Forget the treadmill. Stair-climbing machines are likely the most dreaded piece of cardio equipment in the gym, and for good reason: Trotting up step after step is tough work. But that’s exactly why you should add climbing to your fitness routine. Running up stairs makes for a high-charged cardio session that you can knock out in minutes. Plus, it fires up your quads and glutes and pumps up your power — so you’ll end up stronger for all your flat-ground workouts, too.
“Running stairs is very similar to running hills,” says John Honerkamp, founder and chief fitness officer at J.R. Honerkamp Consulting in New York City. “You’re not able to run up stairs as fast as you can on flats, but you’re using your sprint muscles and mechanics. You use your legs more, engage your core more and drive with your arms, so it’s a full-body movement.”