Is Stair Climbing Good Exercise for Hips?

Determined man taking exaggerated strides up stairs

Stair climbing offers a convenient, effective way for exercising your hips. A survey conducted by American Council on Exercise certified fitness professionals ranked stair climbing as one of the top five exercises for lower body muscles. Not only does this stepping action work the hips, but it targets your butt, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves as well.


Stair climbing strengthens and tones the muscles that control the movement of your hips. These include the glutes, abductors, adductors and hip flexors. Your abductors at the top and side of your thighs act with your gluteus medius and gluteus minimus to move your thighs outward, and your adductors at the top of your inner thigh act with your gluteus maximus to move your legs inward. Your hip flexors at the top and front of your thighs move your thighs and the top of your pelvis forward. Stair climbing helps strengthen your hip and leg bones and, according to, may help prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.


Stair climbing has benefits that extend beyond the hips. This kind of exercise elevates your heart and breathing rate, improves your cardiovascular fitness, burns calories and helps you lose body fat. A 205-pound person running up stairs for an hour burns nearly 1,400 calories. Richard Cotton, the ACE's chief exercise physiologist, stresses the importance of combining cardiovascular exercise such as stair climbing and strengthening exercises to change your body shape and appearance.


Strengthen and exercise your hips by avoiding elevators as you go about your daily activities. If practical, use the stairs at work and at the shopping mall. Include climbing or running up and down bleachers at least once a week in your exercise program. Start with a gentle routine of walking up and down the bleachers for 10 to 15 minutes. As you get fitter and stronger, increase your intensity by running; up your duration to 30 minutes or more.

Gym Equipment

Alternatively, you may prefer to use cardiovascular gym equipment such as the stair climber or the step mill. When using the stair climber, employ the correct technique to ensure you thoroughly work your hips. Avoid leaning on the arm rests, and keep your weight on your legs. Push down on the pedals with your heels and not the balls of your feet. Stop just before you hit the floor, and raise your knees as high as you can as you return the pedals on the upward motion.