santa monica stairs

Workout For The Day – Santa Monica Stairs and more Outdoor Workouts

santa monica stairsGo for 10 sets:

Just to be clear, going up and down (either the conrete or wooden) Santa Monica stairs is one set. Or down and up. You can’t call going down and up as 2 sets!

Do the 10 sets walking, not running. Stretch hamstrings, quadriceps and calves at the top each time.

To make it a whole body workout, we will add exercises at the top and / or bottom of the stairs.  You can use either set.  The concrete set at 4th street are 199 steps and the wooden steps in the middle of Adelaide are 170 steps.

If you are using the the concrete set at 4th street I recommend skipping a step, doing 2 steps at a time as those steps are shorter than the wooden ones down the block.

Top of the Santa Monica stairs:

Using the grassy area in the middle of 4th near Adelaide.

  • Push ups: 10 reps
  • Planks: 1 minute
  • Triangle push-ups: 10 reps
  • Hip lifts (to engage more glutes for the stairs, if you cramp, eliminate them): 15 reps
  • Crunches (nothing fancy here): 15 reps
  • Elastic band biceps curl: 15 reps
  • Elastic band lateral raise: 15 reps
  • Elastic band pull-aparts (rear deltoids) – choke up on the band part not using the handles and pull apart til the band touches your chest: 15 reps (adjust grip to make it burn)
  • Elastic band row wrapped around the barricade or a tree (in case you can’t do the pull ups at the bottom): 15 reps

Bottom of the Santa Monica stairs: There are pull up bars placed along the sidewalk – I just assume they are there for exercise.  Near the 4th street concrete stairs and the 6th street wooden stairs.

Pull ups: 10 reps or until failure (I need a chair to reach the bars, can’t jump anymore!)

Now you’ve obviously got to adjust the reps and resistance for you but I think I provided a good guideline.

Want to target your glutes more on the stairs?

Here are 3 ways to work more glutes on the Santa Monica stairs:

  • Make an effort to hinge at your hip with step and squeeze your working leg’s glute.
  • Lift your free leg back behind you with each step but just make sure not to kick anyone behind you!
  • Step partially sideways – at a 45 degree angle. I would say this is more for the hips (saddlebags).

No pressure, but my girlfriend and I used to do 15 sets on the concrete stairs…

Yes, all these tips work on any stairs, even the stepmill.

Bonus: After the complete stairs workout you can upgrade your glute shaping by adding this kneeling glute tri-set! (3 sets of 20)


CBS Local contacted me to outline some LA outdoor workout spots – the article has such a hit I rewrote it so I could post the info here!

Los Angeles Outdoor Workouts

Named one of the top 10 beach cities by National Geographic, Santa Monica is home to three miles of gorgeous Pacific beaches and the stunning Santa Monica pier. It is no wonder that tourists make up a massive part of the population of this beautiful Oceanside town.

Many visitors are looking to get in on the fitness culture that is a hallmark of the west coast.

There are some sincerely iconic spots to get a great workout in LA and even spot a few big names in the fitness space on the west coast. You can enjoy great meals and enjoy stunning weather while also making time for an effective workout.

Santa Monica Rings Muscle Beach bodybuilder

Santa Monica Rings

If you like a really challenging exercise at the beach, then take a shot at the Santa Monica Rings at the old Muscle Beach. You can do quite a few exercises for your outdoor workouts here, all of which are really hard! Do knee raises, pull-ups, or simply Tarzan-swing back and forth. Just swinging from ring to ring is quite the challenge for the average exerciser. If you can lift yourself to a pike position you are in an exceptional class of relative strength.

Walk the Santa Monica Stairs

santa monica stairs

The Santa Monica stairs are extremely steep and numerous. Climbing them is a great way to workout at your own speed. I recommend that you focus on a moderate pace, continual walk or jog top to bottom of this popular scenic landmark. Once you get to the summit of the one hundred seventy five steps, stretch your calves, Achilles, hamstrings and quadriceps. Stretching helps to prevent possible injury. Even a single set of either the wooden stairs or concrete ones can challenge your limits. Don’t worry, your endurance will increase fairly rapidly with concurrent workouts. You can find this popular Santa Monica outdoor workout destination can be found at Fourth and Adelaide in northern Santa Monica.

