You don’t need a huge block of time to achieve a fair derriere. Twenty minutes provides both cardio and strength training for your legs and rear.
Just as its name implies, climb one flight of stairs to the top, descend, and repeat. The benefit of repeating the ascent is improved muscle tone in the back of your legs (both hamstrings and calves) and glutes. Just as walking on an inclined treadmill or walking up hills promotes a toned rear, attacking even a set of stairs repeatedly can target the same muscle groups. Returning to the base works the front of your legs, the quadriceps. Be sure to monitor muscle fatigue as you descend to maintain safety; tired legs can become increasingly unstable. Start with ten repeats (up and down), rest 30 seconds, and then tack on two more sets of ten with the same rest between.
Skip a step (or two!)
This set takes just a little more focus. As before, climb your set of stairs, using your arms to help propel you, but now leave a step (or two, if your stride allows for it) in between. By increasing your stride, you are increasing the work load your on your legs, as well as increasing the cardiovascular demands. More cardio output means more opportunity to burn fat. Avoid leaning forward as you climb, maintaining an upright position with quick feet. Three sets to start, with 30 seconds rest between each one.
Step ups (and downs)
Stand at the bottom of the stairs. Begin with right leg leading and step up, left leg follows. Return in the same fashion, right and then left leg down. Repeat this exercise for one minute. Rest for 30 seconds and then switch legs, allow the left to lead for the next minute. Aim for a total of four sets, alternating beginning leg. If you find you have a dominant leg, considering starting with the opposite one first. Give the less dominant side the advantage before you feel tired.
Here is an often tricky- but fun- exercise! From the base of your flight of stairs, face the opposite direction. Climb them in reverse, being careful not to neglect balance and spatial awareness. It may feel awkward at first, but use the handrail (if provided) when possible to maintain balance, as necessary. Take steps one at a time going up, and return down the traditional fashion. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat three to five more times.
This final set offers a challenge for your legs, most effectively, your quads and calves. Starting at the base of the stairs, begin with feet a little more than shoulder width apart. With arms bent at your sides, allow them to assist you with both balance and momentum, as you jump up on bottom stair, and return the same way. Toes should be facing forward, in alignment with knees; feet should remain the same distance apart throughout the movement. Hop up and down from bottom stair only ten times consecutively, rest 30 seconds, and finish with two more sets. *This exercise is not recommended for those with knee or ankle injuries or deficiencies.
Each of these sets requires attention to form. Try not to neglect body alignment, maintain upright posture throughout, and concentrate on engaging your core muscles to aid you. As in the case of any exercise routine, if you feel pain, dizzy, or shortness of breath, stop immediately. Inside or out, stairs offer a fun and challenging spin on your workout.