Crisp fall weather is the perfect energizer to take exercise alfresco, so we've laid out a kick-butt routine to do right on your doorstep.
Photo: Chris Fanning
It's no wonder stair workouts are a coach fave—they make for exceptional conditioning. (This total-body stair workout is killer.) And the beauty is that you don't need sky-high flights or bleachers to net their magic. "You'd be surprised by the high-intensity training you can get right on your front stoop," says Hannah Davis, a strength and conditioning coach and creator of Body by Hannah online fitness programs. "You can add a challenge to almost any move you do on flat ground, improving your power, cardio capacity, and agility," she says. Simply bounding up steps is a hit of plyometrics–which burns an unreal 484 calories in half an hour, while the tiered levels let you go super low for things like single-leg squats (since your raised leg can go down below your platform).
And switching things up from your usual gym drill to see some sky can make this recharge all the more potent. A recent study published in the journal PLOS One found that taking a brisk walk outside instead of on the treadmill was more effective at decreasing anxiety and fatigue and boosting happiness and calm. (This playground boot-camp workout is another outdoor workout option.)
Davis created an all-in-one cardio and strength workout for Shape using just your average stoop with three stairs. You'll get that burst of plyometrics, plus the built-in core tightening that comes from taking total-body exercises to a whole new level.
How it works: Find a set of stairs with at least three steps. Repeat each mini-circuit three times before moving to the next.
Total Time: up to 30 minutes
1. Circuit 1
Hopscotch Jump: Standing on ground facing steps, jump onto first step, landing with right foot. Then jump both feet out, landing in a squat on same step. Repeat, jumping to second step, landing with left foot. Continue to top, alternating sides. Walk back to starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
Dips and Reach: Sit on bottom step with knees bent, feet flat on the ground. Place hands on edge of step with fingertips pointed forward, then lift butt so it hovers just above and in front of step. Bend elbows to lower butt toward ground. Push back up. Straighten left leg as you reach right hand to tap left foot. Return to starting position. Repeat left. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
2. Circuit 2
Bulgarian Lunge: Facing away from steps, place top of right foot on first step. Bend both knees until back knee almost touches the ground. Return to starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Traveling Plank: Start on ground in plank on palms with steps in front of you. Walk one hand at a time up to the first step, then the second, maintaining plank position. Reverse the movement back down to ground, one hand and one step at a time. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps.
3. Circuit 3
Uneven Curtsy Depth Lunge: Stand on first step, facing right. Step left foot onto third step, coming into an uneven squat. Push through right heel and lift left leg, landing left foot on ground behind and diagonal to right foot, coming into a curtsy lunge. That's 1 rep. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.
Step Jump with Deadlift Balance: Balancing on right leg, hop up to first step. Hinge at hip, extending left leg behind you and reaching down to second step with left hand. Return to starting position. That's 1 rep. Do 5 reps, continuing up steps. Turn so right side is facing stairs and do high knees laterally down steps to ground. Switch sides; repeat.