As a fitness editor, I’m a sucker for a new fitness trend or challenge, so when I heard about the 25-7-2 workout, I grabbed my backpack, gym pass, and favorite pair of running shoes and headed to the gym to find out more. Like the 12-3-30 workout, this Stairmaster exercise routine has gone viral on TikTok, and I was keen to find out why.
Before going into the workout, I’ll say that I barely use the Stairmaster or a treadmill for that matter — I’m a runner, but I prefer to clock my miles outside, along the river, with a podcast or a chilled playlist. The Stairmaster, or stair stepper, is that intimidating machine in the gym that looks like a mini escalator. The aim of the game is to, quite literally, climb endless flights of stairs, which might sound like torture, but there are some benefits.
A Stairmaster burns calories and strengthens your leg and glute muscles, but it’s lower impact than running on even one of the best treadmills, so there’s an argument it’s more joint friendly. That said, anyone who suffers from knee or hip pain should check with their doctor before using the Stairmaster. Read on to find out what happened when I got over my hatred of the machine and tried the 25-7-2 workout.
Looking for more workout inspiration? Here’s what happened when I did 100 dead bugs a day for a week and was surprised with the results, plus, the results of adding 30 sit-ups a day to my routine for 30 days.
What is the 25-7-2 workout?
The 25-7-2 workout was founded by fitness influencer Camilla Abkas and involves:
- Setting your Stairmaster to level 7
- Stepping for 25 minutes
- Completing the workout twice a week
Ideally, the workout should be done without holding onto the handrail, but more on that below.
Will the 25-7-2 workout give you abs?
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According to avid TikTok fans, when done without holding onto the handrail, the workout targets your core. In fact, Abkas went as far as to say the workout gave her abs in six weeks. This might not necessarily be true, however. I’ve been writing about fitness for long enough to know that abs are made in the kitchen, and that defined abdominal muscles depend on a low body fat percentage (here’s how to calculate your body fat percentage), so no amount of stairs will make your ab muscles pop.
While climbing the Stairmaster does require a certain amount of core engagement, it’s not specifically targeting the core. If you’re a complete beginner, or you’ve never used a Stairmaster before, it’s worth using the handrails as you get used to the machine.
I tried the 25-7-2 workout — here’s what happened
As I mentioned above, the Stairmaster isn’t part of my normal workout routine, and if I’m honest, this workout proved why — I find climbing stairs staring at a screen extremely boring. Even with a good podcast, I found myself staring at the clock for the entire 25 minutes, and struggled to concentrate on anything else. Yet not everyone finds running relaxing, so putting my boredom aside, here’s what I learned during the challenge:
It’s a slow burner
Abkas recommends you do the workout twice a week, but I decided to really up the ante and used it as my warm-up for my three strength-training sessions over a week. On the first day of my stepper challenge, I found the first five minutes of the workout almost a bit slow — at speed seven you’re not climbing the steps as fast as you might in a rush to the office, or even on an escalator on the underground. It didn’t feel all that hard, and the woman on the stepper next to me seemed to be climbing much faster, but this one is a marathon, not a sprint.
25 minutes is enough time to really feel a burn in the legs and in the final few minutes, I could definitely feel the workout in my calves and glutes. According to the Stairmaster, I’d climbed 100 floors in 25 minutes and I definitely felt a twinge in the back of my legs the next day.
It was easy to forget about my posture
A couple of days later I head back to the gym for another go at the 25-7-2 workout. This time a girl on the stepper next to me was also doing the same, but unlike me, she’d upped the ante and was taking two steps at a time — huge respect.
As I replied to a couple of emails as I climbed, I spotted myself in the mirror and noticed my upper body slouching forward. The key to getting results on the Stairmaster is good form — engaging your core to keep your torso upright forces your glutes and legs to work, and slouching puts pressure on the lower back.
I didn’t get abs, but I did sweat
For all three of the 25-7-2 workouts, I stepped with my hands on my hips. I found keeping my hands pressing lightly on my obliques forced me to think about engaging my core (to engage your core, think about pulling your belly button into your spine) as I climbed. After a week, my abs looked no different, but I’d argue no workout would give you abs in a week, and perhaps if I continued for longer and focused on good nutrition, the Stairmaster might help work on core strength.
That said, I did get sweaty, and it was a good workout. As the girl next to me in the gym proved, it can easily be made harder by mixing up the steps — taking two at a time, or side stepping as you go to really work the back of your legs (check out the best Stairmaster workouts here for more inspiration). That said, I didn’t find the Stairmaster particularly relaxing, and although it did raise my heart rate, that’s not why I work out. The mental health boost I get from 25 minutes of running in nature far outweighs the calories burned, but if you’re a gym bunny, this one is definitely worth a try. Just pack a towel.