Hiking at Temescal Canyon or Los Liones

Temescal canyon hike

Temescal Canyon is a location that typically attracts those who love nature as well as the convenience of its location. The foliage there will block out most of the sun light, so you won’t have to worry about too many sun rays at the hottest time of day. Still use sunscreen though! Don’t think that is will be easy to get through this trail though as areas of the canyon is fairly steep. You can expect your walk to be quite strenuous.
I also like the uphill trail known as Los Liones. It’s a hike through Topanga State Park. Although it seems pretty straightforward at first, the trail eventually splits into other various directions after about a mile in. It is located in Pacific Palisades off Los Liones drive. You can park on the street near the head of the trail or in some parking lots further away. Parking can be a pain if you don’t arrive early enough, so be sure to get there as early as possible.

Lift Weights at Muscle Beach

muscle beach bodybuilder
Mr. Muscle Beach

This would be my personal favorite as a prefer old-school weight training. This public weight lifting area on the southern part at the end of the Venice Beach Boardwalk. It’s managed by the parks department and you’ll need a day pass or seasonal membership (super cheap!) It’s accessible about a block or two to the north of Washington Boulevard.

Muscle Beach in Venice is legendary.  The basic template for bodybuilding training is to hit 4 to 5 crucial exercises per session that hit the major target body parts. If you are aiming to gain muscle mass, you should be hitting heavy weights (ones you can do 8-10 reps of) to drive muscle growth.

Three sets at ten reps of pushups to warmup the pecs, incline chest press, flat bench press, dumbbell flyes, or cable crossovers, and add in some bodyweight dips to drive a deep stretch.

Hit a similar approach on pulling days with a little more emphasis on weight. Three sets will still work well but go heavy enough that 6-8 reps are a challenge. Dumbbell rows, seated cable rows, lat pulldown, and shrugs will bring out the back muscles.

In addition to the gym work, you will want high-protein meals. Be sure to scope out breakfast spots where you can start your day. You will also be looking for a lunch spot like The Firehouse that gives you customizable choices. If you are on bodybuilding prep, you know nutrition needs to be dialed in to maximize all of your hard work.

Muscle Beach Bodybuilding Contests

The Muscle Beach Bodybuilding shows are held here on Memorial day, July 4th and Labor day. Watching the show is free and the quality of competitors is pretty good. Check out one of these bodybuilding show while you are in Venice, as they are some very well-run productions and showcase some genuine talent in the bodybuilding world.

I personally won my class at the Mr. Muscle Beach July 4th show in 2007. I usually recommend new competitors wet their feet at these events.  I’ve coached several clients to victory their first time out at these shows.

Hanna at first figure competition
Hanna winning her class at her first figure competition at Muscle Beach


ms muscle beach
Lejla won both the Ms. Muscle Bewitch and NABBA Ms. Figure America with us!


mr muscle beach physique
Nick won the overall Mr. Muscle Beach Physique in 2014 with Jason’s coaching!

Run Through the Sand Dunes
run sand dunes

During the cold months, the city of Los Angeles makes sand dunes every year to protect public facilities from storm damage. The yearly shielding of the shoreline involves the making of sand dunes throughout Venice and Santa Monica Beach. Walking, jogging, or running over these dunes during the wintertime is a great way to achieve an intensive and self paced outdoor cardio workout session.

Not only can you develop explosive speed from running the dunes of Venice beach, but people are even taking their kids sledding. You read that correctly. SLEDDING down the dunes.

You are likely looking for fun on the dunes with more of a return. Think about interval sprints up the dunes. Challenge yourself to see how far up the dunes you can go each time at a full sprint. It is another level of fitness that can humble you quickly. You will genuinely enjoy the workout.

The sand adds another element of stability and coordination that allows you to burn more calories. Running on sand is also lower impact on joints than running on asphalt. Mix in sprint intervals and switch to a side shuffle half the distance of your sprint. Repeat this twice to incorporate the quads.

The summer days can get a bit toasty. Pick a time of day or a season where you can stay long enough to get a nice jog or sprint sets in. Don’t forget to bring the SPF!

Boot Camp Workouts on the Beach

The beach is a place to enjoy the sun and the sand, but you can also get a brutal workout and torch calories. You can use HIIT to mix it up. Interval training can challenge your cardio and give you a great pump with higher reps under less weight.

Set a timer and keep an eye on the clock as you do three sets of 30 seconds of max rep pushups and 15 seconds of rest between sets.

Use the same approach for three sets of 40 seconds of squats into 20 seconds of rest. After your third set, squat down until your hips are parallel with your knees. Hold that position for another 20 seconds. Finish off those legs and get your booty in gear with some lunges. Three sets of 20 lunges down the beach, alternating legs, and 20 lunges back will lift that rear and get those quads fired up.

You cannot skip out on abs, so throw in three sets of 20 seconds of high knees and 20 seconds of rest. Think of these like a march in place but emphasize driving those knees up and fire up the abs.

Forget about focusing on how bad it burns. Lock in on finishing strong!

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