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How many times should I go up and down the stairs for a good workout?

Going up and down stairs is a great way to get in some extra physical activity throughout your day. Climbing stairs engages your core muscles, works your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves, and can get your heart rate up. The number of stair climbs needed to get a good workout depends on a few factors.

How Many Flights of Stairs Should You Climb for Exercise?

As a general guideline, climbing 10-20 flights of stairs 5 days per week can provide good cardiovascular and strength training benefits. Here are some more specific recommendations:

  • For moderate intensity: Climb at least 5-7 flights of stairs 5 days per week
  • For high intensity: Climb 10-20 flights of stairs 5 days per week

To get the most out of your stair climbing routine, focus on maintaining a brisk pace and good technique – drive through your heels as you climb and don’t rely too much on the handrails. Taking two steps at a time also increases the intensity.

Calorie Burn from Stair Climbing

Stair climbing burns a significant number of calories, making it an efficient calorie-burning exercise. Here are some estimates for calories burned climbing stairs:

Your Weight Calories Burned Per Flight
120 lbs 5-8 calories
150 lbs 6-10 calories
180 lbs 8-12 calories

So for a 150 pound person, climbing 10 flights of stairs would burn approximately 60-100 calories. Doubling the number of flights climbed to 20 would double the calories burned as well.

The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll burn per flight due to having to move more mass against gravity. You can maximize calorie burn by maintaining a quick, brisk pace up the stairs.

How Stair Climbing Compares to Other Exercises

Here’s how stair climbing stacks up against other popular cardiovascular exercises in terms of calorie burn per 30 minutes:

Exercise Activity Calories Burned (130 lb person)
Stair climbing (moderate pace) 260 calories
Elliptical (moderate effort) 215 calories
Jogging (5 mph) 295 calories
Swimming laps (moderate effort) 240 calories

As you can see, stair climbing holds its own against other popular cardio workouts in terms of calories burned. It can be a very time-efficient and effective exercise routine.

Other Health Benefits of Stair Climbing

In addition to providing a good cardio and strength workout for your lower body, regular stair climbing offers numerous other health benefits including:

  • Building stronger bones: The impact of stair climbing helps stimulate bone building osteoblasts.
  • Lowering blood pressure: Studies show stair climbing 5 days a week can help reduce blood pressure.
  • Reducing risk of heart disease: Climbing stairs has been linked to improved heart health.
  • Increasing balance and coordination: Stair climbing requires control and coordination to maintain stability.
  • Strengthening the lower body: Climbing stairs engages glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

Tips for a Safe and Effective Stair Climbing Routine

Here are some tips to follow to safely maximize the benefits from your stair climbing workouts:

  • Use a handrail for balance if needed, but don’t pull heavily on it.
  • Start slowly and climb at a controlled, methodical pace.
  • Wear supportive footwear with good traction.
  • Engage your core and keep your back straight.
  • Drive through your heels when climbing – don’t just push off your toes.
  • Start with 5-10 floors and gradually increase total floors climbed.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you have the opportunity.


Climbing anywhere from 5-20 flights of stairs about 5 days per week can provide an excellent cardio and strength workout. Exact number of stair climbs needed depends on intensity and individual fitness level. Stair climbing engages the lower body, burns calories, and provides cardiovascular benefits. For good workout results, focus on maintaining proper form and a brisk, consistent pace up the stairs. This simple exercise can be a safe, effective addition to any fitness routine.