This morning I woke up, opened my shades to the view of someone else’s window and the sliver of cloudless sky that I can see if I twist my head unnaturally, put on my sneaks, and headed outside to my favorite SF stairs on Lyon Street. For you San Franciscans, the stairs on Lyon and Green are simply awesome. They’re killer, surrounded by gorgeous houses and foliage, and the view at the top is inspiration to do one more set than you were planning on doing. The cool thing about stairs is that no matter where you live or where you are, stairs are everywhere (even inside your apartment building). So really, there’s no excuse. According to a friendly fellow I met when I was dripping sweat getting a post-workout soy latte (my fav), there are 279 Lyon St steps which include both sections of the stairs. One reason I love them so much is that from where I live, the jog there is a little over a mile which is a nice little warm-up and then a nice cool down, and I can be as creative as I want on the stairs or as leisurely as I feel…probably not the best though. I once saw a man on the workout steps near my family’s house in Los Angeles going down on his hands – no joke, he was walking on his hands, in a handstand, going down the steps. When it comes to stairs, the opportunities are endless. A few things to be mindful of on the stairs – land lightly on the balls of your feet (when going both up and down), make sure not to lock your knees, engage your abdominal muscles, and don’t forget to move your arms as if you were running. It looks weird and silly when people let their arms hang, not to mention it’s counterproductive.
Some fun stair workouts:
- Butt Burners – With your hands on your hips, lunge up every other step being conscious of engaging those fabulous glutes
- Quickies – Light on your toes, sprint up the stairs
- High-knee quickies – Light on your toes, spring up the stairs but drive the leg up so you’re doing high-knees
- Every Other – Light on your toes, sprint up every other step
- High Skips – Similar to Butt Burners, butt instead these mimic high skips (as if you were frolicking in the meadow) – Skip up every other stair; when you land on the step, use your calf to spring up into a skip (land softly), and then onto the next step. Remember to move your arms
- Karaoke – Also known as the grape-vine, this move is typically done in dynamic warm-ups …try it on the stairs…super for those sexy obliques. Facing the side with your left side uphill (as if you were in a position to side-step or shuffle), bring your right leg to cross in-front of the left onto the stair above, then the left leg up to the next, then the right leg behind the left, left leg up to next step, repeat (make sure you switch directions you’re facing)
- Hops – With both feet, hop up the stairs – again, land softly on the balls of your feet making sure to keep your knees bent (don’t lock your knees)
- One legged hops – Instead of hopping on both feet, try one leg – make sure to switch legs
- Skaters – Every other stair, lunge up to the right, then left, right, left
- Up n’ backs – These can get tedious and require concentration – go up three steps, back down one, up three, back one (the whole time you’re facing forward)
- Extra Credit – Every time you get to the top, throw in some sets of push-ups and crunches
P.S. Going down the stairs is as important as going up; you’re using different muscles. Keep focused and work on quick feet.
There’s no limit to your creativity on the stairs…if you have any good stair workout suggestions, send them my way!