Step It Up (like Channing Tatum is waiting at the top) with strength training exercises that zap flab, firming your glutes, quads, abs, and so much more

By Jessica Cassity
Guzman

Want access to the best cardio and strength equipment anywhere? Take your workout to the sand, stairs, and hills to boost your burn and tone in less time.

Stair workouts not only kick your butt, they also firm it like nothing else. When you walk or run on flat ground, your glutes are basically taking a nap. It's when you have to dig in and climb that they fire up. That's why running up stairs burns 953 calories per hour. For the same burn on a level surface, you would have to hold an all-out sprint. (Turn Your Stairwell into a Fat-Burning Machine.)

What's unique about stairs, says Brandon Guild, a trainer for Fulcrum Fitness in Portland, Oregon, is that the flat landing spot of each step causes you to strike with your midfoot rather than the ball of your foot. "You use your whole leg, not just your calf, to push off," he says. It's as if you're doing a lunge and a rep on the leg press machine with every step. That's a lot of extra firm with your burn.

Plus, if you take two steps at a time, your muscles are contracted-that is, working-over a wider range, says Lewis Halsey, Ph.D., an exercise physiologist at the University of Roehampton in London. "Meanwhile, shorter steps are also great in that they require quicker muscle activation," Halsey says. In other words, skipping a step requires more power, which can improve your endurance, and striking every step demands faster footwork, which can make you speedier. That's why we've incorporated both methods in this routine-plus some strengtheners that will help you take your toning to the next level.

And since the steps make everything you do tougher, you don't need to dedicate a ton of time to them to see results. Women who walked up and down stairs for 10 minutes a day five days a week improved their VO2 max (a measure of fitness) by 17 percent within two months, according to a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

How it Works:

1. You'll need at least one flight with 10 steps. Your entire foot should fit on a step tread, Halsey says. This will make it easier to move quickly during runs and give you enough room to do strength moves.

2. Handrails are also key. Lightly hold the outside rail on the way up and down until your body and brain get used to the movement, Halsey advises. You can also grab it as you get tired.

3. Carpeted stairs may have more traction than bare ones, so don't discount indoor flights. They'll also provide a gentler surface for your hands during pushups and dips, Halsey says.

Your Stair Workout

Burn more calories and firm more muscles with this 32-minute routine created by trainer Brandon Guild.

0 to 3 minutes

Warm up with an easy jog up and down. Keep your shoulders back and down, and try to gaze straight ahead rather than at your feet.

3 to 6 minutes

Do 10 reps each of the moves below. Repeat the circuit as many times as you can.

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