Put a twist on the already-convenient flight of stairs with some sideways stair exercises. Those fortunate enough to live in a high-rise apartment building sans elevator are already in luck. If you're not so blessed, just locate a random, unused staircase and get stepping. These leg exercises for the sideways stair strengthen your abs and challenge your lower body -- from your glutes to your calves, and every muscle in between.
Sideways Stair Walking
If you normally walk straight up a flight of stairs, change your body position to better target your inner thighs -- or adductors -- and hip flexors by turning your stance sideways. If you're unsteady, begin this exercise facing the wall or hand railing and use it for support. Tighten your abs and start slow, leading off with the foot closest to the step. Go one step at a time. Increase your pace, feeling the burn in your quads and glutes as you ascend. When it's time to come down, start with the outside foot and slowly descend. For safety reasons, keep your descent slower than your ascent. The sideways stair-walking move mimics a side step, which tones your hips and thighs, as well.
Sideways Crossover Stair Lunges
Keep facing sideways and climbing those stairs, just take them two at time for a sideways crossover stair lunge. Start at the bottom step and lead off with the foot facing away from the stairs. Skip every other step on your way up. As you do this, your knee and upper leg form a tabletop, but keep your knee in alignment with your toes to avoid ankle issues. Support your back by keeping your abs tight. Feel a stretch in your inner thigh, and a burn in your quads and glutes. Straighten your leg as you bring your other leg to the step -- skipping the two required steps -- and into a lunge. Repeat the lunges as you go up, and then walk down.
Double-Footed Sideways Hop
Burn calories and tone your abs, glutes and thighs with active double-footed sideways hops. You can do this move while facing forward, but by pivoting sideways, you target those inner and outer thighs more effectively. You won't need the whole flight of stairs for this exercise, just the bottom step. Tighten your abs and put your legs and feet together. Slightly bend your knees, placing your arms at your sides and squat down. As you rise, bounce up and do a sideways hop to the first or second step. Then repeat the movement and hop to the floor. Repeat these sideways hops until you feel tightness or burning in the thighs. Use the wall or railing for support, and go slow to avoid injury.
Considerations and Precautions
Even though it's convenient and cheap when used for exercise, treat a flight of stairs with precaution. When you're doing normal stair exercises sideways, you need to be especially careful. Hold on to the wall or handrails and start the exercise slowly if you're unsteady. Gradually increase your speed as your become comfortable. Never try an exercise's movement going down the stairs if you're not comfortable doing it going up. Doing so can cause injury.
Having studied at two top Midwestern universities, Catherine Field holds degrees in professional writing and patient safety. Writing since 2000, Field has worked with regional newspapers while publishing fiction online. She conducts medical communication research at a Midwestern medical institution and is slated to write a book based on her research findings.