Working out is admittedly not my favorite activity. In fact, I’m still attempting to find the perfect exercise that I love — which is one of the reasons that I was so very impressed by a photo that Jennifer Lopez posted earlier this year on Instagram where she is seen tackling some serious stair running with boyfriend Alex Rodriguez.
Yes, that’s right. Running stairs. That may not seem like the most exciting form of exercise, but experts say that it is actually one of the best ways to get both your cardio and strength exercises in. And if you’re anything like me (as in, a bit lazy and not a huge fan of spending hours and hours at the gym), then you might just fall in love with double teaming exercise just like Jenny from the Block. So if you’re looking for a few tips on how to get a body like J.Lo’s, then look no further.
According to SELF, running stairs can be tougher than your average cardio workout since “it feels like it’s more work because it is more work,” Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist and ACE-certified personal trainer, told SELF. It’s a great cardio workout because it drives your heart rate up, but it also engages nearly every muscle in your lower body, making it great for strength training too.
“On the way up, you’re doing a lot more hip flexion and extension — your hip is going through a much greater range of motion [than with walking or running], so you’re getting more work out of your hip extensor muscles,” McCall said. Basically, your glutes, hamstrings, and abductors are getting quite the workout.
In fact, if you’re a runner (or hoping to be), you might want to add running stairs to your workout ASAP.
“Stairs force you to work against gravity, and this helps build two essential needs for runners: strength and power,” Ann Moore, an exercise physiologist and running coach, told Runner’s World. You need both, whether you’re starting your first 5K or training for yet another marathon.
But even if you’re not a runner or have dreams of having a body like J.Lo, you can benefit from this intense form of exercise.
According to Greatist, running stairs has a lot of benefits. For instance, one study found that walking up 200 steps twice a day, five days a week, for eight weeks, can increase a 17% increase in VO2 max (a common way of measuring your aerobic fitness). Other benefits include that running upstairs is “easier on [your] joints than regular sprints,” improves athletes’ range of motion, and engages more leg muscles than running. And the best part? They can be pretty much on any staircase.
All you need for a simple stair workout (maybe something a bit less intense than J.Lo) is to be able to run continuously for 10-15 seconds (which is about 2-3 flights).
You can even try an interval stair workout, according to McCall, who recommends something along these lines: Sprint to the top of the steps (10 seconds), walk or jog to the bottom (30 seconds)… and repeat this for five sets total. Then, rest for 2-3 minutes and finally repeat it all for 2-3 rounds. With a workout as intense, cost-effective, and powerful as this one, you’ll be channeling your inner J.Lo in no time.