Which Is Better to Give Me a Smaller Butt & Thighs: Running or Stairs?


Running and stair climbing are both effective methods for toning and strengthening the lower body. When deciding which activities to perform to accomplish the goal of shrinking your butt and thighs, it is important to remember that it is not possible to spot reduce fat -- meaning, you cannot pick which parts of your body will experience fat loss. You are predisposed to a certain body type with the tendency to carry more or less fat on specific parts of your body. However, it is possible to initiate fat loss through aerobic activity. It is also possible to sculpt specific body parts with strength training and toning exercises. Running and stair climbing each offer varying degrees of calorie burning capacity and body-sculpting benefits. Alternating between different types of physical activity offers the opportunity of achieving your fitness goals while minimizing the risk of injuries.

Body Types

Three body type classifications exist based on an individual's tendency to carry weight and body fat. Ectomorphs are generally tall, thin and have trouble gaining weight. Mesomorphs have athletic builds, evenly distributed fat and the tendency to gain muscle easily. Endomorphs have rounded shapes and gain muscle quickly but generally have difficulty losing weight. An additional body type categorization describes body fat distribution as resembling pear shapes or apple shapes. A pear shape depicts a body that carries more fat around the hip, thighs and butt compared to an apple shape, which carries more fat around the waistline. Body shape is determined by hereditary factors and bone structure as well as lifestyle choices.

Calorie Burning Capacity

The duration of time and your level of intensity play important roles in determining how many calories are burned while running or stair climbing. A 150-lb. person burns approximately 450 calories in 30 minutes running an eight-minute mile pace. That same person burns approximately 300 calories for 30 minutes of climbing stairs. Try running up the stairs to burn around 426 calories in 30 minutes.

Body Sculpting

Running primarily relies on the quadriceps and hamstring muscles, the gluteal muscles and the calves. Distance running is an aerobic activity and therefore will not typically build size on your legs. Sprinting and speed work that involves power and explosiveness are more likely to build size in your legs, particularly your thighs. Stair climbing uses the same muscles but requires more contribution from the gluteal muscles or buttocks. The same can be said for running up hills or inclines. Because of the nature of the movement, the butt is called into action more so than when you are walking or running on a flat surface.


Variety is your best bet for accomplishing your fitness goals. Taking into consideration the roles body type, aerobic activity and body sculpting play in determining your shape, it is important to incorporate variety into your workouts. To achieve a slimmer lower body, you must combine cardiovascular work with body sculpting. Running and stair climbing are beneficial for both. Variety is also helpful in preventing overuse injuries, which could occur after too much of the same activity.