City Steps: Pittsburgh’s Ultimate Workout

To me, nothing says Pittsburgh better than City Steps. The city maintains more than 700 sets of these staircases that uniquely connect different neighborhoods in the city. I’ll include some additional reading at the end of this blog incase you don’t know much about the history of the City Steps. Recently, I have been trying to include a set of City Steps every time I run. I have always been surprised how few people I see using them to workout.  So I decided to try a couple workouts utilizing nothing but a public Pittsburgh staircase.


The Ultimate Pittsburgh Workout:

I used Bloomfield’s Ella Street steps, also known as the “Try Steps.” This staircase connects Bloomfield to the hollow between Bloomfield and Polish Hill. It’s a great staircase because they are generally quiet and somewhat secluded. For this particular one, I did 8 sets of stair climbs. On odd numbered sets I ran every stair, focusing on fast turnover and quick feet. On even numbered sets I skipped every other stair, focusing on speed. The rest, which was active recovery, was simply walking back down the stairs. My quads felt all that eccentric work the next day. If you are trying to work the glutes up a bit more, I would suggest (carefully) walking backwards down the steps as your active rest between sets. Of course, you don’t need to run this for it to be a great cardiovascular effort.


I think that if people thought about “cardio” more as an opportunity to explore their surroundings and less as boring time on a “dreadmill”, they would have much less trouble feeling cardiovascularly fit. With over 700 sets of steps (most of which featuring amazing and underrated urban views) and infinite possibilities with your workout structure, City Steps are a great way for Pittsburghers to get outside, get fit and explore.

City Steps Resources

The city’s resource on Steps:

For the wikipedia fan:

A cool video featuring the steps:

Jake Boyer ACSM EP-C

Pittsburgh Fitness Project

5500 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

(412) 782-5438



If you’d like to schedule a running evaluation with Jake, hit the link below:


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