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20 Minute HIIT Stairs Workout At The Santa Monica Stairs

World Famous Santa Monica Stairs Sprint Workout

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m showing you a 20 Minute HIIT stairs workout at the world famous Santa Monica stairs.

But before we hit the Santa Monica stairs for a sprint workout, we first stopped at The Attic in Long Beach to fuel up with a pre-sprint breakfast.

For breakfast I had a black coffee, and some protein and carbohydrates from an egg scramble with salsa, potatoes, and a bowl of fruit.

Then after breakfast, we had a 45 minute drive to the Santa Monica stairs.

Are you ready?

20 Minute HIIT Stairs Workout At The Santa Monica Stairs

Burn more fat and build more muscle with this outdoor cardio stairs workout.

Here’s how this 20 minute HIIT stairs workout is structured:

Total time:

This HIIT stairs workout is only 20-25 minutes depending on your fitness level.

Those who are not as fit will require a longer rest period, thus resulting in a longer workout.

Type of workout:

HIIT stairs cardio workout.

If you don’t have access to outdoor stairs, try this 20 minute HIIT home stairs workout for fat loss.

Get prepared to feel the lactic acid burn and scare the body fat right off of you.

Number of intervals:

This HIIT cardio stairs workout is comprised of 10 sets of stair sprints.

  • 10 high intensity sprint intervals all the way up the stairs
  • 10 low intensity interval walks back down the stairs


Take enough rest to allow your heart rate to drop back down to 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

Here’s a simple formula to calculate your HIIT heart rate target zones (in beats per minute – BPM):

  • (220 – your age) * 0.65

Based on this, my low intensity interval training heart rate target zone would be calculated as follows:

  • (220 – 40) * 0.65
  • My low intensity heart rate zone = 117 beats per minute (bpm)

How Many Steps Are At The Santa Monica Stairs?

The Santa Monica stairs are comprised of 170 steps, at an elevation of approximately 109 feet.

Trust me, when you look up from the bottom of the stairs, it’s a very big incline.

20 Minute HIIT Stairs Workout At The Santa Monica Stairs

Thid stairs workout is no joke, so make sure you drink a lot of water.

How Long Does It Take To Sprint Up The Santa Monica Stairs?

I’m sure it would be faster if I came back and did this stairs workout at 2am.

By the way, that’s my disclaimer, in case you beat my time 😂 .

Based on fighting through Sunday morning traffic, it took approximately 51 seconds to sprint to the top of the Santa Monica stairs.

Side note: to follow the proper Santa Monica stairs etiquette, make sure you always stay to the right.

It then took me approximately 53 seconds to walk back down the stairs.

How High Did My Heart Rate Get?

During the HIIT stairs workout I had my heart rate monitor on to check out my heart rate.

Before the workout started and after walking down the stairs, my heart rate was at 82 beats per minute (bpm).

I then measured my heart rate again to see how much it changed after sprinting up the stairs.

After my first high intensity interval sprint up the stairs, my heart rate got up to 161 bpm.

How To Calculate Your HIIT Heart Rate Target Zones

It was pretty intense.

Then I immediately walked back down the stairs to allow my heart rate to come back down again.

That equals 1 interval.

9 more stairs intervals to go.

How To Do HIIT Correctly

By the time I walked all the way back down to the bottom of the stairs, my heart rate was still at 140 bpm.

Based on this, my goal was to just relax and allow my heart rate to continue to lower back down into the low intensity training zone.

To do HIIT workouts correctly, you want to make sure the workout stays in the anaerobic zone, rather than being in the aerobic zone for the entire workout.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

Training in the anaerobic zone is optimal for building muscle while burning fat.

When you try to be too aggressive with your HIIT workouts, by not giving yourself enough time to rest between intervals, you run the risk of training in the aerobic phase.

This is not what we want when we’re Living Lean.

To ensure you stick to the anaerobic zone, make sure you allow your heart rate to come back down before sprinting back up the stairs.

How To Do HIIT Cardio Correctly

So before starting your next high intensity interval stairs sprint, it’s important to wait until your heart rate gets down to approximately 60-70% of your maximum heart rate.

For me, that is a heart rate of approximately 108-126 bpm.

After 20 seconds of staying still, I reached a heart rate of 125 bpm.

It’s Now Time For Your Next High Intensity Interval Sprint Back Up The Stairs

For high intensity interval set #2, my heart rate elevated to 170 bpm.

It then went up to 172 bpm for high intensity interval set #3.

Eventually my heart rate peaked at 177 bpm by the end of the workout.

Damn that’s good!

As I reached the last few high intensity intervals, I wasn’t able to sprint all the way up to the top, due to the lactic acid build up in my legs

When the feeling of the lactic acid gets too intense, you know the fat burning process is happening.

Based on this, I would sprint as far as I could go, and then walk the rest of the way.

Based on the elevation of the stairs, a lot of people simply walk up and down the Santa Monica stairs, which will still quickly elevate your heart rate.

So make sure you drink a lot of water during this stairs workout because you’ll be sweating a lot, and your muscles will need it.

Bonus Points Exercises

For bonus points, there is also a make shift “pull up bar” at the bottom of the stairs.

So after the stairs sprint workout, feel free to do a few reps of front lever raises or muscle ups 😝.

You Just Completed The HIIT Stairs Workout

These 10 sets of stair intervals at the beautiful Santa Monica stairs took approximately 20-25 minutes to complete.

That’s all you need to get sweaty and feel the fat burning off.

It’s now time to go fuel up and replenish with lots of water.

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Today’s Question Of The Day:

  • Do you ever use the stairs for HIIT workouts? 

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

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25 responses to “20 Minute HIIT Stairs Workout At The Santa Monica Stairs

  1. ok so I dont have stairs but I have step ups…I go up and down for one
    minute straight and I add ten pound dumbells on set number 7 of ten….

  2. How do you work out what to get your heart rate up to and what to get it
    back down to for fat loss ???

  3. You must have felt amazing when you completed your 10 sets. One advantaged you have is great weather which is a good motivator. I live I the UK and working out first thing in the morning takes a lot of motivation! I have incorporated stairs sprints in my workout when I go for a run.

  4. does everyone do those stairs for exercise or is that a way to go like
    hiking or down to the beach some where?.. those stairs look intense.

  5. i run the steps with the kettlebells on both hands i was wondering if thats
    …”ok” or useless as hell? lmao

  6. Hi Brad, I recently bought a heart monitor to aid in my fat loss efforts. I have combed the web for info related to hiit workouts, heat rate zones and fat burn, but seem to get conflicting info as to what your heart rate should be at during a hiit workout to maximize fat burn.

    I was wondering if you could do a video on heart monitors and heart rate zones, specifically geared towards hitt workouts and fat burning. I would really…really appreciate your advice and expertise! Thx =)

  7. I use stairs when I do interval workouts at the track – I do all the bleacher steps at the field back & forth twice. I don’t get much HIIT in because I’m endurance training at the moment and it’s just too much to do strength, endurance, and a lot of HIIT. But I do love shaking it up with sprints, stairs, and intervals, and I always make sure I hit the bleachers now after I’ve seen your stair workouts.

  8. Hey Brad, make another “A Day In The Life” with all your routine. All your
    meals (with recipe), your workout… your routine since you wake up till
    you go to bed =D

    Great video, bro.

  9. I used to do sand dune sprints every week with my football team for
    training. They were really good! Nice one Brad, keep it up 🙂

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