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The 15-Minute Cardio Workout

Upstairs, Downstairs
If rope jumping doesn't seem challenging enough for you, we've got another good quick workout idea. Every year Jonathan competes in the annual 86-story Empire State Building run, and if you were to ask him, say, after the eleventh floor how he felt, he'd tell you that 15 minutes of stair climbing is more than enough time to push even the best athlete. (Actually, he wouldn't tell you since he's huffing and puffing too hard to say boo.) Don't worry, we're not suggesting that you jump right in and try to tackle the Empire State Building – any five-story building will do just fine.

It's funny how many people will go flog themselves silly at a gym lifting weights or on the Stairmaster, but they dread the idea of climbing even a couple of flights of real stairs. How often have you seen someone sprint down a long hallway to catch an elevator to avoid climbing one or two flights of stairs?

Of course we want you to use the stairs in lieu of the elevator whenever possible – remember to take your fitness outside of the gym and you'll get fitter faster. However, if you have 10 or 15 minutes and want to get a real workout, don a pair of running shoes and get ready to climb.

Just in case you were wondering, stair-climb racers generally take the steps two at a time and pull hard on the banisters. Unless you're racing or have an angry mob chasing you, one step at a time will do fine when you're getting started. Lightly hold the handrail and try to climb at a steady pace. Strike the step with the middle of your foot and roll forward onto your toes as you pull yourself up. As your conditioning improves, you'll be able to take two steps at a time.

Obviously the size of the building you're in will dictate the length of your climb. If you only have 5 or 10 flights, you can climb them, scoot back downstairs, and take another "lap." If it's practical, try taking the elevator back downstairs. Sound strange? Descending the stairs puts a lot more stress on your quads and knees and can lead to excessive soreness without any real benefit. If you have to use the stairs to get down, walk; don't run. In addition, most times you can get back to the ground floor (and back to climbing) quicker if you take the elevator.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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