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If you're looking to shed a few pounds or want to tone and firm the lower half of your body in preparation for beach season, you may not have to look any further than the stairs in your home or apartment building. Stair-climbing is an ideal exercise as it provides both cardiovascular and strength-training benefits. In addition to using stairs in your home or apartment building, try out the stair climber or stair stepper machines at your local gym.
Stair-climbing exercise, whether done on a workout machine at the gym or using actual stairs, provides an excellent overall workout with particular emphasis on the lower body. Stair climbing tones the thighs, glutes and abdominal muscles and provides a good cardiovascular workout. Utilizing stairs in your home or apartment building is also an inexpensive workout option, and can help you prepare for other athletic endeavors, such as rowing, swimming, biking and running.
Use stair climbing for anaerobic conditioning after performing leg stretches to warm up, such as calf and thigh stretches. Run up the stairs as quickly as you can or run up every two steps, your level of fitness; try climbing six to 12 flights at a time and resting for two to three minutes before climbing them again. Do about three or four sets and work up to 10 sets. As you become more adept at running up stairs, challenge yourself by adding weights or climbing even more stairs.
Lower-Body Toning Workout
Tone and strengthen the lower body with stairs. Perform stair lunges, including basic lunges, side lunges, diagonal lunges and cross-over lunges. Work one leg at a time or alternate depending on preference; perform deep lunges up a flight of stairs or use the bottom stairs to do shallower lunges. Perform one to five sets of one to 30 lunges per leg. Use free weights or a weighted vest to challenge yourself further.
Always work out in well-lit areas, and walk down stairs slowly and with caution after climbing them; your legs will be tired and you'll be more likely to trip and fall. Maintain the correct posture for climbing, keeping the back straight while leaning forward slightly from the hips. Place your whole foot on each step, and never climb with your heels hanging off the steps as this can overstretch the Achilles tendons.