There's no doubt -- most women covet a shapely butt and will go to any lengths to get it, even if that desired firm, round backside requires some vertical ascension. So if you’re looking for an all-around effective butt muscle workout -- that'll ramp up your cardio while you're at it, look no further than the stairs at home or the stair machine at your gym. Stair climbing, in fact, has been proven to increase your glutes. A 2007 conducted at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Movement Sciences Center in Lincoln, Nebraska found that using a stair climber activates 24 percent of the gluteus maximus, your largest butt muscles. Best of all, stair climbing is easy and can be done anywhere you find a flight of stairs.
Wear comfortable sneakers with adequate cushioning and foot support to keep your feet from hurting.
Examine the stairs and railings before beginning to workout, making sure there are no loose risers or rails.
Warm up with light cardio to get your muscles ready for stair climbing. Choose a warm up that incorporates leg and glute muscles such as jogging, squats and butt kicks. The warm up will increase the blood and oxygen flow to your muscles so they'll be ready to go.
Step up the stairs with alternate legs, making sure your entire foot, including the heel, lands flatly on each step. Having your heel off the step decreases glute muscle activation. It can also lead to injury because it increases stress in your knee and Achilles tendon.
Push off the heel of your foot. This contracts more muscles in your glutes and hamstrings. Pushing off the balls of your foot meanwhile puts more emphasis on your quads (front thighs).
Keep your body upright to protect your back. Maintain this posture, avoiding leaning forward, throughout the exercise. Also avoid leaning on the handrails, using them only for balance. This makes the exercise more challenging and increases your glute muscle activation.
To increase the muscle activation and get the rounder butt that you're looking for, climb double steps. The fact that you'll also burn more calories is a bonus. Rather than putting your foot on every step, skip alternating steps. A study published in the 2010 issue of the "Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research" concluded that double-stair climbing maximizes calorie burn and muscular activity.
Descend the stairs slowly, making sure to step on every stair. Look down at your feet to make sure your foot placement is correct and that you don’t miss a step and fall. Repeat climbing and descending the stairs for the remainder of your workout, leaving at least five minutes for a proper post-exercise stretch.
Stretch both your upper and lower body muscles after your workout as they will have become tight from the repetitive movement. Stretching will lengthen your muscles, increase flexibility and reduce the risk of future injury. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds and repeat each stretch four to six times.
Start off slowly if you are a beginner or have previous knee injuries or cardiovascular issues. Ten minutes is sufficient for a beginner workout. Slowly increase your workout time as your body gets used to the challenge.
- Healthline: Better Exercise on the Stairs
- Canada StairClimbing Association: Stair Climbing Questions Answered Here!
- Comparison of Gluteal Muscle Electromyographic Activity Across Five Cardiovascular Exercises In Healthy Young Adults; S. Takahashi et al
- Georgia State University: The Exercise and Physical Fitness Page: Stairclimbing
- Self: The Mistake You’re Making at the Gym (& Why It’s Causing Your Butt to Sag
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: The Metabolic and Muscular Differences Between Two Stair-Climbing Strategies of Young Adults; J.S. Gottschall et al.
- Shape: The Best Way to Stretch Before and After a Workout
- Stay hydrated throughout your workout with water or a drink containing electrolytes.
- Consult your physician before beginning a new exercise program. Stop exercising if you feel short of breath or can no longer climb the stairs with proper form. Climbing with improper form can lead to injury.
Andrea Chrysanthou began writing professionally in 1993. Her work has been published internationally by "The Cyprus Mail," MochaSofa and My Favorite Trainer, among other magazines and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Arts in journalism from Ryerson University. Chrysanthou is a certified fitness instructor and personal-training specialist with more than 10 years of experience in the fitness industry.