Climbing stairs is a great exercise to raise the heart rate and sculpt a strong, lean lower body… if you’re doing it right.”I see many people placing close to half of their body weight leaning on the rails that they give you as just protection so you won’t fall,” Mark Hendricks, Group Fitness Manager at Greenwich Avenue Equinox says. “It’s a safety issue not to place your hands on the handrail. That being said, there should never be pressing/pushing down on them.”MORE FROM SELF: Stair Workout Moves and Cardio RoutineWhen you push down on the rails, it decreases the load on your legs and glutes. “The heavier you load your muscle, the more muscle fiber you activate and essentially the more change you make in your muscle,” Hendricks says.Whether you’re climbing the Stair Master at the gym, a flight of stairs at the office or training to be the next Rocky, proper form is keeping the shoulders over the hips, hips over the ankles. Try not to lean too far forward as it will decrease muscle activation.MORE FROM SELF: 7-Minute At-Home WorkoutFoot strike is also important in determining which muscles are targeted. Strike and push off with the ball of the foot to target the quads, and place more weight on the heel of the foot to target the glutes and hamstrings. “Stay off the ball of the foot to decrease knee stress,” Hendricks advises.MORE FROM SELF: Make Your Own Workout VideoTo maximize a stair workout, Hendricks suggests incorporating these techniques:1. Try taking two stairs at once.2. When taking two stairs, include a little kick back with the climbing leg.3. Change your plane of motion by slowing down the speed and walking sideways, one foot over the other.Click over to Self.com for the last technique andupcoming climb-up races.For daily fitness tips follow SELF on Facebook and Twitter.Get SELF on your iPad!