I Tried The StairMaster Workout Going Viral On TikTok & It Was No Joke

It’s not for the faint of heart.

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The 25-7-2 StairMaster workout from TikTok is just as hard as the 12-3-30.

If you’ve officially conquered the 12-3-30 treadmill routine and need a new way to sweat at the gym, let me suggest the 25-7-2 StairMaster workout, aka the latest numerical fitness trend from #FitTok that’s racked up 240 million views. I gave it a try and when I say I broke a sweat, I’m not joking. Just like the 12-3-30, the appeal of the 25-7-2 — created by TikToker @shutupcamilla — is that you only need one piece of gym equipment and a couple of parameters, to have yourself a nice little workout.

While the 12-3-30 is all about setting your treadmill to a 12-percent incline and walking uphill at 3 mph for 30 minutes, the 25-7-2 happens on a StairMaster or stair stepper. Set the machine to level 7 and climb for 25 minutes twice a week. That’s it: that’s the 25-7-2.

Typically, I only spend about five to 10 minutes on the StairMaster before moving on to another part of my workout. If you’ve ever tried stair climbing, you know five minutes feels like more than enough. Not only does it light up your glutes and hamstrings pretty much instantly, but it also takes a lot out of you cardio-wise. Walking upstairs is tough, so I knew the 25-7-2 trend would kick my butt — quite literally.

The 25-7-2 TikTok Trend

Because I’ve done my fair share of 12-3-30s, I already knew walking uphill at a speedy pace would be no easy task. That’s why I showed up at the gym with my emotional support water bottle in tow, so I could take on the 25-7-2 while staying as hydrated as possible.

Again, I usually only use stair climbers for five minutes, and I climb at a fairly slow speed, so I was worried about how fast level 7 would be. No surprises here, but it’s pretty quick. To get into the zone, I put on a podcast and focused on keeping my steps at a steady pace. With stair climbing, I feel like it’s all about getting into a rhythm.

Since I had done a quick warm-up beforehand, I felt pretty good for the first five minutes. Around the eight-minute mark, though, I was officially aware of my butt muscles and my breath. I was sweaty and winded, but I kept going. It’s only 25 minutes, after all. When I know there’s a set time limit for a workout, it definitely inspires me to push through — even though I’m dreaming about the end.

To take the 25-7-2 up a notch, you’re supposed to let go out of the rails and climb hands-free. While it’s OK to hang onto the bars if you want to — especially if you’re on a StairMaster for the first time — I did take my hands off and rest them on my hips a couple of times, just to see what it was like. Immediately, I felt my obliques and abs activate to keep me steady. A mini core workout, too? I’ll take it.

By the 20-minute mark, my Fitbit was applauding me for all the Active Zone Minutes, as if I already didn’t know. My heart had been pounding the entire time, but like the 12-3-30, I knew there was a good chance I’d eventually get over the hump and transition from feeling sluggish and tired to warmed up and focused. While I wouldn’t say I was thriving, I did manage to keep going.

To get the most out of the workout, it helps to push through your mid-foot or heel as you step, instead of walking on your toes, so that your leg and glute muscles engage. I kept this in mind as I climbed.

I stepped, I sipped water, I had a moment where I wondered why I ever thought the 12-3-30 was tiring — and just like that I was done. My takeaway? The 25-7-2 is exhausting, but just like the 12-3-30, I think it’s a nice challenge whenever you’re in the mood for an intense cardio workout. It’s exhausting, your legs will burn, but hey, you only have to do it twice a week according to TikTok.

Benefits Of The 25-7-2

The 25-7-2 feels like a serious hike up a steep mountain, so you can imagine what it does for your legs, butt, and cardiovascular system. I was completely drenched in sweat by the end, so I knew it counted as a vigorous workout. As a bonus, it melted away my pent-up stress and it put me in a good mood. (Thanks, endorphins!)

That said, like many TikTok fitness trends, this workout isn’t exactly beginner-friendly. There were moments when I nearly gave up and got off, so I recommend aiming for less time, holding onto the handrails, and taking breaks if you want to. If a 25-7-2 seems like a lot, opt for something like a 5-3-1 instead.

Studies referenced:

Egaña, M. (2004). Physiological changes following a 12 week gym based stair-climbing, elliptical trainer and treadmill running program in females. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. PMID: 15470311.

Harper, NG. (2018). Muscle Function and Coordination of Stair Ascent. J Biomech Eng. doi: 10.1115/1.4037791. PMID: 28857115.

Jenkins, EM. (2019) Do stair climbing exercise "snacks" improve cardiorespiratory fitness? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2018-0675. Epub 2019 Jan 16. PMID: 30649897.

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