Plant your foot. Most people overuse their quads to scale stairs, but if you land with your heel on the step rather than let it hang off the edge as you climb, you can shift more toning to your hamstrings, says physiologist Michele Olson, Ph.D., a FITNESS advisory board member.
Boost your power. Trade the elevator for a flight plan: A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that short bouts of stair climbing (starting with one two-minute session and increasing to five) five days a week for eight weeks increased women's cardio capacity by 17 percent. "You're anaerobically training whenever you take the stairs," Olson says.
Use your booty. To really firm your butt muscles, skip every other stair as you walk up, Olson says. Press through your heel and squeeze your cheeks as you stand upright on the next step.
All you need is a set of stairs—inside, outside, the stairclimber at the gym—to do these routines by trainer Chris Powell from ABC's Extreme Weight Loss. "Pump your arms for more momentum," Powell says. "Or, for extra balance, hold rails."
|0 to 3||Do a dynamic warm-up (one minute each of high knees, butt kicks and side shuffles on flat ground).|
|3 to 6||Do bear crawls slowly up the stairs, then walk down. (Start on ground in a plank position with hands on first step. Move left foot up a step as you move right hand up a step. Repeat on opposite side; continue alternating.)|
|6 to 9||Starting at the bottom, slowly jog up the steps and increase your speed as you climb to the top; walk or slowly jog down for safety. Repeat as many times as possible.|
|9 to 10||Rest and take a water break.|
|10 to 16||Do five burpees on flat ground, then quickly sprint up the stairs; slowly jog down. Repeat as many times as possible|
|16 to 17||Rest.|
|17 to 21||Do 10 triceps dips. (Sit on first step, heels on ground and palms flat by hips; slide hips forward off step. Bend elbows behind you to lower body, then straighten arms to lift.) Follow with three stair sprints (sprint to the top and walk or slowly jog down three times). Repeat dip-sprint combo as many times as possible.|
|21 to 22||Rest.|
|22 to 25||Jump from step to step up stairs with feet together, then walk or slowly jog down. Repeat as many times as possible.|
|25 to 30||Walk on flat ground to cool down.|
|0 to 3||2 to 4||Warm up. (Start at an easy pace, then increase by one level each minute.)|
|3 to 6||2 to 3||Step off machine and do dynamic stretches on floor (one minute each of high knees, butt kicks and side shuffles).|
|6 to 8||6||Start at a moderate level and take quick steps while holding the handrails.|
|8 to 10||8||Increase by two levels. Let go of handrails if you can safely balance; otherwise, hold on lightly.|
|10 to 11||6||Return to moderate level, holding the handrails.|
|11 to 13||9||Increase by three levels, skipping a step as you climb. Let go of handrails if you can safely balance, or hold on lightly.|
|13 to 16||6||Return to moderate level, taking single steps (no skipping steps) and holding the handrails. (Let go of rails and pump arms if you can balance.)|
|16 to 18||8||Increase by two levels.|
|18 to 19||6||Return to moderate level, holding the handrails.|
|19 to 21||9||Increase by three levels, skipping a step as you climb. Let go of the handrails if you can safely balance, or hold on lightly.|
|21 to 22||6||Return to moderate level, holding the handrails.|
|22 to 28||9.5 and 5||Holding handrails, alternate one minute at a near all-out level and one minute at a moderate level. Repeat combo three times.|
|28 to 30||3 to 4||Cool down at a light-moderate level, holding handrails. Reduce by one level after one minute.|