Offering time-poor Sydneysiders a high-intensity workout that builds muscle power, burns calories and increases your oxygen intake, stair runs are the perfect fix for those looking to up their fitness level fast. As a bonus, you’ll be rewarded with inspiring views of the harbour, city and sea.
1. McElhone Stairs, Wooloomooloo Map
For close to 150 years, McElhone Stairs have been taking the breath away from dockworkers, locals, Navy personal, and today, fitness fanatics. Over 100 stairs run from Victoria Street in Potts Point down to Cowper Wharf in Wooloomooloo, an uneven, historic staircase where you have to think before you step – requiring your head to be in the game as much as your body.
Our tip: Go all in on this stair run by incorporating sprints up the nearby Hordon Stairs and Butler’s Stairs.
2. South Coogee Stair Run Map
The south Coogee stair run up Cairo Street has been a well-known Eastern Suburbs secret amongst hardcore runners and local sports clubs for years. Leading up from the Coastal Walk that runs along the cliffs, the stairs have one of the steepest gradients in Sydney. But it’s not a burn without benefits – stair running typically engages more leg muscles than a hill sprint, building core muscle strength.
Our tip: Avoid weekends and hit this flight of stairs off-peak, when there are fewer pedestrians to slow you down. And if it’s hot, cool off with a swim at Coogee Beach afterwards.
3. Fleet Steps, Royal Botanical Gardens Map
A favourite with the lunchtime CBD crowd, the Fleet Steps at the Mrs Macquarie’s Chair end of the Royal Botanical Gardens are one of Sydney’s best-known (and crowded) stair runs. Their wide, even design make them a great beginners spot for those wanting to incorporate stair sprints into their training – just beware of the tourists and their selfie sticks who can occasionally block the path.
Our tip: Sprint up and walk back down to alleviate pressure on your joints; walking down will also allow your heart rate to drop in preparation for heading back up again at speed.
4. Barangaroo Reserve, Millers Point Map
Just a year old, Barangaroo Reserve has an excellent circuit of staircases ready to make your thighs burn, while the huge sandstone boulders scattered throughout the park are perfect for those wanting to incorporate jumps and squats into their training. Starting on the Hickson Pier side of the park, run up the Baludarri steps, tackle the central Burrawang staircase and finish on the Girra Girra steps, looping back along the foreshore run.
Our tip: Due to open in September 2016, the underground Wynyard Walk from Wynyard Station will reach Barangaroo in six minutes – perfect for a lunchtime CBD fitness fix.
5. Lavender Bay Stairs Map
Those living south of the Bridge can’t have all of the fun. Jog past North Sydney Olympic Pool and along the Luna Park foreshore in Lavender Bay until you reach a tunnel: there you’ll find North Sydney’s most grueling staircase. Located by Wendy’s Secret Garden and alongside Clark Park, this set of stairs offers the perfect high-intensity workout: use your arms, tighten your core, and find your footing as you fly upwards.
Our tip: Combine this stair run with a loop up through North Sydney and the Harbour, or tack it on to a challenging Harbour Bridge run.