Stair trek: Local trainers demonstrate how to incorporate staircase into your workout

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Monica Kearney jogs up the Common Pleas courthouse stairs in Cape Girardeau. (KIT DOYLE ~

The daunting stairs leading up to the historic Common Pleas Courthouse are part of a fitness routine for Liz McCanless of Cape Girardeau. She's dropped 30 pounds since starting the steps workout two years ago, which inspired her to quit smoking recently.

"When I first started, jogging wasn't an option. I had to walk it," she said.

Certified trainer and FitnessPlus assistant manager Darren Harris, on the other hand, used the steps as part of his circuit training routine. Check out what he and certified personal trainer Monica Kearney put together for a spring workout, which can be done three times a week to start.


Targets: quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus medius

Do it: Standing parallel to the steps, put your left foot on a step and the right foot on the ground. Keeping your weight on your heels, lower yourself as if sitting into a chair. Return to the standing position and lift your right foot to the side.

Careful: Keep your bent knee over your ankle.

Start with a set of 8 repetitions on one leg, switch legs

Increase weekly by: 4 reps


Targets: quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus

Do it: Standing on first step, step back with right foot as you bend both knees. Lower your body until the right knee is nearly touching the concrete. Drive your weight into the left leg to pull up from the lunge. Repeat for half the set, then switch legs to complete the set.

Careful: Keep bent knee over ankle

Set: 8 to 12 repetitions

Increase by: One set per week

Modified mountain climbers

Targets: Cardiorespiratory system and burns calories. Do between strength exercises.

Do it: Stand at bottom of stairs and place hands on edge of third step. Quickly alternate drawing knees forward and pushing them back as if running in place.

Careful: Don't overdo it.

Set: 30 seconds

Increase: At your pace, to 60 seconds


Targets: triceps (back of the upper arms)

Do it: Sit on the bench and slide forward, grasping the edge of the bench, bending knees at a 90 degree angle. Lower your body until shoulders are parallel to elbows and knees are at a 45 degree angle, pushing weight into your heels, not toes. Slowly lift yourself up to the seat. For a tougher dip, extend legs straight, keeping heels on the ground.

Careful: Keep hips as close as possible to bench; keep knees over ankles.

Set: 8 repetitions

Increase by: One set each week


Targets abdominals, low back, obliques (love handles)

Do it: Lie flat, then lift your body onto your toes and forearms, with your shoulders directly above your elbows. Keep body aligned straight and muscles tense. Drop to the knees for modification. For more of a challenge, raise opposite arm and leg.

Careful: Breathe normally. Don't cheat by sticking your bottom into the air.

Repetitions: One, for 20 seconds

Increase by: 5 seconds


Targets: All the leg muscles and gluts

Do it: Start in a squat position, jump as you high as you can, rotating your body 360 degrees and landing in the original squat position. Land with flexed knees. This is an advanced exercise.

Careful: Don't land with stiff legs.

Repetitions: 5

Increase weekly by: 1 to 2 reps


Targets: Upper back muscles, biceps and core muscles.

Do it: Get your body under the handrail and use an underhand grip; pull your body until your chest touches the pole and slowly lower. Keep the feet on the ground and body aligned or bend knees to modify and support the body's weight.

Careful: No jerking movements; keep body straight

Repetitions: 5 to 10

increase by: 1 to 2 reps

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: