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Home gym hack: A total-body workout using only stairs

This week’s workout is built around your stairs. Since most homes are equipped with steps, you have all you need to improve your heart health, muscle definition, balance, and burn those pesky pounds.

Split squat
Split squatRead moreCourtesy of Ashley Greenblatt

Do you want the secret to staying in shape? Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with top-notch toning equipment, trendy gym gear, pricey diet programs, or a front-row seat at a swanky spin class.

The only toning trick you need is to find a fitness routine you have time to complete.

So often we set impractical fitness goals, such as waking up in time to make a 6 a.m. Pilates class or assuming you’ll still have motivation at the end of the day to tolerate driving to the gym in rush-hour traffic. Since a lack of time is responsible for more missed workouts than anything else, the best health hack is to eliminate the extra commute time and make your workout short and simple.

It’s easy to be consistent when aerobics are accessible and accommodating to your schedule. Which is why, for the month of October, we transformed your home into your very own personal gym. This will become especially valuable in the upcoming winter months when it’s just too cold to leave the house. By using common household items such as a tennis ball, a pair of socks, or a hand towel as a toning tool, you can achieve the results you desire and increase your dedication to staying fit, all while saving time and money.

This week’s workout is built around your stairs. Since most homes in the Philadelphia area are equipped with steps, you have all you need to improve your heart health, muscle definition, and balance, and to burn those pesky pounds. For best results, repeat this entire circuit three times.

Step up your game

  1. Begin by facing the stairs. Depending on your comfort and balance level, place your left foot on top of the first or second step. Be sure your foot is fully planted and that your heel is not hanging off the step’s edge.

  2. Push through your left heel to a standing position, then drive your right knee up toward your chest.

  3. Now return your right foot to the floor and with your left leg, step back into a reverse lunge. This is one repetition. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.

Leap frog

  1. Stand in front of the stairs with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  2. Hinge back at your hips to lower your body into a partial squat, then jump up onto the first step.

  3. To protect your knees and hips, step down off the ledge (one foot at a time) rather than jumping back. Continue this movement for 10 repetitions.

Time to split

  1. With your back to the stairs, take a large step away from them.

  2. Extend your right foot back so the tops of your toes are resting on the surface of the second step. If your balance is challenged, hold on to a sturdy object such as a wall or railing while doing this.

  3. With your body weight in your front heel, squat down until your left knee forms a 90-degree angle and your left thigh is parallel with the floor. Hold for a count then push through your left heel to return to standing. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.

The skinny dip

  1. For this side plank you will prop your weight up on your forearm. Depending on your height, choose a step that comfortably allows you to extend your legs so your feet can rest on the floor for support.

  2. Position your left forearm in the center of the step. Align your shoulder over your elbow while keeping your spine straight, neck relaxed, and legs stacked.

  3. When balanced, dip your left hip down toward the step’s surface, then use your core strength to lift your hips back up. Continue for 10 repetitions, then switch sides.

Fight the flight

  1. Briskly jog up and down your stairs three times.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit