A Simple Santa Monica Stairs Workout

In General by Adam Friedman

If you’re looking to take your conditioning to the next level, doing a Santa Monica stairs workout is an excellent way to challenge yourself. At 170 stairs per flight, it’s the kind of workout that will whip you into shape when done on a regular basis.

The Santa Monica Stairs are a great scene, unique to our little corner of LA. On any given day, you’ll find professional and recreational athletes, celebrities, and local fitness enthusiasts, all huffing and puffing together to improve their fitness levels.

A Simple SM Stairs Interval workout
Start with 10 minutes of warm-up with a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of a 4-5 out of 10. Then do 15 minutes of repeated running the first half of the stairs at a 8-9 RPE, then jogging the second half at 5-6, and then jogging lightly down at RPE 4-5. Follow it up with a 5 minute cool down. (RPE 3-4), and some stretching (especially your calves!)

Wood stairs are gentler on the body than cement. Image via bryansander.com

Santa Monica Stairs Etiquette
• Staying to the far right of the stairs to allow others to move past you safely.
• Do not bring your dog as your workout partner, as it is a safety hazard for others.
• Do not stop rest directly at the bottom or the top so that others can move by you.
• Do not use your cell phone on the stairs, for obvious reasons.
• Do not hover over someone in front of you. Go around as soon as it is safe.
• Clean up your trash

Mental Focus For Efficiency & Injury Prevention
• Focus on breathing to support the exertion on the way up, and the recovery on the way
• Focus on moving through your center (hips & abdomen) to drive you forward and up the
• Focus on driving through the entire foot as you step up to engage the upper thighs and
glutes. (The more muscle involved the more calories burned.) This does not apply when
you are jogging or sprinting up the stairs.
• It is just as important to pay attention to how well you control your movement going down
as it does going up. Stay light going down instead of coming down hard on each step.
Utilize your muscles to soften the impact on your joints and bones. YOUR BODY WILL
• Record progress each workout to keep you motivated. You can detail as much as you want
from number of sets, stairs, duration, heart rates (average, maximum, and recovery), and
how you felt (before, during, and after) doing them.

To find the stairs, take 4th Street going north from anywhere in Santa Monica until it dead ends. There is a set of cement stairs immediately to the right that many people choose to do. However, I suggest you walk about 100 yards east to the next set of stairs, which are made of wood and are wider than the cement stairs. The wood is a better surface because it is more forgiving on the body, and the width makes going up and down a lot safer.

If you can’t make it to the stairs in Santa Monica, use this workout plan on any flight of stairs that’s at least 15 steps high. You can do this at your home, office building, or local park.

See you at the stairs!!