Stair Workout – Bodyweight Exercises


Looking for a bodyweight workout, but want to mix up your routine? Throw some stairs or a bench into the mix! These can be done at home, or at any bench in passing if your going for a run. Here are four exercises to get your started.

Stair exercise #1: Incline Pushup

Incline Pushup 1     Incline Pushup 2

Muscles worked: Pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, triceps, core muscles

  • Starting from the “top” of the movement, place your hands about shoulder width or slightly wider on the stair – adjust to what feels comfortable to you.
  • Bring down your body towards the stairs, keeping your body straight the whole time, and head neutral so you don’t put your face into the stair above!
  • Push up back into the starting position
  • If you’re struggling with regular pushups due to shoulder issues, this modification on a helps reduce strain and can be better on your shoulder and neck joints
  • Too easy? Here’s a modification – start with your feet on the stairs, rather than your hands – this will emphasize the upper fibers of your pectoralis major more

Stair exercise modification: Pushup with feet elevated

Incline Pushup 3     Incline Pushup 4

Stair exercise #2: Incline Mountain Climber

Incline Mountain Climber 1     Incline Mountain Climber 2

Muscles worked: rectus abdominus, core muscles, hip flexors

  • Starting from the “top” of the movement, place your hands about shoulder width or slightly wider on the stair – adjust to what feels comfortable to you.
  • Alternating, bring each knee up to your chest – as soon as your toe touches the ground, bring the other knee back up
  • You can do this one of two ways (a) nice and slowly, to really focus on stability and your core, or (b) as a cardio interval to get your heart rate up – imagine “jogging” on the spot, moving your knees in quickly.
  • Engage your core while you do the movement – make sure your hips don’t sway too much during the movement and stay stable
  • Similar to the Incline pushup, this is a good alternative if you have shoulder problems – performing the exercise on a stair reduces pressure on your shoulder joint

Stair exercise #3: Calf Raise

Calf Raise 1     Calf Raise 2

Muscles worked: gastrocnemius, soleus

  • Place the balls of your feet on the step, with your heels slightly hanging off the edge
  • Push up onto your toes, focusing on going up as high as you can and then slowly coming back down
  • Feel free to hold onto the handrail for balance. If you want to challenge your balance ability, keep your hand close to the handrail, but only a very light touch
  • If you want more of a challenge, you can do a single calf raise by only placing your weight onto one foot

Stair exercise #4: Step Jumps

Step Jump 1     Step Jump 2

Muscles worked: rectus femoris, glutes, calves    Bonus: eye foot coordination

  • Lower into a prep position for a jump (squat) – jump up onto the stairs in front.
  • Land safely in a squat position so your joints help absorb the landing and prevent unnecessary jarring of your joints.
  • Make sure you use your whole body through the movement, feel free to swing the arms, look where you’re going, and extend through the jump.
  • Beginners should aim for landing one or two stairs above, and more moderate exercises can aim for two or three stairs above.
  • For athletic populations or those confident with both jumping and landing, you can include a jump backwards, back to the starting position
  • If this is too difficult, or you don’t feel confident in your ability to land safely, start with step ups so your body gets used to the height differential
  • If you have knee problems, you should avoid this exercise

Do you have any other stair exercises you like to do? Leave a comment below!


Written by James Hsin – Client Care Manager


James is currently going into his 4th year at kinesiology at UBC, and grew up a relatively active individual. He has been training primarily in Muay Thai for the past 4 years, training with champions and beginners alike. James is a firm believer that exercise should be like playing around – it’s better if its fun! James hopes he can share how his fitness journey has encouraged him to grow, and hopes to inspire you to do the same.

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