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Stairs for Workouts and Training

For runners, using stairs for training and adding some climbing workouts can be a good way to improve the aerobic conditioning to a higher level than only running. Training on stairs also improves the lower body strength, agility, flexibility and anaerobic conditioning. Using stairs to train is an easier way, schedule wise to add some efficient training workouts in your regular training plan.

Benefits of Stair Training

1. Improves VO2 max- Training on stairs can really improve the maximum amount of oxygen used during intense training (VO2 max). According to some research, walking up 200 steps twice a day, five days a week, for two months can increase the VO2 max by 17%. 

2. Increase leg strength- Climbing stairs is a great exercise for runners to strengthen the lower body muscles such as glutes, quads, and calves. 

3. Easy access training- Having access to stairs is a very easy alternative for training and easy to find anywhere in the world. Options are public stairs, building stairs, stadium stairs, we can usually find them close to our living area.

4. Offers a variety of workouts- Using the stairs, you can do different types of exercises, including sprints, plyo moves, and even a variety of bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, and lunges, adding a different version of these basic exercises.

5. A great gym alternative- Using the stairs to do some good workouts, is a good option instead of having to go or find a gym. We can find stairs almost anywhere, even if you’re travelling that’s an easy way to add some good training. 

Stair Workouts

First it is important to find good stable stairs, to make sure your entire foot fits on the stair's depth. This will support good stability and safety. Try to use stairs that have at least 20 to 40 steps or more. For good training, it should take at least 10-30 secs to run up the whole flight of stairs. 

Warm Up

Make sure you start with a warm up to avoid any muscle pull, and get your body ready and warmed up for the workout. You can start with some dynamic exercises such as lunges, planks, squats, inchworms, to loosen up and activate your muscles, then you can do a 5-10 minute jog. Another option is to do the stair workout after an easy run part of your training schedule. Make sure you adjust the exercises and workouts according to your fitness level and goals, stair workouts are a bit more intense. If you’re starting to train by climbing stairs, you can start with a fewer reps. 


1. Sprints- Start at the bottom of the stairs. Next sprint up as fast as you can, and use your arm swings pumping up to help lift your body, and land on each step and getting off that step quickly. Once you reach the top, walk or run down slowly. Using a proper technique running up the stairs is important. Keep most of the impact on the balls of your feet and your knees should be aligned over your feet the entire time, not forward the knees. Keep a nice straight spine, preventing slouching and bending at the waist. Perform 6-8 reps depending on the length of the stairs and your fitness level, if you can do more go ahead. This is a good workout post-run. Once you finish your run, you can do these stair sprints to really strengthen your leg muscles. 

2. Step Forward Lunges- Start at the bottom of the stairs, then step your right foot on the second or third step, bending both knees at a 90-degree angle and lower into lunge. Then push off with your right foot to push yourself up the stairs, stepping your left leg up to meet your right leg, then stepping it forward and lowering into the next lunge. Perform the lunges all the way to the top of the stairs, and make sure your front knee is in line over with your toes, your torso should be upright to keep a good stability and engaging the core properly. Walk or run down slowly. 

3. Squat Jumps- Start at the bottom of the stairs, then lower your hips down into a squat, engage your core and glutes, swing your arms and jump up to the next step with both feet, landing in a squat. Hold the squat for 2 seconds and jump up to the next step. Keep squat jumping to the top of the stairs. If the steps are very small, you can jump over two steps. This exercise is similar to box jumps, which is very good training for runners.

4. Sprint & Skip a Step- Same as the sprint exercise, but this one aim to skip a step sprinting up. Make sure you pump your arms and keep a good form all the way up. Walk or run back down slowly.

5. Skater Steps- Start facing the stairs at the bottom, then step your left foot on the far left of the second step. Next, push off with your left foot and hop onto your right foot landing it to the right side of the next step. Continue climbing the stairs, alternating sides (skater) until you reach the top. Walk or run back down slowly.

6. Tricep Stair Dips- Start by sitting on the edge of the second or third step, depending on the height, with your feet on the floor and hands under your shoulders. Lift your hips until your arms are straight and extend your legs with your heels on the ground. Engage your core and keep your hips up, then start performing tricep dips by lowering your body up and down. Push from your arms, so you feel the arms and tricep strengthening, if you push mostly from your legs and hips, the triceps will not be activated enough. Perform 15 reps X 3 sets. 

Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Strong!


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