medalist Nastia Liukin has been sharing her go-to workouts with fans — most of which require minimal to no equipment. Whether it's a bodyweight burnout, killer ab circuit, or a full-body Pilates routine, her IG Lives have your every fitness desire covered.

Donning a black crop top, black shorts, and a black and white pair of APL's TechLoom Bliss Sneakers (Buy It, $220,, Liukin tackled her latest quarantine-friendly workout: a lower-body stair circuit. And yes, she broke it all down on the 'gram so you can follow along. The only equipment you need? A flight of stairs.

Led by her trainer, Kira Stokes, the challenging yet straightforward circuit is made up of five exercises: step pistol squats, step knee drives, skip-a-step stair walks, stair plank taps, and stair frogger squat thrusts.

The first two moves will have your legs burning almost immediately. "The pistol squat prep move targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and core, helping you build strength," she says. The knee drives work your glutes and quads as well, but they challenge your endurance more, in addition to increasing your heart rate, explains Stokes. The movement also activates your abs as you draw the knee in toward your body, she adds. (

Next, the skip-a-step stair walks help to break up the circuit and squeeze in some cardio, then the stair plank taps focus on strengthening your core, glutes, arms, and wrists, says Stokes. Finally, the stair frogger squat thrusts primarily work the hamstrings, but secondarily also target the glutes, lower back, and quads — and will definitely get you breathless — the trainer adds.

"Combined, these exercises work pretty much every muscle in your lower body, and are the perfect combo of strength, endurance, and especially cardio," says Stokes. "Like anything else, finding a way to vary your cardio routine is good for your heart because it's challenging both physically and mentally — and circuits like this are a great way to switch it up. Plus, stairs are everywhere! Look at your environment. You can find a way to see a gym wherever you go." (

Even though Liukin makes the circuit look easy, the toughest part is maintaining form, adds Stokes. "Nastia has incredible body awareness," she says. "A lot of people don't know they have muscle imbalances, but she does." So even though the gymnast flows through the moves like it's NBD, it's important to focus on your balance, keep your hips aligned, and engage your core as you work through the exercises.

Ready to give it a try? Here are Stokes' tips on how to complete each exercise in her killer lower-body stair circuit.

Kira Stokes' Lower-Body Burner Stair Circuit

How it works: Complete circuit one on the left side before repeating on the right. Then, head into circuit two. Repeat both circuits three times for best results.

Circuit 1

Step Pistol Squat

A. Stand perpendicular to the staircase. Plant left foot on the first step. Right foot should hover off the ground. This is your starting position.

B. Sit back into hips and bend left leg in a single-leg squat until right heel taps the ground. Extend arms in front for balance. Make sure to keep hips squared to the front and in line with each other.

C. Squeeze glutes and stand up on the left leg to return to start.

Do 12-15 reps.

Step Knee Drives

A. Face the stairs and plant left foot on a step. Hinge at the hips so back is parallel to the stairs, with the right leg extended on the ground. This is your starting position.

B. Extend arms in front for balance and bring right knee toward chest while engaging core.

C. Extend right leg back until the ball of foot lightly taps the ground.

D. Immediately bring right leg towards chest again in one swift motion.

Do 15-20 reps.

Skip-a-Step Stair Walk

A. Start facing the stairs with both feet on the ground.

B. Run up the stairs, skipping a step between each foot. Push into heels to engage glutes and keep core engaged.

C. Once at the top, return to the bottom without skipping steps.

Do 2-4 sets.

Circuit 2

Stair Plank Taps

A. Start in a plank position with hands on the first step.

B. Bring left hand to right shoulder and return it to the ground.

C. Tap right hand on left shoulder and return it to the ground. Make sure hips are not swaying side to side.

Do 10 reps.

Stair Frogger Squat Thrusts

A. Start in a plank position with hands on the first step and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.

B. Hop both feet onto the step, outside of hands.

C. Lift hands off the ground and stay in a low sumo squat position.

D. Place both hands back on the ground between feet and hop feet back to start.

Do 10-12 reps.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles