Take Your Workout to the Bleachers! Try This Stairs Workout Routine

Train at the Stadium

Stairs Workout on Bleachers
Getty Images/Peter Griffith

Stairs: They have a way of reminding you that your fitness could be better. Whether you start huffing and puffing after climbing a single flight, or you get winded after running a few stories, there's nothing easy about carrying your body weight up a set of stairs.

This is precisely why you should consider taking your next workout to the bleachers.

Shannon Colavecchio, the owner of the Tallahassee-based fitness studio, Badass Fitness, is a big fan of putting together stair workouts for her clients.

In fact, she takes her own boot camp participants to Florida State University's Doak Campbell stadium to put them through the paces. According to Colavecchio, "No machine inside a gym can mimic the hard-hitting benefits of a stadium workout, and no matter how hard you run, it won’t give you the cross-training benefits of using a stadium as your giant fitness playground."

In fact, Colavecchio cites five main reasons why you should incorporate stair workouts into your regular fitness routine:

  1. Full-body training opportunity: You can work every inch of your body by using nothing more than the bleachers, ramps, and handrails.

  2. Endless options: There are lots of ways to mix up your routine to get a killer workout.

  3. No gym fee, always open: Many high schools, colleges, and community centers leave their bleachers and stadiums open to the public. Just double-check the policy before you go—you'd hate to show up at a time when the facility is closed for private student events.

  1. An affordable booty-lifter: You don't need to go under the knife —just hit the stairs! Stair workouts are one of the most effective ways to attain a tight, toned rear end, as every single step you take up the bleachers targets the glutes.

  2. Creates an unstoppable feeling: Bleacher workouts themselves may make you feel like you're dying, but once you crush the program, you'll feel unstoppable.

    Colavecchio's Stairs Workout

    Once you've located a set of bleachers in your area, don't just trudge up and down the steps—try this (possibly brutal) workout courtesy of Colavecchio. It won't be easy, but once you're done, you'll feel incredibly accomplished.

    1. Simple Warm-Up

    Start with a simple warm up. Take two laps around the track or stadium, jogging at a moderate pace, then get ready for three minutes of cardio drills.

    2. Cardio Drills

    Cycle through the following drills, going as hard as you can for 30 seconds each:

    • Jacks: Perform standard jumping jacks.
    • Ready Sets: Squat low, run fast in place, and every few seconds "set" back into a plank by placing your hands on the ground under your shoulders, hopping your feet back and dropping into a plank position before returning to the low squat position where you continue running in place.
    • Skaters: Perform a lateral plyometric curtsy lunge back-and-forth, as if you were a speed skater skating in place. Start by stepping your right foot out to the right, then curtsying your left leg behind your right as you lower into a lunge. Explode off your right foot, ​hopping your left foot laterally to the left before curtsying your right leg behind your left. ​​​
    • High Knees: Run in place as you pull your knees as high as you can toward your chest with each step.
    • Side Shuffles: Shuffle 10 feet to the right before shuffling back to your starting position—continue shuffling back and forth for the whole 30 seconds.
    • Burpees: Squat down and place your hands on the ground under your shoulders, hop your feet back to a full pushup position, hop your feet back to start, then jump into the air as high as you can. Remember to land with your knees and hips slightly bent to reduce the impact of each jump.

    3. Hit the Stairs

    Now that you're thoroughly warmed up, it's time to hit the stairs:

    Repeat the entire circuit two times through.

    4. Optional Ramp Drills

    If you have access to ramps at your stadium (this is often reserved for larger venues), try adding these drills to your routine:

    • Run from the bottom to the top ramp once

    • Run up a single level of ramps, then do 15 pushups, 10 burpees, and a 1-minute wall sit—repeat at every ramp level until you reach the top

    Additional Bleacher Workout Tips

    Whether you use Colavecchio's workout or another stair workout routine, there are a couple things you should keep in mind before you start.

    1. Always warm up thoroughly before hitting the bleachers.

    2. Bring water with you and take water breaks every 10 to 15 minutes, especially when exercising in hot weather.

    3. If you'll be doing ab moves or exercises on the ground, consider bringing a mat.

    4. Know the venue's schedule and plan your workouts around other major events.

    5. Bring a buddy or join a workout group—it's safer and more fun than going it alone.

    Try the Stairs Workout at Home

    If you don't have easy access to a set of bleachers or a stadium, you can easily adapt Colavecchio's routine for any set of stairs at your home or office. Use these tips to get started:

    1. Warm up by jogging in place for five minutes, followed by the three minutes of cardio drills detailed above (jacks, ready sets, skaters, high knees, side shuffles, and burpees).

    2. Dive into the stairs workout by running up and down a single set of stairs for three minutes, followed by the exercises detailed above (squats, stair step-ups, triceps dips, and v-sit pull-ins). Complete this entire cycle twice.

    3. Adapt the ramp routine by running up and down a single set of stairs for three minutes, followed by the exercises listed above (a single jog up and down the stairs, pushups, burpees, and a wall sit). Repeat the entire cycle three times.

    A Word From Verywell

    Stairs workouts are inherently challenging. If you're just starting a workout program, you may want to hold off on trying this stadium workout until you've developed a baseline level of cardiovascular endurance and lower-body strength. And if it's your first time to hit the stairs, don't be afraid to take it slow. There's no shame in trading walking for jogging or limiting the total number of stairs you climb. It's better to ease your way into a new program than to end up too sore to exercise for a week.

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