I tried TikTok’s viral 25-7-2 Stairmaster workout—here’s what I thought

You’ve probably heard of 12-3-30, but have you tried 25-7-2? I put the latest TikTok trend to the test.

Stairmaster workout
(Image credit: Getty Images/M_a_y_a)

TikTok is the new home of viral trends. Whether it’s a new beauty hack, a must-have water flask or an easy way to make pasta (who could forget the feta pasta craze?), chances are most of us have been influenced by something or someone on TikTok.

Fitness hacks and routines are just one of many trends doing the rounds on TikTok, with the app central in introducing the Hot Girl Walk and Shy Girl Workouts to the world. 

The 25-7-2 is the latest fitness trend, a dedicated stairmaster workout that promises to help build abs. The stairmaster is a cardio machine that mimics climbing endless flights of stairs. It’s a great way to improve your cardiovascular health as well as targeting your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves.

But that’s not what the 25-7-2 promotes. The creator claims it can help strengthen your core and build strong abs, but is this true? I put the workout to the test and checked in with a personal trainer.

What is the 25-7-2 Stairmaster workout?

The routine was created by fitness influencer Camilla Dilan Akbas, gaining thousands of likes when she posted the routine on TikTok.

The routine is broken down by the numbers in the name: 

  • Work for 25 minutes
  • Set the machine to level seven
  • Repeat two times a week

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For the best results, Arkbas suggests using the machine without holding on to the rail. This, she claims, is so you can engage your core muscles. 

I tried the 25-7-2 Stairmaster workout—here’s what happened

Typically I avoid the Stairmaster at the gym. Having used it briefly in the past, I know just how much of a humbling experience it can be. Five kilometres on the treadmill? Sign me up. Twenty minutes on the Stairmaster? I’ll pass. 

But with some calling 25-7-2 the new 12-3-30 (30 minutes on a treadmill at an incline of 12 and speed of 3km/hr—more up my street), I had to give it a go to see what the fuss was about.

I visit my local gym two or three times a week, scheduling in both strength and interval sessions as part of my normal marathon training programme. I did two weeks of two 25 minute Stairmaster sessions to see how it would improve my fitness levels and if it would strengthen my abdominal muscles.

My first thought was “when will this end?” and my second thought was focused on keeping my balance. Having my hands off the rail for the first few minutes was fine, but as fatigue set in it became more difficult to remain stable, and I did grab the hand rails (temporarily) several times for support. 

The workout is tough, and you definitely want to bring a sweat towel and water bottle along to the gym with you. By the end of the 25 minutes you definitely feel the burn in your legs and glutes, perhaps even more so than in your core. 

I found staying motivated was hard during this workout. I find it much easier to zone out on a quick treadmill run or focus on how many reps I have left in a dumbbell set than repeatedly climbing up stairs. Often I would look up to the mirror wall (a blessing and a curse) and see my posture had completely slumped. This became increasingly an issue as my sessions progressed, counting down the seconds for the 25 minutes to be over. 

What does a personal trainer say about the 25-7-2 Stairmaster workout?

 I spoke to David Wiener, training and nutrition specialist at Freeletics to get the lowdown on this workout and its benefits. 

About Our Expert
David Wiener
About Our Expert
Davin Wiener

David Wiener is a training specialist at fitness app Freeletics. He is an expert in strength training, injury prevention and rehabilitation and has a level three personal trainer qualification as well as being a level five advanced qualified nutritionist.  

While Wiener says the workout does challenge your core, this alone isn’t going to give you abs. “Your abs are absolutely getting worked through this exercise, but it’s not enough to get visible abs. To gain visible abs, you need to consistently strength train, cardio train, and eat a nutritious and healthy diet to lower your body fat percentage.”

So it’s not a quick fix for rock-hard abs. It will, however, help to improve your core strength. “While you’re climbing the stairs, you are constantly using your core and hip flexors to maintain balance and control through your movements,” he explains.

Stronger glutes are another benefit of the workout, an area I definitely felt being worked as I climbed the endless steps. “As the Stairmaster requires you to walk on an incline, your glute muscles are also being targeted. Glute muscles are a major muscle group which helps support your lower back and is therefore very important to strengthen.”

As far as the hands-off rule goes, Wiener suggests leaving this until you’re confident on the machine. “Getting used to the exercise and steadying yourself is essential for staying safe on the machine. Once you have improved fitness levels and balance, you can remove your hands.”

As with all fitness trends, it’s worth considering whether it’s right for you. “Workouts like the 25-7-2 workout can be generally positive as it gets people involved in working out and being more active,” says Wiener. “It’s also quite low-impact, meaning you are lessening the risk of injury through the simple movements. However, for people who struggle with knee conditions or lower-back conditions, I would recommend consulting a professional to see if the 25-7-2 workout is right for you.”

25-7-2 stairmaster workout: The verdict

I wasn’t expecting the two weeks of climbing stairs to magically produce visible abs, and it didn’t. However, the workout did challenge my endurance, something that is always beneficial as a runner. I’d love to say I’m now a stairmaster girl, but the chances it’ll appear in my regular workout plan twice-a-week are slim. That’s not to say it’ll return to its former blacklist status, because I valued the strengthened leg and glute muscles. By my third session my body had adapted to climbing floors and the runs that followed felt easier.

If building strong abs is your goal, a better place to start is this guide to abs workouts.

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.