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Free Weights and Stair Climbing: The Ultimate Upper and Lower Body Workout

When combining free weights with traditional stair climbing, you can create the ultimate upper and lower body workout. Stair climbing is a cardiovascular exercise that focuses on the repetitive motion of climbing stairs. This can be completed on a standard set of stairs or on a piece of gym equipment typically referred to as a stairmaster. In addition to utilizing multiple lower body muscles and joints, this exercise strengthens your abdominal muscles, heart and lungs.

Stair Climbing Caloric Burn

If you are looking to burn calories, walking stairs is an excellent way to help you manage your weight. A 150-pound person burns 544 calories an hour walking up stairs. If you are running up the stairs, increase that caloric burn to nearly 1,100 calories an hour.

Stair Climbing with Weights

Stair climbing naturally increases the muscle mass of your quadriceps and calves. The motion gives you a slight upper body workout by pumping your arms, but if you add weights, you can increase the upper body benefits.

The best option when looking to add free weights to your stair climbing is in the form of dumbbells. Try carrying dumbbells and complete bicep curls, straight raises or shoulder presses while walking up the stairs to turn this into a killer upper body workout. In addition to dumbbells and barbells, a weight vest is another option to turn climbing stairs into a challenging upper body workout.

Lower Body Exercise

When aiming to strengthen your lower body, begin by climbing every step. As your muscles increase, you need to continue challenging your body to reap the same benefits. You can achieve this by climbing every other step, which essentially has your body performing a lunge. If you are very tall or have long legs, you may be able to build up to three steps at a time. For this exercise, complete 20 to 30 repetitions per leg and aim to do two to three sets. As your strength improves, add resistance in the form of free weights to further challenge yourself.

Upper Body Exercise

By adding free weights when you climb the stairs, you can increase the intensity of both your anaerobic and aerobic exercises. The easiest way to do this is to begin climbing the steps with a 10-pound dumbbell in each hand. Bring weights up to chest height with your wrists facing out and begin climbing. With each step, press the free weights over your head into a shoulder press. Slowly lower to complete one repetition. Aim to complete 30 repetitions for one set. Complete two to three sets.

Anaerobic Stair Climbing Exercise

Anaerobic exercises are completed at such a high intensity that your muscles are deprived of oxygen. These exercises are short lasting and your muscles' demand for oxygen exceeds supply. This form of stair climbing improves endurance and conditioning. Carry a light free weight in each hand and climb 6 to 12 flights of steps at full speed, followed by a two to three minute rest. Complete between four and six sets.

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